• Indian Grand Prix

A flag of convenience

Martin Williamson October 29, 2012
Well, if there's nobody else then we'll have to go with Narang ... © Getty Images

After Sachin Tendulkar waved the chequered flag at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in 2011 there was widespread speculation as to what big gun organisers would get for the second year.

In the event, the honour went to Gagan Narang. While an admirable sportsman, Narang, who won a bronze medal in shooting at the London Olympics, is not even a household name in his country. And comments from the organisers left him in no doubt he got the gig simply because he happened to the there and available.

Questions as to how he was picked revealed that it was by default. Organisers had wanted ex-sports minister Ajay Maken but he declined. Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan was then lined up but he pulled out at the last minute. "He attended one our F1 after parties on Saturday night but communicated his inability to come to the race," a circuit spokesman said.

When reporters pointed out there were some higher-profile figures at the track - such as Olympians Sushil Kumar and Vijay Kumar - the spokesman admitted Narang was the only one who confirmed he would attend. "We couldn't wait any longer and gave him the honour. Of course, we'd have preferred Sushil or Vijay but they hadn't confirmed they would come."

Martin Williamson is managing editor of digital media ESPN EMEA

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Martin Williamson is managing editor of digital media ESPN EMEA Martin Williamson, who grew up in the era of James Hunt, Niki Lauda and sideburns, became managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group in 2007 after spells with Sky Sports, Sportal and Cricinfo