Annu Rani: From sugarcane to javelin

Annu Rani throwing a javelin

Meerut till date had been famous for two of its products — manufacture of sports goods, especially cricket bats and during the winter season for its sweet snacks called rewri. However, more recently, a young athlete named Annu Rani has brought the small city of Meerut into prominence with her outstanding performance on the sports field. For all we know, the story of this Indian athlete may have just begun.

Born in a farmer’s family in the Bhadurpur village of Meerut District in Uttar Pradesh, Annu had to face all the problems of a conservative village family where her father was opposed to her participating in any competitive sports. However, her elder brother, Upendra, could see the potential in his sister and encouraged her to take to javelin-throwing, but the beginning was not what one expects in the normal course of events.

Playing cricket in her village as a growing girl, Annu could throw the ball to the wickets from the boundary line of the village cricket field. This set her brother thinking that his sister has a strong upper body and hence could take up javelin throw as one of the athletics events. A javelin was not affordable for the family, so Annu’s javelin throw coaching started with hurling of sugarcanes that were grown in her village. The next stage of training for Annu was a sharpened bamboo which could be considered closer to a javelin than the sugarcane.

Annu Rani won gold at the National Open Athletics Championships
In September 2016, Annu became the first Indian woman to send the javelin beyond the 60 metre mark with a throw of 60.01 metres at the 56th National Open Athletics Championships.

Much against her father’s wishes, Annu would travel more than five miles each day to take her training classes and by the time she was entering her teens she could throw the javelin almost half the distance of what she can do repeatedly, today. Her father’s view changed gradually as he saw his daughter drawing adulations at the district and state level meets and the progress that young Annu continued to show at every stage. Thanks to the watchful eyes of an erstwhile India athlete, Kashinath, Annu started getting a more formalised coaching in her event and finally with a throw of 58.83 metres at the 2014 National Games, she created a new record for women’s javelin in India.

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Gp. Capt. Achchyut Kumar
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Gp. Capt. Achchyut Kumar

Gp Capt Achchyut Kumar has been associated with The Teenager Today for more than 50 years; initially as a reader and later as a contributor on varied topics. Having worked in the Indian Air Force and in India’s oldest company, Forbes & Company Limited, he is now practising as a lawyer in Nainital High Court.