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Anju’s best not good enough

Athens, Aug. 27: Anju Bobby George pulled off her career-best performance in the women’s long jump final in Athens tonight but could not gift India its first field and track Olympic medal.

All the three medals were bagged by Russia. Tatyana Lebedeva won the gold (7.07 m), Irina Simagina the silver and Tatyana Kotova the bronze (both 7.05 m).

Anju finished sixth while Marion Jones of the US was fifth.

The real surprise of the day was sprung by the Indian women’s relay team that entered the final of the 4 x 400 m race. The quartet of Rajwinder Kaur, K.M. Beenamol, Chitra K. Soman and Manjit Kaur posted a new national record of 3 minutes, 26.89 seconds. The final will be held tomorrow.

Anju jumped 6.83 m on her first try, equalling her wind-assisted performance in Oregon on June 19. Her official personal best before this was 6.74 m.

The jump with a wind speed within the permissible limit for record purposes also bettered her national record of 6.74 m set in Thiruvananthapuram in 2001 and later equalled in Delhi in 2002.

But she slipped to 6.75 m in the second attempt and fouled in the third. In the fourth round, Anju finished at 6.68 m. The fifth fetched her 6.61 m on the scorecard, while the sixth was a foul.

In the relay, India finished third behind favourites US (3:23.79) and hosts Greece (3:26.70) to qualify for the final.

Manjit Kaur ran a scorching last leg after taking the baton in fifth place from third runner Chitra to anchor India to the third spot and an automatic entry into the title round.

This is only the second time that India has made it to the final of relay after the P.T. Usha-anchored squad achieved the feat in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

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