Individual athletes have pushed themselves to the limit in order to bring glory for India, although the support from officialdom is still insufficient
Even as the entire India was celebrating Sathish Kumar Sivalingam’s gold medal victory in the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, his parents back here in his home-town, Sathuvachari, were relieved and thanking the almighty for saving their son from any kind of injury during the course of the competition.
The 77 kg category lifter was under great stress after witnessing one of his fellow competitors from Australia getting collapsing on the platform in his bid to lift 169 kg weight in clean and jerk. Francois Etoundi was fortunate to have a physio beside him when he suffered the injury and it took no time to strap his biceps to make sure that it doesn’t worsen due to lack of proper treatment.
Sathish’s father Sivalingam (56), himself a national medallist way back who now works at the VIT University as a security guard, knew about his son’s psychological state as it was only a few months back that he sustained a leg injury during nationals in Mangalore. That was the reason why the Indian lifter was repeatedly asking for a physio on standby.
And when Sathish, who brought so much of joy and happiness to entire India, failed to get his wish fulfilled by his officials, it was again left to his parents back home to ensure that he remains injury free by performing “special poojas” at temples in Vettuvanam and Pallikonda.
All those anxious prayers were answered when Sathish clinched the third gold (his second after 2014 CWG in Glasgow) for India at the Games by lifting 317 kg in total — 144 kg in snatch and 173 kg in clean and jerk.
His parents are now hoping that Sathish would not have any such issue to tackle during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and can train with a free mind. “Olympics is his dream and we hope he makes it count. We can force him to get married only after Tokyo mission,” was what his mother Deivanai said in elated voice.
Anas runs race of his life
Muhammed Anas Yahiya was not so lucky. Far from the lifting platform, Anas ran the race of his life but failed to reach the podium.
Anas finished fourth in the 400m final with a time of 45.31 seconds, the quickest race in the history of Indian athletics. He was seen gasping for breath even after a good 15 minutes of the race, but he was still empty-handed and not looking interested in inhaling any extra oxygen after coming to term with the truth.
This is athletics where your country’s best may not even be enough to get you a medal. Personal best and national mark are no small achievements for this athlete who has been running for years to make his presence felt. matters for athletes who’ve been running for years and decades.
It was the first time that an Indian was competing in the 400m final at the CWG since the legendary Milkha Singh in 1958. Even then Anas’ fell short of just 0.2 seconds to Isaac Makwala (44.35), Baboloki Thebe (45.09) and Javon Francis (45.11). He could blame it on the rain that lashed the arena some time back but then even that is not going to get him the medal.
“I am proud of myself because I managed to get fourth,” he was seen telling the TV reporter there.
He knew how he almost missed CWG because of Athletics Federation’s strict policy where athletes who train outside the national camp are not considered for internationals. Anas was training under his personal coach PB Jaikumar in Trivandrum, away from the rest of the Indian athletes. He was somehow included at the last moment only after he agreed to join the national camp in Patiala.
Started out as a long jumper, Anas has been one of India’s most consistent 400m runners in last couple of years. It has been his starts that make him stand out of the rest.
And let’s just hope that this is only a start of his long career for this runner!
Shooting for a dream
Who says doctors can’t shoot anyone down?
If the stakes are as high as the gold medal of a world class tournament, then a qualified dentist from India doesn’t show any mercy before shooting down all her enemies to climb to the top of the podium. The doctor is none other than Heena Sidhu, a qualified doctor, who showed no mercy when killing the challenge posed by Australian Elena Galiabovitch in the women’s 25m pistol event at the Belmont Shooting Centra.
Heena, 28, first bagged a silver medal in the women’s 10m air pistol event before grabbing this 25m pistol gold. By becoming first ever Indian pistol shooter to win a gold in an ISSF World Cup finals in 2013, her journey till date has certainly been that of a hard-working dedicated girl.
Heena took up the sport when she was 16. Till 2006, while she was preparing for her pre-medical entrance exams, Heena treated it just like a distraction to take her mind away from her hectic study schedule. “I never thought that this is what I would eventually end up doing for the rest of my life. But when I decided to take up shooting, my family supported me wholeheartedly. And the rest is history,” that’s how the champion shooter summed up her new professional career.
Heena’s first love still is reading books, if not practising at shooting range. The new Indian sports fashion icon loves to explore unknown, new places. She owes her success to her coach and husband Ronak Pandit for her success.
Manika and art of playing TT
Till April 7, 2018, Singapore’s Feng Tianwei and Company’s famous victory over table tennis powerhouse China to win the World Team Table Tennis Championships used to be dubbed as ‘Miracle of Moscow’.
The famous victory in Moscow may still stay as ‘miracle’, but the ‘mother of all upsets’ would now be the label for the Manika Batra-led assault on Singapore’s team, which had never lost in the Commonwealth Games since the sport was inducted in the programme way back in 2002.
The world No. 58 Manika’s 11-8, 8-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7 win over world No. 4 Feng can easily be the biggest upset in recent memory. And that set the stage for India’s 3-1 shock victory to climb to gold podium.
Manika’s effect was also felt a day later when Indian men produced an unprecedented display to beat formidable Nigeria 3-0 to make it a double.
Manika took up the sport at four after watching her two elder siblings play the game. She soon was the best player in her family, then in the city before topping the state. At 15, she won the silver medal in her first nationals. She had to change schools frequently in order to pursue her table tennis dreams.
Young Manika has other dreams too once her TT career is over. She plans to try her luck in B-Town (Bollywood) after her professional sports career. And this has a reasoning also… Manika had to give up a modelling career, even though it was just starting, to concentrate on her table tennis career.
“Alia Bhatt is my favourite actress, while I love Sidharth Malhotra and Salman Khan among the men,” she says breathlessly.