Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Pune Mirror, October 26, 2008 Suhrid Barua
Pune: With just a week to go before Ma-harashtra launch their 2008-09 Ranji Trophy Super League campaign against Tamil Nadu in Nashik, beginning No-vember 3, the naming of the state cap-tain has grabbed the maximum spotlight. As on expected lines, the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) has been tight-lipped about the same, but sources close to MCA tell us three players — Harshad Khadiwale, Nikhil Paradkar and Kedar Jadhav — all of whom have captained the state team in the pre-season warm-up games — are widely tipped to assume the ‘hot seat’.
The speculation mills have gone into an overdrive and have made us feel that Kedar Jadhav would be the one who would replace Venugopal Rao as the new Maharashtra captain. But hold on: Even though Kedar is one among the three in the fray for the captaincy role, the MCA have almost zeroed in on the two other guys — Harshad Khadiwale and Nikhil Paradkar. In all probability, it will be a toss-up between the two unless of course things change dramatically.
In some quarters, there is a school of thought that Harshad Khadiwale could be the man for the job as there are whis-pers that Nikhil Paradkar may just miss the boat because of his lack of Ranji ex-perience. Actually, both Harshad and Nikhil are looked upon as guys having a shrewd cricketing head. Incidentally, Nikhil Paradkar was just named the captain of the state under-22 side after Deepak Shilamkar wanted to be relieved from captaincy. Nikhil has impressed the people who matter with his captaincy skills during the pre-season sidegames.
What has also become increasingly clear is that the MCA won’t be looking beyond these ‘three’ or should we say ‘two’. It is also learnt that the state association would name the captain only for the first two games against Tamil Nadu and Andhra. Ask Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) president Ajay Shirke on the same? He offers a straight bat. “You can speculate in whatever way you want. We’ve a selection committee to take a call on this and you will come to know about the naming of the new captain very soon,” he intimated.
It’s worth remembering that Harshad Khadiwale was the top run-getter for Ma-harashtra last season, smacking 468 runs from seven matches at an impressive av-erage of 39.00. His average was second best after Yogesh Takawale. The fact that Khadiwale is a solid top-order batsman and can bowl military-medium pace makes him not just an asset for the state side but also the ideal bloke for the hugely responsible captaincy job.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Thokchom Nanao Singh reveals how he defied strong opposition from his father and later winning his confidence to pursue the sport
Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, October 18, 2008
Winning laurels is always a special thing. And for 48-kg gold medal-winning light flyweight boxer Thokchom Nanao Singh it is super-special because it means a lot for the Manipuri as he desperately wanted to make a mark in the ring for his ailing father.For my dadNanao's father Totobi Singh met with a jeep accident long back and has his left leg paralysed for years now. So it was a little surprise to see Nanao dedicate the title romp to his father.
"My father can't move around on his own because of his paralysed left leg. One of my brothers is away from home working in the army, while my elder brother Shyman is a farmer and it is who takes care of them in my native village Khujama in Bishnupur district," observed an emotional Nanao.
Football to boxing
The fleet-footed southpaw used to be a football player before he switched to boxing. He had to weather much opposition from his father over his choice to pick up boxing. "When I wanted to take up boxing, my father was totally against him. So when he didn't allow me to opt for boxing, I turned defiant and refused to go to school. "Then, one day my father met my boxing coach and asked him about my skills. Only when he was convinced that I could make it big in boxing, he started to fully back me to pursue boxing. I dedicate this gold medal to my father. He deserves it. He has done a lot for me," he recounts his early days in boxing.
Father Totobi Singh was in seventh heaven." Today is a big day for our family. Nanao has made us proud. I saw the bout on television and ever since the news of his gold win trickled in, relatives and well-wishers have made a beeline to our house. We are throwing a big get-together in our house tonight," Nanao's father barely able to hide his elation.
He talked about those days when he vehemently opposed Nanao's desire to take up boxing. "Yes, I still remember those days even today. I was fully convinced that my son has all the makings of a good boxer when I met his coach," he reminisces Nanao's early days.Nanao senior now wants his son to give an equally eye-catching performance at the upcoming World Junior Boxing Championships to be held in Mexico later this month. "I want him to get a medal there. Then we will have an even more bigger feast in our house," he added.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, October 15, 2008
The trials and tribulations of a sportsperson often go unnoticed when the hour of glory arrives. And for Indian weightlifter Yamini, the story is no different. Firing what looked to us as a sort of a bombshell after she won the gold in the women's 58-kg category, the Andhra girl revealed how she traversed the hard grind without any coach. "I don't have a coach. It was only because of the encouragement I got from former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Shailaja Pujari, who is our family well-wisher, to take up weightlifting. I have all the training equipment fixed up at my home and I used to take lessons from Shailaja from time to time," Yamini said.
The SriKakula girl admits that had it been not for Shailaja's persuasion to take up the sport, she would have never taken a fancy to weightlifting. "My father is a Railway employee while my mother is a lecturer. Both come from non-sports background. It was only on Shailaja's wheedling that I picked up weightlifting," Yamini said, showering all the credit to her mentor. It's only at the national camps that Yamini gets the opportunity to hone her skills. "At the recent national camp in Bangalore, I trained under Anita Chanu and Shamta Shetty. It's only during national camps I train under their supervision. That's the way it is," she added.
What's next was the obvious question? "In two years time, the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games are coming up. So the ultimate goal is to win medals at these two events and carried it from them with an Olympic medal," she observed. But the 15-year-old knows that a podium finish at the Olympics would indeed take something 'special' out of her. "I am not tom-toming that I would win an Olympic medal in 2012. But there's nothing wrong in living a dream as I know my task will be really cut out," she added with a coyish tone.
For the stats-minded, Yamini hoisted 80 kg in snatch and 98 in clean and jerk for a total lift of 178 kg to pocket the yellow medal.
Thats' how Indian light flyweight boxer Thokchom Nanao Singh feels after sending shivers down the spine of his Sri Lankan opponent to romp into the quarterfinals
Suhrid Barua, October 13, 2008
The Indian light flyweight pugilist sent shivers down the spine of his Sri Lankan opponent to seal his place in quarters The picture of confidence was reflected in his swagger to the ring. It was as if Thokchom Nanao Singh was in a mood to 'party hard' in the ring. He gave an impression that he was in a tearing hurry to finish things off she he outboxed Weerapurage Sadun Kumara of Sri Lanka to storm into the quarter-finals in the light flyweight category (48-kg) of the boxing event here on Monday.
The stands may have been only half full but it failed to act as a downer on Nanao as he unleashed a fusillade of power-packed punches against the hapless Sri Lankan from the word go to straightway assert his supremacy over his opponent. Nanao just raced to an imposing 8-0 lead in the opening round to trigger cheers from the stands. The Army Sports Institute boxer towered over his opponent in the next round forcing the Sri Lankan to serve mandatory eight counts, leading the referee to stop the contest.
Coincidentally, his next round opponent, Thomas Stubbs of England, was also at his fiery best, toying with Ricardo Blackman of Barbados in a ridiculously one sided bout before the referee stopped the contest. So, both the quarter-final competitors would be super-confident after coming off RSC wins in their first round bouts.
From the Indian perspective, Nanao has been bandied about one boxer who should go the distance."I came to the ring thinking that I would wrap up the bout in the first round itself but it wasn't to be. I was not thinking of playing all the four rounds. I knew that once I ran up a huge lead in the first round, the win was within my striking distance, a bullish Nanao said after the bout.
The 2007 Commonwealth Boxing Championships silver medallist, countered all the talk going around about his height disadvantage. "I may not have a tall reach but I've my battle plans ready for my opponent. In boxing, courage and desire is important and I've those attributes in abundance," the Manipuri lad.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, October 12, 2008
Pune: Given the utter confusion surrounding the CYG, one is left wondering how much more one has to put up with when the action begins on Sunday. If there is one thing that we are very good at, it has to be sports rhetoric. Take for instance, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi wearing torrents of pride in his sleeves when he recently talked about India’s readiness to host the 2020 Olympics. Of course, there’s nothing amiss in spelling out about India’s seriousness to bid for the world’s biggest sports extravaganza.
Winning the right to host two biggies — 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games is a big thing achievement wise and IOA can take a lot of credit for that. Holy MessBut the pertinent point here is that are we doing enough to ensure the Games, hosting of which are a matter of ‘pride and prestige’ for the country, has been reduced to a ‘holy mess’ thanks to the unprofessional functioning of the organisers, are conducted in an orderly manner.Excuses will be there for all the ‘circus’ that is going all around the Games venue.
Even two top officials of IOA had been to the Beijing Olympics to carry out a feasible study of how to conduct an event of such magnitude with utmost ‘professionalism’. Even those efforts of IOA seems to have fallen flat. Talking of the all-pervading chaos girdling the Games, one just wonders how much one has to put up with when the real ‘action’ starts on Sunday. To start with, the scribes were made to run from pillar to post to obtain their accreditation passes for the Games.
What’s more, the agency handling media accreditation wanted the scribes to fill up a written accreditation form and then told to do the same online. Believe it or not, the agency again wanted the members of the fourth estate to go through another written form process as the agency claimed that they lost all data’s of the journos due to virus problem. Can they ever be such a height of chaos witnessed anywhere else?
If you thought that was it, you are wrong. The multi-discipline extravaganza was hailed with gusto as being the ‘Green Games’ as all the 71 participating teams were supposed to get saplings from their respective countries and plant it in the complex but it was conspicuously unnoticeable inside the complex. Wrong people?Worse, is the absolute lack of information about the players and other things related to it. There’s no clarity on the part of the organisers when it comes to digging out information from them. Surely, the right people are not in the right place or it could be the either way; the wrong people are at the wrong place.
How can one miss out on a word about the ‘volunteers’. Most of them don’t seem to be avid lovers of sports and only seem to be going through their motions. All their energies were channelised in not ‘letting in’ anyone leading to numerous unwanted situations when the entry-seeker happened to be a competitor. It’s better off ending it there itself as tiredness overwhelms taking a dig at them.
Let’s live on the hope that the organisers would take drastic measures to pull up their socks, even their shirts and trousers and ensure India’s image as hosts of a big-ticket event is not sullied.
Pune: Having attained the exalted status in the sport — a podium finish in Olympics — Sushil Kumar now knows more than a thing or two on how to chart a route to success on the big stage. To put it simply, his epochal effort at Beijing has not just given Indian wrestling the much-needed springboard but also ensured the sport is alive and kicking from the perspective of more youngsters taking a fancy to the sport.Pep talk
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Pune: The flash bulbs and the shutterbugs may be running after the cricketers or to some extent the Sania Mirzas or Saina Nehwals. But make no mistake, they would now even carve out space for hitherto less popular sport like wrestling in the backdrop of Sushil Kumar’s winning India’s first wrestling medal in Olympics after a long hiatus of 56 years. Fully realising the importance of cashing in on the momentum the sport has got from Sushil’s monumental effort at Beijing, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is now earnestly seeking to provide the icing on the Beijing cake with a gold rush at CYG.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, October 3, 2008
Pune: The chants of ‘Vijender Zindabad’ reverberated the MIT ground here on Thursday, as the Indian sports’ latest poster boy made his entry to grace the opening function of MIT Summit ‘08 State-level Inter-Engineering Sports Meet here. Soon the ‘Bollywood’ looks of the 23-year-old Bhiwani boxer grabbed fulsome attention of all and sundry.
And with the much-hyped Commonwealth Youth Games just nine days away, the confabulation obviously veered to Indian boxers’ medal hopes at the event.Vijender sprang a surprising revelation about his cousin brother Balwinder (69-kg) taking part in the CYG. “He’s training hard and readying himself to give a good account of himself at CYG. I don’t want to put him under any undue pressure as far as pulling off a podium finish is concerned,” explains the demure pugilist who’s beginning to show a maturity beyond his age.
All Vijender wants is to see Balwinder to give his best effort and not worry much about the result at CYG. “When an Indian boxer takes the ring, billion Indians want that guy to win. I’m not different as a lot of pride and prestige is at stake. As long as he is boxing to his natural strengths, I will be a happy brother,” he chuckles.
‘Not just Balwinder’
So will he be counting on only his cousin brother to corner glory at CYG? “No. I’m not saying that. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I won’t be rooting for the other seven boxers.
Interestingly, the howling success of the boxers at Beijing even prompted the world boxing body president to ask the Indian boxing contingent in ‘jest’ whether it was indeed the ‘Indian’ boxers who boxed at Beijing.coming off ageEven Vijender reckons the Indian boxing has come off age. “I know the momentum is with us, especially after the way all the Indians boxers performed at Beijing. “Not just me, even Akhil and Jitender gave a magnificent showing at Beijing. Let me tell you, this is just the beginning, and we have many more miles to traverse in our pursuance of glory,” Vijender added, wearing pride in his sleeves.