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Anju set for 2nd stint with Powell

Chennai: One of India’s brightest prospects for a medal in the Athens Olympics next year, long-jumper Anju Bobby George, will leave for California on Wednesday, to train once again under the watchful eyes of the world record holder Mike Powell.

The 25-year-old Kerala girl, employed with the Chennai Customs, said she was concentrating on a medal in the 2004 Olympics.

“Being the best in Asia, I think it is time I competed in more world championships. Once before, I had trained under Mike Powell. I am confident that my performance will improve well in time to clinch a medal for India in the Olympics,” she said.

Listing out her plans for the future, Anju’s husband, Bobby George, who also doubles up as her coach, said: “We had planned our tour to the US by January last but sponsorship confirmation and other matters delayed our trip. I understand Mike was already training people for various world level events.

“It will be a training-cum-competition tour. We will be finalising the schedule on April 24 with Mike. Anju will be competing in the outdoor world championship in Paris in August,” Bobby said.

Anju, who bid goodbye to triple jump after leaping to new distance of 13.67 metres in the National Games in Hyderabad last December, had said the move was in order to concentrate on sprints to improve her long jump performance.

The 1.76m tall Anju is ranked 13th in the world and was ranked seventh in the World Indoor Championship in Birmingham.

Bobby is confident Anju will be able to improve her performance enough to make it to the top third in the world before she pitched for the Olympics medal.

“She has world class credentials and feels she could win an Olympic medal for India,” he said.

“I am aware of the hard work that is needed for securing a medal in Athens Olympics. I was to start my preparation towards achieving this goal from February last but it is better late than never. I still have another 17 months to make steady progress in making my dream come true,” Anju said.

Anju, whose initial training with Powell would be for six months at the California University, said, “I derive encouragement from fans in India and the Union government, besides my employers, the Customs. We are still looking forward to financial help from corporates without which I cannot dream of competing in European circuits, which will only help improve my performance.”

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