Entitled as the Sports Woman of the Year in 2004 and 2005 in the Hero Sports Academy Awards
Bestowed with the Jimmy George Award in 2004
Won a bronze medal in Long Jump at the IAAF World Championship of 2003, held in Paris and became the first Indian athlete ever to win a medal in a World Championship in Athletics with a jump of 6.70 m
Won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games of 2002, held in Manchester and received the Arjuna Award by the Government of India in 2002
Bagged a gold medal in Long Jump at the Asian Games of 2002 and earned a silver medal in 2006 in the Games
Conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2003
Bestowed with the Padma Shri award in 2004 for her sincere efforts in sports
Bagged a gold medal at the IAAF World Athletics Final in 2005
It is quite evident that India has potential athletes who have proved their knit and grit on several occasions. We all are familiar with the journey of the "Flying Sikh" Milkha Singh and "Payyoli Express" P.T. Usha who bagged numerous medals at national as well as continental stages but do you know the lady who scripted history by bagging India's first medal at the World Athletics Championship? This is the story of a regular girl from a small suburb of Changanasserry who dared to dream big and made the nation proud with her athletic achievements - Anju Bobby George, and here we have her amazing story that has become a legend and moreover an inspiration for the future athletes.
Mr. K. T. Markose, the head of a Kerala based Syrian orthodox family was blessed with a girl with gifted potentials whom he named "Anju" means "Blessing of the Mighty". Her strength was soon recognised by Mr. Markose who put every effort to polish her talent. Anju started her athletic training at Koruthode School and steadily developed an interest in sports. After completing her graduation from the Vimala College, Anju showed her knack for the first time during a school athletic meet in 1991 where she won the 100m hurdles and relay event and spotted the second position in the long jump and high jump events and owned the title of women's champion. Post that, Anju bagged the third position in 100m hurdles and 4 × 100m relays at the national school games and attracted maximum eyeballs.
Photo Credits: ibtimes.co.in
Although Anju initiated her athletic career as a heptathlete but soon switched to long jump after realising her strength in the particular discipline and went on to win a medal at the Delhi Junior Asian Championship of 1996. Within three years, the girl cemented her place in the heart of sports lovers and set a national record in triple jump with a dynamic performance at the Bangalore Federation Cup, held in 1999. The same year, she bagged a silver medal in the South Asian Federation Games, held in Nepal. In 2001, Anju competed at the National Circuit Meet, held in Thiruvananthapuram where she bettered her own record to 6.74m and also bagged gold medals in triple jump and long jump in the Ludhiana National Games. The year 2002 brought a big stage to Anju - the Commonwealth Games; where she earned a bronze medal clearing 6.49m inlong jump and also bagged a goldmedal at the Asian Games. The Government of India honoured Anju for her phenomenal career chart in Athletics. In 2003, Anju bagged India'sfirst medal at the World Championship in Athletics and scripted history. The same year, she also bagged a gold medal in the Afro-Asian Games.
Where other athletes were gathering compliments and looking for lucrative offers; Anju focussed on big stages. The following year, she spotted the fifth position in the Olympic Games, uplifting her personal best to 6.83m, which is the national record yet to surpass. Anju once again proved her knack by clinching a gold medal at the 16thAsian Athletics Championship with a leap of 6.65m and also won a gold medal at the IAAF World Athletics Final with a leap of 6.75m. In 2007, she spotted the second position in her discipline at the 15th Asian Games and the next year, added another silver with her invincible performance at the Asian Athletics Championship with a jump of 6.65m; qualifying for Osaka World Championship where she finished 9th. The year 2008 began by adding a silver medal to her accolades through her vivacious jump of 6.38m at the 3rd Asian Indoor Championship in athletics, held in Doha (Qatar). She improved this record with her victorious performance at the 3rd South Asian Athletics Championship where she leapt 6.50m.
Photo Credits: news18.com
Anju's impressive stats have always revealed her love for athletics but a legend never completes without failure. In fact, every successful story has some moments of failure and Anju too faced such phases in her career when she failed to earn a single medal at the Athens Olympics and in Beijing Olympics; where her all three attempts were declared as foul. But Anju gave all the credits of her strong will and support to her better half Mr. Robert Bobby George who himself is a national level triple jumper as he always stood as a strong pillar in holding Anju's potential and played the role of her coach very well giving up his athletic career in 1998.
At present, Anju is serving and encouraging sports as the Chairperson of Target Olympic Podium Scheme and is also the executive member of Indian Government's Khelo India campaign. Her athletic career has scintillated many Indian hearts; boosting them up to pursue a career in athletics and left no stone unturned defining what an Indian woman can do besides being a home-maker. In fact, it was her impressive techniques that later on became a lesson for all the burgeoning athletes. India is really proud to have an athlete like her.