KAA Nomination of Anju irks State athletics fraternity

KAA Nomination of Anju irks State athletics fraternity

Anju Bobby George (left with) with sports minister Kiren Rijiju. DH FILE PHOTO

The election of Anju Bobby George as the senior vice-president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has raised hackles among the Karnataka athletics fraternity. The former India long jumper was nominated for the post by the Karnataka Athletics Association (KAA), a move that appears to have upset some of the State’s district units.

Anju, who represented Kerala in the national meets throughout her career, was nominated by the Chikkaballapur Athletics Association. The 43-year-old, who became the first-ever Indian to clinch a medal at the World Athletics Championships in 2003 in Paris, is settled here and recently launched her ‘Anju Bobby George Sports Foundation’ in the city.

Ashwini Nachappa, the former India sprinter, said many district units aren’t aware as to in what capacity was Anju nominated from the Chikkaballapur association. In a letter to KAA secretary A Rajavelu, some district units have questioned Anju's contribution to Karnataka athletics. 

“It’s great to see a woman being represented and that too an athlete of her calibre," said Ashwini. "She is a good friend and I congratulated her too. But only when we saw the electoral college we got to know that she has been nominated through KAA. It’s disappointing,” said Ashwini, the president of the Bangalore Urban District Athletics Association (BUDAA).

Ashwini found the process faulty and said Rajavelu should have consulted district units before making such a decision.

“The Chikkaballapur association hasn't even held its Annual General Body meeting and not even elected her to their body. Anju's name doesn't figure in the list of Chikkaballapur officials. As per the RTI papers we have, none of this has happened,” she explained. 

"We have no dearth of international athletes here, starting from Kenneth Powell. So to be overlooked is disappointing. This also questions Anju's integrity. As a former chairman of the Sports Council of Kerala this is not expected. If she had been actively involved here, we would have had no problem," she said. 

Rajavelu dismissed the allegations, saying the KAA made the decision according to the rules. “Anju has been elected the senior vice-president of the Chikkaballapur Athletics Association in their AGM.  Our nomination is legal. Before nominating Anju, I spoke to the senior vice-president of KAA and other members of the association as well. This isn’t my individual decision,” Rajavelu told DH.

The KAA secretary said the association hasn’t failed to recognise administrators and former athletes from the State. “Last year, we made sure Uday K Prabhu was part of the selection committee member of the Indian team. We aren’t against Karnataka greats. Anju World Athletics Championship bronze medallist. If she becomes the vice-president of the Athletics Federation of India and represents KAA, it’s a proud moment for us. She is a Padma Shri award winner. The presence of such a popular name boosts the brand of KAA,” he reasoned.