NSCN (Isak-Muivah) cadres take pictures with their phones at Camp Hebron near Dimapur as Indian archer Chekrovolu Swuro, a Chakhesang Naga, hit a perfect ten but later lost to Jennifer Nichols of the US in a tie-breaker at the London Games. Picture by Nishit Dholabhai
July 31: Dipu Moni and I discuss Mamata Banerjee — or, more specifically, if there is anything Mamata can do to encourage the people of Calcutta to take up sports.
Since Mamata wants to make Calcutta more like London, one suggestion is that Mamata should follow the example of Boris Johnson, the city’s mayor, and urge people to take up cycling. Perhaps it would be going too far to expect Mamata herself to cycle to Writer’s every morning, especially if she has never ridden a bike before, but the vision conjured up is certainly appealing.
Dipu, Bangladesh’s charming, engaging foreign minister, has been thinking of what she can do personally to encourage sports in Dhaka.
After all, Dr Dipu Moni is by training a medical doctor. “Because of the traffic and a lot of narrow streets, cycling would not be easy in Dhaka — or Calcutta — unless there are cycle lanes,” she points out.
Having hugely enjoyed the Olympic ceremony which she attended with Sheikh Hasina, Dipu’s mind is buzzing with sporting thoughts.
“The Prime Minister has flown back but I am staying on in London for a day for two,” she says over dinner.
She will have noticed that yesterday British Prime Minister David Cameron took the train to the Olympic park. He cycles when he can and jogs almost daily. Alas, things are less simple in Dhaka.
She explains the restrictions imposed in her: “Even if I walk to the bazaar, the security people say, ‘We can’t let you do this.’ Still, most of us (in the government) can take a morning walk.”
Dipu says that golf was once restricted to army circles in Bangladesh. While it is still a rich person’s sport, golf is gaining new fans among the rest of the population, she tells me. This is perhaps pie in the sky but it would be a step forward if Dipu and Mamata could tee off — at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club? — while settling the small matter of the Teesta.
With the Chinese appearing to win almost every sport they enter, people are wondering if they are the new master race. No academics are comparing India and China, the two economic giants.
Sadly, it is the Americans who are proving to be bad losers. The American coach John Leonard has accused 16-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen of cheating after she won the 400m individual in a new world record time.
Leonard, the executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, described Ye’s performance as disturbing and said: “She looks like superwoman. Any time someone has looked like superwoman in the history of our sport they have later been found guilty of doping.”
Mark Adams of the International Olympic Committee said the swimmer was clean since a “very, very strong drug-testing programme” was in place.
“It’s very sad if we can’t applaud a great performance,” he said.
Leonard was also slapped down by British swimmers.
Duncan Goodhew, a gold medallist in the men’s 100m breaststroke in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, commented: “There are always incredible improvements in any large sporting event such as the Olympic Games ....I think it is very destructive and very irresponsible of anybody to accuse people until they are proven guilty.”
British Olympic medallist Cassie Patten, who won bronze in open water at the Beijing Olympics, pointed out: “Ye won the World Championships last year, she is ranked second in the world – she is not a new swimmer, it’s not like she has suddenly come out of nowhere and, kaboom, she has won this. It makes me quite angry.”
The Queen’s granddaughter, Zara Phillips, 31, won silver today when Great Britain came second in the equestrian team eventing in Greenwich Park. Her horse is called High Kingdom. Her whooping relatives turned out in force. They included her mother, Princess Anne, first cousins princes William and Harry, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Zara’s father, Captain Mark Phillips, 63, himself an Olympic jumper from 1972, was once married to Princess Anne.
He is dumping wife no two, Stephanie, 58, to take up with what is known as a frisky filly — American equestrian Lauren Hough, 35. The author Jilly Cooper has written raunchy novels about how the English shooting and hunting set are trained from birth to jump from bed to bed.
Some royal women look so horsey there used to be an old joke in Fleet Street. When photographed with horses, the caption would invariably read: “The horse is on the left.” So rude.