Following the Sports Authority of India's (SAI) announcement that Javelin thrower Annu Rani has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics 2020, she spoke to Republic TV on her struggles from convincing her family to practice sports to reaching the Tokyo Olympics. The 28-year-old athlete is the first woman to qualify after Anju Bobby George who won an Olympic medal in 2003.
Speaking of the early struggles, Annu Rani said, "When I started to practise Javelin, girls weren't allowed to go out of the house. And so, I faced a lot of difficulties as I had to hide from my family to go out to practise".
She added, "I had interest but there was no ground and javelin to practise. So, I used bamboo sticks to make javelin. Later in school, there was another wooden javelin which took home asking my sir. But at home, no one knew that I practised like this as I would sneak out of the house and practice in our fields and return back unnoticed".
She said that she had even participated in games organized in school without telling her parents. But, the truth was out when she won the first position in one of the competitions and eventually her father and family became aware of her sports interest.
Annu Rani stated, "Initially, my father opposed my Javelin practise but later he began to support me a lot and he would stay with me as I travelled for competitions".
Emphasising her family's financial struggles, Annu explained, "Earlier, I didn't have sports kits and shoes. There was no ground in my village to practise which isn't there even today. And our Guru Ji, Swami Vivekanand Shri Saraswati Ji, has an ashram where I went to practise. My father used to take me to the field in the ashram".
She further added, "We didn't even have food at home, so Guru Ji gave me a cow so that I can have milk. He used to give me money too. So what I'm today it's because of Guru Ji who helped me in the earlier days".
Quoting the difficulty level of the Tokyo Olympics qualification round, Annu Rani said, "It was very difficult to qualify the qualifier standard which was 64 metres. And, last year's player who had won a medal was also there".
She added, "I worked hard and improved my throw and technique. And finally, I could clear the qualifier round".
She assured the country that she is trying her best to win a medal to the country in the Tokyo Olympics. She sought the love and blessings of everyone to achieve the same. She thanked everyone for their wishes and messages for her qualification.
Expressing concerns towards girls situation in rural India, Annu Rani said, "I have a message for the girls. Even now in villages, girls aren't supported so I want to tell the parents to understand and trust girls like the boys. Provide facilities and motivate them to achieve their dreams".
She added that in her journey, she received great support from her father, mother, coach, Guru Ji due to which she could reach this height today.
She added, "All I want to say is, there are struggles in everyone's life but once you are out of it, you learn a lot. So, accept the difficulties and focus on the bigger target".