Anju Bobby George says her protege Shaili Singh can ‘conquer’ world in long jump in 4-5 years

NEW DELHI: Legendary long jumper Anju Bobby George feels that his protege Shaili Singh can “conquer” the world in four or five years like Neeraj Chopra currently doing javelin throwing, based on his performance at the age of 19.
Earlier this year, Shaili recorded 6.76m at the Indian Grand Prix, the second longest ever long jump by an Indian woman after Anju herself. Anju’s national record of 6.83m still stands since 2004.
On Sunday, Shaili won his first international medal at the senior level — a bronze medal — with a jump of 6.65m in his first world competition at the Seiko Grand Prix, a world competition Athletics Continental Tour Gold Level Meet, Yokohama, Japan.
“For a 19-year-old, the distance she (Shaili) jumped is incredible. At 19, she jumped 6.76m. It’s a rare talent and we have to look after her very carefully so that she become one of the best when she matures,” Anju told PTI.
“She has to get used to this stuff, compete against some of the best in the world and win medals. In four or five years, it will be Shaili and Neeraj who will conquer the world in women’s and men’s respectively.”
Anju, the only Indian woman to medal at the world championships with a bronze medal at the 2003 edition in Paris, and her husband Robert Bobby George spotted Shaili in 2017 when she was just 13 .
Shaili is currently training under Robert who is also a Sports Authority of India High Performance Coach at the National Center of Excellence in Bengaluru.
Anju said the bronze medal in Japan would be the first step in Shaili’s transition from a talented athlete to a consistent world-level medalist.
“This medal will do her confidence a world of good. You need those kinds of competitions and honors to make the transition. Age is with her and she will do more in the years to come.
“I hope Shaili can win at least one medal at the Asian Games and also qualify for the World Championships (2023) in Budapest. It’s a great year.”
At the 2018 Asian Games, the women’s long jump gold, silver and bronze winners jumped 6.55m, 6.51m and 6.50m respectively. The qualifying standard for the World Championships is 6.85m.
If Shaili clears 6.85m this year to qualify for the World Championships in Budapest (August 19-27), she will break Anju’s long-standing national record at 6.83m, set at the Olympic Games in Budapest. Athens in 2004.
Anju herself had competed in the 2004 Yokohama event, then known as the Seiko Super Meet, where she won gold with a jump of 6.61m.
Shaili was raised by her mother Vinitha, who works as a seamstress, with great difficulty in a village near Parichha thermal power station in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh.
“She is very dedicated and rarely comes home. Her mother comes to Bangalore to meet her. Financially she is better now, she has sponsors and she is also under TOPS (development group),” Anju said.
After winning a silver medal at the U-20 World Championships in Athletics in 2021 with a jump of 6.59m, Shaili suffered an injury and was out for a year.
“Because of her injury she was off the track for over a year. Last year she came back but we didn’t rush her because we have to be careful. She’s so young and she has the talent to be the best in the world within a few years.”


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