Shooting Range is the new meeting place for Indian contingent (Beijing Diary)

August 12th, 2008 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Abhinav Bindra
By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 12 (IANS) For years an assignment to the Olympic Games meant getting to the Games to follow the fortunes of the Indian hockey team, regardless of how it performed. That certainly is not the case at these Games, which despite celebrating 100 years of hockey at the Olympics, does not have India in the field. That anyway is old hat. At past Games each of India’s hockey matches was the best place to find out what was happening in the Indian camp. Simply because all officials and sportspersons from other disciplines would turn at the hockey stadium to cheer the only team sport that India took part in.

The hockey stadium’s position as the best meeting point has been taken over by the shooting range, which for the second Olympics in a row has provided with a medal.

This time the first-ever historic gold medal has meant greater focus and interest in each of the shooting events.

All those who missed Abhinav Bindra’s golden moment - because they were elsewhere - had congregated at the shooting range Tuesday morning, when Rajyavardhan Rathore, the star of 2004 Olympic Games, and Samaresh Jung, the star of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, were competing.

Unfortunately, neither was able to make the kind of an impression expected of them and crashed out in the qualification stage itself.


Letter from the President

A full day after the gold medal had been hung around his neck, Abhinav Bindra continued to be the centre of attraction.

The Indian Ambassador to China, Nirupama Rao, dropped in to meet Abhinav at the shooting range, where she personally handed him a message from President Pratibha Patil.

The media, not content with all the bytes and quotes they got from the new star, continued to hound him. And Bindra was his usual laconic self.

Then of course there were the usual rounds of souvenir pictures with the star and many carried Tuesday’s newspaper with the Indian’s picture on the front page and wanted his autograph on it. The poker-faced Bindra kept obliging while answering three people at the same time. Three? Right, because all the questions were the same!


Team Mirza in full force at Tennis complex

If it was Bindra at the shooting range, it was Sania Mirza at the tennis complex. The whole Mirza family was rather busy.

Waiting for the Paes-Bhupathi doubles match, Sania with her right wrist in a bandage was the centre of all attraction for both media and the spectators. There were the usual autograph and picture sessions and a few questions to answer from the media.

Mom Naseema, who has been under fire for having come as the manager of the team, was busy with the officials, like president of All India Tennis Association Anil Khanna and Randhir Singh, secretary general of the Indian Olympic Association.

Meanwhile, Dad Imran was doing the rounds meeting all old friends, media and catching up on all the news. And yes, he was also talking about the wrist problem. “We need to diagnose that first, and it looks this season is over,” he said. “Remember, her wrist is very important because the whiplash forehand and power are her strengths and they come from the wrist.”

Yes, there was also Sania’s little sister, tagging along.


A few minutes before Leander Paes-Mahesh Bhupathi took court, their respective support staffs took their place on the sidelines. First to walk in were Leander’s coach Rick Leach, Dad Vece Paes and physio Sanjay Singh who took their place on seats to the left of the chair umpire. A few minutes later in walked Bhupathi’s coach Scott Davidson and his physio S Vallabjee and with them was Sania Mirza, who is managed by Bhupathi’s company, Globosport. The latter group took seats to the right of the seat umpire.

Seeing all this, a wag commented, “To the umpire’s left is Team Leander and to the right is Team Mahesh. The rest of the stands have Team India, hoping they will still play together.”

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