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Anju expected to be fine

India's biggest hope at the Games has been suffering from slight fever and a sore throat, an official said.
PTI | By V Krishnaswamy (IANS), New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 09, 2004 10:19 PM IST

Athlete Anju Bobby George, India's biggest hope at the Olympics, has been suffering from a slight fever and sore throat, says an official of the Indian Olympic Association from Athens.

"She is slightly under weather but that is nothing to worry about. She has just come from Europe after competing a series of meets and has travelled a lot in the past few weeks," said the official.

"The weather in Athens is somewhat balmy and adjustment does take time."

The Olympic competition kicks off Aug 14. Long jumper Anju has been selected to be the flag bearer of the team at the opening ceremony, which is also one of the reasons why she is in Athens well before the start.

The fever and sore throat will not prevent her from carrying the Indian tricolour at the opening Aug 13.

The official said, "A good part of the contingent is arriving this week as the opening nears. In fact, some members of the athletics contingent might come after the Games begin, because athletics competitions begin only from Aug 18."

In fact when Anju competed in Stockholm at the DN Galan Meet, where she finished fifth with a best leap of 6.60 metres, she was running a slight fever.

She is said to have consulted some local doctors at the Olympic Village. "All doctors attached to the Games are well-versed in the dos and don'ts of the Games, so there is nothing to get scared about," added the official, when quizzed on Anju taking local medical help.

Anju and her husband, Bobby George, who is also her coach, arrived in Athens more than 10 days in advance of the athletics competition to get acclimatised to the local weather, which is expected to be warm.

Anju, 27, hit the spotlight last year, when she became the first Indian to win a medal at the World Championships in France. She finished third and since then has been seen as India's best hope of breaking a medal-less jinx.

Independent India has had five finalists but no medallist and the closest was P.T. Usha, Anju's state mate from Kerala, who missed a bronze by one hundredth of a second at the 400 m hurdles in 1984. Milkha Singh also finished fourth in 400 m in 1960 at Rome.

This year Anju has won the Grand Prix gold in Doha, Qatar, and finished third in the Eugene Prefontaine Classic in the US. She was also second at the Madrid meet.

However, she has been hovering around the 6.60-6.80 m mark and needs to cross 6.90 m or better still cross seven metres to contend for gold. At least six other jumpers, who are expected to be in Athens have cleared seven metres in 2004.

Both Anju and her husband are confident that she will reach the mark when the time comes for the event in the second week of the Games.

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