Anju gets her gold finally

Athletics

Anju gets her gold finally

Indian long jumper elevated to top spot at the 2005 World Finals

A long and painful wait ended for Anju Bobby George on Monday with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) elevating the Indian long jumper to gold medal position at the World Athletics Final of 2005 following the disqualification of original winner Tatyana Kotova of Russia.

Kotova’s urine sample, taken at the World Championships at Helsinki in 2005, had shown the presence of banned substances on a re-test and she had been suspended in February last year. The Russian had won a silver then while Anju had finished fifth.

Kotova then went on to win the gold at the season-ending World Athletics Final in Monaco, an exclusive competition for the top-eight athletes in each event. Anju won the silver with her season’s best of 6.75 metres then, behind Kotova’s 6.83.

Following a long drawn-out process, the IAAF finally updated the results this week, annulling Kotova’s result and raising Anju to the top spot. 

The National record-holder, bronze medallist at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, thus becomes the first Indian to win a gold in a competition at this level, even though the reward has come after an eight-year wait. She will also move up by a rung to fourth in the Helsinki World Championships. 

“I’m looking at it as a step in the process of gaining a medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics,” said a delighted Anju, who has stepped away from competitions after an injury ended her attempt to qualify for the London Olympics. 

Anju and her husband-coach Robert Bobby George have all along cast suspicious eyes on the Russian jumpers of that time. 

The top three places at the Athens Olympics in 2004 were swept by Russians Tatyana Lebedeva, Irina Simagina and Kotova, with Anju finishing fifth after the disqualification of Marion Jones for doping. 

However, the Olympics samples cannot be retested now as an eight-year statute of limitations is in place.

Anju said she was pinning her hopes on an ongoing doping investigation into the functioning of the Russian dope lab, where corrupt officials are reported to have kept positive dope tests under wraps in exchange of money.

“We knew that it wasn’t a fair competition back then,” said Anju. “But we were quite helpless. I had won all medals at many global events but a title had eluded me. It has come now but it would have been nice to have won it there,” added Anju, acknowledging the efforts of C K Valson, the current Athletics Federation of India secretary, who was a technical official then in Monaco.

“I almost did not win anything there, with the officials bungling badly,”said Anju, narrating the sequence of events. 

“I had fouled my first two jumps before delivering a big jump in the third round. But the measuring equipment failed and the mark too was erased before the officials realised their mistake. They then tried to award me a lesser measurement but once the error was found out, the other athletes stood by me and with Valson sir also supporting me, they awarded me an additional jump, which proved to be the medal-winning one. My final jump too was a foul and I had just one valid jump there.”

As she prepares to take a leap into the coaching scene next year, these are sweet memories to carry forward for the champion.

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