When Anju Bobby George won bronze at the World Athletics Championships in 2003
- She was the first Indian athlete to win a medal at the World Athletics Championships
- The long jumper was born with one kidney
- She registered a 6.70 metres jump to win the bronze medal
One of the most well-known names in the Indian athletics circuit, Anju Bobby George is often considered as one of the greatest athletes India has ever produced. The Kerala-born athlete set several national records during her career, some of which are still intact. However, she made headlines once again on July 24, when one of her achievements, of winning a medal at the World Athletics Championships, was equalled by Neeraj Chopra in men’s javelin throwing.
George, who is currently a senior vice-president of the Athletics Federation of India, has been a staunch supporter of Chopra since long. After Chopra equalled her achievement on July 22, she was quick to congratulate him on the same.
However, while Chopra is undoubtedly one of the best athletes to come out of India, one can not put George in a different designation. In an era, when winning an international medal was something almost out of bounds for Indian athletes, the long jumper did it with finesse and did it often. The bronze medal that she won at the World Athletics Championships in 2003, remained India’s only medal at the event for 19 years, and nobody was able to match it, before Neeraj Chopra came. But, how did she manage to do it all those years ago?
Anju Bobby George was a rising star when the centuries turned. Born in 1977, George was already an established name in the domestic circles, having won several medals in the National games, along with the South Asian Federation Games.
Her consistency allowed to qualify for the World Athletics Championships 2003, which was organised in Paris. She was born with one kidney, so the historic feat was an even harder thing for her to achieve.
George was nursing an injury, when she appeared for the World Athletics Championships in 2003. Her husband turned coach, Robert, had taken her on a holiday to Paris, where the event was held. While she did not have an idea that she would go on to participate at the event, she did so, eventually.
She registered a jump of 6.61 metres to begin her campaign in the finals. However, after that the performance went downhill as she committed two fouls which brought her down in the rankings. Jade Johnson of Great Britain had overtaken her to advance with a 6.63 metres jump. However, George came back with a 6.70 metres jump, which was enough to beat Johnson and finish at the third position in the standings.
After her fifth attempt, George was unsure of her success, as she thought she was not good enough. However, she turned the tables on Johnson with that attempt, and became India’s first-ever athlete to win a medal at the World Athletics Championships.
Over the course of the next years, she went on to win many more medals, both domestic and international, to cement her side as one of India’s greatest ever athletes.