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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mother of all appeasement - Sania's Maa is the Manager

Know the shortcut to Olympics – no need for any sporting prowess, no need for any rigorous training – just be an official in any of the Sports association or be a mother of a popular player !! – Shambolic !!!! – One should really hang one’s head in shame when you read about the ways teams are selected and associations are run !!!

On 11th Aug 2008, Abhinav Bindra brought glory to India by winning the gold medal in men's 10m air rifle shooting event. In doing so, he won the first ever individual gold medal for India, and the first medal in any event for India at the Beijing Games.  The 2008 Beijing Olympics turned out to be the best ever for India as they won, one Gold and two bronze – Sushil Kumar in Wrestling and Vijender in Boxing being the winners.  A contingent of 56 athletes represented India, and they had a support-staff of 42 officials.   India is known for sending larger contingent of officials, managers and others ………..

There is one association which is dogged by more and more controversies and bringing shame to the Nation despite the fact that the only recognition is the bronze medal won in 1996 Atlanta Olympics by Leander Paes.   On 15th June 2012, the All India Tennis Association  announced the double pair ‘Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi’ for the men's doubles event of the London Olympics – Bhupathi expressed reluctance to play alongside Paes.  Finally, AITA compromised by announcing 2  teams for Olympics, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna as one team and the other team consisting of Leander Paes and Vishnu Vardhan.  So much of dust has been kicked that everyone has talked against the other and it would perhaps do the Nation good, if nobody is sent to represent India in Olympics as a tennis player……

One often hears that ‘Nation should come first’ – but whims, fancies, opinions, biases, prejudices, bickering, wrangling, foul mouth, ego, belittling others and everything else was in forefront – as player after player angered their choice expletives, yet AITA remained mute and went after pacifying everyone…. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) established in 1920  is  the governing body of tennis in India.

After days of bitter wrangling over India's tennis representation at next month's London Olympics, a compromised formula was announced under which Mahesh Bhupathi gets his wish to partner Rohan Bopanna in the doubles, while Leander Paes has been paired with lower-ranked Vishnu Vardhan – Paes has already spoken so ill about the class and caliber of Vishnu Vardhan.  One mistake after another, and one compromise after other -  Paes was  compensated by being named for the mixed doubles along with Sania Mirza, thereby turning Bhupathi's desire to play alongside her.  Politically, the  compromise formula worked out by AITA was announced barely hours before the deadline for sending entries expired.  The contingent got bigger as  Sania Mirza  was awarded a wild card entry along with Rushmi Chakravarthi for the women's doubles tennis event at the London.  Somdev Devvarman,too, was given a wild card in men's singles. 

They are not the top seeds nor confirmed Medal hopers – yet they think themselves to be too big and threatened the Sports Body that they would pull out – AITA was on its knees, conceded to all their demands and went flat requesting them to play in the "best interest of the nation".  India is not exactly competing for any top spot over there and for us who are accustomed to see failures and nil returns, it would do us more proud that if all of them are rejected and not sent at all.  Nation should come first and no individual can challenge its National pride !! – Can’t the Administrative body put in place a code of conduct for players – how can individuals be allowed to be above the body or the Nation itself ? – unanswered questions.. and these players are considered without achieving anything substantial.  Why there is no answer to the Q : ‘Can the players have the veto power ?” and can the players blackmail the Country ??

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) also remained mute to the sordid episode of terms being dictated by individual players.  First Bopanna and Bhupathi refused to partner Paes, then Paes spoke ill of his partner Vishnuvardhan  - the entries for the mixed doubles would be made on the spot after the Games begin in London on July 27 but  AITA announced that Sania would partner Paes – she immediately went on air stating that she is being used as a bait. How dirty to hear all this……

Now, with rest of the things settled, perhaps Sania had to be rewarded and it came in the most peculiar way, taking the tennis fraternity by surprise.   AITA announced that Sania Mirza's mother Nasima, who has nothing to write home about in the racquet sport at all, would be manager of the national women team.  Her qualification according to AITA -  'She has been travelling with Indian women team for Fed Cup, Asian Games and Olympics. She has travelled to various grand slam venues also and has hands on experience of handling needs of women players. – so she travels at the Nation’s cost – a gift to Mother for appeasing Sania, what a strategy !!  The Association feels that her stay in Olympic village would an  additional advantage.   So Naseema ‘Sania’s Maa’ is going to the London Olympics with no specialization.  The other members are: Davis Cup non-playing captain S P Misra, Sanjay Singh -trainer of Leander Paes, Shayamal Vallabhjee- training consultant of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna and Milos Galecic – the physio of Somdev Devvarman.

For the two women players – Sania and Rushmi, you have a Manager, and the only qualification being the mother of one of them. Long live the AITA and similar sporting bodies – Nation with population of more than 120 crores finds athletes and players hard to come by but not the Managers and administrators

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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