With Mirabai Chanu winning silver, India has opened on a high in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics. The end can get equally exciting, as this week is all set for back-to-back track and field events, with a host of Indians participating. One such event is the javelin throw, and one Indian to watch out for in this event would be Annu Rani.
Annu Rani's journey started in the sugarcane fields of the Bahadurpur village in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. She first started hurling sugarcane sticks after her elder brother Upendra noticed her upper body strength during cricket matches in their village. Reportedly, Annu used to throw balls flat to the stumps from the boundary line.
Being a long-distance runner himself, Upendra encouraged his sister in her pursuits. But Annu faced resistance from her conservative father, who did not want her to go out in the fields and participate in sports. Annu finally coaxed him into letting her play, but he never thought that she would continue playing persistently and play professionally someday.
However, conservatism was not the only constraint. Coming from a family of farmers, Annu could not afford a real javelin due to financial limitations and used one made of a bamboo stick. Initially, her brother used to oversee her practice before he convinced coach Kashinath Naik to train her. This marked the beginning of the 28-year-old's sporting career, reported The Times of India.
In the 2014 National Inter-State Championship at Lucknow, Annu broke a 14-year-old national record with a throw of 58.83 metres. This won her gold and led to her qualification for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Later in the year, she won bronze with a throw of 59.53 metres at the Asian Games in South Korea.
In the 2016 National Athletics Championship, she broke her record, crossing the 60-metre barrier for the first time, with a throw of 60.01 metres. In the 2019 Federation Cup National Senior Athletics Championships in Punjab, she broke her record again with a throw of 62.34 meters.
In the 2019 Asian Athletics Championships in Qatar, Annu won silver. This enabled her to qualify for the finals in the World Athletics Championship, and thus she became the first Indian javelin thrower (woman) to participate in the championship. Annu's most recent achievements include winning the Sportstar Aces Sportswoman of the Year Award in Athletics in 2020.
Qualifying For Olympics
On July 1, World Athletics announced the remaining quota places for women's javelin throw. Annu had qualified to the Tokyo Olympics based on the world ranking, 18th at the time of cut-off. Now in the 11th position, Annu is the second Indian woman to qualify for the Olympics, after Gurmeet Kaur, who had qualified for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Annu — who was also the first Indian to break the national record in women's javelin throw eight times — is now ready to fulfil her lifelong dream.