|SPORTS TRIBUNE||Saturday, July 7, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
mark on athletics
needs pragmatic approach
owes an explanation
Loss for shooting
mark on athletics
The ghost of Sydney will continue to haunt Indian athletics. The reason. Nothing has been done to exorcise it by the federation. In fact the apex body continues to live in a make-believe world where Indian athletes are all wonder kids and nothing that they do is wrong. This belief is based on some remarkable performances returned in home ambience prior to the Olympic Games in Sydney. In fact as far as the Amateur Athletics Federation of India (AAFI) is concerned the future is in the past, something like our culture vultures and politicians who keep harping on the heritage and past glory of a great civilisation without a thought for the impoverished and the decaying present. Forget the future.
This is the only conclusion one can draw after waiting for months after the Olympic Games for the AAFI to announce some new proposals and have a fresh look at the happenings on the athletics front. One has waited in vain for the federation to come up with answers to the charges openly levelled against what has been termed as illegal performances on the domestic front. There was a report about a two-man committee formed to go into the whole gamut of performances last year and ratify the records set. That two-member committee is now reported to have been expanded to three but then in India where committees and sub-committees have ceased to have any meaning, the AAFI’s efforts in this direction will not be of much use.
Doubts about the AAFI’s measures have not gained ground with the announcement of the policy and training schedule for the current year with the Afro Asian Games being the target. Nothing wrong in trying to buoy up for this first major international of this type but the base on which the AAFI is working on is all wrong. Recently a team has gone to London for participation in meets in Hungary and Croatia. From there the bunch of athletes will go to now favourite yearly haunt, the Ukraine, where they will hibernate for a long time. Another group will be joining them there and it is from Ukraine that the AAFI has made plans for the take-off of the Indian team for the World Championships in Edmonton in August. The remaining athletes will stay on till August 9.
Why this fascination for Ukraine? As far as progress is concerned so far only athlete, K.M. Beenamal, has had something to show for her exercise there. It was there that she broke P.T. Usha’s record in the 400 metres last year. There was nothing to shout about the performances of the remaining athletes. There are reports that competition there is not all that hot and the facilities too have been found wanting. Why then this preference for a country which does not have the top-class wherewithal which attracts foreign athletes? It just does not make sense. Not all the stories coming out of that piece of geographical entity are encouraging. There were unconfirmed reports about an athlete caught with drugs at one of the airports there. The nationality of the athletes has not been mentioned. It is unfair to read too much into such unsubstantiated stuff but then why should such stories, rumours, emanate from that place?
The AAFI is already under pressure to explain the disaster of Sydney. That is a shame which it will never live down and neither will it ever be able to explain convincingly. The air is thick with reports of performance-enhancing drugs being used in India. Some 10 years ago this sort of an accusation was unheard of. The Press dared not even mention. Now these things are discussed openly and famous athletics personalities like P.T. Usha and Gurbachan Singh Randhawa have more or less openly denounced the goings-on in Indian athletics. So much so that the AAFI has had to take notice and promise that all athletes will be subject to drug tests in the domestic meets. Whether it has done so is a different matter. Nothing has been heard about such tests. At least no complaints. But then there have been no performances to give rise to doubts also.
Under the circumstances and in view of the delay in rationalising the records set last year, it is difficult to see any major changes in the AAFI outlook insofar as the important question of drug abuse among Indian athletes. Unless of course the federation would like to continue to project the heroes at home and failures abroad image.
The picture of the athletics scene available some four months before the Afro-Asian Games is not very encouraging. The four meets, including the Federation Cup at Bangalore this season, have not thrown up any outstanding performance except perhaps the 6.74 mts in the women’s long jump by Anju Markose. It is perhaps too early in the season. Nothing has been heard of Shakti Singh and some of the others with some fantastic performances to their credit before the Olympics in Sydney.
How then will the Federation select the team for the World Championships? It will have to go on the performances recorded last year. The qualifiers list for Edmonton makes impressive reading: As per the necessary entry standards for the Championships, performances should have been achieved between January 1, 2001 and July 23, 2001. And on the basis of that fantastic show of last year the following athletes will be considered for the Championships:
Anil Kumar (100m) 10.21, Bangalore 5-7-00,(200M) 20.73, Bangalore 17-7-00. (Qualifying mark 100M 10.38s and 200 M 20.84s)
Paramjeet Singh (400m) 45.56.Chenna 29-7-00. P.Ramachandran 45.63 s Chennai 29-7-00,(QM for single entry: 46.10 sec. Double entry 45.72.sec.
Sanjay Kumar Rai(long jump). 8.03 m, Jakarta 31-8-00(QM 8.00M)
Shakti Singh 20.60 m Bangalore 5-7-00. Bahadur Singh 20.01, Chennai, 29-7-00 (QM 19.40m for single entry, 19.95m for double entry)
Gurdev Singh (20.k.m.walk) 1:25:21.7, Chennai, 30-7-00 (QM 1:25.30)
Rachita Mistry (100m) 11.26sec. Bangalore 5-7-00 ( QM 11.47s)
Vinita Tripathi (200 m) 23.04s Bangalore 5-7-00. (QM 23.35s)
K.M.Beenamol (400m) 51.21s, Kiev, 18-6-00. (QM 52.70s) Anju Markose (long jump) 6.74 m. Thiruvananthapuram 20001. (QM 6.65 m)
Neelam J. Singh (discus) 63.02, Thiruvananthaapuram 12-8-00 (QM 60.25 m)
Soma Biswas (heptathlon) 6186, Chennai 31-7-00. (QM 5820) Pramila Ganapathy was 6105 at Chennai; She will require 6120 if both have to go).
Marathon is both sections: no standard.
Relays in both sections: no standard.
The list mentioned above was the face
of Indian athletics before the Sydney Olympics last year. Would’nt it
nice if this face was seen at the World Championships at Edmonton this
year. It would then not be called the mirage of the year 2000.
needs pragmatic approach
The most talked about thing in Indian sports today is the boxing scenario. With Dingko Singh’s superlative performance in the last Asian Games in Bangkok and Gurcharan Singh’s magnificent performance at Sydney Olympics last year, where he missed the bronze medal by a whisker, the morale of Indian boxers is on a high. Indian boxing has never, in the past, looked so good and qualitative.
If the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation pursues a pragmatic approach towards development of the game in the country, out boxers can do even better at the international level.
Dronacharya awardee in boxing, Om Prakash Bhardwaj, who was the chief national boxing coach from 1968 to 1989, says there are hardly 50 odd good trained boxing coaches in India while there is world class boxing talent in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan (heavy weight categories), Manipur, Mizoram and other hill states (light weight categories). "Boxing coaches in India are like a drop in the ocean. At the least, there should be something like 600 boxing coaches in our country."
Trained boxing coaches apart, Bhardwaj underlines the lack of proper facilities to develop boxing in the country. The main points he draws are:
— The infrastructure for boxing is totally lacking, except at NIS, Patiala, and SAI southern centre in Bangalore there are no proper gymnasia in the country where upcoming pugilists can train.
— The government gives sufficient money for sport which ought to be better utilised.
— Besides the government patronage, industrial houses should come forward to support the development of boxing.
Bhardwaj is emphatic that India’s glorious chapter in boxing was between 1970 and 1986. Indian pugilists brought laurels to the country in international competitions, including the Commonwealth Boxing Championship, the Asian Boxing Championship and the Asian Games. B.S. Thapa, Kaur Singh, Badri Singh, J L. Pradhan, Hawa Singh, Mehtab Singh, Jaipal Singh, M.K.Rai and a host of other boxers in different weight categories, proved to be more than dark horses in the ring.
I agree with Bhardwaj partially. The fact remains that under the present chief national boxing coach, Gurbax Singh Sandhu, Dronacharya awardee, Indian pugilists have given superlative performances in various international competitions. It is still fresh in the minds of Indian boxing fans how Dingko Singh, a dropout from the Indian boxing squad for 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, won the gold medal. Likewise, Gurcharan Singh, who has reportedly fled to the USA hoodwinking Indian boxing officials and coaches, too gave a magnificent performance in the Sydney Olympics last year. Indian boxing has, for sure, never looked so good and qualitative in the past. It is in light of our boxers’ recent performances that one strongly feels that the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) ought to pursue a pragmatic approach to develop boxing.
More exposure should be given to upcoming pugilists and they should be provided upgraded infrastructure at various centres in the country and modern training methods should be used.
Dr Ashok Ahuja, well known sports medicine expert who has closely watched most of the top Indian boxers in action at home and overseas, says Indian boxers do not get enough international competitions in a year to vie for top honours in mega boxing competitions like the Olympics and the world cup, which puts them at a disadvantage compared to boxers from advanced countries. Most of the world-class boxers, according to him, get 150 to 200 international competitions in a year, whereas Indian boxers hardly get 15 to 20 international competitions which is not sufficient to understand the skills, technique and tactics of world class boxers. The matchless scientific back-up and the latest training methodology in advanced countries has pushed the Indian boxing in the backdrop lately. Speed, stamina and strength of the boxers from advanced countries are major attributes which place the Indian boxers at a disadvantage.
Despite the shortcomings in our system
and approach, India holds a bright future in boxing as we have abundant
talent, opines Bhardwaj. Cuban boxing coach B.I. Fernandes, who worked
with Indian boxers from 1989 to 2000, too was of the view that Indian
boxers can do wonders at the international level provided they are well
looked after and trained systematically. In fact, Fernandes worked in
tandem with the chief national boxing coach, G.S. Sandhu to uplift
Indian boxing. The IABF must study the technicalities involved to
further uplift Indian boxing in years to come. It is food for thought
for the new IABF boss, Mr Abhay Chautala.
owes an explanation
Handsome is what handsome does. This is the philosophy of Suresh Kalmadi, who talks big and does big sports events with a lot of fanfare, pomp and show. He is a politician who excels in public relations; he has learnt the art and subtleties of utilising media to his advantage. Not for nothing, his get togethers are always crowded; they are lively and spirited even during high noon.
Kalmadi sports an untrimmed beard. He is usually attired casually. But beneath his none-too-impressive personality, there is always a sharp and calculative mind, which helps him win friends, influence people and buy enemies.
A flyer in his youth, Kalmadi realised that the weather in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was turbulent. He was absolutely right in his assessment. He was not a candidate for membership in the IOC. Randhir Singh’s nomination on the IOC has thwarted the hopes of the former Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president B.S. Adityan. He reportedly had secured a lot of support from several international bodies. Had there been contest between him and Randhir Singh in Moscow, it would have been a very close race.
Kalmadi has now set his eyes on the glamorous office of the president of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF). The climb is rough and tough, but he is capable of reaching the summit. He is also aiming for the office in the Confederation of the Afro-Asian Games which, from the Indian viewpoint, will be a huge flop. It will be a big joke to watch Indians languishing in the rear in majority of the eight-discipline Rs 100-crore extravaganza.
India is, in no way, among top sporting nations in Asia. Africans in certain events are world class. The Indians will get a chance to take part in a majority of events not on their skill, merit and performance, but on the basis of ‘goodwill participation’ as a host nation.
The participants in many individual events, particularly athletics and swimming, will not be gainers in any way, but organisers and officials will make hay while sun shines.
Kalmadi is aware of all this. But he is putting up a bold face since Games have been his ‘brain-child’ for several years.
The outcome from these Games will be as dismal as from several ITC-sponsored international permit meets.
The stadia, all owned by the government, have been undergoing renovation. Some Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials are on the verge of retirement or facing reversion to their main departments. Maybe, they will stay put in the SAI. Maj O.P. Bhatia, executive director of the team’s wing, is already doing rounds of the ministry. Why should he be given extension? He is not a technical incumbent? There are in the SAI several officials, who can undertake his responsibilities.
A product of National Defence Academy (NDA), Kalmadi spent a little more than 10 years in air force before he joined politics. It is said that Sanjay Gandhi was instrumental in Kalmadi switching over from a fighter pilot to politics.
Appointed president of the Pune Youth Congress in early 1970s, Kalmadi came in contact with many renowned politicians, including Sharad Pawar. He kept spreading his wings and was able to secure a seat in Rajya Sabha. He moved to athletics and the IOA. Then he became a Railways Minister. He faced a few hiccups, falling out even with his mentor Sharad Pawar.
Eldest of the four sons, Kalmadi combined business acuemen with politics. Just about the time he stepped into politics, his family had a petrol pump and a very popular coffee house in Pune.
All Kalmadis, including his doctor-father, are staunch devotees of the Shirdi Sai Baba. No wonder petrol pump is named as Sai Services. Following goodwill and success through this business, Kalmadi has spread at several place, particularly in Delhi.
Kalmadi may have won the nod for the Afro-Asian Games but he has not been able to raise general standards of sports, particularly athletics, despite his being at the helm of affairs of the IOA and the Amateur Athletics Federation of India (AAFI) for several years.
Whatever may be Kalmadi’s public image, he owes an explanation for his failure to raise an ‘Olympic Bhavan’ at the Mehruali industrial complex. The IOA, of which he is the chief, has been allotted a huge land there. The land has been in the IOA possession for years. But beyond two ‘foundation stone’ laying ceremonies, not a brick has been laid there.
This is not all. The IOA and its
affiliated units do not pay even negligible rent while using the
premises at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. What is the point in hosting
international meets at the expense of tax-payers’ money if he is
unable to set his house in order?
for shooting fraternity
Prominent shooter and judge of the International Shooting Union, Jagjit Singh, who died in a road accident on June 20, won acclaim as a shooter in the national and international competitions. Born in Lyallpur, Pakistan in 1938, Jagjit Singh was a resident of Ropar. After completing his graduation, he joined the Indian Air Force in 1955, where he started his shooting career. He participated in various national and international shooting events representing the Air Force and the country. During his shooting career, he stood third in the National Shooting Competitions and won the best marksman award in the services shooting completions. He also represented India twice in the Asian Games.
After taking the premature retirement from the Air Force in 1988, Jagjit Singh, did the jury course in shooting in Switzerland and became a member of the National Rifle Association. He coached the Indian shooting team in the 14th Commonwealth Games held at Auckland in 1990. As a shooting judge, he adjudicated national events and also remained chief Referee in the first Commonwealth Shooting Championship held in India. He was also a jury member in the seventh South Asian Federation Games and UIT World Cup held in Delhi.
India need genuine allrounder
By registering a hat-trick of wins in the Coca Cola Tri-Nation One-Day Series, India, to some extent, succeeded in diluting the impact of their failure to win a Test series abroad in the past 15 years. Emergence of a strong second string and the resultant competition within the team is a positive development. Another notable feature was Sachin’s inclination to curb his natural aggressive instinct and play a waiting game as per the demands of the situation. Through his uncharacteristic knock in the fourth one-day game against West Indies till the stage of reaching his fifty, he perhaps wanted to prove a point that he was as capable of winning or saving matches for India in crunch situations as the illustrious Australian captain Steve Waugh. The weak link in the Indian team is the absence of a genuine allrounder and talented wicket-keeper-batsman. If the selectors can fill this vacuum through the talent search exercise, the Indian team can turn out to be a formidable combination.
The Bengal ‘tiger’, Sourav Ganguly, is passing through a very bad patch of his cricketing career. He has scored a paltry 49 runs in the last seven Test innings and his one-day cricket record during the same period is equally dismal. He achieved dizzy heights in his career due to his batting prowess and was deservedly made the skipper of the Indian squad. The leader must lead his team from the front and set high examples for the other players to emulate. Our middle order collapse is attributed to the failure of Ganguly himself. How long will it take for him to rediscover his elusive form? Every cricket fan in India and abroad is desperate for an answer, lest the team should suffer more humiliating debacles.