Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Asian Games: Stuck in second lane, Annu Rani produces season’s best to win javelin gold

Annu Rani produced her season’s best effort in the last tournament of the year to become the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in javelin throw at the Asian Games here on Tuesday.

Annu has gone into depression as she had been able to produce her best effort throughout the year in competitions despite emerging as India’s best javelin thrower in the last few years, winning medals at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games and qualifying for the Olympics and World Athletics Championships.

But somehow, she was not able to make that last final push to claim the gold medal. On Tuesday, she produced a throw of 62,92 to claim the gold medal in the 19th Asian Games here, making the most of the conditions to produce her best effort. Sri Lanka’s Nadeesha Dilhan Hatarabage Lekamge took the silver medal with a personal best of 81.57 metres while China’s Lyu Huihui took the bronze medal with a throw of 81.28 metres.

While the focus was on distance runner Parul Choudhary on Tuesday as she made a final lap surge to bag the gold medal in the Women’s 5000 metres, Annu Rani went about her job in the middle of the stadium, annihilating the competition in the javelin throw with her best effort for this year.

Annu, who had won a bronze medal in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon but could manage only 6th place in 2018 in Indonesia, put aside all that disappointment as she won her first gold medal.

“The entire year I was in depression as I was not able to produce my best in competitions. I was doing well in training but somehow things were not working out in competitions and I was not able to give my best,” said Annu Rani.

“It was so bad that I was getting throws in low 50s, something that I had not done for years,” she said.

The 31-year-old even contemplated quitting the sport altogether but then decided to make one last effort in her final competition for the year.

“I thought this was my last event for the year and that I would give my all to it. Finally, I managed to produce my season’s best in the last event of the year. So, I am very happy to finally win the gold medal,” said Annu.

She was happy to have finally lived up to the expectations of her family, coaches and fans.

“People have lots of expectations from you, your family have expectations from you. So, I decided to pour in every ounce of my energy into it today. It was like life and death matter for me,” said Annu.

Annu, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, was encouraged by her brother to take up javelin throw.

Since early 2023 she has been training in Offenburg, Germany, with coach Werner Daniels.

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