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Excerpt: A History of Indian Sport Through 100 Artefacts

A new illustrated book has facts, artefacts and reports intertwined with stories from Indian sports. Lounge presents exclusive excerpts

Pele at the Cosmos versus Mohun Bagan match played at the Eden Gardens in 1977.
Pele at the Cosmos versus Mohun Bagan match played at the Eden Gardens in 1977.

Pele brings joy to the city of Calcutta

‘Just as we were about to land and as some of us looked down, all we could see was a sea of people. There were thousands of people at the airport and one of the players, Giorgio Chinaglia, said to me, “Pele, how could we land here!" There was anxiety in his voice. It was incredible’, said Pele, when asked what he remembers of his visit to Calcutta in September 1977. That was when the King of Football had visited the city as a player for the New York Cosmos, to play against Mohun Bagan at the Eden Gardens.... Such was Calcutta’s love for Pele that for the brief period he was there, the city had almost ground to a halt.

Pele...remembers the occasion vividly. When asked to recount the visit... (during his second visit in 2015) he stated, ‘I remember we played in a cricket stadium. It had some wooden galleries and was packed with people. The ground condition wasn’t the best but the overall feeling was incredible.’

A History of Indian Sport Through 100 Artefacts: By Boria Majumdar, HarperCollins, 228pages, Rs1,299.

Bindra’s shot at Olympic gold

In his autobiography, A Shot At History (with Rohit Brijnath), Abhinav Bindra has repeatedly emphasized the importance of timing, a state of full preparedness before the big moment arrives. Being the nation’s first-ever individual Olympic gold-medal winner will always make him special...

Bindra’s gold at Beijing in 2008 had suddenly awakened the country to the significance of the Olympics as an event. Indians realized that they could win Olympic medals as well.... For the first time in Indian Olympic history, the media appropriated this victory in a manner associated commonly with cricket...

Gloves that Abhinav Bindra wore while shooting for gold at Beijing Olympics.

What stands out in the Bindra story is that his legacy hasn’t come easy to him. Not many know that Bindra had shot a 4 in his first sighting shot before the final at Beijing in 2008. The second was an equally baffling 4.2. While we still can’t pinpoint the exact reason (the likelihood is that his standing position was loose and somewhat unstable, affecting his balance), his first shot of 10.5 in the final against this backdrop helps demonstrate the enormity of the achievement.

Also Read | How to build a sports ‘museum’

Sachin’s 100th ton

16 March 2012, Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, Mirpur: Sachin Tendulkar had scored his hundredth century and only just finished the post-match media interaction. There was chaos all around.... I knew it would be impossible to speak to him in that frenzy.... Then, at the stroke of midnight, I got a call from the man. We agreed to meet in the lobby of the Pan Pacific Sonargaon in Dhaka, the hotel where he was staying, and then go up to his room...

Autographed gloves used by Sachin Tendulkar while scoring his 100th century.

So how difficult was the wait and what was his first reaction when he reached the milestone? Here’s how Sachin described it: I thanked God to start with and said to myself that the wait was finally over. Without a doubt it has been the most difficult hundred to get. I was feeling the pressure every day of my life and was getting frustrated with myself at not being able to get to the landmark. For a few seconds my mind was blank and I just felt relieved that I had finally achieved the three figure mark after more than a year…. It appeared on occasions that everything I had achieved in the past was irrelevant and I’d only be judged by my ability to get the hundredth hundred. I was doing everything to not succumb to the pressure but it was hard.... I am glad it is done finally.

Excerpted with permission from A History Of Indian Sport Through 100 Artefacts

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