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Anju creates history, wins long jump bronze
rediff.com Sportsdesk |
August 30, 2003 23:32 IST
Last Updated: August 31, 2003 06:13 IST
Anju Bobby George created history at Paris on Saturday when she became the first Indian athlete ever to win a medal, a bronze, at the World Athletics Championships.
George clinched third place in the women's long jump competition with her fifth attempt of 6.70m, just 4cm under her personal best. She stands to gain US $20,000 [approximately Rs 9,18,000] after she clears the mandatory drug tests.
Home favourite Eunice Barber won the gold medal with a prodigious leap of 6.99m, the best jump this year, on her sixth and last attempt.
Russian Tatyana Kotova, who had the previous best jump this year of 6.94m and who had earlier tied Barber on 6.74m, had to be content with the silver medal.
George made a dream start to her bid for glory when she registered a jump of 6.61m on her very first attempt to grab the lead.
But then things began to go a little wrong for the Kerala athlete as she fouled her second attempt while former world champion Barber and Kotova responded with identical jumps of 6.74m to tie for first place.
George fouled her third attempt as well and slipped to fourth place as Jade Johnson of Great Britain registered a jump of 6.63m to move into the third spot. Barber and Kotova also fouled their attempts, to leave the contest interestingly poised.
At this stage, Olympics silver medallist Fiona May of Italy and former world champion Lyudmila Galkina of Russia, who had won the event at Athens in 1997, were eliminated from the competition, as they failed to be within the top eight jumpers.
George then avoided elimination by registering a clean jump on her fourth visit, clearing 6.56m, a distance that was matched by Kotova. Barber managed 6.48m on her fourth attempt and Johnson 6.42m.
Then, in the fifth round, George grabbed third place back with her season's best leap of 6.70m. Johnson and Barber fouled their attempts, while Kotova registered 6.72m, but both she and Barber remained tied in first place.
In her sixth and last attempt George managed 6.62m, but the bronze was hers when Johnson could only clear 6.53m.
Kotova then cleared 6.63m and it was all down to Barber, the last jumper of the event with her last attempt. Like a true champion, the Frenchwoman then unleashed her best jump of the season, 6.99m, just 2cm under her personal best registered four years ago, to claim the gold medal and send the home crowds into a frenzy of celebration.