Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

It was 19th October, 2007 and this date meant a lot for many people on the Formula-1 circuits. This Friday was the start of the practice sessions for the last race of the 2007 season. If you asked anyone on this day as to who would clinch the 2007 Driver’s Championship, no one would have had an answer to it. It was that close a finish to even predict anything out of it.

After the Japanese Grand Prix on 30th September, 2007, the rookie Lewis Hamilton was the firm favorite to romp home with this season’s Driver’s Championship. Lewis with a clear lead of 12 points from his team mate Fernando Alonso looked all set to become the first ever rookie driver to clinch the Driver’s Championship. But lady luck seemed to have deserted him for the last two races. He retired in the Chinese Grand Prix and this set up a 3 way battle for the Brazilian Grand Prix – the final race of the season. It would be either Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso or Kimi Räikkönen who would walk home with the Driver’s Championship.

Lewis had a 3 points lead on his team mate Alonso and a 7 points lead over Kimi. So on 19th October, 2007 at the start of the practice sessions for the Brazilian Grand Prix, Kimi (Also known as Ice Man for his cool head / Flying Finn) had a very outside chance of making it through to the top. Some thing dramatic had to happen to Lewis’ car and he had to finish first. Guess what? It just happened.

What a finale to the season it was today (Sunday)! What a race! According to me this was one of the best races of the 2007 season. It was a total action packed race right from the start to the finish. I really dint know whom to support for this race. There is this rookie Lewis who has exceeded all expectations to the point where he is in the best position. Then there is our defending champion Alonso just 3 points away. Then there is Kimi who has done a dramatic turn around to get to the position he has.

At the start of the race day, Felipe Massa sitting pretty at the pole position for this race meant a lot to Ferrari. What a team-man Massa has proved to be this season. I don’t really know weather the way both Ferrari drivers started off the Start-Finish line was planned but what we could witness was the perfect example of how team-work should be. As soon as the 5 red lights went off, Massa banked right to block Lewis (in the 2nd place) and this opened up a window for Kimi (in the 3rd place) to get himself in front of Lewis. Alonso (in the 4th place) also cashed in on this move and jumped up one place. But from 2nd to the 4th in a few seconds was nothing but a disastrous start that Lewis wouldn’t have wanted.

But all was not lost until Lewis’ car gave in with an electronics failure after a few laps. Gear shifts on his car were not coming through and he slumped back to the 18th place! This ruined all his chances to win a seasons championship which he has actually dominated from the start.

Massa led most of the first part of the race. But a clever pit strategy put Kimi in the lead for the rest of the race. Once Kimi got the lead all he could do is do his best to keep his position and hope things would pan out on his back to his favor. And that’s exactly what happened! Lewis managed to get to the 7th position at the end of the race. But this was just now enough.

There were so many shuffling of positions in the race that everyone was going mad to keep up with what each change in position would mean to the Drivers Championship. At a point of time I had to take a paper and pen to actually jot down the point scoring positions and think about all permutations that could possibly come up for each change of track position.

At the end of the day, I could say one thing for sure – Formula 1 fans were treated with one heck of a race. McLaren would be ruing at the result of the Drivers Championship. Both their drivers who were in a position to take the Championship failed to do so. I would blame it on Alonso for the position they have ended up today – It was just a case of being a bad loser. No one at the start of the season had expected the rookie – Lewis to do this well. By mid season the relationship with Alonso and McLaren started falling all apart. There was just no team work. Both drivers were fighting with each other even at places where there needed to be some understanding between them. This was clearly demonstrated at the start of the race today. Even the post race interviews with the winning drivers proved this point again. More than 70% of what both Ferrari drivers talked was about how the whole team worked together and they were so thankful for each and everyone in the team. Alonso never mentioned this or even if he slightly did do that on one occasion, he never seemed thankful for anyone (For reasons everyone know now).

All in all it was a terrible season for McLaren. Though they were clearly the best team on the circuit, results and circumstances were totally against them.

According to me the highlights of the season were:

  1. Exciting rule changes for the season which brought in lots of life into the sport
  2. Emergence of great drivers like Lewis who have a long way to go here. They have all made a mark for themselves already
  3. Close finish to the season’s Driver Championship. It was the first time in over 20 years that 3 drivers so closely fought it out in the last race
  4. The McLaren – Ferrari espionage controversy

With such a dramatic and exciting season coming to an end and with so many controversies still hanging loose all around, it just paves a way for the next season. Formula-1 fans all around the world would be eagerly waiting for March 2008 for the start of the 2008 season. Lets all hope the 2008 season will be as exciting as this one.

World Cup 2007 gets underway today. I really wish and pray along with millions of Indians that Rahul Dravid kisses the World Cup on April 28th.

All the best India…

India becomes a better sport

Posted: October 5, 2006 in India, Sports

Cricket frenzy India has been evolving in terms of sports following in recent times. People are now looking into other sports as well. This has been a radical but a pleasant change for Indian Sports.

There were times in the past were Cricket was the only sport played and followed in India. It was followed almost like another religion. It was really hard to find an Indian who did not like / know about Cricket (May be it stays that way even now!). Cricket has been a common mans game which has been played on every gully or streets of India. It was quite common to see people of all ages come together to be a part of a Cricket match. India used to always get united when there was a Cricket match around.

To add to this entire following, media went ho-hum if it got to hear anything to do with Cricket. Cricket news used to make big-time headlines and if India was doing well, we could find news about this all over the daily newspapers. If it was an Indo-Pak match the stakes used to catapult many times over. And if India did win their matches against Pakistan, media used to cover it as though they dint have any other news to write / talk about. Almost every page in the newspapers used to have something to with the game. Player stats, match stats, upcoming events, fantasy games to name a few. Every person used to have an opinion about their stars – how they fared, what they could have done better, does he have a future, etc.

All this was good in a way. But the negative side to this was that other sport in India used to take a backseat. There was a broad array of talent in all other sport in India which never used to get a platform to kick off. It was never easy for a sports person to get a simple sponsorship support them to keep their talents alive – all because they were not into Cricket.

There had been tremendous achievements in other sport as well. But it used to always go unnoticed. Karnam Malleswari won the Weight Lifting Bronze Medal in Olympics; Pullela Gopichand won the All England open in 2001. I am sure more than half the population of India never got to know about this when it happened. I am sure it is not hard to find people who still don’t know these names. On the other hand if India had won against even a weak team like Bangladesh it would have got unprecedented media coverage.
All this is changing for good now. In recent times sport viewers are considering about following other sport as well. Now it is really nice to find people ready to sponsor talents like Narain Karthikeyan, Sania Mirza, Rathore, etc. Slowly we can see sports like football, tennis, badminton replacing cricket in every gully or street. All this may have been helped by:

  • India not doing that well in Cricket in recent past
  • Talents like Narain Karthikeyan, Sania Mirza doing well on international circuits
  • Big events like FIFA 2006, F1, ATP tours getting lot better media coverage

Nowadays I find:

  • Pubs going absolutely full when there is a F1 race going on
  • Children who used to take to the streets playing cricket now find it interesting to play Football (Next time you find a group of children playing football near your street, make it a point to observe them. I am sure you will be amazed at all the talent there.)
  • More people wearing football jerseys rather than the common Indian Cricketing Blue
  • People making it a point to watch important ATP tour matches
  • Many fantasy game online for other sport as well

Hope this change in trend continues and we get to see lot more deserving talents come into limelight.