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Euphoric Philippines, rewards greet Olympic gold winner Hidilyn Diaz home

Sport|: Manila: The rewards, the citations and the nationwide parties are going to have to wait, for a week or so anyway. Philippine weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, fresh from winning her country's first Olympic gold medal in nearly a century at the Tokyo Games, arrived in Manila on Wednesday and was whisked off to a hotel for seven days of quarantine. "Gold at last!'' read a banner at the airport as military personnel waved Philippine flags and applauded when Diaz landed. But not even her historic medal can eclipse coronavirus protocols in a country grappling with continuing virus outbreaks and an economic crisis. The 30-year-old Diaz, who won gold in the women's 55-kilogram category on Monday in her fourth Olympic appearance, will be able to collect her rewards once she is released from quarantine. Philippine officials and business tycoons have offered more than 40 million pesos ($800,000) in cash. Others have pledged a residential condominium unit in an upscale district, a vacation house in a resort city south of Manila, a new van and free gasoline, as well as free commercial flights for life. President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet members congratulated Diaz by video. The Philippines has the second-largest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia. Lockdowns and quarantines caused the economy to plummet last year in the country's worst post-war recession. The Philippines has competed at every edition of the Summer Olympics since 1924 _ except for a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games _ and has won three silver and seven bronze medals. Diaz won a silver medal in 2016, her country's first appearance on an Olympic podium in 20 years. Ahead of the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games, travel restrictions forced Diaz to undergo training for more than a year in Malaysia. But with her triumph, Diaz earned a place in the country's ``pantheon of legendary athletes,'' according to a Philippine Senate citation. She joins the ranks of a handful of Filipino sports celebrities who have earned international acclaim, led by boxer Manny Pacquiao, now a senator and a possible presidential contender in next year's elections. Philippine TV networks have run tributes on Diaz, focusing on how she overcame poverty in her southern hometown of Zamboanga through sports. The fifth of six children of a motorcycle taxi driver, she had to carry containers of water for blocks to her house and haul vegetables to be sold in a public market, helping develop her muscles. People saw her potential for weightlifting early but she was discouraged by others who told her the sport was reserved for men and that they could prevent her from getting pregnant. But she persisted and won a local weightlifting competition, which served as her springboard to the Olympics. Military chief of staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said Wednesday that Diaz, who is in the air force, has been promoted to the rank of staff sergeant ``for bringing pride and glory to our country.'' Duterte, Roman Catholic church leaders, top business executives, movie celebrities and ordinary Filipinos have expressed gratitude and congratulations. Aside from well wishes, a windfall of financial rewards await. Philippine officials and business tycoons have pledged more than 40 million pesos ($800,000) in cash. Others have pledged a residential condominium unit in an upscale district, a vacation house in a resort city south of Manila, a new van and free gasoline, as well as free commercial flights for life.

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England Test series: Question mark over Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar’s travel plans

ICC|: Kolkata: The Covid-19 threat in Indian cricket team in Sri Lanka - apart from weakening the squad for the last two T20 Internationals, has also put a question mark over the travel plans of Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav to England to join India’s Test squad. The duo, who were supposed to fly out to the UK directly from Colombo, will now have to “continue to remain in isolation” at the team hotel after being identified as close contacts of allrounder Krunal Pandya - who had tested positive on Tuesday. The Borad of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) has, in a statement on Wednesday, stated that the entire Indian squad, including Krunal, had returned negative tests on Tuesday, but the eight close contacts of Krunal would “continue to remain in isolation” at the team hotel. The eight players identified as close contacts of Krunal are Shaw, Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Krishnappa Gowtham and Deepak Chahar. Incidentally, the Covid-plagued white ball series in Colombo was delayed in early July as Sri Lankan assistant coach Grant Flower and the team analyst who had both tested positive upon returning from England tour had to isolate for 10 days. The players, who had been identified as the pair’s close contacts, had to isolate for a week - forcing Cricket Sri Lanka to put off the start of the series by nearly a week. There was much drama early on Wednesday when Rahul Dravid, India’s Head Coach in Sri Lanka, was hard-pressed to field a decent playing XI as all those identified as close contacts of Krunal were also ruled out of the T20 series. ‘‘Based on the request of the Indian team management in Sri Lanka, the All-India Senior Selection Committee has named additions to India’s squad for the second and third T20Is. The five net bowlers – Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh, R. Sai Kishore and Simarjeet Singh - will now be part of the squad for the remaining T20Is,’’ the BCCI statement said. “It was felt medically that some of the guys who were his (Krunal’s) close contacts shouldn’t be participating in the series,” Dravid told the official broadcasters.

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Ashes without England’s best team would be farcical, says Michael Vaughan

ICC|: London: Former England captain Michael Vaughan has called for Australian authorities to relax stringent pandemic entry regulations to allow players’ families to travel to the country or else delay the upcoming Ashes series by a year. In his column in The Daily Telegraph, Vaughan said the prospect of Australia facing an under-strength England team “would be farcical”, with senior players considering not travelling unless their families can visit over the Christmas period. “If this situation is not sorted out quickly and the England players allowed to be joined in Australia by their families, then the Ashes have to be delayed by a year,” Vaughan wrote. “If not, it would be a farcical series against an under-strength England team. ALSO READ England Test series: For Suryakumar Yadav, the call-up is better late than never IPL 2021 in UAE: Chennai-Mumbai match to restart league on September 19 Mubashir Usmani to represent the UAE in ICC Chief Executives’ body Ravindra Jadeja hits second fifty as India tour match ends in draw “The Ashes must be the best against the best.” Australia has put in place some of the world’s most stringent travel restrictions in an attempt to keep the virus at bay, with tight limits on the numbers permitted to enter the country. England are due to start the first match of the five-Test series against Australia on December 8, with the final meeting to be played from January 14 to 18. On previous Ashes tours, players’ families have joined them over the Christmas period but similar arrangements would be complicated by Australia’s quarantine regulations. The difficulties are amplified by key players such as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler facing the prospect of being away from home for four months due to their involvement in October’s Twenty20 World Cup. Australia recently withdrew from the Rugby League World Cup in England in October due to COVID-19 concerns, while seven of the country’s cricketers refused to take part in a just-completed West Indies tour. “I have absolute sympathy with any player thinking of not going and I would back them all the way if they pulled out because they cannot be with their families at Christmas and New Year,” wrote Vaughan. “We need the Ashes. But we need the series to be fair and competitive.”

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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Richarlison fires Brazil into Olympics football quarter-finals

olympics|Football|: Richarlison continued his fine form at the Olympics with a double as Brazil eased into the quarter-finals after a 3-1 win over Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, as Germany exited the men’s tournament. Reigning champions Brazil, who won gold for the first time on home soil in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, finished top of Group D and will face the runners-up from Group C in the last eight on Saturday. Matheus Cunha put them ahead in Saitama on Wednesday, but Abdulelah Al Amri’s goal brought the Saudis level before the half-hour mark. Tokyo Olympics 2020: Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka - it’s okay to be not okay Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Champion Hidilyn Diaz set for hero’s homecoming in Philippines Tokyo Olympics 2020: For South Korea golfers, medal is only way out of military Tokyo Olympics 2020: PV Sindhu stays on course as she makes Round of 16 A draw would have been enough for Brazil to go through as group winners, but Richarlison netted in the 76th minute and again in injury time. The Everton forward is now the leading scorer in the tournament with five goals after his hat-trick against Germany. The Germans, runners-up to Brazil in 2016, bowed out after a 1-1 draw with the Ivory Coast, who will face the Group C winners in the quarters. Germany had to win to progress, but Benjamin Henrichs’ own goal midway through the second half proved costly. Eduard Lowen’s equaliser shortly afterwards set up a tense finale, but the Ivorians held on to seal second spot in the group. South Korea finished top of Group B after a 6-0 thrashing of 10-man Honduras and were joined in the knockout stage by New Zealand, who played out a goalless draw with Romania to finish above their opponents on goal difference.

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Nandu Natekar, India’s first overseas badminton champion, passes away

Sport|: New Delhi: Indian badminton icon Nandu Natekar passed away in Pune on Wednesday. Natekar, who was the first Indian badminton player to win an international event back in 1956, was 88. The six-time national singles champion made his India debut at the age of 20 and shouldered the responsibility of leading India’s challenge in the Thomas Cup men’s team championship for more than a decade from 1951-1963. Born in Sangli, Maharashtra, in 1933, Natekar dabbled with tennis as well and even reached the junior nationals final against the legendary Ramanathan Krishnan before deciding to focus on his badminton career. His son, Gaurav, went on to be a successful tennis player and represented India in Davis Cup. Recipient of the first Arjuna Award in 1961, Natekar was a touch artist who would mesmerise his opponents with his deceptive skills and stroke perfection. He created history for Indian badminton when he clinched the Selangor International crown in Kuala Lumpur in 1956. He and Meena Shah had bagged the mixed doubles crown at Kings Cup International in Bangkok in 1962 and a year later he also won the singles title against all odds at the same event. The legendary shuttler also won multiple men’s doubles and mixed-doubles national titles during his career spanning 15 years and reached the quarterfinals in his only All England appearance in 1954. “One of the towering icons of Indian badminton, Nandu Natekar leaves behind a rich legacy that we shall cherish forever. Six-time national champion and first Indian to win an international title in 1956, he shall be remembered fondly for his drives, drops and smashes,” Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Himanta Biswa Sarma said. “It’s very sad to hear about the demise of Nandu Natekar. He gave Indians a belief that we also can win titles overseas with his win in Kuala Lumpur. Indian badminton will always be grateful for his contribution. The entire badminton community is with his family in this hour of grief and loss,” BAI general secretary Ajay Singhania said.

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Video: Indian Test team use innovative method to practice catching

Cricket|: Chester-le-Street (Durham): Some of the top fielding sides in world cricket like New Zealand, Australia and South Africa play rugby as warm-up. The Indian team in England took it a step further on Tuesday and improvised the rugby warm-up using the cricket ball. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) posted a video of players using an innovative method apparently brought into India's practice sessions by the coaching staff. The players had to carry the ball, through seven passes, and deposit it in a small circle marked inside the field some distance away from them. The players, however, weren't allowed to use both their hands. Also, while they could catch with either hand, they couldn't pass it with the same hand. "You have to run and catch the ball. It is a simple game. The hand with which you catch, you have to throw with the opposite hand," said a member of the team support staff. "After the seventh pass, the ball should land inside that area. The ball has to be kept in that area, you can drop it, place it there," he added. Cheteshwar Pujara, who bats at No. 3 in the Indian Test side, explained it in the video, "You have to catch the ball with either hand and have to throw with the opposite hand and if you get touched you are out. You have to have seven passes and the ball has to drop in the middle [small circle]." While India were fine in the field in the World Test Championship final, dropping only a couple of catches on the final day, their catching and outfielding has been a cause for concern in recent times.

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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka - it’s okay to be not okay

olympics|Tennis|: Only a few days earlier, Simone Biles - considered the greatest ever women’s gymnast - was honoured with her own GOAT emoji on twitter. Tom Daggett, the gymnastics analyst for US broadcasters NBC, said he would put Biles on his ‘Mount Rushmore’ of gymnasts because with her ‘‘athleticism, she does things people typically wouldn’t dream of.’’ Such pressure of expectations can be scary for a 24-year-old, even if you are a Simone Biles. Or a Naomi Osaka. It’s a sheer coincidence but on Tuesday, Osaka - the face of Tokyo Olympics who lit the Olympics flame at the opening ceremony - suffered an early shock exit in tennis while Biles pulled out midway of the women’s team final a few hours later. It was within a few months of each other that two of the young super achievers in the world of sport came out in the open - speaking about their mental health issues. While Osaka stayed away from tennis for nearly two months and timed her comeback in the Olympics, Biles has now pulled out of the individual allround teams event on Wednesday while her participation in the other individual events look extremely unrealistic as of now. Her target of adding six more Olympic medals - to the four which she won in Rio in 2016 to confirm her status as the greatest ever in her sport in Olympics may remain unrealised. MORE ON TOKYO OLYMPICS Tokyo Olympics 2020: Simone Biles confirms mental health issues after withdrawal from team final Tokyo Olympics 2020: For South Korea golfers, medal is only way out of military Tokyo Olympics 2020 at a glance: Day 5 — major moments and updates Ledecky and Titmus strike gold Tokyo Olympics 2020: No doubting Justin Thomas and top golfers’ Olympic passion “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times, ” said Biles on Instagram - a state of mind which resonated with some of the biggest achievers in sport as sympathy poured in from all quarters for the troubled superstar. Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian ever with 23 gold medals (28 overall), who in 2018 revealed his own struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts following the 2012 Olympics, said watching Biles struggle on Tuesday “broke my heart.” Now in Tokyo as a TV pundit for NBC, Phelps said the Olympics could be overwhelming for athletes and that he had often struggled to find support during his own career. “The biggest thing is we all need to ask for help sometimes too when we go through those times,” Phelps said. “For me, I can say personally it was something very challenging. It was hard for me to ask for help. Phelps may have singled out the pressure of Olympics, but the modern professional sport - where a successful sportsperson is likened to a cottage industry with her entourage of support staff, managers and commercial commitments - brings it’s own quota of pressure. And one doesn’t have to always a superstar to feel the heat. At Wimbledon earlier this month, 18-year-old Briton Emma Raducanu came out of nowhere to reach the fourth round, only to retire from the match with what was first described as “breathing difficulties”. The teenager subsequently explained that “whole experience caught up with me”. The biggest thing is we all need to ask for help sometimes too when we go through those times. For me, I can say personally it was something very challenging. It was hard for me to ask for help Michael Phelps, US swimming legend After Raducanu’s explanation, England and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford said that he too had suffered something similar when he was a teenager. In 2018, NBA star Kevin Love said that he had suffered a panic attack during a match, while there are well-documented cases of mental health in often the placid environment of cricket - where performance anxiety is most often attributed for such attacks. Add to that is the pressure of the Bio Bubble, which has seen a significant rise of admissions over last one and-a-half years. Pressures of the bubble In an interview with AFP, Julie-Ann Tullberg, an expert in sports psychology and sports journalism at Monash University in Australia, said that “mental health has long been swept under the carpet as a reason of underperformance in high-pressure sporting events such as the Olympic Games”. “However, athletes are now willing to talk about their pressures openly,” she said. People deal with “performance anxiety” in all walks of life, said Tullberg, and that has been exacerbated by people across the world living in intermittent lockdowns in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. “But people are now more willing to talk about it (their mental health),” she said. “There are support networks offered to us all the time, we’re encouraged to seek support, and people are now taking those options because they’re not so fearful of the repercussions if it’s known in their workplace that they’re struggling.” Simone Biles (right) talks strategy with her US teammates after pulling out of the team final on Tuesday. Image Credit: AFP Biles, a crusader for mental health It’s the ability to absorb the pressure which makes the likes of a Biles or Osaka so special - but the fact remains that there can be a tipping point as well. “I have to focus on my mental health,” Biles told the media on Tuesday. “I didn’t want to go out and do something stupid and get hurt... At the end of the day we don’t want to be carried out of there on a stretcher.” Strong words from someone, who had been a known crusader of mental health issues and spoken on it in TV interview. On Tuesday, she admitted to feeling lost during one of her exercises in mid-air - leading to a rarest of rare sight of her knees buckling during the landing. Biles has worked with a therapist since she came forward in 2018 as a survivor of sexual abuse by former national gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. Before the Tokyo Olympics, she said that the postponement of the Games also weighed heavily on her as it meant not only another year of training, but also another year of working with USA Gymnastics, which she and her fellow survivors feel failed to protect them and take accountability for the Nassar scandal. Katy Kamkar, a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, said that Biles’ admission would help “normalise the conversation”. “There has always been, within the athletic world, the emphasis on appearing physically fit and appearing mentally fit,” she told CBC/Radio-Canada. “And that can further perpetuate a kind of silent suffering and self-isolation.” Aly Raisman, a three-time Olympic gold medallist and a former teammate of Biles, said that Biles had been under immense pressure for months leading up to Tokyo because of the weight of expectation. “There’s only so much someone can take, she’s human,” Raisman told US television. Now what for Biles? Where does Biles go from here? The difference between her sport and someone like Osaka’s is - truth be told - gymnastics is far more dangerous a sport where the benchmark of excellence lies in the complexities of the routine one performs - calling for the highest level of focus and risk of injuries. After years of putting her body on the line, Biles has decided to put herself first but for all the right reasons. That’s the lesson that not just elite athletes, but everyone should learn from Biles’ choice, however shocking the call may have been. It’s something that Biles, who has punched through all kinds of barriers with the physical feats she’s achieved, is now likely to do for biases and stigma against mental health issues as well. If she doesn’t participate in Tokyo anymore, it’s her choice. For, as Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao put it in a tweet: “Once a champion, always a champion. God Bless @Simone_Biles.”

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Destination Dubai for the prestigious Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Championship

By David Moir Special to Gulf News It’s destination Dubai for the prestigious Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (ACC) after the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) won hosting rights to the delayed 12th edition of the elite amateur event. The news was confirmed earlier today when the Masters Tournament, R&A and Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation announced the tournament would be held from November 3-6 at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. Dubai-based golfer Toby Bishop sets sights on prestigious Home Internationals in UK Tokyo Olympics 2020: Dubai’s Adri Arnaus gears up for golfing gold quest UAE to the world: Dubai-born golfer Josh Hill opens up on bright future Dubai’s Adri Arnaus: Tokyo Olympics 2020 more than just a golf challenge The 2020 AAC, which was due to be played at Royal Melbourne in Australia last year, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will now be held in the UAE for the first time and will join the numerous professional and amateur events Dubai hosts annually, including the European Tour’s OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic and DP World Tour Championship. Created in 2009, the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship was established to further develop amateur golf in the Asia-Pacific region. The champion receives an invitation to compete in the Masters and The Open, while the runner(s)-up gain a place in final qualifying for The Open. Taimur Hassan Amin, Chairman of the APGC, Fred Ridley, Chairman of the Masters Tournament, and Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said in a joint statement: “This year’s historic win at the Masters by Hideki Matsuyama, a two-time Asia-Pacific Amateur champion, underscored the importance of this event as a platform for the game’s development and rising talent in the region. We are grateful for the support of the Emirates Golf Federation and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, and we are committed to working closely with all involved to stage this year’s championship with responsible protocols in place so we can provide this life-changing opportunity safely to these deserving players. “Dubai Creek’s Championship Course will enhance the tradition of world-class venues that have hosted this championship, and we look forward to showcasing the Asia-Pacific’s top-ranked amateurs this fall.” Opened in 1993, Dubai Creek’s Championship Course features an 18-hole, par-71 layout originally designed by Karl Litten before its redesign in 2004 led by Thomas Bjorn. The course has previously hosted the 1999 and 2000 Dubai Desert Classic and the Mena Tour’s Dubai Creek Open, where 2018 AAC runner-up Rayhan Thomas shot a course-record 61 in 2017. Most recently, Dubai Creek hosted The Dubai Championship on the World Amateur Tour last December. “After being part of the AAC for many years as a member of the APGC, we are excited to welcome this prestigious championship to the UAE for the first time,” said Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of EGF. “This opportunity means a great deal to the Asia-Pacific’s many talented amateurs. We are honoured to support the APGC, the Masters Tournament and The R&A in their efforts to conduct a safe event and advance our shared mission of spurring golf’s growth and development.” Chris May, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Golf, added: “The AAC annually brings together the leading amateurs from across the region, and the world, and we are proud to be selected by the Founding Partners as the host of this year’s event. Our Championship Course will present both a challenging and inspiring test for the players, and we look forward to highlighting their talent and contributing to the AAC’s impact on the game.”

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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Simone Biles’ withdrawal sparks mental health fears

olympics|Sport|: American Simone Biles, the biggest name in world of women's gymnastics, has caused quite a stir by withdrawing from the team event final following an error on vault which led to a low score - sparking off speculation of mental health issues. The USA team competed with only three gymnasts in the final and finished second to the team from Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). “Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue,” said a statement from USA Gymnastics on Tuesday. “She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions,” added USA Gymnastics in the statement, which contradicts with NBC announcer John Roethlisberger’s comment during the telecast that network personnel had been told by a team coach or coaches that Biles’ issues were mental rather than physical. The 24-year-old, winner of four gold medals in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, was supposed to execute a Yurchenko vault with two-and-a-half twists, but could perform only one-and-a-half twists. Her knees buckled on the landing although she avoided falling on the ground. Her score of 13.766 is among the lowest she has got in years. While a clearer picture may emerge over the next few days, there are media reports of the the 24-year-old diva of gymnastics suffering from a performance anxiety. Biles recently spoke about feeling intense pressure to succeed here, and she has figured prominently in NBC’s promotions of the Tokyo Games. She also has said she is still dealing with trust issues regarding USA Gymnastics after having been sexually abused by former national team doctor Lawrence Nassar, who abused hundreds of women and girls before he was sentenced to prison. Biles stayed on the floor with the team and after the competition was seen talking to Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, before the medal ceremony. - With inputs from agencies

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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Indian boxer Lovlina Borgohain keeps medal hopes alive

olympics|Sport|: Indian boxer Lovlina Borgohain, along with the men’s hockey team, provided a rare bright spot on Tuesday as she advanced to the quarter finals in 69 kg class in her debut Olympic appearance at the Tokyo Olympics. She defeated German veteran Nadine Apetz in a closely fought last-16 stage bout and is one win away from winning an Olympic medal. The 23-year-old Borgohain, the lone Indian boxer in action on the day, prevailed 3-2 over her rival who is 12 years her senior. The Indian became the first from her nine-member strong team to make the quarterfinal stage. She showed good poise in a tense contest to triumph by the thinnest of margins as she claimed all the three rounds on split points. The 35-year-old Apetz was the first German woman to qualify for a boxing event at the Olympics and also a two-time world championship bronze-medallist and a former European champion. MORE ON TOKYO OLYMPICS Tokyo Olympics 2020 hockey: India shine as veteran Birendra Lakra earns his 200th cap Tokyo Olympics 2020: UAE’s Yousef Al Matrooshi takes third spot in 100m freestyle heat Tokyo Olympics 2020: Open champion Collin Morikawa says he learnt from PGA slump Tokyo Olympics 2020: Swimmer Tom Dean beats COVID twice to win gold Borgohain is a two-time world and Asian championships bronze medallist and will next face Chinese Taipei’s Nien-Chin Chen, who is seeded fourth and a former world champion, on July 30 (Friday). In badminton, Indian men’s doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty failed to qualify for the quarter finals despite a win over Great Britain today on the basis of winning fewer sets. Chinese Taipei, Indonesia and India have won two matches each in their group. Shooting community disappointed Meanwhile, the disappointing show of Indian evoked sharp criticism from former Olympians as Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary crashed out of 10m Air Pistol Mixed team event after finishing seventh in the second stage of qualification round. The other Indian pair of Yashaswini Deswal and Abhishek Verma was knocked out in the first stage of 10m Air Pistol Mixed team event as they finished 17th. “Now, I would call it a disaster! This (10m air pistol mixed team event) was a calculated and biggest hope from #Shooting #TeamIndia and lets not blame luck… rather everything gained after this can come with the little help of luck!,” tweeted Jaideep Karmakar, who missed a bronze at London 2012 by a whisker and competed in more than 25 World Cups and is the recipient of the Arjuna Award. Top pistol shooter Heena Sidhu, whose husband Ronak Pandit is the coach of the Indian pistol team in Tokyo, tweeted, “Disappointing show at the 10m range today. Bad bad day for Indian Shooting Saurabh did well, he needed Manu to perform at her end. Disappointing.” In men’s hockey, the Indian team bounced back after a 7-1 rout to Australia to beat Spain 3-0 on Tuesday.

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England Test series: For Suryakumar Yadav, the call-up is better late than never

ICC|: Kolkata: The wheels of fortune seems to have come a full circle for Suryakumar Yadav. From depths of despair last November when he became a talking point after being ignored for the white ball series in Australia on the back of IPL 2020 in the UAE, the Mumbai batsman - alongwith opener Prithvi Shaw - are on the verge of taking a direct flight to the UK from Sri Lanka on a SoS from the Indian team management there. Yadav, now 30, was so disappointed at missing the cut despite been one of the pillars behind the Mumbai Indians’ success in the IPL - that his stare-off at Virat Kohli, the Royal Challengers Bangalore captain, got amplified in the Indian cricket media was as if he was trying to make a statement. Ravi Shastri, the Indian head coach, had gone on record that Surya’s time will come and the cricketer himself admitted later that he perhaps let the disappointment get better of him. MORE ON CRICKET I'm not afraid to use the slower ball in T20 cricket, says Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi ahead of West Indies series IPL 2021 in UAE: Chennai-Mumbai match to restart league on September 19 Manoj Tiwary, a state minister who wants to take fresh guard in cricket Ravindra Jadeja hits second fifty as India tour match ends in draw In less than nine months, the scenario has undergone a dramatic transformation. Thrust into the No.3 role in the white ball series against England at home, ‘SKY,’ as he is popular among his teammates - looked like a man in supreme touch with an allround ability to keep the scoreboard moving as well as some audacious strokeplay. The streak continued in the one-day series against Sri Lanka in July and with the Indian team management desperately looking for a back-up in the Test team’s middle order with Ajinkya Rahane’s hamstring playing up and Cheteshwar Pujara’s form matter of concern - Surya seemed to be a popular choice. A strange turn for fate for Surya - whose white ball form may have opened the doors for a Test call-up - though he is actually more than that. Not many may remember that Surya has paid his dues to first class cricket structure of India and has been actually a product of that. It was more than a decade back in 2010, at the age of 20, Surya was seen as next big thing in Mumbai batting line-up as in his first full Ranji season, he averaged a stunning 68.54, outscoring giants of the domestic set-up like a Wasim Jaffer or Abhishek Nayar. However, his red-ball career has never hit the heights it should have, but an average of 56.44 and the unbelievable one of 95.13 in his last Ranji season (2019-20) should put paid to the claims that he’s only fit for white ball cricket. Suryakumar Yadav (right) and Hardik Pandya celebrate after closing a match for Mumbai Indians in IPL. Image Credit: AFP May be, it did not help Surya’s case that the likes of Virat Kohli himself, Pujara, Rahane were trying to break into the Test squad almost around the same time - a problem of plenty which shut the doors on a batsman like Rohit Sharma for so long in Test cricket. There is no guarantee that Surya will eventually get a look-in as both KL Rahul and Hanuma Vihari have been part of the set-up for so long, but he has the right blend of experience and strokes to deliver should the chance come. A possible Test debut will see Surya join the likes of Shardul Thakur and Natarajan - Indian players who have played all three formats in 2021. Even if he doesn’t, the Indian team management can rest easy with the thought that someone like him is waiting in the wings in the longer format - where the Indian middle order suddenly doesn’t look as invincible as before.

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Tokyo Olympics 2020 hockey: India shine as veteran Birendra Lakra earns his 200th cap

olympics|Sport|: Kolkata: It was a right day for Birendra Lakra, veteran defender of Indian men’s hockey team, to earn his 200th international cap on Tuesday as his team stayed in the hunt for a spot in the quarter finals with a dominant 3-0 win over Spain at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Picking themselves up from a shattering 7-1 loss against Australia on Sunday, the Blue Shirts bounced back in style as they outclassed Spain 3-0 in their third match to pick up their second win in three matches. Rupinder Pal Singh hit a double and Simranjeet Singh scored for India while goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh ensured a clean sheet to bring their campaign back on track. “It gives me immense joy and satisfaction to be getting a chance to play my 200th international match for India in an event like the Olympics. I couldn’t have achieved this feat without my teammates, family and Hockey India’s support. I would like to thank each and everyone involved in this wonderful journey and I want to continue to give my best to the team and make proud fans back home by finishing at the podium,” said Lakra ahead of the match against Spain. MORE ON TOKYO 2020 Tokyo Olympics 2020: Big week for UAE in pool, on track and on mat Tokyo Olympics 2020: Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz wins first ever Olympic gold for Philippines Tokyo Olympics 2020 at a glance: Day 4 - major moments and updates as Naomi Osaka crashes out and GB grab more gold Currently the joint vice-captain along with drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh in Tokyo, Lakra made his debut for the senior national team in the 2010 South Asian Games and has been part of India’s various memorable moments such as the 2014 Asian Games glory, bronze medal in the World League Final 2015 in Raipur and a silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. He was also part of the Indian team that won the FIH Men’s Series Finals in Bhubaneswar in 2019. The 31-year-old, who has been one of the vital cogs in the Indian defence, also featured in 2012 Olympic Games as well as the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup in 2014 and 2018, respectively. Lakra, however, missed out on the Rio Olympics 2016 due to a knee injury but made a strong comeback in less than eight months during the Indian team’s 2016 Asian Champions Trophy campaign where they beat Pakistan in the final. India's Rupinder Pal Singh (second left) being congratulated after scoring one of his two goals against Spain. Image Credit: Supplied photo Meanwhile, Indian Chief Coach Graham Reid thanked his team for a ‘‘better result’’ on Tuesday but felt there are still areas of concern. ‘‘The fact that we gave too many corners, that’s always a concern when that happens. But the team did really well in terms of defending the penalty corners. The first quarter was played very well, we could move the ball really well and it was exactly what we planned to do. ‘‘I think 2-0 is the worse score in hockey because after that, we were relaxed and we struggled a bit in the second and third quarter to get back in the game. We managed to do that in the fourth quarter and tried to play simple hockey and that’s what we ended up doing,’’ said the Australian. India will take on defending Olympic Champions Argentina next in their fourth Pool A match on Thursday (July 29) at 0600hrs IST (4.30 am UAE), The Indian women’s hockey team, meanwhile, slumped to their second defeat when they wasted chances galore, including a penalty stroke, to go down 2-0 in their Group A match on Monday. They had earlier lost 5-1 to Netherlands.

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Japan tennis star Naomi Osaka crashes out of Tokyo Olympics

Tennis|: Tokyo: Japan's Naomi Osaka suffered a 6-1, 6-4 defeat to Marketa Vondrousova in the third round of the Tokyo Games on Tuesday, crushing her dreams of winning Olympic gold at home. Osaka, who lit the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony, struggled in an error-strewn display under the centre court roof at Ariake Tennis Park and was knocked out in 68 minutes. She made a dreadful start by dropping serve in the opening game. The second seed was broken twice more as 2019 French Open runner-up Vondrousova raced away with the first set. Osaka broke in the second set but relinquished the early advantage with a double fault that allowed Vondrousova to level at two games apiece. The 23-year-old four-time Grand Slam winner grappled with inconsistency, and even when given a sniff of regaining the initiative she had no response to Vondrousova's array of crafty drop shots. Osaka saved two match points as she served to stay alive at 4-5 but Vondrousova converted at the third time of asking as the Japanese star smacked a backhand wide. The defeat comes after a turbulent few months for Osaka, who first refused to attend press conferences at the French Open and then said she was taking time out from tennis as she battled depression and anxiety. She missed Wimbledon but returned for the Olympic tournament and had seemed back on her game in the early rounds in Tokyo. Vondrousova, ranked 42nd, will go on to face Spain's Paula Badosa or Nadia Podoroska of Argentina.