Boxers geared up for a good fight
Finally, women will represent Saudi at Olympic Games
Sardar, Sandeep the key: Nobbs
I missed my daughter’s wedding to train boxers: Fernandes
Selection controversy won’t affect my game: Bhupathi
Sri Lanka end series drought
I’ve seen so much blood, I hate the colour red: Yuvraj
Rolland wins Tour de France 11th stage
Boxers geared up for a good fight
New Delhi, July 12
Vijender Singh said the boxers were all in fine fettle after a 15-day training stint in Dublin, which has been a value-addition to the intense practice sessions the pugilists have been undergoing since March, ever since their Olympic qualification was validated. From Athens via Beijing to London, Vijender has come a long way and will be competing in his third Olympics. Naturally, there is pressure on him to bag a medal, but Vijender sees it differently.
According to him, there are seven other medal prospects, including the lone woman, five-time world champion like Mary Kom, in the team. “ So my responsibility has been shared by others,” he says. India will be fielding a record eight boxers in the London Olympics, which will be three better the five fielded in Beijing.
“We will do better, and there is a great deal of expectation on Mary Com,” Vijender said at a farewell function on Thursday.
The ace boxer said he has been training hard and hopes to put his best foot forward. “Once you enter the ring, the only thing that matters is fight, fight and fight as there is not much time to strategise and all planning can go haywire," he said. He said he was not a mentor for a young fighter like Shiv Thapa and Vikas Krishnan “as there are coaches for that purpose, but I do share my experience with them”.
But Vijender said he would not let out his ring strategy to anyone, which he will pull out only inside the ring. “The best tips I keep for myself,” he said with a straight face.
Mary Kom, the first woman boxer to qualify for the London games, will be making history in London and there is a load of expectation on her to win a medal. “I am very hopeful. Everyone is expecting me to win a medal. Lots of stress on me,” the lithe pugilist, a mother of two, said. She said she has worked hard to focus on her training, trying to keep the stress factor out. “I cannot focus on training if there is stress on me,” she explained. She said she was fully geared up for London, and will give her best shot in the ring to win a medal. “The rest is up to God.”
For chief coach B.S. Sandhu, the London Olympics will be a kind of swansong, and he wants his wards to do well as a parting gift, before he retires from the Sports Authority of India in 2013. “The boxers are doing very well. There will be ten weight categories in London, and all our boxers are very good,” Sandhu said.
Sandhu said boxing will soar to another level if the Indian pugilist strike medals in the London Games. Else, the clock will be set back. “Boxing will go up if we win medals in the Olympics, but will suffer a setback if we fail,” he said.
Sandhu noted that the present bunch reached this level after years of hard work, particularly during the last four years when they beat almost all the top boxers in the world. The chief coach did not want to name any particular boxer as a sure medal prospect as he felt that all of them were capable of winning medals. He said if the boxers have reached this level, and raised expectations of more than one medal, it was due to the coordinated efforts of the Sports Ministry, the SAI, the IOA and the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) whose president, Abhay Singh Chautala, provided every possible help for the boxers to blossom.
Foreign coach B.I. Fernandez of Cuba also exuded confidence that the pugilists would put up good show. He felt that this was India’s best chance to bag a few boxing medals in the Olympics, not discounting the fact that India would have to contend with formidable boxing powers like Cuba, Russia and the U.S.
Berlin, July 12
Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, who will compete in the +78kg category in judo, and teenager Sarah Attar will be the first Saudi women ever to take part at a Games after talks between IOC and the country paid off. "This is very positive news," said IOC President Jacques Rogge. "The IOC has been working very closely with the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee and I am pleased to see that our continued dialogue has come to fruition."
Thursday's decision means that every single country competing in the July 27-Aug. 12 Olympics will be represented by male and female athletes.
At the Atlanta Games in 1996, 26 nations failed to send female athletes with the figure gradually going down to just three at the 2008 Beijing Games. In the past months human rights groups had been urging the IOC to ban Saudi Arabia from the Games if it did not agree to send women athletes.
Female participation in sports has long been a controversial issue in Saudi Arabia, where powerful clerics denounce women for exercising, saying it goes against their nature. Women in Saudi Arabia are regarded as minors and require the permission of their guardian - father, brother, or husband - to leave the country and in some cases even to work.
Attar, 17, said she was honoured by the prospect of representing her country at London 2012.
"A big inspiration for participating in the Olympic Games is being one of the first women for Saudi Arabia to be going," said the 17-year-old at her U.S. training base in San Diego, California. "It's such a huge honour and I hope that it can really make some big strides for women over there to get more involved in sport," she added. The conservative Muslim kingdom is one of the three countries, alongside Brunei and Qatar, never to have sent female athletes but the latter two confirmed earlier this year that their delegation would include women. — Reuters
New Delhi, July 12
"I think we have the harder pool by long way and it would be foolhardy for any of these teams to say where they will finish. We are all trying to do the best we can," Nobbs told PTI in an interview from La Albericia, the capital city of Cantabria in Spain.
"I expect the team to do its best and to try and finish as well as it can. Everyone forgets there are 11 other teams there as well. Not just in my opinion, but Sardar at this point in time probably is one of the two or three best players in the world. If he plays well we will do well. On the other hand, if Sandeep scores a bagful of penalty-corner goals that will also be the key," he added.
Back in the Olympics after missing out the Beijing Games, eight-time champions India have been placed in a tough Pool B alongside reigning champions Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Korea and Belgium.
Nobbs feels Indian hockey is still in the rebuilding phase and it would need some more time to produce results on a consistent basis. "Not at this stage, but you never know (about India's chances in the Olympics). I am certain that we are well along the right track to start to produce consistent good results and that's going to happen," Nobbs said.
"So far, I am happy to the extent that we have done as much as we can do given the time we have with the team. As I have said repeatedly the other teams in the world have been preparing for six years for this event and we have had less than 12 months to resurrect a program and put it back on track," Nobbs said. — PTI
New Delhi, July 12
"The boys consider me like a father now and I get so much respect and affection from them that I don't even feel homesick anymore," Fernandes told PTI in an interview.
"Last year in June, my only daughter, Sochye, got married but I could not go because I had to be in the camp to train the boys for the Olympic Qualifiers (the World Championships in Azerbaijan). She is now settled in Mexico and is still waiting to meet me," he said.
The 56-year-old, who first joined the team in 1990, has picked up Hindi and learnt Bhangra as well. "I feel like an Indian only but yes, I do miss my family sometimes. I sent my daughter a present on her wedding and she told me: 'Papi I will build an academy for you in Mexico so that we can spend some time together'," he laughed.
He has been with the team in quite a few Olympics but a medal came through only in 2008.
Asked what has changed in Indian boxing as an unprecedented seven boxers head to the London edition, Fernandes said, "They don't think of losing anymore. They are fearless and have learnt to handle the pressure pretty well. Every year we are improving and the results are there to be seen in continental events such as the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games," he said. — PTI
Mumbai, July 12
Bhupathi had only recently, blamed the tennis row, which saw him and his doubles partner Bopanna refusing to partner Leander Paes at the Games, for the duo's early ouster from the men's doubles at the Wimbledon championships that ended last Sunday.
"We are hoping India can come up with a few medals in tennis and that is for sure. I am not Nostradamus, but I know we have seven realistic shots (in all disciplines) and hopefully, five or six of us can come through," he said.
Bhupathi, who is leaving for London on Saturday, said he and partner Bopanna have been preparing for the event since last seven months.
"We are ready to go. As far as the expectation, the hardest win in an athlete's life is an Olympic medal. We feel we have a shot as good as the rest. We need to play right and have some luck," said the 38-year old player.
He admitted that the wait for an Olympic medal has been painful and long.
On the toughest rivals during the contest, Bhupathi, who will be playing in his fifth Olympics, said, "It's Roger (Federer), Rafa (Rafael Nadal), Andy Murray, (Novak), Djokovic and the Bryan brothers. It is the Olympics, so there are no easy matches. The Olympic doubles tournament is possibly the hardest tournament in the world because you have got every top singles guy trying to get Olympic glory and all the top doubles guys as well. So there are no easy matches and there are no free lunches. We have to focus on our first round first and then worry about the rest later." Bhupathi added that he and his partner have been training hard for the event.
"You need to go to the Olympic with some kind of preparation. We are not as talented as Roger or Rafa to just pick up pieces and win a medal. So, it is extremely necessary to go with preparation and hence we are," he said.
On the Olympic tennis matches being hosted in Wimbledon, he said,"It will be huge for all tennis players. Wimbledon is, as it is, Mecca for us. The magnitude of Olympics on top of that... it should be a great spectacle for tennis." — PTI
Kolkata: Chess world champion Viswanathan Anand today said that Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi should have sorted out their differences much ahead of the Olympics instead of washing their dirty linen in public just ahead of the London Games.
Terming the bitter tennis selection row an unpleasant episode, the five-time chess world champion said, “They should have made some efforts to finish this much earlier and not bring it up in public when there's a deadline to submit the teams.”
“They have disagreements and that's normal in a sport. But they should have done it much ahead and done it quietly when there's time. It's unpleasant.” Anand said.
Anand was optimistic about medal chances in badminton, athletics and shooting. “I hope we get more than last time (Beijing 2008).” — PTI
Sri Lanka end series drought
Pallekele, July 12
Dinesh Chandimal scored 65 and the prolific Kumar Sangakkara returned unbeaten on 74 as Sri Lanka made 195-4 before the game was called off with nine overs remaining at the Pallekele International Stadium. The 1-0 scoreline - following a 209-run victory in the first Test in Galle - was Sri Lanka's first Test series win since beating New Zealand 2-0 at home in 2009. The rain-hit second Test in Colombo was drawn, while the entire second day's play in Pallekele had been washed out.
Earlier, Asad Shafiq remained unbeaten on 100 as Pakistan declared their second innings at 380-8 half-an-hour before lunch to attempt a series-levelling win.
But the tourists were thwarted by a pitch that eased out under the hot sun and a determined effort by the home team's batsmen in front of some 1,000 spectators. Openers Tharanga Paranavitana and Chandimal gave Sri Lanka a bright start with a 44-run partnership by the 10th over.
Left-handed Paranavitana made 22 when he was caught at second slip by Younis Khan off Junaid Khan, one ball after being dropped by Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq at first slip.
Chandimal, a last-minute inclusion for the match after Tillakaratne Dilshan opted out due to health worries in his family, anchored the innings at the start. The 22-year-old's third half-century in four Tests contained fluent strokes on both sides of the wickets, including eight boundaries.
But Chandimal was dismissed in the last over before tea, snapped up low at mid-off by Shafiq off Ajmal, ending an 88-run stand for the second wicket with Sangakkara.
Skipper Mahela Jayawardene plodded for 44 balls to make 11 when he attempted to scoop Ajmal to the leg-side and only managed to give a catch to Mohammad Hafeez running back from short-leg. Ajmal picked up his third wicket when he bowled Thilan Samaraweera for 10, with Sri Lanka still 92 runs away and 15.5 overs left in the match.
His dismissal forced Sri Lanka to play for a draw amid a late bowling revival by Pakistan. Sangakkara's unbeaten knock followed his 199 not out in the first Test and 192 in the second.
The tourists, who resumed at the overnight score of 299-8, added 81 runs in 24.4 overs in the morning session. — AFP
Pakistan 1st innings: 226
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 337
Pakistan 2nd innings
Shafiq not out 100
Adnan not out 35
Extras: (b-6, lb-8, w-7) 21
Total: (8 wkts decl, ) 380
Fall of wickets: 1-16, 2-110, 3-158, 4-176, 5-276, 6-280, 7-281, 8-299.
Bowling: Kulasekara 28-9-65-1, Perera 25-2-88-0, Herath 39.4-4-99-4, Fernando 23-1-74-3, Mathews 12-0-38-0, Samaraweera 1-0-2-0.
Sri Lanka 2nd innings:
Paranavitana c Younis
b Junaid 22
Chandimal c Shafiq b Ajmal 65
S’kara not out 74
Mahela c Hafeez b Ajmal 11
Samaraweera b Ajmal 10
Mathews not out 1
Extras: (b-2, lb-10) 12
Total: (4 wkts, 62 ovrs) 195
Fall of wickets: 1-44, 2-132, 3-150, 4-178.
Bowling: Gul 9-2-43-0, Junaid 10-0-45-1, Hafeez 9-1-22-0, Ajmal 26-8-50-3, Sami 8-0-23-0.
New Delhi, July 12
Even a year back, Yuvraj would have told you that he loved everything red but not anymore for the man who has successfully battled against a rare germ cell cancer. "Red used to be my favourite colour but I have seen so much of blood that now I hate red. The colour irritates me," Yuvraj said during an interaction with mediapersons at his cricket academy in Pathways School, Gurgaon recently.
As Lance Armstrong would tell you that "It's Not About the Bike", Yuvraj now realises that it's certainly not about 'the bat' anymore. "My approach towards the game has been changed. Of course, it will be the biggest achievement for me whenever I will play my first game for the country (after recovering)." He recalled the hard days during treatment and how it felt being back to normal life.
"I struggled to breathe earlier. Now I am breathing with both lungs. I can eat samosa. I could smell food during chemo but could not eat it. I am relieved to be able to live like a normal man now," the 30-year-old said in a pragmatic tone.
After initial realisation that he has been affected by a dreadful disease, the stylish left-hander did feel that he may not be able to play again. "I was in bed for 4-6 months and only I can feel what it means to be back on the field. Even I did not imagine that I will be able to play again but my progress has been good. I can't describe in words, how it felt when I had my first knocking session."
For the past couple of weeks, Yuvraj has time and again expressed his desire to be a part of World T20 Championship but he doesn't want to rush things. "I am not worried. Obviously, I want to play but I can't keep thinking about it," he added. — PTI
Rolland wins Tour de France 11th stage
La Toussuire, July 12 Thibaut Pinot finished second to make it a French one-two, while Briton Christopher Froome was third. Briton Bradley Wiggins retained the overall leader's yellow jersey while Cadel Evans fell from second to fourth. Jurgen van den Broeck of Belgium lies fourth overall. — Reuters
La Toussuire, July 12
Thibaut Pinot finished second to make it a French one-two, while Briton Christopher Froome was third. Briton Bradley Wiggins retained the overall leader's yellow jersey while Cadel Evans fell from second to fourth. Jurgen van den Broeck of Belgium lies fourth overall. — Reuters
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