SPORTS TRIBUNE
 


Sharpshooters: Abhinav Bindra, Avneet Sidhu, Samresh Jung and Jaspal Rana Bang on target
Indian shooters have reasserted their dominance at the Commonwealth Games. Now they should capitalise on this super success to excel at the Asian Games and the Olympics, writes Ivninderpal Singh
They did it at Manchester four years ago. Now they have repeated their feat at Melbourne. Indian shooters, who won 14 gold medals out of 30 at stake at Manchester have ruled the roost at Melbourne too.

IN THE NEWS
Epee centre

Rubinder Gill
The old sport of fencing is relatively new to our country. The old-world charm of sword fighting fascinated Ruchi Trikha, and her dedication and desire to excel has made her a good fencer.

Good as gold
Asafa Powell’s favourite tune is the gospel song “Lord Walk Beside Me” and he needed divine intervention on Monday as he escaped what should have been disqualification to land his first major title with the Commonwealth Games 100 metres crown.

Flintastic

Stand-in captain Andrew Flintoff got a standing ovation as he led England to a commendable win at Mumbai Rahul Dravid’s 100th Test match saw India suffer a humiliating defeat at the hands of underdogs England

Stand-in captain Andrew Flintoff got a standing ovation as he led England to a commendable win at Mumbai. The icing on the cake was that he walked away with the man-of-the-match and the man-of-the-series awards.

That’s the way the cookie crumbles: Rahul Dravid’s 100th Test match saw India suffer a humiliating defeat at the hands of underdogs England. His decision to put the opposition into bat, coupled with India’s bad batting and poor fielding, partly helped England square the series, a result not many had expected.
— Photos by Reuters, AFP

 
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Bang on target

Indian shooters have reasserted their dominance at the Commonwealth Games. Now they should capitalise on this super success to excel at the Asian Games and the Olympics, writes Ivninderpal Singh

They did it at Manchester four years ago. Now they have repeated their feat at Melbourne. Indian shooters, who won 14 gold medals out of 30 at stake at Manchester have ruled the roost at Melbourne too. Samresh Jung has led the charge, accompanied by Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Avneet Sidhu, Tejaswini Sawant and Jaspal Rana.

The euphoria over the shooters’ superb show is justified in our success-starved country, but one can’t overlook the fact that their performance in the Asian Games and the Olympics in recent years has been far from satisfactory. They managed just two silver at the Busan Asiad in 2002 — one in men’s trap team event (Manavjit Singh, Mansher Singh and Anwar Sultan) and another in women’s 10m air rifle team event (Suma Shirur, Anjali Bhagwat and Deepali Deshpande) — and one silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics, won by Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in men’s double trap event.

Why hasn’t Commonwealth success inspired Indian shooters to win medals at the Asian Games and the Olympics? The simple reason is that India hardly face any competition in this sport at the Commonwealth level. China and Russia called the shots at the Athens Olympics. China won nine medals (four gold, two silver and three bronze), while Russia bagged 10 (three gold, four silver and three bronze). At the Asian Games, China, Korea and Kazakhstan are the leaders in shooting events.

India’s main rival in shooting at the Commonwealth Games is Australia. If we compare the performance of India and Australia, the country which topped the medal tally at Manchester and are leading again at Melbourne, we can conclude that Indians are unsuccessful in converting their Commonwealth success into Olympic medals.

At Manchester in 2002, Indian shooters bagged 14 gold medals, whereas Australians managed 11. Two years later, at the Athens Olympics, Australians won a gold and a silver, while the Indians got one silver.

This trend is visible not only in shooting but also in the overall show. Australia won 207 medals at Manchester (82 gold, 62 silver and 63 bronze), while India bagged 69 (30 gold, 22 silver and 17 bronze). But at the Athens Olympics, Australia won 49 medals (17 gold, 16 silver and 16 bronze), whereas India got the lone silver.

In the Olympic medals tally, Australia finished fourth, while India was placed a lowly 64th. The Indians had rewritten 20 Commonwealth records at Manchester but they struggled to find a place in the finals in most of the events at Athens.

India has to make a strategy to capitalise on the achievements at the Commonwealth Games in order to win medals in the Asian and Olympic arena.

India should emulate the success of countries like Australia, China, Japan, S. Korea and the UK. Moreover, we should focus on two or three sports to strive for world-class excellence.

As our shooters have shown enough promise to excel at the international level, we should lay special emphasis on this sport. The Asian Games in Doha later this year can be utilised to analyse the strengths of Chinese shooters so that we can challenge them on their home turf at the 2008 Olympics.
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IN THE NEWS
Epee centre
Rubinder Gill

Ruchi Trikha is the first Indian fencer to win a medal at an international championship
Ruchi Trikha is the first Indian fencer to win a medal at an international championship

The old sport of fencing is relatively new to our country. The old-world charm of sword fighting fascinated Ruchi Trikha, and her dedication and desire to excel has made her a good fencer.

The 19-year-old student of Multani Mul Modi College, Patiala, has reaped rewards in a short span of three years. A newcomer to the sport, she created history by becoming the first Indian fencer to win a medal at an international event. During the first Commonwealth Junior Fencing Championship held at Chennai in January, Ruchi had the honour of climbing the podium twice. India won five medals at the event, with Ruchi contributing two bronze — in individual epee and team epee. Ruchi says she is learning a lot by participating in various international events. At the Junior World Fencing Championship in Leinz, Austria, in March last year, she held her own against the world’s best juniors. “Of course, I was nowhere near the top, but competing at that level was quite an experience,” she says candidly.

Then came the Senior World Fencing Championship in Leipzig, Germany, in September, 2005, which was an eye-opener for her. A rank novice in the fencing world teeming with old, experienced fighters, Ruchi was defeated in most of her bouts. The silver lining was that she lost many by just a touch. “We have to bridge a huge gap to reach that level. Not many in our country know of this Olympic sport, let alone practise it,” admits Ruchi.

It is this knowledge that makes her practise diligently, week after week, through her examinations as well as holidays. She wants to set a standard for others to attain.

Ruchi entered the sporting arena thanks to a chance occurrence. The honour of unearthing the latent talent doesn’t go to any of the much-hyped “catch-them-young” schemes. A tenant at their house, Captain Rao, a weightlifting coach at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala, was instrumental in her initiation into fencing. The year was 2003. Ruchi went to the premier sports institute, was introduced to fencing coach Mohit Ashwini, and the journey to the podium began with this small but momentous step.

Ruchi applied herself selflessly as the coach showed immense faith in the beginner. Showering praise on her has been the coach’s mantra as he teaches the finer nuances of the sport to the emerging fencer.

“When I am mentally down, it is my coach who tells me to believe in myself completely, as he does. It is his complete trust in my ability to go forward that has been instrumental in my progress this far,” she says giving full credit to Ashwini.

Apart from her coach, Arun Kumar Vij, secretary-general of the Fencing Association of India, has been encouraging Ruchi to perform to her potential.

“If everything goes according to plan, Ruchi can deliver in the next four or five years,” says Ashwini.

Right now Ruchi is practising daily for the Junior World Fencing Championship in South Korea from April 9 to 15, followed by the Junior Asian Fencing Championship later that month.
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Good as gold

The Commonwealth Games gold medal is the first major title won by 100m world record holder Asafa Powell
The Commonwealth Games gold medal is the first major title won by 100m world record holder Asafa Powell. — Photo by Reuters

Asafa Powell’s favourite tune is the gospel song “Lord Walk Beside Me” and he
needed divine intervention on Monday as he escaped what should have been disqualification to land his first major title with the Commonwealth Games 100 metres crown. The 23-year-old Jamaican proved that for once he wasn’t just to be known for one race where he broke the world record — timing 9.77 seconds in Athens last year — but that he could handle the big occasion as he easily won the event.

However, the son of a preacher must have thanked his lucky stars after watching his semifinal where after two of his rivals for the title had been disqualified for false starts he went into the lane of another competitor.

It wasn’t just a mere foot but his whole body that suddenly appeared in lane five, however, it was adjudged not to be impeding the runner and Canada’s Anson Henry did not protest.

Powell, tough, rode his luck and came out golden with his run of 10.03 seconds to perhaps set his mind straight and on the path to more titles. — AFP
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SPORTS MAIL

Kumble needed in one-day team

Indian selectors have been excluding Anil Kumble from every ODI series for the past few months. Obviously, it is being done as the selectors have ruled him out for the World Cup in 2007 and want to try out younger players for the big event. But Kumble, with his enormous wealth of talent and experience, would be a great asset in the World Cup. There is no reason to believe that he will not be fit for at least one more year. He must be selected in the ODI team.

— Surendra Miglani, Kaithal

II

By taking the wicket of England tailender Steve Harmison in the Mohali Test, veteran spinner Anil Kumble reached the landmark of 500 wickets. This rare feat has been achieved by only four other bowlers and Kumble is the only Indian to reach the magic figure.

Kumble played a pivotal role in yet another Indian Test with as he captured nine wickets and walked away with the man-of-the-match award at Mohali. He has reached this milestone by consistent hard work, dedication and determination.

— Brig H.S. Sandhu, Panchkula

III

Kudos to Anil Kumble for becoming the first Indian bowler to get 500 Test wickets. The Indian selectors should not ignore Kumble for the next World Cup.

— Pritpal Singh, Patiala

IV

Anil Kumble deserves heartiest congratulations for becoming the fifth bowler in the world and the first Indian to complete 500 wickets in the history of Test cricket.

— Subhash C Taneja, Rohtak

V

Anil Kumble made India proud by becoming the first Indian to take 500 wickets. His success is due to his determination, hard work and perseverance. In all these years he has experienced many highs and lows. He has silenced his detractors time and again to become India’s top match-winning bowler.

— Gurdershan Singh, Chandigarh

Incredible match

Unbelievable — only such a word can aptly describe the one-day match between South Africa and Australia at Johannesburg on March 12.

It was a real treat to watch this ODI which saw 25 sixes and 86 fours; two fiery centuries — 164 by Australia’s Ricky Ponting and 175 by South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs, plus Graeme Smith’s 55-ball 90.

Australia must have felt sure of victory by scoring 434 runs whereby they broke Sri Lanka’s world record. However, the new record was short-lived as it was overhauled by South Africa’s 438 off 49.5 overs. The total of 872 runs shattered by a wide margin the record of 693 set in the India-Pakistan ODI in Karachi in March, 2004.

Congratulations to Graeme Smith and his team for pulling off an incredible win.

— D.K. Aggarwala, Phagwara

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