After becoming an expert in the hook shot that ends in a six over the third-man boundary and scoring a few goals in hockey after all the hard work was done by the other 10 players, I confessed to myself that studying the two games from the ropes was a better option. Though I wish I had started that process earlier than 1996, around 15 years of watching, reading and sometimes still practising that 'hook shot' over has allowed me this space on Cricketnext and IBNLive to write and get read.
A medal in three days. Not bad, India!
Posted on: 12:10 PM IST Jul 31, 2012 IST
I was typing frantically on my Twitter account: "10.4", "Oh, outside 10 again", "No, no. Wait. We still have a chance". Suddenly I stopped. Looked left, looked right. "What am I doing," I asked myself. "This isn't cricket, not hockey either. So what's driving me to pain my fingers, while someone else pulls the trigger a 10-hour flight away?"
I quizzed myself again, with an eye on the London Olympics shooting page that showed Gagan Narang moving up and down in the top-five positions of the 10m Air Rifle final.
And finally I punched the keys B, R, O, N, Z, and E on my cell phone. Goose bumps! At that point I realised when it's India, performance matters, not the sport. And nothing in sports but events like the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics wake us up to this feeling of patriotism.
But for the first two days of the competition in London, India lost more than it won. The high hopes attached to the women's archery team lay buried, Shiva Thapa packed a punch but lost and shooters Vijay Kumar and Henna Sidhu shot wide off the mark. These names were one of India's chief medal hopes, though none lived up to the expectations. But then, when have we got on the Olympics medals tally as early as in two days? Never, I think.
The third morning at the 30th Summer Olympics brought the worst and the best news for India. Worst first: defending 10m Air Rifle Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra finished 16th in the qualifiers and bowed out. The fans were left dejected, with heads bowed. But the event was not over for India, for Gagan had finished third in the qualifying and was in the finals. The quadruple gold-medal winner from CWG 2010 was still there. So all was not lost.
Gagan's final was slated for 4:45 p.m. At 4:10, I was at a Gurudwara, worried more about my cellphone battery running out than the last prayers I was attending. Home was not far. I ran back, grabbed the charger, stormed back into the temple and helped the charger mate the cellphone. Relief! I can tweet now once the final starts.
At 4:30, while I gleefully saw the battery getting fuelled, my uncle asked me to check with the langar arrangements. "You can't do this to me," I muttered while getting up with a nod. But then I'm 35, with a few tricks up my sleeve. I went down, stiffened my neck up, added some authority to my voice and passed the instructions onto my nephew. He couldn't refuse me, and I was free. No guilt!
It was 4:42. It wasn't the time to take any chances. So I ended the pleasure my phone was having with the battery charger and bunkered myself under a staircase. I would have been slapped, maybe killed, had it not been lithium. Anyway, the final was already underway, and I was ready to tweet India to its first medal at London 2012, in just three days. Not bad at all!