Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
By- Saachi Sharma
What does it take to be a sporting hero? Grit, strength, the desire of ‘wanting it so bad’, practicing to the point of perfection (or perspiration), focus, belief……? Apparently, it takes a lot more, ask Sania Mirza. From being touted as the ‘Queen of Courts’ to courting controversy, Madame Mirza has done it all. She was incessantly trailed by the paparazzi, made front page headlines in national daily’s and catapulted herself into a million hearts, her good looks and confident swagger being positive add ons. The pertinent question is, however, whether glamour coupled with sub standard performance can sustain a sports person’s once held prestige that resulted in hero worship. Clearly not.
Gone are the days when Sania was known for her whip like cracking forehand, career high ranking of 27 and upsetting the likes of Svetlana Kuznetsova, Nadia Petrova and Martina Hingis. From being the ‘teen tennis sensation’, she has been reduced to a sensation that is not being felt anymore. Her visibly added weight , floundering game and consistent inconsistency have done no good to her confidence.
To top it all, her centric role in many- a- controversies ranging from disrespecting the national flag to asking for ‘grants’ to start a tennis academy to breaking an engagement (back to Ladies Singles, eh?) have resulted in the loss of public support. This alienation was intensified with her marriage to a rather controversial Pakistani national (who says opposites attract?), bed rocked on performance in front of the cameras rather than on court. After starting this year on bad note (she failed to qualify at Auckland and lost in her opening match of the Aussie Open), the French Open is an opportunity for Madam Mirza to make her opponents ‘bite the dust’ (pun intended).
This is not to only say that heroes can be destroyed as fast as they are made, subject to a dual trial by the media and public. The fact remains that there are numerous unsung heroes who shoot, fight, run, swim, walk, throw and jump to success, devoid of media and public attention due to their ‘sale-ability’, or the lack of it. Padma Shri award winner Gagan Narang, world No. 6 in the 10m Air Rifle category in the latest world rankings released by ISSF, is one such hero.
A consistent top scorer, he has repeatedly (and not recently) shown his metal. Sadly, this recognition came in the face of the CWG and his ‘golden’ (literally)run. His previous performances in events like the Beijing Olympics (he missed qualification by a whisker) and the Afro – Asian Games went unrecognized, so much so that he threatened to pull out of the CWG 2010 after he was not chosen for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for the third successive year!
Every sports person has his/her ‘in the zone’ time, when he/she is performing at his/her best or is in ‘form’. But the mark of a true sports person lies in the consistency of performance, a trait media shy Gagan Narang has time and again exhibited, only to be sidelined by a selectively appreciative system. Without wanting to jinx anything, the same ‘medal bringing’ performance can be expected from him in the futuristic World Cup and Asian Games, except this time, he will make headlines (for the right reasons, of course). He may not provide us with quirky sound bites, but he does what he is supposed to do best – shoot, quite literally, with his guns blazing.