SPORTS TRIBUNE
 


Uncrippled willpower
Vikramdeep Johal
R
emember that scene from Forrest Gump, in which an adolescent Forrest, with his legs in braces, is chased by a bunch of rowdies in a car? Spurred on vociferously by his friend, he somehow draws Herculean strength to break into a run. His braces snap off, and he runs, and runs and runs.

Plan Tanya's career carefully
K.R. Wadhwaney
T
here is no denying that Tanya Wadhwa, in the USA for study-cum-golf benefits, is one of the most talented and promising youngsters. She has achieved many honours and has it in her to gain further recognition if her parents do not become over-ambitious to push her around as golf is a tough and demanding discipline.

IN THE NEWS

Ashley Giles

Ashley’s guiles

Like old wine, Ashley Giles is getting better and better with age. In a Test which saw no less than five hundreds being scored, the left-arm off-spinner walked away with the man of the match award. He took nine wickets for 210 runs, including 5 for 81 in the second innings, to spin England to a 210-run victory over the West Indies at Lord’s, their seventh in eight Tests. In the process, Giles took his 100th Test wicket, the prize scalp of Brian Lara.


 
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Uncrippled willpower
Vikramdeep Johal

Ray Ewry excelled in the standing jumps even though polio confined him to a wheelchair in his childhood.
Ray Ewry excelled in the standing jumps even though polio confined him to a wheelchair in his childhood.

Remember that scene from Forrest Gump, in which an adolescent Forrest, with his legs in braces, is chased by a bunch of rowdies in a car? Spurred on vociferously by his friend, he somehow draws Herculean strength to break into a run. His braces snap off, and he runs, and runs and runs. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Well, even more incredible things have happened in real life, on the Olympic stage in particular.

The success stories of some Olympians have to be heard to be believed. At one time, it was difficult for them to even walk or eat, let alone competing at the highest level. However, physical disability failed to deter them from dreaming big; instead it made them mentally stronger. Propelled by their will power, they achieved glory in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. They could have resigned themselves to their fate, but they chose to defy it.

American sprinter Wilma Rudolph was born prematurely, the 20th of her father’s 22 children, and she weighed only 2 kg at birth. She suffered polio, double pneumonia and scarlet fever, which rendered her left leg useless. From the age of six, she had to wear a brace. Her mother, brothers and sisters tried to help her, giving her leg rubs everyday. Eventually, she wore an orthopaedic shoe and started playing basketball with her brothers. One day, her mother returned home to see her playing the game barefooted, having thrown away her corrective shoe. Having “found her feet”, Wilma moved on to athletics. The rest is Olympic history. She went on to win the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay gold at the 1960 Rome games.

Harold Connolly won the hammer throw gold despite having a left arm that was merely a useless stump
Harold Connolly won the hammer throw gold despite having a left arm that was merely a useless stump

Ray Ewry contracted polio as a small boy and remained confined to a wheelchair for a while. It was feared that he might be paralysed for life, but he proved all speculations wrong through dogged determination. He won the standing long jump, the standing high jump and the standing triple jump at the 1900 and 1904 Olympics in Paris and St Louis, respectively. When the standing triple jump was scrapped, he had to settle for two gold at the 1908 London games. The standing jumps were discontinued altogether after the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, but that did not take anything away from Ewry’s effort, which underlined the triumph of the human spirit.

Other sportspersons who scoffed at polio to become Olympic champions include Walter Davis, who won the high jump in 1952, and swimmer Shelly Mann, who clinched the 100m butterfly gold at the Melbourne Games.

New Zealander Murray Halberg was hit from behind in a crash tackle during a rugby match when he was 17. It left him with a dislocated shoulder, ruptured veins and arteries, blood clots and a paralysed left arm. After two months in hospital and two operations, he was released with a withered arm and shoulder. He had to virtually start from scratch, relearning how to walk, run, dress and feed himself. Unable to take part in contact sports, he focused on running and made it to the 1956 Olympics. Four years later, in Rome, he won the 5,000m race.

Hammer thrower Harold Connolly won the gold at the Melbourne Games despite having a stump of a left arm that was two-thirds the size of the right one. He had fractured it 13 times as a child and it had never healed properly. But it hardly proved to be a hurdle for the American.

While on duty as a policeman in 1946, Hungarian wrestler Miklos Szilvasi was accidentally shot in the left leg by a colleague with a machine gun. His left foot was temporarily paralysed. Through regular exercise, he regained the use of his foot and competed in the 1948 London Games, only to lose to Sweden’s Gosta Andersson in the final bout. In the Helsinki Olympics, he turned the tables on the Swede to win the gold.

Another “magnificent Magyar” was Karoly Takacs, who bagged the rapid-fire pistol shooting gold at the 1948 Games. His feat was nothing short of a miracle, considering that 10 years earlier, while serving as a sergeant in the army, a grenade had exploded in his right hand and shattered it completely. Undeterred, he taught himself to shoot with his wrong hand — and how!

Weightlifter Tommy Kono, a Japanese-American, was a sickly child who suffered from asthma. His parents tried various cures, including traditional Japanese ones like bear kidneys, burned birds and powdered snakes, but to no avail. During World War II, he and his family were forced to leave their home in Sacramento and move to a detention camp. It was there that 14-year-old Tommy took up weightlifting. He bagged the gold in 1952 (lightweight) and 1956 (light heavyweight) and a silver in the middleweight category at the 1960 Games.

American decathlete Rafer Johnson was only 12 when his left leg got crushed in a peach conveyor belt. Doctors saved it from being amputated, but it never healed fully. Nevertheless, Johnson showed he was the best all-round athlete in the world, winning the decathlon title in Rome with a record score.
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Plan Tanya's career carefully
K.R. Wadhwaney

There is no denying that Tanya Wadhwa, in the USA for study-cum-golf benefits, is one of the most talented and promising youngsters. She has achieved many honours and has it in her to gain further recognition if her parents do not become over-ambitious to push her around as golf is a tough and demanding discipline.

Many coaches of international repute are of firm belief that Tanya should not be rushed into senior circuit soon because premature participation, according to them, has often produced a ‘demoralising effect’ than confidence. She was the youngest in the qualifying round for the 2004 US Women’s Championship. She naturally could not make the cut on the hazarduous and long course. But what was the need for her father to have insisted on her participation?

According to coaches, Tanya’s career has to be planned meticulously and carefully she should not be rushed into ‘‘senior company’’ at a tender age of 11.

Golf, more unpredictable than cricket, is played more in the mind and putting ‘mind’ into golf comes with age. If this is the guiding formula, it will be in Tanya’s interest to climb step by step for lasting glory.

US Open

Daniel Chopra, the Indian-Swedish player, has coloured his brown hair blond, giving him a Shane Warne look as he played alongside Tiger Woods in his first US Open. He got as much attention as Woods. He also played well to the extent that he was not much behind the leaders in his maiden attempt. Chopra was happy that crowd cheered for him. ‘‘There were occasions when a section of spectators cheered for me as loudly as they were doing for Tiger’’, Daniel is reported to have said.

Vijay Singh, of Fiji, has already made his mark in the USA. Daniel, according to many, is now on the road to make his presence felt in the USA PGA Tour. There are others, like Arjun Atwal, Jyoti Randhawa and Jeev Milkha Singhroaring somewhere. Undoubtedly, Indian golf is on firm footing internationally.

Indian golfers did make headlines but domestic calendar was not as successful as it ought to have been. The Professional Golfers Association of India (PGAI) wears an optimistic look saying that things will be ‘rosy’ next year. The players are demanding more money. But they should be realise that a lot has been done for them during the last decade. It is like a rags-to-riches story.
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India’s defeat against Lanka shocking

The BCCI must take stock of the circumstances in which Tendulkar, Sehwag and Ganguly were out in the match against Sri Lanka. Chasing a victory target of 283 runs, Indian players started showing nervousness. Facing Chaminda Vaas and Muralitharan, the target was really difficult. A well settled Yuvraj lost patience and got himself out. Dravid paid the price for playing Muralitharan’s full length delivery on the back foot. Earlier, bad fielding and loose bowling by Indian players allowed Sri Lanka to amass such a big total which was beyond expectations.

Though India conceded defeat by 13 runs, the efforts of Dravid, Yuvraj and Kaif were praise worthy.

NIRMAL KUMAR, Panchkula

II

India’s defeat against Sri Lanka was shocking. Even Yuvraj and Dravid could not save the situation. Pathan provided a ray of hope but could not last long. The main reason behind this defeat was change in batting order of Sehwag and Dravid. Skipper Ganguly should bat at No. six and Pathan at No. five.

SANJAY KATWAL, Baroti

Indian hockey

The IHF cannot please everybody, especially former hockey players. If a foreign coach can be appointed for the Indian cricket team, then why not for Indian hockey? Dedication and contribution apart, Rajinder has been successful against Asian teams. The IHF should develop two hockey teams. One should be trained as per the Asian technique and the other should be coached on the European pattern. The selection and coaching should be left to two different set of coaches.

PUNEET, Kharar
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