Friday, Nov 28, 2014

It’s not the Olympics, but plenty at stake

Vijay Kumar leads the Indian contingent during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (Source: AP) Vijay Kumar leads the Indian contingent during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (Source: AP)
Written by Shivani Naik | Posted: July 24, 2014 2:37 am | Updated: July 24, 2014 11:03 am

In the pub-crawl of international sports, played to the latino of Brazil’s World Cup and jazz of Wimbledon, the country airs of Tour de France and the blues of Chisora refusing to fight Fury, the metal of Rory’s triumph at the Open and finally the bhangra-rap of India’s Test win over England, Scotland will try to line up men wearing skirts who will proficiently play the hauntingly brilliant laments of the bagpipe at the Commonwealth Games starting Wednesday.

Athletes, not quite kilted – more kitted out, will try following the pipe-majors. Sure English have ripped apart the Scottish opening ceremony wear in their tabloids, and Australia’s woken up to find little apple-islanders Tasmania missing from its Speedo suits. But historical excuses to snipe at each other can only go so far within this community of Commonwealth nations.

So it’s all settled by playing sport.

It’s simplistic to say that the tenuous imperial links that the British (name dropped in 1978) Empire (name slashed in 1970) had with its erstwhile territories have frayed so much, that the Commonwealth Games are completely redundant.

Even allowing for lawn bowls and the queen’s baton relay, the Games were the talk of town in the Indian capital four years ago, where, as generous hosts we served the travelling contingents a hundred different cuisines and offered athletes shampoo top-ups in bathrooms – one for each visitor.

Mercifully, India also made the most of its own lavish party by finishing second on the medal’s table

So why blame the Scots who are looking to scale two peaks (they call it Munro bagging here) in two months — host the best party possible at the Games in the coming dozen days, and then try and rid themselves of the overlordship of England in a Yes/No referendum mid-September, where they can chuck out a three-century long baggage, like bins emptied of liquor bottles, the morning after.

Why grudge the Scots the right to feel punch pleased about themselves after they’ve goaded Usain Bolt to step out of his lush London apartment and run a sprint relay, in what is frankly a 9-second-or-less of exhibition.

They don’t see it that way here, of how this assembly of athletes — who assuredly speak English or know someone who definitely does — is wasting its collective time at a Games, that are battling for relevance.

Sir Chris Hoy, legend on the bike, is a Scot and obliged to make an impassioned plea for the Games to be taken seriously. But you sense that he believes in what he’s saying when he says, “Athletes can still become legends and household names after a goodCommonwealth haul. They’ve played a big part in giving me experience to go onto the Olympics and win there,” he says continued…

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