UPPSALA: Tokyo-bound javelin thrower from India, Neeraj Chopra is “ready” to showcase his skills in the upcoming Olympic Games and he is hoping to bank on the recent experience of playing in the international tournaments to give his best shot in the quadrennial event. The 23-year-old, however, has skipped the upcoming Diamond League event in London as he feels the remaining time should be invested in training for the Tokyo Olympics. “We do not have UK Visa and it is difficult to get a UK Visa here at this particular time. This time is more important for training for the Olympics. Hence, I cannot waste my time anywhere else,” said Chopra.
“After Olympics, there are two more Diamond leagues, so I can participate in those tournaments after Olympics also. And the Kuortane Games were good for me, so I thought of skipping the upcoming Diamond League,” he added.In June’s last week, Chopra won the bronze medal at the Kuortane Games in Finland. His 86.79m throw helped him finish behind world number one and 2017 world champion Johannes Vetter of Germany and London 2012 gold medallist Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago.
Chopra came into the Kuortane meet on the back of back-to-back gold medals in Europe. His first was at the Meeting Cidade de Lisboa in Portugal with an 83.18m throw and the second at the Karlstad leg of the Folksam Grand Prix in Sweden. “I have a little more than three weeks of time and the competition in which I participate was necessary for me ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Moreover, I will have the same opponents in the Olympics also, so it was nice for me to get into the groove with international tournaments experience,” Chopra responded to a query.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has recommended Neeraj Chopra’s name for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. Having already been nominated thrice on the previous occasion, Chopra feels he needs to outperform in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics to win the award this time. “I have been nominated for Khel Ratna earlier also but I did not win. I feel I have to bring out my A-game to bag Khel Ratna award,” he told.
Talking about Tokyo Olympics, Chopra said, “I feel the D-day will decide as it only matters how you perform on the day of the competition. There are throwers who have a better record than me but then what matters is how we perform on the given date. “The way is my training is going on, I am ready for the Olympics but then it again depends on how that particular day goes, I will give my best and bring a medal for the country,” he added.
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Indian bowlers fail to make inroads in England’s second inning
If you play like this, how will you win, one has to admit that Team India gave up in a way in the fifth and final Test played against England at Edgbaston. It did not seem that Team India was maintaining a 2-1 lead at one time. While we conquered Lord’s and the Oval, England beat Team India by an innings at Leeds and now their champion style was visible in their seven-wicket victory. The work that Team India did in the first innings, but everything turned upside down in the second. During this, the Indian bowling was shattered and in the second inning the Indian batsmen also laid down their weapons.
On the fourth day it seemed that the Indian bowling attack was dependent only on Bumrah. On the fifth and final day, in front of Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root’s impeccable style, it seemed that the Indian bowling had forgotten to bowl. He was not able to bowl according to where the field was set. Shardul Thakur who is known for swing and late movement was completely off colour. Root made Siraj a complete child. His outside off-stump deliveries were going too much outside. Had he been getting swung, we could have defended him by saying that he is unable to control the ball. But how can he defend short balls on his leg-stump? Shami bowled a few good deliveries but in the second innings he also proved to be ineffective most of the occasions. The question is where is his seam movement?
Team India put such a field in this match that in a way we gave them continuous freedom to take singles. Especially Joe Root took full advantage of this. Most of the bowlers not putting leg slips for middle and leg balls and hitting two midwickets shows that there was a mistake in our planning itself. Ravindra Jadeja is wreaking havoc with the bat but in the bowling, he did not get the turn even around Jack Leach. He was asked to take advantage of the rough patch on the leg side, in which he failed completely.
In such a situation, it is natural to ask whether Ravichandran Ashwin would have been a better option in place of Shardul Thakur. Shardul is in the team today because he can bat usefully in the lower order but Ashwin can also bat a little bit. He may have thought that Team India would have been transformed.
Indian fielding did the right thing. Dropped two catches of Ben Stokes in the first innings did not prove to be costly because he could be dismissed early, but the catch of Jonny Bairstow missed by Hanuma Vihari in the second innings, paid heavily. The question arises whether the bouncers of English bowlers were effective and bouncer of Indian bowlers was ineffective, while it is also a fact that the speed of the Indian fast bowlers was faster than the English bowlers but the English fast bowlers are more effective.
India should understand that there are two innings in a match. First innings lead is not everything. At the same time, Jonny Bairstow made his sixth century of this year and second of this match. Virat Kohli seems to have screwed Bairstow up and he gave a befitting reply to Virat by playing a brilliant innings. Virat used to do the same thing once, but then he was at the height of his career. Joe Root showed that his form last year is still intact and he managed to score a fourth century in this series.
At the same time, neither Hanuma Vihari’s technique was seen nor that old sustainable phase of Pujara was seen. Shreyas Iyer and Shardul Thakur proved to be a burden on Team India in a way. The recipe to get Shreyas out on the short ball has been taken out by the foreign teams. If nothing else, Shreyas should watch the videos of Steve Waugh’s early days of his career or look at the innings of Mohinder Amarnath, Mohammad Azharuddin, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina where once they used to uncomfortable against short balls but later, such balls became their strength. Imran Khan had even called Mohinder the best batsman in terms of facing short balls. If team India does not get rid of these weaknesses, then the series against Bangladesh can also cost India.
It was one of my dreams to be number one player in India: Ankita Raina
Ranked the number one player women tennis player in India, Ankita Raina is an Arjuna award winner in 2021 on her recognition for the achievements in tennis. She also holds a bronze medal in women’s singles 18th Asian games at Jakarta 2018. Excerpts from an interview.
Q. Ankita recently represented team India with BJK 2022, that is Billie Jean King Cup. Ankita congratulations on being ranked number one women tennis prayer in India. How did this achievement make you feel each time when you hear it?
A. It’s been a few years now and I really feel proud it’s been a dream to firstly play for India. While growing up it was one of my dream to be number one player in the country and it has all only been possible due to the support of my family and of course all my sponsors and team that have been with me in this journey.
Q. Does ranking affect your game at emotional or mental level?
A. As a player you always have goals. Every year or every few months that you want to be here in terms of ranking but over the years I’ve learned to deal with it or how to take it in a positive way. Because after all you have to be in the process and ranking and results is something out of your control all you can do is give your best in every practice session. And then definitely in the match it’s going to be how you have been practicing and worked hard over the years. Initially it would bother sometimes, but over the years I would say that I have learned how to manage it.
Q. How was the experience in Turkey, how was the weather?
A. Turkey was beautiful, it is the one of my favourite countries and I was happy to be back there. I was there last in 2019. And I love the culture there, love the food love the people and also the conditions.
Q. Do you miss Indian food when on tours?
A. I definitely miss Indian food. We just manage, sometimes if you’re lucky you get Indian restaurant around. And they’re such lovely people across the world. Indians, sometimes they get you some Indian food or they cook you home food, so I would say I’ve been lucky.
Q. Ankita you know though Sania didn’t play in BJK 2022 this time. What kind of relationship do you have with Sania Mirza?
A. Growing up I always looked up to her because she was the Indian player representing everyone. And she had such a great performance on the WTA tour at various games, the list keeps going on. So while growing up I always looked up to her because she was the number one player and then when I had the chance first time in 2010 to be a part of the team with her so it like a dream come true. Because you get a chance to play with one of your idols and also like at Olympics when I had the chance to represent India and play at the Olympics with her. So definitely her experience and all that she has done now for the country and so many women are inspired with her. I can keep talking about her and her achievements.
Q. Ankita what is something that you still hope to learn from her?
A. I would say fearlessness and humour.
Q. Is there any memorable incident when you guys went ROFL, at the fun created by her?
A. I mean it has been many times because when we are traveling for the Indian team or at the game so it’s always like we will be laughing, because when she’s around the atmosphere is very light and positive. So there have been many incidents I can’t remember one right now.
Q. Wearing these dangles you know and a half tied hair. I’ve never seen you this way, do you always wear these dangles while playing also?
Q. You just tie a tight pony on your head every time so you’re looking a little different.
A. Yes because, I mean everyone even you have mostly seen me on the tennis court or my pictures from the tennis court. So this is a different look I would say.
Q. So you are an Arjuna award winner. I have seen that pic wearing that red saree with red blazer, totally traditional Ankita so do you find comfortable wearing saree, did you wear it yourself that day?
A. My mom helped me out, but I love wearing sarees and I would really like to learn how to wear one probably in future.
Q. Other than saree what all traditional dresses you love wearing?
A. I think ghaghra. Since I’m born and brought up in Ahmedabad. So we used to have Navratri there and it’s celebrated in a large scale.
Q. Ankita do you follow any other sports personality you know that you think he or she inspires you enough. If yes then why?
A. I mostly follow only tennis and also like while growing up. Like I mentioned Sania and apart from her in tennis it’s Serena Williams another player who while growing up I used to really get excited watching her matches. If when she was playing Wimbledon against her sister and all the other matches.
Q. What motivates you the most what drives you to train or practice?
A. I think it’s just how better and how good I can be at this sport. When I look back when I started I had no clue that I would be a professional tennis player one day. Because it was it’s just that it happened my older brother used to play the sport, because my mom was a sports enthusiast and then I just followed his footsteps. So I just want to see how far I can get.
Q. Your comment on the kind of tournament like BJK 2022 which happened. So what do you feel about these kind of tournament are they putting their best foot forward to take tennis to the next level globally?
A. BJK is like world cup of tennis, you can say that in a way. We are playing the Asia Oceania group and there’s another group which is the European African group and then whoever qualifies goes to the world group playoffs. And then they go to the world group where they have the finals. So it is like world cup of tennis and it is on a huge scale because while we are playing in the Asian group so we are playing the best countries of Asia and then as we go ahead hopefully.
Q. What is your favourite memory of playing tennis you know any favourite moment as a professional tennis player?
A. It is definitely when I was playing Olympics last year. That would be one and the other one was when I was at the podium in Jakarta in Palembang at the Asian games getting the medals.
Q. What role does family play in the life of an athlete how important is family support all together?
A. Family support is the I think plays a very big part to me being here and being able to have this type of journey was only possible because I had the support from my family, from my mother, brother father all of them. As you know like education is one of the things and then financial background is another thing. I’ve played a lot during board exams. So I had this in that my last paper had a week gap and then there was an international event in Aurangabad, so I went there and played and then I came back and gave the last exam. So all this has been possible only because of my parents you know they were running around they are the pillars and backbone.
Q. How do you deal with the pressure at you know international forums when you go to play like you’re right now facing the same?
A. I feel that, pressure is something you always get because in tennis or even in life generally, different situations and it is new every single time it’s just that you learn from that and you move forward. So I think for me I feel being in process just doing my work and doing my routine has helped me to cope up with that.
Q. What is the most important piece of advice you would offer those who aspire to be like you, to be in your position?
A. I just want to say that follow your dreams. Like I said be fearless that’s one of the things I’ve learned from Sania. And be in the process you will have various challenges and there will be many people around sometimes, even from your family they will keep keep saying maybe you can’t do this but if your heart says, and if you’re ready to put in the work then just go for it.
Q. What is your favourite Indian cuisine?
A. That’s a tough question. I really like Gujarati thali and also you know me being Kashmiri, I really enjoy eating authentic Kashmiri food, home-cooked food.
BOXER KALAIVANI MARCHES INTO FINAL OF ELORDA CUP
Indian boxer Kalaivani Srinivasan punched her way into the finals of the Nur-Sultan Cup with a scintillating performance in Kazakhstan late on Saturday. The Tamil Nadu boxer was at her dominating best and came up with a flawless outing to pick up a unanimous victory over Uzbekistan’s Farzona Fozilova in the women’s 48kg weight classification. In the men’s 48kg competition, Kuldeep Kumar up against local favourite Kairat Yernur showed great resiliency and calculated approach to pick up a narrow 3-2 victory to cruise into the semifinals.
However, it was curtains for Yashpal & Savita in the tournament. Taking on Kazakhstan’s Aslanbek Shymbergenov in the 71kg event, Yashpal fell by the wayside and lost 0-5 in quarterfinals, while Savita was handed a 0-5 drubbing by Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Japan’s Namiki Tsukimi in the 50kg category.
Elsewhere, Neema & Jyoti also exited the prestigious tournament after losing their respective semifinal bout 0-5 to Kazakhstan’s Anar Tursynbek & Uzbekistan’s Feruza Kazakova. Babita Bisht’s journey also came to an end as she conceded to China’s Zheng Lu by ‘Referee Stopping the Contest’ verdict .Jyoti (52kg), Neema (63kg) & Babita (81kg), however will be entitled to receive the bronze medal as they lost out in the semifinal.
NADAL DISPATCHES SONEGO; KYRGIOS WINS TENSE CLASH AGAINST TSITSIPAS
Rafael Nadal wasted little time in securing his place in the Wimbledon 2022 fourth round on Saturday evening, defeating Italian Lorenzo Sonego in the third round.
The Spaniard was at his absolute best as he thrashed Italian 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in straight sets. In his best performance of the week, the Spaniard lit up Centre Court with his fierce striking and all-court game. The 36-year-old fired the ball past Sonego from all angles, while showing elegant touches at the net to move after two hours and four minutes.
The second seed took the ball early off both wings to take time away from Sonego, shooting 14 winners across the first two sets to gain full control.
There were a few anxious moments in the game. In the third set, when Nadal was leading 4-2, Sonego persuaded officials to close the roof so that the floodlights could be turned on, and the Spaniard did not seem pleased with the decision.
However, all this did was fire up Nadal, with the second seed increasing his depth on return to break back immediately before he held to advance to the fourth round at The All England Lawn Tennis Club for the 10th time.
Nick Kyrgios knocked out fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a rough and ill-tempered clash in the Wimbledon third round. Kyrgios won the match by 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 after three hours and 16 minutes. Tsitsipas was the more solid player in the first-set tie-break, as Kyrgios let his lack of concentration affect his play. But through it all, despite playing very quickly and relying on his booming serve, the World No. 40 managed to remain in touch with the fourth seed on the scoreboard.
Bumrah puts price on his wicket: Jadeja
The second day of the ongoing fifth test match between India and England belonged to the skipper Jasprit Bumrah and his all-round performance put India in the driver’s seat here on Saturday.
After helping India to set a formidable first innings total of 416, he wreaked havoc with the red cherry running through the English top-order ending the day with figures of 3-35. However, it was not his bowling but his batting display that drew plaudits and sent the packed stadium into raucous celebration.
Coming onto bat with the Men in Blue still short of the 400 run mark, he launched into Stuart Broad and took him to cleaners plundering 35 runs off one over with the help of three fours and two sixes, earning a distinction of scoring the most runs in one over of a test match surpassing the great Brian Charles Lara of West Indies. While it might come as a surprise to many, Ravindra Jadeja the second centurion of the match after Rishabh Pant however felt that it was not an anomaly as Indian tailenders spend a lot of time batting at the nets.
“Bumrah takes his batting in the nets very seriously. He puts a price on his wicket and he does not have a casual approach when he is batting.” Jadeja said during the press conference at the end of day’s play.
PUJARA HITS HALF-CENTURY, INDIA LEAD BY 257 RUNS
A solid half-century by Cheteshwar Pujara and his 50-run stand with wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant put India in the driver’s seat at the end of Day three of the ongoing fifth and final Test against England at Edgbaston, with the score reading 125/3 at the end of the day’s play.
At the end of Day three, Pujara (50*) and Pant (30*) stood unbeaten. India maintained a healthy 257-run lead in the match. India started off things after Tea at 37/1, with Cheteshwar Pujara (17*) and Hanuma Vihari (10*).
England got an early breakthrough after tea as Vihari was dismissed for 11 by Stuart Broad after the batter edged the ball to Bairstow, who was present at the third slip. This brought Virat Kohli to the crease. He and Pujara took the innings forward and built a solid partnership. Kohli looked really good, hitting four really good boundaries. But the batter fell prey to a peach of a delivery by Ben Stokes for 20 after the ball hit his glove, got dropped by wicketkeeper Billings and went to the hands of Joe Root who was standing at the slip. With this, a solid 38-run stand between Kohli and Pujara was over.
This brought in-form Rishabh Pant to the crease. After scoring 146 in the first innings, he continued looking in good touch, hitting some good shots. Pujara also kept the scoreboard ticking with some good running between the wickets and a hit sent for four. Pujara fought his way to a brilliant half-century off 139 balls, his 33rd in the longest format of the game. A fifty-run partnership was also complete between Pujara-Pant. The duo helped India carry through the remainder of the day without any loss of wicket.
Earlier, Indian pacers once again excelled as they bowled out England to 284 and the pair of Cheteshwat Pujara and Hanuma Vihari ensured that India took a healthy first-innings lead of 169 with 9 wickets in hand.
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