Beyond shooters and
Beyond shooters and
Speaking with the sagacity and power of appeal that he overnight acquired by virtue of the historic gold medal that he brought home from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Abhinav Bindra had urged his countrymen to develop a sporting ethos, and for that to happen, it should become a nation capable of producing medal winners in a variety of sports. In other words, it is high time India ceased to be known as a nation crazy about a single sport – cricket. The country was, and still is, in unanimous agreement with the famous young marksman from Chandigarh, for no truer words have been spoken.
The future, as they say, begins now. Stepping into a new year, it is time to reflect not only on the progress we have made in the direction pointed out by Bindra, but also to see how much Indian sportspersons are likely to move on the road to progress in 2010. It is how you figure on the Olympic Games medals list that ultimately counts. For that matter, also on the medal table of any other multi-discipline event like the Asian Games or Commonwealth Games, both to be held later this year.
In the year just gone by, we saw a number of Indians earning laurels in international events abroad. So, to say that Indian sport has made no progress at all in 2009 would not be correct. But it is the pace of progress that needs to be stepped up for Indian sport to catch up with world standards. The dynamism that can fasttrack the improvement is, generally speaking, lacking. But then we, as a people, are slow to embrace change. Except for a few disciplines like boxing, badminton, shooting and wrestling, Indian sportspersons have still a long way to go to make an impact on the international stage. For a country with a billion-plus population winning a solitary gold medal and a couple of bronze medals at the Olympics is no big deal.
But at least a start was made at the Beijing Olympics, with Bindra, Vijender Singh (boxing) and Sushil Kumar (wrestling) figuring in the list of individual medal winners. Foremost among the disciplines that moved forward is boxing, which made excitingly rapid strides last year, warming the hearts of Indian sports fans when four boxers figured in the Top 10 in the official world rankings, with Vijender rated No1 in the 75kg category. Dinesh Kumar (81 kg) was sixth, Nanao Singh (48kg) eighth and Akhil Kumar (57kg) 10th.
With this Indian boxing acquired a new, respectable international status. And when Suronjoy Singh won the 51-kg category gold medal at Baku, Azerbaijan, in an elite inter-continental competition confined to the best eight boxers of each continent, the image of Indian boxing rose even higher in the eyes of the world. But what is even better for the prospects of the sport in the year ahead is that fresh talent is rising to stake claims for places in the national team. Significantly, they include a couple of female boxers, one of whom, Pinki Jingra of Haryana, even had the temerity of beating Mary Kom, the four-time world champion from Manipur, in their quarter-final bout in the national championships. To popularise the sport, the Indian Boxing Federation is now planning to market the sport more attractively and is reportedly even seeking to learn from the cricket board administrators.
The name of Saina Nehwal comes to mind at the mention of badminton, another sport in which India has increased its international presence. The 19-year-old girl, who trains under coach Gopi Chand, former All England champion, at Hyderabad, was on the brink of achieving her dream of breaking into the world’s top five when she was ranked sixth in the November rankings of world body. But that was not to be. Saina can be expected to make the dream breakthrough this year. More international honours can be expected through the mixed pair of Jwala Gutta and V.Diju, and also Chetan Anand, who is placed a respectable 17th in the world men’s rankings.
Sushil Kumar (66kg) and Ramesh Kumar (74kg) kept the Indian flag flying on international wrestling mats last year and you can expect them to continue doing so this year also. Seeing the way Gagan Narang and a few other shooters have performed, the country can also expect medals from our shooters this year. Shooters like Narang can fend for themselves, but to keep up the momentum of progress the majority of them need a proper supply of ammunition and other equipment. The shooting ranges of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games were a happy hunting ground for Indian shooters. They should also be collecting a decent haul of medals at the Tughlaqabad range in this year’s games, if previous record is any guide. Young swimmers Vir Dhawal Khade and Sandeep Sejwal created waves in swimming pools abroad last year. Both of them are young and ambitious and richer in competitive experience. It will a big day for Indian swimming if they emerge from the waters of Delhi’s Syama Prasad Mukherjee pool with a couple of medals in the coming October.
Somdev Devvarman, the new hope of Indian men’s tennis, helped India get back into the Davis Cup world group, but staying there will be difficult. Leander Paes is getting on in years, and how much longer can he be expected to win matches off his own racket for India. Young Bhambri earned his spurs in last year’s Davis Cup team, but he has still to prove he can hold his own in senior company.
With half a dozen weightlifters failing out-of-competition tests for performance enhancing drugs, the very participation of India in the international competitions, including the Delhi CW Games is in jeopardy. Had the country been spared the disgrace the iron game would have landed India a handful of medals. This is not the first time that weightlifting has received such a setback. For all the steps taken by anti-doping agencies, the number doping cases is on the rise.
In spite of appointing a new hockey coach from Spain, Jose Brasa, the hockey team failed to qualify for the next Champions Trophy. Brasa took the team to the qualifier in Salta, Argentina, holding out the promise of sealing its place in the Champions Trophy. To qualify, India had to win the tournament. But it could do no better than take a disappointing third place. It now remains to be seen how India fare in the World Cup in Delhi starting February 28. In the meantime, uncertainty prevails even as preparations are afoot to hold the Hockey India elections on January 19. In a country which has won the Olympic gold medal for as many as eight times hockey touches an emotional chord. Before the disappointment in Argentina, there was good news from Bangkok where the women’s team won the Asia Cup. A further consolation was the nomination of Prabhjot Singh and Surinder Kaur in the hockey’s all star teams.
To give Abhinav Bindra his
due, his appeal that India should strive to spread all Olympic sports
did not go totally unheard. He also wanted the corporate world to do its
bit with generous sponsorships. There are disciplines that need help.
Soccer is one sport which has benefited, as the successes of our team
last year proved. Another team sport that readily comes to mind is
volleyball in which India fared surprisingly well at the world youth
tournament at Pune, finishing eighth. Similarly, basketball also
deserves help. Saina Nehwal has gone on record wondering at the absence
of badminton academies in the north, which is where her parents lived
before her agriculture scientist father, Harvir Singh Nehwal, decided to
relocate at Hyderabad in the interest of his daughter’s badminton
future. The North could produce a few Sainas of its own. Are any
corporate houses listening?
THE year just gone by has seen Indian cricket on a new high, with the Test squad finishing on top of the heap while the one-day squad has done reasonably well, wrapping up 2009 with a resounding 3-1 win over Sri Lanka. But what has left a bad taste in the mouth is the way the concluding game in the one-day series against the islanders was brought to a premature end at Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla, where the pitch was declared "unplayable". India should do better in the new year as they look for a series win in the Tests against neighbours Bangladesh as well as a win in the tri-series in which the third team is again Sri Lanka, who have made quite a few changes in the squad after the tour of India.
There were disappointments, too, during the course of the year gone by as India failed to even enter the second stage of the World Twenty20 Championship, were knocked out early in the Champions Trophy and failed to beat Australia in a home series just prior to the arrival of the Sri Lankans. But, hopefully, India should leave the disappointment behind and look for a new beginning this year. The biggest gain from the series against Sri Lanka late last year was the way a number of youngsters, notably Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja, made their presence felt as India prepare to host the Cricket World Cup next year. Also, the form of established players like Virender Sehwag, who also did a wonderful job as stand-in skipper after regular captain Mahender Singh Dhoni was handed a two-match ban, Gautam Ghambir, Dhoni himself and Sachin Tendulkar was a good omen in the run-up to the World Cup. And the changes made for the tour of Bangladesh should give some more players an opportunity to make their mark. One such player is Rohit Sharma, who has come in after Sachin opted out of the tour.
But what should cause concern to the think-tank of the BCCI is the fact that most of the Indian bowling was not up to the mark in the series against Sri Lanka, with all of them getting quite a pasting in the four games. What went in favour of the home team in the series, however, was the fact that the visiting bowlers played even poorly. It was because of this that the selectors opted to make quite a few changes for the Bangladesh tour. Medium pacers Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar have, therefore, been replaced by Sreesanth, who missed the matches against Sri Lanka after being hit by swine flu, and Ashok Dinda, who got his first national call during the twenty20 matches in early December last. In the spin department, Amit Mishra comes in place of Pragyan Ojha as the selectors continue the search for another spinner to bolster Harbhajan Singh’s efforts.
The poor quality of bowling was amply proved at least twice in the series against Sri Lanka.
In the game at Kolkata’s Eden Garden, the visitors were let down by the bowlers. After posting 315 in their 50 overs, a record one-day score for the venue, the visiting bowlers could not restrict the Indian batsmen after sending back two batsmen, Sehwag and Tendulkar, with only 23 runs on the board. India, finally, won the game by seven wickets with 11 balls remaining after riding on a record third wicket partnership between Gambhir and Virat Kohli It was in this game that Delhi’s Virat Kohli, who was playing in place of the injured Yuvraj Singh, proved that he has it in him to play for India. Kohli’s century, his first in one-day internationals, helped India to wrap up the series.
Kohli, who has so far played just 15 one-day internationals, justified his place in the Indian team with his batting at the Eden Garden. The main features of his innings were the flicks to the leg side, and punches off the back foot. Prior to his century, he had three half-centuries to his credit and his average is a healthy 44. Backed by very agile fielding, Kohli could just be the additional batsman India is looking for.
Another player who made
his mark in the series was Jadeja, who could be the bowling all-rounder
India is looking for. Jadeja, who made his one-day debut in February
this year, came into his own in this series. He played a stellar role in
the Cuttack victory with a haul of four for 32. Overall, he has played
14 games for a batting average of 33.50 with 60 being his highest score.
He has also claimed 10 wickets at a slightly high average of 50.60 in a
series where every Indian bowler has taken a fair amount of beating.
Hopefully, Jadeja should improve with time.
Vegetables are a special group that provides the extra special nutrients to keep the body healthy and fit. They provide nutrients that are essential for protection against infection and for the growth and maintenance of an individual. These are the very important dietary fibres, Vitamins A, B complex vitamins; Vitamins E and K. Vegetables also provide minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium. The latest scientific research has shown and the evidence continues to mount that the plant kingdom is filled with gifts that can help fight the ravages of chronic diseases by preventing the cellular damage caused by chemicals called free radicals. Plants contain phytochemicals in abundance because these substances are of benefit to the plant itself. These compounds help plants resist the attacks of bacteria and fungi, the ravages of free radicals and high levels of ultraviolet light from the sun. When we eat these plants, the phytochemical ends up in our tissues and provides many of the same protections that plants enjoy. A diet rich in fibre also has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, disease and cancer. Fibre and phytochemical are a one-two punch that should be a reason enough to eat your veggies.
So, welcome to the vegetable kingdom.
Vegetables can be divided into three major categories
Green and leafy: These include vegetables like spinach, methi, sarson ka saag, bathua, radish leaves, cabbage, cauliflower leaves, and lettuce. Curry leaves, dhania, and pudina are also a part of this nutrient packed group.
Yellow and starchy: These include pumpkins, ghia, tori, the root vegetables like potato, turnip, carrot etc.
Leguminous: These include peas and beans of all types.
Try and include 50 g of green leafy vegetables, 100 g of roots and tubers and other vegetables, making a total of at least 350g to 400g of vegetables in your diet.
Normally, vegetables are eaten in a cooked form except when we eat them in the form of salads. During cooking , most of the fibre and phytochemicals are retained but the other vital nutrients like the vitamins and minerals are at the risk of leaching out (being discarded along with water).
How food is cooked can have a big impact on their nutrient content. That’s because many vitamins are sensitive to heat and air exposure (Vitamins C the B vitamin and foliate in particular) and the longer the cooking time and higher the temperature, the worse it becomes.
The water used for cooking can also dissolve and wash away even more of those vitamins, the water-soluble ones. Therefore, any cooking that minimises the time, temperature, the amount of water needed will help to preserve nutrients. Microwave cooking is one of the best ways to preserve nutrients because it needs minimal water, and the cooking time is very short. Pressure-cooking under steam is the best because it too minimises time and requires little water. Other methods for nutrition are steaming in a little water.
Cooked tomatoes, for example, may enhance the nourishment, providing more health benefits than eating raw tomatoes. Research shows that more of the phytochemical lycopene, which helps in prevention of prostrate cancer, is absorbed from cooked tomatoes such as canned tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce than from fresh tomatoes. In addition, when lycopene is combined with a small amount of fat, its absorption is even better, making olive oil and tomato sauce a perfect and healthy combination.
The biggest challenge in today’s world, where its raining food and there are umpteen choices, is to make the right decision regarding what to eat. All the vegetables are available 12 months a year but seasonal vegetables should be preferred because they contain the micronutrients which the body needs during that period and obviously, they would be having less of pesticide sprays. The trick is not to force yourself to eat stuff you hate, but to find ways to turn the plant kingdom into dishes you enjoy.
Kids are never interested in eating vegetables. Why should they eat boring tasteless veggies when there are these fast-foods companies enticing them with mouth-watering ads of junk foods?
Vegetables can be made interesting too. One can add palak or methi to paranthas, rotis or pakoras and cutlets and sneak them into burgers. Watch how the kids lap them up.
Green leafy vegetables can be added to dals and rice to make a tasty pulao. They can be added to curd to make tasty raita. Green curries made from palak methi and coriander make a tasty and nourishing base for paneer, chicken or mutton and even potatoes. Even the White House Chef chose to cook prawns in green curry for the famous State dinner, which was hosted for our Prime Minister recently.
Vegetables can also be eaten as desserts. One can prepare carrot kheer, palak barfi, pumpkin halwa and enjoy the taste and the nourishment of vegetables.
Just by including three teaspoons of mint chutney, three teaspoons of coriander leaves and some curry patta in your daily meals, you take care of the daily requirements of green leafy vegetables.
Involve your family in growing a green patch of leafy vegetables loaded with nutrients in your garden if possible or for that matter, pots are just fine if space is a constraint. Cherish growing herbs like tulsi, pudina, curry patta or even exotic herbs like oregano and basil! By doing this, you are in a win-win situation all the way. You get your daily dose of the special nutrients, a glowing skin and you are doing your bit for the environment.
The writer is a dietician at the Department of Dietetics, PGI