Sunday, 28 February 2010

Hail the Queen

All rise and applaud the magnificent Kim Yu-Na. Kim who ? You could be forgiven for asking that if you aren’t into winter sports. But if you have been following the Vancouver Winter Olympics, you cannot , but be mesmerized by the story of the wonderful Kim.

Kim Yu-Na is arguably the most famous athlete in South Korea. All of 19 years old, she’s dubbed “Queen Yu-Na” and is a superstar in her country. She was the overwhelming favourite to win the women's figure skating event in the Olympics. A nation’s hopes was riding on her shoulders – South Korea had never won anything in the Winter Olympics apart from speedskating. They are having a great Olympics, winning well beyond their expectations, and their Queen was their brightest hope. But her long time rival Mao Asada of Japan was a formidable threat. And the emotions and the crowd were with Joannie Rochette, the Canadian, who lost her mother only a couple of days before. This is an event where America has traditionally dominated – no South Korean had ever won before.

Kim came out and stunned the world. She smashed the world record and almost delivered perfection on ice. These are sporting moments that transcend history. Like Nadia Comaneci’s perfect 10 in Montreal. Like Usain Bolt’s 100m in Beijing. Like the tied test between Australia and the West Indies in 1960. If you can get to see the video, do it – commercial rights being what they are, we are unlikely to see it in the public domain, but you can see the short program she did the day before at (sorry Net Nanny has become very painful these days)

There are a small bunch of people who carry enormous expectations and the weight of their whole nation on their shoulders. Its incredible how they do it. Like Cathy Freeman of Australia in the Sydney Olympics, Like Michael Phelps in Beijing, Like Brazil’s football team whenever it steps on the pitch, Like Sachin Tendulkar of India for the last 20 years. There must be some incredible greatness in them that they carry such a weight and still pull it off.

This Winter Olympics in Vancouver has been a great success. So many stories that make your heart go thump-thump. Today is the men’s ice hockey final . This sport is a religion in Canada. Their team is expected to win every time. They are in the finals. And they meet a traditional rival in the US. The US have never won in the Olympics outside of their own country – but this team is in such roaring form that they are the favourites. They’ve already beaten the Canadians in the preliminary rounds. But the finals is a different matter altogether. It will be one cracker of a game.

But even amongst all the drama, this Olympics will be remembered for the sheer poetry on ice that Kim Yu-Na created. There are some times when you just revel in a sublime sporting moment. This was one such moment. All hail the Queen !


gils said...

wow..winter olympicsla ivlo nadakutha!! namma oorla ena athuku ozhunga coverage kuduka matengarangaa?? maybe relate pana mudiathuna?? anyways.semma post. Parapatcham paakama pakathu country sportsmenaiyum pugazhara unga pheelings i the lot like :)

Sandhya Sriram said...

Your biggest competion is yourself, your every post is fantabolous. and what more is that the minute one starts feeling that can someone can never write a better one than this, you surprise with an even more spectabolous post!! wow!! - Hats off to you this time and every time!!

i completely agree with you. Every sportsman carries a huge load of expectation on his shoulder. it is like a theatre play without a rehersal. in front of a large audience physically present and a larger one present emotionally, it is so amazing that they perform and deliver.

Sometimes, we are very unfair - i felt very sorry, when i saw a caption on one of the news channels last afternoon was India maange sweep out.... lets be practical in our expectations. what India has done to this series is exemplerary. they have virtually conquered south africa desperately eyeing for the Indian slot in the rankings.. but then thats what is all about - the madness, the fanatism, the adrenalin... that fuels the sports. it is both motivating and at the same time, keeps on raising the bar. and to cope with this is what makes the individual the King or the Queen!!

Hail the warriors!!

A journey called Life said...

Sometimes the greatness of sport (the side which is not completely overtaken by the commercial aspect) can leave one humbled. I felt that when I read about Tendulkar scoring a double century and how he was magnaimus abt it.
Lovely write up Ramesh, felt everybit of the excitment that you must have when you wrote abt Kim Yu Na.

Ramesh said...

@gils - India and winter olympics are miles apart. There's virtually no following for it; hence no coverage. But its great to watch.

@Sandhya - Oh thanks as always for completely flattering comments. Tha's what sports is all about - moments of greatness, heartbreak, everything.

@AJCL - Yes, when sport transcends commercialism, its one of the great joys of the world. Tendulkar has class - he's a rare combination of true greatness coupled with grace. There are a few things that really unite India - he's undoubtedly one of them.

Mark said...

The Olympics have been such a joy.

I totally agree on Kim Yu Na. She was INCREDIBLE. The Japanese woman, Mao Asada, was nearly as good. I have to think in any other year without Kim Yu Na, she would be the one wearing the gold medal. And the Canadian whose mother died this week... Powerful stuff.

Am sad it all comes to an end today. Makes me wish the Olympics were every two years instead of four!

Vishal said...

I follow sports a great deal but not as much as you do. Thanks for bringing up winter side of olympics on the blog. I am sure I would be forgiven for not following winter sports.

It was a fantastic video and great show by Kim. Phelps, Bolt, Kim, Sachin, Roger, Maradona and many more - yes, they is a greatness in them. The most outstanding attribute that they excel at is how to beat the odds in most challenging situations. Simply out of the world at times!

P.S. - I had written something on this very topic few days ago and felt good about it. However, after reading your post, I am left spell-bound. Hail the blog-tiger!

Vishal said...

Just read the news, India begin their world cup journey by beating Pakistan 4-1, Cheers! You would be feeling very good about this too! :-)

Wish you and everyone a very happy and joyful holi!

Deepa said...

I agree with gils! I am hoping that I have understood his comment correctly (considering, I don't even know what language it is!) But seriously, is there something that you aren't passionate about? Its just because I am in the US, that I am hooked on to the Winter Olympics. If I was in India, probably I wouldn't have gone beyond the headline! Even though I am one of those who read the newspaper from the last page!

But quite true! Even I have wondered many a times, about what these sportsmen must be going through, when they are representing their country, infront of the whole world! What strength of mind must be required to keep your nerve and come out triumphant under that much of pressure!

There is no better personality development program, than playing a sport!

Ramesh said...

@Mark - Its going to be a dampener when its over. And just look at the ice hockey final - a real cracker and as I comment, its still in overtime.

@Vishal - Yes, these sportsmen are truly very special and there's something in them that sets them clearly apart from lesser mortals. great. The hockey win yesterday was a great one for India - Indian hockey badly needs some good news.

@Deepa - Gils writes absolutely superb comments in anglicised Tamil. He's a star ! Oh you read the paper from the last page ? Me too. I wonder how many such folks are there like that.

RamMmm said...

On the aspect of figure skating (any category), one thing I love is the musical score that the performers select for their performance. Almost, always a rousing piece, contemporary or classical.

We have in India have the Ice Skating Association of India, but this is a sport which needs sustained investment which we don't do properly. Also the coverage isn't much here.

Watched the hockey match between India and Pakistan in the second half yesterday. What a thrill to see the dribbles, the rushes and the penalty corners! (for penalty corners, the name that I recall instantly, Floris Bovelander, the Dutchman. Push, Stop, Step aside, Whack, Goal!!!)

Ramesh said...

@RamMmm - The fusion of music a dance is what makes figure skating magical. In the short programme Yu-Na chose a medley of James Bond music - Wow that was a brave choice.

No chance of winter sports in India - we are not a sporting nation first and second a tropical country like ours can never take to winter sports.

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