A pioneer of Indian athletics Anju Bobby George said Indian athletes need to gain better big competition experience in order to perform well at major events like the Olympics. Former long jumper Anju broke a number of barriers for Indian athletes when she became the first and so far only Indian world champion at the IAAF World Athletics Final in 2005. At the 2003 World Championships, she had become the first Indian athlete ever to win a medal in athletics jumping with a bronze. She also achieved the fifth place in 2004 Athens Olympics with her personal best of 6.83.
According to Anju, Indian athletes are unable to pull off their best performance in the Olympics because it is a huge stage that brings with it immense pressure and they are not equipped for it. In a media interaction, Anju said that athletes here do not want to compete in the biggest of competitions and hence, lack the overall experience. “Most of our athletes do not believe in competition and instead rely on training, that is where they are lacking. We need the experience of big level competition in order to perform well when the time comes. When I went to the Olympics, I had the experience of some 50 competitions before that. Out athletes lack that because they don’t believe in competitions while other countries take it very seriously," she said.
Anju said that Indian athletes need to concentrate on increasing their rankings and then look to participate at the biggest of the athletics competitions and gain valuable experience from them. She said it was the responsibility of the coaches or the athletes’ managers to plan ahead. “We have to take it level-by-level. We have to concentrate on our rankings and try for the biggest competitions. There are B Level competitions for athletes who do not have a very high ranking. So, the coaches or the managers of the athletes should be planning in advance about which competitions would be the best for them, where they can aim to do their best and prepare accordingly. It’s not going to happen overnight but there needs to be good planning," she responded to a question from News18.com.
Anju also believed that it’s better to have a group of athletes from a country pushing each other instead of just a lone icon. “It’s always better to have a group of athletes instead of just one. When you have a pack, you can train together, push each other and go for better results. When I was there, I didn’t have anyone to push me beyond my mark. When you are alone, you train just on your own and all the pressure also is only on that one athlete, which also makes a difference."
Anju was asked whether results in shooting and athletics could be compared as the number of competitions the shooters had was a lot and yet, they couldn’t hit the mark in the Olympics.
She responded saying, “Athletics is something different and shooting is different. Athletics, when we get more exposure that experience is enough to compete in the top level competition but shooting actually depends on many other aspects. Shooting’s World cup not like Athletics World Championship and most of the times the top athletes are not competing and taking it light but in athletics, all the athletes take the top competition very seriously. So, both are different events and exposure and experience is different. Competition in athletics, it’s a global event, more popular than shooting in all over the world, and the toughness is also that much but definitely, we need that experience. This time our Indian shooters, they really did well in World Cups but slightly disappointing at the Olympics."
Watch Live action of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on SONY SIX, SONY TEN 2, SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) channels