Anju Bobby George is eyeing an Olympic spot. But the former World championship bronze medallist is waging a battle against both time and fitness.
The lanky 35-year-old long jumper with a personal best of 6.83 metres, will test her injured ankle, which pushed her return to serious contention by a few weeks, at the Hyderabad Inter-State athletics championship next weekend. Anju had won the bronze in Paris (2003) with an effort of 6.70.
“The ‘A' standard qualification mark (6.75) is within Anju's reach; she has been training well these last few weeks. But it's how well she performs on that day that counts,” said Bobby George, her husband and coach said at the Sports Authority of India here on Wednesday after a session of training. The ‘B' standard is 6.65.
“I'm still hopeful of qualifying but I can't predict anything,” said Anju. “Ideally I should have had 12 sessions of training, but I've only just started.”
The 35-year old was planning to compete in qualifying events from May but Bobby's father's ill-health cost her a month of training. “It's unfortunate that just when I had to ramp up my preparation, all this happened.”
Anju is also battling an ankle niggle that has affected her take-off. “It's an old problem and at times I can bear the pain and practise through it. But sometimes it just flares up.”
After the inter-State meet in Hyderabad, Anju's next aim is to compete in three events in Europe. “One event is in Sweden; the other may be in Belgium or Portugal. And then there are events all over Europe on July 7 and 8 (the deadline to send the list of qualified athletes to the IOC),” Anju said.
“I expect to do above 6.65m. I will have to lean on my experience to do it because I have hardly had any practice. It's like going to write an exam without studying!”
Mayookha Johny (24) is the other Indian hope in the women's long jump coming tantalisingly close to the ‘B' standard mark. Mayookha will however be at the London Olympics having already qualified in the triple jump event with a 14.11 metres National-record leap at Kobe (Japan) last July as against the ‘B' standard mark of 14.10.