Posts Tagged ‘Usain Bolt’


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

The game of cricket will be left poorer when the curtains are drawn on the Year 2012. It isn’t as much about the retirement of four of cricket’s greatest servants, as it is about the virtues they possessed.

Great sportsmen have seldom been vehement about how they want to retire. “I want to retire on a high,” some would say, with more than a hint of melodrama. Some retire placidly, with poise. Some are shown the door, mercilessly, in cultures where empathy ceases to exist. And some are slowly nudged towards the questions of their futures, with hope that the message is conveyed.

Towards the twilight of their careers, champions often find themselves living in a profoundly different world populated by fans-turned-critics, journalists with poison-laden ink pens and ‘advisors’ of a truculent variety. Insinuations fester while every act on the field is observed under a microscope, scrutinized and mock-obituaries written. After all, recent statistics will remain the principal standard by which players are judged.

In countries like India, where resources (in other words, talented players) aren’t limited, the question that lingers around asks if it is worth investing (again) in a successful past over a hopeful future. It has happened in sport – some even come out of retirement because they ‘miss’ the sport too much (I’m not talking about Pakistani cricketers here).

They miss the competitiveness, the adhesion. Paul Scholes, for one, went out on a high and was welcomed back with open arms when he decided to return to Old Trafford. I doubt if anyone from the Premier League can pass the ball with the pin-point accuracy that he possesses at his age. Michael Schumacher’s tale, on the other hand, paints a different picture. To say that his return was underwhelming isn’t harsh, although it wasn’t, in theory, a disaster.

On the other hand, when champions begin to get a sense of feel that they are the brick wall between a young talent and a regular place in the starting XI, the sensible ones make wise decisions. Cricketers continue to ply their trade in T20 leagues, and footballers move to the MLS or, in some cases, Australia. There is a sense that the advent of T20 cricket has caused a certain lassitude, that all is not over if one’s curtains in the international setup is closed. But this can’t be taken on face value.

Yes, solace can be gained from the fact that we’d still witness a Laxman or Dravid in IPL colors. Or a Tendulkar, more crucially, in whites. But when you start saving up for the things that money can’t buy, the memories that remain linger around long enough to make you miss it.

Beyond Men. Demi-Gods for most. © The Guardian, UK

And you end up waiting for the right antidote – in Dravid’s case, the emergence of Pujara (as premature as it may sound) acts as a safety net, while Kohli’s ODI exploits provide a layer of comfort given Tendulkar’s absence henceforth. In some cases, the void may never be filled – the pace department, for example. Or to an extent, even spin.

West Indies, and more recently, Australian cricket have found it a challenge to fill voids vacated by legends. Transition is never easy – some plan for it in advance, some realize it the day the inevitable strikes.  You could extend this to beyond sport.

Narayanamurthy’s exit from Infosys created a cataclysm what today is known as – well, still Infosys, but with an uncertain management structure and vision. Hewlett Packard isn’t the same ever since Mark Hurd was shown the door. Oracle was the beneficiary. And Larry Ellison never misses out an opportunity to laugh at those who’d sent him an early Christmas card.

After all, a player is most missed when, in his or her career, he or she had done something that had, or likely would have, a long-term effect on the sport he or she played. Jonty Rhodes revolutionized the art of fielding. David Beckham show-cased what could be done with a dead ball on a football field. Usain Bolt demonstrated that there’s more to two legs than we’d have ever imagined possible. And so on.

And when 2012 comes to a close, cricket fans will remember four men who’d continue to remain as the epitome of four different virtues: Dravid for his patience, Laxman for his sublimity, Ponting for his grit and Tendulkar for carrying the burden of a billion hopes.

As Justin Langer said: “He just spat the blood. And continued to field.”

A common virtue, one that is easily forgotten, relates to their deterrent attitudes towards the media prior to their retirements. Although most of us got the feeling that media pressure undid them, in truth, it didn’t. It is a virtue that took them through their highs and lows during their illustrated careers – to defeat the pens with their bats when it counted most. And to retire with a sense of pride with the focus on having represented their country meaning a lot more than any of the statistics that glorifies their careers.

Cricket may never get an opportunity, in the near future, to witness these virtues given how the game has changed dramatically over the last decade. Inventiveness is the new buzz-word, with batsmen attempting physics-defying shots against the poor bowlers of the modern era. And who knows what the future holds? Not many back in the early part of the 1900s, during the Industrial Revolution, would’ve perceived the Mobile Revolution of the 21st century.

But amidst all changes that happen, we will continue to remember what the four have done for cricket. Garfield Sobers is still spoken of today as the greatest all-rounder to have graced the game. Those who’d had the privilege of watching him play are never short of words when asked about his feats.

And as four legends walk away from the sport, so will we when asked about these greats in the future.

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Goutham Chakravarthi

With this being the Olympics year, and with Usain Bolt being its main attraction of the Olympics’ blue-ribbon event – men’s 100m – here is a re-look at the race that stunned the world, when he ran the 100m in an astonishing time of 9.58 seconds.

August 19, 2009

Every batsman around the world must be thanking his heavens that Usain Bolt gave up fast bowling for sprinting. At 6’5” and capable of doing the 100 meter dash swifter than I can in my car, if his bowling speeds was anywhere near his sprinting deeds he’d have been a handful!

Cricket’s loss is athletics’ gain. On Sunday in Berlin he decimated his Olympics time of 9.69 seconds by 0.11 seconds to stun the sports world. Sprint records are meant to be broken incrementally like in long jump, pole vault or high jump.

Here, within a span of 9 and half seconds, he went a generation ahead of everyone else like Jesse Owens did with his long jump leap at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. If anything, it is befitting that both should have happened at Berlin where Hitler wanted to demonstrate the superiority of Aryan race over ethnic African race.

Sample this: since Jim Hines became the first man to go under 10 seconds in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics to set the then world record, it has been broken 12 times since.

Bolt: Simply the best

The world record time has never been bettered by more than 0.05 seconds – when Maurice Green clocked 9.79 seconds in Athens (1999) he broke Donovon Bailey’s 1996 Atlanta gold medal winning performance of 9.84 seconds by 0.05 seconds.

Ben Johnson did thrash Calvin Smith’s world record of 9.93 seconds by 0.10 seconds in Rome in 1987 only for his time of 9.83 seconds to be disallowed along with all his other achievements between 1981 and 1988 after testing positive right after winning the Seoul Olympics gold with another world record time of 9.79 seconds.

That it took another 12 years for anyone to get to that mark of 9.79 seconds shows how difficult it is to nick a good 1/10th of a second off the world record. Bolt has now smashed his last world record of 9.69 seconds from Beijing Olympics by 0.11 seconds. It has never happened before that a sprint record is bettered by so much, at least since electronic timing came into the sport in 1977.

He is the only person to have breached the 9.7 and 9.6 seconds’ barrier. Now he says he can go under 9.5 seconds! The next fastest time ever is 9.71 seconds – Tyson Gay (0.13 seconds behind). Asafa Powell’s best is 9.72 seconds.

The 12 fastest men after Bolt are separated by a mere 0.15 seconds between them. It simply shows how much he is dominating his sport and how far ahead he is from anyone else.

It is not like Sergei Bubka and Yelena Isinbayeva bettering their pole vault world records by a centimeter or two each time, it is like bettering it by 15 centimeters at one go (Bubka took more than 10 years to better his world record by 20 cms and Isinbayeva has taken 4 years to increase her record to 5.05m after breaking the 5m barrier in London in July, 2005)!

Bolt is sprinting his way to becoming the greatest athlete of them all. 9.58 seconds! I still can’t believe it!

This article appeared on Bleacher Report on August 19, 2009.


Goutham Chakravarthi

“Djokovic’s gluten free diet may have revolutionized tennis this year, but, I believe my journey to the top has already begun with my new found diet – full Andhra meals!” announced Nadal in his tennis school in Anantapur, India on Tuesday. Just days after leading Spain to another Davis Cup title to finish a largely disappointing year on a high, Rafael Nadal, is in his tennis school in India to plan and prepare for 2012.

Nadal is in Indiaiin search of the perfect diet for 2012

“2011 has been disappointing for me. Perhaps releasing my autobiography, Rafa: My story, was the biggest mistake,” confessed a visibly upset Nadal. “I confessed to my fear of the dark and also that my uncle Toni had super powers. Opponents would switch off the light in the locker room and tell me that not even my uncle could save me. I would scream and yell in fear, but no help would come through. It led to a strained relationship with my uncle.”

“Eventually, I lost it all by the time Federer and Tsonga toyed with me in the ATP World Tour Finals in London. My game had become weak and lacked spice. I was beaten to pulp and I wanted vengeance. I saw Gladiator twice that night to psyche myself up. Once is usually enough. This time, no use! That’s when I ran into Mahesh Bhupathi, a Telugite, and a connoisseur of Andhra food. He jokingly suggested that I try the Hyderabadi Biriyani that he was eating to try and bring back some spice into my game. His actor-wife, Lara Dutta, urged me to watch Tollywood movies to learn vengeance!”

“Those of you who have read my autobiography will know that my Mom has taught me not to be rude to people even if they were rude to me like Lara Dutta was. I smiled and helped myself to a serving of the biriyani and headed out for a hit. And hit them I did like laser beams! All of a sudden, I could sprint like Usain Bolt, paint the lines like Picaso, and even slice a ball into two! I knew I had stumbled on to something!”

When asked on his plan for his duration of his stay in Anatapur, Nadal said, “I am here to prepare myself for the diet. I have just taken to Hyderabadi biriyani and now I have pasta and pizza with gongura pachadi. I also love aavakai pachadi and hope to graduate to having full Andhra meals by the end of November. ”

Samarasimha Reddy is my favourite vengeance movie these days. I’m also eagerly awaiting the release of Panjaa to psyche myself up for the new year. I also am learning to pacify all the anger with calm and touch. I am travelling to Chennai every second day to practice with the touch artist Ramesh Krishnan. If ever anyone clocked the speed of groundstrokes, Ramesh Krishnan would be 50% slower than the slowest one you could find. He is tutoring me his slice. I’m still getting to be slow, but Ramesh’s slices reach me only the next day. It is a strategy I will use to irritate Djokovic and others in 2012.”


Goutham Chakravarthi

In an attempt to make India a fitter unit, BCCI has roped in the services of Usain Bolt as India’s running coach with immediate effect. Indians are expected to train with the world 100 meter record holder for a week in their quest to give them an added edge before they head to Australia for a 4-Test series. Talking of the appointment, K Srikkanth said, “Taking a leaf from Gavaskar’s famous commentary usage of converting ones into twos and twos to threes, Bolt will help team India convert each single into a three at least – and in some cases to a five or even a seven – and thereby helping our batsmen increase their scores three-fold!.”

Talking of his appointment, Bolt, who joined the team at Vishakapatnam, said, “The last day of the third Test at Wankhede had the whole island interested and I had a couple of friends wake me up at the dead of the night to catch the game when my phone rang. N Srinivasan was on the line and I told him the super slow motion pictures were outstanding and I congratulated the BCCI on the quality of their TV production when Srinivasan told me that it wasn’t super slow motion pictures I was seeing, but Ashwin running in full throttle!”

India train to sprint their way to success in Australia under the supervision of Usain Bolt

He added, “I couldn’t believe someone could actually sprint so slowly. When asked if I would help them fix the problem, I was skeptical. But when they dangled a 2 million dollar contract for a week’s training, I couldn’t resist. I asked Fletcher to send me tapes of their running training, and now I am here in India for a week to help them train.”

Of all Indians, Laxman and Ashwin seemed the most excited after their first training stint with Bolt this morning. Laxman said “I sprint the 100m in just a little under 44 seconds just behind Ashwin who does it in 41.43 seconds. Bolt has given us specific training routine that should ensure both Ashwin and I break the 40 second barrier by the end of the week. Finally, there is hope for us to look for the quick second run.”

Ashwin added, “He seemed to be able to point to the mistakes in my technique straight away. He could pin point to my technique that I seem to have followed from my childhood subconsciously – that of Rajnikanth running in slow motion in his high adrenaline fighting sequences. I am unlearning the technique and move towards the modern running method of complicated leg strengthening exercises that will give us enough power to our legs. Also the key is to ensure that the feet not being in contact with the ground for more than 0.2 seconds while in full sprint. Laxman and I, the smarties that we are, have already come-up with a formula that’ll help us get there. Expect us to run like the wind in Australia.”

Bolt is also introducing the sprint runners’ set block positioning for the non-striker while backing up. You will see the likes of Suresh Raina now crouched on one knee without the bat and both hands just behind the popping crease with his upper body in a 45 degree angle that the sprinters use to generate pace off the starting block. Bolt claims that Raina this way is able to run his twos in one-sixth of time he would take otherwise – in the traditional method. Bolt claims that this technique will ensure that there will not be many dot balls as it ensures players are quick enough to run a single even when the batsman lets go of a delivery to the keeper. He insisted that in places like Perth where the keeper tends to stand far back, Raina, Kohli and Dhoni would be able to run twos to the keeper and promised that we will see byes contributing more to team scores going forward. If the wicket-keeper is slightly slack, batsman might run a bye to him even off spinners!

Duncan Fletcher, the Indian coach said “Bolt’s insight into running and the transformation that is possible with his inputs is quite amazing. Even I have been able to move from one side of the ground to the other in less than 20 minutes now. Munaf Patel, Aashish Nehra now run quicker than they bowl. That was the easy part. We are now trying to translate this to field positions as well. The increased agility of the fielders will ensure that each fielder can now control two positions. Jadeja will now man both point and covers and Kohli mid-off and extra-cover, where as, Raina will cover the whole of the on-side and Dhoni alone now will cover for the keeper and three slips. Our not-so quicker fielders will stand on the boundary and strategize thereby giving us an unprecedented edge over all teams that have played cricket before us. Sehwag now can charge down to spinners and hit it almost off the bowlers’ hands as he is now that quick!”

With the whole of the nation very excited by this development, Bolt was convinced that India would start favourites in Australia this time. He signed off by saying, “India will run away with the cup in Australia. I think they should. If they did, don’t think there is anyone in Australia quick enough to chase them down. Let’s just hope they don’t assign the task to Laxman or Ashwin yet. They will get chased down for they are not quick enough just yet”