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Neeraj, Manika, Sanjeev delight: 3 boxing gold, 2 wrestling gold swell India’s pride

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Neeraj Chopra

Gold Coast, April 14 : Neeraj Chopra and Manika Batra clinched India’s first-ever gold medals in men’s javelin throw and women’s singles table tennis respectively while boxers Vikas Krishan, M.C. Mary Kom and Gaurav Solanki claimed top podium finishes. Golden wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Sumit Kumar and shooter Sanjeev Rajput took third-placed India’s tally to 59 medals (25 gold, 16 silver, 18 bronze) at the end of Day 10 of the 21st Commonwealth Games here on Saturday.

Among other success stories, defending champions Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa stormed into the final of women’s doubles category while Dipika and Saurav Ghosal clinched silver in the mixed doubles, even as both the men’s and the women’s hockey teams lost to England in the bronze medal matches.

Moreover, shuttlers P.V. Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth and men’s doubles pair of Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty reached the finals while the women’s doubles combine of Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy bagged the bronze medal.

Paddlers also had a great day, with the men’s doubles pairs of Achanta Sharath Kamal and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan, and Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shankar Shetty bagged the silver and bronze medal respectively on a day three boxers Satish Kumar (91kg), Amit Panghal (49kg) and Manish Kaushik (60kg) settled for silvers.

However, Mary, a five-time world champion, defeated Kristina O’Hara of Northern Ireland by a unanimous 5:0 verdict to take the women’s 48kg title in probably her final CWG campaign.

Vikas defeated Dieudonne Wilfried Seyi Ntsengue of Cameroon by a 5:0 unanimous verdict in a close contest in the 75kg category, while Gaurav (52kg) won by a split 4:1 verdict against Brendan Irvine of Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, India’s Manish had to be content with silver in the men’s lightweight (60kg) division after losing 2:3 to Harry Garside of Australia in a hard-fought final.

Amit finished with the silver medal after losing 1:3 to England’s Galai Yafai in the final, while Satish lost the final of the 91kg category, losing 0-5 by unanimous verdict to England’s Frazer Clarke. This is the first time India got a silver medal in the super heavyweight category in the CWG.

Apart from these six boxers, three others, Muhammed Hussamuddin, Naman Tanwar and Manoj Kumar claimed bronze medals on Friday as Indian completed its boxing campaign with nine medals.

In athletics, javelin thrower Neeraj delighted the country as he registered his season’s best performance of 86.47 metres to win the final, while Vipin Kashana, the other Indian in the fray, took the fifth spot with an attempt of 77.87m.

Jinson Johnson set a new national record of 3 minutes and 37.86 seconds while taking the fifth spot in the men’s 1,500m final. Promising Arpinder Singh also missed a podium spot in the men’s triple jump with a a best attempt of 16.46m to finish fourth.

Shooter Sanjeev Rajput clinched the gold medal in men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions, shooting a total of 454.5 to create a meet record, while Chain Singh, the other Indian in the fray, finished fifth with 419.1.

But the Indian contingent had to return empty-handed from the men’s Trap event as Kynan Chenai and Manavjit Sandhu failed to qualify for the final.

Rajput’s medal was India’s 16th medal in shooting, which includes seven gold medals as the event came to close here.

In wrestling, Sumit won all his four bouts in the Nordic (round robin) format to emerge champion. Korey Jarvis of Canada got the silver while Pakistan’s Tayab Raza took the bronze.

Among the women, Vinesh won gold in the 50kg competition as she ended at the top of the standings at the end of the Nordic format.

Somveer bagged bronze in the men’s 86kg division, defeating Alexander Moore of Canada 7-3 in the bronze medal play-off.

Rio Olympics medallist Sakshi Malik took the bronze medal in the women’s 62kg category.

In badminton, it was yet another superb show, with at least a gold medal assured as World No.3 Sindhu will meet seasoned compatriot and World No.12 Saina in an all-Indian women’s singles final on Sunday.

While Olympic 2016 silver medallist Sindhu thrashed Canada’s Michelle Li 21-18, 21-8 in the semi-final, Saina overcame Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour, winning by 21-14, 18-21, 21-17.

In the men’s singles, World No.1 Srikanth set his final date with Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei. While Srikanth registered an easy 21-10, 21-17 victory over England’s Rajiv Ouseph, Chong Wei overcame World No.11 Prannoy 21-16, 9-21, 21-14.

Prannoy then lost to World No.22 Ouseph 21-17, 23-25, 9-21 in the bronze medal match at the Carrara Sports Arena here.

In the men’s doubles, Satwik and Chirag thrashed Sri Lanka’s Sachin Dias and Buwaneka Goonethilleka 21-18, 21-10 to enter the final.

Ashwini and Sikki bagged the women’s doubles bronze medal, beating Australians Setyana Mapasa and Gronya Somerville 21-19, 21-19.

Ashwini and Satwik had a poor day in the mixed doubles, losing their semi-final as well as the bronze medal playoff.

In squash, the women’s doubles pair of Dipika and Joshna beat England’s Laura Massaro and Sarah-Jane Perry 11-10, 11-5 to seal their place in the final.

However, in the mixed doubles category, Dipika, who then partnered Saurav Ghosal and settled for a silver, losing 8-11, 10-11 to Australia’s Donna Urquhart and Cameron Pilley in the final.

In hockey, the Indian men’s team lost 1-2 to England, while the women’s team suffered a 0-6 thrashing.

In the men’s category, Sam Ward (sixth, 43rd minutes) twice converted penalty corners to give England the win over India, who had restored parity in the 26th minute later with a successful penalty corner conversion from Varun Kumar.

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Ozil quits international football amid furore over photo with Erdogan

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Mesut Ozil with Tayyip Erdogan

Berlin, July 23 (IANS) Germany’s attacking midfielder Mesut Ozil announced his retirement from international football on Sunday, a month-and-a-half after his photo with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sparked a controversy.

The 29-year-old Ozil, a cornerstone of Germany under coach Joachim Low, announced his decision on Twitter, after defending the photo taken with Erdogan and Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan in May, reports Efe.

“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect. I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement but now I don’t,” the Arsenal star said.

“This decision has been extremely difficult to make because I have always given everything for my teammates, the coaching staff and the good people of Germany. But when high-ranking officials of the DFB (the German football federation) treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into a political propaganda, then enough is enough,a he added.

The photograph was interpreted by some critics as Ozil’s explicit support for Erdogan’s re-election campaign amid ongoing tense relations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Having a picture with president Erdogan wasn’t about politics or elections. It was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country,” Ozil said in a lengthy statement on his official Twitter account earlier in the day.

Ozil is considered a symbol of integration in Germany, where people of Turkish descent make up the biggest immigrant community, numbering 3.5 million, half of whom retain their right to vote in Turkey.

Ozil slammed DFB president Reinhard Grindel, who he accused of trying to benefit his own political views. He also accused the DFB president of racism.

“I know that Grindel wanted me out the team after the picture, and publicised his view on Twitter without any thinking or consultation, but Low and (director) Oliver Bierhoff stood up for me and backed me,” he revealed.

“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.”

Low decided to keep both players on his 2018 FIFA World Cup squad even though fans raised doubts about Ozil’s loyalty to the German national team.

The controversy haunted both players during the World Cup and Germany’s early exit from the tournament added fuel to the fire.

“Are there criteria for being fully German that I do not fit?” Ozil asked. “My friend Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose are never referred to as German-Polish, so why am I German-Turkish? Is it because it is Turkey? Is it because I’m a Muslim?”

Since his debut in 2009, Ozil has appeared in 92 matches for Germany’s national team, scoring 23 goals. He was part of Germany’s World Cup-winning squad in 2014.A

Ozil was also part of the German squads which reached the semi-finals of 2014 World Cup and two European Championships in 2012 and 2016.

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Sprinter Anas sets new national record

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Muhammed-Anas

Prague, July 21 (IANS) India’s star sprinter Muhammed Anas reset the national record on his way to the gold medal in the men’s 400 metre category at the Cena Noveho Mesta nad Metuji meet here on Saturday.

Anas clocked a time of 45.24 seconds to break his own record of 45.31, set at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia earlier this year where he finished fourth.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) took to social media to congratulate Anas.

“Congrats Mohd. ANAS for breaking his own 400m #Indian record in #Czech Rep. New Record-45.24s, Previous Best-45.31s Congrats coach Galina Bukharina for success of #HimaDas and #Anas!,” the AFI wrote on Twitter.

Anas had broken the national record earlier as well when he clocked 45.40 seconds at the Polish Athletics Championship in June 2016. That performance saw the Kerala athlete become the third Indian after the legendary Milkha Singh and K.M. Binu to qualify for the Olympics in the men’s 400m category.

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Hockey World Cup: Indian women’s team to face hosts England

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India vs England Womens Hockey

London, July 21: The mood among the Indian women’s hockey team is upbeat as they are set to take on hosts England in their opening match of the World Cup here on Saturday.

India, grouped in Pool B, will take on World No.16 Ireland on 26 July followed by World No.7 US on 29 July apart from facing the Olympic Champions England in their home ground on the opening day of the prestigious tournament.

“The pressure will be on England and not on us,” asserted Indian Team skipper Rani Rampal on the eve of the match.

“Yes they will have the home ground advantage but we are not new to playing in front of big crowds. We have done well against England before and we will carry the confidence of doing well in our recent tournaments including the CWG where we had tasted victory against England in the Group Stage in Gold Coast.

“We will go into the match with the belief that we can beat them. We just need to make sure we don’t make silly mistakes like we did in the Bronze Medal match at the CWG which cost us the game,” Rani added .

India’s previous appearance at the FIH World Cup was in 2010 when the event was held in Argentina.

Rani then was the cynosure of India’s ninth-place performance as she had scored maximum of seven goals for the team during the course of the tournament.

While there will be a lot riding on Rani during the World Cup 2018 too, she has a unit that has shown confidence-inspiring performance over the past two years where India even climbed to a career-best ranking of World No.10.

After having arrived in London a week prior to the start of the tournament, the Indian Team has had good training sessions at the event venue Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Stadium including two practice matches against Australia and Belgium.

“We have had good match practice against two of the top teams in the World. The team is upbeat and excited ahead of the first match and right now, our only focus is to do well against England. We have played USA and Ireland too in the past and have specific game plan against them. But for now, our focus is on the first match,” Rani said.

IANS

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