Lockdown didn’t hinder my quests, says Panghal - The Daily Guardian
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Lockdown didn’t hinder my quests, says Panghal

Amit Panghal, India’s ace boxer, talks to The Daily Guardian about his life in and outside the ring, and how Covid-19 has impacted him and his game.

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File photo of boxer Amit Panghal during one of his bouts.

Q. What does your lockdown routine look like?

A. I am in my hometown village in Rohtak for most of the time. I am fortunate that my coach resides in a nearby village. So I’ve been continuously seeking his guidance and remaining in training. I have been practicing regularly, even on Sundays.

 I can say I am in perfect shape. I am focusing and training hard. The lockdown has affected me but little in my quest for a medal in Tokyo. 

 Q. Why did you prefer lighter weight categories for your career?

 A. First I tried to shift in a 59 kg bracket. But that was not an Olympic division. So I focused on 52 kg. It also suits me as I am not too tall.  I could avoid taller boxers of upper weight divisions in 52kg. So I stuck with it. 

Q. Tell us something about the earlier phases of your sporting life?

 A. It was in 2009 when I earned a bronze in the state sub-junior boxing championship. In the next edition, I upgraded it to Gold. In the National sub-junior, I produced the same result. I was bursting with confidence. But feud among officials erupted and I could not do anything praiseworthy. In the 2016 National championship, I stood first. 

Q. During the Asian Games in Jakarta, You were up against World number one, Rio Olympic gold medalist Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan. Tell us something about that.  

 A. I had already lost twice against him. I knew that he was a bazooka pugilist. His USP is his jumping left hook. I soaked his robust anger and produced a fitting reply whenever required. The inout strategy also worked. I am still thrilled that I earned the gold medal for the nation. Even next year in Bangkok, I outpunched him again at a stronger note. In the Quarter Finals of Asian championship the score was better, 4-1 [smiles].  

Q. What went wrong in the finals of the World Boxing Championship?

A. I and my team are still clueless. I fought well, landed aggressive blows, and connected the punches with finesse. Still, the score-line of 5-0 baffles me. We watched the video again and again but still have no answer for that decision by the jury. 

Q. You beat Carlo Paalam for a ticket to Tokyo. That was your 3rd win over the Filipino. Please share your experience?

A. It was at Jordan that I achieved this feat. I am delighted that I qualified for the biggest sporting stage in the world. Though it has been shifted I am waiting eagerly for it.   

Q.  What would you love to do when you are not inside the ring?

A. I love to be among friends. I also like my family. This lockdown provided me ample time for it. 

 Q. How do you see the immediate future of Indian Boxing?

A. The boxers are highly motivated. Already a record number of boxers has qualified for Tokyo. As a team, I expect 3-4 medals from the Olympic arena. Moreover, I feel they will be of the first or second position. I am working hard for a medal. 

 Q. Would you tell our readers something about your family?

 A. Well, I am from an agrarian background. My father Vijender Singh is a farmer. My elder brother Ajay is my mentor for boxing. He was a boxer in his days. Taking a lot of cues from him, I started pursuing the sport from the age of 12. 

Q. What are your expectations from the government?

A. I want the efforts of my coach to be recognised. I want to see him winning the Dronacharya award first. After that, I would want to win more medals and awards in my career. I also want my coach to accompany me to the Olympics. 

Q.  You are a hero for many. Any message you want to give to youth?

A. Few but important words. Set a target and practice more and more and more to achieve it.

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European Championship: Rijiju wishes Indian shooters luck

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Kiren Rijiju, the Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, on Tuesday asked the Indian athletes to never break Covid-19 protocols of other countries. Rijiju’s remarks came as the Indian shooting contingent departed for Croatia on Tuesday.

“Safe journey! Never break the Covid-19 protocols of other countries. Focus on training, take care and stay safe. Will provide all necessary support to our athletes and the coaches. All the best,” tweeted Rijiju. The Indian Olympic Shooting squad has left for Zagreb, Croatia, in order to participate in the European Championship. The competition is scheduled to be held between May 20 and June 6 and the squad will be staying back in Zagreb for training, before directly moving on to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, scheduled in July.

The comment from Rijiju comes days after Indian Super League (ISL) club Bengaluru FC owner Parth Jindal had to apologise to the AFC after three of the Blues’ members allegedly “breached” the COVID-19 protocols in the Maldives.

Bengaluru FC had arrived in the Maldives on Friday ahead of their 2021 AFC Cup playoff clash. Maldives’ Sports Minister Ahmed Mahloof asked Bengaluru FC to leave the country following the “unacceptable behaviour” after reports emerged that three players from the Sunil Chhetri-led club flouted COVID-19 norms.

“Unacceptable behavior from @bengalurufc breaching the strict guidelines from HPA & @theafcdotcom. The club should leave the Maldives immediately as we can’t entertain this act. We honoured the commitment we gave a few months back even with the surge in cases & pressure from the public,” Mahloof tweeted.

After the incident, Jindal said the franchise will take “strictest action” against the players or staff who breached the protocols.

“On behalf of @bengalurufc, I am extremely sorry for the inexcusable behaviour of three of our foreign players/staff while in Male — the strictest action will be taken against these players/staff. We have let @AFCCup down and can only say that this will never happen again,” Jindal tweeted.

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PAKISTAN CRICKET BOARD IS RISKING LIVES, SAYS FORMER PAK PLAYER MIANDAD

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Former Pakistan captain Javed Miandad on Tuesday slammed Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for deciding to host the remaining matches of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in the UAE.

The PCB and the six franchise owners met on Friday virtually to discuss the remaining 20 matches of the PSL. The group had a 360-degree discussion, which also considered feedback from the National Command and Operation Centre. UAE emerged as a preferred venue for the remaining 20 matches during the conference. “This is not the time to play cricket, it is the time to save lives. In these times of crisis, we should be more focused on saving lives rather than playing cricket. The whole world has been affected by the coronavirus. India, where the World Cup was supposed to take place, is also severely affected by the epidemic,” Miandad told Cricket Pakistan.

“My personal view is that this is not the right time to be playing cricket. PCB’s attempts of holding the remaining matches of the PSL season six in the UAE is not the right move. They are risking the lives of several individuals for their own financial gains. If it was in my hands, I would not take the big risk of organising the remaining PSL matches. If they hold this event and face problems, then who will be responsible,” he added.

According to PCB, as the holiday period has already started in both the countries and the Pakistan men’s national cricket team has to depart for the United Kingdom on June 23, the PCB will use this time to work with the Emirates Cricket Board to check if the event can be successfully delivered within the available time.

During the holiday period, the PCB will work on a revised tournament schedule, while it will liaise with the ECB in relation to finalising playing and training facilities, hotel bookings, ground transportation, and visitors’ visas.

According to the board, PCB will carry out a detailed financial and risk assessment as well as cost analysis before reporting back to the franchises, who will then review before a decision on the event venue is confirmed.

PSL six was postponed after a string of COVID-19 cases were reported in March this year. The tournament will now resume in June with the final scheduled for June 20.

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Nirmal Chettri’s world beyond football

The 30-year-old fullback has founded a club in his locality called FC Melli. Not only does the club play tournaments, but it also arranges different charities for the less fortunate every now and then.

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Indian football team’s ace defender, Nirmal Chettri who has recently been devoting some time to giving back to the community expressed that it was the likes of Bhaichung Bhutia and Renedy Singh who had inspired him to take up philanthropic causes.

In a candid chat with The Daily Guardian, Nirmal stated: “My biggest inspiration was Bhaichung bhai and Renedy Singh – especially Renedy bhai. Whenever I spoke to him there was never a dull moment – he always used to talk about giving back to the people, giving back to the society,” Nirmal.

“I have to mention Sanju (Pradhan) and Bikash (Jairu) with whom I got in touch. We always talk about what kind of work we want to do and help society and the community. I always try to give back to society and the youngsters,” continued Nirmal.

The 30-year-old fullback has founded a club in his locality called FC Melli. Not only does the club play tournaments, but they also look to arrange different charities for the less fortunate every couple of months. Most recently, Nirmal and others from the club helped arrange a blood donation drive to help out in an emergency that arose in his town a few weeks back after the second wave of the covid pandemic struck.

“We always keep on reading about a shortage of blood. Hence, we planned to have a blood camp. Almost 80 people registered for our drive,” he stated. “It is all about trying to save lives. I just want to appeal mostly to the young ones — people between 15 to 45 – who haven’t got their vaccinations yet to go to your nearest health center, or hospital and donating. Simply because once you are vaccinated you can’t donate anything for a month.”

“We have a group where people come and tell us about the problems they are facing. We try to extend our help in whatever way we can,” said Nirmal. “Footballers get a tag that we have been getting so much. At the end of the day, we are also humans, we cannot reach everyone. But in an era of social media — if we get a message or a call from anyone — directly or indirectly, we try to reach out and help them.”

For Nirmal, it is the normal act of giving back to a society that gave him so much as a footballer, which makes the act so gratifying.

“I remember when we used to play local tournaments in our younger days, we would go around collecting money from all the spectators if we won,” he laughed. “I am so grateful to the people of my locality – to have so much love. That is why whenever I can give something back to society, I feel blessed.”

“I am grateful to have people around me, who always stand by me. I am very straightforward and reachable. We may have limited resources, but we must strive to make the impossible possible. I am very thankful to the team of friends around me, who have helped make these initiatives work, and we hope to keep on helping people,” said Nirmal.’

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Harmanpreet to play for Manchester Originals, Smriti to represent Southern Brave

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India’s T20I skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and deputy Smriti Mandhana will be representing Manchester Originals and Southern Brave respectively in the upcoming edition of The Hundred.

Speaking to ANI, sources in the know of developments confirmed the franchises that Harmanpreet and Smriti would be plying their trade for in the opening season of the league. “The NOC has already been given to both Harmanpreet and Smriti. Harmanpreet will represent Manchester Originals while Smriti will play for Southern Brave in the inaugural edition of the competition,” the source said.

Earlier on Monday, sources also confirmed that teen sensation Shafali Verma is the fifth Indian player who has been handed a NOC by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for The Hundred. The swashbuckling opener will play for Birmingham Phoenix.

“It is delightful news not just for Shafali but for Indian women’s cricket that there will be five Indian players in the inaugural edition of The Hundred. She will reunite with her Sydney Sixers coach Ben Sawyer and the experience should help her grow further in what has already been a very positive road forward for the youngster,” the source told ANI.

Apart from Shafali, Smriti, and Harmanpreet, Deepti Sharma and Jemimah Rodrigues are the other two players who have also been given the NOC to play in the inaugural edition of The Hundred.

The Hundred, which is an ECB brainchild, will feature eight teams taking on each other. The first match in the competition will be played between the women’s teams of Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals on July 21.

With the BCCI granting NOCs, the stay of the Indian women players will be extended in the UK as the national team is scheduled to play one Test, three ODIs, and as many T20Is in June-July this year.

Harmanpreet, Smriti, Jemimah, and Deepti were the Indian players who had played in the now-defunct Kia Super League (KSL), ECB’s domestic T20 tournament. The inaugural season of The Hundred was set to be played last year, but it got postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Hundred is a 100-ball cricket competition that will see prominent players (both men and women) featuring in the tournament later this year in the English summer.

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INDIA SKIPPER VIRAT KOHLI RECEIVES FIRST DOSE OF COVID-19 VACCINE

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NEW DELHI: India skipper Virat Kohli received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. Kohli also urged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

“Vaccinate as soon as you can please. Stay Safe,” Kohli wrote in his Instagram story.

India pacer Ishant Sharma and wife Pratima Singh also received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

Last week, Umesh Yadav, Ajinkya Rahane, and Shikhar Dhawan received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Rahane, Umesh, Ishant, Kohli will be next seen in action when India locks horns against New Zealand in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC).

Speaking to ANI, a BCCI official said that it will need some more time before a clear picture can be drawn regarding the completion of vaccination for all India Test cricketers who are to head to UK on June 2.

“The Indian government has opened vaccination for every person above 18 so the players can take their first dose. But the second dose is the question here and while the BCCI is looking at working closely with the England and Wales Cricket Board to ensure players can get a second dose in the UK, if that is not approved by the UK government, we will have the vaccine taken from India for the second dose. Let’s see how that works out in the coming days,” the official had explained.

The WTC final gets underway on June 18 and will continue till June 22 with June 23 kept as a reserve day. While it was initially set to be played at the Lord’s, the ICC decided to move it to Southampton with an eye on the COVID-19 situation across the globe.

The BCCI on Friday named a 20-member squad (two subject to fitness clearance) which will also have standby players. Of the four standby players, fast bowler Prasidh Krishna has tested positive for COVID-19.

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India to tour Sri Lanka for three ODIs and three T20Is

India will tour Sri Lanka in July for a white-ball series comprising three ODIs and three T20Is. SLC has proposed an itinerary to the BCCI that sees the two teams locking horns first in the ODIs and then in the T20I matches.

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BENGALURU: India will be touring Sri Lanka in July for a white-ball series comprising of three ODIs and three T20Is. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has proposed an itinerary to the BCCI and it sees both teams locking horns in three ODIs first and it is followed by the T20I matches, reported ESPNcricinfo. The three ODIs will be played on July 13, 16, 19 and it will be followed by the T20I series running from July 22-27.

As per the itinerary, India’s white-ball team will be arriving in Sri Lanka on July 5 and they will head back home on July 28. After arriving in Sri Lanka, the side will have to serve out a week-long quarantine which will be split into two sets, stated the report.

The first set will comprise of three days of hard quarantine inside their rooms and it will be followed by four days where the squad can train but their movement will be strictly restricted to just the hotel and the ground.

None of India’s players who are a part of the travelling group for the World Test Championship final and the England Test series will be part of the Sri Lanka series.

Virat Kohli and boys’ preparation for the upcoming World Test Championship final against New Zealand in the UK — from June 18 — will start on May 25 when they enter the bio-bubble created for them here in India itself. The 8-day bubble will be followed by another 10-day quarantine in the UK before the boys take on the Kiwis in Southampton.

Speaking to ANI, a BCCI official in the know of the roadmap drawn for the WTC final and the five-match Test series against England had said that it will be a case of breaking the quarantine period into two parts so that players can start training once in the UK on June 2.

“You can expect the boys to come into the bubble on May 25 as it will be an 8-day quarantine period which will not just involve testing against COVID-19, but also there will not be any movement as the boys prepare for the UK schedule.

“Once in the UK on June 2, the boys will go for another 10-day quarantine. But this time the cricketers can train as they are moving from the bubble in India to the bubble in England in a charter plane. A bubble to bubble move lets them train even though there will be continuous testing at all times and no further movement,” the official explained.

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