Monday, June 25, 2007

To Know them is to love them..... (Part I)

Some say you shouldn't talk about people if they aren't there to defend themselves.... They are a 100% right but am not listening...
I am going to talk about Joshana while she is away in LA playing a tournament and this way she won't hear about this for a few days... however she knows i love her and so I am taking advantage of the situation.
For those who don't know her Joshana Chinappa is the country's best squash player and has dominated the Indian circuit for a few years now and we are now trying to prepare her to do the same internationally.
For those of you who don't know the sport of Squash (perfectly understandable) it is for people who want to play tennis but can't :)(she is going to kill me).
I got to know Josh, after we signed her, and I accompanied her on a trip to Egypt to find a coach. She is extremely reserved and shy and it took a while for me to break into the shell. She is a great kid who like all people her age only dresses in Guess, Abercrombie or Tommy Hilfiger and the first impression is that she is this happy go lucky kid who is very content with all in the world. She will never leave the room without ironing her already straight hair and then promptly putting it up in a pony tail... yes go figure...
Scratch the surface and you see how tough she really is, Josh has been through it all and managed to come out of it on top. The hard existence of and Indian sportsperson, from no funding to court cases, to various conspiracies to people writing her off. Amid all this adversity she went on to win the Junior British open and now making her mark in the WISPA.
Her biggest asset is that she can perform when her back is against the wall and that is a great quality to have. On the court she is focused and all athletes will tell you its not easy to play in India.
Here we have to perform under extreme scrutiny and the negative vibes emanate from all sides. She has not only been able to get over that hump but has also played some of her best games and pull out victories when even i have doubted her.
Its one thing to get to the top, but to be able to stay there with younger people constantly gunning for you shows grit, which in my opinion trumps talent and is a reason i believe Josh can get to the top of the squash world.

To Know them is to love them.....

I am going to use this as an introduction to an ongoing series where once a week i will focus on one of my athletes and really try to give you guys an inside perspective from the outside :).... well of course it is always easier to write about other people and when you are as attached to them as i am its even easier.... Plus i would like to talk about these athletes who have become an extension to my family (i think i spend more time with them than my real family) and it is really interesting to get to know how different athletes tick...
People always wonder what i do... besides things like filing papers and making travel arrangements, i am also in pursuit of the ultimate paradox...."what makes a champion" so have spent the last year or so really trying to get to know our players and compare them with the younger crop, their peers, the champions, normal people their age, and just about anyone else, sometimes even throwing animals in the mix. Have you guys played that game where you compare a human to a breed of dog???? Ok am digressing will leave that for another time.... I am in search for the "x" factor that makes them better than the rest... I am also analyzing the athletes that haven't yet had the breakthrough and what is their personality... wish freud was alive to rate my assessments...
It also interesting to see how they cope in different situations and yes ofcourse they have tons of negatives that sometimes drive me up the wall but we are going to focus on the good.... leave the bad and ugly for the arm chair critics who would have nothing to talk about if i addressed those too...
So my next post is going to feature the first athlete signed by the Trust.... Joshana Chinappa. Stay tuned.

PS- a great article by Rohit Brijnath on Abhinav Bindra in "Mint" over the weekend so all sports lovers should check out. Plus if you guys are reading this blog regularly you should know a lot about him...

Friday, June 22, 2007

SHOOTING: Two opposite ends of a spectrum

For the first time i managed to catch two world cups one week after another, I was at the rifle/pistol world cup in Munich followed by the shotgun world cup in Lonato, and was amazed at the difference between the two.... especially since they both fall under the "shooting" banner which is somewhat misleading.
Ofcourse the rifle/pistol guys told me that it's (shotgun) is a different world in their words they are the "royalty" and the rifle guys are the paupers, but i dismissed them since i had been to both venues (sometimes in the same day) at the Doha Games and even though they are different events didn't quite grasp the differences....

Right from the start everything is different...
I arrived to the range in a taxi (all of which are mercedes') and in the parking lot:
In Munich (Air rifle): you see a plethora of campers where the shooters are staying and my
taxi is one of the best cars there.
In Lonato (Shotgun): the taxi seems like an ambassador and a BMW is probably one of the
lower end cars there. The parking lot is dotted with customized buses (the kind the stars
have, which are pimped out with couches etc) which also double up as a repair center for
the equipment.

You walk in and:
In Munich (Air Rifle): There is pin drop silence with people huddled around the main score-
board but no one really saying much. They are all poker faced and staring at the board
which makes you wonder what they are really thinking.
In Lonato (Shotgun): It is like walking into the tokyo fish market at 4am, everyone is still
huddled around the main score board (a similarity!!!) but there is serious chatter. All the
various combination permutations are being discussed, there is chatter, laughter, and
emotion is actually being displayed.

The event:
In Munich: You are in an enclosed space that is usually freezing with weird lighting and as I
said earlier you have to leave your voice box outside. Every one is stoically standing
behind their shooters and its impossible to see if they are happy or sad. It is like you are at a silent auction where you can't read anyone's mind.
In Lonato: It is in the open air and even though it was overcast it felt like a carnival. Everyone
is eating, drinking most importantly talking. There are people walking around all over the
place. Everyone is just hanging out and oh yeah there is also shooting going on which they
are following.

The athletes:
In Munich: Everyone is pretty much by themselves. I used to think twice before even saying
hello to someone. Even after the event everyone says the courteous hello but in the restaur-
ant everyone is scattered around eating by themselves. The athletes are all trying to avoid
everyone so they won't have to even say the hello.
In Lonato: The carnival theme continues. Everyone brings food, drinks and sets it out on a
table which is shared by everyone. They come in between rounds chat with others eat some
snacks and discussing the different scores and performances.

Ofcourse i am a lay person and don't know much so i hope i haven't offended anyone. The shotgun world is for people who are obsessed with guns, hunting and the sound of the gun doesn't make you wince.
The airrifle is for people who aren't really obsessed with guns and people who just don't like to talk to anyone for long durations of time :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Missing In Action

Have been missing in action for over two weeks now and i know everyone is waiting with bated breathe and in withdrawal because they are not getting their fix of my pearls of wisdom.... for that i apologize profusely.
Just to give you a recap i was in Munich, Germany and Lonato, Italy for two world cups one being Air Rifle/Pistol (Munich) and Shotgun (Lonato). And all i can say is "what a world of difference".... Even though they are both shooting events really it is a joke how different everything is and when i say everything i mean everything.... even the grass is greener in the shot gun world.
I want to do full justice to this topic so am going to write a long one later on in the day or maybe tomorrow, since it is my first day in the office for a month i have to sign a million papers.
So more on this topic later....