|SPORTS TRIBUNE||Saturday, January 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India|
Sunita Rani — a technical victory
Madhuri lifted sagging spirits
Sunita Rani — a technical victory
The trials and tribulations of Sunita Rani are mercifully over. The star Indian woman middle and distance runner will hopefully be soon re-anointed as an Asian Games champion runner of the 1,500 metres and also given her due as the third best in the 5000 metres. That will be the culmination of a long drawn-out battle between the Amateur Athletics Federation of India, the Indian Olympic Association and the apex international authorities concerned.
The decision of the medical commission of the International Olympic Committee to drop the charges of drug-intake against the Haryana and Indian athlete did not come as a surprise. The entire issue starting from the guilty verdict by the authorities in Busan and the subsequent hue and cry in India had an unreal ring. The early reaction, of shock and disbelief, was later translated into some genuine effort first at home to get a clearer picture through a one-man inquiry committee and this was followed by the relevant authorities at home to take up the issue at the highest level in the international field.
The end result has satisfied the athlete as well as the authorities at home. Sunita Rani is now being treated as exonerated and rehabilitated. No more will she have to suffer the humiliation and recriminations from the world. She can now continue her athletics career without worrying about the scars left behind by the drug-charges against her at the Asian Games. All to the good.
But there is another way of looking at the whole issue. What is the nature of the verdict from the medical commission of the IOC? It is not a certificate absolving the athlete of taking any unwanted stuff. What the commission has recommended is that the charges against the athlete be dropped because of procedural aberrations. The issue was not whether the athlete tested positive for the banned nandralone but whether the procedures adopted were correct. The athlete has been let-off on purely technical grounds. But then that is what the Indian authorities fought for. They were looking for loopholes and procedural discrepancies and they were proved right. But while patting themselves on their backs they must remember their success lacks conviction, since the issue of drug-abuse still remains in all its entirety and that a thorough investigation is called for.
It must be remembered that the athlete and her coach have denied the charges of drug taking. And rightly so. As has been stressed in these columns earlier that Sunita Rani is one of India’s all time great middle and distance runner and has no need whatsoever to indulge in performance inducing drugs. The timings returned in Busan (4:06.03 for the 1,500 metres gold and 15:18.77 for the bronze in the 5,000 metres) were well within her capabilities and did need any artificial boosters.
The ground reality however is that Sunita Rani did test positive. The laboratory tests cannot be denied. The obvious answer is that the athlete took or was given in total ignorance some medicine which contained the banned nanogram. We are not discussing whether it helped her perform well. What needs to be investigated is how and what substance she was given?
An inquiry into this aspect of the case will not only clear the air on the Sunita Rani issue but also help prevent such incidents in future. After all this is not first time that an Indian athlete has tested positive. It is only the first time that a reprieve has been earned. Remember the case of Seema Antil, also from Haryana, gold medal winner in the world junior athletics. It was a case of ignorance in her case too, a medicine for cold that contained the banned substance. But ignorance cannot be made a permanent excuse and nor is it advisable.
The Amateur Athletics Federation of India must start educating its athletes in all seriousness on drugs and related issues. The coaches obviously are either not able to deal with the athletes or perhaps are not so well conversant if not ignorant on this score. Also it must be admitted that the use of drugs among the athletes is not new. The AAFI is certainly aware of it even if it may deny encouraging usage.
At the same time the AAFI must stop
feeling inadequate if there are no records in the domestic circuits. It
is better to have no records than to have drug induced performances.
That goes for performances outside of the country too. What the other
countries do and get away is no business of ours. Ironically in Busan
the only person in a field of thousands to be caught was an Indian
woman. That really jars.
The 40th edition of the Indian Open at Delhi from March 27-30 is expected to be the keenest and sharpest competition since its inauguration in 1964. There are several reasons for this observation. Important among them are unprecedented response from foreign professionals and equally encouraging field from Indian pros who are raring to go at the competition, which has grown in status, stature and prize-money.
The sponsors, Shaw Wallace, are comparatively new in the field of golf. But they are keen and enthusiastic sponsors who want to leave their mark in the promotion of the Indian Open. Last year, in their maiden bid, there were a few minor irritants but this time there will be no such cause for complaint for either participants or mediapersons.
The Delhi Golf Club (DGC) course is being spruced up for the occasion. The course will be much more challenging than before, according to club authorities. "We are working on the course and we will provide the course and pin-positions to the liking of all participants, foreign and Indian.
According to organisers, there are many inquiries from renowned foreign golfers. Many have expressed their keenness to take part. Who will eventually make it will be known sometime in the early part of March but organisers and promoters are optimistic that the field will be really tough.
All leading Indian pros will be seen in action. Jeev Milkha Singh is expected to take part in this prestigious competition since there is no clash of dates with his foreign jaunt. Now he figures in only Japan PGA. He is a player of exceptional talent and potential. But he seldom plays all four days consistently. If he raises his game on Saturday and Sunday to the level of the game he plays on Thursday and Friday, he is bound to be among leaders in this competition. He is yet to win a major title in his home country. This performance will rise if there is no undue pressure on him from his friends and well-wishers. Let him be left alone to play his own game.
Jyoti Randhawa has been in top form. She is a player of different temperament and guts. The stiffer the challenge, the better he plays. He as also many others will be watched with keen interest. Mukesh has dominated the domestic circuit so far. How he shapes in this contest will establish whether he is player of a much better calibre than his colleagues.
Recently, Tiger Woods has been declared ‘Golfer of the year’ by golfers. Similar awards are necessary on the Indian circuit for local pros. This award can be much more valuable than the award given by Mahindra and Mahindra. The Professional Golfers Association of India (PGAI) should institute this new award.
The two-day Rs 7 lakh Business Today
pro-am will be held at Classic Resort on January 18 and 19. Eighteen
leading pros will figure in the competition in which all the well-known
corporate bigwigs and bureaucrats will be seen in action. It is
unquestionably the most important and sought after pro-am competition in
the Indian calendar. The competition, as in the past, will be a grand
success if weather does not cause worry to the participants.
Madhuri lifted sagging spirits
Optimism from the faces of Indian spectators and sports lovers started fading gradually when double and triple medal winner weightlifters and shooters of the Manchester Commonwealth Games started crumbling with the dismal performances unmatched to Asian standards. Once again athletes came to their rescue and provided a silver lining so that India could bounce to a respectable spot. That elite group of athletes comprised Madhuri A. Singh, who won 800m sliver clocking 2:4.96 minutes and a bronze in 1500m with a timing of 4:15 minutes.
She originally hails from a far- flung village Balamau in Hardoi district of UP. In 1997 she tied the nuptial knot with Amandeep Bains, an international athlete from Mahilpur. She had joined PSEB in 1996 as Foreman in the sports cadre. Her dream of hoisting the Indian tricolour in Asian Games materialised in the Busan Asiad after being blessed with a daughter, Harmilan, in 1998. Her quest for excellence remains strong and now she is assisted by her husband-cum-manager Aman. Hoshiarpur is known as a nursery of middle and long distance runners like Harichand, Bagicha, Dasaundha, Jaswant, Avtar, Jarnail And Satnam. Now-a-days this torch is being carried by Madhuri A. Singh.
Madhuri has been the ‘best-athlete and record holder (800m) in school nationals between 1986-1989 and up to mid 90s she had won several gold and silver medals in open nationals, inter-state and Federation Cup. She established a new record in 5000m clocking 16:34 min. She donned India colours in the 1995 SAF Games and eclipsed the previous record in 5000m securing a superb timing of 16:33 m. In the 1997 Bangalore National Games she clinched gold medals in 5000 and 10,000 metres and bronze medal in Asian cross-country championship held in China. During the same year she visited Japan, Italy, Denmark and South Africa for many internation meets. In 1998 Madhuri once again wiped out her own record in 5000m. In open national athletics. Before the Busan Asiad she participated and won a bulk of medals in the international circuit and grand prix meets held at Manila, Bangkok and Bangalore. She also won for India the first-ever gold in the ‘Hongkong golden mile race’. Taking into account her potential Madhuri had been sent twice to Belarus and Ukraine for coaching purposes.
Back home from Busan on October 18 she
was felicitated at a function organised by inhabitants of Mahilpur and
adjoining areas. In a special gesture the PSEB management presented her
a cash award of Rs 5 lakh and offered her the post of Sports Officer.
She has also been assured of financial help for coaching on foreign soil
with her coach in the view of the Olympics. She has also received a cash
prize of Rs 12 lakh from the Punjab Government. Earlier, she was
conferred the title of ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ by the UP Government.
Indian cricketers cut to size
The consecutive defeats in the two Tests and four ODIs at the hands of New Zealand were disappointing and shameful. The Indian team, pampered as the world’s best batting line-up, has been cut to size. It is no denying the fact that our star players, now millionaires, are more interested in modelling. Australia, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe have dropped top players like the Waugh brothers, A.D’ Silva, and Campbell respectively. Sayeed Anwar could not find a place in the Pakistan team for two years. All these players are in the top bracket of veterans, but not included in the team, as they were not in the best of form. Then why is it that our selectors don’t show the door to the non-performing players, whosoever they are? Personalities should not matter when national prestige is involved.
J.K. Mago, Panchkula
The Indian cricket team again failed miserably due to batting collapse. The bowlers did their job satisfactorily. However, the fielding was poor. Laxman, Nehra, Harbhajan and even Dravid conceded too many runs which proved to be very costly at Napier. The running between the wicket was poor and two suicidal run-outs were enough for the Kiwis to take a 2-0 lead. Except for Sehwag every batsman was under pressure. The target was not too big to chase. The playing conditions in New Zealand are the same as in South Africa where the World Cup is scheduled to be held. India are placed in a tough pool. The excuse of batting failure is intolerable.
Vipul Kansal, Ambala City
Indians are lions on home pitches but mice on foreign soil. The way they fizzled out in four one dayers and two Test matches against New Zealand shows that the team comprises novices. Our team failed in all departments of the game. Neither the batting nor the bowling was up to the mark. Their disgusting performance has let down every fan in India. The most surprising thing in all the four one-dayers was that they could not avail their full quota of 50 overs and easily fell prey to the bowling of Tuffey and Bond. The performance raises a big question mark over their showing in the World Cup commencing in South Africa.
Anjiv Singh Jaswal, Chandigarh
In the World Cup squad, the omission of Laxman is baffling. If one takes into account the performances of Laxman, Ganguly, Kaif, Yuvraj and Mongia in New Zealand and in the recently concluded one-day series against West Indies, then Laxman stands far above the rest. Kaif has not scored even a single fifty in the last 10-one dayers. If the yardstick is the same then how can one justify the inclusion of Ganguly? Let us not forget, that apart from Tendulkar and ever consistent Dravid, Laxman is the only batsman to have won international accolades. Mongia in place of Laxman is a big joke.
Bhartendu Sood, Chandigarh
Steve Waugh has become invincible in modern cricket. By the end of 2001, he was the best batsman in the world along with Tendulkar and by the end of 2002, he was written off even by his most ardent fans. Even the media created tremendous pressure by publishing reports of his retirement. But his knock of 102 in the fifth Ashes Test shows that he is a man with an iron will and nerves of steel. The same fans and media now admire his knock and want him to continue his cricketing career. Statistically, Tendulkar might be the best batsman in the world but as Navjot Sidhu says, ‘‘statistics are like bikinis. They reveal more but conceal what is vital’’. In terms of commitment, determination, grit and temperament, Tendulkar is far behind Steve Waugh and only marginally ahead of Brian Lara. It seems as if we love cricketers more than the game of cricket and the true spirit of cricket is sacrificed in our love-hate relationship. Why to pressurise them with undue criticism or by over-respecting them and not allowing them to play their natural game?
Vinish Garg, Panchkula