Shaili Singh will conquer the world in coming years, says mentor Anju Bobby George

Shaili Singh will conquer the world in coming years, says mentor Anju Bobby George

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(SAI Media)

Going by Shaili Singh's performances at 19, legendary long jumper Anju Bobby George believes that her protégé may "conquer" the globe in four or five years, exactly like Neeraj Chopra is now doing in the javelin throw.

At the Indian Grand Prix earlier this year, Shaili recorded 6.76m, the second-longest long jump by an Indian woman in history (after Anju herself). Since 2004 the national record set by Anju of 6.83m has stood. 

She competed in her first international competition at the Seiko Grand Prix, a World Athletics Continental Tour gold-level meet, on Sunday and won a bronze medal with a leap of 6.65 metres. "For a 19-year-old, the distance she (Shaili) has jumped is incredible. At 19, she jumped 6.76m. She is a rare talent and we have to groom her very carefully so that she becomes one of the world's best when she matures," Anju told PTI. 

"She has to get used to this kind of thing, competing against some of the best in the world and winning medals. In four or five years, it will be Shaili and Neeraj conquering the world among women and men respectively." 

Shaili was barely 13 years old in 2017 when Anju and her husband Robert Bobby George first saw her. Anju is the first Indian woman to have won a medal at world championships, taking home a bronze in the 2003 event in Paris. 

At the National Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru, Robert, who is also a High-Performance coach for the Sports Authority of India, is instructing Shaili in her training.

Anju predicted that Shaili's journey from a gifted athlete to a regular medal winner at the international level will begin with the bronze in Japan. 

"This medal will do a world of good to her confidence. You need this kind of competitions and honours to make the transition. Age is with her side and she will achieve more in the coming years. I am hoping that Shaili can win at least a medal in the Asian Games and also qualify for the (2023) World Championships in Budapest. This is a big year."

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