I am close to the others — Anju

K. P. MOHAN

LIFE in Paris, as they got ready for the most important assignment of their career, was not easy for Anju and Bobby George. But they weren't cribbing. They knew it all along that it would tough. Bobby has that single-minded approach that makes all the difference at the highest level. And Anju has the talent.

The Sportstar caught up with her, on phone to Paris, just after the Madrid Super Grand Prix where she won the silver.

Question: How have been the preparations for the Olympics?

Answer: I haven't got the kind of results expected in competitions. The build-up in Bangalore was good. The series in America (Eugene) was good. But then there were problems in competitions. There were mistakes that had to be corrected. That has taken time.

How confident are you as you approach the Olympics?

Confidence level is high. I know that I am around 30 centimetres up from last year in terms of confidence and my jumping ability. Last year I was nowhere near a medal in World championships as we set out. But that is not the case now. I know that I am close to the others. We are going early to Athens. An intense period of training, say for about 20 days, should put me on track for the Games.

Was there anything lacking as you prepared for Athens?

Had there been proper machines in Bangalore, it would have been ideal. I should have had one more training session in Bangalore towards attaining that seven-metre mark. But then we couldn't do it. Rains came in the last session.

I was doing training jumps of 6.75 and above. I did manage to do 6.70-6.80 and 6.80-6.85 at Bangalore. But I couldn't reach 6.90-6.95 and 6.95-7.00 since the last cycle was ruined.

Even in Europe the training has not been very well organised up to Stockholm. There were distractions. It is disturbing when you upset a schedule.

How does the body feel compared to Paris last year?

At the time of the World championships last year the body was `dead'. It was not responding the way I wanted it to. Now, it looks more active.

Was the slump in Rome (6.41m) a setback? Even this 6.62 in Madrid?

Not really. There were foul jumps, which I know were close to seven metres. If I had been touching say 6.50 even for foul jumps, it would have been a concern. I know I am there, close to seven metres. It is only a matter of putting together a few things to get a right jump.

What will be the distance required for a medal in Athens?

I think the gold will be between 7 and 7.10, the silver between 6.95 and 6.98 to seven plus and the bronze around 6.95.

You have the confidence of reaching at least 6.95 then?

Answer: Yes.