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Soumya says No to headscarf, Withdraws from Iran event

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New Delhi, June 13 : Woman Grandmaster and former world junior girls’ champion Soumya Swaminathan has pulled out of the Asian Team Chess Championship, to be held in Hamadan, Iran, from July 26 to August 4 as she refused to follow country’s strict Islamic dress code of wearing a headscarf.

Terming the Islamic country’s “compulsory headscarf” rule violative of her personal rights, the 29-year-old,“I do not wish to be forced to wear a headscarf or burqa. I find the Iranian law of compulsory headscarf to be in direct violation of my basic human rights, including my right to freedom of expression and right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is to not go to Iran.”

Here is what Soumya Swaminathan wrote on her Facebook page about her decision.

“I am very sorry to state that I have asked to be excused from the Indian Women’s team for the forthcoming Asian Nations Cup ( Asian Team ) Chess Championship 2018, to be held at Iran from 26 July – 4 Aug 2018, as I do not wish to be forced to wear a Headscarf or Burkha. I find the Iranian law of compulsory Headscarf to be in direct violation of my basic Human Rights including my right to freedom of expression, and right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is not to go to Iran.

I am very disappointed to see that player’s rights and welfare are given such less importance while allotting and/or organising official championships. I understand the organisers expecting us to wear our National Team Dress or Formals or Sporting attire for our games during official championships, but surely there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in Sports.

It is a huge honour for me to represent India everytime I am selected in the National Team and I deeply regret that I will be unable to participate in such an important championship. While we sportspersons are willing to make several adjustments for the sake of our sport, always giving it top priority in our life, some things simply cannot be compromised.”

This is not the first time an athlete pulled out of an event over the same issue. In 2016, top Indian shooter Heena Sidhu had withdrawn from the Asian Airgun meet in Iran citing the same reason.

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Lionel Messi named best La Liga player in September

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Messi

Madrid, Oct 17:  Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi on Wednesday was named the best player in the Spanish football league for the month of September, La Liga said in a statement.

Messi is to receive the award in Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium ahead of Saturday’s clash with Sevilla, reports Efe.

“Leo Messi, the FC Barcelona forward, has been named the La Liga Santander Player of the Month for September,” La Liga said via their website.

“The Argentine scoops the first prize of the 2018/2019 season after an impressive start to the campaign which saw his side go to the top of the standings,” the statement added.

Messi scored three La Liga goals last month, one against Girona and a brace against Huesca, as well as collecting four assists.

Barcelona holds the second spot in the Spanish league table with 15 points, one point behind Sevilla.

IANS

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Wrestlers Bajrang, Sakshi to lead Indian challenge at World C’ships

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Bajrang Punia Sakshi Malik

New Delhi, Oct 16 : Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik and Asian Games gold medallist Bajrang Punia will spearhead the 30-member Indian contingent at the World Wrestling Championships to be held in Budapest, Hungary from October 20 to 28.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has selected 10 members each in freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s wrestling categories.

The burden of India’s medal hunt at the worlds will mostly be on the shoulders of Bajrang (65kg) and Sandeep Tomar (57kg) in the men’s freestyle category.

In the women’s section, Sakshi (62kg), Pooja Dhanda (57kg) and Ritu Phogat (50kg) are expected to be strong medal contenders in their respective weight categories.

Ritu is the only Phogat sister to feature in the squad as Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh was ruled out because of an elbow injury during the trials.

Four wrestlers — Bajrang, Kuldeep, Gurpreet and Harpreet — have been training in Hungary for more than a fortnight while the rest of the squad joined a week back.

The squads:

Freestyle: Sandeep Tomar (57kg), Sonba Tanaji Gongane (61kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg), Pankaj Rana (70kg), Jitender (74kg), Sachin Rathi (79kg), Pawan Kumar (86kg), Deepak (92kg) Mausam Khatri (97kg), Sumit (125kg), Jagminder Singh (chief coach).

Women: Ritu Phogat (50kg), Pinki (53kg), Seema (55kg), Pooja Dhanda (57kg), Sangeeta (59kg), Sakshi Malik (62kg), Ritu (65kg), Navjot Kaur (68kg), Rajini (72kg), Kiran (76kg), Kuldeep Malik (chief coach).

Greco Roman: Vijay (55kg), Gyanender (60kg), Gaurav Sharma (63kg), Manish (67kg), Kuldeep Malik (72kg), Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Manjeet (82kg), Harpreet Singh (87kg), Hardeep (97kg), Naveen (130kg), Kuldeep Singh (chief coach).

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Saina survives, Sindhu ousted from Denmark Open

Saina, who lost to Cheung in their sole previous meeting two years ago, came back from a game down before eventually holding her nerve to advance to the next round.

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P.V. Sindhu And Saina Nehwal

Odense (Denmark), Oct 16 (IANS) Star shuttler Saina Nehwal survived a scare before progressing to the second round of the Denmark Open but it was heartbreak for Rio silver medallist P.V. Sindhu, who crashed out after being stunned by unseeded American Beiwen Zhang in the opening round of the womens singles event here on Tuesday.

Saina overcame stiff resistance from Hong Kong’s Ngan Yi Cheung before eventually pocketing the match 20-22, 21-17, 24-22 in 81 minutes. However, third seed Sindhu lost 17-21, 21-16, 18-21 to Zhang in another tough opening encounter that lasted 56 minutes.

Saina, who lost to Cheung in their sole previous meeting two years ago, came back from a game down before eventually holding her nerve to advance to the next round.

The match went down to the wire with both the shuttlers going for the kill. But the London Olympics bronze medallist finally managed to keep her cool and save two match points at 21-20 and 22-21 in the decider which helped her pocket the pulsating tie.

Earlier, Sindhu succumbed to her third consecutive loss to American Zhang, who also beat the Hyderabadi at the Indian Open in February this year.

After meekly losing the opening game 17-21, the 23-year-old Sindhu came back strongly in the second and did not allow the American to move ahead before finally winning it 21-16.

In the decider, the American bounced back in style to first take a 12-8 lead before Sindhu hit back to make it 14-13 in her favour.

From thereon, both the shuttlers went neck and neck before the match ended in Zhang’s favour with the scoreline reading a close 21-18.

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