Literary Treat For Sports Fan

With a spectacular Day One of the Ekamra Sports Literature Festival setting the stage for an exciting amalgamation of sports and literature, the concluding Day Two took the bar of insightful discussions.

Ace sprinter Ben Johnson, author Richard Moore, the champion wrestlers of India Vinesh Phogat, Yogeshwar Dutt and Bajrang Punia, Javelin’s poster boy Neeraj Chopra, swimming champion Stephanie Rice, Indian test Vice captain Ajinkya Rahane enriched the Fest.

Cricketer Mohammed Kaif and moderator the television personality Arup Ghosh in a rather unusual but highly pertinent topic in India today – The Secularist Cricketer set the ball rolling with a candidly honest Kaif won hearts of the audience with his straight answers.

Touching upon subjects like fitness and the issue of secularism, both Kaif and Ghosh steered the conversation to discuss things that the eager beaver audience was hungry for- his entry into politics, his as well as Indian team’s fielding skills, the importance of yo yo to man management.        

The next session with Ben Johnson on a memory, which was without doubt the most controversial moment in Olympic track history, even after 30 years later, was as engaging as the opening one. 

It had Ben Johnson talking about himself along with Richard Moore, who has penned The Dirtiest Race In History. The three talked about every moment that led up to the 1988 100 m race finish in Seoul, that has also been brought alive through words in the book. Ben discussed his rivalry with Carl Lewis and answered queries other queries related to the controversies surrounding him. As expected the session uncovered many such bygone moments that have marked history. 

In the modern era of Indian wrestling, three wrestlers, Sushil Kumar with his 2008 Olympic bronze; Yogeshwar Dutt with an Olympic bronze; and Vinesh Phogat opened their hearts to a
uthor and sports journalist Suprita Das. The three were clear in their minds that it is wrestling alone that they are obsessed with, and would like to further do their country proud with more medals in international events in their kitty.
Australian swimmer, mentor and entrepreneur, Stephanie Rice, who knew she wanted to swim for her country at the young age of eight, shared some personal moments about her childhood.

After drawing the globe’s attention when she won three gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in world record-breaking time, she drew attention at the festival too. She looked dazzling in orange and black combination as the audience loved every word that she uttered.

The unstoppable young champion who is the co-author of the book “The Art of Wellness” post retirement at 24, also gave invaluable tips to produce internationally renowned swimmers in India, besides speaking about the road to success, the pitfalls and also what does a nation like India needs to do to create a swimming environment.

If the audience was dazzled by Stephenie’ Rice’s glamour, they were moved by Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar along with two sports journalists Digvijay Singh and Vimal Mohan who have written a book on her – Dipa Karmakar – The Small Wonder. After releasing the cover of the book, a panel discussion followed with TV anchor Nikhil Naz.

Returning to action after nearly two years, Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar made an impressive comeback by winning the gold at the World Challenger Cup in June 2018, and all her fellow panelists tried their best to look into the person that she is. And sure enough, the sweet petite girl didn’t disappoint.

Showing her sift heart but a tough exterior, she also received maximum applause from the audience. As always, all through the discussion, her coach Bisheshwar Nandi was sitting, beside her – answering on her behalf as he has always been mentoring, encouraging and inspiring her.

When his retirement came as a shock and it almost seemed forced, the world had many questions.

Former hockey captain Sardar Singh opened up about his retirement, his missing the World Cup and what is in store for the future.

With the World Cup only a couple of months away, this became something that the audience was least expecting. They wanted to know how the WC without its main play-makerm would be like, and sure enough, the session had answers for all.

Neeraj has caught the imagination of the country. And now after the 2018 Asian Games Gold, apart from romanticizing the sport of javelin, Neeraj is the new poster boy of Indian athletics. Sitting with him is the man, his coach, the only athlete to have thrown the javelin beyond 100mts, 104.80m. Speaking to them were his coach Uwe Hohn and actor, director Rahul Bose.

The last session had a topic everyone loves discussing – cricket. Hence, cricketers, administrators, fans all were part of the 50-minute chat with Indian Vice Captain Ajinkya Rahane answering as honestly as only he could. He spoke about Test cricket and how it is dying even though in the last 4-5 years, Tests have become exciting with some really grand stand finishes. Rahane,  who is an exponent and admirer of Test cricket spoke to Nikhil Naz on whether this beautiful piece of art can be saved and made prosperous.

That brings to an end the first Ekamra Sports Literature Festival. The two-day festival has been a huge treat for sports fans all over the globe who tuned in live to watch the panel discussions. The participation and enthusiasm of the audience has been particularly encouraging and we will be back next year.

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