London: Mahesh-Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna’s defeat will undoubtedly spawn a whole gamut of stories about how they had reaped what they had sown etc.
But outside of personality clashes and the farcical drama which preceded the selection of the players for these Olympics is the sad truth that Indian tennis is so bereft of talent that there is no recourse but to settle for ageing prima donnas – in whatever combination.
This has allowed the prima donnas to set their own agenda, browbeat the All India Tennis Association to doing their bidding. The flipside to this argument is that all these players have come up on their own, with support more from family and friends, than from the national association.
All things considered, Indian tennis is in a mess.
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Michael Phelps will not replicate his eight gold-medal performance of Beijing here, but he is surely winning more hearts this time.
Remember, I am writing this with three more of his events still be held, and though he has not looked invincible as in Beijing, he could win at least a couple of more golds and three medals overall, to finish with a whopping 22 overall.
The American swimming phenomenon, won his 15th gold in the 4×200 m relay Tuesday night anchoring the US home.
This was his 19th Olympic medal overall, and as statisticians will tell you, places him 55th overall among Olympic medal-winning countries! To put it in sharper perspective, Phelps has won more medals than India in their Olympic history.
This is not to demean India or any other country, but to highlight why Phelps is widely regarded as the greatest Olympian ever. He already has one more medal than Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina.
There are several ‘golden’ athletes in the pantheon of Olympic greats: Al Oerter won the discus in four successive Olympics, British rower Steve Rdegrave went one better winning five, Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens won four track and field gold at single Games each, boxer Teofilo Stevenson – who passed away recently – won three gold to name a few. But it is almost impossible at this point in time to deny Phelps the accolade of ‘greatest’.
At the Olympic swimming arena last night, Phelps was the undisputed star, even though he had narrowly lost the 200m butterfly, one of his favourite events, to Chad Le Clos of South Africa.
“We have come to assume that Michael will win every time he gets into the pool, but he is four years older,” said an American supporter who was at the event. “The great thing is that he is undeterred by setbacks, still smiling, still swimming and inspiring a whole generation of swimmers.”
That sounds like a good tag line for the Olympics.
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It’s a crucial day for India at the Olympics today. The number of medals that India is likely to win will depend on how the athletes fare in various disciplines.
Parupalli Kashyap has succoured hopes of a good day by thrashing his Sri Lankan rival Niluka Karunaratne in the pre-quarters of the men’s badminton. He was in terrific form again, starting strongly, but then shifting strategy to play a more measured game after Karunaratne won the second game.
Saina Nehwal, a distinct medal hope, takes the court this evening. The badminton players have done as well as expected as yet, which is not quite what could be said of the others. But things could change in a few hours – for better or worse.
The hockey team plays New Zealand in what is a must-win match if they hope to finish among the top three in their group for a place in the top six at least.
In tennis, Leander Paes has a long and hard day ahead of him; he has the men’s and mixed doubles to play. Prospects of him and Sania Mirza going ahead are greater rather good, but so far the grass at Wimbledon has not been kind to India’s players.