|Anju Bobby George sails to glory in Paris on Saturday.
What makes me happy is how Anju Bobby George mixes humility with fame. Itís her attitude; thatís her USP. It makes for a great sportsperson, a great athlete.
I was there, among the cheerleaders at the Busan Asian Games and saw her gold-winning performance. And while she was going over the moon in accolades, she never really gave the impression that it was a goal in itself that had been reached.
It was clear to the eye. Back home, while a host of medal winners (and there were many in Busan) busied themselves attending felicitations and more felicitations, Anju hardly wasted time in getting back down to the basic business of improving her performance.
It was a mind that loves to think coolly, plan ahead and stick to it. She was just back from the Busan Games, and if I recall right, her training schedule had already been done, looking ahead to the Paris world meet. All this, mind you, ten months ago. It is only this level of planning, thought and dedication to the cause that can take you anywhere near your target.
And, while this is not to slight her abilities, having known her well enough, I can say all her breaks have come at the right time. This includes being trained by none other than the great Mike Powell. Look, luck is just a manifestation of all the hard work you have put in.
Also, having started early with exactly what she is best at, has been a boon. She took to athletics at school itself, and was particularly lucky that she attended a college Ė Trichur Vimala College Ė where the athletics coach specialised in jumps. Later, even when she married, she was fortunate in that her husband was himself was an athlete and somebody who could appreciate and encourage her own ambitions.
I think it is important for all women athletes to have the encouragement first from their parents and then from both their husband and his family.
Having moved to Kunnur from Kottayam did not affect her training at all. I much congratulate her husband on making this happen.
Knowing Anju, I am confident she wonít be content with winning the bronze in Paris. In fact, she must already have set her sight on Athens. Of course, the Olympics should be more competitive, yet itís not beyond Anju.
Does she have it in her to get a medal in Athens' The answer is yes. Firstly because of her own attitude, and then because of the kind of training programme she is undergoing. More importantly, unlike most Indian athletes, Anju at least comes close to her national best whenever she is overseas.
Discus thrower Neelam J. Singh, despite her immense experience, was not able to reproduce much of the national that she has been giving back home. I wasnít too satisfied seeing her finish 12th among 13 participants.
Obviously Anju is going to inspire an entire generation of athletes, and thatís so much good news today. However, the aspiring athletes must also learn from her attitude. Only then will Indian athletics take a significant step forward.
Also, given Anjuís success, the authorities must go out of their way to ensure that those with potential have the best of facilities made available to them. In athletics, this translates to being able train and compete in Europe and the US.
Remember how she clinched the silver at the Stockholm Super GP' You know, these successes provide that vital confidence jump to an athlete.
What was I doing last night' Actually, I was a little tense, and it was through the Internet that I first came to know that Anju has got that medal.
My message to her would be to not lose sight of her target and nothing, not even the spate of felicitations that await her should take her eye off that bullsí eye.
And why not' She has been blessed with a good height and a good physique. For a jumper, thatís excellent. She must utilise these physical attributes to the fullest.
I wish her all the best.