Annu Rani will be the only woman javelin thrower in action for India at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The 28-year-old qualified for the Olympics via the World Rankings quota as she was ranked 18th in the Road to Olympic Games Rankings.
Born to a family of farmers in a village of the Meerut district in Uttar Pradesh, Annu Rani used to play sports right from her childhood, in spite of having strong opposition from her father.
Once while she was playing cricket in her village, her brother recognised the upper-body strength she had from a throw she made from the boundary lines to the stumps and suggested her to throw a sugarcane as far as she can.
Yes, sugarcane. And this is how her journey in javelin throw started.
In fact, her first-ever javelin was made of a bamboo stick since the family could not afford a real javelin due to financial constraints. While, on one side, her brother encouraged her to keep playing the sport, her father, on the other, rebuked her for spending too much time in the fields.
Coming from conservative family background, it was tough for her to convince her family, but she somehow managed. In fact, her father came around only after she set her first national record with a throw of 58.83m during the Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships in the year 2014.
This throw was special for more than one reason for Annu Rani, as she also managed to qualify for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Even though she failed to earn a podium finish during the Commonwealth Games, she returned with a bronze from the Asian Games in Incheon the same year. This bronze medal shot her to fame and brought her a lot of media attention.
She was then expected to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics but failed. While she managed to become the first woman javelin thrower in India to qualify for the World Championships in 2017, form deserted her soon after.
2018 was a very harsh one for the Meerut girl as she finished a disappointing sixth at the Asian Games in Jakarta – four years after her glory in Incheon; she was yet again in the media attention, but for all the wrong reasons.
Bouncing back from such situations can be tough, but not for the ever-determined Annu Rani.
She, instead, came back with a roar and clinched the silver medal at the 2019 Asian Championships and made her way into the World Athletics Championships in Doha. Even though she failed to earn a podium finish in Doha, she became the first Indian woman javelin thrower to compete at the World Athletics Championships.
There has been no looking back since for Annu Rani, who now holds a personal best and national record of 63.24m and has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.