Indian athletics legend Anju Bobby George wholeheartedly believes that the country will clock its best performance in this year’s edition of the World Athletics Championships which will be set in motion from this Friday in Eugene, Oregon, United States.
Being the only athlete from India ever to clinch a medal at the World Championships, Anju opines that the Indian contingent set to participate this year have a bright chance of clinching medals and she especially mentions Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Neeraj Chopra, as well as national record holding long jumper Murali Sreeshankar.
“If you look at this year’s performance statistics, for the first time we have multiple medal hopes,” Anju told The Hindu on Thursday, “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. And when you look at performances in the world this year, (long jumper) Sreeshankar has a bright chance too.”
“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,” she went on, “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.”
Anju, who is the senior vice-president of the Athletics Federation of India, clinched bronze at the Paris World Championships in 2003, clocking 6.70 m in long jump. She believes that with India having three male athletes long jump and triple jump, at least two long jumpers will be able to reach the final but couldn’t predict the same regarding triple jumpers.
“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,” Anju added.
Speaking of Avinash Sable, set to participate in the 3000 metres steeplechase and the current national record holder, Anju believes that he will be met with tough competition but can potentially make a top six finish, and the 2019 Doha Worlds women’s javelin throw finalist Annu Rani, the first Indian ever to reach the javelin finals, can get into the top eights.
“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,” she concluded.
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