|SPORTS TRIBUNE||Saturday, November 16, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
Vijay reveals his Asian roots
India needs sports culture
Vijay reveals his Asian roots
The DLF Club attained stature and status of being a truly major golfing course in the country. The legendary golfer Vijay Singh was greatly impressed with the design and upkeep of the course which, according to him, was beautiful and captivating.
The Thapars, promoters and sponsors, were gracious in every thing that they did for golf, golfers and golfing community. The International Management Group (IMG) was meticulous in organising Skins Competition, a novelty in this country. Vijay Singh, worldnumber seven, says that this is golf’s one day version and will become as popular as instant cricket.
The hosts, DLF, led by Col Kapil Kaul, provided all facilities and amenities to enthusiastic 4000 plus spectators who followed four participants all 18 holes in the most disciplined style. Their behaviour would have done credit to even spectators watching competitions in the USA and Europe.
An Arjuna awardee Sita Rawley, now on wheel-chair following amputation of her leg, was provided a cart (former IGU Ladies captain Champika Syal was on the wheel) so that she could get bird’s eye-view of Vijay, Jyoti Randhawa, Harmeet Khalon and Kapil Dev. She was pleased with some of the glorious shots played by all four, particularly by Vijay and Randhawa. Among others, who were provided this facility, was Harji Malik, a renowned golf writer.
"The presence of accomplished golfing personalities lends dignity to the club and we will provide similar facility to them whenever we stage mega event of the magnitude of the BILT Skins Golf", said Col Kaul.
"Uneasy is the head that wears the crown", it is said. But this does not apply to Vijay, who carries his rating of being fourth money earner in golf circuit lightly. Although stationed in the USA and winner of several major crowns, including the 2000 Augusta Masters, he reveals his Asian roots judging from his modesty and humility.
During his three-day stay in the capital, Vijay has won more friends and influenced people than any other foreign sports personality in recent years. Quick to autograph, he truly gave a great shot to golf, which is fast becoming a discipline for masses in metropolitan cities.
Vijay, 39 and 6 ft 2in, showed his golfing prowess in an ample measure to the delight of all present at the picturesque course. He did not win many holes outright but he claimed $ 21,500 out of the $ 45,000 prize money at stake to prove that not for nothing he was rated among world’s all-time greats.
Using his height to his advantage and bringing into play his strong shoulders, Vijay Singh hit a very long ball, much longer than his three Indian rivals could. His swing was delightfully easy and follow-through rhythmic. He was generally better placed than his opponents. But he could not translate this advantage to his gain on more than three last holes in the 18-hole round. This showed his human fallibility in golf which is even more unpredictable than cricket.
A thorough professional, Vijay did get acclimatised to the course after his pro-am golf a day earlier. "Judging from this course and the impression I have gathered about several other courses, I am now sure that Indian golf has come of age during the last decade", said Vijay Singh, who is aggressive on the course and very easy-going off it.
Admiring technique and style of Jyoti and Harmeet, Vijay said that they as also some other pros should be able to make their presence felt in international arena soon. He was particularly pleased to play alongside Kapil Dev, whom he had admired as one of the finest cricket all rounders. "He swings his club as effortlessly and freely as he drove a cricket ball or bowled quick stuff", Vijay said in praise of Kapil Dev.
Like Kapil Dev, an amateur player, who has donated his $ 1500 for charity, Vijay Singh has also donated all his earnings at DLF course. "I am proud of donating this token money", said Vijay Singh who attributes his achieving golfing greatness to his father. "He installed the sense of discipline within my system", said Vijay Singh, adding: "There is no short cut to success". He says he has several other goals to achieve before he walks out of pro golf.
Vijay Singh was categorical in his assertion that his life-style is not governed by money. "Regardless of my earnings, I maintain my own life-style with complete dedication to golf, which has made me what I am today", said Vijay Singh.
In the absorbing competition, Vijay’s kitty was barren until the 15th hole. He won the 16th, 17th and also the 18th (play-off) amidst flood-lights. Here he showed his calibre. The first seven holes were halved when Jyoti Randhawa won the 8th to pocket all money. The first nine holes belonged to Jyoti.
The 18th hole was teed-off amidst flood-lights which enhanced the course’s grandeur. Vijay and Jyoti halfed it as both had birdies. Harmeet’s second shot landed in water, while Kapil had carried his ball among spectators.
The play-off for the final hole for $ 10000 became necessary. Vijay, now in peak form, had a long tee-shot. His second shot was precise. It landed only five feet away from the hole. He made his putt for eagle. As he sunk his ball, a huge roar from spectators could have been heard in Delhi. One of the caddies pocketed the ball which had given Vijay Singh $ 10000.
Amritinder Singh, a renowned Indian
pro, played the caddy’s role. He was proud to have done it and he was
doubly happy that Vijay Singh earned the maximum booty. Vijay expressed
happiness at Amritinder’s performance.
India needs sports culture
The performance of our sportsmen in the Commonwealth Games was excellent. Their showing was equally good at the Asian Games at Busan. The euphoria generated in the wake could provide a perfect ground for sowing seeds of a sports culture, a dimension sadly lacking in our national life.
As a nation we are proud of our ancient civilization. Our religious culture has produced great scholars and seekers of salvation, enlistment the world over look to India for advice in religious matters; matters related to the soul, the atma.
But sadly, we have never had what could be called a sports culture. Not even in Maharashtra days did we have a sports culture. Archery, boxing and wrestling were used as war weapons. But no contests were held even in these disciplines. And training in these was restricted to the elite, mostly the princes. An Eklavaya with immense potential was refused admission to the training classes of Guru Dronacharya.
The childhood activities of Lord Krishna were tending of cows, stealing butter, playing pranks and the flute, not active sports. Lord Rama did learn ‘Baan Vidya’ seriously but not as a sports activity.
Sports excellence was used to kill or subdue the enemy or the adversary and not for promoting the higher, the faster and the stronger concepts, the hallmarks of modern sports.
With stress on spiritual matters we paid more attention to the soul and the other world, neglecting the body and the material, physical world. We forgot that a noble sole should have a worthy, strong body.
With the advent of modern sport and the Olympic movement, Indians did put in serious effort in some sports. Dhyan Chand lad the hockey crusade and India ruled the roost for three decades winning seven gold medals. Milkha Singh broke the world record in 400m at Rome in 1960 (but unfortunately three others did the same, ahead of him). P.T. Usha showed the world that Indian women are capable of competing with the best. Prakash Padukone beat the world single handed winning the All-England and the world title in badminton.
But all these are stray cases of excellence and none of them are products of sports culture. They are all self-made greats.
India can at the most claim to have a cricket culture. But cricket culture is not sports culture and it is more a bane than a boon to Indian sports.
If we had a sports culture in place, Dingko Singh would continue to do well, Paramjit Singh would not vanish into thin air, Gopi Chand would have come on the scene much earlier and P.T. Usha’s records would have been long broken.
It’s time the Sports Authority of India; the state associations and sports federations prove their credibility and worth and put sports culture on firm footing.
If only Mr Modi had organised a series
of marathon runs, Gujaratis would have imbibed sportsman spirit. If we
take sports religiously and religion sportingly, we can get rid of our
social ills and India can emerge as a strong sporting nation.
Variety needed in cricket
The Australian cricket summer has started with the Ashes and the annual Carlton and United Series will be played between Australia, England and Sri Lanka. Earlier this year, South Africa, New Zealand and the hosts played for the same series. The same three teams played there in 1997 and before that in 1994. England, Sri Lanka and the hosts had also played together in 1998. I think there should be different combinations of teams playing in the one-day series to provide variety to the cricketing fans. When India and Pakistan toured Australia in 1999, the series was in doubt because of strained Indo-Pakistan relations and attempts were made to invite either new Zealand or West Indies. Next year again India and Pakistan are scheduled to tour Australia. The Australian Cricket Board could have avoided it by having different combinations of teams and at the same time avoiding the controversy involving India-Pakistan cricketing relations.
VINISH GARG, Panchkula
Why ban drugs?
Young Sunita Rani has been stripped of her hard-earned gold medal. She may well have taken the banned drug but why should it be a crime to take a drug if it helps to tone up one’s energy? And why ban only drugs then? There are many other items which boost one’s energy. Should then we ban all energy giving foods and beverages? Even simple coffee would qualify for the ban then. Besides, no drug can ever be a winner by itself alone. Much depends upon the natural stamina built up by an athlete through his or her hard work. Banning of drugs is unjustified and should therefore be done away with.
Wg Cdr (Retd.) C.L. SEHGAL, Jalandhar
The Kolkata crowd enjoyed the batting of Harbhajan Singh. When he cracked two sixes and three fours, the crowd chanted. ‘Jinda Rahoo Punjab Da Putt’. He was rightly adjudged the ‘man of the series’ for claiming the largest number of wickets. Kudos to the Indian team for wrapping up the Test Series.
Y.L. CHOPRA, Bathinda