SPORT

Anju all set for Monaco Grand Prix

BANGALORE, SEPT. 14. Putting the disappointment of Athens behind her, ace long jumper, Anju Bobby George is now all geared up for the World Athletic Grand Prix finals in Monaco, which will be held on September 18 and 19. Anju leaves for Monaco on Thursday.

After Monaco, Anju will move to Yokohoma for a Super Grand Prix meet on Sept. 23 and that will be followed by All Asian Stars Athletic meet in Singapore on Sept. 28.

Addressing a media gathering organised by her sponsor — Sobha Developers — at the SAI (South) centre in Kengeri near here, Anju said that she has got over the disappointment of Athens, where despite her best effort of 6.83 metres, she failed to make the medal bracket.

"Sometimes, even your best is not enough and I was so confident during the qualifying phase that I would make it at Athens. After the first jump, I had to struggle with a respiratory problem due to dust allergy and that in a way affected my performance."

"Now that the Olympics is over, the pressure is off and I can compete in a more relaxed manner at Monaco and others meets," she added.

Asked if she was not too optimistic of her chances when her rivals like Tatyana Lebedeva (gold medallist at Athens) and Marion Jones had already jumped seven metres during the season, Anju said: "It is not that I have not done seven metres. I did that in Qatar, Ostrava and later in Rome. But they were fouled attempts.

" I had a realistic chance and I was confident that I could go over seven metres when it mattered, but unfortunately it didn't happen," said Anju.

Her husband and coach, Bobby George, said: "It is not the end and the best of Anju is yet to come. She is good enough for Beijing Olympics (2008) and we are determined to go in that direction with renewed determination. Technically, I feel Anju is still among the best," he added.

Bobby said that world-class infrastructure with the best available support system is much needed to produce athletic champions in the country.

P.N.C. Menon, Chairman of the Sobha Group, said that he was proud of Anju's achievement at Athens. "My only regret is that I didn't get to meet her three years ago, I would have supported her then and she would have come back with a medal."

Mr. Menon reiterated his commitment to support Anju. "There is a lack of corporate support for sports in the country and we at Sobha Group will continue to back Anju in her endeavour and we also plan to help P.T. Usha in setting up a track at the sports academy she runs in Kerala. Athletes cannot be running around for funds and they should concentrate on training and doing well at the meets. The funding has to come from others and we at Sobha have taken that initiative," he added.

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