Olympian Anju says she competed, won medals for India with ‘one kidney’

‘Anju, it’s your hard work, grit and determination to bring laurels for India supported by the dedicated coaches and the whole technical backup team. We are so proud of you...,’ said Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju.

Anju Bobby George is the only Indian to have won a medal at the World Athletics Championships. Photo: Twitter/Anju Bobby George

Long jumper Anju Bobby George, who created history at the World Athletics Championships in Paris in 2003, has revealed that she competed at the international level with a single kidney.

On Monday (December 7), Anju wrote on her Twitter handle, “Believe it or not, I’m one of the fortunate, among very few who reached the world top with a single KIDNEY, allergic with even a painkiller, with a dead takeoff leg.. Many limitations. still made it. Can we call, magic of a coach or his talent @KirenRijiju @afiindia @Media_SAI (sic).”

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At the age of 26, Anju became the first Indian athlete to win a medal, a bronze, at the IAAF World Athletics Championships. The Kerala athlete’s jump of 6.70m took her to the podium. Till date, she is the only Indian to have won a World Championships medal.

In the 2004 Athens Olympics, Anju finished sixth with her personal best of 6.83m, and later she was upgraded to fifth position after US athlete Marion Jones was disqualified for a doping offence. Also, she won Asian Games gold in Busan in 2002 and gold at the World Athletics Final in 2005 in Monte Carlo besides several other achievements.

Lauding Anju’s efforts, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju wrote in response to her tweet, “Anju, it’s your hard work, grit and determination to bring laurels for India supported by the dedicated coaches and the whole technical backup team. We are so proud of you being the only Indian so far to win a medal in the World Athletic Championship! (sic).”

Speaking to The Times of India, Anju said, “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.”

“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,” she added.

Anju, who was coached by her husband Robert Bobby George, a former national triple jump champion, is a recipient of Padma Shri, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna awards. She still holds the national record in women’s long jump.

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