India’s legendary long jumper Anju Bobby George said that if Indian athletes want to perform well at world stage, they need to participate and compete regularly at top level international events. The only Indian athlete to clinch a medal in the World Championships said that many Indian athletes focus on training but not showing up at the international events.
Anju, who clinched a bronze medal in World championships 2003, feels that Indian athletes, just like the European and American athletes, should have their own managers. “Infrastructure is much better now than in our time, but the main thing is that we are stuck at where we are because our athletes are still believing only in training, we are not going out for international competitions,” was quoted as saying by PTI.
“Actually, we are doing only the training part which is the 50 per cent part. But peaking in competitions and peaking in high level competitions through Grand Prix and Diamond League events is not happening in India,” she said.
Anju also explained about how can Indian athlete attain success at the global stage, saying,”We are still believing that we can train hard in the country and go for World Championships or Olympics. That is not the correct way, that is not going to give you a medal in the Olympics or World Championships.
“That is not the way how the Americans or the Europeans are doing. You need to take part in other top level international competitions. I was doing in such a way (like the Americans or the Europeans were doing), that was why I got success at that level,” she added.
She said that government should sanction the money for these top level international events,”Sanctioning money is the government’s job but it is also about athletes acting like a professionals.
“You are a professional athlete and your manager or coach should take care of everything…your travel, your training, your schedule, etc. All these you have to do, it is all about bringing professionalism in yourself. It is not the federation’s job. The Americans and the Europeans, they are professional athletes and they are going all by their own.
“This is to be done individually. If you are in top 10 or top 20, you will get entry in these big international events, including in the Diamond League series. You have to apply for these events and if you are among the top bracket, you will get invited,” she further elaborated.
Anju also feels that athletes should be groomed at the junior level so that they can become consistent at the senior level. “Actually our juniors are doing well, we have a junior world record holder in javelin (Neeraj Chopra). But there is a gap between the juniors and the seniors. We need to bridge this gap and we have to focus more on youth. That is what the AFI is doing now,” she said.
Anju stressed upon the fact that lack of interest shown by the state governments to host National Championships was the biggest reason for the athletes for not being able to compete in tough weather conditions.
“No state is ready to host championships, it’s very expensive. The states do not want to hold these events and it will have to be staged somewhere. So, it is being held in this kind of weather. During this time, South India is better suited but no south Indian states was ready to host these events.”
She also made up her mind to approach the International Olympic Committee about 2004 Olympics results as all the athletes who finished on the podium — Russians Tatyana Lebedeva, Irina Simagina and Tatyana Kotova — failed drugs tests in other competitions.
Anju was ranked fifth with an effort of 6.83m and the other two athletes finsihing below Anju, Australia’s Bronwyn Thompson and Britain’s Jade Johnson are also helping her in preparing the documents. “We are still preparing the document, we have to collect a lot of documents. It is not easy.
“We cannot give a vague statement, we have to give a strong case, solid evidence. But things are happening. The AFI is willing to support me and government is also supporting. It is the case of a medal for the country.”Anju concluded.