Category: Sports

Let’s Applaud…

I had never followed the Olympics as a kid – I saw no reason to. Whom do we cheer? What do we cheer? My sports viewing started with cricket in 1991 and then I finally caught onto the Olympics fever in 1992 with the Barcelona Olympics. I was in awe of the athletes on display there. There was nothing to cheer for my country though!

In 1996 – Already a teenager, I had no clue how it felt to see your country win a medal at the Olympics. Dear Leander for being the first one to give me that joy and pride, you will always be special. Grand Slam and Davis Cup wins you gave us plenty – but that medal which broke a 16-year old drought, for us – the 80s kids will be a moment to cherish for the rest of our lives.

In 2008 – Married and settled, all grown up, I had never heard the Indian National Anthem play at the Olympics stage. For letting us experience that joy in 2008 Beijing Olympics – Abhinav Bindra you will always remain special no matter what.

In 2012 – 6 medals! Goosebumps, and what’s more I saw most of them live on TV. I envy the kids today who witnessed this fine moment in India’s Olympics history. I was so overwhelmed with the performance in the last 2 weeks that I cried today as the curtains fell over the 2012 London Olympics.

I cheered every athlete, learnt a whole lot of new games, read up on the unknown stars and made a promise that I’ll follow their journey not just at this Olympics but until the next one in Rio.

I hope these wins bring about some change among our sports administrators – where we ensure that upcoming athletes do not face the hurdles that these winners have been through. We must encourage our next generation to take up sports as careers and we must work hard at giving them the best training, infrastructure and coaches. They must learn to compete at the highest levels.

We won 6 medals from a contingent of 81 but in most sports we fought well – made it past the qualifying rounds in most events and had finalists in quite a few.

To the medal winners who did us proud  – A huge standing ovation:


Gagan Narang: Shooting, Bronze Medal, our first medal this Olympics.

Vijay Kumar: Shooting, Silver Medal – Most unexpected and managed to watch it live on TV

Saina Nehwal: Badminton, Bronze Medal – Most hopes pinned on this young girl and she did not let us down

Mary Kom: Boxing, Bronze Medal. Medal or not she remains an idol for many to follow. Respect, respect, respect.

Yogeshwar Dutt: Wrestling, Bronze Medal. Won it with a swollen eye – this medal is the one that gave me the most joy.

Sushil Kumar: Wrestling, Silver Medal . The first Indian to bring home 2 medals from the Olympics. What a way to wrap up the event for India.

A huge applause to these fine fighters:

Krishna Poonia – 7th in Discus Throw. Only the 6th Indian to qualify for the finals in a track and field event

Vikas Gowda – 8th in Discus Throw. The 7th Indian to qualify for the finals in a track and PhotoGrid_1344798514400field event

Irfan Thodi – 10th Place in  the 20Km walk. Read his story here.

Joydeep Karmakar – 4th place in shooting. Missed the bronze by 1.9 points

P Kashyap – Badminton. Quarter-finals  – First Indian Male player to reach so far in Olympics. Gave the #1 ranked Lee a real fight

Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponappa – Badminton Doubles, Landed a tough draw, lost first match and came back strong to win their 2 matches against stronger opponents.

Devendro Laishram – Boxing, Quarterfinals. Aptly named Chota Tyson – the 20 year old is a serious medal hope in  the next Olympics to come.

Luka Tintu – Athletics. 800m Semi-finals

A few disappointments in boxing, archery, hockey, shooting – but we will take them with a pinch of salt.

They won and performed despite the system. We applaud them and the efforts of their family, coaches and training staff. We applaud those officials who did lend support to them. We applaud initiatives such as the Olympic Gold Quest and Mittal Champions Trust who came together to fund these medallists to achieve their goals.

Today we applaud, we cheer out loud – cynicism can wait for a day right?

Today we the 80s kids want to experience the joy that we never got in our childhood – of seeing India win so many medals at the Olympics.

Today we celebrate, smile, laugh, dance our hearts out, shout at the top of our voice, rejoice, and feel proud! Feel very very proud!


P.S: Wondering how we can contribute to help our athletes and their cause? Want to see more medal in the future Olympics – believe in them and their potential? Here is what I’m going to do and I suggest we all do our small bit – Go Power your Champion at the Olympic Gold Quest.

Mary, Saina, Krishna, You and I…

Mary Kom – Boxing. In contention for Gold,Silver or Bronze Medal at Olympics 2012. 5 times World Champion.

29, Mother of twin boys, Coached by her husband – her mentor, her guide the man behind the woman. She never forgot the support her father-in-law gave her in pursuing her career post her marriage. She convinced her father that she wanted to be a boxer and he vowed he would do whatever it needed to support her aspirations , if need be even sacrifice himself. With their support and belief – she overcame it all – poverty, hunger, discrimination, death threats – and turned their dreams into a reality.

Saina Nehwal – Badminton. Bronze Medallist Olympics 2012. World No 4. 5 Super Series Titles

22, Daughter of  a Scientist. Both parents were former national champions in Haryana and influenced her foray into badminton. Ably supported by her father who could not hide his pride when his daughter won the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics last Saturday. Years of hard work had gone into her win. He a middle class man – spent half of his income on training his 8 year old daughter , waking up in the morning, taking her to the stadium 20 Kms away from their home at 6.00 a.m every single day. With little or practically no help from the sports authorities of the state or India – Saina’s father gave up all he had to see his daughter shine at the highest level and make her country proud. Coached by one of India’s finest badminton stars Pulela Gopichand – Saina continues to shine.

Krishna Poonia – Athletics. 7th in the Discus Throw Finals. Olympics 2012

35, mother of a 8 year old son, first woman to win a Gold in Track & Field Events at the CommonWealth Games 2010. Only the 6th Indian to qualify for the finals in a track and field event at the Olympics. Refused assistance of INR 1lakh by the Rajasthan Government for training abroad – funded the training out of her own pocket. Her husband , Virender Singh also a former athlete – her biggest support who inspired her to pursue her sports career even after marriage. She hails from a small village Agroha, Haryana . Lost her mother early, managed studies, training and household work and milked buffaloes. Her father supported her in her endeavours and today watches on proudly as his daughter goes on to represent her country at the biggest stage.

Their triumphs are not just the triumphs of feminism or womanhood – their triumphs are triumphs of unity. Their triumphs I hope will inspire an entire generation of women – but more importantly I hope their stories fall on the ears of the men folk of their country, my country – India.

Behind their success is the success of their fathers, husbands, fathers-in-law, coaches – men who supported and backed these women to achieve their moment in the sun.

In India, very few women are blessed with supportive males in their families be it a father, brother or husband. Every woman -– however successful, however educated, however famous – has at some point in her life sacrificed a little for her man , willingly or unwillingly –with  no questions asked. If she is lucky, she has been appreciated. I see this inequality everyday – at work, amongst my friends & family , amongst the educated, amongst the orthodox,amongst the rich and the poor, always in the news on television and in the papers. Every single day!

And then I read the stories of Mary Kom, Saina, and Krishna and I hope they will bring a change in my country.

Their tales teach us what you the man and me the woman can achieve together, what a father-daughter, coach-student, husband-wife, mother-son, mother-father can achieve together. Together – you and I – the guy and the gal we are not different, we are the same, you are not better, I’m not lesser – you and I we are equal, you respect me and I respect you, you believe in me and I prove your faith , you give me the push and I run faster, you help me sail and then I soar – you have to be my shield when I take my sword to fight my battles.

I can fight alone, this country – this society expects me to fight my battles alone, always has, always will, to forever prove my worth & fight for my rights across generations. You are given everything you need without a question asked because you are the man – me the woman, I’m questioned all the time. I have to always put you ahead of me. That has to change.

I’ve changed, I’m changing but you need to step up – you need to catch up – you need to be beside me – then we will truly win. You and I can’t work in isolation – you and I can’t be at loggerheads, you and I can’t be fighting with each other – you cannot see a victory in my loss, you cannot be strong by crushing me.

You and I need to be with each other, to work together, you have to take pride in my achievements , you have to help me find my way to success, you have to ease my battles – You and I need to be together to make those miracles a reality in our country – our India.

I’m watching the Olympics–What about you?

Olympics – the grandest competition of all isn’t it? A platform where India has hardly seen any success. We grew up reading stories of Dhyanchand and the hockey team in our history text – books – the team that went unbeaten for 30 matches – 8 golds and then nothing. Paes got a medal in Atlanta 1996, then Karnam Malleswari in Sydney 2000, then Rajyavardhan Rathore in Athens 2004 and then we won 3 in the last Beijing Olympics. Vijendra Singh and Sushil Kumar won us the bronze medals while the first individual Olympic Gold Medal that Abhinav Bindra won.

But this time around the buzz is different  – there are expectations like every year but this year it seems that the results may match our expectations.

Wiki contributors have done a great job putting together the details about the Indian contingent in the London 2012 Olympics.

There are amazing stories behind some of these names – the struggle, the inspiration, the determination.

The young Deepika Kumari – World #1 at 18 years of age – aspirant for an Olympic gold – her story is a real inspiration for youngsters today.

Saina Nehwal , Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa who carry the medal expectations in Singles and Doubles in Women’s Badminton

The resurgent Indian Hockey Team after a fine show at the the Qualifiers – hoping they put up a good show at the games. Captain Bharat Chetri and his teammates Sardar Singh, Sandeep Singh, SV Sunil and Sreejesh Ravindran share their stories here.

The fine wrestler  Sushil Kumar  and our flag bearer at the opening ceremony

The shooting hopes Abhinav Bindra, Ranjan Sodhi, Gagan Narang & Heena Sidhu

Vijendra Singh, Manoj Kumar leading the boxing medal hopes.

K Ravi Kumar and Sonia Chanu capable of springing a surprise in the weightlifting event

And finally the indomitable , 5 time world Champion Mary Kom as women’s boxing makes its debut at the Olympics this year. Read about this inspirational woman here and feel very proud, very very proud to have her represent your nation and fight for the highest honour.

I hardly follow any of these sports regularly – so I’m going to take time out and read about the athletes representing my nation a little more. Make an effort to track their achievements in between Olympics as well.

As for now the promise has been made to follow India’s journey this Olympics – there will be heartbreaks and there will be some smiles but there will be no stopping me from cheering this team out loud. You should join in too.


A fine gem from Shanatanu Moitra and Swanand Kirkire to cheer the Olympic Hopefuls

Scintillating Saturday…

What a day!! What fascinating finals and they proved yet again why sports of any kind are special. Tennis and cricket have no similarities but there is one common thread that makes a winner in any kind of sport: The 3D principle. Determination, Dedication and Discipline. Add to it a will to fight back and a spirit to never give up and overcome obstacles to achieve the final goal.
Venus had these ingredients going for her and so did the Poms!!

I missed the first half of both the matches but once I was home; all that I did was switch between the Wimbledon Final on Star Sports and Natwest Series final on ESPN where finally someone was making Australia sweat.

Though Davenport was seeded No.1; few gave her a chance t reach the finals of this tournament at age 31. Venus returning from an injury break and no grand slam in her kitty since 2001 was completely written off. In the end it turned out to be a grueling contest with both players matching one other service-to-service and stroke-to stroke. One rally lasted 25 strokes showing how badly each player wanted to win and was not willing to give away an inch. Each point had to be fought for!!

I’m not a huge fan of either but I simply loved the way they both fought it out for the coveted title on Centre Court. It was not your typical grass court serve and volley game but the tennis played was exhilarating. I think age and injury caught up with Davenport in the last two games of the match; where Venus’ stamina proved to be much better. The only time Venus got to race ahead in the match, she grabbed the opportunity with both hands and did not let go till she had the platter in her hand.

The longest ladies’ final and what a match it turned out to be. Take a bow everyone:-)
Then the Aussie-England final.

For the first time in many a years Aussies were struggling to win a final, a situation they are not used to. England got their game right to restrict the Aussies under 200. The total put them in a comfort zone and they came out believing they could win the match. After a disastrous start, losing 5 wickets under 40, Collingwood and Jones put up a strong fight and got the chase right back on track. Aussies not ready t give up yet struck crucial blows but the Brits were determined not to let go. The tail wagged, Gough and Giles fought it out again. With 3 required of the last ball, Giles managed to steal a 2 and tied the match.

England did not lose and Aussies did not win and that’s the moral victory the Poms achieved!

I know test cricket is a different ball game but England will walk in on 21st July with a little more confidence and Aussies with a little dent in theirs. The Aussies were not expecting this kind of a start to their Ashes Campaign!

Come July 21st and the Ashes might truly come alive for the first time in a decade. So just sit back and enjoy the battle that will unfold.

P.S: A little prayer from me to God, give us sports lovers more days like this Saturday and bring up a rivalry in men’s tennis. The game needs it, else it will die a slow death!

Mahesh Bhupati did India proud by winning the mixed doubles at Wimbledon. Congratulations Mahesh, keep the tri-colour flying!

Sania Shines…

The change in climate and the heavy downpour took its toll on me and kept me at home all day yesterday due to fever!

Had to write about Sania’s match against Kuznetsova! ( I hope I got that name right!!)

Ideally would’ve liked to get it up asap but could not fight the fever,
But as per the age old adage I thought, better late than never;-)

Hey did I get a rhyming or two there?;-)

I dunno how far this lass will go. How many titles she’ll win, how many Grand slams she’ll pocket, but with her amazing fighting display the other day against Kuznetsova she is right up there in my books.

All of 18, but confidence of a player who has been around the circuit for 18 years. Not once was she overawed by her opponent’s seeding (maybe the fact that she had beaten her in Dubai open, helped Sani’s confidence), or the fact that she was playing on Centre Court. I think it must’ve meant the world to her to be playing on the Wimbledon Centre Court. (Here is what she had to say)

For any tennis player it is a dream to be there on that Wimbledon Centre Court. It’s is to tennis what Lord’s is to cricket.

She’ll come back and play many more matches there and go on to win as well. She came back strong in that match, what a fight she gave. Maybe the Indian cricket & hockey teams could learn a thing or two from her.

Most people will say, ‘What is the big deal about her reaching the second round at Wimbledon or third round at Australian open?’

It is a big deal!!! Despite its huge population, India does not enjoy a great sporting culture nor a history of talented sportsman, women are too less and can be counted on the fingers of one’s hand!

And if we will not applaud and take notice of small achievements like these, how will these youngsters get encouraged? How will they know that whatever little they have managed to accomplish, fighting all odds, is being appreciated by their countrymen? How can we not applaud this young lady’s feat?

She has to be noticed, she deserves to be noticed. Her achievements are no small feat. She has managed to get us thinking beyond the Tendulkars, Dravids and Gangulys. Little girls believe that they have a future in world sports, and they can aspire to be the Sanias of the future.

Even the WTA has stood up and taken notice of her! And why are we being snooty in acknowledging that here is a young lady on the threshold of what could be a phenomenal career and make great history for India in the tennis world.

Hey Sania, I seriously don’t care if you never manage to win a grand slam( I’m praying hard you do) but you have taught one damn good lesson which all Indians seem to have forgotten. Fight, fight, and fight hard! There is absolutely no shame in the loss if you know you have given more than 100% in your effort!

Brilliant match lady, a couple of serves and volleys your way and you would be in that third round, but never mind, you are young and you’ll be back…

You’ll be back more mature, smarter, fitter and finer in your game. We are there watching you and applauding you on your every point, Go get them;-)

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