Chandigarh, Tuesday, November 3, 1998
Established stars face new challenges
By Ramu Sharma
THE old order in Indian athletics may not yet be willing to give way but there was warning enough for some of the established stars during the two meets in the second week of October.
Ready for a
needs to be upgraded
will Indian soccer look up?
Established stars face new challenges
By Ramu Sharma
THE old order in Indian athletics may not yet be willing to give way but there was warning enough for some of the established stars during the two meets in the second week of October. PT Usha especially must be wondering where she went wrong after having to concede the top spot twice in a matter of five days, the first in the 100 metres to Rachna Mistry during the Raja Bhalendra Singh memorial meet in Delhi and then in the inter railway competition to Jotirmoy Sikdar, this time in the quartermile.
The winning time in each case was below Ushas national records but what was disturbing was the ace athletes lack of fitness in the two races. One can perhaps excuse her defeat in the 100 metres, an event never a favourite with her on the international track. Notoriously slow to take-off, Usha has rarely if ever hit the tape first on the Asian scene.
Lydia de Vega of the Philippines, it must be remembered, has beaten Usha for just the same reason in major competitions. But in the Raja Bhalendera Singh memorial meet, Usha was off to a good start, but failed to stabilise the early lead, losing out to Rachita Mistry at the tape. This inability to sustain the early gain was distrubing.
For an athlete on a come-back trail and with some good performances in the Asian championships in Fukuoka (Japan), and preparing for an assault on the Asian Games in Bangkok in December, Usha hardly looked fit. She needs to shed considerable weight around the midriff. That was noticeable in the Delhi meet and again in Calcutta where she just did not appear to have the stamina to last out the course in the 400 metres. She was well beaten by Jyotirmoy Sikdar.
There could be some serious lapse in Ushas training schedule. She missed out on the World Cup in Moscow, reportedly on the advise of her coach. That, however, should not have allowed any break in her training. Whatever the reason, her lack of fitness two months before the Asian Games is worrisome indeed. Particularly so after the tremendous effort she put in during the competition in Fukuoka, picking up two individual bronze and helping the team to a silver and gold in the relays. No matter if the medal in the 4x400 metres was somewhat fortuitous with the Chinese team, clear leaders, being disqualified.
It is not a question of reading too much into her two defeats particularly the 100 metres. Ushas form and fitness should be viewed in the overall context of medals for India. She is perhaps the one athlete most likely to figure on the victory podium in individual events and more importantly, the person most essential if the relay teams have to win a medal.
Usha, however, was not the only established star to be dimmed during the week. Paramjit Singh, the countrys best in the 400 metres, was beaten at the tape by the fast improving Lijo David in the Raja Bhalendra Singh meet in Delhi. The verdict was in the nature of a shock since Paramjit had raised hopes of another sub 46 sec showing since the competition in Fukuoka. He had clocked 45.95 sec for a fifth place in what is being termed as the fastest ever quarter-mile run in Asia, the winner, Sugath Tillakratne coming home in 44.61 and the four athletes, including Paramjit Singh, coming in behind him, all coming under 46 sec.
Viewed from a more positive angle Lijos victory over Paramjit Singh could well be a beginning of a healthy rivalry in this event, somewhat on the lines of the Milkha-Makhan era which included Amrit Pal and Jagdish Singh. It may be recalled that the four runners all joined to make the quarter-mile one of the most exciting races with Milkha always, and Makhan once, being the winners. It is perhaps too much to hope. Paramjit is the senior athlete and it will do him good to have young Lijo David push him, to faster efforts. The competition between the two will certainly help Indian athletics.
Having scored this one memorable win over Paramjit, Lijo David then went on to prove that he was a force to reckon with in the Railways, winning the 200 and 400 metres and anchoring the Southern Railway relay squad to a gold in the inter railway competition in Calcutta. It would have been indeed more satisfying if Lijo David had also returned faster timings. Then only could one have placed his triumph over Paramjit in a proper perspective.
Shot putter Bahadur Singh, however, should be happy with his lifetime best in the Bhalendera Singh meet. A throw of 18.93 metres for a gold medal places him just behind national record holder Shakti Singh for this event. Shakti who did not compete for reasons of injury, has a throw of 19.08 metres, the only Indian to have crossed the 19 metres barrier. Surprisingly for a gifted athlete, Shakti has been able to achieve this plus 19 metres throw only once.
Bahadurs success is indeed something to be happy about. A former Asian junior champion in discus, the strong young man took to shot put some three years ago, more as an auxiliary event before making it the main discipline. And the progress he has made during this period is really encouraging. He is also one of the more consistent athletes. In fact in the Delhi meet he went over the 18 metres barrier four out of his five legal efforts. Shakti Singh could do with such consistency. The more important aspect of Bahadurs emergency as a top notch thrower is that it should goad Shakti into redoubled his efforts.
The other prominent athlete upstaged during the week was Bahadur Prasad, perhaps the most well known athlete in the mens section outside of India. He was beaten by Gulab Chand in his favourite 1,500 metres in the Raja Bhalendera Singh competition in Delhi. Gulab Chand has had a very successful season so far, having won a silver medal in the 5,000 metres and a bronze in the 10,000 metres of the Asian championships in Fukuoka. Now with the 1,500 metres title also in his bag, he must be a very happy man.
Jyotirmoy Sikdar is one
athlete who performed to expectations and maybe beyond if
one takes her victory over PT Usha in the 400 metres in
the railway meet into account. She won the 400 and 800
metres in the competition in Delhi and then did a repeat
in the inter railway in Calcutta. Also creditable was the
performance of heptathlete, K. Paramila who was the lone
figure to break a national mark in the week. She recorded
5541 points and with a little consistency in a couple of
events should be able to go nearer the 6,000 mark.
By Sanjay Manchanda
THE only tennis player to get an ATP mens ranking from the northern region, Pawan Kapoor, is all set to make a comeback. The former number 1 Chandigarh player, who remained in the countrys top-10 bracket for the best part of this decade, sustained a knee injury while playing in a US international satellite tournament late last year and stayed away from active game for nearly 10 months.
After a minor surgery and steady workouts, Pawan has now fought his way back to supreme fitness to be completely ready for taking on the games best. "The injury made me re-evaluate my priorities and I confined myself to a light training schedule, besides a bit of coaching during this period to be in constant touch with my first love", quips Pawan.
However, now when he is preparing for the United States tennis circuit events where his entry already stands confirmed by the US Tennis Association, Pawan is back to the rigours of eight hours of daily practice "Immediately after the US circuit, which is scheduled to end on November 16 this year, I will fly to Bangladesh and Pakistan for some more international exposure," he states with no hidden desire to do well in these tournaments.
Essentially a serve-and-volleyer, the tall right-hander first came into limelight as a junior player when he defeated the junior India No 3 and No 5 players, Darryl Johnson and Sankar Krishnaswamy, respectively. He followed up the brave feat with some stunning victories in seniors category against many India top-10 players including R Manoj Kumar, Vishal Nayyar, Ram Kumar, Benosh Venugopal and Tejbir Singh Bhandari. Pawan them himself burst on the Indian tennis scene by occupying a slot in the countrys top 10 rankings for five consecutive years. During this period he won as many as 50 state and national level tournaments and remained a state champion from the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh for more than eight years.
Playing on the international circuit in different countries like USA, England, France, Austria, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia, his major scalps included Thomas Walter of Germany, Thuvshriboon of Thailand, Hugh Koeppel of Mexico and Steckley of Spain.
Employed by CITCO as a Sports Officer in 1987, Pawan has always received tremendous support and encouragement from his organisation for participation in all national and international tournaments. The former CITCO Chairman, PK Verma and present Managing Director Satish Chandra, both keen tennis players themselves, have always taken personal interest in Pawans activities by extending all possible help. Reciprocating the gesture, Pawan also takes extra pains in promoting CITCOs name in all prestigious tournaments, particularly the ones held abroad.
Amazingly, Pawans hunger for success has grown with age. Even at 30, he looks much younger his age with all his athletic skills and unimaginable reach for the volleys. When asked about his ultimate ambition, he asserts with a glint in his eye: "My best is yet to come".
Hailing from a middle
class background, Pawan has the urge to fulfil the dreams
of his doting father, Mr LD Kapoor, also a tennis coach
with the Chandigarh Administration. The game, as a matter
of fact, runs in the blood of the entire family what with
Pawans younger brother, Devender and sister Versha
also coming up as fine national level players. No doubt
then, both his family members as well as his fellow
Chandigarh players from whom he commands lot of respect
because of his calm and confident demeanour on and off
the court, would look forward to Pawans future with
hope during his forthcoming international engagements.
NIS needs to be upgraded
By Darshan Tandon
MOTI Bagh, in Patiala, situated away from the hustle and bustle of a busy and populous town, houses a palace which is embedded with history, tradition and culture of pre-independence era.
If the surroundings are serene, the palace with red sandstone balconies and shapely, artistic pavilions displays even now the architectural beauty in design and concept. It depicts the sensibilities of the Jain artistry and traditions of the Mughal darbar.
The palace, a part of the 250 acres, was once a house of princes; it is now a home of many a renowned sportspersons. As one enters, one is straightaway impressed by the spacious grounds with tall trees. It is a "Bagh", which is genuinely a "Moti" in its splendour and reality. It bears testimony of Patialas unprecedented and unparalleled role and contribution in the growth o Indian sports.
The inaugural Asian Games, held at the National Stadium in 1951, raised visions of India coming of age in sports. But it was wishful thinking of a few. The next half-a-decade or more showed that India was slipping instead of progressing towards prosperity in sports.
An ad hoc inquiry committee was constituted by the government in July 1958 to study the continued decline in sports in the country. The committee was of the view that there was no dearth of potential or talent but was an acute shortage of coaches, who could nurture the talent. With this as a vital observation, the committee recommended a "central training institute" to provide first class coaches in different disciples.
The recommendations were made by a two-member committee of M.K. Kaul and M.N. Kapur. The duo gave their findings after undertaking trips abroad.
The all-India Council of the Sports (AICS), following the committees report, advised the government to set up the National Institute of Sports. The search by eminent personalities recommended housing of the institute at Moti Bagh Palace.
The NIS was opened by Dr K.L. Shrimali, the then Union Education Minister on May 7,1961. It was then named Netaji Subhas NIS on his 76th birth anniversary. It is now run under the auspices of the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
In the words of the legendary figure, the late Sir Frank Worrell: "The NIS is one of the best sports institutes in the world". It has all that an institute should have. It had grounds for all disciplines and befitting facilities for indoor games. It has an excellent faculty of sports science with units for sports physiology, sports biochemistry, sports anthropometry, sports biomechanics and a faculty of sports medicines.
Judging from its contribution and achievements, the Patiala institute should have been the first to have been upgraded as a full-fledged sports university. But the powers that-be played a vital role in upgrading Laxmibai National Institute for Physical Education and Sports (Gwalior) as a university.
No sport-loving citizen, however, will be disappointed with Gwalior getting the pride of place. But what is most vital for the growth of Indian sports is that the Patiala institute be upgraded as a university catering to the needs of sportspersons of high potential.
This is an age of specialisation. Maybe, this is the ripe time to provide further thrust to the institute. It should have an autonomous status to train high class coaches and also provide facilities to sportsperson undergoing training for international competitions. There is no other institute, which is best suited to help promote and foster sports in the country.
This is also an age of
decentralisation. The central government should hand over
the institute to the Punjab Government for the good of
sports in the country. The institute, considered the best
in Asia, will help promote and nurture talent more
adequately under the aegis of the state government than
under the present incumbent, SAI.
When will Indian soccer look up?
By S. K. Sanyal
HISTORY says we had a glorious past. The first half of this century, saw our country rise above other Asian nations in soccer. In 1911 Mohun Bagan lifted the prestigious IFA Shield. India produced players of international standard like Sailen Manna, Mewa Lal, Jarnail Singh, and Neville DSouza. In the 1948 London Olympics under the captaincy of the late Dr Talimeren Ao India entered the semi-finals only to lose to France by the odd goal. In 1950 we were the Asian champions, and in the second half of the century we regained the Asian crown in the 1962 Jakarta Games. Then what happened!Occasional storms are followed by a prolonged lull, which only provide an opportunity for identifying scapegoats.
Soccer pundits have debated, accused one another, and tried to identify the mistakes. Coaches have been imported perhaps only to see that we stay in contention for the SAARC Games title and not to qualify for the Asian Games. But we also had coaches like Rahim during whose tenure we were identified as a football force. He knew what the players wanted, knew their pulse. Today when football-playing nations are planning about the next World Cup, we cant find a sponsor for our national league. Training camps of six weeks prior to any tournament is a concept unheard of, when competition has become tough.
The needs are identified only in closed-door meetings never to be given practical shape. We talk of identifying talent at the grassroots.
To achieve all this we need a dedicated team, prepared to work, keeping the national interest in mind brushing aside regional discrepancies.
It is now more than a decade that the Tatas set the ball rolling, by giving us the first football academy. Talent was identified, developed, and soccer saw some positive dimensions. If an industrial house could foresee the importance, what prevented the top decision makers of the game, to act accordingly?
Another phenomenon that we are witnessing today is the craze to import players. Will this help us or are we trying to emulate Japan started the "J" league?
Recently the Chandigarh Football Association put its foot at the right spot. A seminar was held to give a detailed account of what is going on in football circles internationally with reference to the laws of the game. Besides inviting all PT instructors of UT schools, it also attracted an overseas observer from Australia.
The seminar was an eye opener for many in this city and such seminars are the need of the hour. We dont need planners like Beckenbauer or great ambassadors of the game like Pele or Platini to guide and monitor us but we need people dedicated to the cause.
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