Our primary goal is to empower physically impaired individuals through sports - Noor Nahain, Founder and President, Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation
In 2020, Australian wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott won the golden slam, becoming the first male in the history of the sport to win all major titles and the Paralympic/Olympic gold. However, it was not always a smooth ride for Alcott who admitted he “hated himself” due to his disabilities and sports completely transformed his life. It sent a clear message that sports is more than just a hobby or a recreation for many, it’s a lifestyle that can empower and transform lives, even for those who are physically challenged.
In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, Noor Nahain, Founder and President of Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation speaks about his primary goals and objectives, the standard of wheelchair cricket in Bangladesh, overcoming challenges, participation of women in Wheelchair Cricket, future goals and more!
Q 1) As Founder and President of the Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation, what are your primary goals and objectives to improve the status of disabled cricketers in the country?
On April 27, 2018, Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation started the journey. As Founder and President of the Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation, our primary goals are to establish all physically impaired persons with disability into the mainstream of society through participation in all types of para-sports such as cricket and other sports. We want to create a professional para-sports sector to improve livelihood, social prestige and build leadership capabilities so that other physically impaired persons with disabilities come forward and get inspired so that they can break free from the shell of disbelief that they are not able, that they can do anything they set their mind to.
Q 2) As vice-captain of the Bangladesh Wheelchair Cricket team, what would you consider the standard of wheelchair cricket in the country to be on par with other countries?
As a representative of wheelchair cricket in Bangladesh, I believe that the standard of wheelchair cricket in our country is good. We have a lot of talented cricketers, and many are joining us. Wheelchair cricket is spreading over the whole country, and we are glad many are coming forward to join us.
Q 3) What are some of the major challenges that you face as the President of the Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation? Are sponsorships a perennial issue in this format of the sport?
Challenges will always be there, but I believe that you have to keep on knocking at the doors of opportunities and keep moving forward. If you knock enough the doors will open. Sponsorship is a perennial issue of any kind of sport, in the beginning, it was not so different but now we get regular sponsorships. As I already said we have to keep knocking on the doors of opportunity.
Q 4) What is your role as Co-Founder and Administrative Director at Wheelchair Cricket Welfare Association Bangladesh?
In 2015, we founded the Wheelchair Cricket Welfare Association Bangladesh for working in the wheelchair cricket sector in Bangladesh. As a former Administrative Director at Wheelchair Cricket Welfare Association Bangladesh, I had the responsibilities to oversee the development of player’s skills, to conduct the training sessions, to select players for the team as well as player management.
Q 5) Tell us about the participation of women in Wheelchair Cricket? How was the reception of the 1st BWSF Women Indoor Wheelchair Cricket Championship 2021?
The participation of women in wheelchair cricket is much less than male participants. Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation has taken initiatives to promote women wheelchair cricket in Bangladesh through indoor wheelchair cricket and we organized the 1st BWSF Women Indoor Wheelchair Cricket Championship 2021 in the ‘Jatir Pita Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Para Sports Carnival 2021’. After this championship, more physically impaired women with disabilities have got the inspiration to participate in the sports.
The reception was great. In the closing ceremony of ‘Jatir Pita Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Para Sports Carnival 2021’, the hon’ble state minister of ministry of youth and sports, Mr. Md. Zahid Ahsan Russel MP was the chief guest of the program. He appreciated our initiatives that we have started women wheelchair cricket besides the men wheelchair cricket and handed over the champion and runner up trophies of the 1st BWSF Women Indoor Wheelchair Cricket Championship 2021. At this time, the general secretary of National Paralympic Committee of Bangladesh. Engi. Md. Maksudur Rahman, the advisers of BWSF Dr. Aminur Rahman Sultan and Dr. Ahmed Wasif Reza were present.
Q 6) What are your future goals and ambitions with regards to Wheelchair Cricket? How do you plan to achieve them?
When I started work in the wheelchair cricket sector, I always wanted the Bangladesh Cricket Board to recognize our initiative to make wheelchair cricket part of the board. Recently, we have got good news that our Bangladesh Cricket Board has officially created a physically challenged cricket committee for the persons with disabilities which is going to be the mother organization of all cricket. Mr. Akram Khan, former captain of Bangladesh National Cricket Team is the chairman of the committee. A few days ago, I met with him on behalf of Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation and told him about our wheelchair cricket. He has appreciated our initiatives and has told us that the physically challenged cricket committee will start cricket activities.
Golden Slam winner Dylan Alcott announces retirement after Australian Open 2022
(Sports news) Para-athlete Dylan Alcott, one of Australia’s greatest ever tennis players has announced his intention to retire after the Australian Open 2022. The 30 year old became the first man to win the golden slam in any form of tennis by winning all four major titles and the Paralympic gold medal in Tokyo. He intends to end his career on home turf at Melbourne Park in January, making one final appearance in his hometown where he has won seven quad singles titles in as many years.
“There’s no way I could finish my career a few weeks ago because the US Open was not my home,” Alcott said. “This is my home and the Australian Open changed my life. What better way to finish than in my home in front of crowds. I’ve known this day was coming for a while,” he said. “It’s been an incredible ride and I think the time has come to move onto other things that I do. In saying that, I’m going to train my arse off for the next two months and try to go out on a high. The time has come, I feel redundant, I feel old, washed up,” he said. “It’s the next generation’s turn to dominate and get the recognition they deserve. I’m really looking forward to getting out there and doing my thing one more time. We will see what happens. I’m just enjoying the moment.”
To say that Dylan Alcott has had an illustrious career would be an understatement, the Australian has won 15 Grand Slam singles titles, eight Grand Slam doubles titles as well as four Paralympic gold and two silver medals. In September, Alcott won the US Open for the third time, adding to his two Wimbledon titles and three French Open victories. Alcott was born with a tumor on his spinal cord with a subsequent surgery resulting in never being able to walk. Despite his exploits on the tennis court, Alcott is also a supremely talented basketball player, winning the Paralympic gold and silver medals with Australia and he is also a radio DJ and television commentator.
Alcott is also an outspoken advocate for the rights of people with disability and has used his success to bring focus to a variety of issues such as mental health. The 30 year old has previously admitted to being bullied while growing up and said “I used to hate myself so much. I hated my disability. I didn't even want to be here any more. I found tennis and it changed and saved my life.” The 30 year old will undoubtedly hope to clinch his eighth Australian Open title in the final tournament of his inspiring and magnificent career.
1988: Steffi Graf’s Golden Slam marks 33 year anniversary
(Tennis news) Steffi Graf is one of the most complete tennis players in the world, she was only 19 years old in 1988 when she completed a historic quest, something which has never been achieved in tennis before and has been achieved by Diede de Groot and Dylan Alcott in wheelchair tennis this year.
On October 1st 1988, Graf made history as she wore the gold medal around her neck which was a symbol of pure domination that year. She was only a teenager when she won all the four slams and the Olympic gold as it was regarded as the one of the most dominating periods in the history of tennis. She had only won one slam before this year which came at the French Open, this record saw the beginning of her supremacy in women's tennis.
She began the Golden Slam run at the Australian Open where she beat Chris Evert in the final, in the French Open she brutally defeated Natasha Zvereva with a double bagel in the final and has never happened ever since. In Wimbledon, she lifted the trophy after coming back from a set deficit and a two game lead against Martina Navratilova in the final and in the final slam of the year beat Gabriela Sabatini who had two successive wins against Graff in the start of the year. She had achieved the calendar slam and became the first woman and the second player to win it all along with Rod Laver in the open era.
Nobody hoped for a Golden Slam but it seemed inevitable for the young German who kept crushing every player she met on the court. The Olympic gold was now in reach as Graff had to win five matches to win the gold medal and once again defeated Sabatini in the women’s singles final to complete the Golden Slam. She had also won the Wimbledon doubles that year along with a doubles bronze at the Seoul Olympics.
Graf had won all the slams at least four times which showed her remarkable talent. The surfaces didn't matter to her as she transformed herself into another level from that year. To be unbeaten in a particular surface and tournament is heard of but to remain unbeaten in all the four slams given their surfaces is a lot to take for. The amount of pressure she would have faced is not imaginable as the audience watched Novak Djokovic vent out his frustration at the Tokyo Olympics and how one of the toughest men in sport cried before losing the match to Daniil Medvedev at the US Open final.
It's been 33 years but the record seems to be in safe hands as players have not come close to it other than Novak Djokovic this year and looks to be even more safer in the women’s field. The level of consistency and adaptability which made the Golden Slam year possible is almost impossible to find in today’s game as players mostly perform according to the courts. Many players miss out on the Olympic gold or even a medal as top players have not won the gold medal in their career. But Graf did it in one year and was a young player who had come into the WTA tour as a thirteen year old. The age factor is still a question which puzzles the audience as many athletes over the age of 35 still get into the teams because of their performance while teenagers also play well and now like Graf there are many youngsters in the tennis court who aspire to become like her and the US Open this year was a strong signal sent to the veterans.
Daniil Medvedev’s groundbreaking run at the US Open gives hope to the next generation of stars
(Tennis news): Daniil Medvedev has pulled off one of the biggest upsets in tennis history as he defeated Novak Djokovic in the most unforeseen circumstances at the US Open. The odds were against Medvedev as he was facing arguably the most versatile tennis player on the planet but Medvedev put all that aside and did not let Djokovic in his head.
Djokovic was having the best possible year as he was unbeaten in Grand Slams and was looking to repeat the feat achieved by Rod Laver in 1969. Rod Laver was himself present in the crowd as his record was in danger but as the match started the record seemed to move further away. Medvedev played like he had nothing to lose and just broke Djokovic mentally as the pressure to win the calendar slam rocketed.
Djokovic lost the opening set as he had done previously in the last four matches and he had always come back in those matches but this time it looked like it was getting delayed as Medvedev did not falter at any point of time and kept winning points as he looked at the crowd which was witnessing a major upset.
Djokovic changed his shirt in the beginning of the last set as he tried one last time to make a comeback and there was a slight hope that the match would go another set and the crowd was suddenly chanting for Djokovic’s revival. Djokovic had the lost the first set at Wimbledon against Matteo Berrettini but even more notable was that he had the lost the first two sets against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the French Open but found ways to finish with the trophy in hand.
It was looking as if Medvedev had lost control and would choke in the end but Medvedev made sure the crowd would get the answer quick and clear. Maybe the Australian Open final against Djokovic in the year beginning played a major part in Medvedev’s victory or the pressure got to Djokovic in winning the calendar slam which does not seem likely.
The match saw both the players becoming emotional as there was a lot at stake especially for Djokovic. Djokovic was also seen smiling in the end as it reminded the crowd of the same grin which was there 10 years back when Djokovic saved one of the match points against Roger Federer in the semifinal with a powerful cross court forehand. This time Djokovic was seen in tears as he put the towel in his face before the last game and Medvedev who is known for his celebrations which involves a smile or just a thumbs up also did not hold back as he just fell on the court after winning the last point.
This victory is one of the most significant victories ever in the game, Rafael Nadal was defeated for the first time at the French Open in 2009 by Robin Soderling and it was a huge victory as Nadal had won the last four titles. Roger Federer was defeated in the same year at the US Open final by Juan Martín del Potro and Federer had won the last five titles. Nadal was defeated by the brutal strength of Soderling’s forehand and Federer was annihilated by Potro’s forehand, but the difference here is Djokovic had won all the Slams in the year, something which had not happened in the last 52 years.
Roger Federer was known for his ability to excel in all the surfaces but even he had his troubles in clay as he struggled especially against Nadal. Djokovic has proved himself to be a court player as he has continued to win no matter what the surface or opponent is but will be wondering what went wrong against Medvedev.
Medvedev stopped Djokovic from a historic calendar Slam and also from a record 21st Grand Slam title. Medvedev had already lost to Djokovic in the Australian Open final but none of that mattered to him when he played the final here at the US Open. Medvedev has now cemented his place in the list of greatest upsets and is the second man born in the 90’s to win a Grand Slam after Dominic Thiem took the title here last year.
Daniil Medvedev will celebrate his achievement now as he will lift the trophy and make sure he gets more next year. As for Djokovic it will be a painful defeat as he was only victory away but being the athlete he is there is no need to wait for him to bounce back. Djokovic will look to defend the titles next year and hope to give company to Rod Laver next time.
Also read: Paralympic stars Dylan Alcott and Diede de Groot create history by winning the Golden Slam in wheelchair tennis
Paralympic stars Dylan Alcott and Diede de Groot create history by winning the Golden Slam in wheelchair tennis
(Tennis news) History was created on Sunday when Dylan Alcott and Diede de Groot won the U.S Open to conclude the most successful tennis campaign imaginable. Nobody in the history of wheelchair tennis had won the Golden Slam until yesterday and when it finally happened, it occurred not once but twice.
Having already won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and Paralympic gold medals, Dylan Alcott and Diede de Groot won the U.S Open in dominant fashion to cement their historic accomplishment. World number 1 from Australia Dylan Alcott defeated Niels Vink of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-2 in the quad singles division while Dutch World Number 1 Diede de Groot defeated 2nd seed Yui Kamiji of Japan 6-3, 6-2 in the Women’s Singles Final.
Only Steffi Graff in 1988 has won all four Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal in the same year. The accomplishment was not possible in wheelchair tennis until 2016, when Wimbledon was added for wheelchair tennis players. Alcott, who previously won a Paralympic gold medal in basketball in 2008 became the only male tennis player to win the Golden Slam.
In his acceptance speech, Alcott said “To all the sponsors, everybody that makes it happen, thank you for putting us on stadium courts, changing my life, changing Niels's life, but hopefully changing the lives of millions of people with disability around the world, that they can see themselves on the big stage doing what they love." He continued, "I used to hate myself so much. I hated my disability. I didn't even want to be here anymore. And I found tennis, and it changed and saved my life, and now I've become the only male ever in any form of tennis, I think, to win the Golden Slam, which is pretty cool."
Both Dylan Alcott and Diede de Groot were honoured during the men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. Alcott poured a can of beer into his trophy and chugged it, much to the crowd's delight. "I just haven't done it in front of 20,000 people and 50 million watching. There was no chance I wasn't going to skull that beer on Arthur Ashe after I just won the Golden Slam.
"I saw I got a smile from Novak and Medvedev, action which was nice. I wouldn't want to be a beer in New York tonight, because you're going to get destroyed. That's for sure.''
Also read: Daniil Medvedev does the impossible against Novak Djokovic at the US Open final, Emma Raducanu captures first Grand Slam in style