Long jump star Anju Bobby George, who raised the bar to a new high, winning the bronze medal in the Paris World Athletics Championships last month, urged Indian youngsters to gun for glory and requested the authorities to do their bit to help them.
"Except for the USA and few other countries, rest of the medal winners in Paris are from underdeveloped countries in the Caribbean islands and Africa. If I can do 6.74m in India twice you too can," Anju said at an impressive felicitation function organised by the Amateur Athletic Federation of India.
"Believe in what you are doing and victory is a sure possibility," said Anju, who eclipsed the feats of legends Milkha Singh and P T Usha in Paris.
Thanking her billion-strong countrymen for their prayers and wishes, she dedicated India's first ever medal in a World Athletics Championship to her fellow people.
"I feel proud and happy to become the first Indian to win a medal in a World Athlectics Championships. I am proud that I could represent India and deliver my best," Anju said, looking back at the historic day when she won the bronze medal at the Stade de France in Paris on August 30.
"A medal in a World Championship is hard to win, but with all your support I won it. I dedicate it to my people because it was because of the prayers of one billion people," she said.
Anju's husband and coach Bobby George, also a former national triple jump champion and younger brother of legendary volleyball star Jimmy George, said he is proud to have led Anju to glory in Paris.
"Anju is more confident now. I urge the people to stay with us as we will take you to the podium [in the Olympics]," Bobby, said looking ahead at the Athens Games next year.
AAFI president Suresh Kalmadi said it is a proud moment for all Indians.
"Anju will forever be the role model," Kalmadi said while also praising other Indian athletes for their superb performance last year.
"As many as 10 Indian athletes were in the world ranking last year," Kalmadi said.
He also gave away the AAFI cash award of Rs 500,000 to Anju and another 100,000 to Bobby for the historic feat.
Felicitating Anju, AAFI secretary Lalit Bhanot hoped that the athlete would win another medal for India in the inaugural Afro-Asian Games starting next month.
Earlier, Anju and Bobby were felicitated by a host of dignitaries, including SAI Director General Sekhar Dutt, R K Mishra, joint secretary in Sports Ministry, AICC secretary and former Kerala home minister Vyalar Ravi, veteran coach J S Saini and Arjuna awardee Shiny Wilson.
Anju and Bobby returned to Delhi from Paris last night after competing in the World Athletic Final in Monaco on Sunday.