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Anju Bobby George, a prominent athlete, made history when she won the bronze medal in the long jump at the 2003 World Championship in Paris. She became the first Indian athlete ever to win a medal in a World Championship in athletics jumping 6.70 meters. She went on to win the gold medal at the IAAF World Athletics final (a competition between the best eight athletes in the world based on the world ranking) in 2005. Anju was upgraded to the gold status from silver in the 2005 World Athletics Final in Monte Carlo after Tatyana Kotova of Russia was disqualified by the International Association of Athletics Federations, following the re-testing of the latter’s sample collected at the 2005 World Championship in Helsinki. She has received the country’s prestigious awards like Arjuna, Khel Ratna, and Padma Shri. In March 2021, the 45-year-old athlete won the BBC lifetime achievement award for the best athlete in India. Currently, from the last year, she is the vice president of the Athletics Federation of India.
The desire to promote Athletes
Being one of the vice presidents of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) Anju Bobby George wants to stand and promote the country’s established as well as budding athletes.
“Now, there are more renowned athletes who have come in the AFI administration to develop the standard of the game. So now, it is a collective effort.”
According to Anju, some disciplines like the long jump, and javelin have already been shortlisted and AFI is mulling over providing advanced training for the promising and talented athletes in those disciplines in near future.
“The athletes who are being shortlisted as medal contenders will get an opportunity to make exposure tours more in numbers than the previous occasions. Before the Asian Games this year, they will be going to international competitions like Asian Indoor Games.”
Example of Neeraj Chopra
Anju still feels delighted while talking about Neeraj Chopra’s outstanding success. She was the first Indian athlete to have acquired a medal in the World Championship while Neeraj Chopra has been the second Indian athlete to have secured silver in the same competition and then he scripted history by winning the gold medal in Tokyo Olympics. She did not hesitate to comment,
“He can be the example today that can motivate the country’s all other athletes. He has tremendous determination. I was in the same situation in the World Championship in 2003 as Neeraj also was in the fourth spot after three rounds in the javelin final in the World Championships in Eugene. But I showed courage and came back with a medal and in a similar way Neeraj showed indomitable mental strength and jumped to the second position to hold it on till the last.”
On Her Sports Foundation
Anju Bobby George and her husband, her coach, and mentor Robert Bobby George have built up Anju Bobby Sports Foundation (ABSF) in Bangalore and in the last four years, this athletics school, especially the institution of the long jump has produced athletes of international class. The 17-year-old Shaili Singh should lead the list of athletes from ABSF. The girl has already ensured a silver medal in the World Under-20 competition, jumping her personal best of 6.59 meters.
“Now we have 16 prodigious athletes. Most of them are preparing themselves to be long jump specialists. Along with Shaili, there are more talented long jumpers in the academy who have been winning medals at the national level like Deepanshi Singh and Aishi Biswas. We have plans in near future to invite legendary long jumpers to our academy. They will be sharing their experience, and skill, through clinics. This will help our students to develop their game more.”