I was hoping to catch some Malayalee men and women do their best as Kerala has consistently sent women athletes for events. The stadium was packed except for a few stands kept reserved for probably the players and families. And those are the stands that come up empty on TV screen as they are right behind the medal-distribution podium.
Security was tight, only small purses allowed, no cameras, no bottles of perfumes, lotions, drinks , no food allowed in- not even water. All coins had to be put in a box for the Cancer patients. Next you get frisked and you had to show your ticket high to enter, and in the queue people come and ask you if you have extra tickets while you hold your much coveted ticket in fear! For a moment felt like Charlie with his golden ticket in the Roald Dahl book, I must admit.
On the field, it was action all around, on one side were the women Pole-vaulters and on the other the Javelin men. Two giant screens gave you the close-up look at all of them. The triple jumpers were practicing on the side and the overhead camera going to and fro. The thrown javelins were brought back by remote cars which kept all the kids in the crowd riveted with hopes of having a go at them.
Then the track events began – the 4×100 men and women’s event. Team India won the bronze, the women especially lost out the silver by a whisker. PT Usha was announced for the medal distribution and the crowd went into raptures clapping for her. She seemed serious when she handed the bronze medals, she touched the cheek of each athlete with what looked like a rap. We were discussing that she may have been unhappy with bronze and were giving the girls a tiny slap each.
For Javelin, there were 4 Indian men and the crowd egged them on with chants and Kashinath Naik won bronze, again! Our triple jumper, Ranjit Maheshwari, was a crowd engager he asked the crowd to clap and we did each time, and he was in the running for silver throughout but finally had to settle for bronze, but with a new National Record!
The crowd was soon restless, all wanting to hear the National Anthem at least once and then the Women’s 4×400 began. It’s like the whole crowd wished together at the same time – and there it was, the Gold!!! The girls Sini Jose (Keralite), Ashwini Akkunji, Manjeet Kaur, and Mandeep Kaur were amazing they ran like there was no tomorrow. And the result… euphoria, screaming, jumping, all round exultation – Amazing experience!
For the National Anthem we were all singing as one and the Jaya hai Jaya hai Jaye hai bit was sung loudly with hands throwing victory punches in the air.
The only drawback was that we wanted to see Milkha Singh (who was seen congratulating the girls on the screen) or PT Usha give away the medals but instead, we had to suffer Suresh Kalmadi who did the honours. A lot of us were seen ranting but then the girls and their smiles and the joy took over.
India also beat England to enter hockey finals – Truly, a great sporting day for India and a long wait has ended since Milkha Singh won the 440 yards gold in 1958, so long ago! I certainly lucked out witnessing one of the best days for Kerala and for India in the CWG 2010.