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This could be our best World Championships, says Anju George

India’s lone World Championships medallist feels that Neeraj could win gold and that Sreeshankar’s medal chances look bright

July 14, 2022 08:48 pm | Updated 08:48 pm IST - KOCHI

Anju Bobby George, right, feels that the Tokyo Olympic Games javelin gold medallist Neeraj Chopra has a very good chance of making the 90m mark.

Anju Bobby George, right, feels that the Tokyo Olympic Games javelin gold medallist Neeraj Chopra has a very good chance of making the 90m mark. | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra’s Olympic gold in Tokyo appears to have inspired everybody. And Anju Bobby George feels that the World Athletics Championships, which begin in Oregon (USA) on Friday, could be India’s best ever.

“If you look at this year’s performance statistics, for the first time we have multiple medal hopes,” said Anju, the country’s lone World Championships medallist, in a chat with The Hindu on Thursday evening.

“I think Neeraj will win the gold, and he looks capable of crossing 90m. Being an Olympic champion, there will be pressure on him but I think he can handle it beautifully.

M. Sreeshankar’s performances this year, including this effort in the 61st National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on June 11, 2022, gives him a bright chance at Eugene.

M. Sreeshankar’s performances this year, including this effort in the 61st National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on June 11, 2022, gives him a bright chance at Eugene. | Photo Credit: VELANKANNI RAJ

“And when you look at performances in the world this year, (long jumper) Sreeshankar has a bright chance too.”

Anju, who won the long jump bronze at the 2003 Paris Worlds, feels that it is a strange year in athletics with the form of many of the world’s best, in events like the long jump, slipping in recent competitions.

Strange year

“We have not had a scenario like this before, it’s strange. Probably, they have not had enough competition or perhaps they could not train properly because of COVID,” said Anju, also the senior vice-president of the Athletics Federation of India.

“That is why making predictions is difficult this time. Also, when it comes to the Worlds, we can only say after the qualifying round. Any big jumper can crash in the first round, once they cross that predicting will be easier.”

For the first time, India will have three men in long jump and triple jump, and Anju feels that two long jumpers could make the final.

“In triple jump, the competitions were less and they have not had big-meet exposure like an international Grand Prix, so we cannot analyse the situation properly.”

Avinash Sable crosses the last hurdle to  set a new National record in the men’s 3000m steeple chase event of the second leg of the India Grand Prix in Thiruvananthapuuram on 23/03/2022.

Avinash Sable crosses the last hurdle to set a new National record in the men’s 3000m steeple chase event of the second leg of the India Grand Prix in Thiruvananthapuuram on 23/03/2022. | Photo Credit: MAHINSHA S

Tough for Sable

Regarding Avinash Sable, she felt the 3000m steeple chase is a tough one.

“Sable is in very good shape, but his event is very tough. Still, when the going gets tough, he performs better. I think he has a good chance to get into the top six. And Annu Rani (javelin throw) can come into the top eight.

“In earlier years, we used to expect just one or two athletes to enter the final, but this time five or six look capable of doing that,” said Anju

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