failed to woo him
wreck their game
IN THE NEWS
were regarded as the world’s fastest left wingers during the 1970s.
They played for two arch-rivals but struck up a friendship that is still
going strong. Meet Harcharan Singh of India and Samiullah Khan of
Pakistan — two hockey greats who tried to bring the teams close at a
time when Indo-Pak relations had gone from bad to worse.
The two neighbours had fought two wars in just six years (1965 and 1971) and the politically charged atmosphere was taking its toll on the players. It was during the 1974 Asian Games in Teheran that some players from both sides extended the hand of friendship.
They were Harcharan Singh, Ajit Pal Singh, Harmeek Singh, Ashok Kumar, BP Govinda and Surjit Singh from India and Samiullah Khan, Mohammad Rashid, Shehnaz Sheikh, Islahudin and Munawar from Pakistan. Pakistan beat India in the final to clinch the gold, but it was the sporting spirit that was the real winner.
Thirty years later, Harcharan and Samiullah met during the seventh Test of the India-Pakistan Dosti series at Amritsar in October last year. Samiullah had come as the manager of the Pakistan team. When the Amritsar-based Harcharan came to know about it, he could not resist the temptation of meeting his contemporary and friend. They hugged, talked and refreshed memories of their playing days.
Samiullah welcomed the resumption of hockey ties, opining that it was the need of the hour as Asian hockey was lagging behind at the international level.
An Arjuna awardee and a retired Colonel, Harcharan said the resumption of hockey between regular contests between the neighbouring countries would raise the standard of Asian hockey.
Born at Marar village in Gurdaspur district, Harcharan was only 19 years old when he was selected for the Indian team in 1969. He played in three World Cups, two Olympics and two Asian Games.
He is remembered as the player who scored the winning goal in India’s 2-1 extra-time win over Malaysia in the 1975 World Cup semifinal at the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. India went on to win the tournament by beating Pakistan in the final, their only victory in the World Cup so far.
His stint as the chief national trainer of the Indian hockey team in 1999 lasted just for a month as he had to move to Jammu and Kashmir to join duty due to the Kargil war. He also coached the Army team. The former left-out retired from the Army in February last year.
Inspired by the late Balkrishan Singh and IS Dara of Pakistan, he started a hockey championship featuring the All-Star Asian XI.
Samiullah, popularly known as the "Flying Horse", played in the 1976 Montreal Olympics in which Pakistan won the bronze medal. He was basically an inside forward but the selectors tried him on the wing. Their move worked wonders as Sami became a terrific left winger.
He played in the 1978 Bangkok Asian Games along with his younger brother Kalimullah Khan. Yet again, Pakistan won the gold by beating India in the final.
In 1982, when he was the skipper of the national team, Samiullah decided to hang his boots.
With the launch of the Premier Hockey League in India, Harcharan and Samiullah’s dream of seeing Indian and Pakistani players play together has been fulfilled. Their enduring relationship shows that even politics cannot weaken ties forged in the sporting arena.
to woo him
Despite the Nazis’ best efforts to portray him as a warrior fighting for their cause, former world heavyweight boxing champion Max Schmeling will be remembered as an honest man caught in troubled times.
Schmeling, who died at the age of 99 last week, won enduring fame when he sensationally knocked out "Brown Bomber" Joe Louis in 1936 to win the world title.
The return fight two years later, won by Louis with a first round knockout, was promoted as a battle between Nazi Germany and the United States, although Schmeling was not a Nazi and had a Jewish trainer.
Schmeling was born on September 28, 1905, in the village of Klein Luckow, near Prenzlau, north of Berlin.
He started his career in 1923 and in the following year he was the German amateur light heavyweight champion. He dominated German boxing in the late 1920s just as the gloom of post-war depression was being thrown off.
In 1930, Schmeling was crowned world heavyweight champion in controversial fashion when Jack Sharkey was disqualified for a low blow which sent Schmeling to the canvas in the fourth round.
Defeats by Max Baer and Steve Hamas followed and many wrote Schmeling off, but he recovered to beat them both and earn the right to challenge Louis.
The American was undefeated in 27 fights and regarded as unbeatable when Schmeling faced him in New York on June 9, 1936, and the German silenced 60,000 spectators by knocking Louis out with a fierce right in the 12th round.
Among the 1,200 telegrams of congratulation was one from Adolf Hitler. The dictator invited him for tea — just as the then presidential candidate Franklin Roosevelt had done in 1932.
Schmeling had no taste for politics or for the Nazis, who told him to get rid of his Jewish trainer Joe Jacobs and stop consorting with Jewish friends.
He complained to Hitler, and Jacobs stayed on. Schmeling secretly harboured Jewish friends during the Nazi anti-Jewish pogroms.
Then came the rematch against Louis in an incredibly tense atmosphere on June 22, 1938, also in New York. It all lasted a few seconds. Facing slogans demanding: "Boycott Nazi Schmeling", he was knocked out in the first round.
Later, Schmeling was philosophical. "A victory against Louis might have set me up as the Nazis’ ‘model Aryan’", he wrote. "It was never just you and me in the ring," he later told Louis, and the two became friends.
Out of favour with Hitler, Schmeling became the only top sportsman to be drafted into the German army. He was injured, survived, but lost his property and wealth.
Schmeling struggled in the years after World War Two. In need of money, he returned to the ring in 1947-48 before retiring at 43 with a record featuring 70 fights — 56 wins, including 38 inside the distance, 10 defeats and four draws.
In the 1950s, he embarked on a successful career with the Coca-Cola company, making frequent public appearances. He kept himself fit, jogging almost daily and practising on his home trainer. In 1994 he overcame a life-threatening lung disease. His only love, actress Anny Ondra whom he married in 1933, died in 1987. The couple had no children.
Even though he had long retreated from public view, he was recently voted as one of the top German sportsmen of the last century, taking sixth place in a ZDF television survey. — Reuters
Golf in India is on the upswing as several players, both amateur-turned-professionals and caddie-turned-pros, have announced their arrival on the international circuit. They have shown as much talent and skills as leading players in Asia and Europe. But they have failed to reach the top due to lack of mental toughness.
World’s leading coaches and renowned psychologists are of the firm belief that Indian golfers should devote more time and energy in developing self-belief instead of spending considerable sums on improving their technique through stints with well-known coaches in the USA and Europe.
Statistics show that a majority of our top golfers engaged in international competitions do not achieve as much as their skills promise. This is because more often than not, they succumb under pressure when the competition becomes intense.
Chiranjeev Milkha Singh, for example, possesses three ‘Ds’ — dedication, determination and discipline. In the Okinawa Open held in Japan late last year, he played three superb rounds of 67, 72 and 69. He was looking good for the title till the penultimate round. But he muffed a good chance in the final round (one-over 73) and tied for the second place with five others.
Those who have been monitoring Jeev’s career graph feel that he will win greater laurels if he steadies his game in the concluding stages. This is possible only when he plays with a devil-may-care attitude. Here he has to take a leaf out of his father’s book. Milkha Singh used to raise the level of his performance as the competition became intense.
In the past two years, Jyoti Randhawa, ranked 120th and Arjun Atwal, ranked 261, have stolen a march over Jeev but they have not consistently played to their potential. This is again because they waver at crucial moments.
They should mould their game as Fiji’s Vijay Singh has done. He has dethroned Tiger Woods because he believes in himself. When he tees off, no matter how big the competition, he keeps saying to himself that he is inferior to none. This has paid him rich dividends. He is an admirer of Indian players and often says that they are capable of achieving much more.
Another problem that Indian pros face is that they have to struggle for sponsorship. Many business houses are willing to spend money on ‘fun’ tournaments. It is an ordeal for lesser mortals to get a look-in by sponsors. Corporates should provide encouragement to pros who are young and talented. The more they play in foreign countries, the better will be their mental toughness.
Among Indian women, Irina Brar is peerless. Pain and injury have not diminished her determination. She continues to rule the roost, winning titles with ease. This is because she has self-belief. However, to compete in tournaments abroad, like the Queen Sirikit Cup, she has to improve. She should take part in tournaments abroad as she encounters no challenge at home. The standard of ladies and junior players needs improvement. It is possible if new Indian Golf Union president Prakash Bhandari provides them more competitions.
Shiv Kapur, another talented player, has earned the Asian Tour card. He is a gutsy player. His performance in the season to come will be watched with a lot of interest.
Like the proverbial old wine, Glenn McGrath is getting better with age. At 34, he is not as fast as he used to be, but he has become more fit and foxy. Even under the watchful eye of the match referee, he continues to eyeball batsmen whenever they have a go at him, which happens only rarely.
By dint of his recent performances, the Pigeon, as he is called by team-mates, has soared to the top of the ICC rankings in both Tests as well as one-dayers.
In the two tri-series finals against Pakistan, McGrath took eight wickets for just 61 runs to help Australia defend sub-240 totals. In the second final at Sydney, he ran through the Pakistani batting order to claim 5 for 27. McGrath also became the first Australian bowler to take 300 wickets in ODIs, in his 200th match. In the 300-plus club, his average of 22.20 is second only to that of Muttiah Muralitharan.
In the Test series that preceded the one-dayers, Pakistan were again at the receiving end of his crafty bowling. Australia won the first Test at Perth by a staggering 491 runs as the visitors were skittled out for 72. The wrecker-in-chief was the man with the lean and hungry looks, who recorded take-your-breath-away figures of 16-8-24-8.
Few batsmen have troubled him over the years, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara being among the exceptions. McGrath has respect for these great players, even though he doesn’t show it on the field. The typical Aussie aggressiveness is an intrinsic part of his personality.
To make matters worse for the opposition, McGrath has shown astonishing improvement as a batsman recently. A notorious bunny with the bat ever since he made his debut, the wiry New South Welshman scored his first Test fifty late last year against New Zealand in his 102nd match. Not surprisingly, he got a standing ovation from the Brisbane crowd.
With the on-song McGrath nearing the 500-wicket mark in Tests, tear away pacer Brett Lee can’t hope for any relief from drinks duty in the near future. All he can do is stand at the boundary ropes and admire an old warhorse galloping along nicely.
After Sania Mirza, she is the second best thing that has happened to women’s tennis in India. Having earned the right to play under the Tricolour, the US-based Shikha Uberoi has the potential and the drive to emulate if not outshine Sania. "She did it, I can do it also. I am proud of her," says Shikha.
Despite her loss in the first round at the Hyderabad Open, much is expected of her in view of her impressive record. In her Grand Slam debut at the US Open last year, Shikha defeated world number 56 Saori Obata and led 4-1 over Venus Williams in the second round before going down 5-7, 1-6.
The 21-year-old is ranked 148 on the WTA Tour, 17 places below Sania, and has three ITF titles under her belt. In tandem, the two girls can become another Leander-Mahesh duo. The ball, so to speak, is in their court.
Lara at his best
Dashing batsman Brian Lara, the captain of the West Indies team, deserves praise for his well-made 156 runs off 138 balls against Pakistan in the tri-series one-day match. The knock helped the West Indies beat Pakistan by 58 runs.
Lara’s knock included 12 fours and five huge sixes. His team made 339 runs in 50 overs.
It was Lara’s 19th ODI century the highest score in a one-day match at Adelaide.
One hopes he continues to serve the West Indies in the years to come.
Subhash C. Taneja
Sania Mirza stunned not only Indians but also the whole world by competing with former world No. 1 and six-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in the Australian Open. Sania deserves applause for her performance, which cannot be called a fluke if one considers her track record.
She won the gold in the Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad in 2003. Partnering Leander Paes, she bagged the mixed doubles bronze in the 2002 Asian Games at Busan. She is the first Indian girl to lift the Asian junior title and the youngest Indian to play in a Grand Slam event.
There are high hopes from her and the day is not far off when she will reach the top.