Saturday, June 19, 2021

the legend flying Sikh leaves ever-lasting imprint !

Legends never die !  .. they leave ever-lasting imprints !!


Day 1 of World Test Championship at Southampton was washed out – many of us are following .. .. other than Cricketers, not many sportpersons have garnered Nation’s awe and attention.

One great man, an  Army man, a track legend, and a trailblazer who demanded excellence from all those who represented India, is no more ! — Milkha Singh passed away from COVID-19 complications yesterday.   Missing what could have been India’s greatest track and field medal — a bronze at the Rome Olympics in 1960 by 0.1 seconds — independent India’s first sporting superstar taught a nation entering its teens what a heartbreak felt like.

Captain Milkha Singh (20 November 1929 – 18 June 2021), is the only athlete to win gold in 400 metres race at the Asian Games as well the Commonwealth Games. He also won gold medals in the 1958 and 1962 Asian Games. He represented India in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. He was awarded the Padma Shri, in recognition of his sporting achievements.

The race   best remembered is his fourth-place finish in the 400 metres final at the 1960 Olympic Games, which he had entered as one of the favourites. Various records were broken in the race, which required a photo-finish and saw American Otis Davis being declared the winner by one-hundredth of a second over German Carl Kaufmann. Singh's fourth-place time of 45.73 seconds was the Indian national record for almost 40 years.

The title ‘Flying Sikh’ was accorded from a totally different quarter. The then Pakistan President, Ayub Khan, had invited Indian athletes for an Indo-Pak sports meet in Lahore.

It was the Asian Games, where Milkha announced his arrival at the international stage. Milkha first ran in 1958 Tokyo games, where he won gold in 200 meters. He ran the race in 21.6 seconds to win the title. Winning the medal was also sweeter as Milkha defeated Pakistan’s Abdul Khaliq in the final. In 1958, when Milkha Singh first participated in the games, Abdul Khaliq was Asia’s fastest runner in the 100-meter event. This was the first time when Milkha and Khaliq met each other and from there on the rivalry between both the athletes started to gain momentum.  Milkha went onto win gold in 400m too.   When the race started,   Milkha and Khaliq were running neck to neck in the first 100m, but it was Milkha who overtook Khaliq in the final stretch to win the gold, but the final decision came after a long delay by the judges. Milkha Singh who spoke about the incident in his book ‘The Race of my life’ said that both of them had eyes on each other and the race was so close that anyone could have won it. Just before the finish line, there was a muscle pull in Milkha’s right leg, but he still ran and fell on the finishing line in pain and at that very moment Khaliq also crossed the finish line. The judges watch the picture from a various angle before declaring Milkha the winner. By doing this Milkha became the second athlete to win gold in 200m. Milkha registered a timing of 21.6 seconds, while Khaliq took 21.7sec to finish the race.

After the thriller at Asian Games, Milkha and Khaliq rivalry got more intense as people from India and Pakistan both enjoyed the clash between both athletes. In 1960 Milkha went onto beat Khaliq in Lahore after which Pakistan’s interim Prime Minister field marshal Ayub Khan gave him the name Flying Sikh’.

Milkha Singh was born on 20 November 1929 at Govindpura, a village 10 km (6.25 mi) from Muzaffargarh city in Punjab Province, British India (now Muzaffargarh District, Pakistan). He was one of 15 siblings, eight of whom died before the Partition of india. He was orphaned during the Partition when his parents, a brother and two sisters were killed by Muslim mobs in the violence that ensued. He witnessed these killings !  Escaping the troubles in Punjab, where killings of Hindus and Sikhs were continuing,  by moving to Delhi.  He joined Indian army and  while stationed at the Electrical Mechanical Engineering Centre in Secunderabad he was introduced to athletics.  

Before Vikas Gowda won the gold in 2014, Milkha was the only Indian male to have won an individual athletics gold medal at those Games. At the 1962 Asian Games, held in Jakarta, Singh won gold in the 400m  and in the 4 x 400m relay.  

All of Singh's medals were donated to the nation. They were displayed at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi and later moved to a sports museum in Patiala,  where a pair of running shoes that he wore in Rome are also displayed.  Milkha Singh was admitted to the intensive care unit at Fortis Hospital in Mohali on 24 May 2021 with pneumonia caused by COVID-19. His condition was, for a while, described as stable, but he died on 18 June 2021 at 11:30 PM IST. Sad that his wife, Nirmal Kaur, had died a few days earlier on 13 June 2021, also due to COVID-19.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th June 2021. 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Is Wedlock a bondage ! ... .. how long can people be bound together ??

Is wedlock a bondage !  ~ how long can people be bound together ?  .. .. .. . Viktoria 'Vika' Pustovitova, 29, and Alexander 'Sasha' Kudlay, 33, from Kharkiv in Ukraine, were bound together for 123 days !  ~  then what happened ? ! ?


நிலத்தினும் பெரிதே; வானினும் உயர்ந்தன்று;

நீரினும் ஆர் அளவின்றே- சாரல்

கருங் கோல் குறிஞ்சிப்பூக் கொண்டு,

பெருந்தேன் இழைக்கும் நாடனொடு நட்பே.


இது குறுந்தொகையில் இருந்து ஒரு பாடல்.    எட்டுத்தொகையில் உள்ள நூல்களுள் ஒன்று குறுந்தொகை.   தலைவனின் அன்பின் ஆழத்தையும் தலைவியின் நம்பிக்கையையும் எடுத்துரைக்கிறது இப்பாடல்.  இதன் அர்த்தம்  " மலைச்சாரலில் வளரக் கூடிய, கரிய கிளைகளையுடைய குறிஞ்சி மரத்தின் பூவிலிருந்து பெருமளவு தேன் உருவாகும் நாட்டைச் சேர்ந்தவனாகிய தலைவனிடம் நான் கொண்ட நட்பானது, இந்தப் புவியைக் காட்டிலும் பெரியது; வானை விடவும் உயர்ந்தது; கடலின் ஆழத்தை விடவும் அளத்தற்கரிய ஆழம் உடையது."  

Indian marriages are grand affairs  ~ in Tamil Nadu, it used to be for 3 or even a week’s affair – all relatives assembling on the grand occasion and being happy ! The Indian society of yore was different – lot was placed on family ties – there were ONLY  arranged marriages – people getting married at young age – mostly to unknown people, not having seen them even a day before the day of marriage, yet got married, led family life, had children and lived happily thereafter……………. Or at least lived together, till they were separated by death ! ~ there were not much of complaints !  

Still, queerly some would ask – how would one marry and immediately have family relations with a total stranger ! – the concept of meeting [not to think of living together] was sort of unheard of (say, 6 decades + ago !!)  

Graeme Craig Smith captained the Proteas efficiently and scored runs at will.   He succeeded Shaun Pollock after the 2003 Cricket World Cup and handed over the captaincy to AB de Villiers after the 2011 Cricket World Cup.  Smith married Irish singer Morgan Deane,  at Cape Town in Aug 2011 and had daughter and a boy.  News reports stated that Smith's wife 'found out he wanted a divorce when he accidentally sent her a text message meant for his lawyer'.  Smith allegedly told his wife that he was keen to make their marriage work; but  he accidentally ! sent her a text saying that he wanted a divorce.  It is thought that the text had been meant for his lawyer and sent in mistake  Couple announced their separation days later  shocking South Africa.  

Nobody wants broken marriages – at the same time once cannot deny the fact that they are on increase due to varied reasons.  You find and hear of them more frequently than ever before.  Understand that divorce in India is not an easy procedure. The entire process of divorce that starts from coping up with emotional ups and downs to contesting for the long awaited divorce decree for several months,  a tough affair to get through. Due to existence of diverse religious faiths in India, the Indian Judiciary has implemented laws separately for couples belonging to different religious beliefs.  Some state that mutual divorce can be filed only when they have lived apart for at least a year.  

Comparatively, people of modern age have choices, can explore, think, talk, discuss before marriage – check of various aspects of compatibility and yet we get to hear too many instances of people not happy, couples separating, unhappy family life and more.  A  generation earlier,  women were less likely to file for divorce even  in an unhappy or abusive marriage. Most were financially dependent on their spouse and feared the social stigma of divorce.  Today women are more likely to have careers of their own, are less financially dependent on their spouse and no longer fear the social stigma of divorce.  The % of couples seeking divorce has been going up – in a Society where still entering Court is looked upon as not so good and where there could be a sizable number living alone, having separated but not formalized in a Court of law.    

Viktoria 'Vika' Pustovitova, 29, and Alexander 'Sasha' Kudlay, 33, from Kharkiv in Ukraine, were bound together for 123 days. But as the chain was severed by giant cutters in Kiev, they couldn't wait to go their separate ways. 'I want to live my own independent life, and grow as an independent person,' announced Vika. She shouted 'Hurray' as they were freed from each other. 'I am finally free,' she said. 

The couple parted when their heavy-duty chain was cut at the same Unity monument in Kiev where they had been locked together.  The couple had planned to marry and were united in bonding but admitted that being so close with no space or privacy in the end cost them their relationship and their wedding plans.  Her now ex Alexander commented after the chain was cut: 'Thank you all for supporting us. 'Look, we are now at a distance from each other. 'We were happy, and we are now happy to have had this experience in our lives.' They were 'proud' of setting a record in Ukraine, they said. In their joint social media, he posted as they came to the end of their up-close-and-personal experiment: 'Difficulties are snowballing. 'As soon as we find one plus in a situation, immediately there are two minuses. 

'Vika wants to get back to the rhythm of her earlier life, she misses what she used to love to do. 'She doesn't respond well to my suggestions to keep doing what she likes to do alongside me.' He admitted he was fed up with being alongside her as she did her makeup. 'We are trying really hard not to escalate conflicts,' he said.  Perhaps the idea of locking together with chains was not great – there were practical difficulties and there had been the pain of togetherness caused by burns from the chain on their wrist  and another problem has been using public toilets when she takes him into the 'Ladies' which has not always gone down well. 

The record that the  couple spent 126 days shackled together may not serve any great purpose and may not be a great reminder to both of them is tragic. A month ago, Vika saw the writing on the wall, saying: 'We are a bit fed up with each other. It is complicated for me… I was nervous, am nervous and, probably, will continue to be nervous.  They had planned to wed but now this is cancelled.

Akexander was even able to get behind the wheel of a car despite his girlfriend being chained to his right hand, though he appeared driving  an automatic which would have helped make this easier.  Alexander has managed to work selling cars and car parts, with Viktoria accompanying him. They also hoped to make a fortune from their stunt but it is not yet clear how much money they have made. In the end, what big benefit is derived by this experiment that went horribly wrong – the  unchaining was supervised by Ukrainian records chief Vitaly Zorin.  Alexander was to say : 'Since this is Vika's first free evening, I'm going to introduce myself to her.' 

To many – these appear purposeless challenges – living life with purpose is the challenge.


With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th June 2021 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

technical glitch causes chaos at Wimbedon 2021


This is a post on Wimbledon chaos !!

For Tennis lovers, it is the top-most event – the 2021 Wimbledon Championships   is scheduled to take place at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom. Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep are the defending singles champions from when the tournament was last held in 2019.

Following the cancellation of the 2020 tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the main tournament is due to begin on Monday 28 June 2021 and finish on Sunday 11 July 2021. Wimbledon 2021  will be the 134th edition, the 127th staging of the Ladies' Singles Championship event, the 53rd in the Open Era and the third Grand Slam tournament of the year.   The tournament is organised by the All England Lawn Tennis Club and International Tennis Federation.

                          It consists of men's (singles and doubles), women's (singles and doubles), mixed doubles, boys (under 18 – singles and doubles) and girls (under 18 – singles and doubles), which will be also a part of the Grade A category of tournaments for under 18, and singles & doubles events for men's and women's wheelchair tennis players as part of the Uniqlo Tour under the Grand Slam category, also hosting singles and doubles events for wheelchair quad tennis for the first time.

The tournament will be played only on grass courts; main draw matches will be played at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Qualifying matches will be played, from Monday 21 June to Thursday 24 June 2021, at the Bank of England Sports Ground, Roehampton.  

Former champions Venus Williams and Andy Murray were named in Wimbledon's initial list of wildcards for the  Grand Slam. American Williams, who will turn 41 on Thursday, has won five out of her seven Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon but has slipped to 103rd in the women's world rankings. She has not made it past the opening round at any tournament since reaching the second round of the Australian Open in February. Britain’s Murray won Wimbledon titles in 2013 and 2016 but is currently ranked 124th having endured a spate of injuries in the past few years. Murray underwent hip resurfacing surgery in January 2019 and his comeback has also been complicated by niggling injuries which have limited his participation in tournaments.

Prize money for this year's Wimbledon will be a little over 35 million pounds ($49.4 million), a 5.2% reduction from 2019 when the grasscourt Grand Slam was last held, organisers said. 

Tennis great and 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal said today  that he will be pulling out of Tokyo Games and Wimbledon 2021 in a bid to focus on taking care of his body and prolonging his career. Nadal has won Wimbledon twice in 2008 and 2010 and won the Olympic gold in men's singles tennis in 2008. Rafael Nadal, who was beaten by eventual champion Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros recently at  Roland Garros  was worried that the short time between French and Wimbledon,  doesn't allow him enough time to recover. Nadal maintained that Olympic Games will always be special to him and that he had the honour of representing Spain in 3 Olympics.  It’s never an easy decision to take but after listening to my body and discuss it with my team I understand that it is the right decision," Nadal said. "The goal is to prolong my career and continue to do what makes me happy, that is to compete at the highest level and keep fighting for those professional and personal goals at the maximum level of competition," he added.

Tennis fans have been left frustrated by enormous queues to purchase tickets for this year's Wimbledon after over 170,000 were put on sale at the same time.  There was chaos just after 1pm on Thursday when hundreds of thousands of people logged on to try and secure tickets in the first online sale. It led to virtual queues for the show courts so big most people had absolutely no chance of securing any tickets, which sold out in about 40 minutes.

Many were complaining that they hadn't been emailed their access code after pre-registering for the sale on the 'myWimbledon' website. Others didn't get theirs until well after the 1pm opening of the sale. Everyone hoping to secure tickets for the reduced capacity Grand Slam, which runs from June 28 until July 11, had to pre-register before midnight last night. Tennis fans were left fuming after technical issues on the Wimbledon ticketing website saw them miss out  - many took to Twitter to complain about having little to no chance of securing tickets in the sale .. .. one person  posted: 'I literally clicked on Ticket Sale button the SECOND it became active… and yet there's 10,000 people ahead of me in the virtual queue. Others demanded an explanation from Ticketmaster and Wimbledon organisers as to why their code hadn't arrived in time.

The historic sporting event, which was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, usually distributes tickets via a ballot several months in advance. But uncertainty over coronavirus restrictions at this year's Wimbledon led to an online sale being held through the Ticketmaster platform. There will be a second opportunity to buy tickets next week.  A statement issued to MailOnline by Wimbledon read: 'As expected, we received enormous demand for this initial sale of tickets for The Championships 2021.   'We appreciate the disappointment of those who were not able to get tickets on this occasion, but there will be additional opportunities to purchase tickets for this year's Championships.  

The tournament will initially be played in front of 50 per cent of capacity crowds and this will rise as the fortnight progresses. The men's and women's singles finals on the 15,000-capacity Centre Court will be played before full capacity crowds with the events treated as a pilot event. This makes them exempt from the strict capacity limits that have been placed on sporting events by the Government to make them Covid-19 safe and will occur despite 'Freedom Day' being pushed back to July 19.  

Everyone attending Wimbledon will need to provide certification of a recent negative Covid test to gain entry or proof of being double vaccinated. Once inside, however, they will be free to roam the grounds as is usually the case. The Wimbledon Queue, another way to gain access to the grounds, will be absent this year.  

It is simply a technical glitch that created chaos and prevented fans from buying ticket .. simple !  .. .. but imagine, what the British media especially BBC would have written if the same technical glitch had occurred in India say for a Cricket test at Chepauk.  Double standards, thy name !! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th June 2021.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

After Coca-cola, it is Heineken ~ after Ronaldo, it is Paul Pogba

After Coca-cola, it is Heineken.  Heineken Lager Beer   or simply Heineken is a pale lager beer with 5% alcohol by volume produced by the Dutch brewing company Heineken N.V.. Heineken beer is sold in a green bottle with a red star.

Austria forward Marko Arnautovic was banned Wednesday for one match at the European Championship for insulting a North Macedonian opponent. Arnautovic was charged with “insulting another player” under UEFA’s disciplinary rules. He was accused by the North Macedonian soccer federation of insulting Ezgjan Alioski. Alioski’s family roots are Albanian. Arnautovic’s father is Serbian and his mother is Austrian.

Just like our addiction to Cricket, this is more in Europe and elsewhere – UEFA 2020 - 2020 UEFA European Football Championship,  or simply Euro 2020, is the 16th UEFA European Championship, the quadrennial international men's football championship of Europe organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).  The tournament, being held in 11 cities in 11 UEFA countries, was originally scheduled from 12 June to 12 July 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and rescheduled for 11 June to 11 July 2021 – though happening now in 2021 it has retained the same name "UEFA Euro 2020".

UEFA President Michel Platini said in 2012 that the tournament was to be hosted in several nations as a "romantic" one-off event to celebrate the 60th "birthday" of the European Championship competition. Having the largest capacity of any of the stadiums entered for the competition, Wembley Stadium in London is scheduled to host the semi-finals and final for the second time, having done so before at the 1996 tournament in the stadium's former incarnation. The Stadio Olimpico in Rome was chosen to host the opening game, involving Turkey and hosts Italy. Originally to be played at 13 venues, two hosts were later removed: Brussels in December 2017 due to the abandonment of building the Eurostadium, and Dublin in April 2021 as there was no guarantee that spectators could attend. Spain also changed their host city from Bilbao to Seville to allow an audience at matches. The video assistant referee (VAR) system made its debut at the European Championship in this tournament.

Portugal are the defending champions, having won the 2016 competition in France. Cristiano Ronaldo’s removal of two Coca-Cola bottles during a press conference at the European Championship has coincided with a $4bn fall in the share price of the drinks company. The Portugal captain is a renowned health fanatic and made it clear what he thinks of the carbonated soft drink. The 36-year-old shifted the bottles of Coca-Cola away from him during a press conference in Budapest on Monday in the prelude to his country’s Group F game against Hungary. Ronaldo followed it by holding up a bottle of water before declaring in Portuguese: “Agua!”, appearing to encourage people to choose that instead. Coca-Cola is one of the official sponsors of Euro 2020. The company’s share price dropped from $56.10 to $55.22 almost immediately after Ronaldo’s gesture, a 1.6% dip. The market value of Coca-Cola went from $242bn to $238bn – a drop of $4bn.

A meeting of France and Germany is one of Europe’s clásicos, a collision of grand old storied aristocrats. It is a stirring spectacle just taking in the colours, the anthems, the staging, the feeling of the sporting heartlands in play. France versus Germany doesn’t always have to be thrilling or back and forth. It just is. Germany started in a back three, with Joshua Kimmich employed in the Andy Robertson role as a kind of right-sided roaming creative hub. The France team were all silk and steel. The front three, Griezmann Benzema Mbappé, have a combined 98 goals this season which, for all the talk of chemistry, feuds, wrongs of the past, really is a lot of goals.

Pogba made the only goal of the game. Sometimes he just stops, looks up and produces these passes – odd, improvised, brilliantly creative little moments of craft. He pinged the ball back across, where Mats Hummels could only thump it clumsily into his own net, his confusion owing something to the pass, which left the white shirts wheeling around, surprised to find this note of obscure geometry in the middle of all that tension.

At one point in the first half in Munich, as Paul Pogba glided around the pitch pinging and flicking and drifting the ball into strange, unexpected spaces, freezing the action around him with a touch, Antonio Rüdiger threw his arms around his chest, leant closer and seemed to take a nibble of Pogba’s shoulder. Maybe it was just a sniff or a lick.  In those opening 45 minutes Pogba moved around the pitch like a champion in a team of champions. And over the course of this 1-0 victory France were good in the way France are good, reeling off another sleek, unruffled tournament performance against a Germany team that was almost always held at arm’s length.

Antonio Rüdiger has denied biting Paul Pogba during France’s 1-0 Euro 2020 win over Germany and will not face any punishment from Uefa over the incident. The Germany defender appeared to make contact with his mouth on Pogba’s back in Tuesday’s Group F opener. Pogba initially reacted in shock but later insisted Rüdiger should face no punishment. Rüdiger is understood to harbour regrets over the incident. Uefa has chosen not to open a disciplinary case after reviewing the matter. The referee, Carlos del Cerro Grande, and his team of officials took no action and Pogba said after the match he agreed with that.  

Pogba attracted more news after the match too .. ..  Paul Pogba removed a bottle of Heineken that was in front of him as he sat down to speak after France's 1-0 victory over Germany. This is not the first time Euro 2020's sponsors have been removed from the table. A day earlier Cristiano Ronaldo removed two bottles of Coca-Cola, telling people to drink water instead. As a result the global drinks brand suffered a dramatic share fall of billions !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th June 2021.