Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Iron-Fisted And Female, Boxing Breaks Through

November 13, 2010

Guangzhou, Nov 13 : MC Mary Kom is a five-time world champion, a mother of two with a single burning ambition – to become one of the first Asian Games champions in women’s boxing.

After being added to the programme for the 2012 London Olympics, women’s boxing makes its Games debut in Guangzhou with three titles up for grabs, in flyweight (48-51kg), lightweight (56-60kg) and middleweight (69-75kg).

“This is a very big opportunity for me. A gold medal here will keep my motivation level high for the London Olympics in 2012,” said the 27-year-old fighter.

It’s been a tough road to the top for Kom, known as “Magnificent Mary” in India.

The daughter of poor farmers, she grew up in the north-east of India, next to the border with Myanmar where her parents still endure back-breaking work on the fields.

A fan of actor Jackie Chan, Kom gravitated towards boxing and used her natural strength to good effect, a legacy of her chores of chopping wood or making charcoal to help her family make ends meet in her troubled region.

“She never told us she’d taken up boxing,” her father Tonpa told the BBC from the family home in Kangathei, a village in Manipur state.

“We only found out when we read in the papers of her success in a local competition.

“In fact, I didn’t really want to encourage her to become a sportsperson because I thought it would cost a lot of money, more than we could afford.”

Kom’s fierce determination to succeed quickly killed off any suggestions she should retire after giving birth to twins.

“I can’t imagine life without boxing. I always knew I would come back and I am planning to continue as long as my body permits me,” she said recently.

Boxing academy

Kom has also been trying to divert youngsters into the sport in her home region by setting up a boxing academy.

“I want to be able to provide things for the children, provide them with the equipment,” said Kom.

“At the academy I try and provide a family background. I want to help out.”

Chinese women picked up one gold, three silvers and three bronzes at the recent world championships in Barbados and will start as heavy favourites to dominate here.

In the flyweight final in the Caribbean, Ren Cancan made Chinese history, becoming the nation’s first two-time women’s world champion.

Mary Kom Gets Taste of Team Spirit

November 12, 2010

mary kom GuanghzouGuanghzou, Nov 12 : She is a five-time world champion, but her excitement at the prospect of competing in the Asian Games, one almost feels like Mary Kom is taking part in her first tournament.

The thrill for the seasoned women’s boxing champion is in being a part of the Indian contingent.

“It’s the first time women’s boxing is a part of the Games. Everytime I have been at boxing events alone, this time it is different. It’s great to stay and travel with the Indian contingent. It’s a great feeling to represent your country,” said Mary.

Nicknamed ‘Magnificent Mary’ for her outstanding exploits in the boxing ring, the Manipur woman is being seen a sure-shot contender for gold.

No wonder, she was the star attraction at India’s flag raising ceremony held at the Games Village on Thursday.Draped in a pink saree, Mary looked a typical Indian housewife from the North East, certainly nowhere close to the ferocious fighter she turns into once inside the ring.

But the cat was out of the bag soon: “I don’t know how to wear the saree. My friends helped me out with it.”

Mary has won four of her World Boxing Championship titles in the 46kg category and the last one, this September, she won in the 48kg category. In the Asian Games here, she will be competing in the 51kg category. “I never competed in the 51kg category that’s why there’s a little bit of pressure, but I am still confident. I have the experience too. So, I feel I can make up.”

The Indian star termed the Chinese and Phillipines boxers as her main challengers.

“I have done my homework. I know that the Chinese and the Phillipines boxers are good. Especially, the Chinese, who have quick reaction and are strong in counter-attack. Their movement is very fast.”

For the 27-year-old Mary, winning the gold medal will be fulfilling her childhood dream. It was her state champion, Dingko Singh’s gold medal win at the 1998 Asian Games that had fuelled her desire to become a boxer. She has had a great career. An Asian Games medal win will be an icing on the cake.

Khel Ratna to Saina Nehwal

November 9, 2010

Saina Nehwal

The Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Dr. M.S. Gill gave away the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for the year 2010 to Ms. Saina Nehwal.

Saina Nehwal received Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.

Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal on Monday received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award from Sports Minister M S Gill after missing out on the August 29 ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan due to the World Championships in Paris.

“Dr M S Gill, Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, gave away Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for the year 2010 to Ms Saina Nehwal at a simple ceremony here today,” the Sports Ministry said in a statement.

“As she was in Paris taking part in World Championship when the National Sports Awards were conferred by the President of India on August 29, she could not receive the Award on that occasion. In view of this, the Award was conferred on her today,” it added.

The award carries a medal, citation and cash prize of Rs 7.5 lakh.

Sheffield FC to Play Against Lajong FC and Assam XI

November 8, 2010

sexecNew Delhi, Nov 8 : English football club Sheffield FC will play against Lajong FC of Shillong and an Assam XI team after participating in the Platinum Jubilee Cup in Kolkata, a tournament organised to commemorate Mohammedan Sporting’s 75 years of existence.

“They are scheduled to reach Guwahati on November 17th and will play against Assam XI team at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Sarusajai on November 18,” said All India Football Federation (AIFF) vice-president and Assam Football Association general secretary Ankur Dutta.

Following the three-day Platinum Jubilee Cup in Kolkata, where Sheffield FC will play against East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting on knock-out basis, the world’s oldest football club will fly to Shillong via Guwahati and play an exhibition match at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium there on November 16. They will then play a match in Guwahati on November 18.

“I am not sure about the make of the Sheffield squad that will be visiting here but some good players will be there for sure for the exhibition matches and that will be a good exposure,” Dutta said from Guwahati.

The English club had, in August, tied up with the Jamshedpur-based Tata Football Academy (TFA), the country’s premier soccer school, which has been producing quality players for years with the aim to impart professional training to TFA coaches and cadets.

The tie-up is initially for three years after which it may be continued on the interest of both the academies. As a part of this tie-up, SUFC is supposed to formulate a 12-month programme on coaching, fitness and professional development of coaches.

The tie-up has also opened up an opportunity for the selected trainees to appear in trials in England.

The training sessions include lessons on strategy for player recruitment, identification and profiling.

Lajong Invites Sikkim Players For Manchester Qualifiers

October 28, 2010

lajong FCLajong FC coach Pradhyum Reddy gives soccer tips to players of Gangtok Boys Club at Paljor Stadium in Gangtok on Wednesday. Picture by Prabin Khaling

Gangtok, Oct 28 : Shillong Lajong FC will invite selected boys from Sikkim for trials to set up an Under-15 side from the Northeast keeping an eye on the India leg of the Manchester United Premier Cup.

MUPC is organised annually by English Premier League giant Manchester United where selected countries, including India, participate. The Lajong Under-15 side had represented India in the last edition of the qualifying tournament. The players were mostly from Meghalaya at that time.

According to Lajong FC coach Pradhyum Reddy, only I-League teams are eligible to field their Under-15 teams for the MUPC qualifiers and therefore, young players from the northeastern states including Sikkim do not get an opportunity to play in the India leg and eventually in the MUPC.

Although the Shillong outfit has been relegated from the I-League, the coach believes that his side will be allowed to play the qualifiers for the MUPC by virtue of being the defending champions of the India leg tournament. “We want to give a chance to players from Sikkim and other northeastern states. We will go all over the region to scout for talents. These kids are the future of Indian football. Even if we are not allowed to participate in the MUPC qualifiers, we will take our players to various youth tournaments of other countries,” Reddy said.

The Lajong coach said they had written to the Gangtok Boys Club to send few of their talented players for trials to Shillong in December.

“We want to set up an Under-15 side comprising players from all the eight northeastern states for playing in the MUPC India qualifying round,” Reddy said here today.

He attended an almost two-hour-long coaching camp for the Under-14 and Under-16 players of the Gangtok club at Paljor Stadium here this morning.

The Shillong club is in Gangtok to participate in the All India Governor’s Gold Cup Football Tournament. It drubbed Sikkim Police 4-0 in yesterday’s match and entered the quarter-final round.

The Lajong coach and a few of his key players, including striker Anil Gurung, goalkeeper Gumpe Rime, Nigerian imports Kelechi Okoye and Michael Ochei Emeka, passed on technical tips and demonstrated their skills over ball control to the 45 young players of the Gangtok club at the stadium.

“They were good with sound technical skills. We concentrate on giving the technical tips. Everything we did today was with the ball. They have potentials,” Reddy later said commenting on the Sikkim players’ ability.

The Lajong club has also persuaded the Sikkim Football Association to give free passes to the Gangtok club players to watch the matches.

“It was wonderful to learn from the Lajong coach and players. We learnt new techniques like how to control, trap and dribble the ball. It was very helpful,” said Lakpa Sherpa, 16.

The Gangtok club had started a football academy two years ago and the players practised daily at the Tathangchen grounds under the watchful eyes of former players of Sikkim.

“We give our boys free training daily. We run the academy on our own and also on contributions from individual donors. The team has shown great progress and in a couple of years, these boys will be ready to play in tournaments,” said club general secretary Nima Thendup Bhutia, who had been part of the Calcutta giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.

Saina’s Ad Value is Rs 1 Crore Per Deal

October 28, 2010

Saina’s brand value soars after CWG success

There is great news for lovers of ‘other sports’ in India. It is not just cricket or Sania Mirza ruling the endorsement market in India. Badminton sensation Saina Nehwal has joined the bandwagon too. The ace shuttler is in super demand and has crossed the Rs 1 crore mark

Saina's brand value nears Rs. 1cr; to endorse Airtel, 4 more firms

New Delhi: Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal is turning out to be a hot property in the celebrity endorsement market after a string of successes this year, most notably the gold medal she secured in the recently concluded Commonwealth Games.

Telecom giant Airtel is the latest in a series of corporates that have signed on the World No. 3 as a brand ambassador and Saina’s endorsement value is understood to have reached the Rs. 1 crore per deal mark.

“She is really in demand. A lot of companies want to associate with her. She has already signed up with Airtel and at least four firms operating in areas such as food and infrastructure will come on board very soon. Corporates are willing to pay that kind of money.” Deccan Chargers Sporting Ventures Media Coordinator H Manjula said.

Deccan Chargers Sporting Ventures handles Saina’s account. Saina already endorses the Deccan Chronicle newspaper, Adani Wilmar’s Fortune edible oil and Herbal life’s nutritional product range.

Saina's brand value nears Rs. 1cr; to endorse Airtel, 4 more firms

According to industry analysts, Saina, who was charging around Rs. 50 lakh per endorsement, is now able to command Rs. 1 crore per deal after her CWG win. The higher rate is also supported by Saina’s hat-trick of wins at the Indian Open, Singapore Open and the Indonesia Open Super Series in June this year.

Saina herself agrees that her popularity has enhanced her brand equity. “Yes, after winning the titles, my fee has gone up and I am getting a lot of endorsements now. I am happy that there is demand being created for sports persons other than cricketers,” Saina said.

According to her, the Airtel commercials will be shot after she returns from the Asian Games to be held in China from November 12.

The deal with Airtel catapults Saina into the club of leading sports and Bollywood celebrities, including Shahrukh Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan and A R Rahman, who are either associated with the brand or have been in the past.

Saina's brand value nears Rs. 1cr; to endorse Airtel, 4 more firms

Gujarat-based Adani Wilmar, which signed on Saina as its brand ambassador for a one-year period for about Rs. 50 lakh in August, also said it is open to extending the association with her.

“Though it is premature to say whether we will look at carrying on with her as the brand ambassador in the second year, we might look at that,” Adani Wilmar COO Anshu Malik said.

He said the company chose to hire Saina as she is a fresh face in the market of brand endorsements and fits the brand’s profile.

In 2006, Saina arrived on the global scene when she became the first Indian woman to win a 4-star tournament –the Philippines Open. In 2008, she became the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships and was also the first Indian woman to reach the quarter-finals in the Olympics.

Source: PTI

Of Young Guns, Big Stage, Bigger Dreams

October 27, 2010

By Shubhodeep Chakravarty

astroturf at the National stadiumNew Delhi, Oct 27 : Fifteen-year-old Kuashi Behero is playing the best hockey of her life.

From practicing on the patchy grass-covered field in her school back home in Mizoram to showcasing her talents on the astroturf at the National stadium, Behero says the feeling of playing on the same pitch as international stars is both daunting and exhilarating.

While many questions were raised on costs, deadline delays and shoddy standards of work at venues in the run up to the Commonwealth Games, schoolgirls like Behero, participating in the Nehru Junior Girls Cup, are certainly not complaining. After all, it’s not everyday that they get to see, let alone play in a stadium, which is world class.

“Back home, the playfield is smaller though the comparison is unfair. Playing here has helped me familiarise with astroturf, running the full length of a hockey field and getting a feel of an actual stadium setting,” says Behero and adds that she likes to imagine the stadium jam packed with people shouting her name.

The exposure that participating schoolgirls are getting through the tournament is crucial.

But what really makes the experience count is that they are testing their mettle in the renovated stadium that has all the facilities required of a stadium of international standard, in place.

“In Holland, you can take your team to the stadiums, pay a nominal fee and make use of the grounds. No wonder their raw pool of talent is strong as well. While not the case here, such tournaments in this sort of a venue can help nurture stars of tomorrow,” said an official present here on Tuesday.

And potential stars don’t just come from urban pockets of the country. With teams from certain tribal belts also participating, the magnitude of exposure widens further and, with it, the scope for emerging talent.

Teams from obscure places like Chote Udepur, Kawant, Thenzwal and many more have several players on their maiden visit to the capital and have coped well with what has been the biggest tournament of their young lives thus far.

“I want to play professional hockey but it would help if more of these turfs are set up back home. They are different and it takes a while to adjust but this has been an amazing trip for all of us,” says striker Aruna Sahu from Rourkela in Orissa.

While at approximately $75,000 (Rs 33 lakh) each, astroturfs may take a long time to trickle down to smaller centres in the country, the teenaged girls at the National Stadium are eager to soak in all that is on offer for the short duration.

Mary Kom Sure of a Podium Finish in Asian Games

October 24, 2010

M C MARY KOM Lucknow, Oct 24 : Boxer M.C. Mary Kom wants to win gold at the forthcoming Asian Games in China before she eyes the Olympic gold in 2012. “These two are on my mind and I am putting all my efforts towards achieving them,” Mary Kom told HT here on Saturday. “It’s not going to be easy for me at the Asian Games as

boxers from China, Thailand and Malaysia are pretty good. But I am sure of a podium finish,” she said.

Mary Kom, who competes in the 51 kg category, said she was paying a lot of attention to her fitness.

“I have little time to prepare for the Games. I am concentrating on technique, planning and speed,” said Mary.

The five-time world champion boxer admitted that defending the world title this year wasn’t easy at all. “Coming back from motherhood to win the title was tough. People discouraged me, including my father, by saying that I should focus on raising my family. People laughed at me when I said I want to win another title. I took it as a challenge.”

“The geoghraphical environment of Manipur inspires people of the area to opt for power sports. Sports is in our blood,” she said.

Angry Mob Threatens Wayne Rooney At His Home: Report

October 23, 2010

WAYNE ROONEY-THREATENED-ANGRY-MOB An angry mob threatened the life of soccer star Wayne Rooney at his home on Thursday night, according to The Telegraph (UK).

The mob reportedly gathered outside Rooney’s mansion and chanted, “Join Man City and you die.”

Cheshire police were called to the scene to clear the mob, which “consisted of men wearing balaclavas and Eric Cantona-masks,” according to the report.

Rooney agreed to a new contract with Manchester United today, shortly after it was reported that the 24-year-old told chief executive David Gill that he wanted to leave the team.

Lajong FC Plans to Bring in Young Players

October 23, 2010

By Andrew W. Lyngdoh

Shillong_Lajong FC meghalaya Shillong, Oct 23 : Shillong Lajong FC will look to invest in its young guns for long-term gains in the soccer circuit and strive to salvage its place in the prestigious I-League.

Scotland-born Lajong coach, Pradhyum Reddy, today said that Lajong would embark on building a set-up for long-term gains in soccer through intensive training of players of the under-15 and under-19 teams.

“The pool of talent that we have should be systematically synchronised to ensure that we have a strong team in the near future,” Reddy said.

He returned to India last year after a decade of coaching experience in the US, the UK and Brazil. He was also part of a select group of coaches chosen to work alongside the academy coaches of Liverpool, Chelsea and Celtic.

Reddy was invited to work with the club’s youth team in April where he had a brief stint working with the under-15 and under-19 boys, helping them prepare for the Manchester United Premier Cup and Under-19 I-League. Now, he is involved in training the senior players for different tournaments like the upcoming 32nd Governor’s Gold Cup in Sikkim and working towards salvaging Lajong’s place in the I-League circuit.

“You need to have a strong foundation in order to sustain. If you don’t have a proper foundation, the team becomes unstable,” Reddy said when asked about his views on Lajong’s short spell in the I-League.

Reddy said Lajong has been using its under-19 players for the ongoing Shillong Premiere League, who would then be inducted into the senior team.

Under-19 lads like Henry Marboh, Jenga Rongmei and Gaiham Rongmei have been included in the senior team for the Sikkim tournament.

Fascinated by the huge soccer fan following in the Northeast and Meghalaya in particular, Reddy said the region was richly endowed with soccer talent thatneeds to be suitably harnessed.