Former champions hail Anju's exploits

Former champions hail Anju's exploits
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
New Delhi, Sep 10 (PTI) The athletics fraternity today hailed the historic achievement of Anju Bobby George who won the silver medal at the World Athletics Final in Monaco.

"This is a great performance and leaping 6.75 metres at such a prestigious meet is very creditable," former sprint queen P T Usha said.

"Her performances have improved as the season has gone on and may be next year she can do even better and reach her personal best of 6.83m," Usha told PTI on phone from Kozhikode.

Describing her as a "pioneer" in India as far as long jump was concerned, Usha, a winner of 13 gold medals at Asian Games and Asian Athletics Championships, said Indian competitors of the past in the event could not be compared to her.

"Mercy Kuttan was the last long jumper to win a medal at the 1982 Asian Games but Anju has far surpassed them by her achievements," said Usha, who narrowly missed the bronze medal in the 400m hurdles at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

"The level she has attained for herself means the competition at next year's Commonwealth and Asian Games should not pose any problems for Anju," she said, adding she should concentrate on her performance at events which have stiffer competition.

Usha's thoughts were echoed by another athletics legend, the 'Flying Sikh' Milkha Singh, who said the lanky Keralite should not shy away from big events. "She needs to test herself against the best in the world and not limit herself to smaller tournaments," Milkha Singh, who finished fourth in the 400m at the 1960 Rome Olympics, missing the bronze by only 0.1 seconds, said.

Milkha, however, expressed concern that Anju had not been able to match her personal best of 6.83m she achieved at the Athens Olympics last year.

"She, along with her coaches, should find out where they they are going wrong and rectify the mistakes," he said, adding if she had managed to give her personal best in Monaco last night, she could have had a chance of getting the gold medal.

"Anju needs to improve constantly and put in long hours to better her performance," Milkha said.

"Dedication, hard work and willpower are the keys to success," the legend said.

Stressing that Anju had the ability to jump even further, Milkha said "with a little bit of extra work, she can easily touch seven metres.

(reopens DEL29) Describing Anju as a friend, another former athlete Shiny Wilson said "she has the potential to win even a gold medal at World events".

"Anju is the best in Asia and therefore the Asian Gold medal should be within her reach. I am confident of her winning the Gold in Doha Games," Wilson told PTI from her native place Idukki in Kerala, where she is on vacation.

Rejoicing over Anju's feat, heptathlete Soma Biswas said that she had expected the lanky long jumper to succeed at the World Athletics Final in Monaco.

"I am not at all surprised. Anju has been constantly improving over the last few months. And at Monaco, she really jumped well," said Biswas, who herself did the country proud by claiming the heptathlon gold medal at the Asian Athletics Championship in Incheon City, South Korea, last week.

"I am really happy over her success. The field in such world level championships is indeed tough. She has reaped the fruits of her sincerity and dedication," Biswas told PTI.

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