rises from the ashes
IN THE NEWS
Ready for the
rises from the ashes
IT WAS so many things, this extraordinary triumph of Europe in the Ryder Cup, and you could tick them off one by one as the captain, Bernhard Langer, flawlessly directed his men to the coup de grace administered so appropriately by Colin Montgomerie in the afternoon sun.
But then you had to wait until the dusk to grasp fully quite what lay at its heart. It was something more than the victory of a marvellously committed and united team. It was the salvation of a man, a bruised and battered man by his own admission, but one who had been brought back to the finest expression of his talent not by the rewards of a game that makes new millionaires by the week but the sense that he was wanted, and, yes, loved, by the men he had just inspired to a great moment of sports history.
Montgomerie, you may have guessed, was that man. Eleven team-mates already down the road of massive celebration — "sleep will be seen as overrated until we get on the plane in the morning," said the cigar-chomping Darren Clarke — roared with laughter when Lee Westwood held up to Montgomerie a message he had scrawled on a piece of green paper.
"I love you," it said. But when Montgomerie, plainly fighting to control his emotions, said that he wanted to thank his team-mates for helping him through the most difficult days of his life the laughter and the joking died. The entire team stood up and applauded the man who had once again saved the best of his golf for this Ryder Cup which has a concept of team spirit which, as far as the beaten Americans were concerned, might have been written in Sanskrit.
Later, Montgomerie said: "I didn't know my putt had won the Ryder Cup and when I came off the green I was looking for Bernhard to thank him for picking me. I wanted that so badly at this time of my life. And not only did he say I was in the team, he said it was what the players wanted. I can't tell you how much that meant."
Montgomerie's resurrection here after the trauma of divorce from his wife Eimear, who he had met as a teenager in his native Troon, and separation from his three children, has been astonishing, but the marks of pain are still visible enough. He was asked about the details of his weight loss — more than 30lb over the past few months — and if his interrogator expected a litany of pointers to healthy living he was sorely disappointed. "Nobody should lose weight as I did," said Montgomerie. Sleepless nights and mental turmoil were the prime agents, he said. "It’s been a long four, five months of mine personally, and I don’t want to talk about it. But at the same time it’s quite well known and, yeah, I’ve come a long way in those four months. I’m proud of myself right now.
"I can go away from here with a firm commitment to what I do best, play golf. I have to remake my life, find somewhere to live, and get on with things. After this, I feel much stronger. I feel that by next year I can concentrate on winning again."
At 41 it may be that Montgomerie’s chances of winning the major titles, which on several occasions have been tantalisingly close and once seemed an inevitable product of the talent which brought a run of seven first places in the European Order of Merit, have passed. But, then, if his self-confidence has always been fragile in the great tournaments, it may be that finally a degree of personal security has come with this underpinning here of his brilliant Ryder Cup record — it now stands at 19 wins, eight losses and seven halves, and not one defeat in singles combat —and, as a consequence, the highest individual goals might come back into focus. It is also true that Jack Nicklaus won the last of his 18 majors at the age of 46.
This, though, is something that for some time will no doubt remain in the margins of an inevitably complex emotional future. For the moment it is maybe enough that Monty flies home from America now not as an easy target for ridicule but a deeply respected competitor, one indeed who was being compared extremely favourably with such home-bred golfing icons as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III.
That respect, which was underlined by one American commentator who predicted that Montgomerie’s Ryder Cup history and success in Europe will surely carry him into American golf’s Hall of Fame, was plainly a source of great personal satisfaction amid the team triumph. But it was equally clear that nothing was as important as the respect and the friendship of his team-mates.
"This was the first Ryder Cup in which I went to bed on my own," said Montgomery ruefully, "and that was difficult." However, Westwood, whose wife has just had a baby, was happy to go to last week’s gala dinner arm-in-arm with Montgomerie, who said, laughing: "We went as a couple you know." Neither the humour nor the sentiment appeared forced.
This, truly, was a team in the deepest sense. You could see it in the indulgence, and the tweaking, of the superbly gifted Sergio Garcia, who on the last day played the most crucial role when he turned back a sea of red at the top of the scoreboard and beat the troubled American demi-god, and reigning Masters champion, Phil Mickelson. You could see it in the rapport of Clarke and Westwood, who had delivered vital points — Westwood sharing the four-and-a-half point high with Garcia — and the panache of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Levet and the solid confidence of the rookies Luke Donald, Paul Casey, and David Howell. You couldn’t ignore any of them, not the quirky Ian Poulter or the winning Irishmen Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley.
But all the time you had to keep coming
back to the unfamiliarly lean face of Colin Montgomerie, and be caught
by the wonder of what he had done for his team — and, as he said, what
they had done for him. — The Independent
PAKISTAN captain Inzamam-ul Haq became the second player after Sachin Tendulkar to reach the magic figure of 10,000 runs in one-day cricket. The amiable right-hander achieved the feat when he passed 23 in his innings of 41 in the ICC Champions Trophy league match against arch-rivals India.
The 34-year-old from Multan has played 322 matches and scored 10 centuries and 70 half centuries at an average of 38.98.
Sachin Tendulkar is way ahead with 13,415 runs in 330 innings of 339 matches.
Inzamam has been the rock of Pakistan cricket for many years now. He carries the burden of captaincy easily on his massive shoulders and along with coach Bob Woolmer, is moulding his players into a fighting unit.
The Multan magician has travelled far from the days when he was laughed at as a player who specialised in getting his partners run out. His determination and good nature has seen him survive the ups and downs in Pakistan cricket and prove his mentor and former captain Imran Khan right. He has also earned coach Woolmer’s respect, who calls him an inspirational captain with his laid-back and gentle style.
The gentle giant is a transformed man when on the pitch with a bat in his hand. Few can hit the ball harder than Inzamam, who does it with a lazy elegance hard to copy.
Inzamam made his one-day debut against
the West Indies in Lahore in 1991 under Imran Khan’s captaincy. He hit
his highest score of 137 not out against New Zealand in Sharjah in 1994.
Inzamam has show a preference for the subcontinent bowlers, hitting
eight of his 10 centuries against India and Sri Lanka.
for the big fight
WRESTLING as a sport is normally not associated with the fairer sex. They are very late entrants to a sport which was a also a part of the ancient Olympics. At the Athens Olympics women’s wrestling finally made its debut.
Haryana has been a wrestling stronghold, sending many a man to the Olympic arena. Now women have stepped forward to storm the strong male bastion.
Geetika Jakhar, a promising local wrestler,is one such woman. At a young age she has already won a number of national as well as international events. A student of CRM Jat College here and belonging to HAU SAI hostel, Geetika has set her sights on the Asian Games in 2006.
The young wrestler has many achievements to her credit. She won the gold medal in the 63 kg weight category during the Commonwealth championship in Canada last year. Before leaving for Canada, she had won the silver medal in the 22nd senior Asian championship in Delhi.
Geetika won the gold medal in the 67 kg category in the junior Asian championship in Kazakhstan in June this year. She was given the title of Bharat Kesari and adjudged the best wrestler, besides being honoured with the prestigious Bhim Award by the Haryana Government.
She has also been recommended for the Arjuna Award, the highest national honour in sports.
She added another feather to her cap recently by winning the Rajiv Gandhi Gold Cup tournament held in New Delhi from August 16 to 19. As many as 450 wrestlers from all over the country participated in the meet. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit honoured Geetika with a cash award of Rs 1 lakh and a gold cup.
Geetika, who comes from a family of sportspersons, was encouraged by her father to pursue the sport. She is confident of winning a gold medal in the Asian Games. Her ultimate aim is to represent the country at the grandest stage of all — the Olympics.
Apart from being a committed sportsperson, Geetika is also a bright student. She had scored creditably in the matriculation, plus two and BA part one examinations.
up the greens
GOLF courses, like cricket pitches, play a vital role in determining the quality of play and performance. In order to help golfers perform better, a professional national body has been formed to help maintain, improve and develop golf courses in the country.
The one-year-old Golf Courses Superintendents and Managers Association of India (GCS&MAI) has experts on soil protection and maintenance. It is a supplementary body to the Professional Golfers Association of India (PGAI), which controls professional golf in the country and the Indian Golf Union (IGU), which looks after amateur golf.
A seminar was held at the DLF and Country Golf Club recently. More than 50 delegates participated in the seminar. Among them were two women.
While assuring of making use of voluntary services of the GCS&MAI, Jammu and Kashmir Commissioner-Secretary Najamus Saquib said the Royal Springs course had become a star attraction for tourists. It is considered one of the best in the world.
To provide technical support in upgrading and refurbishing the courses, GCS&MAI’s two main functionaries, Col K.D. Bagga and Col Kapil Kaul said, "We have soil and turf experts to help maintain courses for national and international competitions as Col S.K. Bhattacharya provided intricate information pertaining to soil while Sunil Khanna (Toro) assured of all help where equipment was concerned.
‘‘We are growing with enthusiastic support of several clubs and individuals to make a common platform in the country, as in the USA and Australia’’, said Col Bagga. Some veteran golfers present at the seminar were of the view that ‘this new technology could go a long way in improving the health of the courses.'
Dr Bharat Ram (90) who plays golf two
or three times a week, was impressed. Highlighting the growth of the
game during the past 13 years, Dr Bharat Ram, among other suggestions,
impressed upon the GCS&MAI to widen its umbrella to SAARC countries.
Sehwag’s form main worry
India’s biggest problem has been Sehwag’s loss of form. In Tendulkar’s absence, there is pressure on the middle order. The batting order has been messed around too much and it must stop. Constant change of batting position prevents a player from knowing what his precise role is, and leaves scope for doubt. Playing seven batsman has not yielded results. Saurav must pursue some other plan.
PRIXIT SHAKYA, Shimla
Kudos for Dravid
The Indian cricket team is badly missing the services of Sachin Tendulkar. He is the backbone of the team. Irfan Pathan and Dravid deserve kudos for claiming three prestigious awards out of four instituted by the ICC.
SUBHASH C. TANEJA, Rohtak
IHF’s dubious plans
IHF president KPS Gill’s assertion that the federation is trying to give exposure to ‘young blood’ in the forthcoming India-Pakistan hockey series sounds practical and farsighted.True, players should be caught young and groomed for the future. But the federation’s plans have often ended up in smoke. Or have Prabhjot, Gagan Ajit and Baljit Dhillon become too old to be given exposure ? Obviously they have been kept out as they vented their ire against the German coach Gerhard Rach for his faulty strategy in the Athens Olympics. The coach, who deserved to be sacked, has been surprisingly retained. He was responsible for India’s debacle. And how come the IHF president and other officials are still sticking to their chairs. Are they not responsible for India’s dismal show at Athens ?
TARSEM S. BUMRAH, Batala
The Athens Olympics are over and the performance of Indian players was unsatisfactory . India is the second largest country populationwise but we won only one medal. It is a matter of shame that in 104 years of the Olympics, Indians have won only 14 medals. Our performance was very poor in hockey and athletics. No doubt Major Rathore won the silver medal but is this enough ? India’s position on the medal list was 66th which was shameful.
AMANDEEP SINGH, Moga