On Comebacks and First times
It isn’t too late to toast Michael Schumacher. He turned 41 yesterday, and even if he has defected to the enemy camp and a big question mark hovers over his effectiveness this season (just over two more months for Bahrain!), it will be good to have him tearing down the circuits again, steering his (I was about to say scarlet) car through the rain to what just might be victory, give competitors nearly two decades younger a run for their money- if that happens.
More juicy comebacks this season include Belgian Grand Slam queen Justine Henin’s return to competitive tennis. After compatriot Kim Clijsters made hers in spectacular fashion with the US Open crown, Henin will surely be raring to go. The season has just begun at Brisbane, and will more or less put into perspective the shape of things for the Australian Open. If the East European girls can up their game and focus better, it might well be a season of clashes between the veterans and the young upstarts.
India’s own ATP tournament, the Chennai Open, kicks off today. Yes, of course, we’re following the same routine. First we have the more famous names walking the ramp looking like goldfish out of water (and yes, we should make the Europeans wear Indian), then we’ll hear them talk about what a wonderful place India is, how much they look forward to the event every year (not many of them return, though, do they?), and finally, the underdogs win the championship as the more popular players ‘disappoint’. Fatigue is not a valid excuse- the season is just beginning. The players at the Chennai Open are generally the just-breaking-into-the-limelight kind or the last-season-before-I-retire kind. Perhaps better publicity and prize money would help make the tournament more popular on the tour. Not to take away from the efforts of the organisers, however, they must have worked extremely hard to keep the tournament in India, considering the lack of sponsorship for and interest in sports other than cricket.
The Chennai Open isn’t the least of India’s sporting troubles, though. With barely ten months to go for the Commonwealth Games, we have our hands full. Remember the exercise Beijing went through before the Olympics? We’ll now have everyone in Delhi spouting English, working hard at keeping the city clean (!), being polite, standing in queues, following traffic rules…okay, I’m probably letting my imagination run away with me a bit now. But if the Games do succeed and Delhi does transform into Beijing, then India should probably bid for every possible international sporting event, in a different city each time. Yes, even the FIFA World Cup.
PS: Australia is planning to send a huge contingent to the Commonwealth Games. Intriguing. Are they planning to beat us at our own game of more-officials-than-sportspersons? Sorry, we’re Indian, and we won’t let that happen.