“There is a calmness and focus running brings, and it’s not just beneficial for physical health, but mental health too. Stick with it and it can change your life.” – Sadiq Khan, runner and mayor of London.
What he said:
“In the past five or six years we've just done it like a Chinese parliament.”
Tim Bresnan, former England seamer, reacts to his appointment as vice-captain of Yorkshire’s country cricket side.
Yorkshire have not had a deputy leader for a few seasons now.
Former captain, Andrew Gale, is the current coach and Gary Ballance the newly appointed skipper.
“Gary phoned me and said, ‘I’ve got to ask you something, mate, would you be vice-captain for me?’
And I was like, ‘Yes, I’m over the moon’.
It was a bit of a shock because we haven’t really named one over the past few years; it just came out of the blue.
I never even thought that Gaz would be having one.
It does make sense, though, if he gets called up for internationals.
I’m immensely proud, and it will be great to work with him and Galey. I’ll just do whatever is required of me.
Pretty much everyone in the team is in the senior leadership group as it is.
In the past five or six years, we’ve basically just done it like a Chinese parliament.
We’ve talked through anything that was going wrong and how we were going to improve as a collective, and we’ve done everything as a group really.
There’s never been any sort of group within that which has sat down separately to discuss things.”
What he really meant:
“Yes, we ran the side based on consensual authority with collective responsibility. That’s how Parliament works, doesn’t it? And we had no real opposition, hence, we’re obviously Chinese.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I guess I’m Mike Pence to Yorkshire’s Ballance. That Trumps it all, doesn’t it?”
Unlikely heroes of 2016: Toby Roland-Jones and a startling finish to county cricket season(telegraph.co.uk)
Michael Fereira was India’s foremost billiards player much before the likes of Geet Sethi and Pankaj Advani arrived on the scene.
He was preceded by Wilson Jones, the nation's first amateur world champion.
The 77-year-old is now running scared---implicated in a cheating case involving QNET, a multi-level marketing company using the banned pyramid business model.
Ferreira, Malcolm Desai, Srinivas Rao Vanka , Magaral Veervalli Balaji, and Suresh Thimiri were all directors of Vihaan Direct Selling India (Pvt) Ltd., the entity that ran QNET.
Fereira, however, claims that he was a ‘mere shareholder’; he did not mislead or dupe any investors or customers.
He also never received any commission or dividends from the company. He attended the company’s programmes overseas to inspire them in his capacity as a former sportsperson.
His counsel Amit Desai said:
“The prosecution’s case is that Vihaan Direct Marketing had misled people through false representation. Ferreira was not involved in sales, he did not earn any commissions or dividends. The talks he gave were inspirational and not to sell products under the scheme. He is a well-regarded, respected sportsperson. He is 78 and tomorrow (on Saturday) is his 79th birthday.”
Public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat informed the Bombay High Court that Fereira owned 80% of the company.
Gharat claims that the company ran a ‘Ponzi scheme’ seeking amounts ranging from Rs.30,000 to Rs. 7.5 lakhs. The money earned was then repatriated abroad.
An FIR was registered in August 2013 under the Prize, Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 and Maharashtra Protection Of Interest Of Depositors Act.
Fereira---who surrendered yesterday---has been remanded to police custody till October 13.
Fereira---nicknamed the ‘Bombay Tiger’---was a three-time billiards world champion.
The septuagenarian learnt to play billiards while schooling at St. Joseph’s School, Darjeeling. His interest continued through his college days at St. Xavier’s College and the Government Law College.
He famously rejected the Padma Shri in 1981---on winning his second world crown--- contending that he should be honoured with the Padma Bhushan instead like Sunil Gavaskar. He was.
Brand building: Why oil companies avoid sports stars(rediff.com)
The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.
Concentration comes out of a combination of confidence and hunger.
Putting is like wisdom - partly a natural gift and partly the accumulation of experience.
What do I mean by concentration? I mean focusing totally on the business at hand and commanding your body to do exactly what you want it to do.
Sports biopics are the flavour of the past few years in Bollywood.
But have they really been worth catching on the big screen?
'Bhaag, Milkha, Bhaag' was phenomenal.
And 'Budhia: Born To Run' with its almost documentary-like yet moving treatment of the young boy from Orissa who languishes in a sports hostel, still banned from running by the state, was worth a dekko.
But you can’t say much about 'Azhar' or, for that matter, 'Sultan', a fictional wrestler's story, that enjoyed blockbuster success at the box office.
I haven’t seen 'Mary Kom' but I’m against the very concept of having a Punjabi actress depict a North-Eastern boxing icon.
Gautam Gambhir stirred a hornet’s nest on Twitter with his remarks criticizing the trend of biographical films on cricketers.
Given that Neeraj Pandey’s 'MS Dhoni: The Untold Story' was slated for release in the upcoming weeks, many of Dhoni’s fans questioned Gambhir’s intent and timing.
Was the Delhi cricketer taking a potshot at his former skipper? It is no secret that Gambhir could have been in the running for the captain’s post had his stint in the side continued.
James Erskine’s 'Sachin: A Billion Dreams' is also expected to be in theatres in the near future.
I, for one, saw nothing wrong with the left-hander’s statements.
Successful cricketers are accorded the status of demi-gods in India. Reams of traditional and online media are dedicated to telling and retelling the stories of their humble beginnings.
Gambhir is right that we need to focus on real heroes who have devoted their lives to the country whether it be on the battlefield, social service or business.
Yet, sports other than cricket need heroes to follow and for every successful sportsperson, there are countless others who have tried and given their best---participating or coaching.
Wouldn’t you like to know the story of Ramakant Achrekar?
How about Sakshi Malik’s coach Kuldeep Malik who is yet to receive his cash award of Rs. 5 lacs? He has in his possession a photo-copied cheque instead!
Celebrate India’s successful sporting stars? Yes, do. But don’t forget those who helped them become great and in the process made this country greater---in all spheres.
Why Cricket fans wants to see Gautam Gambhir in Indian Test Team ?(thelogicalshit.com)
Neeraj Pandey's answer over Gautam Gambhir's tweet - BollywoodCat.com(bollywoodcat.com)
'Bring back Gautam Gambhir'(msn.com)
Fans 'attack' Virat Kohli for picking Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan over Gautam Gambhir(manipalworldnews.com)
India vs New Zealand: Spinners will decide outcome of the Test series, says Gautam Gambhir(firstpost.com)
India’s latest sporting darling and sensation gymnast Dipa Karmakar is targeting Simone Biles and Tokyo to clinch that elusive medal she missed last month at Rio.
“Simone Biles is the best. My aim is to beat her. I am preparing in such a way that even if I cannot get the better of her, I end up with a silver.”
“I was happy with my finish until I came to my room. When I got to know the reaction of the entire country, the feeling of disappointment set in. If only I could win a medal, I could have gifted the country and all my fellow Bengalis something.”
Can Karmakar do it and that too in four years time at Tokyo?
It’s difficult to tell.
She has self-belief and confidence.
Historically, women gymnasts have performed best in their teens and by those standards, Dipa will be an old maid at 27.
Is it impossible? No, it isn’t.
But it will be extremely arduous.
Yogeshwar Dutt, to the nation’s chagrin, found that out the hard way when he lost his way in his opening wrestling bout.
Karmakar has refused to change her coach Bishweshwar Nandi in exchange for a ‘foreign hand’.
Karmakar qualified quite late for this year’s Games. Perhaps, she could have done much better had she more time to prepare.
But that’s past.
She will have to improve substantially in the other vault routines to surpass her superlative rival, Biles.
This can be achieved with the help of a foreign coach.
Like Andy Murray, she may need an Ivan Lendl to secure silverware.
Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps, foreign coaches are better suited to mould our athletes when they are much younger---say, in their teens.
That said, her progress needs to be monitored over the coming years to ensure that she is on the right track towards achieving her goal.
It would be interesting to see what former top international gymnasts and their respective coaches have to say about her Tokyo prospects.
One of them could be hired as a consultant to her current coach Nandi to add the desired variety to his 'one-trick pony' .
She deserves all the assistance she can get. She truly does. And she needs to request it when she has all the attention.
"In this modern age of living in limelight, everybody wants to be a hero. People will bark, let them bark, they will look bad themselves. I will run my race. Till a junior comes and says 'Lee, I am beating you all the time', till I am winning Grand Slams, I will continue to play. I had to earn it and others will also have to earn it. "
"I don't know how to fix an ancient civilization's uncertain romance with sport. I have no idea how to build a sports culture. But I do know that among the best gifts you can offer an athlete is presence."
"My body is my journal and my tattoos are my story."
---K L Rahul.
"Yes, vegetarianism is supposed to be healthy and all that, but I have seen many fat, unhealthy vegetarians to know that it is more about eating less and eating healthy, than being a vegetarian or non-vegetarian."
"In the last few years, somewhere down the line, we have lost the importance of physical movement. We have moved a lot more towards alphabetical literacy, numerical literacy and forgotten what the basics of physical literacy are. I think in our race to become more and more educated alphabetically, we have lost the fundamental of physical movement and it brings us back to our early days when our own native games used to have so much physical literacy in them."
"Sport is fundamental if we want our happiness index to go up. The physical activity brings new brain cells. Sports, physical exercise and education have a lot of synergy. Sport needs to be up there."
"... as a player, you are internally driven. It's about you, your body and mind working in unison on the court. As a coach, it's the same but in reverse---you take that drive and channel it onto the player."
"I am 100 per cent method, 80 per cent skill and 150 per cent madness."
"You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy."
"Hopefully, one day a vault will be named after me."
---Dipa Karmakar, Indian woman gymnast.
"How I dress is a very personal thing."
Mohinder Amarnath, in his latest column, anointed Lokesh Rahul as the next Rahul Dravid.
He may be right, he may be wrong.
Much earlier, Cheteshwar Pujara was Dravid's logical successor.
Then, it was Ajinkya Rahane.
Now, it's KL.
It's never easy to step into the shoes of colossuses.
I'm sure each of the above would rather be recognised for themselves rather than somebody's clone.
And it will take some doing to match Dravid 's feats and consistency over a sustained period of time.
Greatness doesn't occur overnight.
In some way, Dravid seems a little short-changed by these comparisons.
Is it because his achievements are the result of constant improvement, endeavour, discipline, technical correctness and correct temperament rather than simply genius, wristiness or off-side godliness?
No one points to any of the current lot and claim that they're the next Tendulkar, Ganguly or Laxman.
Comparisons are sometimes drawn between Kohli and Tendulkar, but the Indian test skipper has etched out a stellar place for himself.
Coming back to the question, is Lokesh the next Dravid?
He's surely the next Rahul.
"After a certain distance, you run with your mind, not with your legs."
"The world changes for the better when we all crib---cribbing is good."
"If Test cricket was a shop, it would have been shut down a long time ago for lack of customers."
Shobhha De’s series of ‘well-timed’ tweets deploring Indian athletes’ performances at the Olympics was roundly castigated by the Twitteratti with Abhinav Bindra and Sachin Tendulkar joining the discordant chorus.
"The athletes give their best in their efforts to win a medal. All the Indian athletes in Rio 2016 have my support. They work for years and years but when you miss out narrowly, you obviously feel bad.
When the results don't go your way, that is when you need to support them.
The first half didn't go our way but you have to support them when the chips are down.”
But there can’t be smoke without fire (not unless it’s dry ice, of course).
Five days into the Games and the medals tally still shows nought against India’s listing.
The shooters have disappointed sorely with only Abhinav Bindra coming close to a bronze and Dipa Karmakar making the vault final in gymnastics.
The archers continue to keep Indians back home waiting for their maiden medal despite years of selection and training to promote this ancient art and its modern avatar.
The London Olympics saw India claim six medals---two in shooting, two in wrestling and one each in badminton and boxing.
The expectations were that the Indian contingent of 119 would clinch at least seven this time.
That’s less than a six per cent chance of a medal for our sports-persons.
Is that what’s to be expected from our competitors---that 94 per cent of them are to be no-hopers and just make up the numbers and soak in the sights?
Admittedly, the qualification marks have been made stiffer in recent times and for most Indian athletes from sports other than cricket, a chance to participate in the Olympics is the highlight of their low-storied careers.
But surely we can and should demand more from them. Surely at least 25% of them should be realistic medal contenders and the rest should be earmarked as talents for the future sent to assimilate the ethos and pressure of the Games so that they are not overcome with stage fright the next time around.
The qualification marks too could be made a lot more stringent than the minimum needed.
Yes, De’s remarks were ill-advised and probably nothing more than a publicity stunt. It’s a wonder whether our Indian athletes would worry too much about a socialite columnist otherwise.
Perhaps, it’s time Ms. De penned a novella on the state of Indian sport and its heroes (and heroines) rather than her much-beloved Bollywood which conversely draws significant inspiration (and box-office success) from the annals of Indian sport in recent times.
Indians Immune to Olympic Fever(newsweekpakistan.com)
All eyes on Rio as India aim for record medals tally(freepressjournal.in)
"Love for religion should come from within and stay there. My faith is between me and my God. I think the more we keep religion out of education, sports and politics, the better."
---Maria Toorpakai Wazir, Pakistan's No. 1 woman squash player.
Looking to the Future(newsweekpakistan.com)
Little Hope for Pakistan at Rio(newsweekpakistan.com)
The entire sorry episode of Narsingh Yadav's failed dope test and his subsequent disqualification this year's Rio Olympics reads like a really bad Dick Francis thriller .
Yadav claims that he is the victim of a conspiracy, that his food and supplements were spiked by mischievous elements. An investigation by India Today appears to bear out his version. There are reports of an intruder mixing an unidentified white, powdery substance in his food portions.
Suspicion is rife given that his roommate Sandeep Tulsi Yadav too has tested positive for steroids. Were they made patsies by unscrupulous persons?
Yadav is reportedly shattered by the turn of events and is said to have contemplated killing himself.
It all seems tragically anti-climactic given the court drama pursuant to the non-selection of Sushil Kumar and Yadav's 'meritorious' showing.
Accusations and counter-accusations will continue to fly over the next few days---at least, until Indian athletes reach Rio.
Is Yadav being victimised by powerful parties within the SAI? Or is he simply unwilling to admit any wrongdoing?
Surely, the Indian public deserves to know.
The Court for Arbitration in Sports (CAS) has pronounced its verdict.
The IAAF-imposed ban on the Russian Athletics Federation stays.
No Russian track-and-field athlete will be competing in Rio---at least, not under their national flag.
The International Olympic Committee will decide the fate of the Russian contingent when it meets today.
The CAS judgment is non-binding on the Committee.
WADA and predominantly western nations’ Olympic Committees are vocally in favour of a blanket ban on the rogue nation given clear and damning evidence of state-sponsored collusion in doping. They feel that the IOC must exhibit 'zero-tolerance' towards systematic doping by any state.
National Olympic Committees have been banned before---simply not for drug-related scandals.
Collective responsibility should not come at the cost of individual justice---the IOC is seeking a balance.
The Russian public believes that their country is being discriminated against by the Western world. They cannot accept that all their athletes are drugged.
A sanction against all Russian competitors would be unfair to those abiding by the rule book.
While the IOC has several options before arriving at a final decision, a simple solution would be to allow the Russians to participate---both under their national banner and the Olympic one but have each one of their athletes subjected to both in-competition and out-of-competition testing.
This would allow clean athletes to breathe freely and hopefully deter sportspersons who are doping.
This would also send a strong message to errant national sports federations everywhere that unless they clean up their act, their athletes and their fellow countrymen will be treated like Caesar’s wife---not above suspicion.
Simply leaving the decision to international sports federations burdens them further and not all of them are fully equipped to make an informed decision on the matter.
Whatever the IOC’s decision, there will be no pleasing everyone.
That’s a given.
IAAF president Coe downplays split with IOC(espn.go.com)
Russian national team to include 380 athletes at Rio Olympics - official(tass.ru)
Russian star Isinbayeva applies to compete in Rio(thehindu.com)
IOC Affirms Russian Track Ban(wsj.com)
"In boxing, if you get angry toh aur zyada maar padegi ring mein. It's all about doing your bit and winning points. Why take unnecessary panga, get angry and waste your energy?
Professional sports is not always about speed and power.
It’s also about skill, precision and deception.
Nothing illustrated this better than Vijender Singh’s performance during his WBO Asia title bout against Australian Kerry Hope and Ronaldinho’s in the Premier Futsal game for Goa against Bengaluru.
Hope was the more aggressive of the two seeking to flatten Singh with his left jab and powerful right. But Vijender absorbed it all and retaliated with counterpunching of his own---Hope’s only response was to engage in ‘professional’ clinching of the worst kind.
It was the Haryanvi’s first 10 rounder but he withstood the onslaught of a man who had run a half-marathon in 1:35 just two weeks earlier.
Admittedly, it was not a very entertaining encounter. Perhaps, boxers and students of the sport would appreciate it better.
The result, though, was an unanimous decision in Vijender’s favour.
Unlike his earlier six fights, this did not end in a knockout. The prize, however, was his.
Ronaldinho retired from international football last year.
Futsal is his second coming.
The happiest soccer player on the planet was in his element in the game against Bengaluru on Sunday scoring five out of seven goals for his side.
The Brazilian displayed his entire repertoire in a spirited performance that left the crowd astounded and his fans in delirium.
Two exponents of the art of two different games but a common thread shone through them.
Experience counts for something---after all.
How could a seasoned journalist like Rajdeep Sardesai appear so crass, insensitive and sexist on national television?
That’s the question that must be uppermost in the minds of most of his fans (I am one of his many admirers---he also happens to be a Xavierite) when the veteran journo committed a faux pas by asking India’s number one female tennis star, Sania Mirza , the following query:
“Amidst all the celebrityhood, when is Sania going to settle down? Is it going to be in Dubai? Is it going to be in any other country? What about motherhood… building a family… I don’t see all that in the book, it seems like you don’t want to retire just yet to settle down.
…You don’t talk about retirement, about raising a family, about motherhood, what’s life beyond tennis is going to be…”
The response was swift and acerbic---typical Sania.
“You sound disappointed that I’m not choosing motherhood over being number one in the world at this point of time. But I’ll answer your question anyway, that’s the question I face all the time as a woman, that all women have to face — the first is marriage and then it’s motherhood. Unfortunately, that’s when we’re settled, and no matter how many Wimbledons we win or number ones in the world we become, we don’t become settled. But eventually it will happen, not right now. And when it does happen I’ll be the first one to tell everybody when I plan to do that.”
Sardesai quickly backtracked realising his erroneous line of questioning.
“I must apologise, I framed that question very badly. I promise you, you’re right, I would never ask this question to a male athlete…”
True, very true. Such a question would never be put to a male sportsperson.
Neither should it be put to any sportsperson.
There was very little logic or reasoning to Sardesai’s enquiry. These are the type of questions every single career woman (or man) learns to field from 'friendly' , inquisitive neighbourhood 'aunties'---not from a TV presenter of Sardesai's caliber.
While not detracting from the many sacrifices she has made to come so far, it must be pointed out that Mirza is in her late 20s---not late 30s. She is a happily married, healthy young woman. She can have it all---should she choose.
The interrogation was improper. And Sardesai had his just desserts.
Mirza was on television promoting her autobiography ‘Ace against odds’ coauthored with her father Imran Mirza and journalist Shivani Gupta.
Everybody loves a winner.
Even more so, a pretty one.
Like Federer, like Brazil in the 50s and 60s.
Sometimes, winning is everything.
So when the purists crib that Portugal were unaesthetic in the triumph at the European Cup this year, let’s put their comments in the right perspective.
It is Portugal’s name that will be inscribed on the trophy and history will record them as victors.
Will it matter , in a few years, how they emerged kings despite winning just one game in normal time? Will it matter that they barely made the pre-quarters, drawing all their three group Games?
It will not and Cristiano Ronaldo knows and recognises this better than anyone else.
Hobbling on the sidelines in the final, the man from Madeira cheered and spurred his teammates on inspiring them to the podium in his absence.
In the process, he went one better than his rival and the best player on the planet, Lionel Messi.
Messi may be beautiful, he may be sublime, but he has still to win a title for his native Argentina.
Ronaldo has his measure there.
Unlike tennis, badminton or squash, soccer is a team sport.
And one man does not a team make.
Winning need not be elegant, it need not be pleasing to the eye or the spectators.
Sometimes, it’s simply about getting the job done, doing what’s needed when it’s required.
Yes, we love to see our winners be gorgeous, heavenly and glorious.
But for every Federer, there’s a Nadal.
And for every Spain, there’s a Denmark, a Greece and now a Portugal.
"We grow up with fairy tales, but in life there is no happily ever after. And if there were, I would get bored of life. To me, life is interesting when one is struggling."
---Imran Khan, cricketer and politician.
He almost pulled off another miracle, didn't he?
After coming back from the dead against Marin Cilic in the quarters, Roger Federer was leading 2-1 against Milos Raonic only to lose his bearings---figuratively and literally---failing in the last two sets in yet another gruelling five-setter.
The Swiss missed the French Open this year---his first Grand Slam since 1999, ending an unbelievable streak of appearances.
With Novak Djokovic knocked out early, die-hard Fed fans believed this was his best chance to clinch his 18th Slam. But it was always going to prove an uphill battle for a 34-year-old. Realists would not begrudge another championship for the great but their expectations are always tempered and tinged with a healthy dose of skepticism.
In the end, it proved to be too much even for the tennis machine. The cracks and the strain were visible towards the end of the fourth set with Roger dropping his serve in the final game to lose the set without taking it into another nail-biting tie-breaker.
But he had done enough to revive Wimbledon out of its stupor.
Britain's favourite son, Andy Murray, might clinch yet another title on the hallowed grass of the All-England Championship.
But for many, this Wimbledon is simply to be Federer's thing of beauty---forever.
"National teams depend a lot on the professionalism of their footballers to perform well in major tournaments. And, that professionalism owes a lot to club football."
---I M Vijayan.
Marcus Willis will have that beer.
He’s earned it.
Capturing seven games in his second round match against Roger Federer he surely deserves one.
The man owes it all to a girl---a girl he met this February, a dentist named Jennifer Bates.
He fell in love, turned himself around and found himself in round two of this year’s Wimbledon earning himself 50,000 pounds.
Brexit might have taken its toll on the UK’s currency but that could not dim the
£30-an-hour part-time Wokingham tennis coach’s joy.
Beating Ricardas Berankis, ranked 54, in the first round was unexpected.
But qualifying for Wimbledon proper required him to win six gruelling matches.
As Goran Ivanisevic, his idol, put it:
“I love this story. This is great.
Pre-qualifying, then qualifiers, winning the first round against a not easy player. Berankis can play.
It's just great. Perfect. He will go on Centre Court or Court One.
The biggest match of his life and he has won already. For him he is a winner. He is the story of Wimbledon and it cannot get better than this.
He cannot beat Roger Federer, no chance but he does not care. He has won already seven matches and he won Wimbledon for him. This is it.
He will go on Centre or Court One. He is the happiest man, whether he comes to the match sober or drunk it doesn't make any difference.
Everyone will love him and support him and Roger will be nice to him.
Eventually maybe not but it's going to be great. I think he should quit after this. Retire. Because this is it.
It does not get better than this. Great, well done, I'm really so happy for the guy.”
Roger Federer had nothing but respect for Willis. He treated him as a top-50 player because “because that’s the level he was playing at”.
Willis sounded both disappointed and upbeat after his loss.
“It sounds funny, but I’m disappointed to lose. I went out there trying to win.
I’ve had a fantastic few weeks, and this has been great, but there’s life after Wimbledon, and I want more. More experiences like this. I have to knuckle down and work harder.
I’m absolutely exhausted. I might wait and calm down. But I’ve earned myself a beer, I think.
I haven’t thought (about marrying Jennifer) , to be honest. This whole few weeks have been a bit of a blur. But I do like her quite a bit.
Amazing. It’s not my standard Wednesday.”
Has he seen Wimbledon, the movie?
"I haven't. People are telling me about it, but I've never seen it, really. I'm not a massive film watcher. I'm quite fidgety. I'm more of a doer than a watcher."
Andy Murray, his fellow countryman, batted for Willis insisting that journeymen deserved more money.
“The first thing is we need to improve the prize money at Futures level. I think it’s stayed the same since the 1980s. The cost of everything has gone up massively since then so it’s impossible to stay at that level for more than a couple of years.
Someone like Marcus, if he had lost in the pre-qualifying at Wimbledon, we wouldn’t have this unbelievable story and he might not be coming back to play in January. You never know. There has to be more money at the bottom of the game.
It’s a difficult one.Because now players are breaking through later than they ever were before so they are obviously finding ways to hang around. A lot of the guys play club tennis to try to make some extra money, which helps. We don’t have that in this country. You can travel to Europe and do that. In Spain they have a few more money tournaments.”
Willis is ranked 772 in the world.
But for the match against Federer he dressed up wearing not just Roger’s classic white Nike bandana headband but an R.F.-branded shirt as well.
At the end of the match, he was not just another pretender but Marcus Willis, a 25-year-old from Slough, able to trade blows with the best in the business.
For most people, the story will be about Marcus’ two magical weeks at Wimbledon.
But Willis knows better.
It started earlier, much earlier, with a girl named Jennifer.
"Parents who wish to mould their kids into champions must recognise that the support system of the family is essential for an athlete's success. Without your support, your child's dreams will never grow wings."
What do you say to Lionel Messi when he loses yet another final and announces his retirement from internationals?
Are his fans to cry, “Come back, Messi, we’ll always love you, come what may”?
Or to join his plaintive chorus to ‘Don’t cry for me, Argentina’.
“Don't cry for me Argentina
The truth is I never left you
All through my wild days
My mad existence
I kept my promise
Don't keep your distance.”
Truth be told, my first reaction to Messi’s missed penalty was the demoralising effect it would have on his teammates. To see their skipper miss his shot by a mile could only create more flutters and nerves in their midst.
And sure enough, his teammates missed another and that was the end of Argentina's Copa America Centenario dreams.
That Messi would take this loss to heart and view it as a personal failure could only be foreseen in hindsight.
Will Messi be back?
The magician with the ball does know that soccer is a team game and that he's not expected to shoulder the blame for his team's inadequacies. And it's not as though there isn't a blueprint available on how to nullify the Messi threat personified by an Argentinean side. Germany have done it before and Chile did it to them twice.
Messi is hardly the first high-profile player to miss a crucial penalty. His Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo missed one in this year's Euro. Roberto Baggio and Michel Platini are on that unfortunate list too.
Time is a great healer and it’s possible that the lure of another World Cup could draw the mercurial forward back.
Yes, it’s possible, and we certainly hope to see him back in national colours.
Until then, we’ll continue to enjoy his exploits with Neymar and Luis Suarez for Barca.
"Fashion is very important for me, so (whatever I wear or design) always has to be fashionable. But clearly it also has to be functional. They go hand-in-hand. I wouldn't pick one over the other. But it's easy to design something functional without being fashionable. It's about challenging yourself to push it a little bit."
Maria Sharapova is full of surprises.
Just when her detractors and critics believed that she must be moping around waiting and hoping for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to reduce or revoke her suspension, Sharapova---the magician---pulled out a rabbit from her proverbial hat.
The long-legged Russian beauty is going to school at Harvard.
The shrewd businesswoman that she is, Maria probably realised that time spent away from the court can be best utilised learning how to run her Sugarpova business better.
While it sounds like a wonderful idea, it’s also an opportunity for her to reflect on her particular situation.
James Blake who spent two years at Harvard but dropped out to pursue his tennis career had some advice for the suspended player.
Sharapova is the not the only woman player to opt for Business Administration when returning to studies.
Venus Williams is a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Indiana University East.
The tuition fees and living costs is small change for Sharapova who presides over a multi-million dollar empire.
The DNA India titled their report on the news flash:
Real woman of substance: Maria Sharapova to go to Harvard Business School
That seems a tad overdone but there are worse things Maria Sharapova could do away from the sport.
Update: Sharapova will be attending a two-week executive education program at Harvard---not the full-fledged MBA.
Her agent, Max Eisenbud, told The Associated Press that it involves just two classes on campus.
Read more at:
Anil Kumble is the newly appointed Team India coach.
That must be the most important job in the country after the Prime Minister’s, right?
Wrong, dead wrong.
Sanjay Manjrekar , in his column for The Week, describes the job thus:
“’Tell me, who is this guy with the Indian team, is he a player?’
‘No, he does not step onto the field.’
‘Is he a selector, does he pick the players?’
‘No, he does not, the captain and selectors do that.’
‘Okay, then, does he make the critical game-changing decisions on the field, with regard to bowling changes, field setting, batting order, etc?’
‘Nope, that again is done by the captain.’
There you go, that is the actual reality of an Indian coach and his position within the team. Hence the media excitement, every time, around the appointment of an Indian coach, baffles me.
In contrast, when a far more important and influential position outside the players is filled, it’s only duly noted by the media. That is the chief selector’s position.”
This is not to deride or belittle Anil Kumble’s credentials in any way.
Much has been said and written about his stellar cricketing record, his courage facing the West Indian quicks and his mental strength,
Kumble recognises the above reality and claims that he’ll be more of an ‘elder brother’ to the side.
“I certainly believe that as a coach of a young team, you need to be hands-on and you need to really get your hands dirty as well - train with them, be a part of their training. And be with them more like an elder brother, in every aspect, not just on the field, but also off it. That's something I will be focusing on.”
Manjrekar concludes his piece thus:
“In Indian cricket, the captain and a couple of senior players basically chart the destiny of the Indian team. The selectors have an important role to play in this journey. If the captain is able, there is nothing wrong with this kind of culture; many great teams have been built like this.
So what an Indian coach really does is facilitate the needs of the captain and the core group and try and keep them in good spirits.
The coaches that actually make a difference to Indian cricket are those that coached players like Tendulkar, Dravid, and others, when they were kids. The grassroots level coaches.”
Kumble made a three-year-plan presentation to the Cricket Advisory Committee but has been appointed for only a year.
Ravi Shastri’s stint as Team Director and the results under his tutelage paved the way for the selection of an Indian coach.
Can Kumble prove as adept as John Wright or Gary Kirsten in handling this young side?
India play 13 Tests at home and his tenure includes the Champions Trophy.
'Jumbo' does not have a long rope and there is speculation that he was not an unanimous choice.
Kumble has no formal coaching experience but then neither had Shastri.
That appears to have made the difference since he was not in the initial shortlist.
The CAC selected Kumble---possibly---because he is a much younger candidate and can keep pace with the youngsters in the side. John Wright and Gary Kirsten were not too long retired when they took over the reins of the Indian side.
A younger person can be more hands-on; Kumble certainly believes he can be.
Is hands-on what the job requires? Depends on how you define it. Kirsten felt that it played an important role while he was coach. He used to spend hours bouncing balls at the senior players. His ability to handle fragile super-egos cannot be underestimated.
Kirsten’s right if we are go by what Manjrekar writes. And he is an expert.
Players like Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli prefer to consult their old coaches on technical aspects of their skills.
Is it less likely that it’s not the same for the current batch of players? Ajinkya Rahane and Robin Uthappa have retained Pravin Amre as their go-to person for improving their willow skills.
It does appear that what a coach brings to the side is intangible but the results are visible and rewarded or penalised with much more alacrity.
Simply put, the coach is the fall guy should anything go wrong.
Will it be third time lucky for Lionel Messi?
The mesmerising Argentinean played his part in thumping hosts USA in the semis of the Copa America Centenario with one stupendous free-kick and two assists.
The men in striped white and blue take on defending champions Chile in a rematch of last year's summit clash.
This is Messi's third final in two years for his nation.
Will this end their title drought?
The line-up for the last four places were as the form book suggests.
Colombia and USA made up the numbers.
Brazil---minus Neymar---were a pale shadow of their former, glorious selves. And Uruguay were unfortunate that they had to leave their talismanic striker Luis Suarez on the injury bench.
100 years of the Copa America and there couldn't be a more befitting end if Lionel Messi were to finally acquire the silverware he richly deserves.
Alexis Sanchez may have dissimilar thoughts.
"I may wear an earring at times, fool around with the way my hair is styled and I love to play around with fashion. But, deep down I am a traditionalist.
Shiva Thapa is the sole Indian boxer to qualify for this year’s Olympics so far.
There could be a few more if results are favourable at AIBA’s World Qualifying tournament in Baku.
However, there are two boxers---both former Olympians, both former medallists----who are hoping for indirect entry to Rio.
They are Mary Kom and Vijender Singh.
While Kom failed to qualify, Vijender turned professional last year. That ought to have ended his bid for yet another medal but he was provided a glimmer of hope when AIBA opened their doors to pros earlier this month.
Singh, however, has a WBO Asia Pacific title bout scheduled for July 16 in New Delhi against Kerry Hope.
That effectively belied his Olympic aspirations---or so, we believed. The professional boxers qualifying tourney is scheduled a week earlier in Venezuela.
But Vijender has other ideas.
Speaking from Manchester, the former three-time Olympian said:
"Why can't there be a wild card entry for me? Why can't the ad-hoc committee demand the same for me from the AIBA? They are making every effort to get a wild card for Mary Kom despite the fact that she has not qualified for Rio. But in my case, there is a clear bias because no one in India is serious about my Olympic participation.
I should also be given a chance if the rules have been relaxed by the AIBA for pro boxers to compete at Rio. I am a three-time Olympian and have fought in Commonwealth Games, Asian Games as well as World Championships."
Vijender believes he is being discriminated against because he is now a professional pugilist.
"It seems that I am no longer competing for India. The officials believe that since I have turned pro, I shouldn't have a chance of going to Rio. They feel they shouldn't help me because I no longer represent India in amateur boxing. I am fighting my professional bouts under the tri-colour. My name is announced as 'Vijender Singh from India'. All my victories in the pro circuit are for India. My Asian title bout will be for India."
Welcome back to the merry go round of Indian sportingdom, Vijender.
And it is a merry-go-round.
Mary Kom is being forced to run from pillar to post just to ensure that the Indian Olympic Association files an application for a wild card entry with the International Olympic Commission.
Three wild card entries under the Tripartite Commission Invitation Places are up for grabs in three women's weight categories — 51kg, 60kg and 75 kg.
These are usually used to promote sport in certain countries.
The IOC can allocate these to players of repute who fail to qualify.
But either the national federation or the national Olympic body has first to apply for a wild card entry.
That, unfortunately in Kom's case, has not yet occurred.
The DNA listed the criteria for Invitation Places as follows:
“National Olympic Committee (NOC) priority: based on NOC preferences, as specified in the applications submitted
International Federation (IF) priority; based on the assessment of the athletes’ technical level and sporting merit during the qualification period
International Olympic Commission (IOC) priority; based on various principles in relation to the objectives of the commission, including:
NOC and athlete eligibility
Technical level to compete safely and with dignity
Olympic scholarships for athletes”
All this while the IOA’s first choice as Goodwill Ambassador, Salman Khan, steals the limelight with his ill-timed and ill-advised remark comparing his bodily aches post the intense workouts he endured shooting for his upcoming film ‘Sultan’ to those of a ‘raped woman’.
How much better it would have been had Salman Khan spoken a few words highlighting the travails that Indian sports persons undergo merely to participate in an Olympics.
That’s what ambassadors are for, that’s what they do.
Mary Kom's application for a wild card entry has been rejected by AIBA. The IOC does not permit wild cards to players from nations who have eight or more representatives in a sport. India fielded eight or more boxers at the last two Games.
Xherdan Shaqiri offers Puma some business advice.
What he said:
“I hope Puma don’t make condoms.”
Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri made the most cutting remark of the evening when he said the above following the shredding of four team-mates' jerseys during a group game with hosts France at this year’s European Cup.
Admir Mehmedi, Breel Embolo, Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka all lost their shirts---literally---in their goalless draw in Lille.
Xhaka had to change shirts twice.
Former England World Cup hero Gary Lineker was equally scathing on Twitter indicting German industry.
This is not the first time the Swiss encountered problems with their Puma tees.
Breel Embolo lost his top in a friendly against Montenegro.
"We have had a few problems with the jersey. The kit manager is not fully ready yet, but we are."
"There was one batch of material, where yarns had been damaged during the production process, leading to a weakening in the final garment. This can happen, if the combination of heat, pressure and time is not properly controlled in the manufacturing process. All federations have confirmed that they never had any such issues and are very happy with quality, functionality and design of their jerseys.”
Puma supplies shirts to Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland and Slovakia.
Its home rival Adidas was also targeted when its ‘Beau Jeu’ ball designed especially for Euro 2016 burst open in the same match.
"We are looking into what happened. Incidents of this nature are extremely rare.
The reason for the tear has not yet been identified, but Beau Jeu [the tournament ball] has been widely praised by respected experts for its contribution to the exciting start to the tournament."
What Shaqiri really meant:
“A tear---at the wrong time---makes nine.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I’ll opt for double protection the next time I play---I’ll wear two jerseys instead.”
"Be it the Indian Premier League, football or wrestling, people watch sports for entertainment. It is the same with pro boxing; people come to see a good fight. They don't want to see soft counter-punches. Nobody comes to watch a nice person. They want to see brutal fights and blood."
"As a human being, I have never felt pressure. Or rather, you feel pressure but you know how to handle it."
"...pro boxing is a very lonely sport. It's true. Sometimes you are depressed, sometimes not, but you pick yourself up. You have to remain positive and think about the future."
Amateur and pro boxing should be separate. It is unfair that young amateur boxers would be destroyed by experienced fighters at the Olympics."---Francis Warren.
"The coaches that actually make a difference to Indian cricket are those that coached players like Tendulkar, Dravid and others, when they were kids. The grassroots level coaches."---Sanjay Manjrekar.
The Mint editorial on Saturday the 18th of June, 2016 read:
“Recently, ESPN did some number crunching to come up with a list of the most famous athletes in the world.
Virat Kohli came in at No. 8. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was 14th and Sania Mirza made a creditable showing at 41.
What are the odds that an Indian hockey player—despite the team’s stellar performance at the Champions Trophy this week—will gain that sort of name recognition even briefly?
It’s an old story.
Cricket is the colossus dwarfing every other sport in India. Even as a few other sportspersons—Mirza, Leander Paes, Saina Nehwal, for instance—have gained prominence, hockey has remained trapped in a cycle of uneven performances, endless administrative squabbles and a lack of public attention even when it performs well.
Will the Champions Trophy and the Olympics see a sustained run of good performances and the spotlight that should come with it or will it be another false dawn?”
The above was the publication’s response to the Indian men’s hockey team’s performance at the recently concluded Champions trophy in London. India finished a respectable second claiming their first ever silver medal at the elite tourney.
India lost just two games---one each to Belgium and Australia. The final was a goalless affair---their antipodean rivals won on penalties in the final.
Yet, the Mint's 'Quick Edit' rings true. Any Indian sports lover can reel off the names of every member of the Indian cricket team---possibly even the names of players of the IPL teams they support. But very few can recall the names of sportsmen in other team sports.
(P.S. That includes me.)
Is the Indian sports lover solely to blame for this state of affairs?
The traditional media namely newspapers, magazInes and news channels devote very little time and space to other sports besides cricket in India.
(Winners hit the headlines more often than not.
Cheating winners even more so. Ask Sharapova.
Nobody cares for cheating losers except the drug-testing bodies.)
That truly is a sad state of affairs.
Especially when this Indian side looks good to clinch a medal at this year’s Rio Olympics.
In the past, Indian hockey teams have flattered to deceive in the run-up to the Games. Their strategies, tactics and players are studied and ploys to nullify their effectiveness are hatched up and unveiled at the Games by their opposing coaches.
Roelant Oltmans seems up to the challenge.
The team keeps improving under his stewardship and it is noteworthy that the side performed much better in their second game against the Aussies.
The team lacks consistency though. They ought not to have conceded a second goal to Belgium---they are vulnerable on the break. The players lack the speed to fall back quickly enough to thwart counterattacks. And they have trouble getting the ball into the ‘D’ in the face of concerted defence tactics employed by their opponents.
Should the team be grouped with Australia, another loss like the one to Belgium could spell the death knell for any podium aspirations.
Hockey India announced an award of Rs. 2 lakhs to every individual player of this Champions trophy side.
This Indian side will surely hit the jackpot should they return with a medal from Rio.
In fact, they must---for this victory to be a true, new dawn.
Hockey: England stun Australia in Champions Trophy opener(channelnewsasia.com)
'King' Chris Henry Gayle has all the answers.
Speaking to Donald McRae of the Guardian, the West Indian blaster defended his recent outrageous behaviour and comments in his inimitable blunt Caribbean cadence.
The Jamaican first reminded the journalist of his proud heritage and that West Indians always felt disrespected by the English. The reference was to Mark Nicholas’ stunning dismissal of their T20 prospects, ““The West Indies are short of brains.”
In a statement with shades reminiscent of the movie, Fire In Babylon, Gayle said:
“That drove us even harder. How can you disrespect the West Indies when we were so dominant in world cricket for so long? We have to face it ourselves because our own board don’t defend us. So we have to fight our own war in the middle against these allegations about West Indies having no brains. How can you jump to that conclusion? It shows no respect. They smile at you – while trying to destroy you in the media.
We were very disappointed. We should have been one of the favourites but we weren’t even in the top five. As West Indians we have always been disrespected. As soon as we fight back they make it look like we are the bad one in the media. We’ve experienced these things over the years. So it’s no surprise.”
But it’s his autobiography Six Machine that’s hitting all the right (and wrong) notes across the world with excerpts published in most major newspapers.
From describing his triple hundreds, his mammoth 170+ in the IPL and staying at Vijay Mallya’s Goa bungalow, the memoirs cover it all. The voice is authentic and the style is no-holds-barred.
Chris Gayle reveals how his fledgling career was tended to by a woman.
He writes of his Kingston schoolteacher and first coach:
“Miss Hamilton is a wonderful woman. She kickstarted things and gave me that self‑belief. Most of the time, as a kid, you’re nervous. She would try to get in your head and give you confidence. She was also our football coach – so she was very talented and to have a woman lead you at a young age was really good.”
But Chris feels nothing about disrespecting Mel McLaughlin in January this year at the Big Bash.
His latest words on the sorry episode are even more dismissive.
“If she was upset she would’ve said it. At no stage did she say she felt offended by me. Then they wanted an apology and she came on air and said: ‘He’s apologised – so let it go everybody.’ You could tell she had been forced to say those things. Trust me. She’s of West Indian background. She knows the culture. From what I understand her mom is black. What do they call it? Samosa (Samoan)?
Yeah. So she knows. But people put things in her ears – just to slaughter Chris Gayle.”
Chris Gayle is remarkably insouciant and , perhaps, realistic when asked what if his baby daughter Blush were to face the same kind of behaviour 25 years on in a journalistic career.
“If you put yourself there you have to expect that. You have to deal with it. Not all situations are going to be the best. You have to brace yourself. You have to be professional, yes, but expect the unexpected at all times.It could happen to anybody. Anybody. It could happen again.”
Chris then accuses Charlotte Edwards of setting him up as a villain in her piece for the Times and threatens legal action.
“The first interview I did by the pool. The recorder was on the table. The interview lasted 2½ hours. Basically discussing the book, it went according to plan. But the outcome was very sad. That’s why I say people can’t be trusted – especially you guys.
I know. Obviously she came with a different mentality. Even that first interview I did with her she was trying to get me to say things about Shane Warne. I said: ‘Listen, this is not about Shane Warne.’ So the interview was good even if she didn’t get what she wanted.
I was having dinner by the bar when the agent texted. She’s leaving in the morning and wants to say thanks for the interview. I said: ‘OK, no problem.’ She came by and that’s how it happened. She started telling me her life story. She tried to ask me if I’d ever smoked weed. I said: ‘Listen, I’m a sportsman, how can I do those things?’ So whatever questions she asked me I asked her back. She went on to say she is a single mum. She had also been to a war [zone] and she was telling me that when all the media people come to drink they sleep together. I asked her: ‘Did you do it?’ And she said: ‘No.’ It’s not an interview – we’re talking at the bar. If she had a tape I wish people could hear it.
In the interview’s first line she says Mel didn’t get the chance to have a drink with Chris Gayle – but she did. That was her agenda. She put these things out to make me look like the bad one. She got the attention but I’m going to speak to my legal team.”
If Gayle’s version of the story is true, then it’s understandable why most sports stars prefer to be tight-lipped to the press rather than drop their guard and make off-the-cuff remarks. Every word could be misconstrued and twisted. And if Gayle's infamous remarks to Edwards were off-the-record, then she is in serious breach of journalistic integrity. Neither party comes out smelling like roses.
“There can be no trust”, Chris Gayle says in his life story.
“There’s no sadness in saying that. It’s the reality. You can’t put trust in people. There’s no loyalty out there. You have to be sceptical – regardless of what that person says.”
Gayle’s account, however, of his relationship with his girlfriend cannot elicit much sympathy.
“I am the Six Machine. I am the only man in the history of the world to have scored two triple centuries etc. I am the only cricketer in the history of the world to have his own pole-dancing room in his house. I have a girl. I can’t remember her name. We’ve been together for nine years. Though mostly it probably sounds as if we’ve been apart. She doesn’t like World Boss’s pole-dancing room. But luckily loads of other women do. So it hasn’t been a total waste of money.”
Chris Gayle will make news wherever he goes as long he’s scoring runs---not women.
They’re merely sideshows in his grand design of things---in his “World Baass. Universe Baass. Multiverse Baass.”
That’s the uncomfortable truth and he expects the people in his life and the world at large to live with it.
Is that sad or great? You tell me.
West Indies star Chris Gayle says sexism row just a 'little fun'(businessinsider.com)
Chris Gayle loses major contract after fresh sexism row(manipalworldnews.com)
'I have a very, very big bat': Female journalist claims cricket star Chris Gayle made lewd comments to her and wanted to know if she'd ever had a threesome(dailymail.co.uk)
Gayle hits back at critics in book(sbs.com.au)
Chris Gayle opens up about Mel McLaughlin and hits critics for six(theage.com.au)