This could be India’s best World Championships, says Anju Bobby George

George, the only Indian athlete to win a medal at the Worlds so far, feels that Neeraj Chopra and M Sreenshankar have bright chances to land medals at Eugene.

Anju, who won the long jump bronze 19 years ago at the 2003 Paris Worlds, feels that is a strange year in athletics for the form of many of the world’s best, in events like the long jump, have been slipping in recent competitions.

Anju, who won the long jump bronze 19 years ago at the 2003 Paris Worlds, feels that is a strange year in athletics for the form of many of the world’s best, in events like the long jump, have been slipping in recent competitions. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU

George, the only Indian athlete to win a medal at the Worlds so far, feels that Neeraj Chopra and M Sreenshankar have bright chances to land medals at Eugene.

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 Sportstar 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.

“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 19 years ago at the 2003 Paris Worlds, feels that is a strange year in athletics for the form of many of the world’s best, in events like the long jump, have been slipping in recent competitions.

“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.”

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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