Tuesday, July 29, 2008
So to get familiar with the contingent, I decided to search for the Indian Olympic Association site to read about the athletes, their profiles, personal bests, expectations etc. In an era, where without searching, I manage to come across news items like this (do I hear a collective groan?), I could not find the official web site - I found one link http://www.olympic.ind.in/ which gives an error.... Of course my mistake was that I assumed that the Indian Olympic Committee will be professional.
A well managed website ahead of the Olympics, would surely help in the future in terms of sponsors, viewership etc. since the Olympics is the only time to gather support for non-cricket sports in India? If you located a website, please post in the comments.
Anyway I digress - here is the contingent courtesy of the good old newspaper.
Archery: Dola Banerjee, Pranitha Vardhineni, Bombayala Devi, Mangal Singh Champia.
Athletics: Anju Bobby George, Krishna Poonia, Harwant Kaur, Preeja Sreedharan, Manjeet Kaur, Chitra K. Soman, Sini Jose. M.R. Poovamma, Mandeep Kaur, J.J. Shoba, Susmita Singha Roy, G.G. Pramila, Vikas Gowda, Renjith Maheswary, Surendra Singh, K. Mridula, S. Geetha.
Badminton: Anup Sridhar, Saina Nehwal.
Boxing: Jitender, Akhil Kumar, A.L. Lakra, Vijender, Dinesh Kumar.
Judo: Khumujam Tombi Devi, Divya.
Rowing: Bajrang Lal Thakar, Devender Kumar Khandwal, Manjeet Singh.
Shooting: Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Mansher Singh, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Gagan Narang, Abhinav Bindra, Samaresh Jung, Sanjeev Rajput, Anjali Bhagwat, Avneet Kaur Sidhu.
Swimming: Virdhawal Khade, Ankur Poseria, Sandeep Sejwal, Rehan Poncha.
Table tennis: Sharath Kamal, Neha Agarwal.
Tennis: Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Mirza, Sunitha Rao.
Wrestling: Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Rajeev Tomar.
Weightlifting: L. Monika Devi. Yachting: N.S. Johal.
To the athletes above, well done to make it this far (against many odds), and know that atleast one cricket loving fan will be following you.
Now if archery, shooting and boxing are our best chances of a medal, I best come out of my comfort zone and get familiar with skeet, rifle category, trap and double trap, recurve etc. I am so impressed that I know these terms, will figure out what they actually mean in competition when I watch them.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
The reckless shots of many players can be questioned, and when it is compounded by poor bowling, fielding and clueless batting, it is hard to find any bright spots from this match. I watched the match live on TV only on Sat, and saw more than twelve wickets in a span of few hours.
I am most concerned about Dravid. I don't hold him responsible for this loss, but I hate to see "The Wall" become a straw wall - you huff and puff and it is blown away. Ever since he stepped down from captaincy he has struggled with his form and his confidence. Both seems to be pulling down each other further (without form he cannot get back his confidence and vice versa ---chicken and egg ?). He looks ill-at-ease on the crease and for someone who has held down the fort at one end consistently for so many years, it is sad to see him struggle. Even when he made runs, he did not have the old confidence.
So what can he do to get himself out of the slump? In the past, has he struggled over a long stretch? Is it "in the mind"? He needs to rectify this fast or he may be first one of the four to be sidelined from tests as well. And as a fan of Dravid, I want him to get back to days of glory (possible?), and then retire from tests in style (when he decides), and not by being dropped.
(PS: I am not calling for him to retire or be dropped - only for him to find a remedy for his form asap).
Friday, July 25, 2008
Force India has decided to focus on next year. I found it hard to root for the Indian team - not sure if it is nature of F1 or my negativity with regard to Mallya's handling of RCB issues. I only briefly checked on how they were doing in each race. Their best chance was at Monaco with Sutil in 4th place when we was hit by Kimi. It did draw some sympathy/support from me. What do you think of their prospects in the coming years and will they be able to garner Indian support and loyalty?
Mallya says India on track for Indian GP in 2010. What do you think? Isn't there a lot to be done? They are only getting a sanction for the track right now. Not sure how many years earlier Singapore started its preparation, but it will be exciting if India is able to host a GP. Is there a sufficient market in India for F1?
Speaking of Singapore, how do they manage to come up with such novelites? An anti-clockwise circuit (only the 2nd one?) , the first night race in F1 and a street circuit like Monaco. I cannot wait to see the nuances of the circuit or what interesting issues drivers may face...
On another Indian front, Karun Chandhok won the GP2 in Germany last week. I have not watched him. How good is he? Do you fancy his chances in F1?
BTW, did you know that Hamilton karted in Mumbai. Let me know if someone comes to Chennai...
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Glory: The youngest rider in this year's tour named Augustyn, climbed one of the highest category mountains in first place. The commentators were extolling his skill.
Misfortune: On the descent of this very steep mountain while in the leading group, he fell off the road. Unlucky you say, commentator's jinx...?
Here's a video link.
(another link of the same one)
Luck: Why? Because while the bike fell down even further, he managed to stop after 10-15 meters? And was not seriously injured... and then finished the race.
Brave: The spectator who ventured down to help him up!
I thought Oscar Periro's crash last week was frightening, but this was more stunning. (Oscar, though had several fractures, but was lucky as well)
Friday, July 18, 2008
On second thoughts are all the current Indian team members allowed to play? They played for counties which now has ICL players? Sachin played for Lashings recently - can we find an ICL connection...?
Isn't this ridiculous?
Yuvraj's mother Shabnam on the right girl for her son:
"I don't want someone who throws tantrums or is very high-flying for him... She should know the basics of cooking, especially Indian vegetarian food. Considering he travels so often, she should also be able to pack well and take care of his clothes. Whoever Yuvi ends up marrying would have to be his choice. But, of course, I would need to approve of her."
If someone is still interested, my only advice is to consider a stint in a company like Agarwal Packers and Movers (or an apprenticeship at the local dhobiwala who handles clothes beautifully) and get some expert tips from Nita Mehta or Tarla Dalal :-)
Wouldn't a cliched "a good human being and a wishing them to be happy sentiment" sufficed as an answer?
Thursday, July 17, 2008
That leads to the following questions.
Do the riders believe they won't be caught despite the fact that the tour is one of the better tested events now?
Do the riders want the 2 minutes of fame though it is actually notoriety they ulimately get?
Are they trying to outsmart the system, but ocassionally get caught?
How did Ricco not get caught in prior 2 wins in Giro d'Italia?
I do think that the tour is trying to do their best now, but it seems to be falling short. What else can the tour do to clean up the sport?
The second part is Asif - besides his own responsiblity and PCB's mis-handling, I find that I hold the IPL and the Daredevils team responsible as well. When prior offenders like Akthar, Asif and even Warne are picked up at a premium, the franchises and the IPL are doing it out of one of two motives.
-They believe they have reformed or were innocent in the first place.
-They are willing to turn a blind eye and take the risk of their getting caught.
If we assume they take the first case, have they done anything to verify that the first scenario is true - have they asked them to take dope tests prior to joining the team? Have they sent them a message saying it won't be acceptable? Have they said they they will conduct independent tests and their contract is dependent on that? I doubt that, and therefore I believe they are willing to look the other way.
In case of the second option, I think that the IPL and other franchises, should insist that a team with a repeat offender (whether they are caught in the IPL or not), should not be allowed to replace the player for the duration of the players contract if a player is banned. As of now they can take the risk of hiring a doper with no consequences. Perhaps if the team was banned for the participation in the next year's IPL, it would be enough of a detterent for the teams to more actively discourage doping.
This leads to the issue of the boards, ICC etc. Do they give any guidance to the young players? (who have learnt a lot from Asif, Aktar etc - as per the IPL interviews). You wonder what they may learn directly or indirectly. Have they been told what to do if exposed to drugs or to bookies? If not there is no point is blaming them down the road.
Lastly, sports should be all about "the spirit". I still remember reading about Luz Long's wonderful gesture towards Jesse Owens with Hitler watching and I doubt that if I had been in the same position I would have made the same choice . In cricket with the Wicketkeepers Walkers Club (co-founders Gilly and Sanga), the spirit still flourishes. Dopers and match-fixers be removed from the game as early as possible - or eventually sports will lose to the Ekta Kapoor bandwagon.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Already debating it...
sorry the post is not sports related but how can I bypass this...
Also in the same paper (in a section called "Chennai Chronicle") there was an report on Rooneys canceling a bash. Why oh why, should Rooney's non-soccer plans feature in an Indian newspaper?
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
1. Traffic won't be an issue.
2. It will spare the environment.
3. It is friendlier to the pocket with the ever rising oil prices.
But now I can rationalize my non-cycling decision.
1. I am most likely to destroy the basis of the theory "it's like riding a bike". I haven't ridden a bicycle since childhood and I tried it for a short while on a holiday and did not get far. So I don't want to deprive the next generations the usability of this phrase :-)
2. I currently don't own a cycle - but can be remedied and so not a good enough reason.
3. If I manage to get past the first two issues, I doubt I can ride at 40+Kms/hour (or half that speed) -so I am not likely to travel significant distances.
4. The classic excuse - it is either too hot or rainy to cycle by choice.
5. Eating can be hazardous on a bike (this year's tour already has had feeding station accidents). Why I should think of eating while riding a few kms I don't know - but definitely a consideration?
6. Since the tour is my motivation, I need similar scenic roads to ride in. The beach is an option - but not its approach roads.
7. The big bazaar crew may spring the "bhesh badalo" stuff on me (going by the "appearance is more important" concept behind the ads). I am just throwing that in - as I don't like those ads :-)
Whew! Now I no longer feel guilty of my choice. I can go back to wondering about how tour cyclists are able to ride at such speeds for such long spells and climb the mountains (and they are no small mountains). Yes, doping comes to mind immediately, but as I said before it somehow still fascinates me. I don't follow a team/cyclist as I learnt it is dicey to support anyone as almost all of them are implicated in scandals (and you never know when they will be banned). I rather follow the event and imagine what it would have been like in the pre-doping days.
Interestingly, in each team there is only only one yellow jersey candidate and one sprinter and rest are largely called "domestiques". There are specialized roles within that for each of them (lead out man for the sprinter, lead out in the mountains for the team leader, etc.). What is the motivation behind the "domestiques" - is it just money as they rarely get the glory? Is it the fact they may one day be a Yellow Jersey candidate?
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
“No one gave them a chance, but they proved everyone wrong,” said Singh, who also serves as the secretary-general of the Olympic Council of Asia.
“There is no reason to be pessimistic.”
I recently saw this article and cannot undestand how we should not be pessimistic unless one accepts that a solitary medal every Olympics is every reason to be optimistic. With the current trend, we may hope for a 2-medal Olympics in another 20 years or definitely before the population reaches two billion. That recent medalists exceeded expectations is a credit to them and not to the sporting body. So many countries, much smaller and financially weaker than India will rank higher in the medal tally, but lets be optimistic. I am generally a half-glass full kind of a person, but I don't even see the glass here for it to be full or empty :-)
It is noteworthy to mention that some people (Mittal, Geet Sethi, Prakash Padukone, etc.) have taken it on themselves to do something about this. It would be wonderful if folks like Sachin, Dhoni, Dravid participate in similar efforts to help other sports persons in India achieve their dreams and improve India's standing in the Olympics. Maybe major brands like Pepsi could sponsor stars from different sports and come up with some clever ways to share the screen with the cricketers.
So where are you vis-a-vis the optimism scale regarding India's efforts in the Olympics?
Monday, July 7, 2008
Here are some thoughts on the team:
Indian bowling is lacking in the sub-continent conditions. Ishanth seems tired and I hope he is able to handle this better as he is a great prospect. He came back strongly in the last couple of matches, but I feel he needs to be nurtured more. Pathan, Praveen and R.P did not look very good.
Yusuf Pathan has not been as impressive as he was in the IPL (What words of magic did Warne whisper?).
Piyush struggled. Dhoni wants a senior spinner. So he is ready to welcome back Bhajji.
The 7-batsmen approach seems defensive and unlikely to work. By the time the seventh man comes in, the match is already won or lost.
Yuvi wants to be included in tests, but how can he get a slot when his play of spin has barely improved over the years.
I still like the attitude and make up of the team, and they are more consistent in general. However unless they finish things as well as Australia and win more often than lose, they will be just like the previous Indian teams - where the results and potential are parallel lines.
Now the Sri Lanka series promises to be interesting.
BTW, I was 0-3 for the weekend, everyone I was supporting lost :-(
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Thanks to wiki and google, I now know the answer and and just fyi, apparently 2 targets are released simulantenously in different directions at different speeds from traps and the shooter has to hit them. The scores in different rounds are tallied. That lead to my next worry about the targets, whether any "live" thing was used, but it looks like they use clay pigeons. However these don't resemble pigeons, but they look like discs - so I am still wondering about the need to call them "clay pigeons".
Anyway it looks like India shooting team does well in other categories as well (no I don't understand the categories or the ammunition). As an added twist, Ronjan Sodhi is scrambling for a wild card pass despite winning the world cup gold.
Chance of a medal?
Wimbledon: Federer vs Nadal
After Federer's dismal performance in the French open final, I am hoping he comes back with a record breaking effort. He has looked impressive in the past two weeks. As Nadal has closed the gap on grass over the last couple of years - it promises to be a thriller. I am rooting for Roger - who are you supporting?
Asia Cup: How will Mendis fare, will India win or will they choke?
F1 British Grand-prix: A Raikkonen win?
Tour de france: kicks off on Saturday, it will be a good time to get caught up on the teams and riders.
That is the order that I will watch them... And the minute I see "desh badla, pesh badalo", and Madhavan-Vidya, you will find me switching channels instantly.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Some unsolicited advice to Praveen Kumar: when you are bowling poorly and fielding poorly, don't glare and shout at others when they misfield off your bowling.
Here are some possible reasons.
Concur with Arun Lal (gasp!) - leave the frisbees and the baseball gloves during the fielding sessions - use a ball and your hands.
Maybe it is the empty stadium - the chairs are making it difficult to spot the ball :-) Otherwise how do you explain Pakistan and Sri Lanka's less than stellar fielding?
Agree with the commentators once again (sigh..) Chop Ishant's hair, or make him wear a hair band like Bracken or a pony tail. He is already too tall to be a great fielder, but I agree he must be blinded several times while bowling and fielding.
What are your theories and suggestions for the team?
Did you know that there is a Tata Archery Academy?
Did you know that one of the prospects is a cousin of the singer Shaan? (I would have thought this could have got them more publicity?)
The men have done very well, winning a world cup gold (Frankly I am not aware of the competition or the rules, but winning a world cup gold seems impressive). But it looks like they did not qualify for the Olympics. Maybe they are following the Indian cricket team's past form - lots of potential but not enough results?