|SPORT TRIBUNE||Saturday, February 5, 2000, Chandigarh, India|
athlete lives in penury
Veteran athlete lives in penury
Even as the Punjab Governments apathy towards ace athletes of yesteryears is being constantly highlighted, here comes the story of the state governments insensitivity towards a 107-year-old athlete, Joginder Singh, widely perceived to be one of the worlds finest veteran athletes.
Joginder Singh, who has brought glory to the state and the country, taking part in scores of veteran international athletic meets and setting a world record and now a victim of governments pathetic attitude, also has a book written on his eventful life by a Punjab based IPS officer, IG Rajinder Singh. The book details his various achievements in the track and field events and has already sold more than 7000 copies.
Joginder Singh was born in Patiala on June 12, 1892 (the date mentioned on his passport) and his story is indeed a sad commentary on the states affairs, which prides itself on the achievements of its sportspersons.
Now the 107-year-old athlete has been reduced to a forlorn figure of his former self with no financial support forthcoming from the state government. In 1998, when the Minister for Human Resources and Development, Mr M.M. Joshi visited the National Institute of Sports (NIS), IG Rajinder Singh brought to the ministers notice the pitiable condition in which Joginder Singh was living. The minister at that time, immediately asked the Executive Director of the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Maj O.P. Bhatia, provide financial support to Joginder Singh. However, things failed to move and nothing has been heard since then.
In the 1991 international veterans athletics meet in Turku, Finland, Joginder Singh, competing in the 95-plus age category, set a world record by clearing a distance of 4.51 metres in the long jump. There he befriended a former Russian minister, who was competing in the 60 plus age category. After the meet, the minister impressed by Joginder Singhs feats took him to Moscow for a visit. However loneliness, lack of communication and the biting cold proved to be too much for Joginder Singh. After three days, he asked the former minister to send him back to Delhi. The minister, Joginder Singh recalls, immediately booked a seat for him and also gave him $ 300 in cash.
Joginder Singh won the gold in 100 metres, setting a record, in the Oceania world veterans championships held at Hastings, New Zealand in 1997. Competing in the 100 plus category he ran the race in 16.39 seconds. However, this record has yet to be ratified by the international body governing veterans athletics. At Hastings, according to a news agency report with Joginder Singh, he was the oldest of the 500 athletes by 20 years.
Joginder Singhs son, Varinderjit, committed suicide in 1925 when he failed to clear an exam while his wife passed away at Patiala a couple of years ago. Now, Joginder Singh lives in abject poverty in a one-room ramshackle tenement in a run-down mohalla of the old city. In order to afford at least one square meal a day, he is now dependent on small-time shopkeeperssome of whom are his old acquaintancesand on the benevolence of some police officers. His rapport with police officers may be due to the fact that he was in the police department, posted at Payal, Ludhiana, from 1945 to 1952. He cannot avail the benefits of pension as he did not complete 10 years of service.
Joginder Singh, who also took part in the freedom struggle, claims that he tried to meet the then Chief Minister Beant Singh and also Mr Badal, but he was prevented from meeting them by security officers. However, he managed to meet Beant Singh at a function in Sangrur. Beant Singh asked a close aide to look into Joginder Singhs case and provide monetary support. Things started to look brighter as from 1992 to 1997, he started receiving Rs 1500 per month. But after 1997, this money was abruptly stopped by the government.
In 1993, floods swept away his trunk-load of medals. He does not remember the number of medals won in international and national meets, but simply says they weighed anything between 6 to 8 kgs. His certificates and other household items were also washed away.
The roof of his room caved in and as his neighbours say, it was IG Rajinder Singh, who visited Joginder Singh everyday and got the roof repaired.
In a voice choked with emotion and with tears slowly rolling down his wrinkled face, he says Only death will repay my debts. If the government has not done anything for me, at least it should ensure a decent funeral for me when I die.
These days Joginder
Singh rarely goes out of his room with a cot surrounded
by medicines and a couple of old rusty trophies. A sad
way to live for a man who brought laurels to his state
and country. If a nation does not respect its heroes,
past or present, the time will come when it will have
Early end to Indian challenge
THE Indian challenge in the first grand slam of the new millennium, the Australian open, ended on a very disappointing note when the Indian ace Leander Paes was eliminated in the initial rounds in all the events he participated. It may be remembered here that Leander was playing without the company of his long-time friend and partner Mahesh Bhupathi who is nursing a shoulder injury and is likely to recover only in May this year. That he would meet such a fate would be farthest from his mind, because before the competition in first grand slam began, Leander had expressed his wish to improve his ranking in the mens singles event, which has been going down because of his preoccupation in the mens doubles event.
And true to his nature, Leander was making good preparations to begin on a bright note so that he could go up the ATP ladder. Unfortunately, luck did not seem to be on his side this time. Even though the worlds top doubles player successfully sailed through the qualifying rounds and made it to the main draw, yet after the first-round victory against an Australian wild card Dejan Petrovic, he fell to an unknown Swede in the second round of the mens singles event. It looks Leander will taken time to regain his confidence in this event which is growing stronger and stronger in competition.
Now on the tennis scene Andreas Vinceiguerra is completely new name, having no experience whatsoever. Though Leander did everything to match the Swede and the first set went into the tie breaker, yet he failed to stop the Swede from taking the lead. Having won the first 7-6 (7-3), Vinceiguerra was now more confident of his strokes. Through Leander, in the remaining two sets put up a great fight and did his level best to restore parity, the Swede kept the pressure lid tight to give no chance to the Indian player, who lost the next two sets 4-6, 3-6. The scoreline itself indicates the struggle that ensued between the two players.
As this was not enough there was more to ruin his reputation in the event that had been his so far. In the mens doubles event, Leander had replaced Mahesh Bhupati with Canadian Sebastian Lareau, who so far along with his partner had been opposing the Leander-Bhupathi pair at the semifinal or final stage in most of the grand slam events. But the pair did not come off well as Leander and Lareau went, crashing down to Americans Geoff Grant and Jack Waite. The pair had lost the first set in a tie-breaker but won the next 6-2 but lost the last set 5-7. Now this was the first-round ignominious exit from the event, which has been his favourite event. In fact, it is this event which brought all the fame and fortune for Leander.
Leander met a similar fate in the mixed doubles. Leander and Lisa Raymond of the USA were the Wimbledon champions last year and as a result were seeded second here. But near-top seeding did not help the pair as the two were stunned in the first round by South African David Adams and Kristie Boogert of Holland. With this ended the Indian challenge in this years Australian Open.
Only two Indians had been to Melbourne Park to try their luck. One the Indian ace Leander and the other Indias top woman player on the international circuit, Nirupama Vaidyanathan. Whereas Leander was able to sail through the qualifying rounds, Nirupama fell, unfortunately, in the last match of the qualifying round.
What we like to emphasise here is that the defeats of Indians top players at the international level should be a learning lesson for youngsters like national hard court champion Sunil Kumar from Chandigarh, who has been included in the Indian Davis Cup to take on Lenanon, that no quarters are asked, none given in todays highly competitive tennis world. The race to the top is very hard.
But let us not forget
here that the wheel of fortune has not changed for our
Leander alone, it has for worlds two top players,
Pete Sampras and Martina Hingis, too. Whereas Sampras
went down to his countryman Andre Agassi in the final of
the mens singles event, Hingis lost to Lindsay
Davenport of the USA. Both Sampras and Hingis were aiming
for record victories in the first grand slam of the year.
Anyway, there is always another day to make up for the
Whispering campaign in BAI
A FEW years ago when there was a major overhaul at the top in the Badminton Association of India it was hoped that the problems that triggered off the change was a thing of the past and that nothing would rock the newly achieved peace. The new system worked very well indeed with Prakash Padukone, earlier cast in the role of a rebel, now serving as the Executive President. Everything appeared to be running smoothly when suddenly there is news that Prakash is very hurt by the attitude of some of the officials and has even threatened to put in his papers.
It is indeed a strange turnabout, this present situation. There was time not too many years ago when Prakash was in fact the solution to all the problems facing the BAI. No one could question his status as player and there could hardly have been a man more acceptable in the badminton fraternity. And the former world and All-England champion duly delivered the goods once he found the federation in a receptive mood. He joined the official organ and, in the time he has been playing the role of the Executive President, the game has looked up.
His own academy in Bangalore, funded by BPL, had made tremendous strides and every player who mattered was able to hone his skills there. In fact both Gopichand and Aparna Popat, the countrys best players among men and women, respectively, owed much of their success in the international arena to the Prakash Padukone Academy And more importantly the players were making money, something unheard off in the earlier era though Air-India certainly set the tone, not only by employing some of the players but also running prize money tournaments. The players were certainly happy and that is what counts.
Luckily for the game both V.K. Varma of Air-India and Prakash Padukone were able to hit it off. It was very natural too, both were well meaning people, devoted to the game. And with Prakash associated with BAI in an active way, Indian badminton gained in status in the outside world.
It was but natural too. Prakash as a player had put India on the badminton map of the world. As a player he was both respected and admired, qualities which stood Indian badminton in good stead when Prakash Padukone become the Executive President.
But something appears to have gone wrong in recent years. Not with the game. Both Gopichand and Aparna Popat are playing as well as they have always done and a number of others are making a name for themselves. Thanks to the Padukone Academy, badminton is flourishing in India. It may not have reached the heights which it did during Prakashs time or have the wealth of talent which abounded in the 50s and 60s but the game still flourished.
Suddenly someone is not very happy. Rumours have gained ground for various reasons and if one has to go by Prakashs letter to the affiliated units, a letter the contents of which have been leaked, there are attempts to vitiate the atmosphere in the BAI. It is indeed unfortunate that a going concern has developed snags and without any reasons too.
The cause of discontent is not very clear. There are no charges as such but Prakash obviously has been hurt by rumours questioning his handling of finances. For a man who has given his entire life for the cause of the game and who is held in such high esteem by people both within and outside the association, and in fact in the sports fraternity all over the world, such innuendoes must be very difficult to bear. Prakash has been forced to reveal the contents of what was an in-house communication on an issue on which he has been very forthright. His acceptance of the dealership of Ashaway badminton products earlier in the year has been seen by some as exploiting his position in the BAI. Prakash in fact had informed the members of his taking up dealership and had even volunteered to step down for his office. But V.K.Varma, the BAI President, had urged Prakash to continue.
Prakash is thus upset about the questions regarding his handling of the finances which he has termed as unsubstantiated allegations and also about the leakage to media of the letter of clarification sent to the affiliated units. Anybody in Prakashs position would be hurt by such allegations.
If the officials who are making these wild allegations are objecting to Prakashs involvement with the dealership of Ashaway badminton products, they should come forward and specify the reasons for their objections. It is not fair to condemn a man, and particularly someone of the status of Prakash, on such flimsy grounds. One remembers earlier of the big drama made of Prakashs connection with BPL with many people openly accusing the Indian ace of allowing the sponsors to run Indian badminton. Even then there was not a shred of evidence to back up such charges. But then one cannot stop people from talking.
If the whole idea is to remove Prakash from his post then what was the reason for first asking him to come in? He was quite happy with his academy. And he did not need any publicity. His name was enough. In fact one remembers it was BPL which refused to lend its name to the academy. They wanted it to be named after Prakash since that carried more weight.
Officials in the BAI
objecting to Prakash Padukone should come forward and
state their case in the open. This sort of whispering
campaign against one of Indias greatest sportsman
is not fair, either to him , the sport itself or even to
the country. It would be a major disaster for badminton
in India if Prakash Padukone was to give up his
association because of a few disgruntled elements.
Kumble overtakes Kapil Dev
LEG-SPINNER Anil Kumble became the highest wicket-taker for India in limited overs cricket, getting past former Indian captain Kapil Dev.
Kumble edged past Kapil Dev's mark 253 wickets when he had Pakistan's Shoaib Malik caught by Javagal Srinath in the 11th match of the Carlton and United Series at Perth on January 28,2000.
Kumble crossed Kapil Dev's record tally of 253 wickets in 34 fewer matches conceding 190 more runs off 974 fewer balls as compared to Kapil's achievement.
If Kumble plays as many as one-day internationals as Kapil has played, vis 225 matches, a computerised projection of Kumble's level of performance at the same strike rate works out to a tally of 300 wickets in 225 one-day internationals matches. Kumble reached every milestone for wicket taken in fewer matches for each segment of 50 wickets than Kapil did. Moreover, Kumble had more wickets in his bag after each progressive milestone of 50 matches at every stage than Kapil's.
Kumble took four or more wickets in a one-day international more often (eight times) than Kapil did (only four times).
Kapil Dev's bowling record
Kumble's bowling record
Kudos to u-19 cricketers for title win
Heartiest congratulations to the under-19 Indian cricket team who won the youth World Cup in Sri Lanka. This performance by the youngsters has given hope to Indian cricket at a time when the seniors put up a dismal show in Australia. Being from this part of the country I feel proud to see that four of the five top batsmen are from Punjab. Once again these youngsters have shown that given a chance, players from Punjab are second to none in skill and mental toughness. But it is very strange to see that except for Harbhajan Singh no other player from Punjab finds a place in the A or B teams.
Thank God, after an embarrassing show by the senior cricket team in Australia, our under-19 cricketers have clinched the youth World Cup with an unbeaten record. All the players of the under-19 team deserve praise for their fine performance. Special credit goes to Reetinder Sodhi and Yuvraj Singh for their wonderful show. The BCCI must consider these young cricketers for the future build-up.
In the context of poor performance of the Indian cricket team in the recently concluded tour of Australia, a number of questions are being raised. These are pressure of captaincy on the Indian skipper, lack of coordination between the team management and the BCCI and miserable batting. Some are blaming the selectors for the exclusion of Azharuddin, Jadeja and Mongia. But the fact is that the world champions and Pakistan are much better than us. At no stage were our players seen playing with a fighting spirit to win.
It is a shame for us that our country is unable to produce 11 quality cricketers. The way our cricketers are facing defeat after defeat in Australia is really shameful. It hurts. There may be many reasons behind it but the main reason is lack of future planning. Look at countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They spot talented players at a young age and give them a chance. Players like Saqlain Mushtaq and Hasan Raza were given a chance at the right age and they will be stars in future. What is the point in giving a chance to players like Samir Dighe and Devang Gandhi? They are not the future of India. Why not go for players like Mohammed Kaif, Reetinder Sodhi and Yuvraj Singh.
Cricket ties with Pak
Sometime back under the shadow of the Kargil conflict it was decided that India would not play cricket with Pakistan till there was a substantial change in attitude of Pakistan towards India. Kapil Dev was among those who supported the move strongly. Later this was forgotten.
Now a match has been played and lost against Pakistan in the backdrop of the hijacking incident. The Indian Government has charged Pakistan with involvement. This is contrary to the previous stand of the government. How essential was this match? This has forced many of us to believe that cricketers play for self, money, and stature with least concern for the countrys reputation.
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