Anju George amazing

Published : Jun 30, 2001 00:00 IST


LAST year, at the same venue, she had limped off the field virtually in tears. And as she cried, unable to stand the excruciating pain in her right ankle, which she had injured a couple of days ago in Nagercoil, the sad exit from the competition was also to signal the shattering of Anju B. George's dream of representing the country in the Sydney Olympics.

Life, indeed, has come a full circle. And in contrast to that rather gloomy scene witnessed almost nine months back, Anju, fully recovered, was a picture of joy at the University Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram earlier this month as she returned to competitive arena in the second leg of the Domestic Circuit meet. Her eyes glowed, reflecting fully her happiness at having performed the 10th best jump in the world in the ongoing calendar year.

The terrific feat of 6.74m, which also erased her own existing National record of 6.59m (achieved in a mixed competition in Bhopal in January, 2000), was in fact not only a reflection of her prowess in her chosen event, but also mirrored the mental strength of this 23-year-old, who only a day earlier was told that the long jump competition itself could be a casualty if more athletes didn't join the fray. At that stage, with less than 24 hours remaining, Anju was the lone competitor to have confirmed participation, there being no word from either Pramila Ganapathy or Soma Biswas.

The trio had remained away from the first leg in Nagercoil, forcing the cancellation of the event. And again the same threat held before two young Kerala girls - Anisha K. Vijayan and Smitha Francis - helped Anju to her sensational act. Though fully aware that they stood no chance against the reigning National champion, the sportive Anisha and Smitha were only helping a senior athlete return to competition after a long lay-off. The two, in turn, were fully rewarded as well by Anju, for the latter's sensational effort should have been a great lesson to them in the art of long jumping.

Undoubtedly, it was a near-perfect jump and it came quite early in the competition. Anju gained speed on the hard and totally wornout runway as she approached the take-off, got the board and then effortlessly carried herself to the record distance. In her second attempt, Anju did an equally good 6.63m, though her take-off was slightly awkward in action this time around. The final drag during this effort was to cause pain in her right ankle after which Anju took no chances. She passed her next two jumps, cautious enough not to aggravate the injury and rule herself out of the World championship in Edmonton, Canada, in early August, for which she now looks to be a certainity.

Anju's momentous effort, though left her behind by one centimetre from attaining the 'A' standard set for qualification for the Edmonton meet, was nevertheless a good 9 cm better than the 'B' standard of 6.65m. Moreover, it also meant that only Tatyana Kotova (Russia, 6.95m), Valentina Gotovska (Latvia, 6.88m), Maurren Higa Maggi (Brazil, 6.87m), Erica Johansson (Sweden, 6.87m), Eunice Barber (France, 6.81m), Niki Xanthou (Greece, 6.80m), Jackie Edwards (Bahamas, 6.78m), Niurka Montalvo (Spain, 6.78m), Yingnan Guan (China, 6.77m) and Fiona May (Italy, 6.76m) in that order have jumped to a better distance than Anju during the current year.

In more ways than one, Anju single-handedly was also to help one forget all the disappointment in Nagercoil a couple of days ago. But the hapless victim on this count was Jincy Philip who upstaged the favourite, K. M. Beenamol, in the women's 400m, the first-ever defeat over the distance for the latter in two years. Beenamol had run the 200m in Nagercoil despite suffering from fever and won. And here, though she was quite weak, Beenamol was in the lead until the last 40m before Jincy, who ran a good tactical race, reserving her energy for that final kick, overtook her and dashed to a memorable win, though timed at only 54.04s.

Apart from the two, the other notable performer in the same section was young Kavita Pandya, who ran well once again to corner all the glory in the 100m though with a slightly poorer time than she had found herself in the limelight at the first leg. The Mumbai girl had a good start once again and she proved to be a terrific finisher as well while turning the tables on the likes of Pandeswari and Vinita Tripathy, who in the Kerala capital finished a poor fourth (behind P. V. Sindhu of Kerala) at 12.85s. The other track event also failed to bring about something exiciting as Madhuri A. Singh finished streets ahead of her rivals in the 1500m.

Neelam Jaswant Singh, however, had a tough time before she could reign supreme. The Railway athlete, though starting off with a 55.18m in her opening attempt, almost looked to be in danger of losing a second time in as many years at the National level when team-mate Sugan Yadav overtook her with a throw measuring 56.22m off her second trial. But then, the wily Neelam was to reply with a 56.40m in her last throw and seal the gold for a second consecutive time. Besides the winning throw, Neelam had in her third trial thrown the disc to a distance of 56.17m while Sugan simply faded away with a foul and a poor 53.20m in her subsequent two throws. Seema Antil proved to be a disappointment once again, finishing with a best of 55.70m to earn the bronze.

In the men's section, Navpreet Singh was once again in focus as he took the shot put gold ahead of Jaiveer Singh with a throw of 18.27m; the only thrower among the four to touch the 18m mark. With Kuldip Mann and Mukesh Singh fouling their first trials, Jaiveer led the field with a 17.37m effort at the end of the first round before fouling all his following three attempts. Navpreet, who had thrown 17.28m in his first trial, had two fouls in the following throws before he landed the 16-pound iron ball to a distance of 18.27m. Mann overtook Jaiveer for the silver with his last attempt, measuring 17.41m.

Like the 22-year-old Navpreet, Fazal Ansari also repeated his winning feat at Nagercoil in the javelin throw. The young Armyman touched 70m in all his four attempts and had a best of 74.68m as he once again upset the seasoned B. S. Dubey of LIC, who threw the spear to a distance of 73.40m. Ranjit Moria of the Police altered the medal pattern of the first leg by edging out Sunil Goswami (LIC) for the bronze. Moria finished with 72.36m, narrowly ahead of Goswami whose best for the day was 72.30m. In the other throw event on the cards, Ishtiaque Ahmed (63.38m) took the hammer gold ahead of Nagercoil winner Pramod Tiwari (63.30m).

On the track, it was a second-in-a-row for Satvir Singh (this time though in the 400m) and P. S. Primesh, the latter once again winning the 800m. Running a lead race in his typical style, the Kerala boy gave no chance for K. M. Binu to catch up with him even as he finished with an improved time of 1:54.83. Satvir Singh, like in the first leg, proved to be made of sterner stuff as he outran both Lijo David Thottan and Jata Shankar in the one-lapper before clocking a winning time of 47.85s. Arun D' Souza finally has his pride restored as he won the 800m ahead of Joseph Baxla, but what stood out from these events was the effortless win eked out by Sandeep Sarkaria of Delhi in the 100m.

The young Delhi sardar ran a good race down the stretch as he caught up with the initial leader, Clifford Joshua, at the 80m-mark and hit the tape first at 10.69s. Anand Menezes, with a final lunge, took the bronze and this sent C. Thirugnanadurai, winner of the first-leg, outside the medal bracket. True, that the worn out conditions did come in the way for those in the track to provide their best, but what could not be missed out was the pathetic failure of long jump winner, Satish Kumar, to do something to match the awe-inspiring show uncorked by Anju earlier. What a pity!

The results:

Men: 100m: 1. Sandeep Sarkaria (Del) 10.69s, 2. Clifford Joshua (Kar) 10.76s, 3. Anand Menezes (Rly) 10.84s. 400m: 1. Satvir Singh (SSCB) 47.85s, 2. Lijo David Thottan (Rly) 48.32s, 3. Jata Shankar (Pol) 48.93s. 800m: 1. P. S. Primesh (Ker) 1:54.83, 2. K. M. Binu (Rly) 1:55.51, 3. K. A. Jayakumar (Pol) 1:55.99. 1500m: 1. Arun D'Souza (Kar) 4:00.50, 2. Joseph Baxla (Pol) 4:00.55, 3. Rajesh Kumar (SSCB) 4:07.36. Long jump: 1. Satish Kumar (Har) 7.42m, 2. Robin M. Varghese (Ker) 7.31m, 3. Anil Kumar (Ker) 7.13m. Shot put: 1. Navpreet Singh (Pol) 18.27m, 2. Kuldip Mann (Pol) 17.41m, 3. Jaiveer Singh (SSCB) 17.37m. Hammer throw: 1. Ishtiaque Ahmed (U.P.) 63.38m, 2. Pramod Tiwari (U.P.) 63.30m, 3. Nirbhay Singh (SSCB) 59.10m. Javelin throw: 1. Fazal Ansari (SSCB) 74.68m, 2. B. S. Dubey (LIC) 73.40m, 3. Ranjit Moria (Pol) 72.36m.

Women: 100m: 1. Kavita Pandya (Rly) 11.84s, 2. V. Pandeswari (Rly) 11.97s, 3. P. V. Sindhu (KSEB) 12.64s. 400m: 1. Jincy Philip (Pol) 54.04s, 2. K. M. Beenamol (Rly) 54.27s, 3. R. Sukumari (Ker) 56.32s. 1,500m: 1. Madhuri A. Singh (Ben) 4:34.95, 2. Harjit Kaur (Pun) 4:35.26, 3. Preeja Sreedharan (Ker) 4:45.27. Long jump: 1. Anju B. George (nee Markose) (T.N.) 6.74m - New National Record; OR - 6.59m, Anju K. Markose), 2. Anisha K. Vijayan (Ker) 5.52m, 3. Smitha Francis (Ker) 5.31m. Discus throw: 1. Neelam J. Singh (Rly) 56.40m, 2. Sugan Yadav (Rly) 56.22m, 3. Seema Antil (Pol) 55.70m.

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