“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.
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.
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.
The first lady of the Reliance group was voted in as an individual member in Rio on Thursday polling 92.2% valid votes among eight candidates.
What does being an individual member entail?
The Olympic website states:
“The IOC members, natural persons, are representatives of the IOC in their respective countries, and not their country’s delegate within the IOC. As stated in the Olympic Charter: ‘Members of the IOC represent and promote the interests of the IOC and of the Olympic Movement in their countries and in the organisations of the Olympic Movement in which they serve.’”
So it’s not really a victory for the nation per se—if one wants to nitpick—but actually a shrewd move both by Nita Ambani and the Olympic Committee.
Evidently the committee considers India to be an important cog in its scheme of matters in years to come.
And Nita Ambani gains some legitimacy in the eyes of her numerous detractors and critics who consider her a privileged interloper in the world of Indian sport—not that she cares.
“I am truly humbled and overwhelmed to be elected by the IOC. This is a recognition of the growing importance of India in the world stage and a recognition for Indian women.
I have always believed in the power of sport to shape our youth. I believe that sports brings together communities, cultures, and generations has the power to unify and unite people. I look forward to spreading the spirit of Olympics and sports across our nation.
I’m working really with multi-sports in India. We want to encourage many other games besides cricket in India like football and basketball and let children be exposed to all kinds of games. So I’m looking forward to building a movement in sports for children in India.’’
She is the only current active Indian member in the IOC and the first Indian woman.
The IOC has 90 members, 36 honorary members and 1 honour member.
Honorary members are usually former members.
Dr. Henry Kissinger is the only honour member of the Committee.
Narsingh Pancham Yadav can consider himself very, very fortunate.
Few expected National Anti-Doping Agency’s (NADA) disciplinary panel to be lenient with the grappler from Mumbai.
But NADA have been benevolent in ruling in favour of the 26-year-old wrestler exonerating him—giving him the benefit of the doubt— by accepting his version of sabotage by a fellow competitor.
Section 10.4 of NADA’s Anti-Doping Rules (2015) states:
10.4 Elimination of the Period of Ineligibility where there is No Fault or
If an Athlete or other Person establishes in an individual case that he or she bears No Fault or Negligence, then the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility shall be eliminated.
[Comment to Article 10.4: This Article and Article 10.5.2 apply only to the imposition of sanctions; they are not applicable to the determination of whether an anti-doping rule violation has occurred. They will only apply in exceptional circumstances, for example where an Athlete could prove that, despite all due care, he or she was sabotaged by a competitor.
Conversely, No Fault or Negligence would not apply in the following circumstances: (a) a positive test resulting from a mislabelled or contaminated vitamin or nutritional supplement
(Athletes are responsible for what they ingest (Article 2.1.1) and have been warned against the possibility of supplement contamination); (b) the Administration of a Prohibited Substance by the Athlete’s personal physician or trainer without disclosure to the Athlete
(Athletes are responsible for their choice of medical personnel and for advising medical personnel that they cannot be given any Prohibited Substance); and (c) sabotage of the Athlete’s food or drink by a spouse, coach or other Person within the Athlete’s circle of associates (Athletes are responsible for what they ingest and for the conduct of those Persons to whom they entrust access to their food and drink). However, depending on the unique facts of a particular case, any of the referenced illustrations could result in a reduced sanction under Article 10.5 based on No Significant Fault or Negligence.]
Had Yadav been found guilty, he would have been banned for the full period of four years.
Yadav and his fellow wrestlers celebrated by partaking of sweets outside the agency’s office.
But it’s not all clear for Rio as yet.
Chander Shekhar Luthra of DNA writes:
“…World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has so far refused to bow down to allegations of ‘sabotage’, keeping in mind that such a decision could well cause an irreparable loss to the ‘battle against doping’ at the international level.”
A retired Nada official said:
“What if the entire Russia stand together and say there was a deep conspiracy against their 100 athletes? What if Maria Sharapova now cites the ‘conspiracy’ angle by her opponents in her case that is being heard by Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS)?”
NADA’s rules state that appeals can be filed to both CAS and the National Anti-Doping Appeal Panel within a period of 21 days.
The latter’s unlikely—it would be tantamount to NADA challenging its own decision—but appeals can be made to CAS by WADA, the international Wrestling Federation United World Wrestling and the IOC; there exists no other apparent affected party in the above proceedings.
NADA lawyer Gaurang Kanth complained “he was not allowed to cross-examine Narsingh on the sabotage angle”.
Yadav had tested positive for the anabolic steroid — methandienone — in both his A and B samples.
NADA DG Naveen Agarwal read out the panel’s verdict:
“We kept in mind that in the past, till June 2, none of his samples were positive. It was inconceivable that one-time ingestion would be of benefit. Therefore the panel is of the view that the one-time ingestion was not intentional.”
Jitesh Kumar,the 17-year-old accused of spiking Yadav’s drinks is a trainee at Delhi’s Chhatrasal Stadium. Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar supervises the wrestlers there. An FIR has already been filed by Yadav at the Rai police station in Haryana.
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.
I don’t remember watching Mohammad Shahid play.
Hassan Sardar—his Pakistani counterpart—was much more of a household name in those days.
But I do recall—faintly—the 7-1 drubbing of the Indian men’s hockey side in the 1982 Asiad final in New Delhi.
It was a tragedy—a loss wasn’t unexpected—-but humiliation was disaster.
Mohammed Shahid was a member of that squad; he was also part of the 1980 side that last won gold for India at an Olympics.
But it was goalie Mir Ranjan Negi who was anointed villain of the piece. He was termed a ‘traitor’ and there were claims that he had been bribed by his opponents.
“Everywhere I went, I was abused by the public. Nothing matters to me more than playing for my country. I am a proud Indian and will always be so. There were lots of things that happened in the run-up to the final. You find out. I will not speak about the politics that contributed to our defeat.”
His team-mate Zafar Iqbal later said:
“The entire team was to blame; we forwards missed chances, the defence left huge gaps that the Pakistanis exploited. Despite making great efforts to cover the gaps, poor Negi became a sitting duck and the Pakistanis scored at will […] He was blamed solely, but every player was to blame […] The atmosphere was vicious. I remember someone claiming that he had seen Negi come out of the Pakistan High Commission on match eve […] Some even enquired whether Negi, with his first name Mir, was Muslim.”
Hassan Sardar believes that the scoreline was no indicator of how close the final really was.
“Do you know who the man-of-match that day was? It was our 17-year-old goalkeeper, also named Shahid (Ali Khan) who made more than eight saves that day. Nobody remembers that, the scoreline should have been 7-5 or 7-6, just an indication of how good the Indian team was back then.”
Mohammed Shahid now lies in a hospital bed in Gurgaon fighting for his life against a liver condition that afflicted him following a bout of jaundice and dengue.
Shahid is an employee with the Railways. They will be picking up all his medical expenses.
His condition is still critical.
The Sports Ministry has announced a grant of Rs. 10 lakhs for the former Olympian.
Sundeep Misra of Firstpost describes Shahid thus:
“In the late 70’s and early 80’s, you didn’t go to watch hockey. You went to watch magic; mesmerizing magic created by a man from Benares called Mohammed Shahid.
Those were the kind of skills that couldn’t be taught. No amount of coaching camps, elite coaches could create supple wrists that, honestly, were an extension of the hockey stick. Shahid, short but lithe displayed his dribbling skills like a card-dealer in a casino. Defences retracted inwards, backing off not willing to take on this twisting and turning dervish whose only challenge in life seemed to be cutting through defences like a combine harvester in a wheat field. Fans watched in disbelief. Opposition coaches gave up. Defenders wanted to quit the sport. Little kids wanted to know ‘dodge kaise karte hain’. Commentators lost their voice if Shahid didn’t have the ball. In those days, Mohammed Shahid was hockey.”
A Times Of India story called him “the genius of dribble”.
Shahid himself was much more self-effacing.
“Look, I am Mohammed Shahid. That will not ever change. Yes, I was India captain; people said I had God given talent with dribbling skills. Mujhe bhi yaad hai, har waqt mar dodge, mar dodge. Par ek time ke baad mann bhar gaya (Even I remember dodging past players all the time. But after a while, it was enough).”
Sardar has fond memories of playing against Shahid.
“Yeh bade afsos ki baat hai (It is quite unfortunate to hear of this) Kya kamaal ka khiladi tha! Aisi behetreen stickwork modern hockey mein bahut kum dekhne ko milti thi. We may have been sworn rivals on the field, but I was a Shahid fan. All our pre-match plans would revolve around how to check Shahid and he would simply destroy it all. We could never catch him
But do you know, Shahid and I were part of a dream attacking trio that could never be realised. Shahid would often tell me, ‘Hassan-bhai, had we played together in the same team, no one would have been able to touch us.’ Imagine a team where Zafar was left-in, I was centre forward and Shahid on the right…”
Hassan laughingly recollected an incident during the 1986 bilateral series when he was at the receiving end of Shahid’s wizardry and threatened to sort Shahid out by visiting his hotel room.
“Blind with rage, I told him, ‘Arrey, mujhe sey panga kyun le rahe ho?! Lag jayegi, toh udte hue jaoge.’ But it just wasn’t us alone. None of the European teams could ever catch him. In the Pakistan camp, we would say, ‘Yeh sabke phephre nikal deta hai, bhaga bhaga ke…”
Shahid has the respect and love of his countrymen, teammates and opponents.
Here’s hoping that he makes a full recovery and soon.
Mohammed Shahid passed away aged 56 on July 20, 2016. May his soul rest in peace.
The debate rages.
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) favours the status quo and will settle for the younger (and possibly fitter) Yadav.
“On one hand, we have the future of India’s most decorated wrestler and on the other, we have our parampara and rules. While rules say the quota belongs to the country, our tradition and court’s order has been to send the wrestler who has won the quota. I don’t know what to do or what to say.”
The federation omitted Kumar’s name from the list of probables sent to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
Sushil Kumar is not taking the slight lying down.
“All I am asking for is a trial. I am not saying that you send me to Rio because of my glorious past. I am only saying that whoever between me and Narsingh is better, should represent the country at Olympics. Since a quota belongs to the country and not to a particular individual, thus, when there are two good contenders, there must be a fair trial. There is a procedure that should be followed.
I have been at three Olympics already and won medal twice. My only aim is to win another medal for India.
Even the reigning world and Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs had to undergo trials to make it to the US team for the Rio Games. It happens everywhere.
The Sports Authority of India and government have spent a lot of money on my preparation and it is only just that I am given an opportunity to prove that I have utilised every bit of that.
I would not have asked for the trials if I was not well prepared. I am asking for it because I am feeling extremely fit and my preparations are top class. I am confident of doing well if I go to Rio.”
Logic dictates that the person who earned the quota place for the country should be the one on the plane to Rio. And who can doubt Yadav’s credentials with a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships? Reason has no place or space for sentiment.
Each nation is only allowed one quota spot per event.
Sushil Kumar’s claim can hardly be overlooked either. The lauded Olympian made a successful shift to the higher 74 kg category claiming gold at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. He has not appeared in competition since suffering one injury after the other. His commitment and drive, however, cannot be doubted.
Yadav is not pleased with the controversy.
The 26-year-old is hopping mad and feels that a face-off between him and Kumar could deny him his rightful spot in the ring.
“Sushil is a great in 66 kg, but he’s just not fought enough in 74 kg in public — not in practice — for him to demand a trial.
The way I see it, I fought at least 10 bouts — in selection and at international meets and at the World Championship where I won the quota and medal to earn my right to go to Olympics. Sushil can’t decide my destiny or make his reputation by fighting just one match when I have fought at least 10. That’s unfair.
Has Sushil ever given a trial before going to Olympics. When I came back from qualifying I expected everyone to congratulate me at least. But I was shocked at how this turned out. People still don’t really want to know about me or whether I can win a medal or not. All they want to know about is how I am stopping Sushil from going. It’s demoralising.”
“Every person should fight for themselves. I have no hatred towards Sushil or anyone else. I am focussed on a medal. And I believe it’s my right.Mera haq (My right).
He should’ve fought me in the league — he had a chance to make his presence in 74 kg and the world would’ve seen him and nobody would deny him then. He could’ve fought me at trials in Sonepat. He could’ve gone and fought a few international meets against the top names. He should’ve made a name for himself. There are right channels open for everyone. But you can’t come at the end and say I’ll win one bout and go to Olympics. It’s not fair, even if it’s a double Olympic champion.
I accept he’s the best in 66 kg, but in 74 kg there is very little performance except Commonwealth Games which wasn’t great competition.”
Sports and sports persons in India cannot be divorced from the politics of the country.
And so it is with this imbroglio too.
Kumar fanned the flames further by appealing first on social media to his fans and well-wishers and has now written both to the Sports Ministry and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and facilitate a trial. The ace grappler is also considering moving the Delhi High Court if a bout is not arranged. Kumar can quote precedent from 1996 when two Indian wrestlers—Pappu Yadav and Kaka Pawar—fought a trial to be selected for the Atlanta Olympics.
Earlier, Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal refused to interfere terming it an internal matter of the WFI.
“It is the Federation criteria that has to be followed. We can’t interfere. They are autonomous body. It is the responsibility of the Federation.”
Public wrangling of this sort could have been avoided had the WFI (and possibly other national sporting federations (NSFs) in the country) instituted a clear-cut policy much like the Australian Olympic Committee’s.
The AOC follows a three-step process:
1) Qualification (under the IF Qualification System)
2) Nomination (under the NF Nomination Criteria)
3) Selection (under the AOC Selection Criteria)
Athletes earn places either for themselves (by name) or by country quota. Unfortunately, for Yadav, his earned spot falls under the latter.
The National Federation decides the Nomination Process.
According to the AOC, the criteria could be decided as follows:
“Each sports Nomination Criteria sets out the event, performance standard or minimum qualification requirements an athlete must achieve to be eligible for nomination. For some sports this may be attendance at National Championships and the winner of that competition will be nominated. In other sports athletes may need to achieve a specific score, time or standard.”
Had such a system been in place, Sushil Kumar would—in all probability—been ruled out. Kumar has not been active on the national circuit. The Australians (and the Americans) do have selection trials but these are on the lines of competitions—not a one-against-one match-up.
The selection criteria is as follows:
“Once a sport nominates athletes to the AOC, the AOC Selection Committee considers each athlete based on the behavioural, anti-doping and administrative elements of an AOC document called the Selection Criteria. The AOC develops a Selection Criteria for every sport. Selection is at the absolute discretion of the AOC.”
An Olympic Appeal Consultant helps the athlete understand the reasons for the decision in question during the appeals process.
Sadly, for both Yadav and Kumar—who have tremendous respect for each other—only one of them can go to the Rio Olympics. The Tripartite Commission which can allocate spots outside of qualification and quota criteria does so only for countries that are under-represented at the Games namely their athletes number eight or less.
Either way, a deserving candidate will surely be left behind. Who’s to deny that the duo are medal prospects which is probably more than be said for other Indian athletes bound for Rio? Can you bet your bottom dollar that Kumar wouldn’t three-peat?
Sushil Kumar moved the Delhi High Court on 16th May, 2016 to force Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to hold a trial under the National Sports Code rules.
Claiming that he and his father-in-law Satpal Singh are ashamed to have to resort to such desperate measures to get justice, Singh said:
“We are ashamed that the issue had to go this far, but we were left with no other option.All Sushil has been asking for is a trial, which is the best and fairest way to decide who goes to the Olympics. We are not against Narsingh; he has done well to win the quota. This is about fairness.”
“If it was already decided that the athlete winning the quota place would be the one going to Rio Games, then WFI should have told me and also my name should have been omitted from the sports ministry’s TOP scheme.
Then I would not have worked so hard in the last one year and also the government should not have wasted so much money and time on my training in India as well as abroad.”
Section 13.4 (a) of the National Sports Code states:
The Delhi High Court has directed the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to hear Sushil Kumar before arriving at their final decision. The bench would rather have the matter amicably resolved by the two sides than have a judicial proceeding.
The WFI allowed Sushil Kumar and his coach and father-in-law Satpal Singh to present their case this afternoon. The wrestling body are in no mood to change their minds and will present their findings to the Delhi High Court. It’s going to be a drawn-out affair.
Narsingh Yadav has been advised not to step out of the Sports Authority of India’s training camp lest he be set upon by unruly supporters of Sushil Kumar. Police protection for Yadav has been sought. What a sorry mess! Shades of Tonya Harding—Nancy Kerrigan?
What he said:
“Since I can only participate in the Olympics if walking were a sport, isiliye main woh hoon jo gaadi ko piche se dhakka de sakta hai (I’m that vehicle that can push from behind).”
Salman Khan is unperturbed about the controversy on his appointment as the Indian contingent’s Goodwill envoy to the Rio Olympics.
Describing his duties as ambassador, he said:
“I want to charge up the players and see how they are progressing. If we can increase our medal tally compared to last year, it would be great. When that happens, the infrastructure, diet, coaching and other facilities get better. Pehle (ambassador) nahi lekar aaye thay toh theek hai, par ab jab kisi ko lekar aaye hain toh (earlier the players never had an ambassador but now that they do have one ) the players should be encouraged. “
What he really meant:
“I don’t really have a sport and walking’s really not my style either, I’ll be that ambassador who leads the charge from behind—for a change.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“An ambassador is a man (or woman) who lies abroad for his or her country. Look at me, I’m doing it right here—for myself and Indian sport. ”
Salman Khan is upset and wishes to make amends.
The Bollywood star was apparently taken aback by all the criticism from various quarters—specifically Yogeshwar Dutt and Milkha Singh—at his appointment as goodwill ambassador to the Rio Olympics by the Indian Olympic Association.
Salman has announced that he and Aamir Khan will join forces and make yet another wrestling movie that will depict the stories of Dutt and Sushil Kumar.
The scion of Salim Khan will play Dutt and Aamir will essay the role of Kumar.
“That’s the least we can do for these magnificent real-life wrestling heroes. And I know how painful wrestling is— after Sultan. In fact, we’ll have Dutt and Kumar perform as body doubles for the shooting of this opus.”
The biopic is titled ‘Pehelwano’.
The Great Khali will be making a special appearance in the picture.
Dutt and Kumar are not so happy about Khali’s appearance grumbling that WWE is mere showmanship and wrestling cannot be about jumping up and down and yelling at your opponents. Kumar added that in the WWE anything goes and most fighting happens outside the ring.
The IOA was unavailable for comment.
Disclaimer: While the characters in this story are real, the tale isn’t. But you knew that already, didn’t you?
Is Salman Khan the right choice as Indian Olympic Association’s Goodwill Ambassador for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games?
The sporting fraternity is divided—-split wide open in fact.
Olympic bronze medalist at the 2012 London Games in the 60 kg freestyle wrestling category Yogeshwar Dutt condemned the move in a series of tweets.
“Can anyone tell me what’s the job of an ambassador? Why are you fooling the nation’s public?”
“You can promote your movie anywhere you like to. You have every right. But the Olympics is not the right place to do so.”
“PT Usha and Milkha Singh have served the country during difficult times. What has this ambassador done?”
“I’m a sportsperson, so I was made an ambassador. I don’t drink liquor nor smoke beedis or cigarettes. Why Salman for the Olympics?”
Milkha Singh who missed a medal by a whisker at the 1964 Rome Olympics in the 400 metres joined Dutt’s criticism saying:
“India has produced so many sportspersons who have given their sweat and blood for the country like PT Usha, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Ajit Pal and so many others. One of these could have been made a goodwill ambassador. What was the need to import a person from Bollywood?”
IOA Vice-president Tarlochan Singh defended the decision.
“When celebrities who appeal to public come forward to help naturally we get more publicity which is good for sports. Trend among the youth is that they look towards such film celebrities. If we utilise them there’s no harm. We’re getting his ( Salman Khan) help and not giving him anything. IOA is not paying him a penny.”
Sports is entertainment and sports persons are entertainers.
So why can’t entertainers be sporting ambassadors? They can attract more eyeballs and appeal to a wider demographic. Perhaps, women will take much more interest in sports now that actors such as Dharmendra, Abhishek Bacchan, John Abraham, Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and others are investing in sporting properties such as the IPL, ISL, PWL and others. Isn’t that what the IPL and Big Bash all about—an attempt to attract more women and children, making these games a family outing?
Sports other than cricket can certainly do with the boost and interest generated.
However, the timing of Salman’s appointment is suspect. The Bollywood superstar plays a wrestler in his upcoming movie Sultan. His rival Aamir Khan plays yet another in Dangal.
Was this one-upmanship on Salman’s part cocking a snook at the more thoughtful Khan?
It certainly stinks to high hell.
Salman Khan does not smell of roses given his embroilment in a hit-and-run court case despite being acquitted.
It doesn’t help that Sardar Singh and Mary Kom behaved like star-struck fans at the press conference.
Reel life imitates life—not the other way around. It’s time our sporting heroes realized that.
Pro boxer Vijender Singh disagrees:
“This isn’t about Salman bhai’s upcoming movie Sultan or its promotion. Salman does a lot of movies every year, and he doesn’t need Olympics for it. Like he himself said, he is doing it as a goodwill gesture. And I have no doubt that he is doing this for the better of Indian sports.
So all in all, I feel this is a really positive step for the future of sports in our country. I have no doubt that it will make a difference in terms of getting more people interested in Olympics sports.”
Singh is hardly the best person to comment though. The pugilist is part of Bollywood starring in the Hindi film Fugli. He probably still harbors filmi aspirations.
At the press conference, the charming Khan said:
“My heroes are Sania Mirza, Vijender Singh, Sushil Kumar in sports. I think wrestling is a very painful sport. I was shooting for my film where I shot for many wrestling sequences. I can act like I am fighting, but I cannot fight like wrestler in real life.”
Scriptwriter Salim Khan supported his son’s selection by taking to Twitter shooting out the following tweets:
(Salim Khan does make a point.
After sports persons, models and film actors are probably the fittest people in this country.
The fitness revolution in the film industry was heralded by the likes of Salman Khan and Sunjay Dutt.
Dutt took to body-building after kicking a drug habit.
The duo were a sea change from the chocolate heroes Indian womanhood went ga-ga over. It must be said that Salman and Sunjay combined brawn and glossy looks. They are also the perennial bad boys of Bollywood.
Now it’s rare to encounter any newcomer to Bollywood who does not boast a chiselled physique.
Abhay Deol and Ranbir Kapoor are notable exceptions.
Salman cultivates an image of a fitness icon and a hard drinker. It’s hard to reconcile the two. The man is a contradiction in terms: actor, drunk, Casanova, reckless and foolhardy, philanthropist, singer and painter.
“I heard someone saying sportsmen need publicity or sportsmen need Bollywood, but sportspersons do not need Bollywood or film industry for publicity, it is the other way round.
Movies made on sportspersons do not give them any excitement. They do the job for their country because that’s their passion and they want to do something for the country.”
“(Abhinav) Bindra would have been the ideal choice,” added Gambhir.
Pooja Bhatt too joined issue with Salim Khan about his comments on Milkha Singh and the Indian film industry.