POSITION MAINTAINED “First of all, the team maintained its position from the last World Relays by coming second behind the United States of America. Based on the fact that this year, we were without a lot of our more seasoned athletes, I think the team did extremely well because the team was selected on the athletes who made themselves available,” said Wilson. “Most of these athletes are on a second or third tier ranking in terms of positioning … .” Thirty-three of Jamaica’s 77 Olympic medals were mined at the last three instalments which took place in Beijing (2008), London (2012) and Rio de Janeiro (2016) with another 33 of the country’s 110 World Championships medals coming since the 2009 event in Berlin. Additionally, 15 of the country’s 22 Olympic gold medals came since the 2008 Games, while 24 of the 31 World Championships gold medals won by Jamaica were secured since 2009. Meanwhile, Wilson expressed disappointment and surprise at Blake’s criticism after the sprinter suggested that the technical team had to take some blame for the team selection after a blunder on the second exchange between second leg runner Kemar Bailey-Cole and Jevaughn Minzie resulted in a disqualification in the men’s 4x100m heats. The coach, however, explained that athlete selections were made based on availability, but also agreed that there is a need for more practice sessions ahead of relay events. “I felt that he (Blake) was extremely frustrated because this would have been the first time that I can recall clearly for a very long time in his career that he would have been on a team that is not in the final of a major championships, so I can understand his frustration, but I was a little surprised and disappointed by the utterances because we have such a good relationship as a team,” Wilson said. “We are not playing any blame game, but if the baton falls, we go back and try to correct the issues, but they are professionals and need to accept responsibility when there is an error. I don’t understand how you could blame the dropping of a baton on the selecting of a team, especially when the options were limited,” he added. “As far as I was told by the head coach (Michael Clarke), he wanted an experienced athlete to run the third leg, but could not get the cooperation from the person who he had in mind to run the third leg, so he had no choice but to run the team based on who he had,” Wilson further explained. The other member of the team was lead leg runner Everton Clarke, who was making his first appearance at the senior world level. Jamaica ended with 39 points to finish behind the Americans (60 points) after a first-place finish in the women’s 4x200m, second in the women’s 4x100m and third in the women’s 4x400m, men’s 4x200m, mixed 4x400m and men’s 4x400m. Australia finished third on 24 points, with Poland fourth on 23. Maurice Wilson, who served as technical director for Jamaica’s team to the recently concluded World Relays in The Bahamas, says he is satisfied with the team’s performance in the archipelago, but is warning Jamaican fans to brace for less international success in the coming years. Jamaica’s performance was seen as lukewarm in some quarters, and Wilson had to respond to criticism from male team captain Yohan Blake after a baton mishap in the men’s 4x100m heats, but the respected coach maintains that the team’s efforts should be applauded given its composition and the quality competition they faced in Nassau. Furthermore, Wilson believes that it is unrealistic to expect Jamaica’s golden period of athletics success, which began at the 2008 Olympic Games to continue for much longer. “It is a good time for us to get back down to earth. From 2008, we have been having some glory years, and at some point in time, there has to be some transition. I said before the team left Jamaica (for the World Relays) that once the other countries were to bring most of their seasoned athletes, then it would not be an easy run for us,” said Wilson. “It was clear that Canada, America and Germany had some of their seasoned campaigners who brought a lot of stability to the performance of their team, so taking all of that into consideration, I think we did very well,” he added.
If you are looking at these pages with lust, chances are you have very good taste. The Jaguar XJ, after all, is one of the prettiest looking high-end luxury sedans one can buy in the country today. It’s almost a rolling sculpture compared to the at times racy, at times functional but mostly traditionally well proportioned German competition that is the Audi A8, BMW 7-series and Mercedes S-class.Inside too the Jaguar is more emotive than functional. It gets a wraparound dashboard which draws inspiration from speedboats. It is minimalist and only gets customary climate control system and audio controls on the dash with other handy bits like buttons for lock/unlock and seat massagers are integrated unobtrusively as part of the central console. The central tunnel houses cupholders and the Jaguar trademark rotary gear selector knob that rises up when the ignition is turned on.Otherwise, there’s nothing else; just lots of leather and simplistic lines. The idea behind this, according to the Jaguar’s chief designer, Ian Callum, is to make Jaguars an easy place to be in. And the XJ does feel like a living room. But, for a car that commands such a high pricetag interiors still need to feel special. And they do, courtesy the lovely play of chrome. Everything from air con vents to the various buttons and knobs as well as the outline for the trim is all chrome.Things aren’t as great at the rear. Sure, the seats are well bolstered and comfortable. These are hugely accommodating too with seatback angle being nearly optimum. But, in terms of the pamper coefficient, the XJ just can’t compete with its German rivals. It lacks adjustable rear seats, the sun blinds are manual and there’s no soft closing for the doors either.It was only natural then, that we enjoyed being behind the wheel more; helped in no small measure by the engine. The XJ comes with the choice of two engines–there’s the naturally aspirated 5-litre petrol V8 for the Portfolio trim and the supercharged version of the same engine that makes 510 bhp for the Supersport. The latter puts the XJ at a higher pedestal in output terms compared to its traditional competition.When driven sedately, it moves about with the elegance befitting royalty. Step on the gas with enthusiasm and it turns primal. There’s no letting off either; the engine revs unrestricted and with a sprinter’s ability towards the redline the moment the throttle pedal is buried into the carpet. And it keeps at it gear change after gear change. If you choose to buy the Supersport, you’d desperately wait for the weekends while envying your chauffeur through the week. Price: Rs. 1.1 crore (est)On the road: From PURI TO KonarkThe distance from Puri in Orissa to the famous temple town of Konark is just under 40 km. Naturally many would not deem such a meagre distance in terms of a long drive. After all, in the last decade or so, we have progressed from being a country where 50 km on the highway could take as much as three to four hours to one where you can actually go all the way from Delhi to Kolkata or Mumbai, both over 1,500 km away from the national capital, in a day. Yet, this relatively short stretch is perhaps one of the most scenic routes to drive on.It’s a narrow two-lane highway that connects the city with the town on the coast of the mighty Bay of Bengal. But don’t let those two adjectives–narrow and two lane–pass on the opportunity to drive on this road, for it’s quite well surfaced. The route itself will see you pass numerous quaint villages on either side, so you have to slow down a little in preparation for the odd calf or even child. About a third of the way through the lush coconut trees on either side of the road give way to piles of sand, and you realise that just to your right, past the sand dune is the beach and then the sea. A couple of kilometres later you see a vast unending deep blue to the right–Bay of Bengal. Further on, as the road turns, the sea disappears, to be replaced by what looks like a dense forest. A half-broken wooden signboard tells you that you’re passing through a reserve forest. Abruptly, you drive into sunshine as the road turns sharply left. A few more kilometres of driving later it is that Konark is approaching as you see increased traffic. Reaching Konark is quite the anti-climax, for the town itself is dingy and congested with tourists. The drive to the town though is a different story altogether. It’s nothing short of magnificent, and you can’t help but look forward to the journey back.-Vikrant SinghSuzuki Bandit 1250sThis one is a genuine sports tourer with enough power and torque in its belly to justify the sports tag. If you’re looking for a bike that will scream your presence to the bystanders each time you ride in, this is not for you. This, despite its fairing and large proportions. Astride, the Bandit exudes a feeling of function over form. Instrumentation is a simple twin pod affair with an analogue tachometer and a digital console that not only shows the speed but also houses all the other tell tales. The switchgear though has a positive feel and all of them are within easy reach of the rider’s fingers. The result? Top notch ergonomics. In the confines of the city the Bandit’s 250 kg weight shows, as does its longish wheelbase. Together they rob the bike of low speed manoeuvrability. But get it out onto the open highway and it’s a different story altogether. The riding position is close to perfect; the fairing does a good job of keeping you safe from the windblast at highway speeds while mirrors are large and mostly vibe free, giving you a clear picture of what’s behind. The long wheelbase, however, ensures that the Bandit is rock stable, even when cruising comfortably at three digit highway speeds. Speaking of highways, overtaking is a must and the Bandit excels here again thanks to that refined in-line four cylinder engine, which has enough torque and more to require less downshifting through that slick six-speed gearbox. Price Rs. 8.5 lakh, ex-showroom.-Rahul Ghoshadvertisementadvertisement