Annu Rani improves national record mark, enters javelin throw final at World Championships
India’s Annu Rani advanced to the final of women’s javelin throw in the World Athletics Championships on Monday, hurling the spear to 62.43m, bettering her national record (62.34m) set in March and taking a place in the medal round as the fifth best in the competition. The thrower from Meerut is the first Indian javelin thrower to enter the world championships final. At the 2017 Worlds in London, she had finished 20th overall.
Clubbed in Group A with the best throwers, Rani began with a modest effort of 57.05m and achieved 62.43m in her second attempt. She recorded only 60.50m in the third and final qualifying attempt, but she had done enough by then.
Rani can look forward to the final, scheduled on Tuesday. Among the 12 who have qualified, only China’s Lyu Huihui (67.27m) and Germany’s Christin Hussong (65.28m) could achieve the automatic qualification mark of 63.50m. As per rule, the top 12 qualify for the final even if they don’t achieve the stipulated mark.
After a disappointing 2018 season—Rani failed to make an impression at the Jakarta Asian Games—she has made a strong comeback. She improved her national record at the Federation Cup meet at Patiala in March, thus earning the ticket to the World Championships. Her previous national record was 61.86m, set in 2017.
On qualifying for the Worlds early, she had said it would help her focus on improving her technical shortcomings. She was hopeful of crossing the 63m barrier in Doha, and the chance will come on Tuesday. Trained by Naik, she is now guided by German great Uwe Hohn, India’s national coach.
Woman long jumper Anju Bobby George is India’s only medallist at the World Championships. She finished third in the 2003 Paris edition.
Rani had attributed her dismal performances last year to ‘mental block’, which he said hampered her progress in important competitions. “Despite better efforts in training I couldn’t find the right rhythm in competitions. Poor show in competitions added to the pressure and I started losing faith in my abilities to give off my best in competitions,” she had said in March.
But after setting the record in the Federation Cup, she became more confident of raising the bar. She was selected to the national camp and also went to Europe for advance training. In July, at the Ostrava Golden Spike Athletics meet in the Czech Republic, she won bronze with a throw of 60.20m.
India struggled in other events. In the women’s 200m, Archana Susendran clocked a poor 23.65 secs to finish last in her heat and bow out of the competition. Her season best was 23.18 secs. There was disappointment in the 400m as well. Anjali Devi, the country’s leading quartermiler in the absence of Hima Das, was eliminated after clocking 52.33 secs to finish sixth in her heat. Her season’s best is 51.53 secs while she had clocked 52.30 secs in the confirmatory trials held in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on September 21.