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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PAT CUMMINS NAMED AUSTRALIA TEST CAPTAIN, STEVE SMITH APPOINTED DEPUTY
Fast bowler Pat Cummins was on Friday named Australian men’s Test cricket team captain following the announcement of Tim Paine taking an indefinite break from all cricket.
Paine had announced his resignation as skipper of Australia last week following a ‘sexting scandal’ with a former Cricket Tasmania colleague in 2017. Meanwhile, batter and former captain Steve Smith has been named vice-captain of the team.“Pat is an outstanding player and leader. He has earned enormous respect from his teammates and from all corners of the game for his attitude and achievements, both on and off the field,” Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley said in a statement.
“We are extremely fortunate to have an experienced group of senior players who themselves are superb leaders. I have no doubt that Pat and Steve will be well supported in their respective leadership roles,” he added.
According to Cricket Australia (CA), fast bowler Cummins joins an elite club with the honour of leading Australia, stepping into the role after almost two years as vice-captain. “I am honoured to accept this role ahead of what will be a massive Ashes summer. I hope I can provide the same leadership Tim (Paine) has given the group in the past few years,” said Cummins.
“With Steve and I as captains, a number of very senior players in this squad and some great young talent coming through we are a strong and tightly-knit group.“This is an unexpected privilege which I am very grateful for and am very much looking forward to,” he added.
Smith returns to the leadership alongside Cummins. Smith, who made his Test debut in 2010, has been an integral part of the senior playing group in with his growth as a leader and person on and off the field.
He will assume the captaincy in the event Cummins is absent for any reason.“I am pleased to return to the leadership of the team and look forward to helping and assisting Pat in any way I can. Pat and I have played together for a long time, so we know our respective styles well,” said Smith
Junior Messias helps AC Milan keep Champions League knockout stages dream alive
AC Milan’s star Junior Messias made a new mark in his amazing career in his breakthrough season by netting his first-ever goal for the Serie A team on his Champions League debut which was pivotal in helping the team maintain a place in the European tournament for the season.
The 30-year-old star was able to find the back of the net in the 87th minute to give the Italian side a 1-0 lead and victory against La Liga giants Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday. Their clash against the Spanish team was among the daily football bet for the week, which will also include their clash against Sassuolo this weekend.
This is considered a huge leap in fortune for the Brazilian player, who was playing at the amateur level a few years ago while doing part-time jobs like refrigerator delivery man to make ends meet at the time.
The 30-year-old Brazilian, who was a player at the amateur level just two years ago in Italy, made his entrance to Wednesday’s night football in the 64th minute for the Rossoneri, who were desperate for a goal to avoid elimination from 2021/22 Champions League campaign.
A short twenty minutes passed and he became RadeKrunic’s team hero, after delivering a stunning header past Jan Oblak to find the back of the net, which was the only goal of the game, to make AC Milan level with Atletico on four points and one point away from Porto, who sits second behind group winners Liverpool.
Speaking to Amazon Prime Video Italia, Messias said: “I am very happy with the performance and the victory, it means we are still alive, but there’s a lot of work still to be done.
“It was all instinct, I just followed the move and kept calm as the ball came my way. When you are calm, you can do great things.
“What happened is the most important moment of my career, but humility is still so important. I mustn’t get downbeat with criticism, nor elated by compliments.
“I dedicate this goal to my family and all those who believed in me.”
The Brazilian forward, who is currently on loan from Crotone, have only been able to register two appearances for the Rossoneri before his heroic display and his amazing rise from a refrigerator delivery man to AC Milan’s Champions League saviour on Wednesday night football.
The former Cruzeiro youth star moved to Italy in search of work back in 2011 and he was able to secure employment in the form of making deliveries for an appliance store in Turin.
The little link he has with football was in an amateur division, where he was playing with a team along with Peruvian national residents in Turin.
His talents didn’t go unnoticed, as the delivery man’s talent was spotted by ex-Torino player Ezio Rossi who approached Messias and asked him to join fifth-tier side Casale, but the player reject the chance as it would be placing a dent on his work schedule.
However, Rossi remain keen till the player eventually gave in and started climbing up the Italian ladder before he ended up helping Crotone secure promotion from Serie B to Serie A in the 2019/20 campaign.
Although Crotone’s stay in the Italian top flight was only for a season, Messias’ nine goals in 36 games were enough to convince Milan to take the player on a one-year loan with an option to buy, if all ends well, at the end of 2020/21.
Thanks to his heroic acts, AC Milan might feel inclined to start or substitute him in their next Serie A game against Sassuolo this weekend, and all eyes will be on the star.
P.V. Sindhu rallies to beat Sim Yujin, enters semi-final
Ace Indian shuttler P.V. Sindhu battled past into the semifinals of the ongoing Indonesia Open on Friday. Playing it out at Court 2, the two-time Olympic medallist Indian rallied back to defeat South Korea’s Sim Yujin by 14-21, 21-19, 21-14 in a titanic 1 hour and 6 minutes match.
The 22-year-old Korean started quick off the blocks as she won the first game against the reigning world champion by 21-14 in 17 minutes. Sindhu then showed her immense composure as she fought back and won the second game 21-19 in a close affair to force the match into the decider.
The third game was level at 11-11 and the essay could have landed either way but the South Korean wasn’t able to hold her nerve as Sindhu clinched the final game by 21-14 in the end.
PV Sindhu will now face either Japan’s Asuka Takahashi or the shuttler from Thailand, Ratchanok Intanon in the semifinal.
The two-time Olympic medallist Indian rallied back to defeat South Korea’s Sim Yujin by 14-21, 21-19, 21-14 in a titanic 1 hour and 6 minutes match.
Mushfiqur, Liton Das help hosts dominate proceedings on Day 1
Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das had an impressive day with the bat as Bangladesh dominated the proceedings on Day 1 of the ongoing first Test against Pakistan here at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on Friday.
At stumps on Day 1, Bangladesh’s score read 253/4 with Liton Das (113*) and Rahim (82*) currently unbeaten at the crease. Rahim and Liton have extended their fifth-wicket partnership to 204 runs. Opting to bat first, Bangladesh did got get off to an ideal start as the hosts lost their first four wickets with just 49 runs on the board.
Shadman Islam (14), Saif Hassan (14), Najmul Hossain Shanto (14), and skipper Mominul Haque (6) failed to leave a mark with the bat in hand. However, Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das then joined forces and the duo revived the innings for Bangladesh, taking the score to 171/4 at the tea interval. By the break, both batters had crossed their respective half-centuries.
After the tea break, the duo started from where they left off and Liton Das brought up his century off 199 balls in the 78th over of the innings. In the end, Mushfiqur and Liton ensured that the hosts do not lose any more wickets before stumps on Day 1.
Brief Scores: Bangladesh 253/4 (Liton Das 113*, Mushfiqur Rahim 82*; Shaheen Shah Afridi 1-50) vs Pakistan.
At 19, Manisha Kalyan gets the sole distinction of scoring goal against Brazil
Manisha Kalyan at barely 19, is a winger for the Indian Senior Women’s National Team, and has the sole distinction of being an Indian to have scored a goal against any Senior National Brazil side.
On Friday November 26th, Manisha, upon receiving a cushioned header from fellow forward Pyari Xaxa close to the halfway line, darted towards the Brazil box, sold a feint to her marker and fired a left-footer into the bottom corner. History! Dreams! Future!
“It was a dream come true for me to play against Brazil and to score against them was the icing on the cake,” said Manisha, who, after the match, was seen posing for pictures with Brazil’s legendary midfielder Formiga Mota, who was felicitated by all parties present at the Arena da Amazonia after the game, as she hung up her boots.
“To be on the same pitch as her (Formiga) was a big deal. I hope we can learn from this experience and do better in the next game,” added Manisha. “We always knew it was going to be difficult against a team of Brazil’s quality. But as soon as we stepped onto the field, we forgot about the pressure. That is what we need to do in the upcoming matches and play with an open mind.”
Like many female footballers from across the world, however, Manisha’s journey has been one of struggle, right from her early days in a small village called Muggowal, Manisha was up against the odds. “I’ve been playing since I was 13, when I switched over from athletics to football after my coach Brahmji sir asked me to change sports. The teamwork involved in football was really interesting to me, and I fell in love with this game,” Manisha recalled.
While not everyone from her village supported Manisha’s decision to take up the beautiful game, the pacey forward had the full support of her parents.
“Many in my village did not want me to keep playing. A girl playing football was just not acceptable to them. But my parents stuck right by my side and gave me all the support I needed,” she informed.
The first time Manisha came into the National Team fold was ahead of the BRICS U-17 Women’s Football Cup in South Africa, and the powerful attacker has never looked back from there.
“Yes, we had played Brazil in that tournament too, but that was a different kind of a game. Most of us were new to that level of football. But tonight’s match was a memorable one for us. Yes, we conceded a few goals in the end, but we held our own for most parts of the match, and that is a very important learning for us, heading into the AFC Asian Cup,” said Manisha.
DIDN’T EXPECT TO RECEIVE TEST DEBUT CAP FROM SUNIL GAVASKAR, SAYS SHREYAS IYER
India batter Shreyas Iyer on Friday said that he was not expecting to receive his Test debut cap from legend Sunil Gavaskar.
Shreyas Iyer registered a century on debut as the hosts posted 345 runs on the board against New Zealand in the first innings of the ongoing Test here at Green Park, Kanpur. Tim Southee took five wickets for the BlackCaps. Gavaskar had handed Shreyas his Test debut cap before the start of the first Test on Thursday. “I obviously thought Rahul Dravid sir will present me with the debut Test cap, I was not expecting to receive it from Sunil Gavaskar sir. Both are legends of the game, either of them would have given me the cap, I would have been happy. It is a great feeling the way everything panned out but not satisfied with the way I got out,” said Shreyas.
Further talking about his conversations with Sunil Gavaskar, Shreyas said: “See, Sunil Gavaskar sir when he gave me the cap, he told me one important point — you do not have to think about your past and future, all you have is the present and focus on the next ball. I am just looking at the present, whatever happens, happens for the best. I will take everything in my stride.”
Talking about the impact of MS Dhoni, Shreyas said: “Mahi Bhai and I spoke about IPL when I was doing rehab and I went in to play football with Bollywood friends. I mean you know he is really calm and composed. Whenever you go for a chat, he has so much experience, it is always fun to chat with him.”
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