World Athletics Championships: Annu Rani calls for equal opportunities for women athletes

Indian javelin star Annu Rani, who finished eighth in the final of the World Athletics Champions, called for giving equal opportunities for women in sport.

Annu Rani, the first Indian to make it to the women's javelin throw final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships, finished eighth in the final.   -  Reuters

A creditable eight-place finish in the World Athletics Championships under her belt, India’s top javelin thrower Annu Rani has called for giving equal opportunities to women in sport.

Annu became the first Indian woman javelin thrower to qualify for the final round of the World Championships as she broke her own national record in the qualification round on Monday with a throw of 62.43m. Annu, however, failed short of the distance in the final as she could only produce a best of 61.12m from the eight attempts.

“I got a lot of support and I want to thank them. I want to say that women should also be given equal opportunities (in sport) and people should believe in them. They can also perform very well and give very good results,” Annu, who belongs to Badal village near Meerut, said after her event.

“This is my second World Championships and I am feeling good to reach the final and finish eighth. In the final, I could not do better than my qualification round performance but I am happy with the eight place finish. I will do better in future,” she added.

The 27-year-old Annu had failed to qualify for the finals in the last edition in 2017 in London where she had come up with a best throw of 59.93m to finish 20th overall in the qualification round.

Annu could have won a medal in the 2018 Asian Games but a disappointing best throw of 53.93m placed her in the sixth position in the final round and she said she needed help through counselling and motivational videos to come out of that difficult period in her career.

“I was mentally down after the 2018 Asian Games. It took time to come back after that. I motivated myself and that is how I am here today,” she said.

“I needed (counselling kind of thing) to motivate myself, I watched motivational videos on youtube. The experience after the 2018 disappointment made me learn a lot of things, how struggles make you strong. Now I am feeling mentally strong.”

She said she will need to improve upon her technique and rein in her tendency to be aggressive during competitions.

“I have strength but there are flaws in my technique and I am trying to improve on those. If I do that I will be able to achieve Olympic qualification mark which is 64m and I hope to do that. My ultimate aim is an Olympic medal.

“There was improvement in my technique and it was going on very well during training. But during competitions, I become a bit aggressive and that is the problem. I have to curb this,” said Annu, who won a silver in the Asian Championships at this same venue in April.

Asked about her experience of the training stint in Europe before the World Championships, she said, “The training in Europe helped me a lot, especially the stint in Czech Republic where I got a lot of chance to compete with top throwers. Training under Uwe Hohn also helped in learning a lot.

“But I realised that in India, athletes have late starts while those of other countries begin very young. So we have to make improvements in techniques.”