|SPORTS TRIBUNE||Saturday, November 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
Musa Aliu — back in JCT to bolster the defence
in Asian athletics scene
The athletics competition of the Busan Asian Games had some distinct features, the most important one being the emergence of Saudi Arabia as a power in the men’s section even as the once strong Qatar almost appeared to have lost its bearings. What was even more difficult to fathom was the almost total eclipse of the once strong Japan in this discipline. The land of the rising sun virtually dominated the scene. Its women more or less almost outstripped the rest of the field since the first Asian Games in Delhi in 1951.
But over the years and with the entry of China the balance of power has shifted with Japan first being pushed to the second spot and then with each successive edition dropping down, reaching the lowest rung of the ladder in Busan with just two gold medals, one of which a family heirloom of sorts, the hammer throw staying with the Murofushi family, Koji now donning the mantle which once bore the stamp of his father.
But there is hope for Japan if one considers the 14 silver and eight bronze medals which boosted its kitty to an overall 24. China the dominant country ever since its entry into the world of sport also appears to have lost ground, placing behind Saudi Arabia in the overall tally for men and conceding medals to India in the women’s section, even while finishing with a comfortable medal tally of 41 with 14 gold. There are obvious reasons for China losing out in the rush for medals in both the sections.
Ever since the Hiroshima Games of 1994, China, it is believed, has come down very heavily on drug-takers and is steadily building up a new set of stars. This was obvious in the Bangkok Asian Games and again at Busan. On the other hand India appears to have prospered without actually making an impact on the records in most cases.
Thus with the exception of Neelam J.Singh, India’s gold medal winners were well out of the range of the existing records. Thus in the six gold medals which the country won while being placed third after Saudi Arabia in the overall tally in athletics there was only one performance which disturbed the records. India did record another fine performance, that by Sunita Rani in the 1,500 metres where her 4:06.03 improved on the old mark but she was disqualified after testing positive for nandralone. It would be not out of place to mention that this particular incident has cast a long shadow on not only Sunita Rani but also on Indian athletics.
It is an irony of sorts that some people who have been involved with sports administration in the country for decades have suddenly woken up to the realisation that drugs have become part of Indian sports on the strength of just one casualty. By demanding an enquiry commission now they have virtually admitted their ignorance of what has been transpiring in athletics and weightlifting for quite some years. But then such is the state of Indian sport where politicians hold the top positions in almost all the disciplines and a country has to send a politician as a Chef de Mission.
Coming back to the Sunita Rani case it is very important to remember that though nandralone has been named a prohibited drug, its actual effect on the performance of an athlete is reportedly yet to be confirmed. And more importantly it must be remembered that Sunita Rani did not need any inducement drug to break a record. She is an immensely talented runner and the timing returned in Busan were all within her capability, drug or no drug. It is totally wrong to accuse her of deliberately taking a prohibited drug to win a medal. It is not done.
Apart from Neelam J.Singh in women’s discus and Sunita Rani in the 1,500 metres India had one other performance of note. This was the men’s 4 x 100 metres relay squad which though finishing fourth, came under the national record while clocking 39.36 sec in a classy field in an event won by Thailand, with a new Asian Games record, Japan (2nd) and China (3rd). The event also underlined the vast difference between third place China (39.21) and fourth placed India 39.71. One must, however, accept the fact that with the retirement of P.T. Usha Indian athletics has undergone a vast change.
In the earlier days
athletes invariably performed much better on international track
irrespective of the medals which were quite few and far between. In
sharp contrast now, and with rare exceptions (Neelam J.Singh and Sunita
Rani in Busan) Indian athletes do figure among the medals while
performing below national records or even their own previous best. In
any case what counts is medals and not record performances.
The seventh National Football League is only a few days away and most of the top national outfits are busy making last minute changes before finalising their teams. Under the All-India Football Federation stipulations, each participating club can register as many as four foreigners of which three can play. This number in fact is a climbdown from the number allowed in the preceding years when five foreigners were allowed to be registered.
From north India, JCT Phagwara happens to be the only team scheduled to participate in the high profile league whose prize money exceeds a whopping Rs 1 crore. Having barely escaped relegation in the previous edition by the skin of their teeth, the JCT management thought it prudent to overhaul the team for the coming season. In the sixth edition, JCT were on the brink of relegation but ultimately finished tenth in the 12-team league. FCKochin and Punjab Police, who finished 11th and 12th, respectively, were relegated.
Only four victories in 22 matches was indeed a sad commentary on the team's performance in the NFL. After all the team represents the aspirations of millions of soccer crazy fans of north India. In the inaugural edition of the NFL, JCT after roping in the cream of India football, including dashing striker Baichung Bhutia, IMVijayan, Joe Paul Ancheri, Carlton Chapman, besides Nigerian stars like Stephen Abarowei, Musa Aliu, and Bernard took the Indian football scene by storm. The team not only won the National Football League pushing Churchill Brothers of Goa to the second spot but also clinched other titles like the Rovers Cup. Medio Hardip Saini, in fact went on to become the best player in the Rovers Cup that year.
Today more than six years after the dream run, JCT has once again reposed faith in some of the old guard, though not in its entirety. Back into the JCT fold are some of the stars who helped propel JCT to the top. Among them are Kerala's star striker IMVijayan and Joe Paul Ancheri. However, it is the recruitment of foreigners in the squad that has aroused interest across the country. Tough Nigerian defender Musa Aliu has once again opted to play for JCT. Till recently, he was playing in Vietnam. Also among those who are being tried out are three Ghanians although the final deal, according to coach Sukhwinder Singh is yet to be finalised. They are goalkeeper Mansuru Mohammed, forward Kwabena Yeboah, and defender Ishau Yaro. Of these, at least two are likely to be included in the starting line-up. Nigerian star Stephen Abarowei, who was in the team when JCT won the inaugural edition, and also represented the club in the NFL last year, has not found a place this year due to his lacklustre showing in the sixth edition.
The JCT management is not
unduly concerned about funds. The message is to rope in talent and make
an impact in the NFL, unlike last year when the club's performance
hinged on mediocrity. Whether the stars will live up to their
reputation, only time will tell.
Whatever may be the role and performance of former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah, he has enhanced Srinagar valley’s beauty by providing the Royal Springs Golf Course. Amidst serene and captivating surroundings, it is rated among world’s leading courses.
The new government is in command. It should see to it that the course is nurtured and maintained meticulously so that golf succeeds in promoting tourism and tourism, in turn, can provides royal status to Srinagar.
Commoners now play golf which is a fascinating discipline. It is played by all regardless of their party affiliations and bureaucratic standings. It is a discipline which can help unite hearts of even fanatics of varying ideologies.
The Sher-e-Kashmir, scheduled in Srinagar from October 23 to 27, has been postponed. But there is every likelihood that it will be held in the near future. It is here where professionals and amateurs desire to tee-off. They all return from the Royal Springs with royal feeling and satisfaction, so enchanting is the course.
Those, who have been actively connected with promotion of golf in the country, nurture a sanguine hope that the Indian Open, one day, will be played at Srinagar’s course. If this hope becomes a reality, it will further popularise golf. Many renowned world class golfers would willingly re-schedule their golfing calendar in such a way that they steal an opportunity to complete on this lovely course in a lovelier environment.
The three-member Indian team once again flopped in the World Amateur Golf Championship for the Eisenhowere Cup at Kuala Lumpur’s Saujana course. They showed that they were still rookies among world stars as they could not make the cut. Their three-day total was a poor 13 to 445.
The areas under the control of the Indian Golf Union (IGU) continue to languish. This is because there is no proper planning by the powers that-be at the helm of the IGU, which continues to be a divided house. The officials are engaged in their personal ego problems instead of working together to promote golf among men, women and juniors.
Regardless of officials’ ambitions and equations in closed-door meetings, they have got to wake up from their deep slumber to help promote golf among juniors on more scientific grounds than has been the case. There is no dearth of talent. What is required is dedicated set of office-bearers.
Alfa Laval meet
The Alfa Laval Invitation Meet at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) was a success as it was conducted professionally. Cricketer-turned-golf promoter Satish Tandon, Managing Director of Alfa Laval, went on record saying that he was planning for more such ‘fun’ tournaments. "We believe in winning through golf and caring", said Mr Tandon, adding: "This is a gesture for amateur golfers of all sizes and shapes".
Soon after Diwali celebrations, all roads now lead to the DLF Course on November 8, 9 and 10, to watch world’s celebrated star, Vijay Singh in action. His presence and also watching him play will provide boost to the Indian golf. Known to be one of the leaders in the skins competition, it will be seen with great interest how our Indian opponents play.
A series win for India against the West Indies will move it to within a few rating points of Pakistan, currently at fourth position, in the new International Cricket Council’s (ICC) one-day international (ODI) rankings introduced in October-end.
"One of the primary aims behind the introduction of the new ICC ODI rankings is to add context and interest to every match in every series," said ICC general manager-cricket David Richardson.
"This series is a good example of that, as the new system means that both India and West Indies can improve their positions, depending on the eventual result."
India and West Indies will contest the first one-day international (ODI) series to be played since the introduction of the ICC ODI team rankings.
The West Indies defeated India by four wickets in the first match of the seven-match series in Jamshedpur on Wednesday.
India, ranked fifth with a rating of 106, take on West Indies, ranked seventh, with a rating of 94.
The formula used by the ICC to determine team ranking takes into account results from all ODI matches played over the previous two to three years; strength of opposition, with greater reward for beating higher ranked opponents; greater importance is placed on more recent results, with older matches dropped every 12 months and all matches have equal status, with no account taken of venue or margin of victory.
The ICC ranking is the latest part of the council’s campaign to erase corruption from the sport.
Indian cricket team looks strong
In the Chennai Test match India registered a convincing eight-wicket victory over West Indies. Sachin Tendulkar surpassed the 20,000 run mark. Anil Kumble also achieved the distinction of taking five wickets 20 times, whereas Kapil Dev had taken five wickets 23 times. Ganguly took his 50th catch. Sehwag, Kaif, Bangar, Yuvraj Singh and wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel displayed great grit and determination. Now the Indian team looks strong from the opening pair to the middle order. Tailenders like Harbhajan Singh, Kumble and Srinath have also infused new life into the team.
Saurav Ganguly, captain of the Indian cricket team, and his team-mates deserve heartiest congratulations for winning the Test series against West Indies by 2-0. The day is not far when he will be surpassing the records of all his predecessors of winning the maximum matches under his captaincy.
The Indian hockey team was able to salvage pride but not the title at the Busan Asian Games. After trailing 0-3 India came back strongly to equalise. India made every effort to win the match but conceded a goal in the dying moments. There is nervousness in Indian players. Instead of becoming more aggressive towards the close, they play defensively. In the Champions Trophy, India lost to Pakistan after leading at one stage. In the Sydney Olympics India could not qualify for the semis because Poland snatched the equaliser minutes before close. The selectors, coach and captain must take immediate steps to overcome this shortcoming.
Heartiest felicitations to the Indian contingent for performing well at Busan in the 14th Asian Games. The highest number of medals won by India is 57 in 1982 as against 36 during these games. But Sunita Rani’s dope test result was disheartening. Anyway, the overall performance by India was satisfactory.