Anju’s three foul jumps add to Indian athletics misery

August 19th, 2008 - 2:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 19 (IANS) It was the kind of exit Anju Bobby George may not have had in her worst nightmare as she crashed out with three foul jumps in the Olympic long jump qualification here Tuesday morning.Anju’s ‘X-X-X’ (all foul jumps) ouster added to the pathetic showing of the Indian track and field contingent at the Games, where not a single athlete has progressed beyond the first stage. And worse, all of them have performed at levels way below what they had achieved to get into the Olympic team.

The 31-year-old Kerala jumper, who had been way below her best even in the run-up to the Games, said she hurt her ankle during the warm-up and could not come up with a good showing. In any case, she stepped over the board on all her three attempts and did not record a single legal jump.

With the automatic qualification for the final set at 6.75m, Anju needed a performance way above what she has been achieving in recent months to make the grade. At Athens, she did make the final and finished sixth with a best of 6.83m, a mark she has not been able to come close for some time now.

In the end, she crumbled under pressure, though some of the officials expressed surprise at her not being able to record a single jump. “An experienced athlete like her should have at least recorded a legal jump in the first or second attempt and then tried to go all out,” he said.

Anju herself was very upset. “I hurt my ankle in the warm-up. But since this is the Olympics I did not want to pull out. I tried my best but I was unable to do anything,” she said and was seen clutching her ankle after the final attempt.

Britney Reese of the US was the top qualifier with a best of 6.87m in Group B, where Anju was one of the only two athletes not to record a single distance. In Group A, the top qualifier was Maureen Higa Maggi of Brazil with 6.79m.

The last of the 12 qualifiers trooped in at 6.60m and it was Chelsea Hammond of Jamaica who made the grade at that distance.

Anju has not been able to make an impression at the world level ever since her bronze medal in the 2003 World Championships in Paris and then silver at the 2005 IAAF World Athletics final. In 2003, she had cleared 6.70m to become the first Indian athlete ever to win a medal in the World Championships of Athletics.

Now the Indian challenge in the track and field rests solely with the 4X400 women’s relay squad comprising Mandeep Kaur, Chitra Soman, S Geetha, Sini Jose, M R Povamma and K Mridula.

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