Retired Track and Field Athlete Anju Bobby George Shone Despite Health Challenges

Nov/08/2022 / by Melanie Fourie
Anju Bobby George
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Retired Anju Bobby George, India’s first medallist at the World Athletics Championships, has a particular position in the country’s track and field history. The dual Olympian, born on 19 April 1977, also owns the national record for the women’s long jump in India. The reality that she was able to do all of this with only one kidney makes her achievements even more impressive.  The following account, inspired by, highlights all her greatest achievements. 

Her Youth and Career Accomplishments

As a young girl, Anju Bobby George was introduced to the realm of sports by her father K.T. Markos and refined her skills at the CKM Koruthode school in Kottayam, Kerala.
At school, Anju Bobby George excelled in the 100m hurdles, the relay, long jump, and high jump, bagging gold in all four events on a regular basis. After a while, she became interested in heptathlon, a sporting event that involves 7 separate events: 100-meter hurdles, shot put,  long jump, , and the 800-meter run.

She earned a long jump medal in the 1996 Junior Asian Championships in New Delhi, which inspired her to concentrate more on jumping activities when she was in college in Thrissur, Kerala.
Anju Bobby George made her global debut in the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester after conquering the home scene. Some  months later, in Busan, South Korea, she won the gold medal in the Asian Games.

She and Indian sports had a watershed year in 2003. Anju Bobby George came in third in the 2003 World Athletics Championships in Paris, after hometown favourite Eunice Barber and Russian Olympian Tatyana Kotova, who won bronze in the long jump in Sydney in 2000. Long jump world record holder Mike Powell had been training Anju Bobby George for the Paris World Championships.

At the time, there had never been an Indian athlete on a podium in a global athletics competition before.
Anju Bobby George learned shortly before the competition that she had a rare genetic condition known as Unilateral Renal Agenesis, in which an individual is born with just one kidney.

In spite of the dangers, she decided to participate and finally revealed her condition in 2020 – long after she had retired. It was also revealed that Anju Bobby George’s take-off foot never fully recovered after an injury sustained when she was only 17 years old. Throughout her career, she had to deal with an ankle injury and a kidney problem. The Indian rose from a lowly position of 52nd in the international rankings after her Paris victory to a new high of sixth worldwide.

Anju Bobby George was certain that she might win a medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Anju Bobby George cleared 6.69 meters in the qualifying stages, which put her in the ninth spot to compete in the 12-woman finals competition. She qualified for the medal round with a leap of 6.83 meters on her first try. However, the Indian was unable to improve her distance in the next five tries and had to settle for a fifth-place finish. Tatyana Lebedeva, Irina Simagina, and Tatyana Kotova won gold, silver, and bronze, respectively, in the competition.

Anju Bobby George, on the other hand, didn’t leave Athens empty-handed. Anju’s finals leap of 6.83 meters remained her personal best until she retired, and it currently remains as the national record for the women’s long jump in India. She just missed out on another another gold in the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki. Yargelis Savigne of Cuba won the bronze medal with a leap of 6.66 meters.

At the 2005 Asian Championships in Incheon, India’s long-jumper won the gold medal. She won gold at the IAAF World Athletics Final, a contest amongst eight of the world’s best competitors, only a few days later. She started off as a silver medallist, but her status was eventually changed to gold. As a qualifier for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Anju Bobby George had won gold in the 2006 South Asian Championships, as well as silver at both of the Asian Games in Qatar and Amman in 2007.

Her trip to Beijing, on the other hand, ended in failure, as she flubbed all 3 of her preliminary tries and was eliminated early. After the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Anju Bobby George announced his retirement from competitive athletics. However, he still hoped to win an Olympic medal in London in 2012. 

Her Olympic dreams were cut short, however, when she was diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract illness and was unable to qualify for the London Games. However, the modest ending does not minimize the great career that was had. Anju Bobby George received the Arjuna Award in 2003, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2004, and the Padma Shri in 2004 in addition to her collection of worldwide medals.

Family Ties

Robert Bobby George, a former national triple jump winner who coached and mentored Anju throughout her high school career, is married to Anju Bobby George. They have 2 children.  Aaron is the boy’s name, while Andrea is the girl’s.

Retirement and Present Ventures

She worked as a customs officer in the city of Chennai till 2020, when she decided to retire. Despite her age, she remains active in sports, serving as a coach and organizer.

At the Athletics Federation of India, Anju Bobby George has served as a senior vice president, head of TOPS, and an executive member of the Khelo India project, run by the Indian government. Anju Bobby George Sports Foundation a is also handled by her.


When did Anju Bobby George first become globally acclaimed?

A bronze medal in the long jump at the 2003 World Athletics Championships in Paris made her a household name globally.


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