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Medal is a gift for India: Anju

September01, 2003 00:18 IST

Wish Anju George | Images

Having made history with her bronze medal-winning effort at the World Athletics Championships in Paris on Saturday, long jumper Anju Bobby George said her feat is a 'gift' for the country which is yet to see an Olympic medal winning athlete.

Anju, an Asian Games gold medallist, became the first Indian ever to win a medal at the World Championships when she recorded a leap of 6.70 metres.

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"It is a gift for India," said the athlete as the news of her achievement was lapped up by fans, media and sports administrators with pleasant disbelief.

But the 26-year-old said she had felt 'confident' since the morning of the eventful day.

"I was feeling confident when I woke up this morning," she said.

Perhaps a little more confident was her coach, the legendary Mike Powell, who said he is now hoping for a gold from her.

"She is a natural jumper. I'm looking forward to her winning the gold in Athens," said Powell, winner of the world titles in 1991 and 1993.

Anju also said Athens is her next target and she'll do everything to break the Olympic athletics medal jinx of India.

"But we need better guidance and better facilities. However, the government has sponsored us and is supporting us to go elsewhere (for training)," she said.

Congratulating Anju on her historic effort, Amateur Athletic Federation of India secretary Lalit Bhanot on Sunday said her performance will spur other athletes to come up with medals in global competition.

"She has made us all proud by coming up with the best ever performance by an Indian athlete at a World Championship. I hope this will inspire other athletes to bring laurels to the country by winning medals in such competitions," Bhanot said.

"She made the best use of whatever financial and other support she got from the government, AAFI and the Indian Olympics Association.

"But to perform well at the international level consistently, the athletes need to participate more in leading global meets and compete against top performers of the world," he said.

"Realising this we are encouraging deserving athletes to take part in international meets and the government is also lending a helping hand," Bhanot said.

Bhanot said though Mike Powell provided Anju with some 'technical help' to win the medal, the entire credit should go to Anju for achieving something which had eluded Indians for a long time.

"Powell is a very good coach and he must have helped her in her efforts. But Anju achieved this distinction only because of her hard work and sincerity."

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