aims for golden sprint
Frank Fredericks. — Photo from the Net
Louganis: The dive that went wrong
IN THE NEWS
Murali on a record-breaking spree — AFP photo
Batsmen must learn
aims for golden sprint
Namibian sprinter Frank Fredericks wants a golden swansong at the Athens Olympics before he quits the circuit to spend more time helping poor youngsters back home.
The Athens games will draw the curtain on an illustrious career spanning two decades in which Fredericks clinched double 100 and 200 metres Olympic silver medals in Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996, but never the ultimate prize.
The former world 200 metres champion turns 37 in October and is well aware that the clock is ticking. A couple of years ago he ditched the youthful ‘Frankie’ by which he was known for most of his career in favour of the more mature ‘Frank’.
He has almost retired at least twice but pressed on, lured by the elusive Olympic gold.
"What we want in life is not what we get. This is going to be my last chance to try and get it,’’ Fredericks said as he sweated profusely under a scorching African sun.
When he hangs up his running shoes, Fredericks plans to devote more time and energy to his private plastic manufacturing business — and to developing young athletes in Namibia, whose 1.9 million people face poverty and chronic hunger despite rich reserves of diamonds and other minerals.
"It is my way of giving back, because I have really been fortunate. I am living in a good house, I have a family, and all of this I got because somebody gave an opportunity,’’ he said.
Describing himself as a product of "assistance by other people,’’ he created the Frank Fredericks Foundation ‘’to do what the sponsors did to me’’.
"If it wasn’t for my sponsors, my mum could not afford to send me to university,’’ he said.
The foundation has given scholarships to 60 promising young athletes to complete high school. Like Fredericks himself, most come from the poor black township of Katutura on the outskirts of Windhoek. Fredericks began running in 1980 but his international career had to wait until 1990 when Namibia won independence from South Africa.
A strong opponent of the use of drugs in sports, Fredericks is still going strong at 36 and says the hunger for Olympic gold drives him on.
When the specialist told 28-year-old diver, Greg Louganis, that his blood showed a T-cell count of 256, much below the normal 600 to 1200 range, it meant it was dangerously close to the cut-off point for full-blown AIDS. In other words, Louganis was HIV-positive.
A concerned Louganis kept his usual arduous training schedule. On the platform, he would keep reminding himself that sports was not only going higher, faster and farther, but it was also about competing with courage, conviction and respecting the rules governing the sport. It was the time to continue with grace, without wilting under the AIDS pressure.
Seoul Olympics,1988. Louganis was the firm favourite. With the world unaware of his predicament, Louganis completed eight dives with impeccable poise. Only three of the mandatory 11 qualifying dives remained. On the 3-metre platform, he chose a simple dive — a high leap, a back flip and a serene reverse entry into the water.
While performing the dive disaster struck. Back of his head grazed the platform and he lay stunned in the pool. Blood gushed out of the deep cut. His coach, Ron O’ Brien, also knew about Louganis' condition. Both, the diver and his coach, chose to remain quiet. Louganis required five stitches to close his wound. After that he carried his favourite teddy bear and returned to the starting point, amidst loud cheers.
Louganis 10th dive was also below par as the ninth. Only the last dive remained. He chose a reverse three-and-a-half somersault in the tuck position, with a 3.5 degree of difficulty. This dive which, if performed brilliantly to his acclaimed standard, could fetch him the gold medal. He dived superbly to bag the gold.
After the incident, Louganis carried a lot of guilt and fear that he might have unwittingly caused someone else harm as he recalls in his autobiography: ‘‘Breaking the Surface’’.
Adopted by San Diego book-keeper Peter Louganis and his wife Frances when only nine months old, he took to diving seriously at nine. His adoptive father was often rough on him. When Greg would fail to perform a dive properly, Peter ‘took the belt to my backside. He hit me till it burnt’. ‘‘That’’, recalls Greg, ‘‘I can never forget’’.
Muttiah Muralitharan simply cannot stay away from headlines. If he is not courting unwanted publicity with his doosra, then he is grabbing the headlines with his world record feats. Bent elbow and world-record performances have constantly kept him in the news.
The first Test against South Africa provided him the perfect opportunity to make the world Test wicket record exclusively his own again.
Before the start of the Test, Murali shared the record with Australian leg spinner Shane Warne. Both had 527 wickets. Murali had chosen not to got to Australia as their Prime Minister John Howard had called him a chucker ahead of the tour, allowing Warne to draw level with him. On his own ground, Murali returned with a vengeance against the Proteas to pull ahead of Warne. He claimed opener Martin van Jaarsveld on the third day as his 528th victim.
Murali was not able to take Sri Lanka
to victory as South Africa's captain Graeme Smith and all-rounder
Jacques Kallis held firm on a turning pitch on the final day, ending the
Test with a record 532 wickets.
Chess wizard Viswananthan Anand appears to be in sublime form this year. The world No 2 won the Mainz Chess Classic title in Germany, for a record seventh time, making it his third title victory this year. He had earlier won the Chorus Grandmasters title in Wijk aan Zee in January and the Dortmund tournament last month. The Indian grandmaster has played against top players and has managed to emerge the winner on most of the occasions.
Anand’s blitz in Mainz — AFP photo
Batsmen must learn from Sachin
The Sri Lankan cricket team deservedly won the Asia Cup. They showed promise from the very beginning. As for India, it will be better if skipper Saurav Ganguly starts batting lower down the order. He should also keep his patience. It is high time that Kaif is replaced by Rohan Gavaskar or some other player. The Indian batsmen must learn from Tendulkar who does not open up until he reads the pitch. Some of the Indian players should shift to modelling and make way for newcomers.
The Indian cricket team once again choked during the final of the Asia Cup at Colombo. Former Pakistan skipper Rashid Latif rightly said that the Indians choked in crunch situations. If we see the record of the finals under the captaincy of Saurav Ganguly, the success rate is only 7.69 per cent. India have won just one tournament out of 13 finals. The only success was in the NatWest Trophy in 2002. Sachin Tendulkar’s batting and bowling was in vain and the Indian team handed over the trophy to the hosts stylishly.