NewsIndiaTimes - page 21

– that’s all you need to know
21
News India Times
April 17, 2015
Sports
By SudiptoGanguly
– NEWDELHI
ar frommourning the
end of her brief reign as
the world number one,
shuttler Saina Nehwal is
happy that she at least
made it to where no other non-
Chinese could reach in the last
four years.
Since Dane Tine Baun’s rise to
the top in late 2010, China’s bad-
minton hegemony has ensured
one of their own topped women’s
singles rankings until late last
month.
Nehwal ended that streak
when she stormed into the final
of the India Open in the last
week of March.
The Indian toppled Olympic
champion Li Xuerui, who had
played nine events compared to
Nehwal’s 13 in the preceding 52
week-period that are taken into
account while calculating rank-
ings. The Indian’s joy, however,
proved shortlived.
Li beat Nehwal in the semi-
final of the Malaysian Super
Series Premier event last week,
which effectively means the
Indian would lose the number
one position when new rankings
are announced on Thursday.
“Number one is number one,
however brief or long the dura-
tion is,” Nehwal told Reuters in
an email interview. “The records
are indelible. Nobody can
change my name there (at the
top) for that duration.
“It is one of the best (feeling),”
said the 25-year-old, convinced
she can reclaim the top spot
again just by staying fit and play-
ing consistently.
“Many more chances will
come where I can show even
better results.”
Even if for a week, Nehwal’s
rise to the top of singles rankings
is a significant development in
women’s badminton which
China has ruthlessly dominated.
“It is very difficult to fight the
Chinese players,” said the
London Olympic bronze medal-
list, acknowledging China’s deep-
er talent pool.
“They have four to six world
class players. They are well-
trained and hungry for opportu-
nities.”
Thanks to their talent pool
and a state-run system to groom
them, China’s badminton domi-
nance may not end anytime
soon but India, of late, have
made significant progress.
Late last year, Nehwal won the
women’s title in China Open
Super Series Premier event while
compatriot Kidambi Srikanth
won the men’s crown, stunning
two-time Olympic champion Lin
Dan in the final.
Nehwal and Srikanth replicat-
ed that success at this year’s
India Open, underlining the
steady progress the country has
made in recent times.
“Winning India Open is an
indication that Indians are capa-
ble of winning big tournaments.
It was an open tournament and
(shuttlers from) a lot of countries
were fighting to win,” Nehwal
added.
India’s rise has caught the
attention of the sport’s world
governing body as well.
“What’s transpired in Indian
badminton over recent years is a
great example of how one sport
can capture a country’s imagina-
tion and how vital support can
help it to flourish...” Badminton
World Federation Secretary
General Thomas Lund said in a
statement on April 7.
– Reuters
SainaNehwal Confident of ReclaimingTop Spot
F
Reuters
Broke Indian IceHockeyTeam
Turns toTwitter for Support
By SudiptoGanguly
– MUMBAI
W
hile India’s money-
spinning cricket
league lavishes mil-
lion-dollar deals on players for
just a few weeks of competi-
tion, the national ice hockey
team has had to go begging on
social media to fund their trip
to Kuwait for an international
tournament.
Players often have to buy
their own equipment and look
for their own sources to fund
trips abroad, a situation which
prompted the Ice Hockey
Association of India (IHAI) to
start a campaign on Twitter
seeking donations.
“It is so tough to push
sports like ice hockey when
cricket takes up all sponsor
budgets.We have a national
team and are begging for
money,” read a Tweet from the
association last month.
While the country’s cricket
board generates riches
through lucrative television
deals and sponsorship, other
sports rely largely on govern-
ment funds and rare corporate
handouts for support.
Ice hockey does not get
even that.
The team need about two
million rupees ($32,170) to
travel to Kuwait for the
International Ice Hockey
Federation Challenge Cup of
Asia Division I from April 18-
24.
The Twitter campaign with
the hashtag
‘SupportIceHockey’ has seen
more than half the amount
raised in the last week.
Harjinder Singh, general
secretary of IHAI, told Reuters
that the decision to turn to
social media for funding was
a reflection on ice hockey
lowly status in India.”We
wanted to create awareness
about the sport and what we
go through to participate in
international champi-
onships,” he said in an inter-
view. “People are not aware
that India actually has an ice
hockey team.Winter sports
have not got much accept-
ance in India, be it with the
government or the corpo-
rates.”
While the international
governing body of the sport
provides India with coaches
and bears their travel and
other expenses, the players
are left to fend for themselves.
IHAI officials used their
personal credit cards to
book tickets to Kuwait for
the players.
The national team, who
have nine players currently
serving in the army, started
participating in internation-
al tournaments from 2009.
They are practising on an
ice rink that is one-third the
size of the international
standard.
Though there are a num-
ber of outdoor rinks in
Northern India, there is vir-
tually no ice to skate on in
the months of March and
April.
The country does have an
indoor rink that meets inter-
national standards but that
has been closed since it
hosted the IIHF Challenge
Cup of Asia in 2012.
“We hosted the Asian
championship hoping that
it would encourage the
sport in the country,” Singh
said. “But since 2012 no
tournament has happened
there and it’s lying shut
since then. “There is no one
who can take it up as the
cost of electric supply is
huge.”
– Reuters
– NEWDELHI
T
he sports ministry on Aoril
9 urged the Haryana gov-
ernment, Sports Authority
of India (SAI) and Boxing India
(BI) to financially help troubled
woman pugilist Rishu Mittal.
Rishu is a state-level gold
medallist boxer but recent media
reports revealed that she has been
forced to work as a domestic help
to earn her livelihood.
“UnionMinistry of Youth
Affairs and Sports has urged the
Government of Haryana, SAI and
BI to examine the matter of boxer
Rishu Mittal and explore the pos-
sibilities of helping her to pursue
a career in boxing,” said a sports
ministry release.
“The communication has
been sent after reports recently
appearing in a section of media
have stated that champion
Haryana boxer Rishu Mittal is
working as housemaid for liveli-
hood.” She won gold in a state-
level championship and also rep-
resented Haryana at the national
championships in December last
year.
– IANS
Saina Nehwal competes
against China’s Li Xuerui
during their women’s sin-
gles semi-finals match
at the 2015 Malaysia
Open Badminton
Superseries in Kuala
Lumpur, April 4.
SportsMinistryUrgesHelp for
TroubledBoxer Rishu
An IslamicReformation is
Best Chance for Peace
Continued from page 2
Hirsi Ali is a woman of
notable bravery; one who cares
deeply about the religion she felt
forced to leave. She ardently
wishes to engage those whom
she calls “Mecca Muslims” —
devout and peaceful men and
women, “the majority from
Casablanca to Jakarta” in “a dia-
logue about the meaning and
practice of their faith.” The refor-
mation of Islam, she writes,
would benefit not only the faith-
ful: Westerners, too, “have an
enormous stake in how the
struggle over Islam plays out.”
An Islamic reformation would
be painful, surely internally vio-
lent — as reformation’s various
phases were in Christianity. It
would mean the sharp diminu-
tion of the power of the Imams;
frontal challenges to the moral
framework of millions, and to
the power of religiously based
dynasties, like the House of
Saud.
But if reform, and opening a
space for free, unafraid debate, is
to move from the fringes to the
center and allow the majority to
encompass both secular citizen-
ship and devout practice, this
hard transition is necessary —
especially for Muslims them-
selves, the first and most numer-
ous victims of extremism.
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