Anju Bobby George

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Champion despite health problems

Biju BabuCyriac, December 8, 2020: The Times of India

Anju Bobby George’s major achievements, 2003-07
From: Biju BabuCyriac, December 8, 2020: The Times of India

Remember the giant leap of Indian athletics at the Paris World Championships in 2003? After opening with 6.61m, Anju Bobby George, then 26, went on to win the long jump bronze with a season’s best of 6.70m to become the first and only Indian to climb the podium at a World athletics meet.

Seventeen years later, Anju took to twitter to reveal one of the best-kept secrets: she competed all through her career with just one kidney!

“Believe it or not, I’m one of the fortunate, among the very few who reached the world top with a single KIDNEY, allergic to even a painkiller, with a dead take-off leg.. Many limitations. still made it. Can we call, magic of a coach or his talent (sic),” Anju tweeted.

The message began trending on social media as people expressed their awe and admiration. Thousands, including sports minister Kiren Rijiju, lauded Anju for her courage and hard work.

Talking to TOI, Anju said she came close to breaking the news on many occasions but did not as she was afraid of revealing her condition. “It’s a condition by birth. As a result, my recovery was always slow and the level of urea in my blood was always high. I had frequent joint pains and when I tried to manage the condition with painkillers, I often lost consciousness and had to be rushed to the hospital. I had a family history of allergy to medicines and this made my condition worse.

“I underwent further tests in 2001 when it was found that I was born with just one kidney. I was worried whether I could continue but doctors assured me that I could continue with athletics as I didn’t face any major problems.”

Recalling the episode when she was down with fatigue and swelling on her body weeks before the Paris Worlds, Anju said: “It was because of this (one kidney). I was training hard and taking part in many competitions. Because of the extra workload, fatigue set in and I didn’t recover in time. The German doctors who we consulted said that it is because of fatigue and advised a six-month break from athletics.”

The ace jumper, who also won medals at the Asian and Commonwealth Games, gave credit to her husband and coach Robert Bobby George for her success.

‘I was afraid and ashamed’

“Earlier, I was ashamed and afraid to reveal that I was living with one kidney. But now I’m mature enough to reveal this condition. I’m confident that I can inspire others by telling them what I have achieved battling this condition,” Anju said,

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