It is the Olympics season, so how about me treating you to my stray thoughts and observations on the games? Of course you are more than welcome to return the favour in the comments section 😉
1. I watched quite a few of the gymnastics events this year and as usual was floored by the grace and effortlessness with which participants executed routines which ordinary mortals like you and I can only dream of. Gymnastics must surely be one of the most training- intensive sports — most gymnasts who make it to the Olympics have been training since the age of three or four. Those competing at the Olympics are required to be at least sixteen years of age but too many of them look barely into their teens– mostly due to gymnastic training hampering normal growth but partly also due to fudged birth records.
It was heartbreaking to see them cry when they missed a medal–the anguish on their innocent vulnerable faces was only too real. I got the uncomfortable feeling that they were too young to be investing so much, to be putting so much on stake, for the sake of a medal. Is a medal really worth one’s childhood?
Come to think of it, is gymnastics sports at all? To my layperson’s eyes, it is more like the fine arts than sports, what with the heavy emphasis on aesthetics. (I feel the same about synchronized swimming and other aesthetics-heavy events too). Aesthetics is essentially a subjective thing. Shouldn’t sports be more like science, with well-defined rules and scope for completely objective evaluation?
2. Time for a reality check–I hate to admit this but Saina Nehwal is not a patch on her Chinese competitors. She makes too many unforced errors. Plus, she seldom, if ever, manages to smash. The Chinese badminton players, on the other hand, are a class apart. Saina was just plain lucky that her opponent Xin Wang had to withdraw mid-match due to injury in the bronze-medal match because Wang had been plainly outplaying her. Again, I hate to admit this but I pumped my fists and almost went ‘Yay!!’ when Wang retired hurt. Oh well, the Chinese win so many medals anyway; as a matter of fact they won the gold and the silver for badminton itself–what’s a measly bronze to them!
3. My favourite in the Indian contingent was Devendro Singh Laishram, the boxer in the 49 kg category. I had never heard of him before but happened to catch his bout against some boxer from Honduras. The puny Laishram knocked out the poor fellow in the first round in just over two minutes. Such a show of spunk and attitude from the pint-sized, baby-faced boxer!!
His pre-quarterfinal bout against a Mongolian boxer was a delightfully one-sided affair again. Too bad he could not maintain the momentum in the quarter finals and win another bronze for India like fellow Manipurian Mary Kom .
4. Even something as rustic and unstylish as discus-throw acquires a charm of its own when someone from the country makes it to the final round. This was proved by the fact that I actually set an alarm for 1:15 in the night to catch Krishna Poonia in action.
Well, quite apart from action, the contestants themselves were a sight to behold. I do not remember seeing such hefty, ‘king-sized’ women before–defending champion Stephanie Brown Trafton was a good six feet four inches (with a physique to match) and even our own home-grown Poonia turned out to be six feet tall.
Poonia managed a throw of around 63 meters but still ended seventh. Nevertheless, I found myself applauding her effort wholeheartedly. No mean achievement. I was acutely aware that I for one couldn’t throw a two kg discus any further than 10m to save my life– with any amount of training, for any number of years!
I gave the men’s discus throw event a miss but read in the papers that Vikas Gowda, who qualified to be in the final round, was six feet nine inches tall and towered over all other finalists 🙂 Too bad he still finished eighth, though.
Hats off to Vijay Kumar for the silver. And hope Sushil Kumar delivers and brings up the tally to five. One must refrain from being too optimistic though, I guess.