B D Narayankar
PUNE: Indian ace jumper Anju Bobby George, who could not leap the much-needed 6.60-meters mark to qualify for World Athletics Meet at Osaka, laid her claim on long-jump gold after leaping 6.42 meters in the combined meet here on Friday, improving her 6.21 meters leapt in the final leg of Asian Athletics Grand Prix a couple of days back.
Anju began her last qualification quest on Indian soil nervously. First couple of her attempts went waste after the referee fouled her. The third attempt saw her jumping 6.42 meters.
The feat must have raised Anju’s bar to give her best, but the jump was far below her personal best of 6.83 meters at Athens Olympics.
Anju has been struggling to find form in the recent past, a heel injury adding to her woes. She had done better in the second leg at Guwahati on June 23, leaping 6.28 meters, which was far short of the qualifying mark as well.
Anju, however, is optimistic as she always is. “I am confident of clearing 6.60 meters any time. I actually had touched that mark, but was fouled. I have enough experience in competitions and injury worries will not flag my spirits. I am recovering, but there is still some work to be done. I and my husband-coach Bobby George are working on getting back the rhythm required for big occasions,” Anju said.
Unfortunately Anju has been left to improve her record without much of a competition coming from other Asian athletes. “Motivation is difficult in the depleted field. I want more competition. There is hardly any from the Indian contenders. I give my best when the contestants are good. That’s why I perform well outside India,” she said.
Moreover, Anju had to brave the breeze, run against it and leap for the best today. “I was not getting the elevation right because the wind was flowing into me,” she rued. Conditions today were much better than a couple of days back when it was raining. The track was heavy and I was not getting the grip right for elevation. I had to change my spikes thrice. I had no such problem today,” she said.
Jumping 6.42 meters today has been good for Anju just before the World Athletics event at Osaka and she is brimming with confidence. “I fancy my chances. I am sure I will be in the top six bracket,” Anju stated.