Sport stars lift gloom

first_imgThe beauty of sport is that even when your feel-good factor is low, there are several magical moments you can recall to lift the spirits. As the sun sets on another fairly good year for Indian sport, there are several events worth recalling which gave us joy. For months, we have been battered by all negative news from corruption to price rise and how politicians refuse to let Parliament function.Sports View by S. Kannan.Yet, on the sporting field, it has been business as usual with the Indian heroes toiling ceaselessly in pursuit of excellence. Hockey is our national game but cricket continues to be enjoyed with much more passion, and MS Dhoni’s Team India conjured up magic in the ICC World Cup to lift the trophy after 28 years.Ever since Kapil Dev lifted the Prudential Cup on the Lord’s balcony in June 1983, we started believing that in each edition of the World Cup which followed, India would be in with a chance to crown themselves champions again.We failed and fooled ourselves in six editions after that before the Indian team rose to the top in style at the Wankhede Stadium in April. The scenes were delirious all over the country as players danced, wept and displayed a whole gamut of emotions after the intense battles.One man who stood out in a victorious campaign was of course the man of the tournament Yuvraj Singh. An entertainer par excellence, the prince showed his immense utility with bat and ball and played the biggest role in India winning the coveted trophy.advertisementAs we recall those magical moments of the World Cup, Yuvraj is away from the game battling a tumour in his lung. Luckily, it is a benign tumour so there is less to worry about. But as people are bound to celebrate the highs of the year in sport, one must say a special prayer for Yuvraj and hope the dashing all-rounder comes roaring back to the sport, which he plays from the heart.If the World Cup was all about highs, the tour to England was a huge disaster and the 0-4 thrashing in the Test series was painful viewing as the world- famous batting line- up crumbled.In sport, it’s better to forget the bad results and look at the positives, and Team India did well to beat the same Englishmen at home in an ODI series, after which they tamed the West Indies.One man who has now made the entire nation impatient is Sachin Tendulkar, as he has failed to get to his 100th international hundred in 17 innings. The talk has now shifted to which venue will see Sachin get the elusive ton Down Under.BUT before that, one has to salute the man who made batting look bold and beautiful in Indore: Virender Sehwag slammed an ODI-record 219 against the West Indies. The effortless ease with which Sehwag batted left everyone benumbed. It was as if it was just that one man’s day under the sun as he played strokes with amazing timing. As for hockey, it has again been a year of squabbles as far as the officialdom goes but a win in the Asian Champions Trophy was creditable. Sadly, the team was unable to repeat the feat in the Champions Challenge last month. Under new coach Michael Nobbs, the team is working hard though the big test is how it fares in the Olympic qualifiers next year at home, where nothing less than winning the tournament will guarantee India an Olympic berth in London.Talk of athletics, the National Anti Doping Agency’s (NADA) decision to ban seven athletes for flunking out-of-competition dope tests is fully justified. Yet, what comes as a huge shock is that these were the same athletes who brought us glory last year in the Commonwealth Games and the Guangzhou Asian Games.But there were heroes as well with Tintu Luka, Vikas Gowda, Krishna Poonia and Mayookha Johnny booking London Olympics berths by virtue of their performances in the year gone by. Archery is one sport where we have been making good improvement. And the solid showing in 2011 was once again underlined by the women archers, with Deepika Kumari in particular catching the eye.Deepika was unlucky as she missed a gold medal at the World Cup Finals. Looking ahead, this is one sport in which India can spring a few surprises at the Olympics.The surprises came in boxing as well. With well-known names like Vijender and Akhil failing, it was left to the Young Turks to steal the limelight as Vikas Krishan won a bronze medal at the World Championships. It helped him clinch an Olympic berth, with Manoj Kumar, Devendro Singh and Jai Bhagwan also getting their tickets for London.advertisementMore boxers can make the grade in 2012 with the Asian championships offering more berths.However, in weightlifting and wrestling, the Indians disappointed. Sushil Kumar has grappled with form and fitness and how he does in 2012 will be watched with interest.As for the lifters, it has been a pathetic year with the dismal showing at the world championships proof that this is one sport where we stand no chance now on the international stage.But, as if to lift the gloom, we have the Indian shooters making a huge mark once again. The lament of lack of ammunition and coaches will be heard constantly but the marksmen have continued to raise the bar. For sheer class and consistency, Ronjan Sodhi came out tops as he won the double trap World Cup yearend finals once again and also booked his quota berth.In addition, six more sealed their quota places in 2011, with Shagun Choudhary the first Indian woman shotgun shooter to do so. Abhinav Bindra also joined the list of Olympic qualifiers and 2012 could again be a year where his rivalry with Gagan Narang will make this sport even more exciting.What of the women in racquet sports? Saina Nehwal has struggled this year and in a way it is good she understood what it is like to fail at the top. The shuttle queen did pull herself up at the end of the year, but we have grown to expect a lot more from Saina.The grand old men of Indian tennis – Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi – regrouped and won three titles before splitting again!They will make news in 2012 as well, though they will not be on the same side of the net.For chess champion Viswanathan Anand, it was an average year and the Indian golfers did not scorch the greens either.And while the Indian participation in Formula One was short and not very fruitful, the inaugural Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit showed us that the country could host a world-class event well, and helped us get over the scandals that surrounded the Commonwealth Games last year.When one looks at the gloom which politicians have inflicted on us in 2011, we can feel proud of what the Indian sportspersons have done. This is enough reason to say Merry Christmas!last_img

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