Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wrestlers grappling for gold at the Commonwealth Games

It needed just 2 medals, Sushil's bronze in Beijing Olympic and another one by Ramesh Kumar in the World Wrestling Championships 2009, Herning to perk up wrestling once again in India. Some out-of-the-skin performances by juniors, and of late, women wrestlers have only been adding to it. In a sport where decades can pass before something noteworthy comes up, such a successful streak has made Indian wrestlers an buoyant bunch.

Nineteen gold medals (7 in freestyle, 6 in Greeco Roman and 6 by women wrestlers) in 2009 Commonwealth Senior Championships, Jalandhar is a firm indication that India have the talent to shine on big stages. To follow was 2 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze in the 2010 Senior Asian Wrestling Championship, Delhi and suddenly India were rubbing shoulders with China, Iran and Korea, big boys of the wrestling world.

So, can we expect 2010 Commonwealth Games an extension of that winning streak? Yes, in all probability. For one, the grapplers have trained like never before and with just a month to go, they are at the peak of their form. Secondly, the home crowd will be really behind them. Besides, history also gives them an edge - India have invariably done well in the CWG. The tally so far is 23 gold, 24 silver and 11 bronze, their best being in 1970 (5-3-1) and 1974 (4-5-1). Then, the opposition at the CWG won't be world class, in most categories.

Thus, the feeling in the fraternity is that 2010 Games may even turn out to be India's best ever.

Freestyle wrestling has always been India's strong point and Yogeshwar Dutt (60kg), Sushil Kumar (66kg) and Sumit (74 kg) are expected to shine. 2002 CWG silver medallist Anuj Kumar (84kg) is hoping to better his record this time. Chief coach (freestyle), Jagminder Singh said, "For the last two years, we have consciously worked on the grapplers' technique. They have power but fall short of technique. Special emphasis has been given to ground wrestling because top grapplers score most of the points here. Also, we have strengthened our counterattacking skills." Meanwhile, freestyle coach Vladimer Mestvitishvili is working on the technique of tackling the opponent's feet.

However, it's Greco-Roman wrestling that has found its feet in India recently and Rajinder Kumar (55kg), Ravinder Singh (60kg), Sunil Kumar (66kg) and Dharmendar Dalal (120 kg) hold a lot of promise.

The wrestlers themselves say that frequent foreign trips in the last two years have changed their approach to the sport. They have been to Spain, US, Canada, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Cuba and France for training and competitions and that is showing in their performance. However, the Senior World Championship, Moscow (Sept 6-12) will be an acid test for them, much bigger than the CWG. "If we can do well there, CWG preparations will take care of itself," said Dutt.

Hargobind Singh, chief coach, Greco-Roman, added: " With three big events - Senior Worlds, CWG and Asian Games - lined up in the coming months, the boys are primed and determined to prove India's might."

Coming to women's wrestling, it will be making its debut in the Delhi Games. It's good tiding for the hosts as the Indian contingent is certain of grabbing a few gold medals. Babita Kumari (51 kg), Geeta (55), Alka Tomar (59) are India's best bets. Babita and Geeta's gold in Commonwealth Senior Championships in Jalandhar (December 19-21, 2009) is a testimony to India's growing muscle power. Alka Tomar's bronze in the Asian championship 2010 is in keeping with her consistent graph.

India’s biggest ever track and field squad for CWG

India named the biggest ever track and field squad in Commonwealth Games as Athletics Federation of India announced 90 athletes for the CWG with almost all big names making the cut.

No athlete has been named for pole vault and 20 km as yet. "It's the biggest Indian athletics squad in Commonwealth Games. We are the host country and we are expecting the highest number of medals. We are expecting six to eight medals," AFI officiating secretary Ravinder Chaudhry said.

Vikas Gowda was the lone entrant in men's discus while a medal can also be expected from Krishna Poonia, Harwant Kaur and Seema Antil in women's discus throw. Om Prakash is another medal prospect in men's shot put and he has been named along with Saurav Vij.

Renjith Maheswari and Mayookha Johny are medal prospects in men's and women's triple jump. Women middle distance runner Tintu Luka has improved a lot in 800m race and she is another medal prospect. National record holder Sinimole Paulose has also been named in the same event.

Centre admits Sheila diverted SC/ST fund for Games

The Centre has admitted that the Sheila Dikshit government violated guidelines to divert funds meant for Schedules Castes and Tribes to finance its pets projects for the Commonwealth Games.

“In view of the guidelines of 2006, these appear to be wrong,” home minister P Chidambaram said in the Rajya Sabha during a discussion on the diversion of nearly Rs 678 crore from the funds for Scheduled Castes and Tribes for the Commonwealth Games. The admission comes at a time when the Delhi government is under attack from the rivals for its reluctance to conduct governance in an ethical manner.

The Rajya Sabha witnessed disruptions by BSP MPs over the issue, which came to light through a Right to Information application.

According to the information given by Delhi government to an RTI petitioner, nearly Rs 678 crore from Delhi’s special component plan, which was meant for improving the standard of living of the poor sections of the community through various government schemes and programmes, was diverted for Games projects.

In his reply, Mr Chidambaram said that Delhi government had got around Rs 8,000 crore for five years from 2006-7 to 2009-10, under the special component plan. “As is common practice with various other state governments, Delhi had divided this fund into two categories — divisible and indivisible.” The divisible category was for schemes which affected the Scheduled Castes and Tribes directly. “While Rs 983 crore was in the divisible category, the rest — Rs 7,100 crore — was in the indivisible category. Out of that (indivisible category), Rs 678 crore was contributed to CWG projects,” the home minister said.

“This seems to be prima-facie wrong,” Mr Chidambaram admitted, but added: “This happens not just in NCT, but in all states.” He said that Delhi government had told him that the amount diverted will be added to the Plan funds for the next financial year. The minister said that the Planning Commission was seized of the matter and had set up a committee to look into the diversion of funds in all states.

MCD seeks public help to clean city before Games

Having failed to clean the city before Commonwealth Games, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has now sought public participation. The civic body, along with voluntary organisation Let's Do It Delhi, on Tuesday announced a `Clean Delhi Challenge' to be held on September 11.

The idea is to include community groups, educational institutions and corporates in a special sanitation drive-cum-contest across the city on that day. Mayor Prithvi Raj Sawhney said the initiative will be open to all organisations, residents' welfare associations, companies, colleges, NGOs and government departments. "All groups entering the contest will get a certificate from MCD and there will be special winners' certificates for groups based on the volume of litter collected as well as how clean they have made an area," Sawhney said.

`Let's Do It Delhi' programme director Anita Bharghav gave the example of Estonia where 50,000 people cleaned up the entire country, collecting 10,000 tonnes of garbage, in five hours. "We can also play our part in improving sanitation conditions in the city. Everybody can join. Let's do it,'' she said.

The mayor said among those who have confirmed their participation are ICICI, KPMG, Genpact, Jindals, LSR College, Sanskriti School, a group of civil servants in Ekta Vihar, Radisson Hotel and occupants of New Friend's Colony community centre. Leader of the House Subhash Arya and MCD standing committee chairman Yogender Chandolia said such campaigns should focus on unauthorised colonies and urban villages where the situation is worse than other parts of the city. Facing a volley of questions on why such campaigns only focus on so-called posh areas while localities like Jamia Nagar are left struggling with unhygenic conditions and dengue outbreak, the mayor said the September 11 contest was open to people from all parts of the city.

For the challenge, participants will have to choose a location of at least half-a-square kilometer, get their own volunteers or hire cleaners. The litter collected will be taken away by the MCD later. The winners will be chosen from 12 MCD zones by a panel of judges.

DDA to ready only 1,600 flats in Vasant Kunj

Despite its assurance on August 6 that 4,000 flats in Vasant Kunj will be ready in time for the Commonwealth Games, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) admitted at a recent meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers that it will now only deliver 1,600 rooms for the October event.

Sources at the Organising Committee (OC) have also revealed that the completed flats are not up to the expected ‘international standards’, and only national technical staff will be accommodated in them. International technical staff will now be accommodated at hotels. The DDA, meanwhile, said it has not been informed of this decision yet.

The recent revelation is yet another in a long string of embarrassments for the land authority. The DDA was tasked with constructing the flats and the Indian Tourism Development Corporation was handed the task of furnishing them.

While the national technical staff will be accommodated in 1,600 flats, the rest were meant to accommodate tourists.

“The OC’s original requirement for its staff was approximately 1,600 rooms, which we will deliver in time. ITDC is working on furnishing those rooms right now,” said Nand Lal, Finance Member, DDA. When asked if the Ministry of Tourism was unhappy with the news as the rest of the flats were to accommodate tourists, Nand Lal added, “Not at all. They have enough rooms to accommodate tourists.”

DDA officials also said that as a result of the security restrictions around the flats where the Games staff will be accommodated, it would have been difficult to accommodate tourists. The remaining flats will be ready after the Games, and allotted by way of the DDA’s usual draw system.

While the land agency claimed the Vasant Kunj flats were originally part of its usual housing construction and were to be ready

by December this year, in April last year, with concerns paramount about tourist accommodation during the Games, it had volunteered to get its flats ready in time for the event.

Earlier in July, DDA’s two main contractors on the job — M/S Brahmaputra and M/S A K Mehta — had expressed serious reservations about being able to complete the flats on time. Following negotiations with them, DDA had decided that 4,000 flats will be completed instead of the original 5,000. The DDA’s Engineering Union had then protested that its engineers were being pressurised to finish work on these flats, which may result in sub-standard construction.

The DDA had then allayed fears on August 6 by assuring that the quality of the flats would be above par and that 4,000 flats will be ready for the Games.

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