SPORTS TRIBUNE
 

US gold rush in Osaka
The Americans reasserted their supremacy by finishing on top in the 11th World Athletics Championships, writes Alastair Himmer
Kenyan-born American runner Bernard Lagat completed a rare double by winning the 1,500m and 5,000m races.Susanthika Jayasinghe secured a bronze for Sri Lanka in the 200m sprint.
American Tyson Gay’s explosive sprint treble highlighted his country’s continued track dominance at the World Athletics Championships. As the Americans celebrated, hosts Japan scratched their heads as the inquests began into how they won just a solitary bronze in Osaka.

Susanthika Jayasinghe (left) secured a bronze for Sri Lanka in the 200m sprint; Kenyan-born American runner Bernard Lagat completed a rare double by winning the 1,500m and 5,000m races. — Photos by Reuters

Russia’s Anna Chakvetadze has made it a habit of beating Sania Mirza. Sania’s nemesis
Sania Mirza’s victory caravan halts abruptly at a speed breaker called Anna Chakvetadze and, after the US Open third-round loss, the Indian ace is scratching her head over how to clear the obstacle in future.
Sania was tamed by Chakvetadze 6-2, 6-3 at Flushing Meadows and it was the fourth time in her career that the Hyderabadi fell to the world No. 6 Russian meekly.

Russia’s Anna Chakvetadze has made it a habit of beating Sania Mirza. — PTI photo

Uncrippled grit
Amanpreet Singh

Physical disability did not deter Baba Manindra Paul from taking up mountaineering. Now, he has set his sights on becoming the first disabled person from India to scale Mt Everest. Paul scaled Mt Abigamin (24,130 ft) in 1994 on crutches. However, ministerial bottlenecks have frustrated his plans to climb Mt Kamet, a pre-Everest expedition.

Goal poachers

Rajpal Singh (left) and Prabhjot Singh have given a tough time to rival defenders in the hockey Asia Cup, guiding India to the semifinals with their superb strikes.
Rajpal Singh (left) and Prabhjot Singh have given a tough time to rival defenders in the hockey Asia Cup, guiding India to the semifinals with their superb strikes. — PTI photo

IN THE NEWS
Best foot forward

He is the best thing that has happened to Indian football in recent years. Delhi’s Sunil Chetri played a key role in securing India’s maiden Nehru Cup win recently. His lethal partnership with Baichung Bhutia helped the team upset Syria in the final.

MAIL
Indian football alive & kicking
Congratulations to the Indian footballers for outsmarting the higher-ranked Syrians in the Nehru Cup final. The tournament had been revived after 10 years, and the hosts made the most of this opportunity. Credit goes to English coach Bob Houghton for infusing killer instinct into the players. The icing on the cake was the bonus announced by the sponsors.



 





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US gold rush in Osaka

The Americans reasserted their supremacy by finishing on top in the 11th World Athletics Championships, writes Alastair Himmer

American Tyson Gay’s explosive sprint treble highlighted his country’s continued track dominance at the World Athletics Championships. As the Americans celebrated, hosts Japan scratched their heads as the inquests began into how they won just a solitary bronze in Osaka.

After crushing world-record holder Asafa Powell in the 100 metres, Gay added gold medals in 200m and 4x100m relay to become the second man to achieve the feat at a World Championships.

Allyson Felix completed a hat-trick of her own after retaining her 200m crown and added victories in the 4x100 and 4x400 to equal East German Marita Koch’s three gold medals in 1983.

Jeremy Wariner edged closer to mentor Michael Johnson’s world record with a supreme victory in the men’s 400m final.

The USA won 14 gold medals to equal their tally from the 2005 championships in Helsinki and signal their intent ahead of next year’s Beijing Olympics.

Gay’s devastating victory over Powell set the tone as he powered to his first major title in an electrifying 9.85 seconds.

Powell finished third, admitting after the race he had “panicked” when Gay caught him after 50 metres.

Gay had already added gold in 200m when he rubbed salt into Powell’s wounds by leading the USA to victory over Jamaica in the 4x100m on the final day.

The only man to have previously won the sprint treble at a single World Championships was fellow American Maurice Greene in 1999. Gay is set to attempt a repeat at next year’s Olympics.

“I want to do all three in Beijing,” he said. “Never in a million years did I think I would win three gold medals.”

Felix swept to her second 200m title in dominant style, winning in 21.81 to foil Jamaican Veronica Campbell’s hopes of a sprint double. Sri Lanka’s Susanthika Jayasinghe, Asia’s most decorated female sprinter who won the 1997 World Championship silver and the 2000 Olympic bronze, secured the bronze.

Wariner was unstoppable, storming to victory in the men’s 400m in 43.45 and then helping the Americans destroy their rivals in the 4x400m with the third-quickest relay run ever.

Only Johnson, who set the current world record of 43.18 in 1999, and Butch Reynolds have run quicker in the 400m — an event the Americans have virtually made their own.

The USA underlined their dominance by becoming the first country to sweep all four relays in championship history as the gold rush continued until the end.

Kenyan-born Bernard Lagat, who only became eligible to represent the USA this year, won a unique 1,500m and 5,000m double to show there was more to the American team than sprinting.

The Americans did not have a monopoly on star power. Russia’s pole vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva flounced into Osaka for just long enough to retain her world title, although she failed to break her own world record of 5.01.

China’s Olympic champion Liu Xiang coped superbly with the intense pressure on him ahead of the Beijing Games by storming to his first world title in the 110m hurdles.

Kenya finished second in the medal tally with five gold, three silver and five bronze, marked by wins for Luke Kibet and Catherine Ndereba in the two marathons.

Irving Saladino claimed Panama’s first World Championship gold medal with a dramatic last-gasp victory in the men’s long jump.

“It was like having an out-of-body experience,” said the 24-year-old after soaring 8.57 metres to confirm his status as the man to beat in China.

Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic confirmed his status as the world’s best all-round male athlete by winning the decathlon.

Christine Ohuruogu gave British athletics a lift by winning an emotional gold medal in the women’s 400m on her return from a year’s ban for missed doping tests.

Japan, however, were only spared the embarrassment of finishing without a single medal on the last day thanks to Reiko Tosa’s brave bronze in the women’s marathon.

The world records promised by organisers failed to materialise — not one tumbled, largely due to Osaka’s fierce heat.

It was a forgettable outing for India, with the main medal prospect, Anju Bobby George, finishing ninth in women’s long jump. Joseph Abraham failed to reach the men’s 400m final, despite bettering his own national record. — Reuters


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Sania’s nemesis

Sania Mirza’s victory caravan halts abruptly at a speed breaker called Anna Chakvetadze and, after the US Open third-round loss, the Indian ace is scratching her head over how to clear the obstacle in future.

Sania was tamed by Chakvetadze 6-2, 6-3 at Flushing Meadows and it was the fourth time in her career that the Hyderabadi fell to the world No. 6 Russian meekly.

“I find it very hard to play her. She is very hard for a lot of players. I had to do something different. I didn’t change it up enough,” Sania said after her US Open dream came crashing down.

In the tune-up to the season-ending Grand Slam event, Sania was in great form and defeated four top-20 players. But every time she met Chakvetadze, the story unfolded with the same script.

Sania lost to the 20-year-old Russian in the final at Stanford, in the semifinals in Cincinnati and in the last-four encounter at Hobart in January. So far, in all the four meetings, Sania has been able to win just one set.

“You have to find a way to win. There are very few Grand Slam champions and finalists. That’s our target. We are trying to get there,” Sania said.

During the US Open match, the 20-year-old Indian’s very first service game came unstuck, and then in the last game, Chakvetadze, after being denied two set points, broke Sania to pocket the first set.

Sania was trailing 1-5 in the second set before rallying to break Chakvetadze and ignite some hopes. But, after some nervy moments, the sixth-seeded wrapped up the encounter in 53 minutes and advanced to the round of 16.

“I did not play an ugly match. I was always running. She was dictating play. I like to dictate terms. She served well. I didn’t expect her to serve that well.

“I lost to a player who is among the world’s top 10 in the third round of a Grand Slam event. It’s not that easy,” Sania said. — PTI

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Uncrippled grit
Amanpreet Singh

Baba Manindra Paul is determined to become the first Indian disabled mountaineer to scale Mt Everest.
Baba Manindra Paul is determined to become the first Indian disabled mountaineer to scale Mt Everest. — PTI photo

Physical disability did not deter Baba Manindra Paul from taking up mountaineering. Now, he has set his sights on becoming the first disabled person from India to scale Mt Everest.

Paul scaled Mt Abigamin (24,130 ft) in 1994 on crutches. However, ministerial bottlenecks have frustrated his plans to climb Mt Kamet, a pre-Everest expedition.

The 63-year-old lost one of his legs back in 1964. Paul, whose name figures in the Limca Book of Records, was given the National Adventure Award by the Union Government in recognition of his achievement of scaling Mt Abigamin.

Paul created a record by reaching 25,200 ft in 1999 but missed the Mt Kamet summit (25,447 ft) because of an ailing expedition member, though as the team leader, he let three other members to move up.

On his second attempt in 2005, bad luck chased him again as the expedition team had to return because the government cancelled all expeditions following an accident.

Paul is hoping for financial assistance from the corporate world to realise his ultimate dream.

“I am optimistic that some company would sponsor my expedition. I need around Rs 5 lakh to scale Mt Kamet. For the Everest expedition, I would need atleast $3,00,000,” he said.

If Paul manages to scale Mt Everest, he would become only the third disabled mountaineer to achieve the feat after Thomas Whitaker (USA) and Mark Inglis (New Zealand).

Paul lives in a very small rented room in Dabri village, near Dwarka, and makes a living by giving inspirational lectures in schools.

“I tell students how Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, Joseph Stalin and Lal Bahadur Shastri struggled in their life but emerged victorious. I always tell them that they should have a target in their life, just as I want to scale Mt Everest.” — PTI

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IN THE NEWS
Best foot forward

Striker Sunil Chetri (in blue) is the great new hope of Indian football.
Striker Sunil Chetri (in blue) is the great new hope of Indian football. — Photo by AFP

He is the best thing that has happened to Indian football in recent years. Delhi’s Sunil Chetri played a key role in securing India’s maiden Nehru Cup win recently. His lethal partnership with Baichung Bhutia helped the team upset Syria in the final.

Born on August 3, 1984, Chetri is the trump card for JCT. His club is banking on him to win the ongoing Federation Cup in Ludhiana. Earlier this year, he guided JCT to the runners-up finish in the National Football League, winning the best player award in the process.

In a league dominated by foreign recruits, he was the highest scorer among the Indians with 12 goals. Overall, he was the joint fifth top-scorer. He was also declared the best forward in the NFL. He also played well for his club against Brazil’s Sao Paulo FC in the Super Soccer series earlier this year.

When the 30-year-old Bhutia calls it a day, Chetri would have to shoulder the responsibility of being India’s top striker. Hopefully, he should be able to deliver and help India go up the FIFA ladder. — Agencies

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MAIL
Indian football alive & kicking

Congratulations to the Indian footballers for outsmarting the higher-ranked Syrians in the Nehru Cup final. The tournament had been revived after 10 years, and the hosts made the most of this opportunity. Credit goes to English coach Bob Houghton for infusing killer instinct into the players. The icing on the cake was the bonus announced by the sponsors.

The triumph is a shot in the arm for Indian football and it should boost the confidence of budding players all over the country.

India won the football gold at the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games, but it has been all downhill after that. Perhaps, with the Nehru Cup victory, those glorious days would return in the near future.

Bansi Ram, Garhshankar

II

The Indian football team led by Baichung Bhutia deserves praise for winning their maiden Nehru Cup title in New Delhi. After losing to Syria 2-3 in a league match, the Indians hit back in the final to turn the tables on their fancied rivals. Hopefully, this victory would usher in a new era for Indian football, which has languished among the laggards for quite a long time.

Rakesh Kumar, Chandigarh

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