Rohit available from 1st T20; Kohli, Pant, Bumrah to join from 2nd game
Birmingham, Jun 30 (Cricket News) Skipper Rohit Sharma, who has been ruled out of the rescheduled Test match against England after testing positive for COVID-19, will be available to lead the side in the white-ball series as he was named in squads for T20Is and ODIs by the BCCI on Thursday.
The three-match T20 series will begin on July 7 in Southampton.
Rohit was already supposed to play from the second T20I but since he missed out on the Test match, he is available from the first game.
Five players, including Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Shreyas Iyer will join the team from the second game in Edgbaston on July 9.
One notable omission in the T20 squad is Mohammed Shami, who hasn't been picked in shortest format since last T20 World Cup as he isn't scheme of things for Australia World Cup.
Shami, oldest player in the current set up, Shikhar Dhawan (37) and Mohammed Siraj are part of the ODI squad which will be played from 15 to 20th of July.
The players who will return home after first T20I are Ruturaj Gaikwad, Sanju Samson, Arshdeep Singh, Rahul Tripathi to name a few.
It is understood these players are not first choice going into the T20 World Cup.
India’s squad for 1st T20I: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaekwad, Sanju Samson, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya, Venkatesh Iyer, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Umran Malik India's squad for 2nd and 3rd T20I: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel, Umran Malik India's squad for 3 ODIs: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, J Bumrah, Prasidh Krishna, Mohd Shami, Mohd Siraj, Arshdeep Singh.
Also Read : Bumrah drawing inspiration from Dhoni ahead of captaincy debut
News Source : PTI
Neeraj Chopra to spearhead 22-member Indian athletics team in World Championships
New Delhi, Jun 30 (Sports News) Olympic champion javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra will headline a 22-member Indian athletics team at the World Championships to be held in Eugene, USA from July 15 to 24.
The selected team includes 17 men and five women athletes.
Race walker Bhawana Jat and veteran discuss thrower Seema Punia has withdrawn from the elite championships. Just like Bhawana, Seema gave the event a miss as she too wanted to focus on the Commonwealth Games, an event where she bagged medals in the last four editions.
"She wants to concentrate on the Commonwealth Games, where she won four medals. She feels she has better chance there and we also feel the same," Athletics Federation of India (AFI) president Adilee Sumariwala said while announcing the team.
Besides Chopra and Rohit Yadav is the other javelin thrower in the team.
3000m steeplechaser Avinash Sable, shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor, long jumpers Murali Sreeshankar and Muhammed Anees Yahiya, triple jump trio of Abdulla Aboobacker, Praveen Chithravel and Eldhose Paul, all of whom have qualified, Sandeep Kumar (20km Race Walking), MP Jabir (400m Hurdles), Noah Nirmal Tom, Muhammed Ajmal, Naganathan Pandi, Rajesh Ramesh and Muhammed Anas Yahiya (4x400m) have found a place in the team.
The squad also includes Amoj Jacob (4x400m) but his participation is subject to fitness. In case he is not fit, Arokia Rajiv will replace him in the relay squad.
Among women, S Dhanalakhsmi (200m), Aishwarya Kailash Mishra (400m), Parul Chaudhary (3000m Steeplechase), Annu Rani (Javelin Throw) and Priyanka Goswami (20km Walk) have made the cut.
The only surprises in the squad are the inclusion of Parul and Jabir.
Jeswin Aldrin, who had already qualified for the championships, however missed the cut.
Aishwarya Mishra, who evaded from dope testing agencies last month but was allowed by AFI to compete in National Inter-State Championships, has been selected with a rider.
"She will be subject to trails in 400m and if she qualifies she will go. She will undergo electronis timing as well NADA testing," Sumariwala said.
Asked if she was tested in the National Inter-State Championships, the AFI president said: "As far as I know she was tested." On what explanation Mishra gave after evading dope tests, Sumariwala said: "She went to visit her ailing grandmother and lost her phone. That was her explanation." Sumariwala said the team will head to Chula Vista, California for a short stint before heading to Eugene for the event.
"The team has been selected on the basis of world ranking and qualification standards laid down by the World Athletics," he said.
"The team will leave for Chula Vista soon where it will have a short stint before World Championships." The contingent will for the USA in three batches with the first group scheduled to leave on Saturday, followed by the next on Monday and the the third and final by July 5. The decision to send the team in batches was taken due to time taken for getting US visa.
Indian athletics chief coach Radhakrishnan Nair informed that 11 visas have already been granted and the next set of interviews are lined up for Friday.
Men: Avinash Sable (3000m Steeplechase), MP Jabir (400m Hurdles), M Sreeshankar and Muhammed Anees Yahiya (Long Jump), Abdulla Aboobacker, Praveen Chithravel and Eldhose Paul (Triple Jump), Tajinderpal Singh Toor (Shot Put), Neeraj Chopra and Rohit Yadav (Javelin Throw), Sandeep Kumar (20km Race Walking), Amoj Jacob*, Noah Nirmal Tom, Muhammed Ajmal, Naganathan Pandi, Rajesh Ramesh and Muhammed Anas Yahiya (4x400m).
Women: S Dhanalakhsmi (200m), Aishwarya Kailash Mishra (400m), Parul Chaudhary (3000m Steeplechase), Annu Rani (Javelin Throw) and Priyanka Goswami (20km Walk).
Also Read : Formula E enters India: Hyderabad to host race on February 11
News Source : PTI
Bumrah drawing inspiration from Dhoni ahead of captaincy debut
Birmingham, Jun 30 (Cricket News) Accidental India captain Jasprit Bumrah feels leading the Indian team is the biggest achievement of his career and he would go into the rescheduled fifth Test remembering the wise words of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had no captaincy experience but went on to achieve phenomenal success as leader.
Bumrah only got to know that he will be captaining the Indian team on Thursday morning after Rohit Sharma returned another positive test for COVID-19, ruling him out of the game.
Taking on an in-form England side will be a big challenge but Bumrah is up for it.
"The taste of success feels good when there is pressure. I am always up for responsibilities and I love to be in tough challenges. As a cricketer, you always want to test yourself in deep waters. I have spoken to many cricketers. Everybody improves and keep getting better," he said on the eve of the game.
"I remember speaking to MS (Dhoni), and he told me that he never captained any side before he led India for the first time. Now, he is remembered as one of the most successful captains of all time.
"So, I am focusing on how I can help the team and not focusing on what I have done before or how the cricketing conventions or the rules have been set." It is rare for a fast bowler to lead the Indian team and Bumrah said it was a massive honour and responsibility. The pacer has experienced meteoric rise in international cricket, including the five-day version in which he is only four seasons old, having made his Test debut in January 2018.
"Representing India in Tests was always a dream for me and this opportunity to lead the side is the biggest achievement of my career. I'm very happy that I've been given this opportunity. I have had immense faith in myself.
"In every scenario, I have trusted my instincts that have taken me to this level in cricket and I will keep doing that, going forward. Nothing changes for me, especially my role. That's what I am going to do as the captain of the side," Bumrah said.
"I only came to know that I would be leading the side after Rohit Sharma tested COVID positive once again on Thursday. I first broke the news to my family when I came to know that I would be leading the side." Bumrah said the visitors are up for the challenge.
"We are completely focused on the game and we are fully prepared, given we already played a practice match against Leicestershire, where the wicket was a bit different from this one," said the 28-year-old. He has already had long conversations with former captain Virat Kohli and Rohit on the job at hand.
"Their roles have been very important. Virat's inputs will be crucial when I am bowling or when I am making (some) changes. Virat's suggestions are going to be invaluable and always important for us," said Bumrah.
The team has decided on the openers for the game in Rohit's absence but Bumrah was not ready to reveal that a day before the match.
"I had a look at the wicket and had discussions with our coach (Rahul Dravid) and have a fair idea on how this wicket might behave. We have decided on the openers against England as well but won't reveal anything now.
"Rohit is a very important player and we will miss him in this game. It's unfortunate that someone like Rohit is missing out," he said.
Also Read : Unfinished Business: Bumrah's India ready to face England 2.0
News Source : PTI
Boxing: Sachin moves into Elorda Cup quarters, Simranjit bows out
Nur-Sultan, Jun 30 (Boxing News) Reigning youth world champion Sachin Siwach produced a scintillating performance to cruise into men's 57kg quarterfinals of the Elorda Cup as he beat Turkmenistan's Ykhlas Gylychjanov with a unanimous 5-0 verdict here on Thursday.
The 22-year-old pugilist put forth a commanding show against his opponent but it was end of the road for former World Championships bronze medallist Simranjit Kaur as she lost 2-3 to her Chinese opponent Xu Zichu in a gripping 60kg last-8 contest.
Two other Indian boxers, Lakshya Chahar and Harsh Lakra, also bowed out of the event, having gone down to their respective Kazakh rivals.
While Lakshya lost to Abzal Kuttybekov in the 86kg quarterfinals encounter 0-5, his compatriot Harsh also faced a similar fate, having been outclassed by Yerassyi Zhakpekov 0-5 in the 80kg preliminary round.
The finals of the tournament will be played on July 4 and the champion boxer will receive USD 700, while the silver and bronze medallists will take home USD 400 and USD 200 respectively.
Also Read : Boxing: Simranjit, Ananta off to winning starts; move to quarterfinals in Kazakhstan
News Source : PTI
Unfinished Business: Bumrah's India ready to face England 2.0
Birmingham, Jun 30 (Cricket News) Never before has he navigated the choppy waters of leadership but Jasprit Bumrah will certainly like to showcase his captaincy acumen while leading a slightly under-prepared India against a vastly improved England in the rescheduled fifth Test, starting here on Friday.
India were leading the five-match series 2-1 when multiple COVID-19 cases in their camp led to the postponement of the final game which was a part of the World Test Championship.
Nine months have passed since and a lot of water has flown through the Thames with the then captain Virat Kohli relinquishing Test captaincy. His successor, Rohit Sharma, is missing out on this game after testing positive for COVID-19.
Worse, Rohit's designated deputy KL Rahul is also out after having undergone a surgery for sports hernia.
In this backdrop of musical chair of Indian captaincy, the gauntlet has been thrown at Bumrah, arguably one of the finest fast bowlers in the history of Indian cricket and now set to be the 36th man to lead the national Test team.
He has been acknowledged widely as the undisputed leader of the fast bowling group but come Friday, the challenge against Ben Stokes' side will be very different when he walks out for the toss at the Edgbaston.
Fast bowlers in Indian context have never been considered worthy of leadership contention and Kapil Dev, the world class all-rounder, was more of a fast medium bowler in his prime and later a medium-fast as time progressed.
Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan, two fine exponents of fast bowling, were never even considered for vice-captaincy during their heydays. And hence,it took 35 years for India to have another pacer captain.
But leadership is an instinctive thing -- some are blessed with that sixth sense and intuition, some are born gamblers and some become better as they grow on the job.
While this arrangement is a stop-gap one, Indian cricket establishment might have an idea of what can be expected of Bumrah when the time comes for the next change in baton.
New England, new template ------------------------------- The 3-0 demolition of New Zealand with three tricky chases completed in style has shown that England, under new coach Brendon McCullum, have de-constructed their style-sheet as far as Test matches are concerned.
Their batters are plundering opposition attack while there are lesser number of five-wicket hauls from the pacers if one goes by the statistics of the New Zealand series. It was Jack Leach, who had two five-wicket hauls and neither James Anderson nor Stuart Broad got their names on the various 'Honours' Board'.
The pitches have become a tad flatter, which is helping the batters and thus Bumrah, along with Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj will have an onerous task of tackling a batting line-up bubbling with confidence.
Joe Root, after relinquishing captaincy, has found the touch that had deserted him and Jonny Bairstow, with the confidence of IPL, has scored nearly 400 runs at a strike-rate of 120 plus, unheard of in Test matches.
"England have done well as they won a couple of Test matches from positions where they could have potentially lost the games," Indian coach Rahul Dravid told the mediapersons on Wednesday.
"We will like to focus on what our strengths are rather than thinking about opposition's strength," the head coach said, reminding one and all that India are still third in World Test Championship table (58.33 percentage points) behind Australia (75 percentage points) and South Africa (71.43% pts).
Team combination a worry for India --------------------------------------- India will have to bat well and in absence of regular opening pair of Rohit and Rahul, who were fantastic during the four Tests played last year.
Coach Rahul Dravid expects a match-winning performance if not a hundred from Virat Kohli, who looked good in the practice game but the Test match will be a different beast altogether.
The practice game against Leicestershire was more of an extended net session and Indian teams, since Mahendra Singh Dhoni took over as captain, has hardly played official first-class games as a pre-cursor to the Test matches.
James Anderson might be a month short of his 40th birthday but those magical wrists can still make the ball dart around and it will be a different experience for Shubman Gill or Shreyas Iyer.
Cheteshwar Pujara has scored a bagful of county runs but that psychological disadvantage of facing the very first ball of an innings, if he is asked to open, could clutter his mind.
Hanuma Vihari is a solid player but would need support from the other end, considering he has a defensive game.
It remains to be seen who will be India's bowling all-rounder. Will it be Ravichandran Ashwin, who isn't an automatic choice in overseas conditions or Shardul Thakur, who hasn't done his chances any harm with some big-hearted efforts in SENA countries.
Edgbaston hasn't exactly been a happy hunting ground for India where they have lost most of their Test matches but as it often happens with new beginnings, a new captain can always try to buck the trend.
Teams India squad: Jasprit Bumrah (captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk, vice-captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin, Prasidh Krishna, Kona Srikar Bharat (wk), Mayank Agarwal, Umesh Yadav England XI: Alex Lees, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (captain), Sam Billings (wicketkeeper), Matthew Potts, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, James Anderson.
Match Starts: 3 pm IST.
Also Read : Want to set example where players can see me and get motivated to get fit: Harmanpreet
News Source : PTI
FC Goa sign goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh on two-year deal
Panaji, Jun 30 (Football News) Indian Super League (ISL) side FC Goa on Thursday announced the signing of goalkeeper Arshdeep Singh on a two-year contract.
Arshdeep who started his career with the AIFF Elite Academy, was earlier part of the Punjab-based I-League side Minerva Punjab FC. The 24-year-old featured in 29 matches including the club's title-winning I-League campaign in 2017-18 and the 2019 AFC Cup.
Arshdeep's most recent stint before signing for FC Goa was with another ISL side, Odisha FC, where he made 33 appearances across three seasons and made a total of 116 saves in the tournament.
“This is a dream come true for me. I've always wanted to play for FC Goa, so when I was presented with the opportunity this summer, I didn't have to think twice before agreeing terms,” Arshdeep was quoted as saying in a media release.
"The club has produced several names in the recent past who have gone on to shine for the Indian national team, and my aim is to join them. All that starts with starting games, winning matches and trophies for FC Goa,” he added.
Also Read : Paulo Fonseca becomes the new manager of Lille
News Source : PTI
Sania Mirza and partner crashes out in 1st round of Indian's last Wimbledon
Wimbledon, Jun 30 (Tennis News) Indian ace Sania Mirza's final Wimbledon appearance ended in disappointment as she and her Czech partner Lucie Hradecka were eliminated in the opening round with the Polish-Brazilian combination of Magdalena Frech and Beatroz Haddad Maia beating them 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in a hard-fought three-setter.
Mirza would have ideally preferred to last a bit longer in her swansong at the SW-19 but she will undoubtedly remember hallowed lawns where she won her maiden doubles title alongside Martina Hingis, back in 2015.
The 35-year-old Indian veteran failed to get past the third round of the mixed doubles at Wimbledon last year and will still have a shot at glory, partnering Mate Pavic of Croatia in the mixed doubles event. The duo will meet Natela Dzalamidze and David Vega Hernandez in the opening round of mixed doubles.
Also Read : Emma Raducanu knocked out of Wimbledon while Harriet Dart wins
News Source : PTI
Want to set example where players can see me and get motivated to get fit: Harmanpreet
Pallekele, Jun 30 (Cricket News) Harmanpreet Kaur, who begins her reign as a full-time skipper of the Indian women's team with the ODI series against Sri Lanka, is seeking drastic improvement in fitness and fielding from her teammates. Kaur, who was already leading the Indian T20 side, was handed the ODI captaincy after veteran Mithali Raj retired from international cricket earlier this month.
The three-match series beginning here on Friday is her first assignment as ODI captain.
"I have set some goals for us. Fitness is very important for a player. Skills wise we have coaches but I want to set an example where the players can see me and get motivated to become fit," Kaur said on eve of the first ODI against Sri Lanka.
"Fitness and fielding are two things I want my team to improve. If these two aspects are covered then you are the best side," Harmanpreet, who is among the fitter players in the Indian team, said.
Having led India in T20s for a while, the 33-year-old said she is enjoying her captaincy stint and feels no additional pressure now that she has become a full-time skipper.
"When I'm leading, I feel I am more involved in the game. It always gives me a lot of confidence. Captaincy is something that comes naturally to me when I'm on the field.
"After leading for a few years, things become easier. Right now, I don't feel the extra pressure, if I enjoy as captain the rest can also enjoy. I am enjoying more now as I feel I'm free to do want I want to do." "When you give players freedom, you can improve more. That is my motive, to give the players freedom so they can express themselves." 'Hope we can have a sports psychologist travelling with us again' ======================================== The Indian team is without the services of team psychologist Mugdha Bavare, who had travelled with the side for the series against New Zealand and the World Cup earlier this year.
It was the first time the Indian women's team had a sports psychologist on tour.
"Mughda ma'am has done a lot for us. During the World Cup she helped me a lot, we need people like her in the team, sadly she is not travelling with us this time.
"In future we hope someone like her can always travel with us. We do have skill coaches but having someone you can talk to and share your thoughts, that is something you need in your life to clear those blocks." The team had benefitted immensely from the presence of a sports psychologist on the tour, said the skipper.
"Skill is not going anywhere but when you feel mentally free then you can improve your game and give 100 per cent.
"In the future also we will talk to our staff if we can bring her back and I hope she can travel with us." Kaur bats for more Test cricket for women ========================== ICC chairman Greg Barclay had recently stated raised doubts over the place of the Test format's future in women's cricket.
Asked about it, Kaur said players always want to play Test cricket.
"In my career, I have only played 2-3 Tests. If we get more games then only we can decide if it has a future or not. As a player, we want to play Test cricket because we have grown up watching that format.
"You can't compare all the formats together, but Test cricket is a different format and has its own level of excitement."
Also Read : Cherish my role in Indian test side, ready to create more impact: Shardul
News Source : PTI
Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee inspired me to take up martial arts: Radha Bhati
At just 25 years of age, Radha Bhati has become an accomplished taekwondo athlete, winning laurels domestically and around the world. She is now setting her sights on the upcoming 2022 Asian Games and the World Championships in 2023 with the ultimate goal of not just representing India but winning medals at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
In this exclusive interview, Radha Bhati speaks about her journey in the sport, representing India internationally, overcoming challenges, importance of mental health, special achievements, future goals and more!
Q 1) Tell us about your taekwondo journey, how were you introduced to the sport and what made you pursue it professionally?
My taekwondo journey started in 2011 when I went to the stadium just to have a look around. It was during my summer holidays so I wanted to join a sport. I saw martial arts classes at one corner and it grabbed my interest. I used to watch Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee movies, so I really loved to watch the fight. I then joined martial arts and started training which was a lot of fun, my interest started to increase with every day I trained.
Q 2) You represented India in the Under 46 kg category at the China Open where you won your first international medal. Tell us about your experience at that tournament and how did the success propel you to greater achievements?
That was actually my second medal but the first one on foreign soil. I was a little nervous but there was a lot of excitement as well because I was getting a chance to play outside India. The quarter final match was really interesting as it was decided by a golden point. The points were tied after three rounds and there were only 0.6 seconds left when I got the golden point. The feeling of winning an international medal outside India was amazing.
Q 3) What are some of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
I think the biggest challenge was travelling because I used to travel from Faridabad to Chhatarpur. By metro it used to take around 3 hours one way and I would often reach home at 12 am which was pretty difficult. My parents would get worried because I’m a girl and they would often ask me to quit which was another challenge I had to deal with.
Also read: 'My ultimate goal is to win gold at the Paralympics'- Mohit Singh
Q 4) How important is mental health in becoming a successful taekwondo athlete and why?
To become a successful taekwondo athlete, mental health becomes an integral part. Even if you have the physical aspect of the game, an athlete needs to have the mental aspect as well. If you are mentally strong you tend to have the capability of achieving a lot of things in taekwondo.
Q 5) What would you say is your most special achievement in your career and why?
The most special achievement in my career was my first international medal at the India Open. This medal helped my confidence a lot and in turn helped in my performance as well.
Q 6) What are your future goals? How do you plan to achieve them?
If we talk about short term goals, then I want to prepare well for the upcoming international tournaments especially the Asian Games this year and the World Championship next year as I hope to win a medal there. The long term goal is to represent India at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
'My ultimate goal is to win gold at the Paralympics'- Mohit Singh
Hailing from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, 22 year old Para Taekwondo athlete Mohit Singh has been training at the Peace Taekwondo Academy since the last three and a half years. He has already represented India at the Asian Championship in 2019 and played at the 9th World Para Taekwondo Championship in 2021. The player has now set his sights on the 2022 Asian Para Games later this year.
In this exclusive interview, Mohit Singh speaks about his taekwondo journey, experiences, memorable achievements, expectations from the Para Asian Games, overcoming challenges and future goals.
Q 1) How did your journey in taekwondo begin? When were you introduced to the sport and what made you pursue it professionally?
I started taekwondo in 2018. It all began because the taekwondo classes were held at the same time as the morning assembly in school and in order to avoid it I joined the sport. Since I’m a para athlete with a hand problem, learning to defend myself was very important for me. I always enjoyed watching martial arts and that’s what motivated me to take up taekwondo. I didn’t have much knowledge about it at the beginning and it started off as a hobby but slowly evolved into a career path.
Q 2) You have been at Peace Taekwondo for three and a half years. How has your experience been so far?
Despite starting taekwondo in 2018 I felt no changes in my body and mind even after practicing it for a year. That’s when I joined Peace Taekwondo and since then, my confidence has risen and the experience has been amazing! I received a lot of support from the senior players and the coaches which motivated me so it has been great.
Q 3) What is the most special memory from your taekwondo career so far and why?
Being selected for the Asian Para Games was the most memorable for me so far. Despite starting taekwondo in 2018, I haven’t won any medals despite putting in the effort to succeed. My family were also very happy for my selection at the Asian Para Games. I have also received support from the Peace Taekwondo Academy and I’m glad that someone from the academy is being represented at the Asian Para Games.
Also read: My dream is to represent India at the Olympics: Afreen Hyder
Q 4) You have been selected for the 2022 Asian Para Games, what are your expectations from it?
My expectations at the Asian Para Games are that I don’t want to just go there and represent my country, I want to go and win a medal. To win a medal I have to work and train even harder than before.
Q5) What are some of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I feel is that even after giving your 100% it still feels less, especially when you're away from family. I feel I have let my coach and my parents down by not training hard but then again in taekwondo, losing is a part and parcel of the game. For me the more I lose, the more motivated I become to perform better in the next tournament.
Q6) What are your future goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
My ultimate goal in the future is to win the Paralympics gold medal. In order to achieve that I need to train even harder and try to achieve the best possible outcome.
Apeksha Fernandes breaks long-standing record in 200m butterfly
It’s fair to say that Apeksha Fernandes isn’t chasing records, it’s the records that are chasing her. The 17 year old made history once again by winning the 200m gold medal, clocking a time of 02:25.18s, a new meet record. She was significantly faster than her closest competitor Disha Bhandari (2:28.58s) while Manavi Verma of Karnataka (2:29.73s) finished in third place. If that’s not all, she’s now setting her sights on the Junior Nationals in July and is aiming to qualify for the FINA World Junior Championships.
In this exclusive interview, Apeksha Fernandes speaks about her preparations leading up to the tournament, accomplishments at the Khelo India Youth Games, breaking the 200 metres butterfly record, her competitors and her future goals.
Q 1) Tell us about your preparations leading up to the Khelo India Youth Games?
This time’s prep was very limited as I had been travelling a lot more than training. I departed for France for the ISF Gymnasiade on May 12th, after which I raced at Canet-en-Roussillon for the Mare Nostrum swim circuit. We returned home on June 1st after which we had to head over to Pune on the 3rd for the Maharashtra state trails. Jet lagged and tired from all the travelling, I rested the whole of June 5th, trained for two sessions on June 6th and flew out to Ambala on the 7th. Before my races at KIYG, I swam a total of only 4-5 sessions, so these races were more of a mental challenge. But my mom and I have this understanding of never backing down from challenges after we’ve accepted them, so we were set to race and take the results as they came.
Q 2) Did you believe that you could win 4 gold medals in the individual races, a gold and silver in the team relays? Which amongst them was the most difficult to achieve and why?
If I have to be very honest here, foreseeing this time's results was not really possible given my limited time in the water. So to answer your question, no, I had no idea that I’d be coming back home with 4 golds in my individual races. All the individual events were challenging in their own way, so I can’t exactly point out to only one being the most difficult but I’d say that the 200 metre butterfly was a race I’d mentally planned well before swimming it. It was a race I’d spent some time on before I walked into our call-room for reporting. I guess the Indian best timing was the biggest surprise and the most successful outcome of the plan.
Q 3) How was the feeling of breaking a long-standing record that has existed for 10 years in 200 metres butterfly?
I had literally no idea that I had been going against the clock for this one. By the way I had planned the race, I was only focused on actually finishing it. After I had glanced at the display, I was so speechless and squeaked, “Oh my god, Indian best” to myself. I was drained, my muscles aching and mouth drooling after that long race but the excitement just seemed to extinguish all that exhaustion, so I ran to my mom and enveloped her in a big, bear hug and did the same to my dad and coach. My best had always been 2:21.52 for a very long time and 2:18.66 seemed like a long way to go. It was unbelievable that I had actually broken such a longstanding record without even having any intention of doing so.
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Q 4) What did you feel about the level of competition at the event?
It’s the same competitors I met last year at the Junior Nationals in Bangalore along with the next generation of talented swimmers, so it felt nice to be back, racing with India’s best swimmers and reuniting with friends. At the call-room, we’re individual swimmers, focused on only ourselves and our races. Everyone comes there with the goal of doing well. We’ve all spent months training for that event, so at the blocks, it’s “may the best win.” In some races I win, in some I don’t, but it’s something I’ve learnt to embrace: the victory with a smile and the defeat with the same smile.
Q 5) What is your next goal in your swimming career? How are you working towards making it a reality?
We’re now focused on Junior Nationals that are going to be held in Bhubaneshwar from July 16th to 21st. This time, I’m aiming to better all my timings and qualify for the FINA World Junior Championships.
I want to represent India and lift the World Cup - Jasmer Dhankhar
Representing Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy and Lucknow Super Giants in the Indian Premier League, 23 year old Jasmer Dhankhar is aiming high and working even harder to achieve his dreams. In this exclusive interview, the cricketer speaks about his journey so far, the toughest batter in the LSG team, experiences so far, preparations for the Ranji Trophy, cricketing idols and his future goals.
Q1) When did your journey with cricket start and how has it been so far?
I used to play cricket ever since I was a little kid on the road with my friends and my brothers. I was interested in cricket from my childhood and when I realised that I play better than most kids I decided to try and pursue it professionally. I wouldn't say that the journey was easy but I feel blessed at the position I am playing the Ranji trophy and being a part of the IPL.
Q2) Who is the toughest batter to bowl to in the Lucknow Super Giants nets and why?
I think the toughest to bowl to was Evin Lewis because he is a left hander and has a lot of power. He has the gift of timing as well but these are the kind of challenges I enjoy. I love to bowl against difficult batters and I always want to get them out. My mindset is always positive in such things.
Q3) How was your experience with LSG? Which player have you learned the most from?
Usually when you go into a new dressing room there is a feeling of awkwardness but with LSG I never felt that. I got to learn a lot of things from KL Rahul, Krunal Pandya, Evin Lewis, Marcus Stoinis and our bowling coach Narendra Hirwani.
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Q4) How are preparations going for the Ranji trophy semi finals and what are your expectations from the game?
Our preparations have been going well as the team is young but we are hungry to train even harder, putting in the effort and we are all showing character. We proved to the world that we belong on this stage and showed them that we can dominate in all formats. Since the start of the season we had all the focus on our team and most importantly we backed our own strengths which has been the main focus mostly.
Q5) Who was your cricketing idol growing up and what did you like about him?
Since I am a leg spinner, I used to idolise Shane Warne growing up. I was a big fan of his leg spin and I used to watch all his videos and try to implement the variations he used to use. Mostly I used to notice his leadership skills and his attitude on the pitch.
Q6) What are your future goals and ambitions? How do you plan to achieve them?
My future plan is to represent India and establish myself as a regular player in the Indian squad and then help my country lift the World Cup. I feel as a player you have to keep growing and adapting, that has always been my focus. For me, I should be able to give my 100% in every practice session and with my commitment I will hopefully progress forward.