Former long jumper Anju Bobby George, on Monday, praised the Modi government for transforming Indian sports. “I envy with them (current sportspersons)…because I was (playing) in the wrong era,” she said.
The speech was made during the Christmas celebration on Monday at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official residence.
“As a sports person, I have been here for 25 years. What I am seeing then and now – a lot of changes,” she said.
“When I got India’s first global medal 20 years back, even my department was not ready to give promotion. But after Neeraj (Chopra) got a medal, I am seeing the changes. The way we are celebrating. How you are celebrating, and how India celebrated,” she added.
George has won many international accolades. She bagged a gold medal at the 2003 Afro-Asian Games. She achieved her personal best of 6.83 m at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens which brought her the fifth position. She also won the bronze medal in the long jump at the 2003 World Championships in Paris.
She was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2002, Khel Ratna in 2003 and Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award, in 2004, when the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government was in power.
Further praising the prime minister, she said that women in India can now dream without any fear. “Every Indian girl is ready to dream and they know that their dreams will come true one day,” she said.
Anju Bobby George’s statement has received mixed reactions from social media platforms. While some have praised her for ‘acknowledging the changes’ others have condemned it.
Rishi Bagree wrote on X, “This is what a retired athlete Anju Bobby George had to say about the transformation of Indian sports culture under Modi Govt”
Neeraj Jha, a journalist replied saying, “This is the era where Olympic medalists protest against the federation chief for sexual assault who is also the MP from Modi’s BJP. Their voices remain unheard!!! One of the medalists quit the game and another left his Padma Shri on the pavement.”
Shining Star, an author said, “When Anju Bobby George said, “I was a sportsperson in the wrong era”.
Karthik Reddy, an X user wrote, “”I was in the wrong era” – Anju Bobby George She also expresses the way Indian Sports has dramatically changed under PM Modi through schemes like #KheloIndia She is all Cheers to PM Modi. So is Bharat.”
BJP Andhra Pradesh’s vice president Vishnu Vardhan Reddy wrote, “Having observed the evolution of Indian sports culture and the increased support for athletes under the Modi govt, retired athlete Anju Bobby George expressed a sentiment of being in the wrong era. Thanks to PM Shri @narendramodi ji who made these transformations possible. @ianuragthakur“
Fact checker and Alt News founder Mohammed Zubair tagged news agency ANI saying, “ANI forgot to mention that BJP member Anju George joined the party in 2019.”
Her statement comes against the backdrop of Olympian Sakshi Malik announcing her premature retirement from wrestling after Sanjay Singh, a close aid of Brij Bhushan Singh who is allegedly accused in a sexual harassment case filed by six current women wrestlers, was elected as the new chief of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). The elections were held on December 21.
“We fought from our heart but if a man like Brij Bhushan, his business partner and a close aide is elected as the president of WFI, I quit wrestling,” said a teary-eyed Sakshi, and kept her shoes on the table.
Top wrestler Bajrang Punia, who along with Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik, had led the agitation against Brij Bhushan had returned his Padma Shri award to the government on December 22 in protest over the elections.