“The National Inter District Junior Athletics Meet (NIDJAM) is a great concept,” said Anju Bobby George on a visit to the Visakhapatnam Port Trust Diamond Jubilee Stadium in her capacity as the Government of India’s National Observer.
“It gives another chance to athletes from the country’s grassroot level to compete on a national platform, even if they didn’t do well at the state level,” said the first Indian to win a medal in a world championship. “From an earlier edition of this meet, I had picked up Deepanshi of UP and Kusuma of AP for the sprints and jumps academy that Bobby and I have set up in Kengeri, Bengaluru. The two are doing well,” she told Sportstar .
READ: Anju has big plans for Indian athletics
“With no scope for injury, we need more arenas like this,” she said gazing at the lush green surface of the venue before her which she hopes to replicate at her academy alongside a synthetic track. “Even small kids will be tempted to sports with such facilities and wouldn’t hesitate to take somersaults here,” said the former Chairperson of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), adding grass wasn’t just for cricket.
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On a mission to unearth junior (under 20 years) talent in sprints and jumps, she said the key to results was in spotting athletes with the right physiques and reactions cut out for certain disciplines. “Grooming them correctly from the early stages is vital, for to undo wrong methods and techniques takes time,” said the seasoned champ decorated with the Arjuna, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Padmashri awards.
“Sports is not just a science but should be entertainment too. Only then can we bring in the crowds. Winning in the west is a huge celebration,” she said, citing the example of Usain Bolt, who packed stadia wherever he went.
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