Erstwhile long jumper Anju Bobby George says that the Indian athletes will continue to languish at the global stage until they aspire to compete regularly at top level international events, reported PTI.
George, the only Indian athlete to have won a medal in the World Championships with a long jump bronze in 2003, said that most of the Indian athletes pay emphasis on training rather than going out and competing at the international events.
She also feels that the top Indian athletes should now have managers of their own and embrace professionalism just like the Americans and the Europeans have been doing.
“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,” George said.
“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.
Explaining further how an Indian athlete should go about if he or she wants success at the global stage, George said, “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.
Asked who will sanction the funds for taking part in these top-level international events, she said, “Sanctioning money is the government’s job but it is also about athletes being professional.”
“You are a professional athlete and your manager or coach should take care of everything: Your travel, your training, your schedule etc. 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 doing it 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 added.
Anju also stressed upon the need to groom athletes at the junior level to produce top performers at the senior level later on.
“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.
She lamented about the lack of interest by state governments to host National Championships which led to athletes having to compete in adverse weather conditions many a times. Many athletes and coaches have expressed concern at the recent Federation Cup being held under hot conditions at the NIS Patiala.
“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 none of the states were ready to host these events.”
‘We’re still preparing the document for 2004 Olympics’
George has recently decided to approach the International Olympic Committee to investigate into the results of 2004 Olympics after all the podium finishers – Russians Tatyana Lebedeva, Irina Simagina and Tatyana Kotova – failed drugs tests in other competitions. George had finished fifth with an effort of 6.83m.
When asked about updates on her efforts together with Australia’s Bronwyn Thompson and Britain’s Jade Johnson who had finished fourth and sixth respectively, she said, “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,” the 40-year-old said.