#180 bronze for india’s unsung champion boxer

In post #152 Vijender Kumar was cited on BBC page as one who will compete at the Olympic Games ‘against the odds’.

The 22-year-old has returned with a bronze medal.

What an achievement for one true to his calling and vocation in sports in spite a lack of support from sponsors or government — his dedication, persistence and hard work…together with the support of his father.

photo taken from bbc international

…Kumar’s father, Diwan Singh, rode the bus an hour each way every day to bring his son a bucket of milk. To buy milk here in the city, where Kumar lived in a dingy room under the bleachers at Chatrasal Stadium, would have been too expensive. His father kept a buffalo at home, in a village on the outskirts of the city, and the family sacrificed so the son would not go without.

Kumar’s room at the stadium is lined with five wooden cots pressed close together for five burly wrestlers. Trousers hang from hooks on the wall. A pair of mice share the room. On an altar are the medals that each of the five have won along the way, next to images of Hanuman, the Hindu god that wrestlers in India revere.

…The father of Vijender Kumar, the boxer, could give him only his prayers.  (excerpt by Somini Sengupta)

#174 ‘Palestinian swimmer beats all odds’

Palestinian Zakia Nassar is a true Olympian at heart and she deserves a gold medal for her spirit and valor…indeed she has fulfilled her Olympic dream.

I lifted this from chinadaily.com.cn…

A 21-year-old Palestinian swimmer embodied  the Olympic spirit and fulfilled her lifelong ambition to compete at the Olympics last week and she deserves a gold medal for her tenacity.

Zakia Nassar had neither a coach nor access to an Olympic-sized pool for the past year but didn’t let that stop her.

Nassar, who is currently studying dentistry, had no option but to train on her own at a 12m public pool.

The coach Nassar had a year ago left her to her own devices when the 25m pool in Bethlehem was closed down.

“There is no pool in Jenin where I am studying,” she said.

“So I can swim only once or twice a month when I go back to my parents’ home in Bethlehem.”

There is a 50m pool in nearby Nazareth, but the Israeli government does not permit her to use it.

Nassar said it was often embarrassing trying to train at the public pool, with other people swimming and splashing around.

“Sometimes people cut across me, and others would get angry when I swam into them. But quite a few made way for me,” she said.

“I got so depressed sometimes I couldn’t help crying, but my parents and friends encouraged me, reminding me that I had to keep training if I really wanted to go to the Olympics.”

It was only when Nassar arrived in China a month ago that she finally got the opportunity to swim in a 50m pool and enjoy the benefits of having a coach.

When she at last took part in the Games, she swam the 50 m in 31.97 seconds, an improvement of 7 seconds on her personal best.

Despite her time being good enough only for 79th place, Nassar said it was “the most beautiful moment” of her life.

“Participating in a race at the Olympics was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said.

“It felt like I was flying.”

But she is not sure if she will go to the next Olympics.

“I won’t compete unless I’ve done the right training. But as swimming is in my soul, I’ll probably be a coach in my spare time.”


#152 ‘against the odds’

Imagine being the fastest athlete or person in the world…what glory indeed.

Olympic Games 2008 is 16 days away (August 8th)…and BBC International has this wonderful series introducing those participating from around the world who are racing ‘against the odds’ of which I quote the following:

  • Samiya Yuusf Omar (16 years old): “Somalia is a country ridden by more than 17 years of lawlessness and civil wars. Its institutions and the national infrastructure have been destroyed, but sport is the one thing that has survived the scars of annihilation. Samiya comes from a destitute family with no breadwinner. For her and her relatives, athletics offers the chance of a route out of poverty and away from the violence; of a better life and prospects for the future. ” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7492967.stm


  • Nery Brenes (22; Costa Rica): “According to his coach, Walter Salazar, he’s the best athlete ever to have come from the country. Nery was born in the impoverished port town of Limon, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. It is a town being consumed by gang violence. Around 30 people have been killed there so far this year. Walking beneath the huge trees of Limon’s tattered central square, he told the BBC: “Right now this town is going through a difficult time.There are a lot of deaths. Young kids killing young kids. There is a lot of drugs. So I’m just trying to be like someone that they can see improving life.”” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7493000.stm


  • Vijender Kumar: “The son of a bus driver who worked overtime to pay for his coaching, Vijender is India’s unsung champion boxer. “My blood boils when everybody goes gaga over cricket,” says the 22-year-old, one of five boxers in India’s modest Olympics contingent to Beijing this summer. “It is not easy becoming a boxer in a cricket-crazy country. People here think boxers are violent or mad.” Boxing in India is a colonial legacy. The first club opened in the western city of Mumbai (then called Bombay) in 1925. The first national championship took place exactly a quarter of a century later.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7482661.stm


  • Ziad Richa: “Ziad Richa, 40, grew up to the sound of gunshots and explosions. Like many others who lived in Beirut during the civil war of 1975-1990, his childhood hopes were more about survival than winning Olympic gold. Now he sells BMWs for a living, and is getting ready to compete in the Beijing games. His sport, appropriately or not, is shooting. Clay targets, of course. “We are born in this country as hunters. In everybody’s house you will find a minimum of one gun. But I will tell you honestly I carry a gun in a peaceful way…I would like to try to achieve something to help the people of Lebanon. I want to come back and give people happiness and joy. The Olympics – it’s a dream for me”.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7492974.stm

  • Hem Bunting (Cambodia or Khmer Republic): “Bunting is one of nine children from a farming family in the remote province of Stung Treng, where sports officials spotted his talent at a provincial event and brought him to the capital. As he sits down on his simple wooden bed, with a mosquito net nailed above, he casts his eyes down the room. There are dozens of similar beds with barely enough room to walk. This is where Cambodia’s elite athletes live, all together in an improvised dormitory overlooking the swimming pool at Phnom Penh’s crumbling Olympic Stadium. The sun has yet to rise when Bunting makes his way down to the dirt track to start his warm-up routine. Now he pounds the traffic-choked streets around Phnom Penh in the run-up to the Olympics.  The elite athletes say they are often treated as second-class citizens by staff at the stadium.  Bunting and his training partner Cheng Chandara mutter that it all boils down to cash. He receives an allowance of less than $50 a month which leaves him hard-pressed to cover his basic living expenses. A pair of running shoes costs around double that amount, and with no corporate sponsorship Bunting finds it tough to buy the equipment he needs.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7493076.stm


  • Bernandette Baczko: “I began judo when I was nine, which turned out to be the ideal age for a girl, though I didn’t know that at the time. I have three older brothers, and was brought up as a bit of a tomboy, but it was actually a friend, a classmate who first took me to a training session. I fell in love with it straight away.” Bernadett advanced in the sport with great strides, encouraged by all her family, but especially her mother. “It took me three years to come to terms with the loss of my mother, and with all the injuries…only now can I talk about these things without crying.”” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7511259.stm

I shall be looking out for these athletes at the Games.

I wonder if these athletes were successful at this forthcoming Games, will they come under pressure to take performance enhanced drugs to improve their prowess?

#120 a teen-survivor’s courage

I want to record this one of many human stories…the Sichuan earthquake has seen survivors young and old saved from rubbles from several to hundreds of hours after the quake struck; in one case, water fed with love by one’s spouse.

Xue Xiao, the 17-year-old, was saved after he survived 80 hours in the rubble — his parents were crushed emotionally. His right arm was crushed and amputated yet he hopes to fulfill his dream one day…

…when Xue called out to his rescuers Zhang and He: “Uncle, I want to have a cola, I want an iced one”, he was speaking the language of the new generation, a generation that has grown up on junk food and aerated drinks.

The Cola Boy’s passion for life is exemplary. The words he used to console his mother leave a lump in the  (blogger’s) throat. “Mother, don’t be sad. I knew I would lose my right hand if I were saved.” If this is not the triumph of the human spirit, what is? Xue knows that thanking Zhang and He for saving him is tantamount to belittling their effort. That’s why he told his mother when she asked him to thank his saviors: “No need to say thanks between friends.” Here is a 17-year-old showing the maturity of a wise man. And the fighter in him spoke when he said: “And I will learn to use my left hand to continue with life. I love math. I want to be a scientist.” (quoted from columnist Op Rana in ChinaDaily)

I hope the leaders in the provinces and counties take care of those who they are called to govern and not corrupt the system and callously interpret policies set by the Central Committee. I hope these leaders will not go out of their way to prove they are capable at their jobs at the expense of the poor and helpless.

The world criticise the President and Premier and leaders of a country but the truth is those down the line are the ones who created many ills in a country.

I wish those leaders in the West will not make callous and uncalled for remarks and allegations listening to one side of biased persons or judging a situation through their tinted glasses!

I can understand if parents protest against those government civil leaders…they reap that they sow…these leaders will be judged accordingly.

I hope the forthcoming days will find more graciousness on the lips of leaders around the world.