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April 2016

Bollywood Strangling Sports

The Olympics are around the corner and to build up the excitement the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) named Salman Khan aka Bhai the ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ for this edition of the games. Now Bhai is a beloved character and has  endless fan following but is this a joke? Is the decision of someone who has nothing to do with sports being made the ambassador of International level games justified? Is he fit to play the role?

Ambassadors are made to inspire the sports persons, who will compete for the nation. What inspiration can Salman provide? The Olympics are a test of grit and determination to succeed in extremely competitive environment in the international arena, the inspiration that the players require should be someone who has felt the pressure, has been through this, one who has achieved for the country, the players need someone from the sports community to lead them. There is no dearth of such sporting personalities be it Milkha Singh, Leander Paes, Dhanraj Pillay or Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal or Mary Kom who have popularized and encouraged scores of girls into joining sports. If none of the above Sachin Tendulkar could have been a better suited Ambassador. Yes, cricket is not an Olympic sport but the Bharat Ratna winner has inspired many and is a legit sports personality.

This decision by the IOA has got a lot of flak from the sporting community. Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt took to Twitter with fervour demanding the need for a “Goodwill Ambassador.” Legendary athlete Milkha Singh also joined in condemning the IOA’s decision calling it ‘unfair’ and asked the government to intervene.

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With the games around the corner the IOA should be focussing all their energies in catering to the needs of the athletes instead of making controversial decisions that tick them off.

The appointment of Salman Khan reflects how our country is obsessed with Bollywood. This is not the first time such an incident has happened, in fact it’s a regular feat be it the opening and closing ceremony of the IPL, the world cups or even the recently started International Premier Tennis League where giants like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Pete Samparas were considered not enough and Bollywood celebs like Deepika Padukone and Amir Khan were called in. A Tennis fan would have felt utterly humiliated after watching Amir Khan’s cringe inducing antiques with the tennis racquet in front of tennis giants that day.

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As a keen follower of sports I find this obsession with Bollywood absolutely insulting to sports. It is sad to see sports being overshadowed by Bollywood in India. Yes, we love our film industry but that doesn’t mean we have to drag it everywhere. 

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#Kohli’fied

Virat Kohli has become synonymous with Indian cricket in the past month. The one man army, it was he who kept  the Indian batting alive in the World Cup.  He seems to be possessing the Midas touch of late, be it any format of the game, he stamps his authority with ease. He is the most technically sound and an utterly fearless player today. But the best quality about him is he relies on sacred cricketing shots. He is neither a six hitter like Dhoni or Gayle nor does he rely on unconventional, unimaginable shots that AB de Villiers plays in T20/ODI cricket. Many considered these shots to be a necessity to succeed in T20, but Kohli proves them wrong. He has established himself as the best in T20 purely on technique. His cover drives, silken flicks and pull shots are a sight to behold.

Kohli’s unique techniques leaves the opposition frustrated. With the a combination of bat speed and strong flexible wrists Kohli creates extraordinary angles that defeat field placements. What’s inspiring is that Kohli was not born with these abilities, he worked hard for them. He was aware of his shortcomings as a player, he consciously made an effort to recognise them and remove them successfully. It is hard to believe that someone who plays the most exquisite cover drives was once a predominantly onside player. Evolving oneself by removing shortcomings is sign of a player who is destined for greatness and Kohli seems to be in cusp of greatness.

T20 World cup

Even though India didn’t win this world cup, it will remain in the heart of every cricket loving Indian as a happy memory. It was  during this world cup that one man wooed even his staunch haters. What he did was beyond magical, pulling of wins for India single-handedly. He gave it all for the team, requested the audience to cheer for the team instead of him, took responsibility for losing his wicket against New Zealand. Long gone are his days of filthily cussing. He has started owning up to his responsibilities as a team member and as a captain.

There are occasions when it sinks slowly into our consciousness that we are watching something special, something that happens rarely, extraordinary and beyond normal human effort and that we are simply lucky to be watching it. Kohli’s knock against Australia in the ‘virtual’ quarter final was precisely that. It was unbelievable. Like a surgeon who dissects his patient meticulously, Kohli dissected the Australian bowlers. He was patient yet aggressive showed perseverance and scads of passion. When India won he fell to his knees, emotionally and physically exhausted, he gave it all he had.

The New Sachin?

Kohli always says Sachin is his hero and he wants to be like him and many have started comparing the two  but labelling him as Sachin is wrong, for both of them are  unique. We always want to be our heroes, we believe in them, follow them but one day we become a hero ourselves and that is the best tribute we can give to our heroes. Virat Kohli has already become a hero, a hero different from Tendulkar. He now leads a generation that believes in him just like he did in Sachin and that is where the similarity ends. Sachin is God but India is home to many Gods..maybe we are witnessing the rise of a new one.

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