Sports

Usain ‘Lightning’ Bolt – A Legendary Career Ends …

Posted on August 24, 2017. Filed under: Sports |

At the IAAF World Championships in London, it was for Usain ‘Lightning’ Bolt with his unique trademark winning pose, a heartbreaking end to an outstanding track and field career.

Running the final leg of the men’s 4×100 relay for Jamaica, Bolt failed to finish when a cramp in his left hamstring led him to pull up just after s teammate handed him the baton. Bolt collapsed on the track.

This is the first time since 2008 that a team other than Jamaica won the event at a major meet.

The eight-time Olympic gold medalist didn’t remain on the ground for long – with help he limped across the finish line and offered the crowd a tearful wave. Having run 23 championship races since 2008, this was only the fourth time Bolt failed to win.

And so now he is a legend ala ……

Bob Mathias. At 18 he won the Decathlon in London and was so exhausted in the mud and rain that he swore he would never come near a track and field ground. Yet come 1952 and there again he won. Sadly he was not allowed to compete in 56 because inadvertently he had broken the amateur rule.

Daley Thompson In 1984 and 88 equalled Mathias feat but could not make it for 92 due fitness problems.

Greg Louganis. He’s the only man to sweep the springboard and platform event at consecutive Olympics. He won four gold medals in all, though it is the gold he won after cracking his head on the springboard during the preliminary rounds in 1988 that everyone remembers most.

Al Oerter remains a Great winning the gold in four back to back Olympics.

For some reason Carl Lewis and Michael Phelps who won more Gold Medals than any, do not match the public adulation of those mentioned above – and of course Jesse Owens.

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Gen Bhimaya on Leadership …

Posted on August 9, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career, Guide Posts, Searching for Success, Sports |

Here is the noted Thinker and Historian on Matters Military, commenting on a recent ‘Take’ on this riveting subject. Though the US Brigs SLA Marshal’s and Bill Slim’s lecture to West Point Cadets are among the last words on the subject, the field remains wide open for endless discussion. My vote is for Slim’s take!

LEADERSHIP 101 — BACK TO THE BASICS

To revisit a field that is well-beaten is both exciting and challenging. One is excited to find something new that might pique one’s interest, or that might have escaped one’s attention before. One may also find it challenging because, often, the simplest concept is difficult to explain because of the embedded nuances.

Then, there are always the rewards of serendipity to boot. I leave it to the readers to delve deeper into this bold if unverified statement to identify examples from their own experience.

The preceding thoughts were my initial impulses when I came across a research article on leadership of great team captains in sports (The Wall Street Journal, May 13-14, 2017, C1-C2)

To make it easier for the reader, let me follow the bullet format to list important findings, summarized in this article. Against each finding, I have added some brief but controversial comments in parentheses, primarily to provoke a discussion.

v “The leaders of history’s championship dynasties relied on a range of surprising traits, from dissent and rule-breaking to emotional self-control and a low-key communication style.”
(This is the central finding and readers might want to keep this uppermost in their minds).

· True leaders took care of tough, unglamorous tasks. They did not dazzle in the field but labored in the shadows and often led from the back.
(How true! The true leader toils in the background lending a helping hand to the needy, encouraging the weak, while cleaning up their mistakes firmly but unobtrusively. They seldom crave for recognition; the team’s success is their final reward).

· True leaders broke the rules for a purpose. They are not exemplars of fair play. They often test the limits of the rules, but soon after the objective is achieved, they return to normal. (Does the “out- of- the- box leadership of Major Gogoi fit this description?)

· True leaders communicated practically, not in grand speeches (Simple, understandable language that the riflemen understand is important. This implies ruthless elimination of English words that may mean different things to different riflemen; according to some officers who had the privilege of commanding both the Gorkhas and the Garhwalis, important patrol briefing used to be done by the Subedar Major, to combine experience with clarity of thought and expression. It may not be necessary now as most of us, hopefully, understand the language our troops speak. The important thing is grandiloquence and grandstanding are less important than simplicity and clarity.)

· True leaders knew how to use deeds to motivate. (Words are not enough. True leaders should exercise leadership by example of deeds, not merely by words. Deeds by example have tremendous substantive, as well as symbolic values).

· True leaders are independent thinkers, unafraid to dissent. (While dissent is a necessary part of healthy discourse that often leads to robust decision-making, one does not have to dissent as a matter of habit, or on frivolous issues. Dissent must be grounded in solid reasoning (MacArthur’s dissent with the Navy and the Joint Chief of Staff about his plan for the Inchon landings was not based on his ego, but a careful study of the British General Wolfe’s audacious and successful battle against the French in Quebec).

· True leaders are relentless. (In brief they follow the dictum, “Never give up.” And they cling to this spirit until the end: victory, or fighting to the last).

· True leaders possessed remarkable, emotional self-control. (Now, this is a tough one. This implies the ability to block out negative feelings and supplant it with emotional fortitude: courage in adversity, ability to handle panic with whatever it takes, for example, steadfastness, if possible, and humor, if necessary).

I do not wish to paraphrase the concluding remarks of the author.

He states, “They helped their teams to become dynasties by behaving a certain way, by making the right choices on the job—every hour, every day. They were dedicated to doing whatever it took to make success more likely, even if their efforts were unpopular, controversial, or completely invisible. They were not in it for personal glory but for the greater good of the team.” (Can there be a better epitome of selflessness?)

It is important for officers to study leadership in all walks of life, so they can be eclectic in internalizing their virtues. As leaders, it is our indivisible responsibility to identify leadership potential among our men, and help develop it.

It is a continual responsibility that needs to be shouldered with care and circumspection.

Bhimaya

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

The USAIN BOLT of 1936 …

Posted on October 31, 2016. Filed under: Sports |

The year was 1936.

Amidst the rise of the Nazi party and a growing feeling of Aryan supremacy, the greatest sport event on earth was held in Berlin. That was when the world witnessed the birth of a legend. .Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals despite facing extensive discrimination due to the    color of his skin..

Yhat isn’t the only good to come out of that dark Olympics. There is also the camaraderie shared by Owens and a German athlete, Luz Long. Luz was Owens’ competitor in the long jump but gave him tips on how to do better.

Indeed Jesse had fouled his first two attempts for the qualifying and as he stood worried before attempting his last jump to qualify for the competition, Long walked up to him and told him that he could qualify in his sleep. He asked him to place a kerchief a foot before the jump board and jump from there.

Jesse  Owens did just that and went on to win the gold. Luz won the silver and nothing could stop Luz from hugging and congratulating his friend in full view of the public and the thousands of Nazi sympathizers.

(Picture credits: Fusion.net)

Luz later fought in WW2 and was killed, but not before writing his swan song, addressed to Owens. In his letter, you can feel his love for his comrade and the pangs of separation from his family.

This was one of the greatest moments in Olympic history – the forging of a beautiful friendship between two great athletes who were wonderful human beings.

Full transcript of the letter, courtesy the wonderful Letters of Note (emphasis added).

I am here, Jesse, where it seems there is only the dry sand and the wet blood. I do not fear so much for myself, my friend Jesse, I fear for my woman who is home, and my young son Karl, who has never really known his father.

My heart tells me, if I be honest with you, that this is the last letter I shall ever write. If it is so, I ask you something. It is a something so very important to me. It is you go to Germany when this war done, someday find my Karl, and tell him about his father.Tell him, Jesse, what times were like when we not separated by war. I am saying— tell him how things can be between men on this earth.

If you do this something for me, this thing that I need the most to know will be done, I do something for you, now. I tell you something I know you want to hear. And it is true.

That hour in Berlin when I first spoke to you, when you had your knee upon the ground, I knew that you were in prayer.

Then I not know how I know. Now I do. I know it is never by chance that we come together. I come to you that hour in 1936 for purpose more than der Berliner Olympiade.

And you, I believe, will read this letter, while it should not be possible to reach you ever, for purpose more even than our friendship.

I believe this shall come about because I think now that God will make it come about. This is what I have to tell you, Jesse.

I think I might believe in God.

And I pray to him that, even while it should not be possible for this to reach you ever, these words I write will still be read by you.

Your brother,

Luz

After the War Owens kept his promise, tracked down Karl, and was the best man at the wedding of the son of the man who wasn’t afraid to embrace him despite fear of persecution.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Richie Benoud …

Posted on April 10, 2015. Filed under: Sports | Tags: , , |

Richie Benaud had taken over when Australian cricket was at a low ebb. His aggressive captaincy, daring approach and charismatic nature revitalized Australian cricket.

He showed all this and more in the 1960–61 Test series against the visiting West Indians under Frank Worrell, in which the First Test in Brisbane ended in the first tie in Test history.

This came about when Benaud and Alan Davidson rather than settling for a draw, decided to risk defeat and play attacking cricket – which took Australia to the brink of victory.

Australia had fallen to 6 for 92 on the final day while chasing a target of 233 with Benaud and Davidson at the crease. Australia’s chances of winning looked remote at tea when 6 for 109 with 124 runs still needed and only the tail enders left.

However Benaud told the chairman of selectors, the legendary Don Bradman, that he would still be going for an improbable victory.

Both Benoud and Davidson viewed attack as their most effective chance of survival and their attacking partnership took Australia to within sight of the target. Regular boundaries and quick singles took the score to 226 – a seventh-wicket partnership of 134.

Only seven runs were needed with four wickets in hand but time was running out. Benaud hit a ball into the covers and attempted a quick single but a direct hit from Joe Solomon saw Davidson run out.

Australia needed six runs from the final over in which Benaud was caught and the last two wickets fell to run outs while gaining the equalizing run.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

For Horse Lovers …

Posted on January 18, 2013. Filed under: Sports |

…. 

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Greatest Boxer Ever – Sugar ‘Ray’ Robinson …

Posted on June 21, 2012. Filed under: Sports |

Sugar Ray Robinson, a busy middle weight, was the brightest star in the Boxing World for over a Quarter Century from 1940 to 1965. No one before or since has ever come to match his boxing prowess.

When he finally retired, he was honored in singular fashion. On Dec 10, 1965 the Boxing world held a unique function in his honor in Madison Square Garden, the scene of many of his most famous fights.

He once again appeared in the Ring – in boxing attire – along with four of his famed opponents, all House of Fame Fighters from whom he had regained the World Title. Each stood in each corner. The fifth, Jake La Motta, whom Robinson fought a record six times – losing once – could not make it. Robinson had regained the middle weight crown from all five of them. He received  a standing ovation from the enthusiastic audience as he once again danced and bowed to one and all!

His record in near 200 fights stands at 173 wins, 19 losses and some no contests or draws. His wins had 108 knock outs, which ranks him among the all-time leaders in knock outs.

In the less active but more knock out prone heavy weight division, Mohammad Ali’s record is 56 wins (37 knock outs), 5 Losses. And Joe Louis record is 66 wins (52 knock outs) with 3 Losses.

Robinson’s 25 year reign saw Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles, Joe Walcott, Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson, Ingemar Johanson, Sony Liston and Mohamad Ali hold the Heavy Weight Crown.

Muhammad Ali, who always said he himself was the ‘Greatest’, rated Sugar Ray Robinson the greatest boxer of all time. He said of him, “The King, The Master, My Idol!” 

Other ‘Hall of Fame’ fighters like Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney and Sugar Ray Leonard, all rated Robinson the greatest fighter ever.

Joe Luis was seven years his senior and Robinson revered him. For vicious punching power, Robinson matched the Bomber and for foot work he was as classy as Clay. Robinson’s forte was his lightning fast yet lethal jabs, which helped soften up an opponent and also kept Robinson away from danger.

Sugar Ray was a fluid boxer who  possessed stinging power in both hands. In 1951 Time Magazine wrote, “Robinson’s repertoire, thrown with equal speed and power by either hand, includes every standard punch and a few he makes up on the spur of the moment. He possesses tremendous versatility”.

According to boxing analysts, “Robinson could deliver a knockout blow going backward!” Robinson said that once a fighter gained a certain amount of skill, his boxing technique became reflexive. “You don’t think. It’s all instinct. If you stop to think, you’re gone”. 

And, “Rhythm is everything. Every move you make starts with your heart and that should be in rhythm or you’re in trouble!”

Jake LaMotta, another Hall of Fame boxer about whom Martin Sorcese made his famed film, ‘Raging Bull’, fought Robinson a record six times – winning once – said, “He was the Greatest pound for pound fighter who ever lived. No Question about it!” And, “I fought Sugar Ray so often, I almost got diabetes.”

Robinson gave LaMotta his first knock out loss in Lamotta’s 95 professional bouts. Robinson also defeated Hall of Fame fighters such as Carmen Basilio, Gene Fullmer, Randy Turpin, Carl Bobo Olson, Henry Armstrong, Rocky Graziano and Kid Gavilan.

Tall, lissome, Robinson was a handsome, engaging and debonair with exceptional grace and elegance. After he retired he, somewhat shakily, tried his hand at Professional Tap Dancing. As a famed boxer with his style and sporting fame, he was much adored in France. He was the first sportsman who traveled with an entourage.

Yes Sugar Ray Robinson remains a much admired and recognized Sportsman. But yet there was ‘Something’ lacking in him which would have ranked him with the All Time Legends – ala the Babe Ruths, Joe DiMaggios and Don Bradmans of Sport.

Sadly it was in the all too frail Graciousness that this greatest of boxers did not quite measure up!

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Greatest Batsman Ever – Donald Bradman …

Posted on April 22, 2011. Filed under: Personalities, Sports |

Did you know that in Cricket the first Testical Guard was adopted way back in 1874. It took a whole hundred years before the Cricket World adopted, in 1974, the Helmet!

Early this month India won the Cricket World Cup and the euphoria has been unending. Sachin is the God of Cricket! But yesterday there was Gavaskar and before that P0lly Umrigar and Vinoo Mankad. There were Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards and Sir Garfield Sobers, the Three Ws – the list is endless.

About time we had  a look at the Greatest of them all –  Sir Donald Bradman (1908 –  2001). Mind you the Second War robbed him of some seven years of  play – and that when he was at his most prolific!

Standing five foot seven, Don Bradman was the most prolific run getter of all time – a veritable run making machine. In the team he was not a popular figure. His dynamic batting contrasted sharply with his aloof, quiet, solitary off-field demeanor. And he was the most reluctant of heroes.

Intensely private – even reclusive. At least initially he received less from the Cricket World compared to the  adulation he received from the public. Such hero worship embarrassed him no end.

In his first class debut at 19 he scored a century and did the same in his second Test. His style featured his trademark of supreme confidence,  fast foot work and rapid scoring.

In the initial First Class Season he hit his first triple century of 340 not out and averaged 93.88. In the next season he hit 452, a world record and averaged 113.28.

In the last Test of his first Ashes series Australian lost by 12 runs when he was last man to be out – a run out. Such was his remorse that never again in his entire Test career did he ever get himself run out. And to minimize the chances of his being caught, he always kept the ball low; hitting sixes was not favored.

In 1930 England were favorites to retain the Ashes. The first Test saw him make 131 but his team lost. In the Second his 254 helped level the series. The third Test saw him score a century before lunch and  two more  before end of play. He remains the only player to pass 300 in a day. His 334 became a world-record.

In the deciding Test he made 232 and Australia regained the Ashes.  He had scored 974 runs at an average of 139.14 with two double hundreds and a triple hundred!

Against the West Indians he made 223 in 297 mins and 152 in 154 mins. Against the South Africans he made 226 in 277 mins, 112 in 155 mins, and 167 in 183 mins.

His overall scoring rate was 42 runs per hour with 38.5% being scored in boundaries. Significantly, he had not hit a Six which typified his attitude of keeping the ball on the ground.

His youth and natural fitness allowed him to adopt a machine like approach to batting. A fast bowler said bowling to him was heart-breaking – what with him not even perspiring and with the ghost of a grin playing on his face.

Before the 1932 Ashes Series, the English Papers screamed, “It is almost time to request a legal limit on the number of runs Bradman should be allowed to make!”

The response was more sinister when the dour, diabolic, Mumbai’s Malabar Hill born, Douglas Jardine was made  Captain. Jardine settled on five pace men and devised what came to be known as Body Line, with fast bowling consistently aimed at the leg stump and delivered short so as to rise and hit the body of the batsman. There was a cordon of six fielders on the leg side to catch any thing that the batsman hit.

Bodyline was specially prepared, nurtured and expended on Bradman. In the event it plucked something vibrant from his art.

Bradman missed the first Test but in the second, he was bowled first ball for a duck. The leg side delivery had failed to rise and Bradman drew the ball onto his leg stump. In the second innings he hit a century.

Thereafter he developed his own tactic and much to the dismay of cricket lovers began to hit the ball as if it were a tennis or golf ball so as to place it in the large open vacant spaces. His series average dropped to 56.57 .

Despite loud and persistent calls for the Australian team to repay in kind, their Captain steadfastly refused to adopt Bodyline despite being injured himself. There were others injured too – one of whom had his skull fractured. The Aussie Captain maintained that there were two teams but only one was playing cricket.

Australia strongly appealed to the English to play like  sportsmen. The English hierarchy refused to halt the intimidatory tactic and relations between the countries became tense. Even trade was effected.

However when Bodyline was used in England against the West Indians, they returned the compliment in kind and injured Jardine himself.

The English public had now seen first hand, for the first time, what Body line really was and they booed and deplored the tactic thereby forcing the establishment to shy away.

There were many in the English side too (including their star bowler Harold Larwood), who were against it.  Indeed the Nawab of Pataudi (Actor Saif Ali Khan’s Grand Pa) playing for the MCC, refused to field in the leg trap and Jardine taunted him a ‘conscientious objector.’

Forced by public opinion, the cricket establishment in England began to give it a wide berth. Jardine saw the writing on the wall and announced his non availability thereby saving himself the ignominy of being sacked.

For the initial part of the next -1934 – tour Bradman suffered from ill health though he started with a double century. He seemed to have lost his touch as he batted with total disregard for anything defensive and was often out to wild strokes. He went 13  innings without a century – the longest such spell of his career.

He then found his touch and in the third Test made 140, with the last 90 runs coming in just 45 minutes. In the next Test he batted all day before finally being out for 304 off 473 balls.

In the first innings of the next Test Bradman made 244 off 271 balls and for the fourth time in five series, the Ashes changed hands. England would not recover them again until after Bradman’s retirement.

In the 1936/37 Ashes as Captain, Bradman with two ducks lost the first two Tests. In the Third Test, battling influenza and coming at No 7 he made 270 off 375 balls. Wisden rated this performance as the best Test match innings of all time.

His patient second innings of 212 from 395 balls helped level the series. In the series deciding Fifth Test, Bradman returned to his aggressive style and top scored with 169 (off 191 balls) and Australia won by an innings.

During the 1938 tour of England, Bradman played the most consistent cricket of his career. Playing 26 innings, he recorded 13 centuries and in scoring 2,429 runs achieved an average of 115.66.

In the First Test Bradman secured a draw with a patient 144 not out. He played a similar innings of 102 not out in the next Test as Australia again struggled to draw. Rain washed out the third Test but in the next Test he scored 103 out of a total of 242 having accepted to bat in poor light.

The euphoria of securing the Ashes preceded Australia’s worst ever defeat when England amassed a world record of 7/903 with Len Hutton scoring his 364. With Bradman and another batsman  injured and unable to bat, Australia were thrashed by an innings and 579 runs – which remains the largest margin in Test cricket history.

Despite the pressure of captaincy, Bradman’s batting form remained supreme. The experienced mature batting of the ‘Don’ had replaced the blitzing of the ‘Boy from Bowral’.

In 1938–39, in Australia he made centuries in six consecutive innings and totalled 21 centuries in 34 innings.

The 1939–40 season was Bradman’s most productive ever with 1,448 runs at an average of 144.8 and with three double centuries. However, it was the end of an era as the outbreak of World War Two led to the indefinite postponement of all cricket tours.

Surprisingly, in light of his batting prowess, a routine army test revealed that Bradman suffered from poor eyesight.

In the 1946 Test Series after the War, Bradman regained his finest pre-war form in making 187, followed by 234 during the Second Test despite serious health and fitness problems. In the remainder of the series, he made three half-centuries in six innings, but remained the leading batsman on either side with an average of 97.14.

Against India in Australia, he made 172 and in the five Tests scored 715 runs at an average of 178.75.

His last double century in Australia was in Adelaide where he announced that he would retire after the next England tour.

For the 1948 tour, Australia had one of the Great Teams of Cricket History. Bradman had made it known that he wanted to go through the tour unbeaten – a feat never accomplished before or since.

Spectators were drawn to the matches knowing that it would be their last opportunity to see Bradman in action.

Often, especially at the start of the innings, due to his vision problems, Bradman played where the ball wasn’t and spectators rubbed their eyes!

Yet despite his waning powers, Bradman compiled 11 centuries, amassing 2,428 runs (average 89.92). His highest score was 187 when Australia compiled a world record of 721 runs in a day.

In the Fourth Test, England set Australia a world record 404 runs to win in 345 minutes on a heavily worn wicket. In partnership with Arthur Morris’ 182, Bradman reeled off 173 not out and the match was won with 15 minutes to spare. The victory was called the finest ever in its conquest of seemingly insuperable odds!

In the Final Test at The Oval, Bradman walked out to bat in Australia’s first innings. He received a standing ovation from the crowd and three cheers from the opposition.

His Test batting average stood at 101.39. Bradman facing his second ball, tried to push it forward but was deceived by the googly and bowled between bat and pad, for a duck.

An England batting collapse resulted in an innings victory and denied Bradman the opportunity to bat again.

Thus his career average finished at 99.94. If he had scored four runs in his last innings, it would have been a picture perfect 100.

The Australian team won the Ashes 4–0, completing the tour unbeaten and entered History as ‘The Invincibles’.

With Bradman retired from professional cricket an English Newspaper wrote,

A legend has been removed from among us. Such must have been the feeling when Rome heard of the passing away of Hannibal“.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Amundsen vs Scott; Planning, Preparation, Organization … …

Posted on October 24, 2010. Filed under: From a Services Career, Personalities, Sports, The English |

As small boys in an English Boarding School, this was a story on which we cut our teeth – but told to us much differently!

Some one hundred years ago, there was this most famed race to reach the South Pole. Amundsen, the Norwegian, handily beat Scott, the Englishman and thereby became the first man to reach the South Pole on Dec 14, 1911. Incidentally he was also the first to reach the North Pole – though by air.

Scott reached the South Pole five weeks after Amundsen and was crushed when he saw the Norwegian flag flying. On his return journey, most tragically, he perished with his entire party.

Leadership, Planning, Preparation and Organization are what made the difference. This is what Amundsen had to say of his achievement.

“I may say that the greatest factor is the way in which the expedition is equipped — the way in which every difficulty is foreseen and precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. 

‘Victory awaits him who has everything in order. People call it Luck. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time. This is called Bad Luck.”

Scott and his four comrades perished on the way back from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold.

The Norwegian’s base was closer to the pole and Amundsen’s experience as a dog driver was formidable. Amundsen also eschewed the heavy wool clothing worn on earlier Antarctic attempts in favour of eskimo style skins.

Scott had the advantage of travelling over a known but longer route which had been pioneered by Shackleton.

For transport, the Norwegian banked entirely on sleds hauled by huskies and skis for personal movement. Scott decided that dogs would be one element in a complex strategy that involved horses, motor sleds and much man-hauling.

Scott’s mixed transport groups (motors, dogs, horses), with loaded sledges, travelling at different speeds, were all designed to support a final group of four men, who would make a dash for the Pole.

Scott gave no specific and precise roles – no one knew who would form the final polar team. During the journey, he sent a series of conflicting orders back to base concerning the future use of the expedition’s dogs – leaving it unclear whether they were to be saved for future scientific journeys or were to assist the polar party on its return home.

Scott’s subordinates at base were unsure of his intentions and consequently failed to use the dogs in a concerted attempt to relieve the returning polar party.

With 400 miles still to travel across the Ice Shelf, the party’s prospects steadily worsened with the deteriorating weather, leading to frostbite, snow blindness, hunger and exhaustion.

The final camp was made some 11 miles short of their advance depot.  The next day, a fierce blizzard prevented their making any progress and in the next nine days, their supplies ran out and they froze to death while the storms raged outside the tent.

In the final analysis Scott’s planning is described as ‘haphazard and flawed’ and his leadership characterized by lack of foresight. He  is depicted as a ‘heroic bungler’.

Such was the British bitterness and anger that Lord Curzon, as President of the Royal Geographic Society, sarcastically toasted Amundsen, saying “Now, Three Cheers for the Dogs!”

At this Amundsen resigned from the Society. He was killed later when his plane was lost while he was on a rescue mission.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Man O’ War … Greatest Race Horse Ever …

Posted on July 21, 2010. Filed under: Personalities, Sports |

Among the all time famed horses is Bucephalus, broken byAlexander while yet a boy – right in front of his father King Phillip. In sharp contrast but equally famous is Roxante, the poor donkey like creature, who was Don Quixote’s mount when he set out to conquer the world!

Man O’ War remains the greatest race horse of the Twentieth Century – if not of all time!

Man o’ War was born in 1917 and lived till age 30. But he raced for just two years, as a two year and three year old, before his owner, the uptight Mr Riddle put him to stud.

In contrast, Man o’ War’s grand son, the much adored SeaBiscuit, won his greatest races as a five year old and as a seven year old when eventually he was retired.

Man o’ War’s  debut was at Belmont Park in 1919, where he won by six lengths. Thereafter he went from win to win losing only one race and that because when it started he was facing in the wrong direction. To further compound his chances, his jockey panicked and thrice got him boxed in before he broke loose and thundered racing for the lead.

In those days there were no starting gates. Jockeys circled around gathering their horses behind a piece of webbing known as the barrier. The race began when it was raised. Man O’ War was circling and had  his back to the starting line when the barrier went up.

Still he came close to winning, losing by only a half-length as he charged across the finish line going faster than any other horse on the track. The winner was Upset, whose name is erroneously thought to have popularized a new phrase in sports.

Man O’ War never won the Triple because he was not entered in the Kentucky Derby. Mr Riddle did not like racing in Kentucky and he was also overly protective of his great horse. The previous year, Sir Barton had won the first-ever U.S. Triple Crown.

Man O’ War easily won the 1⅛-mile Preakness Stakes and set a new Pimlico track record of 1:38-3/5 for a mile. He was then slowed down as his owner did not want him to over exert. In the Belmont Stakes he won by 20 lengths, beating Sir Barton’s record set the previous year by over three seconds.

As the racing season wound down, no one wanted to race his horse against this invincible Super Horse, who was winning with ease every race he entered.  He beat the horse that did compete against him and that by one hundred lengths. His world record timing in this race was 2:40-4/5 for a mile and five-eighths  and it still stands.

The final start of Man O’ War’s career was in Canada in a race that, for the first time, was filmed in its entirety. In that race, Man O’ War brushed aside the Triple Winner, Sir Barton and though slowed down, went on to win by seven lengths.

Over his two-year career, he won 20 of his 21 races. He set three world records, two American records and three track records. As a two-year-old, he had carried 130 pounds and as a three year old he carried 138 pounds.  Few horses ever carried that much. He gave away as much as 32 pounds to other horses.

He sired the two successive Belmont Stakes Winners 0f 1925 and 1926. Sired by him, War Admiral was the 1937 Triple Crown Champ. Another offspring, Hard Tack sired the famous and much adored Seabiscuit who, forever, epitomizes the under dog. SeaBiscuit was Horse of the Year in 1938 and beat War Admiral in a one on one race which is considered an all time classic.

Man O’ War died in 1947 shortly after his longtime groom died. He lies at Kentucky Horse Park, where his grave is marked by his statue. He has been the subject of four biographies.

He was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame and a Race, the ‘Man O’ War Stakes’ is run in his honor. In the ranking of the Top 100 U.S. Thoroughbred Champions of the 20th Century, Man O’ War remains at First Place.

PS. Do take the trouble to read the comments as apart from anything else, it shows  horse lovers at their best. These are encapsulated here – 

4 Responses to “Man O’ War … Greatest Race Horse Ever …”

RSS Feed for IMPROVEACRATI…..improve…..grow…..excel ! Comments RSS Feed

Actually, I read that Secretariat broke that world record at the mile and 5/8ths distance in the Belmont Stakes as it took him 1/4 mile to come to a halt to prevent him from injuring himself after the race but when you added the first furlong to his Belmont Stakes time, it was faster than Man O War’s time over the same distance despite the fact Man O War was running hard the entire distance.

Here is a link to the angle of the two horses’ strides but youll see that Secretariat’s is significantly longer than Man O war’s. By the way, the site also gives Secretariat’s fastest times over the same distances as well as Man O war’s and Man O war does not beat Secretariat at any distance. In fact, even with slowing down at the Belmont, Secretariat beat Man o War by 3 seconds. Over the same distance at the Belmont, Man O War would have been back with the other horses that finished 31 lengths behind Secretariat as Man’s best time over that distance was over 4 seconds slower.

http://www.somaxsports.com/SecretariatSA.html

Secretariat was a Great Champion who even made cover of Time Magazine. One can never tire of watching All Three of his runs for his Triple Crown. They are all Classics. In the first two he breaks last and then on his own. without any prodding from Turcotte, goes around the entire field before taking the lead at the final turn. His records still stand. Indeed one may stand for all time. In all these three triumphs, it seemed as if it were his day. He was simply unbeatable. But six of 21 starts, were just not his day.
Man O War raced more than half a century earlier. The distance for the two races of the Triple he was allowed to run, the Preakness and the Belmont, was different to the distance Secretariat ran. The super cautious Mr Riddle never did allow his great horse to give his all anytime since he was always winning handily. It is a pity the quality of the film of his races does not do him justice.
As regards the long stride theory, physical attributes are just one aspect of all true Greatness. When some one asked Napoleon what he looked for in his Marshals, his response, “Give me a Marshal who is lucky!”

Lawrence: Be kindly informed that the creator of your Secretariat web site reference page deceptively and self-servingly produced a photo of Secretariat running all out at full stride which they measured as a 110-degree stride angle and at the same time – prevaricatingly speaking (prevarication means “deceptive lying”) – compared it with a Man O’ War photo showing an 88-degree stride angle, that was taken when MOW was skipping along during an easy morning workout at Saratoga and running at about half-speed.

Anyone who is not too disinterested to undertake the effort can locate several photos of Man O’ War exhibiting an 110 degree stride when running. We also found a photo made from a newsreel still of MOW with a 114 degree stride angle. A 110 degree running stride is rather common.

Photos even exist on the Internet that show a number of horse such as Zenyatta, Native Dancer, Curlin, Ridan, Dash for Cash (who was a quarter horse), etc. each running with a 110 degree stride angle. There is even a race photo available of Raise a Native from 1963 — taken when he was a young two year old!!!! – displaying a 110 degree stride angle.

All of which not only make Secretariat’s 110 degree stride angle NOT unique but instead a rather ordinary and commonplace thing.

As for comparing MOW’s running times, he ran on slower and heavier surfaced tracks and in the individual stretch runs of 19 of his 21 races, MOW was held under a strong pull by his jockeys who often were standing semi-upright in the irons to tighten his stride and slow him down well before the finish lines. The comparative running times of the two horses simply cannot be honestly compared. Yours sincerely.

I too found a photograph of Sec that showed a stride angle of 115 degrees…It is in Secretariat by Ray Wolfe..If we want to look at stride, Dr. Pratt of MIT is where one goes, in his published paper 1978. He describes in detail how to use film to measure stride…Sec was not like any other horse with a stride of 24 to 27 feet. Not many have this length, but is one of several components needed to win tough races. Sec wasnt just another ‘good’ horse, he accomplished things only great horses accomplish.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 6 so far )

Karan ‘Kaiser’ Thapa – Garhwalis …

Posted on July 10, 2010. Filed under: From a Services Career, Sports |

Pele had retired and Maradona was yet to come and the 1974 World Cup Final was between Johann Cruyff’s ‘total’ Football and the Germans under the cool cool ‘Kaiser’. The first goal was scored within the first minute by the Dutch and without the Germans’ having touched the Ball. Yet the final score courtesy the Kaiser was 2-1 in favour of the Germans!

The unit I commanded had a Great Soccer Team and had won the Garhwal Cup. under Karan S Thapa, three years running and ala Brazil were presented a six kilo silver replica of the original Regimental cup for keeps.

In 1978, after winning the Garhwal once again, the team was sent on leave considering our B Team was enough to beat the Raj Rif and Sikhs – the other two units in the Brigade. Valmiki Katju of 4 Outram’s Raj Rif, had told me that if he had one ambition, it was to beat us in Soccer – I had told him to go climb a tree! So I went on leave and sent our the team also on leave so that they would be back in time for the Divisional Championship.

My Driver Jaya Prakash was Literally in tears and only after a lot of comforting gave the news that Outram’s had beaten us by allowing no play other than their way of the game. Anyway I was the butt of ribaldry from all sides even though the the Brigade Commander himself a Soccer player of note, had ruled that the Garhwalis team would represent the Brigade.

Dear Karan promised me the Cup but requested that I be in time for the Final. True to form I was a wee late and as I alighted the opposing 2/3rd Gurkha team hammered in a goal. The Provo Sentry cheered me saying that the Garhwalis had hammered in one a minute earlier. Boy this sure was turning into one hell of a fast paced Final!

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx To be Revised

had requested only one thing of me and that was that I should not be late fpr the final amd should watch start to finish. However unwittingly I was a couple minutes late and as I got out of the jeep, the opposing team, which was the 2/3 Gorkha team, scored.

I lamented to the Provost chap who received me that maybe I had brought bad luck. He said not so as we had scored a goal in the first minute itself ala Johann Cryuffs Total Football Dutch, who scored likewise and without Franz Beckenbauer’s  Germans touching the ball. That was in the 1974 World Cup Final.

As we sat and watched, the Gorkhas scored again and then after a while,  once more – the half time score read 3-1 in their favour. At the interval, though no soccer genius, I felt I had to go and cheer up the team.

As I went in their midst, Karan began complaining that the referee was not giving any off sides and our play was being nullified. I cheered up the team and told Karan that there was no point in belly aching but I wanted one thing from him – that he was to play forward and to stop worrying about defending.

He said that in that case they would score more goals. I said that it was all the same to me to lose by two goals or twenty. But he was to move up and play as forward and that was an order.

Sure enough as play resumed, Karan moved forward and as he had predicted, the Gorkhas scored again. Now the score, 4 – 1 in their favour. But then after a while ‘Something’ jelled with the game picking up tempo – and we scored two goals in the span of five minutes – the score now  4 – 3 against us. Karan and Praveen Mehta, who was the other officer in the team, were combining beautifully and Gabbar was feeding them solidly.

The match became very tense with us pressing the other goal and some where the Gurkhas cracked. Karan scored from near the Centre line itself with the ball going over the goal keepers head as he dithered undecided to come forward or move back before the ball bounced and went right over his head. The score 4 – 4 and equal.

Most everyone was looking at me as I sat shell shocked showing dumb stupidity – while on a boil on the inside. I was thinking about extra time and penalties. But there was to be no fear as dear Karan, Praveen and Sateh were clicking like a well oiled machine and they scored once again. Now 5 -4 in our favour.

And that is how it all ended. It was as good as winning the World Cup! Can any one imagine a more wondrous game???

It was also the  Regimental Reunion Year. Once again Karan and his boys won the Regimental Cup with the whole Regiment cheering the opposing team whose earlier avatar, I had trained some 18 years back!!!

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

« Previous Entries

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...