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We Wish You all a Happy and Safe Holi              March 2020 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:March' 2020


A beti from Rohtak


Shefali Verma Haryana is a state whose conservative people are averse to the idea of girls playing sport. But if the state has become famous for its achievements in sport, not a little credit should go to its new generation of females who are excelling in sport. The Phogat girls are now household names because of the laurels they won the wrestling mats both at home and abroad, not to forget Pooja Dhanda. Last month Rani Rampal, captain of India’s women’s hockey team brought Haryana and the country the rare honour of being chosen for the World Games Award.
Now all eyes are on Shafali Verma, the promising 16-year-old cricketer from Rohtak in Harmanpreet Kaur’s India team playing in the ongoing World T20 Cup in Australia. She has broken fresh ground for Haryana by becoming the first cricket-playing girl from the state to represent the country.

Before its girls put Haryana on the sports map of India its men wrestlers like Lila Ram, Uday Chand and the iconic Chandgi Ram were remembered for their contribution. Now young wrestlers like Bajrang Punia, whose rich medal collection includes three won at World Championships, are continuing the tradition. The sport of wrestling comes naturally to the Haryanvi, though it is home also to men like the great cricket all-rounder Kapil Dev and spin bowler Rajinder Goel, not to forget the young javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra who in January qualified for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics on his return after elbow surgery with a throw of 87.86 metres at a competition in Potchefstroom, South Africa..

Back to Shafali, who created a sensation by becoing the youngest Indian girl to score an international 50 in the first T20I against the West Indies in St Lucia.

As a nine-year-old in 2013 she was perched on father Sanjeev’s shoulder at the Bansi Lal Stadium in Lahli to watch her idol Sachin Tendulkar play a Ranji Trophy match.

Papa Sanjeev remembers the taunts of relations and neighbours about a girl taking up cricket as a profession. “But my daughter is very strong mentally,” said Sanjeev. “ ‘Papa one day they will be chanting my name’ “ he remembers Shafali reassuring him.

Sport or a shoe competition?

In 2008, Speedo developed the LZR Racer, a body-length compression suit that reduced swimming times by about 2%, resulting in more than 130 world records including the seven by Michael Phelps at the Beijing Olympics. FINA woke up after 17 months to ban the swimwear, citing technological doping.

In contrast, World Athletics chose not to ban the Nike Vaporfly series of shoes, which provides double the advantage accorded by the LZR Racer – Nike’s R&D team believes the revolutionary shoes reduce running time by 4%. Instead, the governing body tweaked rules to allow soles no thicker than 40mm and one embedded plate, raising concern that it was not doing enough to combat technological doping.

Other companies are also rushing to cash in on the opportunity, leaving purists aghast at the prospect of sport being taken over by technology, as focus on the winning podium will be on the shoe, not the winner.

The Nike Vaporfly shoes worn by the world’s leading marathon runners and now under scrutiny of World Ahletics, have escaped a ban. For now.

The complaint against this make of footwear is that they give runners an unfair performance enhancing advantage.

It isn’t every year that the government confers the Padma and other honours to eight sportspersons – a definite sign that our athletes are working hard and scaling new heights. And those like Gautam Gambhir and Saina Nehwal refuse to limit their laurels to sports and are choosing to join politics and attempt to continue to serve their country.

Meanwhile, the new crop of athletes is no less inspiring. Back from a long and painful injury, Neeraj Chopra has defied odds to qualify for the Olympics. Woman forward Ngangom Bala Devi has become the first Asian footballer to be signed by Rangers FC of the Scottish League. Hockey captain and Padma Shri Rani Rampal is the first ever hockey player to be voted the World Games Athlete of the Year. Judging by recent performances, Tokyo should be our best Olympics ever.