India's Olympic Medal Hope: Anju George


NEW DELHI, April 18 (AFP) - A determined Indianathlete is striving to give her country of one billionits first Olympic medal in athletics when she competesin the long jump event in Athens this year.
Anju George, who at last year’s World Championships inParis became the first Indian to win an athletics medalat a global meet, qualified for the Olympics during adomestic meet here and looked with confidence to herseason of reckoning.
It was not a bad beginning to the season and I amsure to do better in the days ahead,'' said George, whorecorded a best of 6.66 metres in her season opener. The unassuming George, who keeps a day job with thegovernment revenue department, has over the past fewyears emerged as one of India's most famous non-cricketsports personalities. Tall and as athletic as they come, George has provedherself time and again over the past few years and iscurrently ranked sixth in the world, a rarity for anIndian athlete. Exposure at various international meetings and atraining stint with all-time great long jumper MikePowell last year have enhanced both her reputation andranking. Bronze medals at the World Championships and at theCommonwealth Games at Manchester in 2002 are among herfistful of awards at important competitions. George recorded 6.49 metres at Manchester and the sameyear won gold at the Busan Asian Games with an effort of6.53 metres. Continuing her upward graph, she kickedsand at 6.70 metres at the World Championships. I have worked hard and am also one of the few luckyIndian athletes to have a full-time coach,’’ George saidin jest, referring to husband Bobby George, a formerlong-jumper who is now her coach.
George also won silver at a grand prix in Stockholmand gold at the Afro-Asian Games in the southern Indiancity of Hyderabad last year.
Powell has been a great help and has helped mefine-tune. It would have been great to spend more timewith him, but that was not possible,'' she said. George is upbeat about her chances in Athens as shefeels the conditions are likely to suit her. The weather in Athens in August will be quite hotand humid, which should be good for me,’’ said George,who concentrated on building her strength during theoff-season.
``I have been concentrating on strength, speed andendurance. I hope to now put all that to good use inwhat is going to be the most important season for me,’'she said.
Eight-time Olympic gold medallists in hockey, Indiahave struggled to win medals in other disciplines.
Woman weightlifter Karnam Malleswari and tennis playerLeander Paes are the only ones to have won individualmedals in recent years.
Malleswari won a bronze at Sydney in 2000 while Paeswon a singles bronze at Atlanta in 1996.
The only track and field athletes to come close to amedal were Milkha Singh and P.T. Usha.
Singh finished fourth in a close race at the 1960 RomeOlympics while Usha lost out on a bronze in the 1984 LosAngeles Olympics by hundredths of a second.


:slight_smile: Fast 400m in New Delhi - Bobby George opens season with 6.66m leap
Friday 16 April 2004
New Delhi, India - K. M. Binu clocked the second fastest timing ever by an Indian for the 400 metres in the first National circuit meet here on Thursday 15 April.

Binu, better known for his exploits in the 800 metres, timed 45.59 seconds, just three-hundredth of a second outside the Indian record held by Paramjeet Singh since 2000. Binu, in the process, also achieved an Olympic qualifying performance.

The meet was the second of the season for the Indian athletes, gearing up for the Athens Olympics.

George leaps 6.66m

Most of the top athletes, including World bronze medal long jumper Anju Bobby George and discus thrower Neelam J. Singh competed.

Bobby George had a 6.66m jump and felt unhappy since she was aiming somewhere close to 6.80, in her first competition of the season, while Neelam, just back from a training stint in South Africa, had to bring out her best in edging Harwant Kaur, 60.76 to 60.69.

Bobby George is getting ready to compete in the Osaka Grand Prix meet on May 8.

200m: 1. Anil Kumar 20.84, 2. Piyush Kumar 21.15, 3. H. Jayachandran 21.34;
400m: 1. K. M. Binu 45.59, 2. P. Ramachandran 46.30, 3. K. J. Manojlal 46.40;
Long Jump: 1. Rajesh Babu 7.63m, 2. Maha Singh 7.48, 3.
Rajeev Kumar 7.41;
Shot Put: 1. Bahadur Singh 19.72m, 2. Navpreet Singh
19.39, 3. Kuldeep Mann 17.59;
Javelin: 1. Lijesh Kumar 70.75m, 2. Mukesh Nehra 70.38, 3. B. S. Dubey 69.37.

400m: 1. Manjit Kaur 51.90, 2. Rajwinder Kaur 52.01, 3. Chitra K. Soman 52.81;
800m: 1. Madhuri Singh 2:09.33, 2. Hemalatha 2:13.65, 3.
Preeja Sreedharan 2:13.88;
Long Jump: 1. Anju Bobby George 6.66m, 2. J. J. Shobha 6.56, 3. Pramila Aiyappa 6.21;
Discus: 1. Neelam J. Singh 60.76m, 2. Harwant Kaur 60.69, 3. Seema Antil 56.14.

by an IAAF correspondent