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Sports Stars

Thank god for sport!



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ABHINAV BINDRA (SHOOTING, INDIA) Abhinav Bindra is at the helm of the new breed of Indian shooters. Coming from an affluent family and with the luxury of an indoor range in his backyard, Bindra, at 15, was the youngest participant at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. He shot into the limelight winning a bronze in the 2001 Munich World Cup with a new junior world record score of 597/600. In the 2004 Athens Olympics, despite breaking the Olympic record, Bindra failed to win a medal, but he more than made up for it in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, when he won gold in the 10 m air rifle.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


ABHINAV BINDRA (SHOOTING, INDIA) Abhinav Bindra is at the helm of the new breed of Indian shooters. Coming from an affluent family and with the luxury of an indoor range in his backyard, Bindra, at 15, was the youngest participant at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. He shot into the limelight winning a bronze in the 2001 Munich World Cup with a new junior world record score of 597/600. In the 2004 Athens Olympics, despite breaking the Olympic record, Bindra failed to win a medal, but he more than made up for it in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, when he won gold in the 10 m air rifle.

SAINA NEHWAL (BADMINTON, INDIA) In 2006, Saina appeared on the global scene when she became the first Indian woman to win a 4-star tournament, the Philippines Open, beating several top seeded players. The same year also saw Saina as runner up at the 2006 BWF World Junior Championships, where she lost a hard-fought match against top seed Chinese Wang Yihan. She did one better in 2008 by becoming the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships by defeating ninth seeded Japanese Sayaka Sato 21-9, 21-18. She reached the quarters at the 2008 Olympic Games, but lost a nail biting 3-gamer to world number 16 Maria Kristin Yulianti. In 2009, she became the first Indian to win a BWF Super Series title - the Indonesia Open. She reached the quarters of the 2009 World Championship, but once again lost out. However, she received the Arjuna award in August and in 2010 got the Rajiv Khel Ratna award.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


SAINA NEHWAL (BADMINTON, INDIA) In 2006, Saina appeared on the global scene when she became the first Indian woman to win a 4-star tournament, the Philippines Open, beating several top seeded players. The same year also saw Saina as runner up at the 2006 BWF World Junior Championships, where she lost a hard-fought match against top seed Chinese Wang Yihan. She did one better in 2008 by becoming the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships by defeating ninth seeded Japanese Sayaka Sato 21-9, 21-18. She reached the quarters at the 2008 Olympic Games, but lost a nail biting 3-gamer to world number 16 Maria Kristin Yulianti. In 2009, she became the first Indian to win a BWF Super Series title - the Indonesia Open. She reached the quarters of the 2009 World Championship, but once again lost out. However, she received the Arjuna award in August and in 2010 got the Rajiv Khel Ratna award.

SUSHIL KUMAR (WRESTLING, INDIA) Sushil Kumar was inspired to join wrestling by his father Diwan Singh, who once was a wrestler. He learnt all the wrestling tit-bits from the "akhada" in the Chhatrasal Stadium. He started at the tender age of 14 and trained under legendary wrestlers Yashvir and Rampal. Sushil won gold in the World Cadet Championship in 1998 and followed it up with gold in the Asian Junior Wrestling Championship in 2000. He added the CWG gold in 2003. After winning the bronze in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, he hit his zenith in the recent World Wrestling Championship where he won gold beating Russian wrestler Gogaev Alan.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


SUSHIL KUMAR (WRESTLING, INDIA) Sushil Kumar was inspired to join wrestling by his father Diwan Singh, who once was a wrestler. He learnt all the wrestling tit-bits from the "akhada" in the Chhatrasal Stadium. He started at the tender age of 14 and trained under legendary wrestlers Yashvir and Rampal. Sushil won gold in the World Cadet Championship in 1998 and followed it up with gold in the Asian Junior Wrestling Championship in 2000. He added the CWG gold in 2003. After winning the bronze in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, he hit his zenith in the recent World Wrestling Championship where he won gold beating Russian wrestler Gogaev Alan.

CASTER SEMENYA (ATHLETICS, SOUTH AFRICA) Controversy has been Semenya's perpetual companion. Following the South African's victory at the 2009 World Championships, questions were raised about whether Semenya has an intersex condition that might give her an unfair advantage over other athletes. South African officials withdrew Semenya from international competition until July this year, when the IAAF cleared her to return to competition. Semenya participated in the 2008 World Junior Championships and won the gold in 800 m at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games. The gender controversy apart, Semenya is one of the best 800 m runners in the world at this point and she will be looking at the CWG to make a successful comeback to the big stage.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


CASTER SEMENYA (ATHLETICS, SOUTH AFRICA) Controversy has been Semenya's perpetual companion. Following the South African's victory at the 2009 World Championships, questions were raised about whether Semenya has an intersex condition that might give her an unfair advantage over other athletes. South African officials withdrew Semenya from international competition until July this year, when the IAAF cleared her to return to competition. Semenya participated in the 2008 World Junior Championships and won the gold in 800 m at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games. The gender controversy apart, Semenya is one of the best 800 m runners in the world at this point and she will be looking at the CWG to make a successful comeback to the big stage.

NANCY JEBET LANGAT (ATHLETICS, KENYA) Kenyan middle-distance runner Langat, the reigning Olympic 1500 m champion, won the Olympic crown with a personal best time of 4:00. 23. She also competed at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2005 World Championships without reaching the finals. Langat started her international career by competing in the 800 m, and was successful as a junior. At the Beijing Olympics, she became the second Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold. The first one was Pamela Jelimo, who won 800 m at the same Olympics.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


NANCY JEBET LANGAT (ATHLETICS, KENYA) Kenyan middle-distance runner Langat, the reigning Olympic 1500 m champion, won the Olympic crown with a personal best time of 4:00. 23. She also competed at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2005 World Championships without reaching the finals. Langat started her international career by competing in the 800 m, and was successful as a junior. At the Beijing Olympics, she became the second Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold. The first one was Pamela Jelimo, who won 800 m at the same Olympics.

NICOL DAVID (SQUASH, MALAYSIA) The current women's World No. 1, David is the first squash player to have won the World Junior title twice. David, who turned pro in 2000, has won the Asian Squash Championship a record seven times apart from being named the WISPA Player of the Year on five consecutive occasions during 2005-09. The Malaysian is one of the few squash players to have won all age categories in the British Junior Open. She started 2010 ranked No. 1 for the 42nd consecutive month.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


NICOL DAVID (SQUASH, MALAYSIA) The current women's World No. 1, David is the first squash player to have won the World Junior title twice. David, who turned pro in 2000, has won the Asian Squash Championship a record seven times apart from being named the WISPA Player of the Year on five consecutive occasions during 2005-09. The Malaysian is one of the few squash players to have won all age categories in the British Junior Open. She started 2010 ranked No. 1 for the 42nd consecutive month.

STEVE HOOKER (POLE VAULT, AUSTRALIA) Olympic champion Hooker, with a personal best of 6. 06 m, is the second highest pole-vaulter in history, behind only the great Sergei Bubka. The Aussie won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a vault of 5. 96 m, setting a new Olympic record and becoming the first Australian male track and field gold medalist in 40 years since Ralph Doubell won the 800 m gold in Mexico City in 1968. He is also the reigning world indoor and outdoor champion.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


STEVE HOOKER (POLE VAULT, AUSTRALIA) Olympic champion Hooker, with a personal best of 6. 06 m, is the second highest pole-vaulter in history, behind only the great Sergei Bubka. The Aussie won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a vault of 5. 96 m, setting a new Olympic record and becoming the first Australian male track and field gold medalist in 40 years since Ralph Doubell won the 800 m gold in Mexico City in 1968. He is also the reigning world indoor and outdoor champion.

REBECCA ADLINGTON (SWIMMING, ENGLAND) A double gold medallist from the Olympic pool in Beijing, Adlington is Britain's first Olympic swimming champion since 1988, the first British swimmer to win two Olympic gold medals since 1908 and Great Britain's most successful Olympic swimmer in 100 years. Adlington won the 400 and 800 m freestyle gold in Beijing and missed out on a triple when she was rested during the 4×200 m freestyle relay heats and the team failed to qualify for the final. She is also the reigning 400 m freestyle world champion, winning gold at the 2009 Worlds.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


REBECCA ADLINGTON (SWIMMING, ENGLAND) A double gold medallist from the Olympic pool in Beijing, Adlington is Britain's first Olympic swimming champion since 1988, the first British swimmer to win two Olympic gold medals since 1908 and Great Britain's most successful Olympic swimmer in 100 years. Adlington won the 400 and 800 m freestyle gold in Beijing and missed out on a triple when she was rested during the 4×200 m freestyle relay heats and the team failed to qualify for the final. She is also the reigning 400 m freestyle world champion, winning gold at the 2009 Worlds.

LEE CHONG WEI (BADMINTON, MALAYSIA) Former World No 1 Lee won the silver medal in the 2008 Olympic Games, becoming the first Malaysian to reach the final of the men's singles event and ending the country's Olympic medal drought since 1996. This achievement also earned him the title Datukback home, and a description by the Malaysian government as a 'National Hero'. Lee was ranked the No. 1 player in the world in August 2008. He is the third Malaysian men's singles shuttler after Rashid Sidek and Roslin Hashim to achieve such a ranking (since official rankings began in 1980) and is the only Malaysian to hold the ranking for more than two weeks. Lee has won many international badminton titles in his career, including many Super Series titles.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


LEE CHONG WEI (BADMINTON, MALAYSIA) Former World No 1 Lee won the silver medal in the 2008 Olympic Games, becoming the first Malaysian to reach the final of the men's singles event and ending the country's Olympic medal drought since 1996. This achievement also earned him the title Datukback home, and a description by the Malaysian government as a 'National Hero'. Lee was ranked the No. 1 player in the world in August 2008. He is the third Malaysian men's singles shuttler after Rashid Sidek and Roslin Hashim to achieve such a ranking (since official rankings began in 1980) and is the only Malaysian to hold the ranking for more than two weeks. Lee has won many international badminton titles in his career, including many Super Series titles.

ANNA MEARES (CYCLING, AUSTRALIA) Meares is a time-trial specialist and has been twice world champion in the 500 m segment. The trackcyclist won gold, setting a new world record, in the Women's 500 m time trial at the Athens Olympics in 2004. Meares also won a bronze in the 200 m sprint event in 2004. In May 2004, at the Time Trial World Titles in Melbourne, Meares claimed the title of Women's World time trial champion, and won a silver in the sprint event. She was also champ at the 2004 World Cup Time Trial in Sydney.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


ANNA MEARES (CYCLING, AUSTRALIA) Meares is a time-trial specialist and has been twice world champion in the 500 m segment. The trackcyclist won gold, setting a new world record, in the Women's 500 m time trial at the Athens Olympics in 2004. Meares also won a bronze in the 200 m sprint event in 2004. In May 2004, at the Time Trial World Titles in Melbourne, Meares claimed the title of Women's World time trial champion, and won a silver in the sprint event. She was also champ at the 2004 World Cup Time Trial in Sydney.

POWER GIRL: New Zealand's Valerie Vili is the world, Olympic and CWG champion shotputter ATHLETICS Top ranked CWG team: Jamaica World's top ranked team: United States The sprint events often take up the attention and the glory in events, but other disciplines like pole vault, discus throw have also thrown up remarkable champions in the past. With a spate of pullouts this time, it will be a tough ask to show up at the stadium to follow the also-rans. No Usain Bolt or Asafa Powell would be hard to swallow. Furthermore, India has had a chequered history at the Games. There's been a lone gold medal to show so far and that came way back in 1958 at the Cardiff Games, when the legendary Milkha Singh was among the world's best in the 400 m. Do we have it in us this time? As hosts, we would be expected to haul in a handful. Do watch out for the PT Usha protege Tintu Luka, considered by many as the next big thing in Indian track and field.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


POWER GIRL: New Zealand's Valerie Vili is the world, Olympic and CWG champion shotputter ATHLETICS Top ranked CWG team: Jamaica World's top ranked team: United States The sprint events often take up the attention and the glory in events, but other disciplines like pole vault, discus throw have also thrown up remarkable champions in the past. With a spate of pullouts this time, it will be a tough ask to show up at the stadium to follow the also-rans. No Usain Bolt or Asafa Powell would be hard to swallow. Furthermore, India has had a chequered history at the Games. There's been a lone gold medal to show so far and that came way back in 1958 at the Cardiff Games, when the legendary Milkha Singh was among the world's best in the 400 m. Do we have it in us this time? As hosts, we would be expected to haul in a handful. Do watch out for the PT Usha protege Tintu Luka, considered by many as the next big thing in Indian track and field.

OZ ON TOP: Aussie defender Luke Doerner will add to the class in hockey HOCKEY Top ranked CWG team: Australia World's top ranked team: Germany India's rank: No 10 Now we only get stick for this one. Field hockey, as our old-timers would well remember, was once played on gravel, natural grass or clay. Today, we can only watch as other teams race past us on water-based artificial turf. Hockey, as anyone with even a passing idea of sport in India would tell you, used to be our thing. Not anymore. Still, for the die-hard romantic (and optimist), the Commonwealth Games idea offers a unique opportunity to wrest back some lost glory (that phrase again!). But is it possible with our game and administration in continuous free-fall, with the presence of traditional powerhouses like Australia and Pakistan and emerging forces like England and Malaysia in the fray? See it all unfold at the National Stadium, fresh from hosting the World Cup.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


OZ ON TOP: Aussie defender Luke Doerner will add to the class in hockey HOCKEY Top ranked CWG team: Australia World's top ranked team: Germany India's rank: No 10 Now we only get stick for this one. Field hockey, as our old-timers would well remember, was once played on gravel, natural grass or clay. Today, we can only watch as other teams race past us on water-based artificial turf. Hockey, as anyone with even a passing idea of sport in India would tell you, used to be our thing. Not anymore. Still, for the die-hard romantic (and optimist), the Commonwealth Games idea offers a unique opportunity to wrest back some lost glory (that phrase again!). But is it possible with our game and administration in continuous free-fall, with the presence of traditional powerhouses like Australia and Pakistan and emerging forces like England and Malaysia in the fray? See it all unfold at the National Stadium, fresh from hosting the World Cup.

CREATING A SPLASH: Eamon Sullivan will make up for ex-girlfriend Stephanie's absence SWIMMING Top ranked CWG team: Australia World's top ranked team: United States Not to be mistaken for the car pool, even if the effect of rain on Delhi's roads outside gives you that idea. This one will be carried out in Olympic-size water arenas complete with underwater electronic touchpads and diving board. You can float like a butterfly, skim the surface albatross-like without the fear of a mosquito menace. At event-cramped Games, few things manage to create a greater splash than swimming. Beach volleyball maybe, but here that would kick the moral police into action. We had hoped Aussie eye-grabber Stephanie Rice would be good enough to show up, but instead she chose this time for her shoulder surgery. Perfect. So we turn our lonely eyes to Mr Sullivan, Ms Rice's ex and beefcake in his own right. Sprint swimmer Eamon Sullivan would be the top draw in the men's field. For the uninitiated (read: snorkelling gear and flippers only complete when lifevest is included), swimming offers fans a range of strokes to be thrilled by. There's the butterfly, breastroke, freestyle (or front crawl) and backstroke. The true test of the swimmer is when he is able to master the individual medley - where each lap consists of swimming one of the four strokes. Not as pretty as it sounds, but quite impressive when done right.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


CREATING A SPLASH: Eamon Sullivan will make up for ex-girlfriend Stephanie's absence SWIMMING Top ranked CWG team: Australia World's top ranked team: United States Not to be mistaken for the car pool, even if the effect of rain on Delhi's roads outside gives you that idea. This one will be carried out in Olympic-size water arenas complete with underwater electronic touchpads and diving board. You can float like a butterfly, skim the surface albatross-like without the fear of a mosquito menace. At event-cramped Games, few things manage to create a greater splash than swimming. Beach volleyball maybe, but here that would kick the moral police into action. We had hoped Aussie eye-grabber Stephanie Rice would be good enough to show up, but instead she chose this time for her shoulder surgery. Perfect. So we turn our lonely eyes to Mr Sullivan, Ms Rice's ex and beefcake in his own right. Sprint swimmer Eamon Sullivan would be the top draw in the men's field. For the uninitiated (read: snorkelling gear and flippers only complete when lifevest is included), swimming offers fans a range of strokes to be thrilled by. There's the butterfly, breastroke, freestyle (or front crawl) and backstroke. The true test of the swimmer is when he is able to master the individual medley - where each lap consists of swimming one of the four strokes. Not as pretty as it sounds, but quite impressive when done right.

ALL BLACK: New Zealand star winger Hosea Gear will dazzle the crowds RUGBY 7S Top ranked CWG team: Samoa World's top ranked team: Samoa If you can't make sense of hulking men crashing into each other while chasing odd-shaped pigskin, Sevens is a variant of the original 15-a-side Rugby Union format. Okay, that's helpful. There are tackles, mauls, rucks and scrums and while all suspiciously appear the same, when Johan Lomu tells you his is a much-nuanced sport, you pipe down and listen. It's in Rugby Union that India are ranked 73 in the world, and a good guess is that only 70 nations play the sport. Ah yes, the scoring. The idea is to go anywhere but in the direction of the goal. Still, you are awarded tries, conversions, penalties and drop goals for all the pain that is inflicted on you. And you always thought grabbing the ball and making a dash for it was an easier way to play football. Give us our Super Bowl half-time entertainment any day. It's called Lingerie Bowl. All they seem to wear is protective gear and rules are so simple that even Forrest Gump can rattle them off.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


ALL BLACK: New Zealand star winger Hosea Gear will dazzle the crowds RUGBY 7S Top ranked CWG team: Samoa World's top ranked team: Samoa If you can't make sense of hulking men crashing into each other while chasing odd-shaped pigskin, Sevens is a variant of the original 15-a-side Rugby Union format. Okay, that's helpful. There are tackles, mauls, rucks and scrums and while all suspiciously appear the same, when Johan Lomu tells you his is a much-nuanced sport, you pipe down and listen. It's in Rugby Union that India are ranked 73 in the world, and a good guess is that only 70 nations play the sport. Ah yes, the scoring. The idea is to go anywhere but in the direction of the goal. Still, you are awarded tries, conversions, penalties and drop goals for all the pain that is inflicted on you. And you always thought grabbing the ball and making a dash for it was an easier way to play football. Give us our Super Bowl half-time entertainment any day. It's called Lingerie Bowl. All they seem to wear is protective gear and rules are so simple that even Forrest Gump can rattle them off.

WHO'S ON THE OTHER SIDE? Somdev could be short on competition at the Games TENNIS Top ranked CWG team: India Top ranked team: Spain India's ranking (Davis Cup): 13 When Andy Murray looked at the 2010 calendar, he saw 'Commonwealth Games in October' and chuckled. Lleyton Hewitt had his excuse ready already - India is unsafe. It's another matter that he has hurt his hand and is now out for three weeks. Karma-flavoured comeuppance we called it. Sadly for our players, not playing wasn't an option till they threatened to skip the Games if they weren't compensated. The ministry of sport coughed up the money and there was no way out anymore. With South Africa and Canada not even bothering to send teams, our biggest worry is whether there'll be enough players in New Delhi for a draw of 32. Wait and watch. . .

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


WHO'S ON THE OTHER SIDE? Somdev could be short on competition at the Games TENNIS Top ranked CWG team: India Top ranked team: Spain India's ranking (Davis Cup): 13 When Andy Murray looked at the 2010 calendar, he saw 'Commonwealth Games in October' and chuckled. Lleyton Hewitt had his excuse ready already - India is unsafe. It's another matter that he has hurt his hand and is now out for three weeks. Karma-flavoured comeuppance we called it. Sadly for our players, not playing wasn't an option till they threatened to skip the Games if they weren't compensated. The ministry of sport coughed up the money and there was no way out anymore. With South Africa and Canada not even bothering to send teams, our biggest worry is whether there'll be enough players in New Delhi for a draw of 32. Wait and watch. . .

RANKS ON TOP: Saina may not earn ranking points at the CWG, but it means a lot to her BADMINTON Top ranked CWG team: Malaysia (men's ); India (Women's ) World's top ranked team: Malaysia (men's ); China (Women's ) India's ranking: Men's : 17;Women's : 3 Would you call frequent space travellers, shuttlers? Or can Saina Nehwal be anointed a spacewoman in her own right? She doesn't even need the cumbersome spacesuit, but finding oneself among shuttles all day long gives anybody that anti-gravity feeling. This is one sport where India starts favourites. There would be no Chinese shuttlers at the Games, but trust the tough Hyderabad girl not to ease up even for a minute. In the men's section, with the presence of the top-seeded Malaysians, the field gets tougher for the home side. Still, for those not too bothered by wins and losses in the sport, descend just to watch beautiful folk chase feathered projectiles all across the court. And yes, there's also the stunning Jwala Gutta on show, considered responsible for the Azhar-Bijlani split. Enjoy the show.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


RANKS ON TOP: Saina may not earn ranking points at the CWG, but it means a lot to her BADMINTON Top ranked CWG team: Malaysia (men's ); India (Women's ) World's top ranked team: Malaysia (men's ); China (Women's ) India's ranking: Men's : 17;Women's : 3 Would you call frequent space travellers, shuttlers? Or can Saina Nehwal be anointed a spacewoman in her own right? She doesn't even need the cumbersome spacesuit, but finding oneself among shuttles all day long gives anybody that anti-gravity feeling. This is one sport where India starts favourites. There would be no Chinese shuttlers at the Games, but trust the tough Hyderabad girl not to ease up even for a minute. In the men's section, with the presence of the top-seeded Malaysians, the field gets tougher for the home side. Still, for those not too bothered by wins and losses in the sport, descend just to watch beautiful folk chase feathered projectiles all across the court. And yes, there's also the stunning Jwala Gutta on show, considered responsible for the Azhar-Bijlani split. Enjoy the show.

GUNNING FOR GLORY: World No 6 James Wilstrop of the UK will be the man to beat SQUASH Top ranked CWG team: England (men's ); Malaysia (women's ) World's top-ranked team: Egypt (men's ); Malaysia (women's ) India's ranking: Men's 26;Women's : 33 If ever there was a fishbowl existence in sport, it would probably be this. Imagine being one of two players inside a fibreglass cage battling it out with another, a thousand pair of eyes from above - prying, analysing, interpreting and delivering the verdict irrespective of what the scoresheet read? Would a squash player ever need a shrink, given that he/she is already up for such scrutiny? Or does he/she spend all of the 'uncaged' hours on the couch, whispering, "I see dumb people. . . .  ?" Still, it's not so bad. Especially when the likes of Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal step into that aquarium and whack the little ball around. Shrink or no, squash will be one of the world class events at the Games what with Malaysian Nicol David, the top-seeded woman in the sport, choosing not to be too perturbed by the news of calamity all around in the Capital. Would you watch the male section of an aquarium? Well, in men's squash, there's . . .  Oh well, we forgot.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


GUNNING FOR GLORY: World No 6 James Wilstrop of the UK will be the man to beat SQUASH Top ranked CWG team: England (men's ); Malaysia (women's ) World's top-ranked team: Egypt (men's ); Malaysia (women's ) India's ranking: Men's 26;Women's : 33 If ever there was a fishbowl existence in sport, it would probably be this. Imagine being one of two players inside a fibreglass cage battling it out with another, a thousand pair of eyes from above - prying, analysing, interpreting and delivering the verdict irrespective of what the scoresheet read? Would a squash player ever need a shrink, given that he/she is already up for such scrutiny? Or does he/she spend all of the 'uncaged' hours on the couch, whispering, "I see dumb people. . . . ?" Still, it's not so bad. Especially when the likes of Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal step into that aquarium and whack the little ball around. Shrink or no, squash will be one of the world class events at the Games what with Malaysian Nicol David, the top-seeded woman in the sport, choosing not to be too perturbed by the news of calamity all around in the Capital. Would you watch the male section of an aquarium? Well, in men's squash, there's . . . Oh well, we forgot.

WRESTLING Top ranked CWG team: India World's top ranked team: Russia This is where the tractor and SUV will happily rub shoulders, and parking will be one happy chaos. Fisticuffs and MCs and BCs will be par for the course. Wrestling, despite its modern avtaar and techniques, will retain its draw of old when the art will help pull in arguably the the largest crowd at any venue at the Commonwealth Games. The reason? Pint-sized Sushil Kumar. Fresh from his world championship gold medal in Moscow, Sushil could easily prove the draw of these beleaguered Games. Otherwise quietly confident, happy-go-lucky, almost back-slappy friendly, the man transforms into a ogre once he takes the mat. And, can he pack a serious punch. The smile disappears, the normally bright eyes spell murder and the explosive power comes through. The antics of those wrestling on television, including the Great Khali, would be put to shame. In a competition that will not match up to the world and Olympic levels, what keeps Sushil motivated will make for rivetting viewing. The Jats from Nafajgarh - much aware of the nuances of this ancient craft - are astute enough to understand that this feature alone is good enough for them to head to the Indira Gandhi Stadium piled up in their tractor trailers, hookahs in tow cocking a snook at the Capital's anti-smoking laws. And as the champion wrestler comes to be the face of a modern, new India, try keeping the yuppie, armed with his distilled dose of patriotism, away from the mats. Good fun! PS: Here's a note for coaches. Check that there are no ministers around if you don't want to be shoved aside

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


WRESTLING Top ranked CWG team: India World's top ranked team: Russia This is where the tractor and SUV will happily rub shoulders, and parking will be one happy chaos. Fisticuffs and MCs and BCs will be par for the course. Wrestling, despite its modern avtaar and techniques, will retain its draw of old when the art will help pull in arguably the the largest crowd at any venue at the Commonwealth Games. The reason? Pint-sized Sushil Kumar. Fresh from his world championship gold medal in Moscow, Sushil could easily prove the draw of these beleaguered Games. Otherwise quietly confident, happy-go-lucky, almost back-slappy friendly, the man transforms into a ogre once he takes the mat. And, can he pack a serious punch. The smile disappears, the normally bright eyes spell murder and the explosive power comes through. The antics of those wrestling on television, including the Great Khali, would be put to shame. In a competition that will not match up to the world and Olympic levels, what keeps Sushil motivated will make for rivetting viewing. The Jats from Nafajgarh - much aware of the nuances of this ancient craft - are astute enough to understand that this feature alone is good enough for them to head to the Indira Gandhi Stadium piled up in their tractor trailers, hookahs in tow cocking a snook at the Capital's anti-smoking laws. And as the champion wrestler comes to be the face of a modern, new India, try keeping the yuppie, armed with his distilled dose of patriotism, away from the mats. Good fun! PS: Here's a note for coaches. Check that there are no ministers around if you don't want to be shoved aside

ME TOO: Khaleed Yafai, of Yemenese origin, boxes for the UK BOXING Top ranked CWG team: India India's Vijender Singh is the world's top-ranked middleweight (75kg) boxer If you are the sort, who is a sucker for underdog stories, your throat chokes at the sight of James Braddock taking the ring for his title bout in Cinderella Man or if you just happen to know the exact number of raw eggs that Rocky Balboa breaks into the glass before gulping it down at an unearthly hour of the morning, then you should cancel every other appointment to be by the ringside at the Talkatora Stadium, to root for the Alis, Tysons and the Hollyfields of Indian boxing. You will get to witness Vijender, Akhil and Suronjoy retell their story, in the ring, of how a boy - who earns his living by getting hit in the head - made it to the mainstream from the margins of society, with the aid of a powerful fist.

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


ME TOO: Khaleed Yafai, of Yemenese origin, boxes for the UK BOXING Top ranked CWG team: India India's Vijender Singh is the world's top-ranked middleweight (75kg) boxer If you are the sort, who is a sucker for underdog stories, your throat chokes at the sight of James Braddock taking the ring for his title bout in Cinderella Man or if you just happen to know the exact number of raw eggs that Rocky Balboa breaks into the glass before gulping it down at an unearthly hour of the morning, then you should cancel every other appointment to be by the ringside at the Talkatora Stadium, to root for the Alis, Tysons and the Hollyfields of Indian boxing. You will get to witness Vijender, Akhil and Suronjoy retell their story, in the ring, of how a boy - who earns his living by getting hit in the head - made it to the mainstream from the margins of society, with the aid of a powerful fist.

EYE ON TARGET: Aussie Warren Potent's top draw in 50 m rifle SHOOTING Top ranked CWG team: India I World's top ranked team: Italy India's rank: 4 (Gagan Narang, 10 m air rifle) Tucked away inside, at the end of a long twisting road, not far away from the Tughlaqabad Fort ruins, is the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range. As far as medal prospects know, plenty are on offer at the range and India have big names lined up in all the events. Dominance is expected. But funnily enough the drama has been unfolding not at the ranges but away from it. First shooting coach Prof Sunny Thomas placed the Games low on his priority list. Then Gagan Narang got miffed at missing out on the Khel Ratna and threatened to skip it. Athens silver medalist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore grumpily announced on twitter, of all places, his decision to miss the selection trials. Did we mention the long, unwinding road has foliage thick enough to hide a body or two?

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


EYE ON TARGET: Aussie Warren Potent's top draw in 50 m rifle SHOOTING Top ranked CWG team: India I World's top ranked team: Italy India's rank: 4 (Gagan Narang, 10 m air rifle) Tucked away inside, at the end of a long twisting road, not far away from the Tughlaqabad Fort ruins, is the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range. As far as medal prospects know, plenty are on offer at the range and India have big names lined up in all the events. Dominance is expected. But funnily enough the drama has been unfolding not at the ranges but away from it. First shooting coach Prof Sunny Thomas placed the Games low on his priority list. Then Gagan Narang got miffed at missing out on the Khel Ratna and threatened to skip it. Athens silver medalist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore grumpily announced on twitter, of all places, his decision to miss the selection trials. Did we mention the long, unwinding road has foliage thick enough to hide a body or two?

Thank god for sport!

September 25, 2010


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