Tokyo Olympics only priority now: javelin thrower Annu Rani

The most important box to tick for Indian javelin thrower Annu Rani is securing a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics, now scheduled for the summer of 2021.

Annu Rani

Annu Rani is now spending time with other throwers like Neeraj Chopra at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala.   -  Reuters

As the sporting fraternity grapples with the impact of COVID-19, India javelin thrower Annu Rani, who finds herself within the confines of the National Institute of Sports in Patiala, is determined to focus on the positives of the enforced break.

The most important box to tick for Annu and several others in the Indian contingent is securing a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics, now scheduled for the summer of 2021.

"It is the only priority now. In normal circumstances, we would have had the Federation Cup and I was sure of meeting the Olympic mark there," the national record holder told Sportstar on Wednesday.

The Olympic qualification mark stands at 64m. Annu registered a throw of 62.43 at the IAAF World Athletics Championships last year, bettering her own national record throw of 62.34m.

Annu and several members of the Indian throwing contingent were in Potchefstroom, South Africa when COVID-19 travel restrictions started being announced. She is now spending time with other throwers like Neeraj Chopra in Patiala but does not have the facilities to practice throwing regularly. The focus, therefore, is on keeping fitness levels high and adapting to a sudden change in momentum and routine.

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"We are currently training with medicine balls. We are trying to add routines that mimic our throwing action out there on the ground. So basic strength exercises, weight training, and core exercises are part of my routine," Annu said, identifying her diet as the area that needs more commitment from her during downtime.

"We are not used to sitting at home. Our schedules are always geared towards tournaments or regimen. So our diets need focus. I now have to eat smaller portions as the load isn't as heavy. I have cornflakes, bread, paneer, and some fruit in the morning. Roti and a curry at noon, a beverage and some snacks in the evening and roti with a vegetable perhaps for dinner. But I can't eat as much as I would in normal circumstances," she added with a chuckle.

Annu has not been home in quite a long time but insists that it was an option in times like this.

"I do miss home but I would have to spend 14 days in quarantine every time I change location. I don't have facilities to train back home so it did not make sense to go back now. I will head home once Tokyo is handled and when it is safe too," she said.

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Life in Patiala without a hectic timetable can get slow. Books and motivational videos are keeping Annu company. "I've been reading a book by Swami Vivekananda and also this book about Michael Phelps. I like inspirational stories and try to find things like this on YouTube also. If I ever want to take up something else in life, these videos help with some inspiration and advice," she explained.

Annu has also begun to make notes about her performance and training to keep track of her progress, something she says she did not find time for before. "I have a few technical improvements I am working on. I realise my pace lowers in the last jump which impacts how far I can throw. So when I watch videos of my throws, or when I train now, I make notes that will help me when I get back on the field," Annu said.

She also shares that athletes in training are regularly in touch with the Athletics Federation of India. Annu also receives support from the Inspire Institute of Sport where she occasionally trains. "Physios, dieticians, and psychologists are regularly in touch with us. We are getting all the support we need. The only request I have to the federation is to help us get back to the ground as soon as possible," she added.