Olympic focused Annu Rani not relying on rankings for qualification

The 27-year-old javelin thrower from Uttar Pradesh, ranked 12th in IAAF rankings, is one of India’s brightest track and field hopes at the Olympics.

By Subhayan Dutta

Ace Indian javelin thrower and the current national record holder Annu Rani wants to seal her Tokyo Olympics berth by meeting the qualification mark rather than rely on her IAAF ranking.

Apart from a silver medal at the 23rd Asian Athletics Championships in Qatar among other feats, Annu Rani also breached the World Championships cut-off mark (61.50m) last year with a throw of 62.43m at the 2019 Federation Cup that won her a gold medal.

The throw not only bettered her previous national record of 62.34m but has also instilled in Annu Rani the much-needed confidence of meeting the Olympics’ qualification mark of 64m.

Annu Rani breached World Championships cut-off mark (61.50m) with a 62.43m throw at 2019 Federation Cup 

“I have always planned to cross the qualification mark and not rely on rankings,” the world no. 12 women javelin ace told the Hindustan Times.

Though the coronavirus outbreak has postponed all international sporting events to next year, an optimistic Annu Rani is ready to come back stronger once sporting events resume.

“The Olympics have been postponed to 2021, so I see the upcoming national tournaments in India in September and October, as a way to gain experience, to work on my technical faults, and to learn from them,” Annu Rani added.

Maintaining fitness

Annu Rani was with the Indian javelin contingent in Potchefstroom, South Africa when the coronavirus outbreak forced international borders to close in March, prior to the national lockdown in India.

Consequently, the Uttar Pradesh athlete, along with compatriots Vipin Kasana and Arshdeep Singh and coach Uwe Hohn were airlifted back to India’s National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala, Punjab.

More than confident of meeting the Olympics cut-off mark, Annu Rani’s sole focus now has been to preserve her fitness level at the camp and be ready when her opportunity comes next.

"Right now, the main aim is to not let my fitness levels go down too much,” Annu Rani told IANS.

“The coach gives programmes accordingly which we do daily. So we do about 15-20 minutes of running. Then we do either core exercises or weights training with whatever is available here.

“We keep alternating it so one day it will be core exercises and the other will be with weights. We have javelins too in our rooms so we work with them,” the 27-year-old added.

Seeking inspiration from Ronaldo, Phelps

After being initially quarantined for the standard 14 days, the javelin contingent had to further their stay at NIS Patiala owing to the extension of the national lockdown in March.

And they have since stayed at the centre with India staring at their fourth lockdown in three months as a precautionary measure to contain the escalation of Covid-19 cases in the country.

While maintaining fitness remains her top priority, Annu Rani has resorted to meditation and watching inspirational videos of athletes in spare time to stay mentally tough.

"I regularly watch videos of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Michael Phelps. Watching their training, discipline, and life stories are so inspiring,” Annu Rani disclosed to Firstpost.

“Then, I read a bit too. Athletes are used to training 5-6 hours each day, and to suddenly sit idle for the most part of the day is quite frustrating, to be honest. It is tough, but we do not have a choice," she added.