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Anju faces tough challenge

August 27, 2003 21:37 IST

World No. 8 Anju Bobby George will have to produce her best performance to qualify for the women's long jump final at the World Athletics Championships in Paris on Thursday.

Anju, competing in Group B, will have to achieve the automatic qualifying mark of 6.65 metres to reach the final, which will be held on Saturday.

Incidentally, 6.65 metres is Anju's best performance this season, but her personal best is 6.74 metres, which is also the national record.

However, the Indian, who had been training under the legendary Mike Powell in the United States, will be not overawed by the occassion, having competed in the elite IAAF Super Grand Prix circuit this year.

The top contenders in the 25-year-old Indian's group include Russian Tatyana Kotova, triple jump World record holder Inessa Kravets of Ukraine, Eunice Barber of France and Fiona May of Italy, all with personal bests of above the seven metre mark.

Kotava leads the field of 27 with a season's best of 6.94m and a personal best of 7.42m. There are 13 contestants  in Group A while the other group has 14 athletes.

If the Asian Games gold medallist makes the final she will be only the second Indian to achieve the feat after discus thrower Neelam Jaswant Singh created history becoming the first Indian athlete to do so last Saturday. However, Neelam could only finish a poor 12th in a field of 13.

India has assembled an all-women contigent at the World championships, which also comprises the 4x400 relay team.

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