Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cancel Sunday Trip To Connaught Place

Two Games events, cycling and marathon, will make Connaught Place out of bounds to pedestrians and motorists on Sunday (10 am-6 pm). On Saturday, Parliament Street and Rajpath will be closed (6.30 am10 am) for a race walk.Drop all your plans of visiting Connaught Place (CP) this Sunday.

Two Commonwealth Games events -cycling and marathon -will make the area out of bounds for pedestrians and motorists from Sunday morning. Following this, all shops and restaurants at Janpath and CP will invariably remain closed.

On Saturday, a 20 kilometre `race walk' will be held at Parliament Street and Rajpath from 6.30 am to 10 am, making it out of bounds for vehicular and pedestrian movement.

The traffic police have ringed Connaught Place and parts of India Gate with `iron-made security fences', which means you will not be allowed to even walk in the corridors of the shopping hub.

CWG: India cruise into final of mixed team event

P Kashyap today pulled off an upset victory against world number 16 Rajiv Ouseph 21-13, 21-17 as India demolished England 3-0 to set up the title clash against defending champions Malaysia in the mixed team event at Commonwealth Games here tomorrow.

With the win, India, the second seed in the team event, also avenged their defeat to England in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. The hosts have thus continued their winning streak to six matches and moreover winning all of them in straight sets as they made it to the finals after a span of 28 years.

The crucial match of the semifinals was the mixed doubles where Jwala Gutta and V Diju came out with brilliant serves, which made their walk to victory against Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork quite comfortable.

Though there were some unforced errors by the Indian pair which conceded a few points in the first game but soon took control over the shuttle, with Diju killing off his rivals' strokes by his brilliant smashes and Jwala by her usual good net plays to pull it off 21-17, 21-15 in a 29-minute encounter.

''We both played well. They are far experienced players. It was a crucial match for both the teams and we were under pressure. My strokes were going well and both of us served well,'' Jwala said.

Meanwhile Diju said, ''This was the first time that we have beaten Nathan Roberston in mixed doubles. Though he is playing with a new partner this time. We served really well and that proved to be the difference between both the pairs. It was good that there was no long rally because Nathan is world's best backcourt player.

Everything worked according to our strategy.'' However, the biggest win for the hosts came when Kashyap, the world number 32, made his higher ranked English opponent Rajiv bit the rust 21-13, 21-17 to take India two up.

Kashyap, who led from the start of the game, went on with some good rallies to win the first game easily. However, he was stretched a bit in the second game as he lost focus mid-way when he was 15-10 to concede points till it was 15 all.

However, he controlled over the game and picked up the crucial six points on a trot to eventually wrap the match.

''It was only after today's quarterfinal that I was told that I will be playing this match. I was under pressure and infact Gopichand sir was also under pressure after putting me in the singles match,'' Kashyap said.

''So I wanted to prove a point that even I can beat him. Most of my team members were confident that I am better in fitness than Rajiv.

''My strategy was to tire him out by playing rallies. So I started slow. I never lost focus in the entire match and I always play better when the crowd is behind me,'' added the ecstatic shuttler.

National coach P Gopichand also rated Kashyap's match as the best on India's enroute to the finals.

In the women's singles, Saina Nehwal who was playing her second match of the day seemed confident at the start of the match against Liz Cann, with all the morale boost her team mates have brought after the two wins.

Saina got the better of Liz 21-18, 21-11 to give India an unassailable 3-0 lead and the victory.

The Indian, however, took time to concentrate on her game before she was able to read her rival in the second game to beat her with much trouble.

''Last time, we lost to England in the team event semifinal against England. So we were little bit nervous before the match. But it was a good team effort. Jwala-Diju's match was important and they pulled it off comfortably. And Kashyap was also amazing today,'' Saina said after her match.

''I was confident of winning my match but there was pressure as I was playing in front of such a huge crowd, which I am not used to it. But it is a great feeling that we have entered the finals after a long time,'' she added.

On India's match against Malaysia, she said, ''If I play Mew Choo Wong in women's singles, it would be tough. But I have played her many times so I know her game.

Meanwhile, Gopichand said the three women's matches could be crucial tomorrow.

''Women's singles, women's doubles and the mixed doubles would be crucial matches and they will decide our fate in the finals tomorrow,'' he said.

In the other semifinal match, Malaysia defeated Singapore 3-1 to enter the final.

Seven medals but cyclists dissatisfied

New Zealand's performance in the final of the men's 4000m team pursuit overnight (NZT) encapsulated their track cycling campaign at these Commonwealth Games.

It's been full of hope but splintered by the Aussies.

The sight of Jesse Sergent, Westley Gough, Marc Ryan and Sam Bewley scattered to different parts of the track as the tight Australians powered home at near-world record pace was one to behold.

New Zealand have a well funded group boasting both quality and depth - four silver medals and three bronze here attest to that - but ahead of today's final session they are existing in a green and gold shadow.

The other medals overnight were a 10km scratch race silver to Joanne Kiesanowski and a men's sprint bronze to Sam Webster.

Head coach Tim Carswell admitted gold was goal here but wouldn't criticise his riders, who he said had matched or bettered performance expectations.

He believed the Australians should instead be lauded for rebounding from a poor Beijing Olympic campaign which yielded just one medal.

"They're re-establishing themselves as the No 1 nation in the world. That's what we're up against," he said.

"We've got two years (until the London Olympics) to get it right."

Victory is not beyond New Zealand today.

Alison Shanks is a strong chance in the women's individual pursuit while the men's sprint team pack power.

The men's scratch race is the final event and will feature Ryan and Shane Archbold, who both placed fourth in qualifying heats overnight. Aaron Gate narrowly missed out in 13th.

New Zealand's best track cycling haul at a Games is nine medals, including four golds at Auckland in 1990. That mark could yet be matched or bettered.

"A lot of them are in the best form of their lives and we're certainly not unhappy with how we're going," Carswell said.

"I guess there's high standards from the team to be producing gold medals. If we're not doing that then we tend to beat ourselves up a bit."

Sergent, who added to Tuesday's individual pursuit silver, struggled to hide his disappointment.

"No disrespect to a silver medal but we really did want to win tonight and get one over those Australians," he said.

"We want to hear our anthem at least once in here."

His team led through 1000m and were easily inside national record pace at the halfway point.

Bewley dropped off the pace soon afterwards, sparking a disintegration before being lapped.

"It was a bit of a hit or miss I suppose," Sergent said of the tactics to go out hard.

"We blew up but who knows what would have happened if we didn't blow up, maybe we would have got the better of them.

"In the future, maybe we're going to have to start that fast and finish that fast. I think it's just baby steps up until London."

Kiesanowski, 31, stormed home in the wake of Australian Megan Dunn, who added to her points race gold.

Christchurch road specialist Kiesanowski helped instigate a break for teammate Rushlee Buchanan six laps from the end but when that fizzled out, she pounced on the chance to grab a medal in the final sprint.

Her recent focus has been the United States professional road circuit and she held high hopes for next week's road race here.

"But I'm really glad that I've come back to the track in this last year. I've always loved the track, it's what I started out in as a teenager."

Webster, 19, underlined his enormous potential with a 2-0 defeat of teammate Dawkins in the sprint bronze medal showdown.

He pushed eventual Australian winner Shane Perkins close in the semifinals and had too much pep for a sub-par Dawkins in their two races.

Had tears in my eyes when I heard cheers: Prasoon Joshi

The build-up to the Commonwealth Games  was riddled with controversies ranging from financial corruption to foot-overbridge collapse. Many of those the involved in the Games were often asked by "well-wishers'' to disassociate themselves from the event.
But well-known Bollywood lyricist Prasoon Joshi and film director Shyam Benegal who were involved in the conceptualizing and planning of the opening ceremony are glad they didn't quit midway and that their hard work paid off. Joshi is also helping out with the closing ceremony.

"Some people advised me to leave but the idea was to stay put and make it better. In fact, we didn't have time for more than one full dress-rehearsal. That was my only frustration. I had tears in my eyes when I heard the cheers during the opening ceremony. Those who had earlier advised me to leave took their words back and congratulated me,'' says an elated Joshi.

The creative brief for the project was clear: the diversity and complexity of India. "More often than not, a country is an image. That's not true for India. Ours is probably the most diverse country in the world. It is recognizable as multiple images, and also as an image outside of those presented. Yet, we are a single nation, which is amazing,'' says Benegal, who directed arthouse classics such as Ankur and Nishant besides creating the celebrated television series, Bharat Ek Khoj.

"We had the railways, the hawkers, the coolies, the rickshawwallahs. We tried to recreate both the order and chaos of India. We could've gone hi-tech but we didn't. China is hi-tech. We're hi-touch. We're a tactile nation. It was all about touching lives, bonding,'' says Joshi.

Both Joshi and Benegal worked for free. "There was no question of charging. Bharatbala, of course, was paid because we nominated him to a professional position: creative director,'' says Benegal. Joshi offers a similar view. "I was very clear from the very beginning that I won't charge. It's a matter of national pride,'' says Joshi.

The theme song of the Games composed by AR Rahman came under severe criticism from all quarters. But Joshi, who has written songs for well-known films such as Rang De Basanti, says he wasn't really involved in specific projects. "Given a chance, I would've loved to write the song. But I felt too conscious asking for something like that,'' he confesses.

Benegal, who is currently in the city, is looking forward to the swimming and athletics events at the Games. "Everyone seems to be happy with the Games. Some people are complaining that there isn't enough attendance for the events. I'll have to see for myself,'' he says.

Youth no obstacle for suprise packet Rae

The youngest gymnast from any nation at the Commonwealth Games, New Zealand's Jordan Rae came surprisingly close to bagging a medal in the vault overnight (NZT).

The 15-year-old rekindled memories of 1990 starlet Nikki Jenkins, who won the vault at the Auckland Games to record New Zealand's only artistic gymnastics gold.

Jenkins' triumph unfolded nearly five years before fellow-Aucklander Rae was born.

Indeed Rae barely qualifies to be at Delhi, sneaking inside the minimum age for gymnasts by just 15 days.

Any nerves weren't obvious as she produced two consistent vaults early in the competition, drawing scores 13.350 and 12.975 for an average of 13.162, a score that challenged her seven opponents.

England's Imogen Cairns won with 13.775 points, from South African Jennifer Khwela and Canadian Gabby May, whose score was just 0.550 points clear of Rae.

"I'm very pleased," Rae told NZPA.

"I was just wanting to do good routines and see how it goes. There was no plans for medals or anything."

Rae said her composure came from a stint this year at the Texas gym of former Russian great Valeri Liukin.

There she trained alongside the likes of Liukin's daughter Nastia, the 2008 Olympic all-around champion.

"It was nice to get a taste of what it's like to train like an Olympian," she said.

"It gave me an insight on what they do and I feel like I learned a lot there."

Rae planned to take a break for school exams once home.

Meanwhile, there were three decent cracks at individual apparatus medals from New Zealand men today.

Misha Koudinov was fifth with 13.975 points in the rings, won by Australian Samuel Offord with 14.825.

Koudinov was sixth in the floor routine with 13.225 and Patrick Peng eighth with 11.900. Neither could match the 14.675 of Australian winner Thomas Pichler.

The gymnastics competition ends tomorrow with Peng contesting the vault and Mark Holyoake the parallel bars.

Taylor finds Englishman too tough

New Zealander Anthony Taylor's Commonwealth Games boxing campaign came to an abrupt end last nightwhen he was outclassed by England's Bradley Saunders in a one-sided light welterweight bout in New Delhi.

The height and reach that the Tauranga boxer conceded proved too much as Saunders scored almost at will to win the secound round encounter 10-0.

Taylor found it hard to get close to his opponent, who has won a European championship gold medal in the 64kg division, and he was often reduced to defending.

He is the second of New Zealand's six boxers to be eliminated.

Commonwealth Games: 'Pride' on air

Radio coverage of the Commonwealth Games is an interesting mix of pre-event and current on air programming, bringing out the pride of the city in hosting the games.

The Commonwealth Games (CWG) is all over the city. Radio stations in Delhi, too, have gone all out to make this sporting extravaganza bigger for their listeners by lining up a host of programming and on ground activities.

For the radio stations, games coverage has turned out to be a mix of sports personality based programming and on ground initiatives.

Radio Mirchi built up buzz around the games by having a 100 day countdown leading up to the games. The radio station's mantra for the games is centred on bringing out trivia and information about the games and sportspersons.

Talking about the coverage on the station, Yatish Mehrishi, cluster head and station director, Radio Mirchi, says, "After Asian Games in 1982 and Cricket World Cup in 1987, CWG is the next biggest sporting event in the country. We have been following the games right from the arrival of the Queen's Baton in the country. Our RJs (radio jockeys) and OB vans tracked the journey of the games baton from Wagah to Delhi."

Radio Mirchi especially got AR Rahman and Kailash Kher to unravel their respective anthem songs for the games on the station.

Similarly, Big FM has initiated a campaign, titled 'Dilli mein game-shame ho rahe hai, shame shame mat hone Dena' for the CWG. The radio station has taken pledges from celebrities as well as auto drivers and shopkeepers to keep their city clean and green when sporting fraternities and other visitors from various parts of the world are in Delhi.

The station is also holding on-air contests, with listeners getting an opportunity to win passes for various sporting events every hour. It is also giving out passes for concerts at the Qutub Festival, which is being organised by the Delhi Government as a major attraction for the games.

A majority of the radio stations have incorporated minute by minute updates of CWG as part of their programming and special mentions by RJs.

Fever FM Delhi also rolled out a campaign, titled 'Go India! Go for Gold', urging Indian participants to clinch medals. As part of the pre-event activities, the radio station flagged off a victory march led by Sheila Dixit, chief minister, Delhi and Suresh Kalmadi, chairperson, CWG Organising Committee.

On the activation front, Fever FM put up panels across various schools, colleges, malls, markets and offices in Delhi, inviting people to affix their hand imprints as a gesture of 'high five' in support of the Indian team. The canvasses with hand imprints added up to almost 6000 running feet, the iconic wall being a colourful visual reminder of public support.

Additionally, Fever FM has also launched an initiative called 'Games Sambhalegi Sarkar- Traffic Sambhalega poori Dilli ke saath - Fever 104!'. Fever FM listeners have been appointed to act as traffic volunteers for the games and are spread out across the city to help Delhiites take lesser known but much needed 'patli-galis' (short cuts) to their destinations.

Red FM is broadcasting all the action from the CWG stadium throughout the day. Exclusive interviews with members of the Indian contingent, news about events scheduled for the day and a regular update of the medals tally are part of Red FM's programming initiative for the CWG.

The games have the support of not only radio stations operating in Delhi but from other networks as well, which do not cater to the market directly. For example, My FM welcomed the Queen's Baton in Raipur, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bhopal, Indore and Surat.

My FM Raipur organised a contest for its listeners, where one lucky winner got the chance to hold the baton in the relay with My FM RJs, while the relay was covered live by the radio station.

Harrish M Bhatia, chief executive officer, My FM, says, "Though the CWG is very Delhi centric, My FM expressed its passion and pride for the games by welcoming the Queen's Baton to all the cities where My FM is present."

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