She is India’s only world champion in athletics with her gold medal winning performance in the 2005 World Athletics Final
Anju Bobby George is a name that needs no introduction. The champion athlete has brought laurels for India in a glittering career that is as inspirational as it is luminous.
Anju is India’s only world champion in athletics with her gold medal-winning performance in the 2005 World Athletics Final in long jump (she won silver but was later upgraded to gold after the winner was disqualified).
Now, she is focused on helping aspiring athletes from the country to develop and reach the pinnacle of sport. She has established the Anju Bobby Sports Foundation at Kengeri in Bengaluru and has big plans for the facility.
“I’ve signed a five-year contract with Tattva School in Bengaluru. We will help with their sports, too. They are putting up a synthetic track there. Then there is the Milo Home Ground programme for school kids,” she told The Hindu.
“And our own academy, once the synthetic track work is over, we will shift our athletes to our centre at Kengeri. The track work should be over by the middle of next year. That is the main thing and the rest will run parallel.”
However, she will not don the hat of a coach, duties which her husband and long-time trainer Bobby George will carry out.
“I’m supporting our athletes technically, but Bobby is doing the full coaching. But there is no plan to take on a coach’s role because Bobby is doing that far better than me. So, I don’t need to worry about that,” said Anju.
Anju has enough on her plate already as the senior vice-president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI). Instead, she wants to build a brand image of herself and use that to attract funds and investment for her foundation and athletes training there.
She even took voluntary retirement from her government job with Customs in a bid to ensure her legacy is carried out by her proteges.
“There was no promotion in Customs for a very long time. I joined in 1998 and I got my first promotion, as superintendent, in 2009. After that, I did not get any promotion.
“Now I’m free. I can support my brand name, I can do ads. Earlier, I could not directly earn from other sources as I was a government employee. Now, I want to explore ‘Brand Anju’ more. I think even now Anju the brand is worth a lot. And my brand is not over with my active career. I’m continuing that through my athletes. The legacy is continuing through my academy,” she added.
The Olympian, who won bronze in the 2003 World Athletics Championships at Paris, has already demonstrated her steely resolve by revealing she excelled at the international level with just a single kidney.
If that is anything to go by, one can be sure Anju will put everything into ensuring her foundation turns into a centre of excellence.