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Silver club: Rashid drives India home

As he took steps towards the podium at Guangzhou's Dragon Lake Golf Club to receive the Asian Games men's team silver, Rashid Khan's mind would have rewound to the early years of the decade when he nearly gave up golf.

other Updated: Nov 21, 2010 01:10 IST
Robin Bose

As he took steps towards the podium at Guangzhou's Dragon Lake Golf Club to receive the Asian Games men's team silver, Rashid Khan's mind would have rewound to the early years of the decade when he nearly gave up golf.

The yearning to return to cricket, his first love, and ill-health had turned 2002 and 2003 into trying years. "I was bed-ridden for months and the illness made me a loner," Rashid had told Hindustan Times.

The year rolled over but the lad's stars showed no signs of looking up. The student of DAV School, Nizamuddin (East), decided he had had enough with academics and dropped out after class VIII. The drift continued till a slap, during a tournament at the Delhi Golf Club, stemmed the slide.

"A caddy had been needling me and after a while I retaliated. The man reported the matter to my uncle, (Maqbool Khan, who played a stellar role in shaping his career). He made his way to the fifth hole, where I was playing, and slapped me in full view," Rashid reminisced.

Golf reclaimed its rightful place in the teenager's life and his career, shaped by renowned coaches like Romit Bose and Nonita Lall Qureshi, took off and saw him being anointed as the country's top amateur.

Several years down, the sting of the fateful slap is fresh, as is national coach, Peter Murphy's, report to the Indian Golf Union (IGU), which questioned the attitude of Rashid, Abhijit Chadha and Rahul Bajaj during last month's World Amateur Team Championships in Argentina for the Eisenhower Cup.

As reported by HT, Murphy, in his e-mail to Jaydeep Chitlangia, chairman of the selection committee, had stated his disappointment over "a change in attitude as to how they (players) conducted themselves whilst competing internationally as a team".

"The report was sans any sugar-coating and made the boys sit up. On hindsight, it seems to have come as a blessing in disguise," an IGU official, who refused to go on record, told HT on Saturday.

The talent in the trio of Chadha, Bajaj, Abhinav Lohan is unmistakable, but if India were to repeat the feat of the 2006 Doha Games, the 19-year-old Rashid had to play a major role.

It was an ominous start on Wednesday as Chadha got disqualified from the individual event after submitting a wrong card. True to his billing, the wiry Rashid ploughed on, returning sub-par cards on the first two days to keep India within touching distance of a podium finish.

Hopes did recede on Friday when Rashid returned a 74 and the others floundered too, but the trio of Rashid, who missed a bronze to finish T4 at three-under 285, Bajaj and Lohan finishing even-par on the final day saw India nosing ahead of Chinese Taipei by a stroke to finish at 10-over 874. The gap though between the top-two was yawning with South Korea clinching gold with an impressive 22-under 842.

Aditya wins bronze in snooker singles
India's Aditya Mehta secured a surprise bronze after losing to Chun Marco Fu Ka of Hong Kong 1-4 in the semifinals of the men's snooker singles competition on Saturday. Aditya, who defeated stronger opponents en route to the last four, went down 20-62, 7-60, 68-55, 15-59, 21-71 on the last day of the cue sports competition.