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Women riders aim to end male domination in motor racing

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Manisha Kelka
Picture : IANS

Coimbatore, July 8 : Who said Indian women have a long way to go to catch up with their male counterparts in a sport like motor racing? Meet these young ladies from various walks of life who have become the cynosure of all eyes during the opening round of the 21st JK Tyre National racing championship here.

Founded and conceptualised by former national champion Sarosh Hataria, the Ahura Racing team — an all-girl team of six participants — scripted history when they drove the Formula LGB cars at the Kari Motor Speedway over the weekend.

Led by popular Marathi and Bollywood actor Manisha Kelkar and dentist Ritika Oberoi, the Ahura team came into existence after Hataria handpicked 12 women out of 190 who sent in their entries to an online post a fortnight ago.

On Saturday, six of the 12 realised their dream of racing in a professional circuit while the other six have been kept on standby and could get to race during the four-round JK Tyre national championship.

Manisha, the daughter of veteran Bollywood screenwriter Ram Kelkar, was one of those six lucky ladies who had their dream come true on Saturday.

The 32-year-old, a self-proclaimed adventure junkie, was elated to be a part of the historic moment but went on to explain that her motive was mainly to inspire young girls who dream of a career in racing but unfortunately can’t afford the expensive sport.

“I am an adventure junkie and love any kind of speed and adventure. I always wanted to sit in a Formula car but never ever dreamt of participating and qualifying for Nationals, so that way it’s a dream-come-true moment for me,” Manisha told IANS here.

On being asked about her experience, Manisha has no hesitation to call herself the rookiest of all racers, but explained how she chased her dreams in the matter of a fortnight and even taking a short break from her busy acting career.

“I can’t express my experience in words, being the rookiest of the racers, I am proud of my performance on debut. My mentors Saroj and Rohit Khanna taught us really well as we didn’t have much time.”

“Sixty girls were selected from all over India and trained for two days, and then six girls with the best lap time were selected,” she explained.

Manisha, however went on to explain that her main intention was to inspire young girls to battle all odds and take up the sport.

“We have a huge potential in our country, but where we lack is channelising that talent. Lack of sponsors is also another reason but companies like JK Tyre have been phenomenal in their support.

“These kinds of talent hunts help in unraveling the raw talent,” she said.

Dentist Ritika also had a similar story. She became confident after taking part in the Desert Storm last year.

“It was after the Desert Storm my navigator motivated me to take up racing professionally. Being a passionate driver, having done all the forms including off-roading and rally, this was something which I was waiting for a long time,” Ritika told IANS.

The team also includes two mothers Diana Pundole and Natasha Shah, and Phoebe Nongrum, an aspiring IAS officer from Shillong, who are stand-bys and awaiting their chance of racing in the next three rounds.

While the first round got off successfully, with Hataria just about managing the hefty season fees of nearly Rs 80 lakh, the team owner is keeping his fingers crossed on the future as he dreams of having an all-girls team a routine affair.

(Tridib Baparnash can be contacted at [email protected])

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Great Learning ropes in Virat Kohli as brand ambassador

Earlier this month, Great Learning had announced a collaboration with Northwestern University School of Professional Studies in the US to launch online ‘Master of Science in Data Science Programme’ in India.

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Virat Kohli

New Delhi, Sep 14 : Ed-tech company Great Learning on Monday announced the appointment of Virat Kohli, as its brand ambassador.

The captain of the Indian cricket team, who also topped a recent ranking of India’s most powerful celebrities, will now be the face of the Great Learning brand, the company said.

He will lead the brand’s latest ‘Power Ahead’ campaign, which underlines the importance of lifelong learning and showcases how high-quality learning at the right time can help professionals and students power ahead in their career.

“Kohli is the obvious choice to be our brand ambassador because he best embodies the great learning ethos of excellence and continuous learning,” Mohan Lakhamraju, Founder and CEO, Great Learning, said in a statement.

“We are looking forward to this association with Kohli through which we wish to spread the message that now, through the high quality online learning offered by Great Learning, anyone can grow and succeed,” Lakhamraju added.

The company is also launching a multi-film campaign with Kohli during the upcoming Dream 11 IPL, where the brand is Associate Sponsor on Disney + Hotstar.

The films showcase Kohli reflecting on the brands philosophy of continuous learning being a necessity for sustained career growth, something he embodies only too well in his game.

“Great Learning is a leader in the professional learning space and has built a reputation for delivering high quality education and career transformations,” said Kohli.

“I also share the same passion for excellence that Great Learning does and am excited about our association,” Kohli added.

Earlier this month, Great Learning had announced a collaboration with Northwestern University School of Professional Studies in the US to launch online ‘Master of Science in Data Science Programme’ in India.

The fully online, 18-months-long Master’s programme offers an opportunity to earn a world-class master’s degree from a global top-30 ranked university for graduates and working professionals in the country.

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Naomi Osaka beats Victoria Azarenka to win US Open

The victory is Osaka’s third Grand Slam singles title.

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Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka returned to the fore in women’s tennis by coming back to defeat Victoria Azarenka and win her second United States Open on Saturday.

Osaka’s 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory capped a run of powerful play and political activism in New York. She wore seven different masks with different names for each of her matches to honor Black victims of violence. She walked on court Saturday with a mask bearing the name of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy shot and killed in Cleveland by a white police officer in 2014.

Osaka’s victory on Saturday came in radically different conditions than her first title run in New York in 2018.

In that final, she defeated Serena Williams in a tumultuous straight-set match that turned ugly when Williams clashed in Arthur Ashe Stadium with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who called three code-of-conduct violations against Williams.

The crowd, unclear on the rules and upset at the treatment of Williams, booed during the awards ceremony, leaving Osaka in tears shortly after her first Grand Slam singles title.

But Ashe Stadium was nearly empty on Saturday, as it has been throughout this unusual U.S. Open where fans were not permitted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The crowd, unclear on the rules and upset at the treatment of Williams, booed during the awards ceremony, leaving Osaka in tears shortly after her first Grand Slam singles title.

But Ashe Stadium was nearly empty on Saturday, as it has been throughout this unusual U.S. Open where fans were not permitted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Shocked, devastated: IOC, UWW react to Navid Afkari’s execution

The International Olympic Committee and amateur wrestling’s governing body United World Wrestling (UWW) on Saturday reacted to the execution of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari.

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Navid Afkari

Geneva: While IOC said that it was “shocked” by the development, the UWW said that the news has left the “entire wrestling community” mourning.

Provincial prosecutor general Kazem Mousavi was quoted as saying by Iran’s state television’s website that 27-year-old Afkari was executed in a prison in the southern city of Shiraz on Saturday. Afkari had been found guilty of “voluntary homicide” for murdering a man during the anti-government protests in 2018.

“United World Wrestling has learned that the scheduled execution of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari took place this morning in Iran,” said UWW in its statement.

“It is deeply upsetting that the pleas of athletes from around the world and all the behind the scene work of United World Wrestling and the National Iranian Wrestling Federation, the IOC together with the NOC of Iran did not achieve our goal. The news is devastating and the entire wrestling community mourns his death,” it added.

Earlier, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that it is “shocked” by the development.

“In letters, Thomas Bach, the IOC President, had made direct personal appeals to the Supreme Leader and to the President of Iran this week and asked for mercy for Navid Afkari, while respecting the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” it said in its statement.

“It is deeply upsetting that the pleas of athletes from around the world and all the behind-the-scenes work of the IOC, together with the NOC of Iran, United World Wrestling and the National Iranian Wrestling Federation, did not achieve our goal. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Navid Afkari,” it added.

The IOC did not specify if it is planning to take action against Iran on the matter.

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