An excellent effort

ANJU B. GEORGE finished fourth in the long jump competition of the Golden Gala meet in Rome. She is the first Indian woman to compete in a Golden League meet and she became the highest placed Indian in Grand Prix events, after the sprint queen P. T. Usha, who in 1985 had won two silver and two bronze medals.

Outside of the Grand Prix canvas, at joint 13th, Anju is the highest ranked Indian in the current World list, male or female.

This was Anju's Grand Prix debut. As such her 6.51m for the fourth spot was an excellent effort, no matter she has had better marks this season itself, not to talk of her National mark of 6.74m, registered last year.

But then National marks and personal bests do not always count when it comes to top-level international competitions. In a contest in which the reigning Olympic champion, Heike Drechsler of Germany, and the reigning World champion, Fiona May of Italy, could do no better than 12th (6.07m) and 10th (6.23m) places respectively, Anju's feat stood out.

Ahead of her were the Commonwealth Games champion Elva Goulbourne of Jamaica (6.71), the World indoor champion, Tatyana Kotova of Russia (6.63) and American Grace Upshaw (6.56).

Jet-lag and nerves affected Anju, she and husband and coach Bobby George conveyed from Rome. But she is determined to improve upon her best this season (6.65m) in the coming weeks in the run-up to the World championships in Paris. She has been training under World record holder Mike Powell in California since April-end.