Long back, besides the athletic contests held at ancient Olympia, there was a separate festival in honor of Hera (the wife of Zeus). But married women were not allowed to participate in the athletic con- tests of the Hera festival, and were barred on penalty of death from the Sanctuary of Zeus on the days of the athletic competition for boys and men.
Nevertheless, the year 1996 will long be remembered in sports history as the “year of the women”. As the inaugural modern Olympics games of 1896 in Athens, women were limited to the role of spectators-clapping and cheering for the 200 males athletes competing in a sport over two week period. A century afterward, more than 3000 active female assembled in Atlanta (USA) to compete 100 of 271 events held.
Helen Newington Wills, a tennis player, was one of the most publicized woman athletes of 1920. She won seven United States and eight English singles championships. She won 31 major championships. A record surpassed only Martina Navratilova.
Most women can carry on physical activities without any ill-effect during their pregnancy. Studies show that motherhood impacts athletic performance in complex ways.
However, many Indian and foreign athletes return to sports after giving birth. There are many historic examples from the athletics to help us befitting answer that with definitive authority.
There is, of course, a growing of moms on a sports tour. Like boxing superstar, MC Mary Kom, several other women are proving that motherhood does not have to end sporting careers. P.T.Usha, Shiny Wilson, Suman Rawat Mehta, Sarita Devi, Koneru Humpy, Sania Mirza, Anita Sheeran, Gursharan Preet Kaur, Amoolya Venkatesh, Sangeeta Bera, etc are some of the athletes who have bagged international and continental medals just after returning from maternity leaves.
The achievements of Jamaican sprint star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on the track for more than a decade have helped to elevate Jamaican athletics on the international scene.
The 32-year-old sprint queen, after skipping the 2017 world athletics competitions to give birth to her first child, delivered a speedy run to take the 100m in 10.7secs in her comeback.
Allyson Felix, who had won world championships in 2009, 2013, and 2015, failed to qualify the individual 400m event in Doha 2019, however, took gold in 4 x 400m mixed relay, riding America to victory in the world record time of 3:09:34 secs.
Allyson Felix won a record 12th gold, surpassing legend Usain Boult of Jamaica with the tally of 11 world championship golds. She came to world contests just 10 months after giving birth to daughters.
Serena Williams, Margate court, Evonne Goolagong, Kin Clijsters, etc. have bagged a grand slam title after returning from maternity leaves.
Margate Smith has been the winner of record 62 championships in Grand Slam tournaments. Her extraordinary record of success exceeds anything achieved by any other player. Many tennis judges rate her as the finest woman player of all time. In October 1967, she married Australian Barry Court. She also missed the 1972 and 1974 when she was having children.
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus’s journey was disrupted by an injury and care of baby battle over son. Returning in March 2018 after the maternity break, Belarusian unseeded Azarenka shattered Serena William’s dream of winning the 24th singles Grand Slam. Serena was just a title away from creating history.
Both Evonne Fay Goolagong and Kin Clijestera returned after motherhood when their competition was stiff. Goolagong gave birth to her daughter in 1977 and won Wimbledon (the oldest and most important tennis tournament). Victoria Azarenka, who had a son in December 2016, in the semis of US Open 2020, she had to settle for second place coming from a set down to stun the former world numero uno, Serena Williams.
Even the accomplishment of Netherland’s Fanny Blankers Koen in the 1948 London Olympics failed to relax the rigid mindset of the male sports officials. She was the first female to win four gold medals in the 1948 summer Olympics. Fanny was 30 years old, mother of two children aged seven and two. Koen won the 100m (11.9secs), 80m hurdles (11.2-Olympic record), 200m (24.4 sec.) and 4 x 100m relay (47.5sec). Fanny also held the world record in the high jump.
No doubt, studies show that mother- hood impacts athletics performance complex way, mom athletes from across all the sports are beating every odd in their ways.
The writer is a former Associate Professor at the University of Delhi and a Consultant at the Limca Book of Records.
Hamilton misses record but he is the greatest F1 driver for Serena
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas scored his second win of 2020 at the Russian Grand Prix, benefitting from a penalty for his pole-sitting teammate Lewis Hamilton that left the sixtime champion third at the flag, as Max Verstappen claimed Red Bull’s first-ever podium at Sochi in P2. Hamilton began the race on the back foot, after a pair of practice start infringements on his laps to the grid led to him being handed a 10s penalty mid-race, ruling him out of contention for the win, as he came home in P3.
Bottas, meanwhile, had passed Verstappen for second at the race start, before benefitting from Hamilton’s penalty to enjoy an untroubled run to the chequered flag for the ninth win of his career, at the venue where he scored his first back in 2017. It would have been an important confidence booster for Bottas, too, with Finn’s previous victory having come at the season-opening an Austrian Grand Prix back in July. Meanwhile, 23-time tennis Grand Slam champion Serena Williams has heaped praise on Hamilton, saying the reigning Formula 1 world champion is the “greatest drive of our generation” and that he would break German legend Michael Schumacher’s record.
“He is for me, the greatest driver our generation has seen and I am confident that he will break the record of Michael Schumacher,” she added.
We Indians lack sense of humour: Engineer backs Gavaskar
Former India wicket-keeper Farokh Engineer has come out in support of Sunil Gavaskar, who faced backlash on social media for his comments on Anushka Sharma, wife of current Team India skipper Virat Kohli.
Gavaskar faced a lot of ire on Twitter for a remark he made on Anushka helping Kohli with his practice during the Covid-19 induced lockdown, with the actress herself demanding an explanation from the legendary cricketer.
“We, Indians lack a sense of humour. If Sunil had indeed said so about Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli, it must have been in a humorous tone and not in the bad or derogatory taste,” Engineer said while speaking to Pakistan Observer.
“Knowing Sunil Gavaskar well, I am sure he would have said it jokingly. Even in my case, people took it very seriously with the result that Anushka had to come out with her statement,” said Engineer, who during 2019 ICC World Cup, had found himself in a similar controversy after he reportedly said all that the Indian selectors were doing in England was getting Anushka “cups of tea”.
Gavaskar himself has issued a clarification, saying his comments were misinterpreted. “As you hear from the commentary, Aakash (Chopra) and I were doing commentary for an Hindi channel. And Aakash was talking abot the fact that there has been very little chance for proper practice for everybody. That has actually shown in the rustiness of some of the players in their first matches,” Gavaskar told India Today.
“Rohit (Sharma) didn’t strike the ball well in his first match, MSD (MS Dhoni) didn’t strike the ball well, Virat (Kohli) also didn’t strike the ball. Most of the batsmen have because of the lack of practice,” he said. “That was the point that was being made. Virat also had no practice and the only practice that they had when they were seen them playing in their building compund and Anushka was bowling to him. That’s what I said,” he added.
Clash of titans on cards today as Rohit’s MI meet Kohli’s RCB
The 10th match of the Indian Premier League 2020 will be a truly clash of titans as two of the best cricketerscum-captains of modern day cricket, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, will be face to face to showcase their supremacy.
From the leadership prospective in the IPL history, the Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians (MI) have dominated against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), having won 16 out of 25 games. Likewise, MI have won IPL title four times, while RCB haven’t won the coveted trophy yet. Rohit also led side from the front against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and scored a brilliant 54-ball 80 and powered his side to a massive 195/5.
On the other hand, Kohli’s bat is yet to fire, making only 15 runs so far. Kohli would not just eye a win against MI, but will also try to rectify the errors made by him with the bat as RCB heavily relies on him while chasing or setting up a total. Meanwhile, A.B. de Villers, the other vital cog in RCB, too will aim to get some runs under his belt. The focus will also be on young Devdutt Padikkal, who began his IPL career with a brilliant half-century but tasted failure against KXIP.
The 20-year-old player will surely aim to be consistent. The RCB team management will once again hope the young opener would provide a flying start against one of the best team in business. It won’t be an easy task for Padikkal with MI’s armory boasting of bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah, James Pattinson, and Trent Boult. Padikkal opening partner is once again likely to be destructive batter Aaron Finch as the team management won’t like to tinker much with their combina- tion. Finch would try to convert starts into massive totals while de Villers is expected to come up with fireworks in the middle-order as Shivam Dube and Josh Philippe have failed to fire so far. Philippe’s batting position will be another concern for the RCB skipper and team management.
In their bowling department, RCB pos- sess lethal South African pacer Dale Steyn and Umesh Ya- dav. However, the duo has been expensive until now and the same is the condition of Navdeep Saini. Chahal, who came with breakthroughs in both games, will once again share most of the spin workload. As for MI, they were clinical in all the departments of the game against KKR and will once again aim to keep the momentum going. Their top-order, comprising Rohit, de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav, are in great form but the MI team management will be concerned about Saurabh Tiwary, who failed to do much against KKR. Hardik Pandya and Keiron Pollard are once again expected to come with fireworks down the order and the duo is expected to equally share the bowling workload. The spin attack will rely on leggie Rahul Chahar, who hasn’t played his part to perfection so far.
Opener Shubman Gill proves to be KKR’s real knight rider
Normally it has been seen that teams collapse chasing small targets and wickets keep falling at regular intervals as the teams do not give up the habit of batting that suits the format of T-20 cricket. But nothing like that happened at Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Chasing an easy target set up by Sunrisers Hyderabad, Shubman Gill during his 70 runs’ mature innings displayed a good temperament and shot selection, and kept on playing judiciously till the victory target was achieved.
Shubman smashed every bowler’s weak ball beyond the boundary. He flicked a ball from Bhuvaneshwar, then hit a six over long-on off Khaleel Ahmed, again played cut and cover drive off Khaleel, smashed a boundary over longleg off Afghanistan’s star leg spinner Rashid Khan and also a strong shot over the head of the bowler. In this innings, his style was not, of course, explosive, but he played according to the merit of the ball and displayed the immense potential that he has.
In fact, Shubman Gill’s style of game is more suitable for test and one day matches. He can build up and consolidate the innings quite well. If NCA director Rahul Dravid has advised some cricketers in IPL to play smart, it means he is advising to avoid injury and play the shots which are not always the ones that are hit in T-20 format of cricket. Dravid has been of the opinion right from the beginning that many times there is a risk of cricketers’ game getting affected due to such shots. Shubman had visited New Zealand on behalf of India A this year where he had made 80 plus runs in an innings against ‘New Zealand A’ and hit double century in the second innings. He also hit one century in another match.
He has already made a double century against ‘West Indies A’. He has a reputation of being the youngest player to have hit ‘first class’ double century. He has hit century against a strong Vidarbha team in Ranji Trophy and proved that he is no longer a junior cricketer. He has gained maturity in his game. Earlier, Shubman has achieved BCCI’s best junior player award on two occasions. Who can forget his tremendous innings in the U-19 world cup two years ago against Pakistan? He did get included in the national team during the New Zealand and South Africa tour, but he could not be accommodated in playing XI. He did get a chance to play in two one-day matches against New Zealand last year but he could not take advantage of the opportunity.
Shubman’s average of first class cricket is around 75 runs. But the place for opener is not vacant in Team India at present. Neither in Tests nor in one day. Rohit Sharma has captured the place in Test and K.L. Rahul has done it in One Day team and the competition has become stiff with both the players occupying the positions of openers. Like Shikhar Dhawan and Mayank Agarwal who got a chance as an opener quite late, Shubman is in the same situation. Let’s hope that the wait is not long for him to get a regular place in Team India and he maintains consistency in his game like this.
Sanju, Smith, Rahul help Rajasthan remain Royals
Rajasthan Royals (RR), led by Sanju Samson and skipper Steve Smith, chased down 224 for victory against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), pulling off the highest successful run chase in the tournament’s history. KXIP scored 223/2 in 20 overs, with their openers K.L. Rahul (69) and Mayank Agarwal (106) having put on a record-breaking opening partnership. They brought up the first century opening stand of the season in the 9th over. They crossed the record for KXIP’s highest ever opening stand — 136 by Adam Gilchrist and Paul Valthaty against Deccan Chargers in 2011 — in the 12th over.
Mayank brought up his 100, his first in the IPL, off 45 balls, in the 15th over. He was dismissed for 106 off 50 balls in the 17th over. Rahul followed in the 18th over. Steve Smith (50) and Sanju Samson (85) got the chase off to a cracking start, as the highest Powerplay score of the season was bettered twice in one day. Rajasthan Royals’ 100 came up in the 9th over, but Smith departed soon after. When Samson fell in the 17th over, it seemed the game was lost for Rajasthan.
But Rahul Tewatia (53) had other ideas, smashing Sheldon Cottrell for five sixes in the 18th over as RR clinched the match in a dramatic last over with four wickets and three balls left. Earlier, a maiden century from Mayank Agarwal and his epic 183-run opening stand with captain K.L. Rahul helped Kings XI Punjab score 223/2 batting first against Rajasthan Royals at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Mayank scored 106 from 50 balls, his innings punctuated by as many seven sixes and 10 fours. Rahul, on the other hand, scored 69 off 54, smashing seven fours and one six.
The partnership that the pair shared is the highest opening stand ever for KXIP and the second highest overall for the team, behind the mammoth 206 put up by Adam Gilchrist and Shaun Marsh for the second wicket against Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2011. It is also the third highest opening partnership of all time in the IPL. The stand was broken when Mayank holed out at deep midwicket off Tom Curran in the 17th over. Rahul went in the next over, falling to Ankit Rajpoot. Glenn Maxwell and Nicholas Pooran then took KXIP over the 200-run mark with the latter smashing 25 runs in eight balls.
Gurpreet, Sanju named AIFF Players of the Year
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sanju were on Friday declared as winners of the 2019- 20 AIFF men’s and women’s footballer of the year awards respectively.
This is the first time Gurpreet has received the award, and in the process, he became the second goalkeeper after Subrata Paul in 2009 to be named the AIFF Player of the Year.
“There was always a desire to reach this point and this is an award which I have always looked up to. Chhetri-bhai (Sunil Chhetri) has won it so many times and I have always thought when I can be worthy enough to win it,” the 28-year-old, who had also received the Arjuna Award last year, said.
“Garnering the all-important draw against Asian Champions Qatar in Doha, eleven clean sheets in last Indian Super League edition, winning the Golden Glove award could not have been possible without the team,” he added.
Meanwhile, midfielder Sanju was selected the winner for an excellent season while Ratanbala Devi was the winner of the 2019-20 Emerging Women’s Footballer of the Year Award. Both the winners were selected by national women’s team head coach Maymol Rocky in consultation with AIFF Technical Director Isac Doru.
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