17 years after historic bronze, Anju Bobby George reveals life on track with one kidney less

Legendary Indian long jumper Anju Bobby George was born with just a single kidney, which she discovered in 2001. The condition afflicted the athlete’s recovery time.

By Rahul Venkat ·

When Anju Bobby George won the long jump bronze at the 2003 World Athletics Championships in Paris, it created history for Indian athletics.

Anju Bobby George, to this day, remains the only Indian athlete to make the podium at an World Athletics Championships.

While the 6.70m jump was a special event in itself, Anju Bobby George has revealed that the effort came despite a serious physical condition that could have ended her athletics career.

“Simply put, I just have one kidney. This is something that I have been dealing with since birth,” Anju Bobby George told the Olympic Channel.

“I was dealing with a lot of problems with my body back in 2001. It would swell up and I had immense pain. I decided to do a full-body check-up and that's when we got to know about the condition.”

The legendary long jumper found out about the issue just before the Commonwealth Games in 2002, where she won bronze, before going on to win gold at the 2002 Asian Games.

The condition acutely affected her recovery time, which took longer than most athletes with two functioning kidneys, and the fatigue and overexertion meant that doctors told Anju Bobby George to take a six-month break before her historic sojourn at the 2003 World Athletics Championships.

“But I was determined to compete there and as it happened, I won the bronze medal within 20 days of being advised a six-month rest,” stated Anju Bobby George.

On being asked why she decided to reveal her condition more than a decade after retiring, the former athlete felt she was more mature now to deal with it better.

And with her position as the vice-president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), the first woman to hold the post in AFI’s history, Anju Bobby George pointed out that her story could inspire athletes.

“I think now I can use this to motivate a few guys as well. Every time I come across a person who is holding back because of a minor issue, I can share this with them and that can act as a motivation to them,” said Anju Bobby George.

“For everyone, I was a perfect athlete so far. But now they know that was never the case. So, if I can achieve what I did in my career with my limitations, I believe someone else can take inspiration for my story and push themselves further,” Anju concluded.