Close on the heels of becoming the first Indian shuttler to win a medal at Olympics Saina Nehwal continued her good form to win the Denmark Open 2012. The third seeded Indian won the one-sided finals 21-17, 21-8 against her German opponent Juliane Schenk.
Saina has once again proved that she is one of the greatest sportswomen India has ever produced with this brilliant victory. Congrats to Saina and hope that she continues her good run and wins many more laurels for the country.
Recently the AITA (All India Tennis Association) announced the Indian Tennis teams for the upcoming London Olympics 2012. The overall announcement turned into a farce which ended up in the association having to redo the combinations. Tennis is one of the few sports where India has a strong chance of obtaining a medal in the Olympics. The strong Indian contingent comprises of fantastic doubles players such as Leander, Mahesh, Sania and Rohan Bopanna.
Everyone knows that Leander and Mahesh split once again for the 100th time last year and do not like to play with each other. It was pretty strange when AITA paired Leander with Mahesh for the London Olympics. But when the announcement came in there was a series of ugly spats in the media. Mahesh came in and refused to play with Leander and threatened to pull out. Leander for his part did the same thing. Rohan Bopanna too refused to partner Leander as he has had a successful time partnering Mahesh in the grand-slams this year.
This was really sad when you consider that this was an Indian team which has been announced. Tennis as a sport is mostly individual except for certain events such as Olympics, Davis Cup etc…So it does not require the players to get along with each other like how it is with other team sports. The players and the AITA are both at fault here. AITA should have known about the situation and probably should have discussed the situation before announcing it to the media. The players too even though being unhappy should have spoken with the AITA first before expressing their displeasure openly to the media. It was ugly when Sania Mirza and Leander’s father too got involved in this circus.
I can’t believe that a person who is not even a member of AITA or has never played any tennis can come in public and request for a written assurance from a tennis player to partner his son. I feel sorry for the young Vishnu Vardhan who got stuck in this crossfire. He would have been honored to represent India at the highest stage and to be paired with a Legend in the Olympics only to find that Leander refused to partner with him unless Sania partnered with him for mixed doubles.
This seemed like a round of ugly politics and players egos coming to the fore. Leander and Mahesh are legends of Indian tennis but it seems like their egos are bigger than their achievements. We thank them for all the great things they have done for the Indian tennis but this situation could have been handled better. Threatening to pull out of a premier event for any reason when your country’s pride is at stake is an extremely selfish act. I understand that the mistake was from both the sides but a discussion behind the scenes would have been a much better option.
The young players look up to these legends for inspiration and this is not something they would like to see. I am just happy that the issue has been finally resolved and it seems like the players are happy with whom they have been paired with. Leander has finally agreed to pair with Vishnu and Mahesh with Bopanna. Sania Mirza will be paired with Leander and she said that she is honored to do so. Somdev and Sania will be playing singles after getting wild cards to represent India in the Olympics. After all this tamasha, it does look like India has some decent chance of multiple medals this year. I hope that the players put behind their differences and perform to the fullest in the event to bring glory to the country.
Sushil Wins Bronze
1 Gold, 1 Bronze and another medal on the way makes this the best ever olympics for India. Vijender won his quartefinals bout to assure himself of at least a bronze medal in the middleweight class. This makes it three for India in the 29th edition of the Olympics and is a wonderful feeling for every Indian like myself. India won a gold in Hockey in 1980 and had to wait for 28 years to win another one and this time it is even better as we managed to win two more medals on top of that.
When the Indian Hockey team failed to qualify for the olympics, it seemed like a medal hope was lost. Even though the hockey team never performed great in the previous 6 editions before this after 1980, we always thought that they are our best hope to win a olympic medal. What we have seen in the previous years is that there is someone who always stood up to be counted. Even though not many people thought that Leander would win a medal in tennis singles or Malleswari would win a medal in weightlifting, they did the same against the odds.
This olympics has been a great one for India and I hope that this inspires more athletes for the next edition in 2012. India has always found unlikely heroes in olympics to make the country proud and this time we have three. Kudos to Sushil, Abhinav and Vijender. These three have made all the Indians proud. I hope that Vijender goes on to win gold in Boxing to make this olympics even more special for India.
Mahesh and Leander Crashed out of Olympics
Abhinav Bindra’s gold medal last week in the Beijing olympics made every Indian proud. But if we consider that this was our first such medal in 28 years makes us kind of sad. The rest of the Indian contingent have not fared that great in the games this year and it seems like we will end up with just one medal this year too. When we see that China who have a population of almost similar proportions to India leading the medals tally makes us wonder where we are going wrong.
I would have thought before the games began that India’s best chance for a Olympic medal this year would be the doubles combination of Leander and Mahesh. Them crashing out in the quarterfinals and Sania crashing out too have dashed India’s hope of a second medal. We had few others giving us some hope like Saina in badminton and Akhil in boxing but both of them crashed out before entering the medal rounds. The basic issue in Indian sports is lack of sponsership and encouragement for the athletes.
The fact that the Indian hockey team did not even qualify for the games points us to a much larger issue. It seems like the sports in India other than cricket is facing a slow death if the respective boards are not careful about it. Indian athletes have always struggled and the reason for the same is that they cannot take that as a profession as people from other countries can. They dont have proper sponsership and training facilities required for them to excel and compete at world level.
If the boards and various committees in India dont take action soon then India would become a one sport nation which it kind of already is. Getting a gold medal in Olympics is great but not knowing where the next medal would come from is not that encouraging for Indian sports. India needs heroes for the people to follow in other sports. The olympic games come and go but we dont stop wondering as to where the next medal is going to come from. The nation of 1 billion people and just one medal. Micheal Phelps of USA has taken 8 medals all by himself. As I write this article there are couple more chances for India in Boxing in the coming days to get the second medal for the country. As the nation searches for its second medal, I just hope that something is done to revive the other sports in India.