Sunday, August 24, 2008

Congrats to Saina

As the sports minister met Saina Nehwal to congratulate her, he asked who Gopichand was? Correct me if I am wrong, but if you watched Saina's matches, you would have seen Gopichand as the coach. And as a sports minister, you may try to recollect that he has won a prestigious Badminton tournament less than 10 years ago, and is also the recipient of the nation's highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. Given that we produce only one badminton great every decade, it should be easy to remember them?

PS: do you think Gill congratulated her for Bindra's gold or for her performance? just checking...


If you were a mostly ignorant sports fan like me, you would have searched for the meaning of this fancy sounding French word, right after Sushil Kumar's bronze medal. How can someone who lost in the first round get a medal --- Repechage provides a way. It means (re-fishing) or to be rescued. So a bronze medal was rescued for India :) However, this does not take away anything from Sushil Kumar who absolutely deserves this for coming through from nowhere with very poor training facilities. I wish we could have invoked repechage for tennis (mahesh-paes) for a bronze for them?

Then of course you have boxing where two bronze medals are allotted to the losing semifinalists (I am not complaining). Just checking to see if we can extend this to other sports. The reasoning behind this is that the losing semi-finalist could be sufficiently injured by a better opponent to prevent him from sparring again soon afterwards.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I congratulate...

Ever since hearing the sports minister's "congratulating all including himself" comment, I have been trying to find a reason to congratulate myself for playing any direct part in the success of our athletes. But can I be congratulated for

  • Finding out about our Olympic athletes once every 4 years and forgetting about them immediately afterwards?
  • Not having seen any national championships even on television
  • Having only seen tennis and cricket in the stadium
  • No idea about the academies available for the sportspeople
  • Being more aware of the NBA players, the Bolts of the world, Victoria Beckham, and Jolie's children than our athletes?
  • Not being aware of the actual issues faced by them and even if aware, not doing anything about fixing the problems.

But wait, I can be congratulated for Vijender Kumar's victory. Since the other 2 boxers lost, I made sure I went back to the same lucky location to watch his bout and it worked :) My family has already poked holes in this theory, so all I will tell Mr. Gill, is I am not worthy of congrats for doing nothing.

That brings me to You (the fellow Indian readers of this blog): If you have played a part, do post it in the comments and accept my congrats :)

Lastly it brings me to the sports minister and other officials. I am sure they must have played some part, though it is not clear what policy they have modified to make this turn around or their plan ahead. And if they are so willing to share the glory of the athletes, I am sure they must be equally willing to share the blame and take the main responsibility for say, the less than stellar performance of the track and field athletes or for sending a small contingent? Ah, but the blue moon will be more likely.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vijender Kumar reaches medal round

Indian athletes on a roll! Vijender is assured of a bronze atleast.

With Saina and a couple of other boxers doing quite well as well, do you think we have turned the corner in Olympics?

Bronze medal for Indian Wrestler

We have a multiple medal olympics!

Sushil Kumar is the medalist.

Watch out for the boxers later on today.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympics: Tidbits

I was impressed with the Olypmics opening ceremony, but as various facts emerge, it does bring down the wow factor.

Did you know the little girl who sang the song, was not the voice behind it? It looks like the girl who sang it was not "the image" they wanted to project. I think both the kids were cute, but why should a child be made to lip sync for someone else?

Some of the fireworks in the sky (like footprints) were computer graphics. They were set up earlier and then captured to avoid risk from filming from an helicopter , which is fine I think, as the mere explanation of what they did seems so complicated.

I also read an article about soldiers who were manning the scroll having to wear diapers as there were underground below the scroll for several hours. For all this innovation, I am disappointed that they couldn't they have organized something else :)

And you might have heard that they are bringing in volunteers for the empty stands in many stadiums, though the claim is that the events are sold out.

Also the gymnasts may be under the age of 16 which is a requirement for Olympic gymnasts. The age is different for different sports.

I also find the bug catcher in some arenas and lifeguards in the pool really amusing. If I had an issue in the pool with all these swimmers and divers around, wouldn't the lifeguard be redundant :)

On another note, don't forget to watch Natalie du Toit on the 20th in 10Km Swimming. It would be great if she gets a medal, but regardless is an inspiration.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Boxing questions

Contrary to my own expectations, I have been watching boxing. Whether it was Dinesh Kumar and Lakra bowing out or Akhil Kumar beating the world champion yesterday, I have been watching the bouts. However it still very much a passing curiosity, more to support the Indian squad (how about 2 medals?) rather than actually liking the event.

But as I watch the bout, I am left wondering at what time in your life do you decide that you like being punched and take up boxing? Wouldn't your natural instincts make you run, kick, shout, throw chilli powder instead of sparring?

Again, I was surprised when someone actually threw in the towel. I just thought it was an phrase that was relevant in an archaic context. Since someone else from the boxer's corner is throwing in the towel, can the boxer "un-throw" the towel if he wants to continue. Or if he wants to end the fight and his team is not letting him, does he have to find a towel to throw it in? Isn't throwing in the towel, an un-spirited option in any event?

Why do they wear only blue or red?
How many judges are there? And how are points scored? I know which jabs count, but is there a majority scoring system?
Is running around the ring a valid strategy?

Oh well, there are two bouts today. Good luck to Jitender and Vijender Kumar and for Akhil Kumar on the 18th.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The "official" squad

Thanks to a comment in an earlier post, I came across this link. When you get past the shock of an Indian being fielded in diving, you start wondering who this mystery athlete is. So on further investigation, I find this information (select India in the country drop down). This appears to list the nearly 100 squad of India, of which only 56 are athletes.

What are these folks doing in Beijing? Please enlighten me if there is a valid reason they should be there...

Why are we sending a diving official?
Why are we sending someone for soccer?
Why are we sending someone for hockey when we have not qualified?
Is Prya Ranjan DAS MUNSI the same person as the politician?
Why is the tennis squad so large as compared to other sports?

Can I apply for any of the posts? I too would have loved a trip to Beijing, and if I can get all of the tax-payers to help foot my bill, I am ready to go as an official for gymnastics, fencing (anything at all).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two medal prospects out

Mangal Singh Champia and Saina Nehwal are both out of the Beijing Olympics. Saina had the match under her control in the third game/set and let it slip away. Champia also lost by one point in the round of 16!

So an additional medal chance rests with boxing, tennis and a couple of shooting events. However in our flawed reward policy, I hope India can find a way to honour all these athletes, they all did well and I have a feeling that India may have just turned the corner.

DD Bloopers for today:

Commentary from Saina's match: (loosely translated).

Excellent shot, but out. -
Saina/Sania confusion -
With this excellent shot, India has won.... a point. :)

Yours truly checked out Champia's schedule and decided to watch it. In fact, DD themselves mentioned that he was on at 9.45am. So what do you expect when you turn on the TV at 9.45am, highlights from yesterday. You check the web and find he has cleared the round of 32 and the round of 16 is on. At 10.00am you check again, and they talk non-stop about Phelps and give updates after updates (more on that). Check the web and find Champia has lost by a solitary point and no live coverage.

Maruti Suzuki Updates:
A summary, with the results just been given to us but it is followed by 4 consecutive updates one follwoed by another. Each update is preceded and followed by "Maruti Suzuki" with no clips - only talking :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lost in Sri Lanka

- 2 test matches
- a series
- RSVS batting reputations (the legends)
- reputation as best players of spin
- reputation as good spin attack
- the confidence boost from the Aussie series
- SRTs record quest (temporarily misplaced)
- any slim chance of reentry into the ODI team for RD & SG
- any chance for Dinesh and Parthiv to challenge for Dhoni's spot
- Ishant to injury

- Gautam and Sehwag's opening combination which looked excellent compared to rest of the batting (though in reality it was probably not as good as it could have been).
- Dhoni (by all the above)

Mittal helps create history

Interestingly Abhinav Bindra, Saina Naiwal, Mangal Singh Champia are all supported in part by Lakshmi Mittal's trust. So while India goes into an overdrive over the gold medalist, it is important to note that many of those doing well for India have had some much needed additional support. Tata does many things as well (like the academies for archery, the tata-padukone academy etc.)

But where are you, the Ambanis?
where are you Mallya?
where are you DLF?
where are you Sahara?

All of you who played an active role in cricket and IPL, which is very lucrative for you. But why do you not consider supporting other sports? It might just make a difference.

Preeti asks the same question in a comment on a earlier post.

2008 Olympics: Gold For Indian Shooter - Abhinav Bindra

Just saw it on DD! It was fantastic final round of shooting, with it being tied after 9 rounds! Wonderful shooting by Abhinav Bindra today. Who knew shooting could be so exciting to watch :)

Abhinav shot the best in the final rounds today, but his qualification rounds from yesterday had placed him in 4th (I think?), so he had to climb up in the rankings. Here is my earlier shooting profile if you want to read more about him, though now the web will be full of information about him! It is the first ever gold medal for India in an individual event.

BTW, all other shooters and archers who did not get a medal so far in this Olympics, also did very well, missing it by a couple of points here and there. So lets give them all credit.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympics Indian Contingent Miscellany

Here is a detailed recap of Indian athletes on day 1. Archer Champia did well (got seeded/ranked 2). The women archers did not get ranked well, however, it is now an elimination round - so anything is possible. A boxer (Vijender Kumar), the rower(Bajrang Thaker), and the badminton player (Saina Nehwal) qualified for the next rounds. A couple of shooting prospects (Manavjit and Mansher) remain in contention but it will be an uphill task.

Here is the official website, to see the upcoming events and the results thus far. It is actually quite good, and even during the event you can see intermediate results etc. IOA please take note.

And a note on the coverage on DD sports - the art of segue is lost on them. DD seemed clueless on how to transition between events. For example, during the last 3 Kms of a cycling event (which would have taken 5 mins or so to decide the gold), they decided to switch events - first to an interview with Kalmadi! They came back and announced the gold medalist, thereby depriving us of the suspense, but not letting us know who won the silver & bronze, so results were incomplete. Then DD took us to some qualifying event after another. Maybe they showed it again, I don't know - but by then I lost interest, I actually checked the results on the web.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The opening ceremony

Accolades are being lavished on the opening ceremony - I too found it creative, culturally interesting, spectacular and befitting of the event. It reminded me of one difference I found between IPL closing ceremony and this one. The former had an overdose of bollywood and the remaining were imported performances while the latter kept it essentially Chinese. The lighting of the torch (a la Akshay Kumar) was brilliant. I however kept worrying that the flame would be put out by the wind when the athlete was 'flying' (will they have a re-ignite switch in case it went out (just checking...)? I have also always wondered what happens if it rains during the next twenty odd days - how is the flame kept going?

However I have one major grouse - at nearly 4 hours, it was too long. I wanted to see team India, Federer, Nadal, Phelps, Bolt, Powell, Messi, Ronaldinho, etc. and did not catch many them. First it was not alphabetically presented - so you had no idea who was coming next (how was the order determined?). Second, I had dinner and came back, athletes were walking. I went out and came back, athletes were still strolling... So for the 2012 London games, please expend some of your creative energy in introducing the athletes/teams and reduce the time taken . Maybe have them be seated and introduce them by asking only that country to rise with the flag bearers strolling around the stadium?

Let the games begin!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Of crows, bears and kites

Here is a great video of a bear interrupting play at a golf tournament. Maybe it wanted a beardie. The spectators look mighty calm, don't they?

So seeing this video, I was reminded of Arun Lal's commentary during the last test match. I am fascinated by places, wonder about the impact of the tsunami on galle, put away information about whale watching and turtle farming for future reference. But when he spoke about a slow moving kite and followed it up with usefulness of the crow, it was a bit too much - don't you think?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

India Olympics: Boxing

I never thought I would do this post! My interest in boxing is zilch. Besides being aware of "The Greatest" and figuring out if Mike Tyson has bitten any more ears, I don't follow it at all. Come to think of it, maybe a Tyson - Harbajjan contest will be good.. - (bite or slap)?

But here the the pugilists for India at the 2008 Olympics, who could come up with a medal or two (they came very close in the last Olympics). Interestingly 4 out of the five some from Bhiwani, a backwater district of Haryana.

  • Jitender Kumar: Flyweight :This 20 year old is a bronze medalist at the Commonwealth games. And there is another Jitender Kumar, so I have no idea if I am reading the article about the right person.
  • Akhil Kumar: Bantamweight: Supported by the Mittal trust, Akhil hails from Bhiwani and was named the best boxer in Asian Olympic Qualifiers in 2008. Considered one of India's good chances of a medal, this gold medalist in the commonwealth games, is a 27 year old boxer who lost in the first round at 2004 Oympics. Expecting a better showing from this athlete.
  • Anthresh Lalit Lakra: Featherweight: He qualified for the Olympics when he reached the quaterfinals of the world championships last year. Have not been able to find his personal profile as yet.
  • Vijender: Middleweight:Vijender is a 23 year old boxer from Bhiwani again. A former Olympian (2004) who lost early, he has a bronze in the Asian games and is a silver medalist in the Commonwealth games
For the other Indian Olympians, I am sorry, but I don't have more time to write your profiles.

Here is a wikipedia link, if anyone out there wants to know more about the contingent.

Also here is the official IOC YouTube link.

India Olympics: the racket sports

Did you see Deepika and Prakash Padukone play in a recent match? They seemed to glide across the court. Well I have recently resumed badminton for fun. And I don't seem to glide at all - far from it... ( the court seems so small, but when you play it is exhausting!) But anyway it is good to watch Badminton when the players are good :-) Here are the duo of badminton olympians from India.

Anup Sridhar: Anup is a 25 year old player from Bangalore with a career best rank of 24. Anup has his website, and trains at Tata Padukone academy. And he blogs as well. He has beaten the world number one and gold medalist at previous Olympics, so don't rule out a surprise showing.

Saina Nehwal: At 18, she is one of the bright starts of the future, and comes from a family where both parents are state champions. A Mittal trust athlete, she has recently broken into the top 20 in world rankings. She is also the brand ambassador for the Save the Girl Child campaign, - thats the way it should be!

My tennis stints, once every 5 years or so, are worse than badminton - It seems a futile attempt with me spending more time picking up the balls rather than playing. Anyways, our tennis stars need no introduction, so will just link to their wiki pages. While you are watching the "must see" Nadal - Federer match, don't forget to root for your bronze medalist, and grand slam doubles champions. Surprises are possible!

Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes: Doubles
Sania Mirza and Sunita Rao: Doubles
Sania Mirza: Singles

Table Tennis:
Love this fast paced game - and you guessed right - below average in this as well. India is going to be represented by these two stars.

Achanta Sharath Kamal: Singles - 26 year old from Tamil Nadu is an Arjuna award winner and a commonwealth gold medalist. He resides in Chennai and for the info of fellow chennaites, he is an alumni of PSBB and Loyola. And an A.R. Rehman fan who plays the guitar, his target is 2012 Olympics. Currently ranked 79, it may be tough to expect a medal, but you never know.

Neha Agarwal: Neha is a Delhi girl, is a newcomer, who’s surprised one and all with her unexpected qualification according to this report. Barely 18, from DPS, she probably hopes to win a match or two. Another bright star for the future perhaps?

BTW, if you find any press article in the next day or so with the player profiles, let me know - as I am running out of patience, and would just love to read and link it:-)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Knowing your Indian Olympians

Continuing the names and faces posts: (without the faces - it is taking too long - so skipping them for now)

The Shooting Stars:

  • Abhinav Bindra (10 m Air Rifle Men): At 25, already a 2 time Olympian, an arjuna award winner, a Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award winner. He broke the Olympic record in 2004 but failed to win a medal but has won several medals in other meets. He is an MBA, has won tons of medals - and is going to blog during the olympics. He is supported by the Mittal trust.
  • Gagan Narang (10 m Air Rifle Men): Supported by the Olympic Gold Quest foundation of Geet Seethi and Prakash Padukone, Gagan is a 25 year old based in Hyderabad who has won several medals in the past. He has been the world number one as well and is a computer science graduate and an arjuna award winner.
  • Samaresh Jung (10 m Air Pistol Men): A son of an army colonel, Jung is a 38 year old Arjuna award winner, winner of 5 golds at the commonwealth games. His wife is a shooter as well. He missed on a record tying 6 medals in one event...
  • Manavjit Singh Sandhu (Trap Men): Last year's Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award winner, the nation's highest sports award, Sandhu is also a shooter supported by the Mittal trust. Hailing from Punjab, the 32 year old shooter is someone whose exceptional performance was the reason that Dravid did not get the Khel Ratna award. While his current form has not been the best, hopefully he can recover the form just in time for Beijing.
  • Mansher Singh (Trap Men): Heading to his 4th Olympics, he competes in the same category as Sandhu. He is an arjuna award winner, and despite this being his 4th trip, he does not have a profile on wiki and I cannot find more about him :-)
  • Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Double Trap Men): Yes we know, our only Olympic medal from 2004 athens, awarded the Khel Ratna award for 2004-2005, this Lt. Colonel in the army has other awards as well (he was a major when he won the silver wasn't he?). He is also a recipient of the Padma Shri and the Ati Vishisht seva medal. He will be the flag bearer for India at the Olympics.
  • Anjali Bhagwat (50 m Rifle 3 Positions Women): Anjali, one of the 2 women representing Indian in shooting, is another Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award winner (2002). Shooting seems to be dominating the Khel Ratna awards! This mumbai shooter who went to the Sydney Olympics as well has her own official website. She is supported by the Mittal trust as well.
  • Avneet Kaur Sidhu (10 m Air Rifle Women): A medalist at the commonwealth games and asian games, she hails from Bathinda in Punjab. An article about this athlete is here. She seems to have taken shooting as a hobby initially.

With some of the shooting squad being supported by trusts, with Rathore paving the way in Athens, with the shooters out numbering the cricketers in the national sporting honour, shooting looks like a promising chance of a medal or two. Just aim and shoot - (Kodak/Konica sponsors?)

Names and Faces of Indian Olympic contingent

It turns out there aren't too many sites with profiles of Indian athletes - so much so that my blog is in the first page of google results today for the phrase "indian olympic contingent" - yikes - we are in deeper trouble than I realized if I am the source of information :-)

FYI, thanks to a comment (courtesy preeti) in my previous post, check out Mittal Champions trust for some more details on their athletes.

So I am going to try to make time to put some names, pictures for some categories- essentially doing the work of the IOA, Sports Authority of India, the Khel Ratna nominations committee, etc.


Dola Banerjee: Women's Team Recurve

Photo courtesy:

Born Jun 2nd, 1980, hails from West Bengal, and is an Arjuna award winner. She is the gold medalist in the women's individual recurve competition at the archery world cup held at Dubai, in November 2007. More info in the wiki. According to this indian express story, an international standard bow with 12 arrows costs Rs. 8 lakhs atleast! She thanks the Tatas as well.

Pranitha Vardhineni: Women's Team Recurve

Photo courtesy:

An 18 year old from Andra Pradesh, from a remote area called Parvathagiri mandal Her parents are agriculturists. A silver medalist in the Mexico World Cup. More info on her.

Bombayala Devi: Women's Individual and Team Recurve

She hails from Manipur and has several bronze medals and gold medals to her name and has been most consistent. A Mittal Champions Trust Athlete

Mangal Singh Champia:
Men's Individual Recurve

Photo courtesy:
Born: 9 nov 1983

Bronze medalist in the team competition at the 2006 Asian Games, Champia hails from Ichacuti village in Singhbhum district of Jharkhand (Dhoni - highlight him?). A Mittal Champions Trust Athlete. and a gold medalist at the 2008 world cup

Looking for some Brahmastras from you (the archery team from small town & rural India) leading to some medals!

Info courtesy: Wikipedia.
If you interested in the windy conditions in Beijing and how it may impact the archers.
What is Recurve?

If I have got anything wrong about the athletes - let me know.

By the time I finished this post, I realized that I am not going to be able to find time to do this for all the categories, unless I take a break like Dhoni!

Tired - check.
Working without a significant break (small vacations and national holidays don't count) - check.
Important project coming up (alias test series) - check

What do you think? I don't really dare though since it would most likely be a permanent break in that case..

Saturday, August 2, 2008


As I watched the third's day play, a couple of thoughts crossed my mind on the referral. One is the neutrality of the third umpire (nothing against this specific umpire). In test cricket, the on-field umpires are from neutral countries. But with the new referral system, the third umpire plays a more important role, as the most crucial and close decisions are likely to be referred. So it calls for one of two solutions, all the umpires be neutral or remove the restriction all together? Otherwise the neutrality serves no purpose.

Second is the amount of time taken to request a referral. In tennis for example, they ask for a call to be checked almost immediately. However Jayawardene today took a lot of time asking for referrals, even talking to the umpire (the one against Dravid comes to mind).

I think the umpire should not be consulted (the captain can judge his odds of getting a verdict in his favor based on the umpire's response). Also, shouldn't the captain make the request within 10-15 seconds? After all he just needs a aye or nay from the close-in fielders, not a group discussion.

What are your thoughts on referrals so far?

Friday, August 1, 2008


Some days you exasperate us, some days you exhilarate us and this knock belonged to latter category. What a special innings and you were the one that saved the team from another 130 all out score. However, I do notice one problem that only four of you have played in the series so far (yourself, Gautam, VVS and Ishant). And 4 versus 11 will lose more often than not, despite this knock. So can you talk to your buddies and see if you can muster any additional support, one more bowler and batsman atleast?