The only Indian to win a medal at the World Athletics Championships, Anju Bobby George hopes former Olympians and sports stars come out and support young talent in the country in their own way.
Speaking with Indian winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan on an Instagram Live session, the Indian athletics great stressed on the importance of former athletes taking up the responsibility of mentoring youngsters.
“When you talk about mentoring, I have seen that when I tell something to a young athlete, the guys listen. It's because they know that I am talking from my experience,” she said, trying to reason the mindset of a young athlete.
“They realise that I have been at the highest level and I know what it takes to reach there and perform. They know that we are advising them about the right path.
“I hope that our former Olympians who are not engaged with other activities should come out and help the future generation. They have to support our youngsters.”
The national record holder in long jump, Anju Bobby George hoped that the former athletes took inspiration from their own careers to further the cause of sports in India.
“If you look at it, athletes always try to go beyond their limit. That’s the case throughout their career. We keep trying until we get that ultimate result. It's a constant effort,” she explained.
“They (former Olympians) can do many things. They can do wonders... If guys who have already experienced what's it like to perform at a stage as big as the Olympics come out and support the youngsters, that can help push them even further.”
While a number of former Olympians like Abhinav Bindra, Yogeshwar Dutt, Suma Shirur and Gagan Narang have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to help raise the standard of Indian sports, the Kerala star hoped that many more would join the group in future.
Dual role for Anju Bobby Geroge
The 43-year-old Anju Bobby George has also been contributing to athletics by nurturing talent through her academy since 2016.
But the last year has also seen Anju Bobby George being appointed the chairperson of the Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) Athletes Commission, a role she considers focal to ensuring a proper eco-system for an athlete to flourish.
“I think as a part of the IOA's Athletes Commission, we have a big role to play in ensuring that the athletes are taken care of,” said the former long jumper who won a bronze medal at the 2003 World Athletics Championships.
“I look at it as a support system for the athletes. I look at the Athletes' Commission as the bridge between the international body (IOC), the Indian body (IOA) and the athletes.”
And with Olympic gold medallist in shooting Abhinav Bindra being a part of the International Olympic Committee Athletes Commission, Anju Bobby Geroge pointed out that the processes have been rather smooth.