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2016 Summer Olympics

This tag is associated with 14 posts

Why Dipa Karmakar may not win a medal in Tokyo


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.

She said:

“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.”

She added:

“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 ‘onetrick pony‘ .

She deserves all the assistance she can get. She truly does. And she needs to request it when she has all the attention. 

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Anju Bobby George: Funny, no medals


“We have the people; we have the brains and manpower. We have the best doctors and engineers. We can send rockets to the moon and Mars, but we can’t get a medal. Isn’t that funny?”
Anju Bobby George.

Nita Ambani is now India’s only active individual member at the IOC


Nita Ambani, sports promoter and founder chairperson of Reliance Foundation, is now an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member.

Firstpost—a Reliance group publication—termed Ms. Ambani’s election as “carrying forward the country’s flag in the Olympic Movement.”

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.

The seat of the International Olympic Committe...

The seat of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

She said:

“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.

Former Indian Olympic Association Secretary General, Randhir Singh, is an honorary member.

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.

Societe Generale and Puma to sponsor rugby in India


Is rugby the next sport set to take off in India?

One would hope so given that French financial services major Societe Generale announced a long-term partnership with Rugby India to promote the game in the country.

SG will not just be a financial partner but also the title sponsor for the Indian National Rugby Sevens Team’ across all categories — senior, junior and women.

Societe Generale will also support World Rugby’s ‘Get Into Rugby’, an initiative to teach the game in schools and introduce children to the sport.

Puma have joined the bandwagon as well providing kits to the men’s and women’s teams.

All this went down at the Bombay Gymkhana on Thursday the 28th of July, 2016.

Flag of Bombay Gymkhana, a popular club in Mumbai

Flag of Bombay Gymkhana, a popular club in Mumbai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bombay Gymkhana main corridor

Bombay Gymkhana main corridor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The deal is initially for a period of three years.

Rugby is being reinstated at the Rio Olympics this year after a gap of 92 years.

And Japan is set to be the first Asian country to host the World Cup in 2019.

India is currently ranked 12th among 32 Asian countries who take part.

Aga Hussain, VP of Asia Rugby, believes that India can break into the top five in the next five years.

Solar Energy company PROINSO have also signed a sponsorship deal with the Indian Rugby Football Union (IRFU).

Rugby has over 44,000 registered players in the country.

The game was first played in India in 1871.

English: Europeans playing rugby football in C...

Europeans playing rugby football in Calcutta. Note – lack of Indian people, round (rather than oval) ball, unusual clothing and goal posts. Several of the players appear to be Welsh (hence the dragon) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The national team, however, was not formed until 1998. Their first game was against Singapore.

They were inducted into the International Rugby Board only in 2001.

India have never qualified for the Rugby World Cup.

If rugby in India has a profile, it’s mostly due to Bollywood star, Rahul Bose, who represented India for almost 25 years.

Bose played 20 international matches but hung up his boots in 2008.

On his retirement, Bose said:

“Preparing and playing international rugby takes around two months which I don’t have on me now. I have to travel for film festivals, give lectures, I’m on the board of six NGOs and besides I also have my films. Rugby doesn’t pay you well and besides, the youngest player in the team is 18. I must have played with their fathers in school. I’m 40 now, so the signs are loud and clear that I should quit before I start playing with my friends’ children on the team.”

On what he gained from playing the sport:

“Like how to lose gradually and enjoy the score, not the result; to be a team player, because by nature I am an individualist; if you try to play alone, you are bound to get hurt; and, to have a hot heart and keep a cool head. Today we rank 81st among 110 countries and 50 years later, we will rank in the top 20 position. We will be part of the CommonWealth Games, too, but I will be a grandfather by then.”

Bose, of course, was present at the press conference announcing the tie-up with Societe General and Puma India as evidenced by the post below.

Bose need no longer be pessimistic about the state of Indian rugby.

Things are looking up for sport in India and rugby in particular.

Should Russia be disbarred from Rio?


The Court for Arbitration in Sports (CAS) has pronounced its verdict.

The seat of the International Olympic Committe...

The seat of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

IOC Headquater

IOC headquarters (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Lausanne, Switzerland - IOC seat Česk...

English: Lausanne, Switzerland – IOC seat Česky: Lausanne, Švýcarsko – sídlo MOV (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 ‘zerotolerance‘  towards systematic doping by any state. 

Olympic Games 1896, Athens. The International ...

Olympic Games 1896, Athens. The International Olympic Committee. From Left to right, standing: Gebhardt (Germany), Guth-Jarkovsky (Bohemia), Kemeny (Hungary), Balck (Sweden); seated : Coubertin (France), Vikelas (Greece & chairman), Butovsky (Russia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Who’s going to Rio? Mary Kom or Vijender or neither? (Updated)


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.

He added:

“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.

English: Vijender singh at the sahara indian s...

Vijender singh at the sahara indian sports award (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That, unfortunately in Kom’s case, has not yet occurred.

The DNA listed the criteria for Invitation Places as follows:

  1. National Olympic Committee (NOC) priority: based on NOC preferences, as specified in the applications submitted

  2. International Federation (IF) priority; based on the assessment of the athletes’ technical level and sporting merit during the qualification period

  3. International Olympic Commission (IOC) priority; based on various principles in relation to the objectives of the commission, including:

  • Universality

  • Continental balance

  • Gender equity

  • 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.

Indian hockey team does nation proud at Champions trophy: Can you name them all?


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.

 

Sushil Kumar or Narsingh Yadav for Rio? Ball back in WFI’s court


English: Sushil Kumar, World champion (2010) a...

Sushil Kumar, World champion (2010) and Beijing Olympics bronze medalist Indian wrestler, attending annual sports meet of GGSIPU, Delhi as a chief guest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Will it be Sushil Kumar Solanki, a two-time Olympic freestyle wrestling medallist or quota place qualifier Narsingh Pancham Yadav to represent India in the 74kg class at this year’s Rio Olympics?

The debate rages.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) favours the status quo and will settle for the younger (and possibly fitter) Yadav.

WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh  said:

“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.

He said:

“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.

He said:

“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.”

He added:

“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.

He said:

“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?

Update:

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.”

Kumar added:

“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:

(a) Core Probables for intensive coaching for major competitions like Olympic,World,Asian and CommonwealthGames/Championships and other important international events.Final selection of the teams shall be done by the NSFs.
Annexure XLI lists recommendations to be scrupulously followed while selecting teams/individuals for international events which include selection criteria and trials.

Update 2:
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.

Update 3:
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.

Update 4:
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?

Salman Khan: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Salman Khan would rather be a walkabout at Rio.

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 does not generate enough goodwill as IOA’s brand ambassador (Updated)


English: Indian actor Salman Khan

Indian actor Salman Khan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

He said:

“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.

English: Vijender Singh at Milind Soman's gym ...

Vijender Singh at Milind Soman’s gym opening (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

)

Former India opener and Kolkata KnightRiders skipper Gautam Gambhir riposted:

“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.

She tweeted:

 

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