Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Comeback Mom. Mother Superior. Super Mom…

No end to epithets.

The 2009 Women’s final was one that I didn’t want to miss, because of Kim Clijsters. And what a victory for this 26-year-old mother of a two-and-a-half year old girl, Jada. The last time a mother won such a major title was in July 1980 when Evonne Goolagong defeated Chris Evert to win the Wimbledon.

Impact of marriage and motherhood on career is a major source of worry for many women. Many women refuse to marry or go in the family way because they are worried that their career would be affected. Many quit well-paying jobs in favour of marriage and motherhood. Kim Clijsters’ victory has amply demonstrated that it’s possible to have the best of both if one is determined.

Only a day before, Clijsters wrote on her Twitter site: “The fairy tale goes on – some how, I’m in the US Open final on Sunday beating both Venus and Serena along the way… am i dreaming???”

No, the 2009 US Open Cup is not a dream for her.

Kim Clijsters, of Belgium, holds her trophy after winning the women's championship over Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009. AP Photo/Darron Cummings. (For source of photo, click on photo.)

Kim Clijsters, of Belgium, holds her trophy after winning the women's championship over Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009. AP Photo/Darron Cummings. (For source of photo, click on photo.)

She had bade a tearful farewell to tennis in 2007. She returned to the circuit only a month back (on August 10 at Cincinnati), and this was only her third match (after playing in Toronto a week later) on her return.

With weather playing truant over Arthur Ashe Stadium, it has been hard to predict the match timings, and I wasn’t quite hopeful if I could see the match live. When I got up at 7.30 am, and switched on the TV, to my delight Clijsters was on her way to winning the first set, 7-5.

The second set went like this: Clijsters – Wozniacki – 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2, 4-2 (Clijsters broke serve), 5-2 (Clijsters one point away from cup), 5-3 (but Wozniacki makes her wait), 6-3  (Clijsters settles it).

Kim Clijsters, of Belgium, shows her daughter Jada her trophy after winning the women's championship at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009. AP Photo/Elise Amendola. (For source of photo, click on photo.)

Kim Clijsters, of Belgium, shows her daughter Jada her trophy after winning the women's championship at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009. AP Photo/Elise Amendola. (For source of photo, click on photo.)

After the winning shot landed, Clijsters knelt down, bowed to the ground that has meant so much to her. She got up in time to shake hands with Wozniacki and acknowledge the cheers of the crowd.

Tears streamed down Clijsters’ face. She sat on the chair and sunk her face into the towel, as she broke down in joyous disbelief and probably shock on how things had turned around. She went up to the applauding members of her family and circle of friends.

No one meant more than Jada, her daughter, and Brian Lynch, her husband. She returned to her chair, her face radiant with the overwhelming feeling triumph. She kept looking at Jada, smiling and laughing. She was seen signaling that Jada be brought down to the court. She was her same humble self and felicitated Wozniacki for the good match.

The low in Kim’s life

Clijsters always had that reputation of being one of the nicest players on the tennis circuit. In fact, her pleasant demeanour always stood out during her five-year romance with combative, feisty, Australian tennis star Lleyton Hewitt.

They were in fact one of the few high-profile sports couples. The only other one was Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert in the 1970’s. But they didn’t stick together for long. When the world came to know of Andre Agassi’s and Steffi Graf’s union the lady had already quit the game. So the Clijsters-Hewitt pair was a unique one in the tennis circuit.

The romance began after the two met at the Australian Open in 2000. They got engaged in Dec 2004. But within 10 months, the relationship was falling apart.

Sadly, the reasons for it were nothing to do with Kim and Lleyton. Reports pointed towards differences between his father and her mother over arrangements for the wedding in February 2005.

Clijsters’ career dipped after that. Emotionally she was shattered. She was plagued by injuries. There was a time when it was thought that her career had come to an end.

In May 2007, she said an emotional goodbye to tennis and to her Belgian fans who simply adored her.

Kim Clijsters' husband Brian Lynch tries to take their daughter Jada away from Clijsters during trophy presentations at the women's championship at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009. Clijsters defeated Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, in two sets. AP Photo/Kathy Willens. (For source of photo, click on photo.)

Kim Clijsters' husband Brian Lynch tries to take their daughter Jada away from Clijsters during trophy presentations at the women's championship at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009. Clijsters defeated Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, in two sets. AP Photo/Kathy Willens. (For source of photo, click on photo.)

Meanwhile, Clijsters got married to Brian Lynch, an American basketball player who plays for Antwerp Giants in Belgium, in July 13, 2007, and they had a baby girl on February 27, 2008.

Kim Clijsters of Belgium lifts her daughter Jada after winning the women's championship over Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009. AP Photo/Kathy Willens. (For source of photo, click on photo.)

Kim Clijsters of Belgium lifts her daughter Jada after winning the women's championship over Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009. AP Photo/Kathy Willens. (For source of photo, click on photo.)

Eddie Pells of the Associated Press reported after the match: “Kim Clijsters cradled the baby in one arm, the trophy in the other. The joy of motherhood. The joy of winning the U.S. Open….”

This is a moment of joy Kim Clijsters will treasure through her life.

Kim Clijsters, of Belgium, poses with her daughter Jada and her husband, Brian Lynch, after winning the women's championship over Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009. AP Photo/Darron Cummings. (For source of photo, click on photo.)

Kim Clijsters, of Belgium, poses with her daughter Jada and her husband, Brian Lynch, after winning the women's championship over Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009. AP Photo/Darron Cummings. (For source of photo, click on photo.)

Links:

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

As I write this, I am enjoying the Ashes radio commentary by Jonathan Agnew on the internet.

Agnew says Henry Blofeld will be coming in in a few minutes… wow…

… Absolute bliss… Blofeld is on air…. Australia has reached 400 for 4…

… Blogging can wait… let me just listen to Blofeld… and Geoff Boycott has now joined him…

….. ….. ….

“Don’t miss a ball, we broadcast them all”

Cricket was my passion when I was in school and in college. Apart from playing, umpiring and coaching, like any cricket buff I was constantly hooked on to commentary on radio. Even with all their drawbacks, the Indian cricket commentators were a pleasure to listen to. But BBC’s radio commentators were and still are a class apart, a fact even our Indian commentators would acknowledge.

In May 1957, the first day of the Test between England and West Indies at Edgbaston is broadcast in its entirety with Rex Alston, John Arlott, EW Swanton and Ken Ablack at the mic. (For credit click on photo)

In May 1957, the first day of the Test between England and West Indies at Edgbaston is broadcast in its entirety with Rex Alston, John Arlott, EW Swanton and Ken Ablack at the mic. (For credit click on photo)

It’s such a pleasure listening to the celebrated Test Match Special team of commentators. The team has over the years developed a unique style. Commentating is not just about telling what’s happening on the field, it’s also about history, anecdotes, jokes and banter. It’s this fantastic mixture combined with the commentators’ excellent voice, articulation and diction that have made TMS such an acclaimed programme.

Henry Blofeld

Henry Blofeld

In 1957, with the birth of TMS, the BBC became the first broadcaster in the world to cover every ball of a Test match. The celebrated slogan then was: “Don’t miss a ball, we broadcast them all.”

Christopher Martin-Jenkins

Christopher Martin-Jenkins

Many celebrated broadcasters have graced TMS. I have read about John Arlott and E W Swanton. I haven’t heard them except on archival recordings. By the time I got listening to TMS, it was Brian Johnston, Tony Cozier, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Henry Blofeld and Don Mosey.

My favourite is Blofeld. His voice is so captivating and gripping. He became famous in India during the 1990s when, while commentating, he used to make humorous remarks about ear-rings worn by women spectators. That was when he left BBC to work with Sky. He returned to BBC soon after to the delight of many of his fans.

Johnston-Agnew leg over giggle

Brian Johnston

Brian Johnston

The other commentator I liked was the late, Brian Johnston. His sense of humour was unmatched, a lot of them are chronicled in his book “Rain Stops Play”. He became famous in 1991 for the “leg over” laughter.

In August 1991, England were playing the Windies at Oval. The commentators were Brian Johnston and Jonathan Agnew, when Ian Botham got out losing balance while trying the play the hook shot and falling over his wicket. Agnew remarked that Botham “couldn’t quite get his leg over”. Johnston carried on talking but soon he couldn’t get over his laughter. The humour behind Agnew’s remark is: in English slang “getting one’s leg over” means having sex. And during that time there were plenty of news reports of Botham’s ‘colourful’ off-court goings-on.
It is said that both Johnston and Agnew were quite upset with themselves for having got carried away with the joke. But it later emerged Agnew’s remark and Johnston’s hysterical laughter had become a bit hit among the listeners.
Listen to an mp3 clipping of the “leg over” commentary. Agnew’s remark comes 10 seconds into the clipping.

In August 1991, England were playing the Windies at Oval. The commentators were Brian Johnston and Jonathan Agnew, when Ian Botham got out falling over his wicket after losing balance while trying the play the hook shot. He couldn’t lift his leg enough, and his inner thigh dislodged the bails. He was out: hit wicket.

Agnew remarked that Botham “just couldn’t quite get his leg over”. Johnston carried on talking but soon he couldn’t get over his laughter. The humour behind Agnew’s remark is: in English slang “getting one’s leg over” means having sex. And around that time there were plenty of news reports of Botham’s ‘colourful’ off-court activities.

Ian Botham loses balance and falls over the wicket -- the provocation for the famous "leg over" remark by Agnew and the more famous uncontrollable laughter by Johnston.

Ian Botham loses balance and falls over the wicket -- the provocation for the famous "leg over" remark by Agnew and the more famous uncontrollable laughter by Johnston.

It is said that both Johnston and Agnew were quite upset with themselves for having got carried away with the joke. But it later emerged that Agnew’s remark and Johnston’s hysterical laughter had become a bit hit among the listeners.

Listen to audio clipping of the “leg over” commentary. Agnew’s remark comes around 10 seconds into the clipping.

When I missed TMS

During the 1990s, BBC went through acute financial problems and TMS was among the services affected as the broadcaster tried to cut expenses. Broadcast on the shortwave radio was erratic and I didn’t know what was happening to my favorite TMS and its commentators.

Adding to this was the invasion of the airwaves by the mobile phones. Radio reception progressively became feeble and it was difficult to tune in to the BBC, or any other station, without disturbance. I began missing my TMS.

BBC radio on internet

Over the past few years, radio has become available on the internet. BBC is perhaps one broadcaster which has made available such a wide variety of programmes on the internet. I have given some links at the end. Many months back, I checked out TMS on the internet, but to my great disappointment it wasn’t available.

The team of commentators on BBC's Test Match Special has been regaling millions of cricket fans around the world since 1957. Now the radio commentary is available on the internet.

The team of commentators on BBC's Test Match Special has been regaling millions of cricket fans around the world since 1957. Now the radio commentary is available on the internet.

And today, as I switched on my PC, as usual I logged on to BBC radio, and checked out if TMS was available. I couldn’t believe when saw the link for the live commentary of the Ashes on BBC Live 5. My worry was if it was available only the UK, like the live video.  No, it wasn’t… the BBC iplayer console opened, and streaming began… Jonathan Agnew, Henry Blofled, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Goeff Boycott… all are back…

Thanks to technology, I am able to listen to this wonderful institution. I hope it gets better and better with time…

Some useful links for those who are interested:

—  BBC Radio

—  BBC Test Match Special

—   Archive of BBC TMS Ashes commentary excerpts from 1938

Read Full Post »

After losing all the five one-dayers that were played, the England team left for home in panic soon after the Mumbai attack. Two remaining ODIs were abandoned. Many of the team members said they won’t come back, since India wasn’t safe.

That suggestion was more damaging for the reputation of India, than many people thought. It was not that entire India was up in flames, like when those communal riots which used to spread from one corner of the country to another. No doubt the attack on Taj was definitely the worst that has happened, not just in India, but the world. But if cricketers had decided not return, it would have meant no part of the nation was safe.

Simultaneously there was a news (which was ultimately denied) that the 2010 Commonwealth Games may be shifted to Melbourne which was being chosen as a standby venue.

All the England team members should be congratulated for deciding to return to India, for reposing faith in the Indian system and the country as a whole.

But on the other side, this must also be a wakeup call for our administrators and politicians. The fact that globally India is on the verge of being clubbed with nations that are inhospitable and dangerous, is a pointer to our current reputation globally, and where we may be headed to if we don’t correct our systemic deficiencies.

Link: England squad lands back in India

Read Full Post »

Curtains are finally down on the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Like most previous editions this too was politically coloured. More than sports and victorious athletes, China as a country has come up trumps on many counts.

1. China was once denied the chance to host the games due to its poor human rights record high pollution levels. I don’t know if much has changed, but at least the West and people who matter seem to have been convinced that things have changed for the better.

2. China was, and probably is to a great extent, a country hated by capitalist and democratic societies for its communist form of governanace. But deftly merging capitalism and communism, like no other country has, China has proved that their method is as effectve — if not more effective — than any other form of governance. The fact that it could host the most high-profile sports event in the world without a hitch is a testament to the success of the Chinese formula.

3. On the sports field China’s show has been dramatic. Some 20 years back, it was some where down in the medals tally. Yesterday, it ended up right on top with the most number of gold medals. It’s an amazing feat.

4. China has proved that good organisation and discipline are the keys to success.

Lessons for India

India — especially its group of Leftists — has a lot a lot from China. We may be the world’s largest democracy, and vibrant too. But as former US ambassador J K Galbraith once said it’s no better than a functioning anarchy.

One counter argument is that China is repressive. Quite possible. But disciplining may at times look repressive for people who do not fall in line. It’s not very different from the discplining in the armed forces, India included.

India is blessed with most essentials for a successful society, but their benefits are nullified because of indiscipline. Worse, people who must enforce it themselves are indiciplined.

Read Full Post »

It’s not always one gets to see epic battles, events that get etched in history. One such was last night. What made it all the more memorable was that I was so lucky to witness it. I must thank the weather gods.

When it was time for Roger Federer to take on Rafal Nadal, one wish on my lips was that it should not be a one-sided match, like the French Open when Nadal demolished Federer. Anyway, I was to miss the first portions of the match, since I had an unavoidable personal engagement to attend to. And I wanted the match to drag on so that I could catch up the deciding sets when I am back home.

Around 9.45 pm, I checked the score for the first time. Federer had lost the first two sets: 4-6, 4-6. The match was in the third set and was poised at 5-4 in favour of Nadal.

Couldn’t believe this. Imminent fall of the champion? I wished the rain continued so that by the time the match resumed I would be back home.

When I reached home and switched on the TV, memories went back 28 years, for the channel was showing the epic Bjorn Borg – John McEnroe match. Little did the channel nor I knew what would be played out when rained stopped, that it would surpass what was always talked about as “one of the greatest Centre Court encounters.”

Nadal lost the chance in the third set to end the match and lift the cup; Federer had recovered in a tie-break 7-5.

Over to the fourth set. Will Nadal pull it off now, that was the question. Again the Spaniard missed the chance. Federer — the tiebreak wizard that he is — pulled it off again, in a much more thrilling manner 10-8. Imagine, he was 2-5 down! Couldn’t believe that I was witness to a classic.

Finally, into the fifth set. Once again Nadal and Federer proving that one was better than the other with each successive shots. Every point a beauty. While Nadal packed power, Federer weaved artistry. The rallies that took our breath away, the crosscourt passing shots that made me feel so lucky to be watching them… the centre court had became a theatre of grit, resilience and endurance.

Rain interruption again… and the score: 2 games all, 5th set; 2 sets all…. The light was failing, and everyone was wondering if this would go on to the next day.

And, when covers came off, we were in for the climax. The battle was rejoined and the tennis fans got the treat of a lifetime! 

Somewhere in the deciding set, the match became in the longest ever Gentleman’s Singles match ever played. When Nadal broke the serve, there was a faint feeling that the champion might succumb soon. Nadal was seizing the advantage like never before, and he would ensure that it didn’t slip away from him at least this time. 6-6, 7-7. He made it 8-7; and finally… Federer played into the net, it was 9-7… and Nadal was ecstatic, after such a long match he could only fall flat….

What a match!

What I liked as much as the tennis was Nadal’s humility. He said Federer was still the champion, he had won five times…

Not only had Nadal put an end to Federer’s unbeaten run of 65 matches on grass, Nadal became only the second player after Bjorn Borg to win the French Open and Wimbledon back to back.

Will Federer lose the number one spot too?

Read Full Post »