‘Better coach’ to ‘Karmanakar’: Dumb things politicians say about athletes

  • Kushal Phatarpekar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Aug 23, 2016 17:08 IST
Sports minister Vijay Goel came in for a lot of flak for his selfie-filled trip to Rio and his tweets about Indian athletes made things worse. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

The Telangana government hosted a rockstar reception for badminton ace PV Sindhu and mentor Pullela Gopichand on Monday, a grand event in every way save for the deputy chief minister’s remark that she may be provided a “better coach”.

“Winning a medal at the Olympics was my dream,” Sindhu said and attributed her success to her guru, Gopichand.

Deputy CM Mohammad Mahmood Ali, however, may not have the kind of faith in Gopichand that the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal has in her coach.

“We have plans to provide her a better coach,” he said on the sidelines of the reception.

But he did go on to say that coach Gopichand is equally good.

This is hardly the first instance of a verbal faux pas by an Indian politician when speaking about sport. It occurs all too frequently. Here are some of the most memorable instances:

1. “I just heard that Muhammad Ali died in the US. He was a prominent personality in sports in Kerala. He has won gold medal and made Kerala famous in the world of sports.”

- Kerala Sports Minister EP Jayarajan on Muhammad Ali’s passing.

Read | What I said was wrong: Kerala minister admits mistake over Muhammad Ali remark

(Arvind Yadav /HT Photo)

2. “She (Sania Mirza) is the daughter-in-law of Pakistan. She is not local enough. she was born in Maharashtra and her family moved later to Hyderabad. She has done nothing for Telangana.”

- BJP leader K Laxman criticising move to name tennis ace Sania Mirza brand ambassador of Telangana state.

Read | Row over Sania Mirza as Telangana brand ambassador


3. “You (Sachin Tendulkar) said you are proud of being Marathi but are an Indian first. This has hurt the Marathi people. From the cricket pitch you have entered the political pitch. You also said that all Indians have an equal right on Mumbai. What was the need for this? You have become “run-out” on the Marathi pitch.”

- Late Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray in party mouthpiece Saamna on Tendulkar’s ‘Mumbai for all’ comment.

Read | Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray blasts Tendulkar


4. “Very happy that she (Anju Bobby George) resigned. Good. I have never asked her to resign or tried to oust her. And also never asked (anybody) to remove her from the post.”

- Kerala sports minister EP Jayarajan after Olympian Anju Bobby George resigned from her post as the state Sports Council president after he allegedly insulted her by levelling corruption charges against her.

Read | Very happy that she resigned: Kerala sports minister on Anju Bobby George

(Photo: Twitter screenshot)

5. “Best of luck Dipa Karmanakar, Indian Artistic Gymnastic, Women’s vault...”

- India sports minister misspells gymnast Dipa Karmakar’s name in a tweet wishing her luck for her vault final in Rio. He later messed up again, using Dutee Chand’s photo in a tweet about Srabani Nanda.

6. Sriprakash Jaiswal, Union Coal Minister while comparing India’s win over Pakistan at the 2012 World T20 to a marriage, the 68-year-old Union Minister had said in Hindi: “Nayi nayi jeet aur nayi nayi shaadi, iska apna alag mahatva hota hai... jaise jaise samay beetega..jeet ki yaadein purani hoti jayegi; jaise jaise samay beet ta hai, patni purani hoti chali jati hai, vo maza nahi rehta hai.”

Loosely translated, he said that like a new victory, a new marriage has its own importance, but as time passes, like the victory, a wife loses her charm

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