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    New Delhi :

    Leading Indian doubles badminton player Ashwini Ponnappa said on Sunday that she is happy to see more and more people take up the sport.

    “I am happy to see more and more people take up badminton. It is great to see that many people are getting interested in the sport and are following India’s progress at the world stage,” the 2010 Commonwealth Games women’s doubles gold medallist said after giving away PNB MetLife RWA Badminton Championship prizes at the Thyagaraj Stadium here.

    “I hope to see more support for badminton in the future as this will spread the popularity of the sport in India.”

    The 2011 World Championship bronze medallist starts her campaign at the $250,000 India Open Super Series at the Siri Fort Sports Complex Wednesday.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> Sports> Badminton / IANS / March 30th, 2014

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    Between defence and aggression./  Photo: Bhagya Prakash K. / The Hindu

    Between defence and aggression./ Photo: Bhagya Prakash K. / The Hindu

    Robin Uthappa has found the midpoint between aggression and composure and the rewards in terms of runs, has been phenomenal.

    The metamorphosis of Robin Uthappa has perhaps been the most riveting tale in Karnataka cricket in the recent past. Just like the many languages he speaks, Uthappa the cricketer has embraced multiple roles over the last decade and aptly his whatsapp status is: “I’m different, get over it.”

    Uthappa has donned many avatars in his evolution as an aggressive opener: a slightly over-weight kid who donned the wicket-keeping gloves and biffed with his bat; a brash teenager who smote the ball hard and drew the appreciation of former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar; the youngster who turned out for India, sparkled briefly and then was resigned to be on the sidelines; the man who asked for the Karnataka captaincy because he believed he could deliver; and now an elder statesman though he is just 28, scoring runs by the ton, lending whole-hearted support to captain Vinay Kumar and also dreaming about wresting back the India cap.

    It is an exhaustive list but the varied experiences have shaped Uthappa well. There is a sense of calm and a whole lot of perspective in the way he approaches the game and his life and all that has helped him individually besides lending stability to Karnataka’s batting. It is a point that has caught his State coach J. Arunkumar’s eye. “Robin is very composed now. Even when he talks, he thinks a lot before he says anything. Earlier, he wasn’t like that, he could snap. Now he is in a good space personally and that shows in his batting. To be honest, he is batting the best in the State and he is ready to play for India again, especially in the shorter formats,” Arunkumar says. During Karnataka’s recent Vijay Hazare Trophy triumph, Uthappa’s tons (133 vs Jharkhand and 132 n.o., vs Gujarat) helped Vinay Kumar’s men to extend their good form that has already yielded the Ranji Trophy and the Irani Cup. Uthappa’s merger of aggression with remarkable consistency, has been a work in progress.

    Last season, he roped in former India batsman Pravin Amre as his personal coach. And in a lovely tandem that tided past egos and focussed on the larger goal of good cricket, Amre and Arunkumar, worked out an easy understanding between themselves which helped the player improve rapidly. “Pravin has led me when I played for India ‘A’ and I have a lot of respect for him. There are no egos here and it is all about helping a player become better as well as help his team,” Arunkumar says.

    To Uthappa’s credit, he found a mid-point between his innate aggression, while also adapting to Amre’s Bombay school of batsmanship that paid its traditional respects to defensive batting. Arunkumar, who was an aggressive opener in his heydays, says: “I believe that if a ball is short and wide, you should cut it, no point in leaving it. I tell that to Robin and the others, the situation might be 30 for three but you should be alert to scoring runs. Yes, he did get a bit too defensive when the last season began and then I had a chat with both Robin and Pravin. Now the good thing is that he is neither too aggressive nor too defensive. He has found his balance.”

    Many years ago, when asked about the defining influences in his life, Uthappa spoke about Him. The Him was none other than Jesus Christ and Uthappa’s spiritual leanings, which continues to this day, his strong sense of self-esteem that has not lapsed into arrogance.

    The easy camaraderie he shares with his team-mates and his constant instrospection about his game, have helped him find his feet. Having played for India in the past, Uthappa has reiterated his credentials again. May be it is a matter of time before he joins the ‘Men in Blue.’

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by K.C. Vijaya Kumari / Bangalore – March 23rd, 2014

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    In India, the Wings for Life World Run will kick off from Rai Sports Complex, Sonipat and is expected to end at Karnal. The run is being organized under the aegis of the Haryana Olympics Association.

    New Delhi:

    Seoul Olympics silver-medallist hurdler Colin Jackson, cricketer Gautam Gambhir and ace shuttler Ashwini Ponnappa on Wednesday came together to launch the India edition of the ‘Wings For Life World Run’ aimed at raising funds for spinal cord research.

    Former 110m hurdles world record holder Jackson is the global race director for the event set to take place on May 4 in Sonipat, Haryana simultaneously along with across 34 countries, starting at 1530 IST or 1000 UTC.

    Along with the two-time world champion Jackson, were the Indian ambassadors of the race, Gambhir and Ponnappa. Also present at the event to support the cause were some of Haryana Olympic Association’s top athletes Vijender Singh, Sandeep Singh, Yogeshwar Dutt, Jai Bhagwan Singh, Dinesh Kumar and Raju Godara.

    “The Wings for Life World Run is not just an exceptional sports event, but also a completely new endurance format for everybody, everywhere. Moreover, 100 per cent of the funds gathered from the race will go towards the Wings for Life – a foundation that funds research into finding a cure for spinal cord injury,” Jackson said.

    Starting at 11 am in London, 2 am in Los Angeles, 6 pm in Australia, and 3:30 pm in India – this one-of-its-kind race will take place simultaneously across 40 different locations worldwide. Over 150,000 runners will race at exactly the same time – regardless of whether it’s day or night.

    With no finish line to end the run, the runners will be chased by a catcher car, which marks the end of the race for a runner as it passes him/her. The catcher car takes off 30 min after the run begins and once it goes past a runner, his/her race is over and he/she is given the final world rank.

    As the race progresses, the cars will eliminate competitors as they pass them, until there’s a single man and woman left running – who are then crowned the Global Champions of the Wings for Life World Run.

    Additionally, there will be country winners; as well as recognition for the last man and woman left on the track in each country.

    In India, the Wings for Life World Run will kick off from Rai Sports Complex, Sonipat and is expected to end at Karnal. The run is being organized under the aegis of the Haryana Olympics Association.

    Competing in the Wings for Life World Run will be professional athletes, passionate amateurs, medal-winning Olympians, charity ambassadors, and everyone who chooses to participate. Expected to last for six hours, this is a race for runners of all levels.

    Gambhir, however, would not be running at the event due to his participation in the Indian Premier League as the skipper of Kolkata Knight Riders.

    source: http://www.sports.ndtv.com / NDTV Sports / Sports Home> Cricket> News / Press Trust of India / Wednesday – March 19th, 2014

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    Bangalore :

    After battling crippling cramps during the early part of the season, during which he missed six Ranji Trophy matches, opening batsman Robin Uthappa roared back to form during the national one-dayers for the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

    Following the Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup triumphs, Robin Uthappa slammed a run-a-ball 104 against Kerala in the Subbaiah Pillai Trophy, the South Zone qualifiers for the national one-dayers. The opener was at his boisterous best during the national meet in Kolkata last week, slamming back-to-back tons (132 not out against Gujarat and 133 against Jharkhand) to help Karnataka complete a historic treble. Uthappa, who occasionally bowls mediumpace, returned with two wickets as Karnataka eked out a four-wicket win over Railways in the final at the Eden Gardens.

    “It’s a special feeling to be able to win all the three domestic tournaments,” said Uthappa, who top scored the tournament with 536 runs at an average of 76.57. “We are a unique bunch of cricketers as each player cares for the team. And to be part of history is more than pleasing,” he added.

    Uthappa is not letting himself get carried away following his success. Hours after winning the Vijay Hazare, Uthappa flew to his training base Mumabi to consult personal coach Praveen Amre as part of his preparation for the Deodhar Trophy, the zonal limited overs tournament which will kick off on March 23 at Vishakapatnam.

    “We have good players in the South Zone team and stand a good chance of winning the Deodhar Trophy,” Uthappa pointed out.

    In the run-up to the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Karnataka’s unbeaten run came to an end when the defending champions were defeated by Tamil Nadu in the South Zone title decider. However Robin said the team’s focus was on the national title. “There is no guilt feeling of losing against Tamil Nadu. But we knew Vijay Hazare Trophy was very important,” said Uthappa terming the season as one of his best. His best season was 2006-07 Ranji Trophy in which he was top scorer with 854 runs.

    With a string of impressive performances, the stylish Bangalorean is now dreaming about another stint with the Indian team. “I believe I have performed well. I believe I should be playing the next level of cricket and I am confident that I will succeed at the highest level. Given a chance I will be able to add value to the team,” said Uthappa, who last played an ODI in 2008 against Sri Lanka in Karachi.

    His last international appearance was in the rain-affected T20 game in South Africa in March 2012.


    Vijay Hazare Trophy 8 vs Railways 133 vs Jharkhand 132 not out vs Gujarat Subbaiah Pillai Trophy 33 vs Tamil Nadu 27 vs Goa 104 vs Kerala 45 vsHyderabad 54 vs Andhra Ranji Trophy 86 vs Vidharba 33 vs Odisha 100 vs Uttar Pradesh 47 vs Punjab 72 & 36 vs Maharashtra.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> Sports> Cricket> Domestic Cricket> Vijay Hazare Trophy / Sunil Subbaiah, TNN / March 17th, 2014

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    March 22nd, 2014adminRecords, All, Sports

    The latest edition of the Kodava Hockey Festival, scheduled to begin at Virajpet on April 20, is vying to enter the Guiness Book of World Records, according to its organisers.

    The competition, a hugely popular event among Kodava families since 1997, is aiming to field 325 families in the tournament this year – thus breaking the record for the largest field hockey tournament in the world, irrespective of age and gender. Each team is eligible to enter 16 family members into the event and it is scheduled to end on May 19. The event this year wil be organised by the Thathanda family.

    At a press conference here to announce the 2014 edition of the festival of hockey, the head of the Thathanda Family, Nanaiah, spoke with gusto about the tradition and the deep seated roots that hockey has with the country. He pointed out that the current Indian men’s national team has a good number of players from Kodagu.

    The winners of the tournament will take home Rs 1 lakh, while the runners-up will receive Rs 50,000.

    There was also an official pre-launch exhibition match between two teams representing various Kodava families at the KSHA Stadium on Saturday night.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Sports / DHNS / Bangalore – March 16th, 2014

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    Congratulations to Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, who claimed their fifth title as a team and their first since 2011 with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship doubles final.
    Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free, said, “We should also not overlook the fine performance of our doubles champions Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, who overcame the number one seeds and far more experienced duo of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic who had won 25 titles together.”

    The win was even sweeter for Bopanna and Qureshi as they lost to Nestor and Zimonjic in the final of the Sydney International in January.

    Incredibly, Nestor was appearing in his 137th doubles final and Zimonjic his 82nd.

    source: http://www.canindia.com / CanIndia / Home> grss> LifeStyle / March 11th, 2014

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    March 9th, 2014adminSports

    India squash player Joshna Chinappa– who recently lifted her maiden WSA World Tour title with Winnipeg Open trophy beating Heba El Torky from Egypt – tells Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya about her journey in Canada.

    Joshna Chinappa RNA Research & Archives

    Joshna Chinappa RNA Research & Archives

    You have won on foreign soil before. How different was Winnipeg in terms of competition?
    There were players ranked higher than me in the tournament. And I have never played in Canada before, the conditions were very tough. It was minus 22 degrees. Though the court has artificial heating but it is a cold country and I had never experienced that. I made sure I kept warm at home and don’t go out much. I had to bundle up as much as I could and train outside.

    The ice storm even killed people..
    It was dangerous. I missed both my flights because of the storm and had to wait at the airport for over 10 hours. Then I waited for five hours for the next one, even that did not take off and finally I managed to get there late.

    Who were the best players there?
    There was intense competition as the girls had been winning a lot of matches since past few weeks. They were in the groove. Nicolette Fernandes (World No.19), Joey Chan (World No.23) were some of the best ones around.

    How does it feel to lift a World squash title considering the sport is still not that promoted in India?
    The sport got a lot more popular in the last few years if not to the extent of tennis or cricket. As far as I am concerned, I go for these tournaments to do well and win. The recognition is nice if I get it but even if that doesn’t happen, I am fine with that. But people have been supportive, some Press people called me after the victory and it felt good.

    How long did you train for this tournament?
    I trained the whole of December till the middle of January, through Christmas and New Year when players usually take a break. I had good momentum, felt fit and wanted to build on that.

    Was the training any different from what you normally do?
    It was a lot on the field, lot of sprint and shuttle running. Lot of groundwork. I concentrated on variations of sprint. I spent hours in the gym too. I followed my trainer Rajamani and worked out consistently which made the difference in Canada.

    Dipika won the same tournament last year. Do the opponents across the world take the Indian players as threat?
    They (including the top 10 players) don’t take us lightly at all because they know if we are at our peak, what can happen. Dipika created that platform last year.

    You literally won the final in dying minutes? What gave you that adrenaline rush?
    Yeah I was 10-7 down. I honestly don’t know what happened, it was such a blur that moment. I hung in there, she made a couple of errors which helped me get back to the game. When I levelled it 10-10, I thought of not delaying it any further and was more aggressive to win the remaining two points.

    Your thoughts on Heba El Torky..the youngster gave you a tough time..
    She did but you know the funny part? I played her last week prior to the final and I won 3-0 pretty comfortably. Probably when I went into the final, I put a little bit of pressure on myself to play well. And she came into the game with a lot of confidence as she had defeated three top seeds in the tournament which stepped her game up.

    Didn’t that 3-0 win make you overconfident?
    Not really because before that win, I lost to her a couple of times in the last two years. I knew what she is capable of. I have always had close games with her.

    Tell us about the Egyptians, what makes them the champion players they are?
    I have been based in Egypt before for training. They have 30-40 squash clubs in Cairo alone and each club has about 100 kids playing. If you have that many kids playing each other in local tournaments or league matches, you are going to get better eventually. They also have a lot of idols to look upto like Amr Shabana and Omneya Abdel Kawy. That encourages the juniors to come up and aspire to be like them. They are also very fearless. When they get on court, they don’t care who they are playing, be it a top seed or any other player. They are also very skilful with shots.

    You’d once said that you don’t relish playing against Egyptians..
    I’d said that long time back but now I change my opinion (laughs). More than anything, I am pretty fit today and can hang on with anybody on court. I am a better player than before. At present, I can play anybody.

    Joshna ChinappaSquashWSA World TourWinnipeg Open trophy

    source: http://www.danindia.com / DNA / Home> Sport / by Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya / Agency:DNA / Tuesday – March 04th, 2014

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    Rohan BopannaKF07mar2014
    New Delhi:

    India’s doubles tennis player Rohan Bopanna leaped four places to 12th in the latest ATP rankings released Monday.

    The Indian achieved the feat after clinching the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title with Pakistani Aisam ul Haq Qureshi.

    Meanwhile, Leander Paes still remains India’s highest ranked doubles player at No.10 while another veteran Mahesh Bhupathi slipped six places to No.47.

    In the men’s singles category, Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri remained static at 78th and 146th, respectively, while Sania Mirza is No.11 in the women’s doubles list.

    source: http://www.ianslive.in / IANS Live / Home> Sports / New Delhi – March 03rd, 2014

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    March 3rd, 2014adminSports

    Uthappa stars in Karnataka’s 104-run win with a cracking ton against Kerala in Subbaiah Pillai Trophy.

    The result was never in question and it was always about whether Karnataka’s batsmen can bounce back after couple of middling performances. Robin Uthappa settled that query with a fine hundred, making sure he never got ahead of himself at any stage, and Karun Nair fired some ammo in the end to push the score to 317

    This prooved to be way beyond Kerala’s reach as Vinay Kumar grabbed another five for – 5 for 34, his best List A performance. Karnataka’s bowling yet again utterly depended on their captain.

    Prem, stands out for Kerala Yet, Kerala had something to cheer about in the chase – a pleasing ton from the No. 3 batsman Rohan Prem who ensured the chase didn’t fold up quickly. Prem, a left-handed batsman, punched the seamers, drove and cut the spinners and was pretty busy between the wickets.

    He rarely dawdled out there, looking for runs from the go. He drove S Aravind, who replaced Ronit More, to the straight boundary twice, and once to the square-leg boundary.

    Pity about his team-mates, though. The teenager Sanju Samson struck a fabulous six- a flowing on-the-up hit over long-on off the seamer HL Sharath – but fell soon, chipping the leggie Amit Verma to long-off. Nearly everyone at the top order got a start but no one really carried on.

    The second highest score was just 32 from Robert Fernandes and the chase was never really going anywhere. It was all about whether Prem can get his hundred and he did, bringing it up in the 37th over, with a fluent square drive off Aravind.

    There wasn’t much sting in Kerala’s bowling as well. And so, Uthappa moved along without much fuss. He sent the new ball in the ‘V’ and once he realised there wasn’t much venom in the track or in the bowling, he opened up.

    There was a slog swept six off the mediumpacer V Jagadeesh, a pulled six off the left-arm seamer Prasanth Parameshwaran and the fours never went dry. He late cut, swept and even pulled out the reverse sweep to bring up his hundred before he fell, giving a return catch to the offie Vinoop Manoharan.

    It was a hot sultry day at Alur, some one hour’s drive away from the city of Bangalore.

    It’s set of three grounds owned by the state association with temporary structures acting as dressing rooms. There were some 20-odd people who had turned up and Karnataka’s Nair provided some entertainment after the fall of Uthappa.

    The Karnataka dressing room enjoyed it even more, in fact. “Well played Kulla (shorty) was the cry of joy everytime Nair banged a boundary. He swung Parameshwaran for a six over long-on before turning on the heat against the seamer Sandeep Warrier. He looted 21 runs in a over, carting two successive sixes – one flew over square-leg and the other over midwicket- and following it up with a four.

    By the time he fell (60 from 30 balls), he had added 96 runs in 61 deliveries with Manish Pandey and pushed the total way beyond Kerala’s reach. Brief scores: Karnataka 317 for (Uthappa 104 ) beat Kerala 213 (Prem 103) by 104 runs Goa 268 for 6 (Kamath 65, Gadekar 61) lost to Andhra 272 for 6 in 48.4 overs (Ricky Bhui 103* in 79 balls, Dara Benjamin 90, Dasari 27*) by 4 wickets. Tamil Nadu 280 for 4 (B Aparajith 91,M Vijay 90) beat Hyderabad 155 for 9 (L Balaji 3 – 27) .

    www.bangaloremirror.com / Bangalore Mirror / Home> Sports> Cricket / Bangalore Mirror Bureau / March 03rd, 2014

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    March 3rd, 2014adminRecords, All, Sports

    Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul- Haq Qureshi hug each other after they beat Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in the doubles final match of the Dubai Open. (AP Photo)

    Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul- Haq Qureshi hug each other after they beat Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in the doubles final match of the Dubai Open. (AP Photo)

    Dubai :

    Rohan Bopanna and his Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi on Saturday won their first ATP title after re-union as they beat Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in the doubles final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

    The second seeded ‘Indo-Pak Express’ duo beat their top seeded opponents Nestor of Canada and Zimonjic (Serbia) 6-4, 6-3 in the summit clash that lasted one hour and eight minutes.

    Today’s win was a sort of a revenge for Bopanna and Qureshi who lost to the same opponents in the final of the Sydney International in January.This was the five title overall for Bopanna and Qureshi together and first after they re-united at the beginning of the season. They played with different partners for two seasons.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> Sports> Tennis / PTI / March 01st, 2014

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