Sanjay Rai, Neelam beat hasty retreats
IOA eyeing high-tech sponsorship deal
Indians confident of beating Poland
India will avoid Hair in first two matches
Mohun Bagan favourites in final vs Tolly
HC auditor for AIFF accounts
Time for the others, at last
Track trials

 
 
SANJAY RAI, NEELAM BEAT HASTY RETREATS 
 
 
FROM SUJIT BHAR
 
Sydney, Sept. 25: 
India’s downward journey in the Sydney Olympic Games athletics competition continues. Today two more Indian athletes failed to reach anywhere near their personal bests and beat hasty retreats.

In women’s javelin, Neelam Jaswant Singh was thought to be the most consistent improver in India. She has so consistently improved upon her own marks since the last few meets that it was only expected that this athlete would at least be able to reproduce her best as achieved in India, or very near to that, considering the cold (today temperatures here went down to around 14 degrees Celsius), windy conditions.

After all, every athlete in the Games is subjected to the same conditions.

Instead, Neelam went out and, almost half-heartedly, brought out a wild first show.

She steadied somewhat in the next throw to reach 55.26 but in the third she went wildly off line and the red flag was immediately up.

There is little explanation on her performance. Her personal best, which has been achieved this season, has been 63.02, and she could have made it to the finals of the event from the group B qualifiers had she just given a little more effort to beat her own mark.

The two, who did qualify for the final from this group are Natalya Sadova of Russia (64.62m) and Anastasia Kelesidou of Greece (63.64m).

Neelam finished 14th in this qualifying group.

The women’s discus final comes off Wednesday.

Long jumper Sanjay Kumar Rai’s was an even worse case. In these group A qualifiers, Sanjay had a foul jump and did not jump thereafter because of a supposed muscle pull. Details of the injury were not immediately known, but that Rai’s earning a ‘No Mark’ tag, was rather more blemished than a low ranking.

Not that this makes any difference, but Rai’s personal best in In dia has been a decent 8.03m. That has been achieved this season, and his sudden loss of form and fitness (considering the change of weather proper care should have been taken) here remains a wonder. The person who qualified to the final from this group is Ivan Pedroso of Cuba, at 8,32m.

This virtually rings the curtain down on the Indian athletics misadventure in Sydney, though the relay teams in both sections are still scheduled to take part— men’s and women’s 400m and 1600m. Going by the trend that should be another low point in Indian athletics.    


 
 
IOA EYEING HIGH-TECH SPONSORSHIP DEAL 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Sydney, Sept. 25: 
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has finally decided to go high-tech. IOA president Suresh Kalmadi today said a deal is being brokered with India’s information technology giant Satyam Infoway to get a long term sponsorship deal through. Satyam chief executive officer and managing director, R. Ramraj who had flown in here from Chennai for a press conference, confirmed that talks will start soon.

Mr Ramraj today announced Satyam would be giving India’s lone medallist so far, weightlifter Karnam Malleswari, Rs 5 lakh as a token of honour for her achievement. He also said that this would be the possible standard from the company for any other medal winners in the Indian contingent. Satyam are the official co-sponsors of the Indian contingent at the Sydney Olympics.

Mr Kalmadi said that the overall objective of the deal that he intends brokering with Satyam will be “sponsorship that reaches the grassroots level. We will have several sponsors and a lot of money for those who have won medals and will in the future,” he said. “But if the grassroots are not taken care of, it will be difficult in the future to get any medallist in the first place.”

The stress, as Mr Kalmadi and Mr Ramraj put it, “will be to try and promote disciplines other than cricket in the country.” “Cricket has received a great deal of support and publicity and, then, some bad name as well,” said Mr Ramraj. “It will be our endeavour to promote the less affluent disciplines, the individual disciplines.”

As a start, Satyam has acquired Geet Sethi’s sports portal, khelari.com, and has merged it with Satyam’s khel.com, which the merged portal will be known as. It will be headed by the six-time billiards word champion. Sethi said: “This merger is in the interest of these so-called ‘minor’ disciplines, like soccer, hockey, badminton, table tennis and more. We will provide publicity and promotion in this portal for these disciplines and we will also see to it that sponsorship money reaches the right quarters.”

On the IOA’s part, Mr Kalmadi said: “It will be nice to have a technology company as partner. They (Satyam) have seen how the information dissemination has been carried out at the Sydney Olympics, and we will endeavour to make a similar system ready for the inaugural Afro-Asian Games to be held in India next year. Incidentally, the bidding process for the next Afro-Asian Games (to be held in Africa) has already started, with the forms being available now.

He said he has here met with delegations form several African nations and “they have all promised me that only the top class contingents will be coming to the Afro-Asian Games in New Delhi.”

The IOA is also hosting several dinners and banquets to promote its cause for the 2006 Asian Games bid. “We have already done a couple of these and today Hong Kong is having their own version, Qatar are also in the fray. Yesterday we had a meeting with Seikh Ahmed, head of the Olympic Council of Asia, and are hopeful of getting the Games now.

Billiards should be in

Sethi today expressed hope that billiards and snooker would, in the near future, be included in the Olympics. The disciplines were a resounding success at the Bangkok Asian Games, so were Indian cueists. “Indian cueists rank among the top racket in the amateur version of snooker and in both version of billiards. If this is into the Olympics, Indians will have a good chance of medals.”

When informed that the Fide, with its president, has been camping here and holding talks with outgoing IOA president Juan Antonio Samaranch, Sethi said such an effort will be needed for billiards and snooker as well.    


 
 
INDIANS CONFIDENT OF BEATING POLAND 
 
 
FROM SUJIT BHAR
 
Sydney, Sept. 25: 
All Indian officials, including coach Vasudevan Baskaran, believe India have a great chance tomorrow to get into the semi-finals of the Olympic hockey championships and even to get a medal. Statistics and natural strategy, though, fail to paint such a rosy picture.

The basic idea is that India meet unfancied Poland (though it has to be remembered that Poland have beaten Spain 4-1 earlier) in the last match of Pool B, and India should win, and will even be in a position to decide on strategy because all the pool matches would have been over by then.

Australia and South Korea lead the pool on eight points each and India are third on seven points. If Australia and Korea draw their match they would each be on nine points and could go through if India do not manage a win over Poland. At this point, Australia have a goal differential of five, and South Korea, after yesterday’s 3-2 win over Poland, have a goal differential of three, and India’s goal differential is just a measly two.

Baskaran said he was hoping that Australia would, “in their own Olympics” try to go through with a fine win over South Korea. Also, The Netherlands lead Pool A (so far, with all teams having a game left for the final day), and it is always a wise thing to avoid The Netherlands in the semi-final. Logic says Australia would definitely be wanting to finish atop Pool B.

“Whatever happens, my team is fit and in high spirits, and our prime objective tomorrow will be to earn a big and convincing victory over Poland,” said the coach. “Tomorrow’s result will surely take us to the semi-final, but the match in itself will be important to us. Poland are no pushovers, and they have shown that versus Spain and South Korea.”

The team composition, Baskaran thinks, has settled down, and Dhanraj Pillay’s withdrawn position is likely to continue while the centre forwards make their way across. The half line was a trifle slow in the last match (versus Spain), but that is not worrying Baskaran. “I am sure the sheer urgency of the match will put in the players that adrenaline rush that is necessary for a top class win tomorrow. All the players will be clear in their heads as to what we should achieve when we take the field and they are accomplished players all in their own right,” he said.

Worries about a possible lack of clear communication between the coach and the players (this has been seen at least in one match, versus South Korea when Baskaran and the players’ viewpoints differed wildly) also seem distant. In short, with no injury worries at all, India are geared up to “give the best they can” in these Games so far.

Today Argentina, out of the running with five points from five matches, showed great sporting spirit in making a match to their fixture with Spain, winning 5-1. Spain, who had not so long ago been promoted to being one of the powers in world hockey, became virtually the whipping boys of this pool. They bottomed out in the pool with just two points from their quota of five matches.

In Pool A, Pakistan are in similar tight position. They are in third position with six points and the pool is led by The Netherlands on eight points, followed by Germany, also on eight points. Germany play Britain tomorrow, and going by Britain’s record here (rock bottom in pool with two points) Germany should have no problem. Pakistan meet The Netherlands tomorrow and Pakistan manager Islahuddin Siddiqui said he was aware of his team’s condition here and “we all know that only a win can see us through tomorrow.”    


 
 
INDIA WILL AVOID HAIR IN FIRST TWO MATCHES 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, Sept. 25: 
As stand-in captain during the India versus New South Wales match last December, Sourav Ganguly’s spat with controversial umpire Darrell Hair made bold headlines.

It confirmed that, generally, there was no love lost between Hair and the Asian Test-playing nations. In fact, just a few weeks after that, Hair had done his bit to again sour relations.

Unofficially, but unambiguously, the Indians did let it be known they would be much happier if their paths didn’t meet.

While the Indians haven’t encountered Hair after Australia, they could during the mini World Cup in Nairobi (October 3-15). This time, of course, Sourav is the full-fledged captain.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, Hair hasn’t been slotted for India’s first game (also the tournament-opener), against Kenya. And, as India’s next match (quarter final No. 1) will be versus Australia — nobody is banking on Kenya authoring an upset — Hair won’t be there either.

If India get past the world champions, however, they may run into Hair in the semi-finals itself. Should it come to that, the India-Hair ‘face-off’ will attract as much attention as the game itself.

Hair is one of six umpires shortlisted for the mini World Cup. The others are: Srinivas Venkatraghavan, Steve Bucknor, David Shepherd, Peter Willey and Dave Orchard.

The Match Referees on duty will be Raman Subba Row, Ranjan Madugalle and Cammie Smith.

Meanwhile the Indians, who leave for Nairobi (with a transit halt in Dubai) from New Delhi Wednesday morning, will face Sri Lanka and the West Indies on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

Both are practice matches and will be played in Nairobi. Apparently, one game was initially scheduled for Mombasa but coach Aunshuman Gaekwad “insisted” both be staged in Nairobi itself.

Makes sense as the tournament is a one-city affair, quite like the inaugural edition — Dhaka, 1998. One venue too — the Nairobi Gymkhana, this time.

Incidentally, with just hours for the team’s departure, there are whispers a TV network (not Zee, as many will be tempted to think) has signed/intends signing the big guns for “something major” from New Year’s Day. Sourav, though, has not been approached. Not yet, anyway.

THE OFFICIALS’ LINE-UP (Till quarter finals)

October 3: India vs Kenya (Orchard, Bucknor; Madugalle).

October 4: Sri Lanka vs West Indies (Venkat, Willey; Subba Row).

October 5: England vs Bangladesh (Hair, Orchard; Smith).

October 7: Australia vs winner of India vs Kenya (Bucknor, Shepherd; Madugalle).

October 8: Pakistan vs winner of Lanka vs Windies (Hair, Willey; Subba Row).

October 9: New Zealand vs Zimbabwe (Venkat, Shepherd; Smith).

October 10: South Africa vs winner of England vs Bangladesh (Bucknor, Hair; Madugalle).    


 
 
MOHUN BAGAN FAVOURITES IN FINAL VS TOLLY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 25: 
Mohun Bagan, desperate to bring home a title this season, start favourites against Tollygunge Agragami in the final of the 16th All-India Airlines Gold Cup football tournament tomorrow.

Coach Subrata Bhattacharya, though confident, was cautious before the home clash and expected a spirited fight from the rival outfit.

He admitted today that it would be a daunting task to get past Tollygunge Agragami, especially if they adopt an ultra-defensive strategy.

Incidentally, Mohun Bagan were held to a 1-1 draw by Tollygunge in their league match.

The glamour club is sure to bank upon the upfront services of Brazilian striker Jose Ramirez Barreto and in-form R.C. Prakash. Tollygunge Agragami’s hopes of staging an upset, on the other hand, rest with Abdulateef Seriki, who scored a hattrick against Nepal XI in their last group engagement. HC auditor for AIFF accounts BY OUR LEGAL REPORTER

Calcutta, Sept. 25: Justice Kalyanjyoti Sengupta of the Calcutta High Court today appointed a partner of Lovelock Lewes, a city-based farm, to audit the accounts of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

The auditors were asked to furnish a report within six weeks. The order was passed on the basis of a petition filed by a joint-secretary of the Indian Football Association against the AIFF president, alleging misappropriation of funds.    


 
 
HC AUDITOR FOR AIFF ACCOUNTS 
 
 
BY OUR LEGAL REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 25: 
Justice Kalyanjyoti Sengupta of the Calcutta High Court today appointed a partner of Lovelock Lewes, a city-based farm, to audit the accounts of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

The auditors were asked to furnish a report within six weeks. The order was passed on the basis of a petition filed by a joint-secretary of the Indian Football Association against the AIFF president, alleging misappropriation of funds.    


 
 
TIME FOR THE OTHERS, AT LAST 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
 
Last Wednesday’s racing brought some relief from the total domination of the Ramaswamys and the Khaitans. It was, instead, time for the Karkis and Mujeebs.

Honours in the six events on the day were shared by trainers Deepak Karki, Richard Alford, Mujeeb-ur-Rehman and Vijay Singh. While Richard and Karki walked away with a double apiece, Vijay and Mujeeb divided the rest between themselves.

It was a significant ‘victory’ for small owners-trainers, who are unable to match their wits against high quality horses trained by their peers for the heavyweight owners.

The lesser mortals in the city racing are in a desperate state, and in grave danger of losing their identity. Their last hope seems to be the Breeze Up sales on October 22 because it offers small owners a chance to replenish stock at a moderate investment.

But, then, the flow of entries for the sales has dropped somewhat, thanks to spoilsports who have been going around discouraging prospective sellers for no rhyme or reason.

Coming back to the day’s fare: Richard seems to be utilising the riding allowance of son, Rutherford, to full affect. In fact, it was the five-kg allowance claimed by the apprentice that helped Arctic Fancy score over On The Bit, who looked like pulling off an upset in the last furlong of the 1,200m Thrifty Allan Handicap. Considered to be best upto 1,100m over the monsoon course, the speedy On The Bit was, however, ridden in a check until the home-turn. But she had nothing extra to offer in the last 100m when challenged by the winner.

Almond Rock, another of Richard’s winners on the day, was, of course, fluent in victory in the South Sea Handicap. The vastly improved Tecorno-Cannon Wish three-year-old not only beat Sky Command hands down but he also served notice that another victory is well within his reach.

Karki planned his double from the start with Magic Ring, who had been knocking at the door. The seven-year-old led from the start and drew away from the field in the stretch-run. Jaya-ashva, his main rival who attracted pots of money in the ring, was no match for the winner right through. He hung-out when put under pressure to lose whatever little chance he had. Ridden in check, the speedy Whitney placed second.

Karki’s brace came through a lesser fancied Constantine in the Silver Balm Handicap, which also saw a downfall of the top two favourites — Mountain Memory and Ruler With Honour .

In the 1,400m Pompano Handicap, Mujeeb’s Global Harmony landed a good gamble. Fourth till 600m from home, the four-year-old kept improving, led nearing the distance-post and won comfortably. Royal Ruler, trailed after losing about three lengths at the start but finished on to place a good second.

Jeweller made a mince-meat of the opposition, including stablemate Aldebro, in the 2,000m Monsoon Cup, the afternoon’s feature.    


 
 
TRACK TRIALS 
 
 
BY OUR TURF CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Sept. 25: 
The following track-work was noted yesterday:

Outer sand track

1,200m: Aquaria (C. Alford) in 1-39s; (400m) 26s. Fit. Alterezza (Surender) in 1-31s; (400m) 28s.

Sand track

800m: Alvarada (C. Alford) 57s; (400m) 26s. Easy.

On Saturday, outer sand track

800m: Athletico (C. Alford) in 58s; (400m) 28s. Amarante (Amil) in 58s; (400m) 27s. Fit. Annalee (A.P. Singh) in 59s; (400m) 27s. Freedom Warrior (Rb) and Sixteen Sixtyfour (Rb) in 1-0s; (400m) 28s. Level.

Monsoon track

1,400m: No Regrets (Manohar) in 1-37s; (400m) 25s. Impressed. Ashbury (Upadhya) in 1-41s; (400m) 24s. Fit. 800m: Anntari (Rabani) in 56s; (400m) 25 2/5s. Easy. Consul’s Secret (Bird) in 56s; (400m) 24s. Easy. Staffordshire (Rb) in 52s; (400m) 23s. Note. Aliqa (Akhtar) in 58s; (400m) 27 2/5s. Crest Star (Amjad) in 55s; (400m) 25s. Good. Double Cross (Rb) and Sky Hawk (G. Singh) in 56s; (400m) 25s. Both level. Too Soon To Tell (Manohar) in 54s; (400m) 24s. Easy. Cup Of Life (Brij) and Scavenger’s Son (Upadhya) in 51s; (400m) 23s. Former 2 ls better. Heaven’s Blessing (G. Singh) in 53s; (400m) 25s. Good. Giorgio (Upadhya) and Endless Surprise (C. Alford) in 53s; (400m) 24s. Former 2 ls better. Scarlet Raider (Gowli) in 56s; (400m) 27s. Software (Rb) and Rheinheart (G. Singh) in 53s; (400m) 23s. Former 2 ls better. Just Kidding (Yadav) in 56s; (400m) 26s. Iron Warrior (C. Alford) in 54s; (400m) 23s. Good. Supreme Desire (K. Kumar) in 58s; (400m) 26s. Santillana (Salim) in 56s; (400m) 24s. Easy. The Stud (Connorton) in 59s; (400m) 26s. American (P. Alford) and Bird’s Empire (Rutherford) in 55s; (400m) 25s. Former too good. Friendly Knight (Bird) in 58s; (400m) 25s. Ring Dancer (Yadav) in 56s; (400m) 23s. Fit. 600m: Orbital Star (Yadav) in 42s; (400m) 23s. Fit. Acadameus (Brij) in 41s; (400m) 26s. Madame X (Rb) in 42s; (400m) 26s.

Sand track,/h3> 800m: Alborada (P. Alford) and Ballet Master (Rutherford) in 54s; (400m) 24s. Former 2 ls better. Time Of Times (Amjad) in 55s; (400m) 24s. Easy.600m: Added Asset (K. Kumar) in 44 2/5s; (400m) 26 2/5s. Gul (Locke) in 44s; (400m) 25 2/5s. Bul Bul (Engineer) in 43s; (400m) 26s.

Gate practice, monsoon track

2,000m: Alastar (C. Alford) and Adeline (Amil) in 2-24s; first 1,200m in 1-24s.    
 

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