From a makeshift bamboo javelin to a national record: Anu Rani's journey so far
Picture a small Indian village like any other, running on a traditional patriarchal system, where men do the earning and girls are taught to behave a certain way, look a certain way, and before they knew it, learn to adapt to a certain kind of role (you know what that role is, I don’t have to describe it).
Now, in this mix, add a spirited girl who doesn’t care to do any of those things. She isn’t a moony-eyed girl who wants to be confined or hidden away, but a girl who loves nothing more than her own strength and resilience. She plays a sport seriously, she is a javelin thrower.
Meet Annu Rani, multiple record breaker in javelin throw.
Hailing from Bahadarpur, Annu always knew she didn’t want what the other girls in her village wanted. She picked up the sport at a young age and there was no going back. In 2014, she broke the national record at 58.83 m. She broke her own new record in the same year at the Asian Games in Incheon at 59.53 m. 2015 was not a spotless year for the strong-willed athlete, as her coach warned her to stop pushing herself too far, fearing injuries. She bounced back smoothly in 2016, breaking her previous record again with a 60.1 m throw at the Open National Athletics Championship. In 2017, she made a throw of 61.8 m at the Federation Cup National Senior Athletics Championship.
She started out training with financial help from her brother. She made her first javelin with a long piece of bamboo since she was unable to afford a real javelin. She travelled 13 kilometres every single day to an empty ground, where she could practice. Her family, the villagers, all shook their heads in disapproval. Obstacles were thrown in her path to success every minute, but she marched on regardless.
Today, at the age of 24, Annu has already made herself internationally competent; on an ordinary day at practice, she can make a throw of 63 m. To give you an idea, the silver medallist at the Rio Olympics 2016 won with a throw of 64 m. Annu is quite literally inches away from becoming the best female javelin thrower in the world and quite possibly one of the youngest!
Support from parents has been rocky. Her father had initially disapproved, shocked at the idea of a girl daring to play a sport professionally. He soon came around when he saw the sheer extent of her talent. Beating a national record thrice is no walk in the park, after all. Soon, the neighbours and villagers that once whispered behind her back now proudly say they’re from Annu’s 'gaon'. However, as a farmer, her father struggles hard to support her training. Annu needs help to support the exposure she deserves, to compete at events and make not only India shine, but to make the Indian woman shine.
Annu Rani’s next endeavour is nothing short of a win at the upcoming Olympics. She has not seen her family in a year; she refuses to go home unless it’s with the gold. She throws her javelin over 80 times a day. Her coach is the former javelin thrower, Kashinath Naik, who is proud of her rapid growth. She pushes herself with no break and has learned the best she could with what she has. Injuries are nothing. Lifting 180 kg weights to build herself is nothing. Sweat and blood are nothing. Annu doesn’t understand the concept of giving up, despite the odds. And it isn’t enough; now the farmer’s daughter needs to train in Germany for 3 months and she’s counting on support from her country to help her get there.
To support Annu Rani, make a contribution to her. This is your tribute to talent. This is your tribute to your nation’s best hope.