Cricket-Misbah wins toss again, Pakistan bat in Sharjah

Published on: Saturday, 31 October 2015 //
Nov 1 (Reuters) - Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq won his third successive toss of the series in Sharjah and once again opted to bat in the final test against England on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer set up summit clash at Swiss Indoors

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Rafael Nadal, Rafael Nadal Roger Federer, Roger Federer Rafael Nadal, Rafael Nadal Swiss Indoors, Roger Federer Basel, Tennis News, Tennis Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after winning his semi-final match against France’e Richard Gasquet at the Swiss Indoors ATP men’s tennis tournament in Basel on Saturday. (Source: Reuters)

Rafael Nadal reached the final of the Swiss Indoor tournament when he beat Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-4 7-6(7) on Saturday, a result that was good news for fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

Gasquet could still have denied Ferrer a place in the ATP World Tour Finals next month, but his defeat means Ferrer, along with Japan’s Kei Nishikori, complete the eight-man line-up for the season-ending showpiece.

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Nadal was a break down in the opening set but hit back from 2-4 to win four consecutive games.
He also trailed 6-4 in the second-set tiebreak before reeling off the last four points.

Standing in the way of Nadal in his 98th career final will be top seed and home favourite Roger Federer who beat American Jack Sock 6-3 6-4 in little over an hour.

Federer is looking for a seventh title in his home city.

Ferrer and Nishikori join three-times defending champion and 2008 winner Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, six-times former winner Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych and Nadal in London.

Nico Rosberg snatches pole in Mexico

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Nico Rosberg, Nico Rosberg Mercedes, Mercedes Nico Rosberg, Nico Rosberg Mexico GP, Mexico GP, Formula One, F1 News, F1 Nico Rosberg waves after winning the pole position in the Formula One Mexico Grand Prix on Saturday. (Source: AP)

Nico Rosberg said it was “business as usual” after beating Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the fourth race in a row on Saturday in the first Formula One qualifying held in Mexico since 1992.

German Rosberg will hope Sunday’s race breaks a bitter sequence after converting only two of his last 10 poles into victory. Triple world champion Hamilton has won the last three from second place.

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The Briton, who clinched his third championship in Texas last weekend, will again start alongside on the front row with every intention of winning in front of what promises to be a huge and lively crowd.

“It’s a good start for sure, starting on pole,” said Rosberg. “It’s going to be a long run down to turn one so it’s going to be an exciting battle and then I’m sure we have a good race car.”

Asked whether the pole was ‘Angry Nico’ fighting back, he shook his head: “Definitely not. There’s no difference, it’s attack like always.

“It’s three more races to go, great to be here in Mexico, great track, I really enjoy driving here so business as usual.”

The pair banged wheels into the first corner in Austin, with Rosberg losing out, and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was clearly hoping for more fireworks at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

“Can you make sure you take both of you out so I can go through?”, joked Vettel, who qualified third, to a stony silence from the Mercedes duo.

The Ferrari driver is second in the championship, after winning three races this season, but is only four points ahead of Rosberg who now has 20 career poles.

“In the end they were just a sniff too quick but who knows what happens tomorrow?,” said Vettel.


Hamilton, who has failed to qualify fastest in his last five races after previously racking up 11 out of 12, had hoped to take his 50th career pole but some small mistakes when it mattered ruled that out.

“We have quite a bit of a different set-up this weekend so perhaps the avenue I went might not be the perfect one for qualifying but it’ll be good for the race,” said the Briton whose team have already retained their constructors’ title.

Hamilton is also gunning to equal Vettel’s record of 13 wins in a season, having won 10 so far.

The passionate crowd will be reserving their biggest cheers for Mexican Sergio Perez who will start his country’s first grand prix since 1992 in ninth place for Force India with every chance of scoring points.

Russian Daniil Kvyat joined Vettel on the second row for Red Bull, with Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo fifth and Finland’s Valtteri Bottas sixth in a Williams.

Teenage Dutch rookie Max Verstappen, fourth in Austin, qualified an impressive eighth for Toro Rosso.

At the back, McLaren’s Jenson Button failed to take part in qualifying due to engine problems that are likely to increase his already meaningless 50-place penalty on a grid of just 20 cars.

Team mate Fernando Alonso will join him at the back after qualifying 16th but having a 10-place penalty. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen has a five-place drop from 15th.

Cricket-Test Series Pakistan v England line-ups

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Nov 1 (Infostrada Sports) - Line-ups for the third and final Test between Pakistan and England on Sunday in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates Pakistan won toss and decided to bat Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Zulfiqar Babar, Rahat Ali England: Alastair Cook (capt), Moeen Ali, Ian Bell, Joe Root, James Taylor, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Samit Patel, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, James Anders

Luis Suarez, Neymar keep Barcelona on track, Real Madrid down Las Palmas

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Luis Suarez, Luis Suarez Barcelona, Barcelona Luis Suarez, Luis Suarez Barcelona golas, Neymar Luis Suarez, Luis Suarez Neymar, Football News, Football Barcelona’s Neymar celebrates after scoring a goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between on Saturday. (Source: AP)

Barcelona kept pace with Real Madrid at the top of La Liga as Luis Suarez and Neymar once again compensated for the absence of Lionel Messi with a goal apiece in a 2-0 win at Getafe.

Madrid were comfortable 3-1 winners over Las Palmas thanks to goals from Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jese Rodriguez on Saturday.

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Neymar and Suarez have now combined for Barca’s last 14 league goals since Messi went down with knee ligament damage over a month ago.

However, it was Sergi Roberto who shone brightest for Barca as his stunning backheel assist freed Suarez for the opener before also crossing for Neymar to volley home the second to cap off a rapid counter-attack.

“I think we played a very intelligent game,” Suarez told Canal Plus.

“We controlled the ball during the whole game and tried to find the space we could.”

However the former Liverpool man denied he and Neymar’s relationship was making it easy to forget Messi in his absence.

“People remember him just as well because he is the best player in the world.”

On-loan Celtic striker Stefan Scepovic had Getafe’s best opportunity of the game 12 minutes in, but he scuffed his shot wide with just Claudio Bravo to beat and with that went Getafe’s chance of causing an upset.

Barca’s dominance in possession was rewarded with a brilliantly crafted opening goal as Roberto flicked Neymar’s cross perfectly into Suarez’s path and the Uruguayan kept his cool to register his 300th career goal for club and country.

Roberto was at the heart of the second goal just before the hour mark too as Bravo collected a corner and bowled the ball out for the midfielder, who carried it forward before picking out Neymar and the Brazilian fired a volley in at the near post.

Madrid also enjoyed an easy afternoon despite missing a host of star names against La Liga newcomers Las Palmas.

Real were without Keylor Navas, Sergio Ramos, James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema through injury as coach Rafael Benitez preferred not to risk any of his stars ahead of Paris Saint-Germain’s visit in the Champions League on Tuesday.

However, they suffered another injury scare as Luka Modric was replaced at half-time with a hip problem putting his participation in midweek in doubt.

The Canary Islanders were making their first visit to the Santiago Bernabeu in 13 years, but couldn’t have gotten off to a worst start as Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo put Madrid 2-0 up inside 15 minutes.

Hernan’s header briefly gave the visitors hope seven minutes before half-time, yet Madrid restored their two-goal advantage just five minutes later through Jese Rodriguez’s fine finish.

“We played very well again in the first-half. We started the game sensationally well and then maybe with the advantage our tempo dropped in the second-half,” said Madrid boss Rafael Benitez.

“But we controlled the game in the second-half thanks to our good play in the first.”

Elsewhere, Celta Vigo moved ahead of Atletico Madrid into third as they twice came from behind to defeat David Moyes’s Real Sociedad 3-2 at Anoeta.

Former Liverpool striker Iago Aspas equalised both times for the Galicians after Imanol Agirretxe had put Sociedad in front and Pablo Hernandez’s stunning volley a minute from time moved the visitors to within three points of Madrid and Barca.

Villarreal secured their first win in four league games as goals either side of half-time from Mario Gaspar and Cedric Bakambu saw of Sevilla 2-1.

Fernando Llorente reduced the arrears 14 minutes from time, but defeat sees Sevilla slip eight points off the top four ahead of their clash with Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Valencia moved up to sixth as three second-half goals handed them bragging rights against local rivals Levante.

Paco Alcacer opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Sofiane Feghouli and Zakaria Bakkali sealed the three points.

Arsenal consolidate second spot with 3-0 win; Manchester City edge past Norwich

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Oliver Giroud, Mesut Ozil, Arsenal Manchester City, Arsenal EPL, EPL Arsenal, Arsenal Football, Arsene Wenger EPL, Football News, Football Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny celebrates with Olivier Giroud after scoring their second goal against Norwich. (Source: Reuters)

Mesut Ozil set up two goals as Arsenal used a second-half barrage to beat Swansea 3-0 Saturday in the Premier League.

The win helped Arsenal bounce back a loss to Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup as the Gunners shrugged off their many injury concerns to seize back some momentum going into a crucial Champions League trip to Bayern Munich.

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After a hesitant first half, Olivier Giroud broke the deadlock by heading in Ozil’s corner in the 49th minute for the 2,000th goal Arsenal has scored under manager Arsene Wenger.

Laurent Koscielny then doubled the lead in the 68th despite protests from the home team that Giroud had fouled goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in the buildup, and Joel Campbell marked his first Premier League start by slotting in the third in the 73rd after being set up by Ozil.

The win keeps Arsenal tied with leader Manchester City, but still behind on goal difference.

“We needed this win before the big game on Wednesday,” Giroud said. “We started slowly but we created chances to score. But needed to wait until the second half to put them in.”

Campbell was given a start on the right wing with Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all out injured — joining long-term absentee Danny Welbeck — and the Costa Rica striker rounded off the win with an emphatic finish.

Swansea had the best chance of the first half when Bafetimbi Gomis was sent through clear on goal and rounded Petr Cech, but Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin used his speed to track back and make a sliding challenge to clear the ball just as Gomis was about to slot it into an empty net.
Man City stays top after beating Norwich 2-1 in EPL

Manchester City needed a late penalty from Yaya Toure to secure a 2-1 win over 10-man Norwich that kept the team atop the Premier League.

Goalkeeper Joe Hart’s error gifted Norwich’s Cameron Jerome an unlikely equalizer seven minutes from time at the Etihad Stadium.

City had looked in control before that after finally breaking the resilient Canaries with a firm header from Nicolas Otamendi after 67 minutes.

But Hart then dropped the ball after claiming it from a cross and Jerome equalized.

Norwich had captain Russell Martin sent off for blocking Raheem Sterling’s shot with his arm and Toure rifled home the resulting spot kick in the 89th.

City was awarded a second penalty in injury time but Aleksandar Kolarov missed.

Norwich was thrashed 7-0 on its last visit to the Etihad two years ago and set out to avoid a repeat and sat deep to frustrate the hosts.

But openings inevitably came and Wilfried Bony missed three good chances in the first half. John Ruddy saved one of them but two others were blasted wide.

Vincent Kompany headed wide from a corner and City’s frustration continued after the break as Bony was denied another shooting chance by a well-timed tackle by Sebastien Bassong.

Raheem Sterling was summoned from the bench after 54 minutes and the hosts eventually made their breakthrough from a set-piece midway through the second half.

Kevin De Bruyne delivered an excellent corner from the right and Otamendi, hovering near the penalty spot, rose unchallenged to power a firm header past Ruddy.

De Bruyne was withdrawn soon after as City boss Manuel Pellegrini perhaps started to turn his attention towards Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Sevilla.

City slipped into cruise control mode and were punished for a rare Hart gaffe.

The England number one looked to have claimed Robbie Brady’s cross from the right but dropped the ball as he landed and Jerome pounced from close range.

Norwich had just minutes to hold on but Ruddy cracked as he lost the ball under pressure from Fernandinho on the edge of the area.

Fernandinho went down on the edge of the area under Ruddy’s challenge but the ball rolled on to Sterling. His snap-shot was blocked by the arm of Martin and referee Robert Madley immediately pointed to the spot and brandished the red card.

Toure rifled home the penalty but that was not the end of the drama in what proved a chaotic finish.

Hart atoned for his earlier error by denying Martin Olsson with a fine save in injury time and Toure appeared to react angrily to being substituted by Pellegrini.

City was then awarded a second penalty as Sterling was tripped by Brady but Kolarov shot wide with the last kick of the game.

Squash: Joshana Chinapa scripts biggest upset, beats World No. 1 Raneem El Welily

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Joshana Chinappa, Squash, Raneem El Welily, indian squash, Qatar Classic, indian squash player Joshana Chinappa, Khalifa International Tennis, sports news Ranked 20th in the world, Chinappa took just 37 minutes to score the 11-9, 11-6, 4-11, 11-9 win over the Egyptian at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha.

Ace Indian squash player Joshana Chinappa has knocked out world number one Raneem El Welily in the opening round of the Qatar Classic in Doha. The feat is considered as one of the biggest upsets of the ongoing season, and is the first time the 29-year-old has beaten a top ranked player in the professional squash circuit.

Ranked 20th in the world, Chinappa took just 37 minutes to score the 11-9, 11-6, 4-11, 11-9 win over the Egyptian at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha. Chinappa worked well to lodge a comfortable 2-0 lead before El Welily cameback with a strong 11-4 win in the third game. However, in the fourth, the 26-year-old Egyptian made a crucial error while leading 9-8 which allowed the 14-time national champion to level the scores and then further claim the match.

“This is by far the best win of my career — it doesn’t get any better than beating the player at the top of the world rankings,” Chinappa said after the game. “I’ve played Raneem many times before so to get out to a 2-0 lead was huge and really gave me hope. With a player of her quality you can never be sure, she’s world number one for a reason and she can come back from any position even when not at her best, so I’m really happy to come through. I’ve not been looking at my rankings or anything like that of late and I think that’s showing through in my game. I’m more relaxed on court and it’s paying off at the moment,” she added.

Just last month, Chinappa overcame 10th ranked Annie Au in the US Open – a feat she has now eclipsed by beating the top player in the world. Chinappa now moves into the second round where she will play another Egyptian, world number 25 Yathreb Adel, who incidentally beat Chinappa’s compatriot Dipika Pallikal 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 in their first round.

Ranji Trophy 2015-16: Railways caught short as Tamil Nadu take control

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Ranji Trophy 2015-16, Ranji Trophy 2015, Ranji Trophy score, Tamil Nadu vs Railways, Railways vs Tamil Nadu, TN vs Railways, Railways vs TN, cricket score, anureet singh, cricket news, cricket Railways bowled out Tamil Nadu for 328. (Source: Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

THE ball barely moved a centimeter in the post lunch session. It was coming nicely on to the bat, and the variable bounce was not difficult to negotiate. Tamil Nadu, a bowler short due to spinner Rahil Shah’s back spasms, had long spells in operation but nothing worked for the visitors during that period of play.

Railways middle-order batsman Arindam Ghosh injected stability into the innings with opener Cheluvaraj after the disastrous start. The duo frustrated the visitors with a cautious, but solid, approach. No assistance for bowlers further helped their cause.

With the game entering a monotonous phase in the final session, Tamil Nadu, under fading light, cooked a ‘short’ plan. The quicks started pitching it short and brought the variable bounce into play. One delivery would kick up, while the other, from the same spot, would brush the ducking batsman’s shoulder. It happened in the 49th over of the Railways innings when seamer Vijay Shankar put in the extra effort.

The delivery rose sharply and Cheluvaraj was happy to let it go to the keeper. Next ball, pitching in the similar area, didn’t rise and hit the opener, who was ducking, on the shoulder. Abhinav Mukund-led unit got excited with the ball hitting the body, in line of the stumps and that low, but the umpire wasn’t interested. Similar drill was followed by Aswin Crist and J Kousik. Cheluvaraj and Ghosh fought it out before the latter fell for the trap ball. After series of short deliveries, Kousik bowled one at a good-length, giving the batsman enough room to cut or shoulder arms.

Ghosh did none as he presented a dolly Baba Indrajith in the gully. Indrajith made no mistake and Railways lost a wicket after a 43-over battle in the middle.

Ghosh’s wicket led to another Railways collapse, similar to what they did against Gujarat in their last Ranji contest.

Skipper Mahesh Rawat, Ashish Yadav, Anureet Singh came and left in a hurry. From 124/3, the hosts were reduced to 126/7 in the space of just 14 deliveries. Kousik did a clean-up after Crist added another to his tally when Rawat edged his misdirected delivery to Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps.

Lively Crist

Crist was lively with the new ball. The seamer bowled in a good channel, and bent his back to extract that extra bounce from this strip. He first removed opener Saurabh and then picked the wicket of Faiz Ahmad in the same over to reduce Railways to 12/2.

While Saurabh was bowled after the ball, after hitting the pads, rolled to the stumps, Faiz was out for a duck after Kousik, standing at backward-point, took a blinder. Crist bowled one short and gave enough width for the batsman to free his arms. Faiz did what the delivery asked for but Kousik, on the jump, held on to the ball which was travelling. R Jonathan was the next man in but he could fight the fire for only seven deliveries.

Railways, however, did a fine job with the ball early in the day — allowing Tamil Nadu to add only 40 runs to their overnight score. In the morning, Anureet picked two wickets to complete his five-wicket haul. The fifth one was of Indrajith, who pulled a half-tracker straight to fine-leg fielder, moments after scoring his 150. After bundling out Tamil Nadu for 328, Railways batsmen failed to apply themselves and didn’t get partnerships going. With follow-on total still 49 runs away, hosts need a miracle to avoid a defeat.

Brief Scores: Railways 129/7 (Cheluvaraj 63 not out; Crist 4/42, Kousik 3/7). TN 328 (Indrajith 151; Anureet 5/104)

Matman Sushil Kumar returns for 2016 Rio Olympics

Published on: //
sushil kumar, sushil kumar wrestling, wrestling sushil kumar, sushil kumar diet, sushil kumar india, rio olympics, olympics, 2016 rio olympics, 2016 rio games, sports news, wrestling news, wrestling, sports, india news, india The akhara at Delhi’s Chhatrasaal Stadium is double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar’s first home. (Source: Express photo by Amit Mehra)

In the three years since winning his second Olympic medal, Sushil Kumar has managed just one major appearance — at Glasgow CWG — owing to prolonged injury spell. As he returns to full fitness and jetsets to Georgia, Mihir Vasavda visits the akhara to watch how the champion is preparing to win a third 

“You know, bhaiya can perform around 80 rope climbs at one time. And in a minute, he can execute around 100 pulls ups,” says the proud voice on the other side of the phone. “Aur kaafi kuch kar sakte hai. Dekhenge toh manenge (He can do a lot more. You have to see it to believe it.)”

Ajay Sherawat, Sushil Kumar’s roommate and sparring partner, is in awe of the wrestler. So at first, you feel this is one of those exaggerated myths you constantly hear that, in a way, add to the legend of the two-time Olympic medallist. But these stories are then repeated and rehashed by almost everyone who knows Sushil, lending some credence to it.

So you decide to go check it out yourself. It is a good time to see Sushil train, since he has regained full-fitness for the first time since London 2012. And for a month starting Sunday, he will be in Georgia, officially kick-starting his preparations for next year’s Rio Olympics. “Akhare pe aa jaiye,” says Sushil, when you ask him if he can spare some time. The akhara at Delhi’s Chhatrasaal Stadium is his haven. A no-frills place with nothing but a tiny wrestling hall, a mud pit and ropes hanging from the surrounding trees.

He may train and compete at state-of-the-art arenas across the world but a desi akhara is where he feels at home. It’s been his meeting point ever since the two-time Olympic champion shot to fame. After returning as a bronze medallist at the Beijing Games, the akhara is where most scribes and the VIP’s queued up to meet him. He repeated the standard ‘Akhare pe aa jaiye’ line after winning the Khel Ratna in 2009 and silver medal at London Olympics in 2012. Even when American WWE star Kurt Angle came to India two years back, he met Sushil at the akhara.

Of late, it has also become his work place. Once a trainee, Sushil is now the chief administrator here. It’s a busy mid-week evening. After glancing through a few files, he emerges from behind his desk in an orange t-shirt and dark blue jeans. “Let’s walk,” he says with an earthy smile.

Sushil has to oversee kabaddi trials for the national school games. But he does not walk. He runs. So does his entourage. From his office in the stadium premises to the kabaddi ground; from the kabaddi ground to the changing rooms, Sushil runs. The tiny room under the bleachers at the Stadium has a couple of wooden cots pressed close for his roommates to share. There are a few chairs and on the altar are medals he won in his early career. An image of Hanuman is placed next to the medals.

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Sushil changes into a pair of shorts and runs, again, towards the akhara. He finally comes to a halt near a 25-foot tree, from where a rope is hanging loose. As he stretches his arms and greases his palms, 100-odd trainees form a semicircle around him, waiting for the Sushil show to begin.

Sushil fools around with his trainees and hums a bhajan along with one of them before he begins his climb. Once he begins, there are collective gasps as people watch a jaw-dropping display of athleticism. Standing at some distance, Sherawat smiles. He has the ‘told-you-so’ look on his face, as Sushil continues to clamber up and down the tree.

Finally, after he is done 45 minutes later (you lose count of the number of climbs he has completed), you ask Sushil about his shoulder. “Don’t even mention it. Injury is a taboo word here,” Sushil snaps, not wanting to be reminded of the ‘toughest phase’ of his career where he came close to giving up what he loves doing the most.

Long layoff

SHERAWAT can’t recall the exact day, but this is sometime in mid-2013. After a routine training session at the Chhatrasaal, Sushil returned to his room in apparent discomfort. During the practice bout, Sushil, who competes in the 74kg category, was grappling against a wrestler weighing 90kg. It’s a common practice amongst wrestlers to fight men heavier than them to improve their strength. But at some point during the bout, Sushil injured his collar bone.
He didn’t feel the pain immediately but once the body cooled down, the 32-year-old couldn’t move his arms freely. He was still recovering from a shoulder injury and this worsened his condition. “The doctor who examined Sushil told me in private that chances of him returning to wrestling were 50-50. If he rushed through this phase and didn’t give enough time for the injury to heal, he would have to quit wrestling for good,” says Satpal Singh, Sushil’s coach and father-in-law.

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The wrestler mandated Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) to ensure he recovers in time for the Rio Olympics, even if that meant staying away from the mat for a long duration. “The injuries were serious and there were times when he would be frustrated but Sushil knew he had to be patient. It was more about preparing him physically because mentally he is extremely calm. He was extremely focussed in terms of what he needed. That made things a lot easier to deal with,” OGQ CEO Viren Rasquinha says.

There used to be occasional bouts of frustration and anxiety, especially when he started to miss camps and tournaments frequently. Barring a brief period when he trained for and competed at the Glasgow CWG last year, Sushil could not even step on a wrestling mat. Nor could he perform any of those crazy upper body exercises, which had become a part of his urban legend. He would run, play football and run more to ensure he maintained his fitness.

There was a welcome distraction in the form of his twins, who were born during this period, and his new role as a sports administrator. “It kept me happy, the kids especially. There was something new to look forward to.

Fatherhood taught me there’s more to life than wrestling,” Sushil says.

However, staying away from the mat for such a long period had slowed him down considerably. Once he recovered fully a month-and-a-half back, Sushil’s challenge has been not only to ensure he doesn’t over-exert himself, but also to increase his speed on the mat. “Around two hours in the morning, and two hours in the evening. The little time off I get in the afternoon is to catch some sleep and finish the administration work,” he adds.

The training regime can easily be a part of the montage that forms a critical element of most sports movies. “He does a hundred pull-ups in a minute; sometimes with weights tied around his calves. On some days, he will perform around 70-80 rope climbs and also goes for 10km cross-country runs occasionally,” Satpal says. “On some weekends, he piggybacks a wrestler weighing more than him and runs around 800m on the incline at the Delhi Ridge, which helps in strength and endurance. To improve his speed, he indulges in short sprints of 50m.”

New techniques

MOST of his time, however, was spent in front of his laptop watching videos of his opponents. The wrestling landscape has undergone tremendous change since Sushil picked up an injury and started to sit out.

His preferred category, 66kg, was removed from the Olympics by the international wrestling federation, which forced him to move up to 74kg. He won the CWG gold in his new weight category but the pool of his opponents has expanded considerably, which has resulted in more home work before the bouts.

While monitoring what his rivals have been doing, Sushil has had to adapt himself as well. The phitleys (leg-locks) or teggas (pin-down) are no more the surprise weapon in his armoury.

Consequently, in the last few months Sushil and Satpal have come up with a dozen new techniques, which he has been practising with his sparring partners.

One of the new tricks involves catching the opponent from his thigh and pinning him down. “We usually target ankles or calves to get a proper grip so this is a surprise element if this if executed properly. There are other variations as well if we have to attack an opponent from the front,” Satpal, an Asian Games gold medallist himself, says.

Every technique, which lasts barely five seconds, is repeated nearly a 1,000 times during each session according to the coach. Sushil won’t try any of the new tricks during his stint in Georgia for the fear of them recording it and using it for future reference. “The basic purpose of this trip is to get better sparring partners and also have a look at their wrestlers, since I have been out of action for a long time,” Sushil says.

The stint in the Eastern European country might prove to be handy for Sushil, considering they have a decent field in the 74kg category. Their top wrestler, Jumber Kvelashvili, recently won a bronze medal at the European Games.

To get more exposure before the Olympics, Sushil will be taking part in invitational tournaments in USA and Italy before another likely training stint in America.

Sushil knows a stint in the US will be crucial. America’s reigning Olympic gold medallist Jordan Burroughs is the man to beat in the 74kg category. Burroughs has won a medal at every tournament he has taken part in since 2011, including gold medals at three World Championships, two Pan American Games, one Pan American Championship and, of course, London 2012. Sushil has never faced him before as the Indian was earlier in the lower weight category.

Challenge back home

BUT before Sushil trains his guns on Burroughs, he will have to conquer the challenge he is facing back home. Narsingh Yadav, India’s original choice in the 74kg until Sushil made the jump, has been making all the right noises of late.

Till a couple of months back, Sushil would have been India’s automatic choice and obvious favourite for a medal in Rio. But Narsingh reminded the country of his abilities by winning a medal at the World Championships in Las Vegas last month, thus earning an Olympic quota. Since every country is alloted just one berth, the toss-up is now between Sushil and Narsingh for the elusive spot. “I wasn’t fit for the trials for the World Championship so it would not have been right on my part to delay team selection. Winning a medal and an Olympic quota is an incredible achievement by Narsingh. He has proven what a good wrestler he is,” Sushil says.

Whether the federation chooses to conduct a face-off between the two or unilaterally select a wrestler remains to be seen. Sushil says he is ready for any eventuality as long as it results in a medal. “I am ready for a trial or go by whatever the federation decides. Ultimately, our focus should be on winning the gold,” he says.

That, according to Satpal, is more likely if his son-in-law is given an opportunity. Tactically and technically, Sushil – says Satpal – is better equiped to beat Burroughs. It’s as if he has assumed that the American will reach the final and stands between Sushil and a gold medal. Going by Burroughs’ record, however, Satpal may not be far off the mark.

“If we send Sushil, we should not expect a bronze or silver from him. This time, it’s natural to expect a gold from him and even he realises that.” Satpal says. “I don’t mean disrespect to Narsingh, but Sushil is the only man who can beat the American. He, after all, has the strength of a bull.”

Wrestlers love to hyperbolize. But see him train in flesh and you realise Satpal’s claim isn’t a mere exaggeration.


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A vegetarian, Sushil’s routine diet includes:

2 litres of milk per day
Half kg almonds (partly crushed and mixed in water)
Half kg ghee
Chapati, daal, green vegetables, paneer


His weekly training includes (subject to change according to schedule):

Monday: Morning – jogging, mat-work; evening – rope climbs followed by basketball/football/ handball
Tuesday: Jogging followed by mat-work
Wednesday: Running and speed drills (short sprints, etc)
Thursday: Morning – jogging, mat-work; evening – rope climbs followed by gym or a game of basketball/football/handball
Friday: jogging followed by mat-work
Saturday: Cross-country running (10km) or 800m incline run at Delhi Ridge
Sunday: Rest day

* According to his sparring partners, Sushil Kumar can execute around 100 pulls in one minute with 10kg weights tied around his calves

* He can perform around 70-80 rope climbs in one session that lasts around 45 minutes

* Incline at Delhi Ridge a sparring partner who weighs heavier than him as a piggyback

* Around 1,000 repetitions on one technique in one session, according to coach Satpal Singh. One repetition takes around five seconds

Dipa Karmakar misses podium at World Gymnastics Championships, but puts India on the pedestal

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Dipa Karmakar, Karmakar, Dipa Karmakar India, India Dipa Karmakar, World gymnastics, Gymnastics Worlds, Gymnastics India, Sports news, sports Dipa Karmakar scored 14.683 points for a fifth-place finish.

Eight different countries were represented by eight vaulters in the finals of the event at the Gymnastics World Championship. The packed SSE Hydro at Glasgow cheered for the current great American Simone Biles as she stomped onto the stage and walked off with a swagger towards the rampway of the Vault. The Russian Maria Paseka was similarly greeted as was the vaulting specialist from North Korea Un Jong Hong. They were expected to strut out from the wings and take their place at the start.

The loudest roar, one that backs an underdog without any partisan fervour, one that welcomes a special talent into the fold, though, was reserved for India’s Dipa Karmakar. As she made a grinning entry on the stage with the tricolour fluttering on a giant screen at Gymnastics’ biggest global meet and strided confidently to take her place, the crowd hit a crescendo. India had arrived in Gymnastics.

Glasgow knew of this girl. Glasgow had clapped hard when coming from nowhere last August she had clinched the Commonwealth Games bronze. Glasgow was welcoming global gymnastics’ absolute newbie with familiarity, and they loved that she was an Indian, turned out smartly in a deep sky blue-and-white leotard suit on the big day.

“Everyone knows me now as the “vaulter” and especially for my Produnova (her first vaulting jump, a Russian speciality with the world’s highest difficulty of 7.0). So I am happy that now whole world knows that Indians are also into gymnastics. Today in the stadium, when I came out, people were astounded that an Indian has qualified for finals. Even Romania hadn’t qualified. I think they were excited for me,” Dipa would say later.

Going eighth on the vault, Dipa would launch into her handspring and double somersault, and though the power wasn’t enough to get the desired elevation in the air, she would land low-chested and on her haunches without touching the floor. The difficulty of the Produnova lies as much in the aerial rotations as in the landing, so she would be scored 15.300 (of a maximum 17.000) — to match her score that clinched the Asian championship medal earlier.

On the subsequent second vault, the Tsukahara 720, Dipa would twist alright but lose her way stepping out of the lane and be docked points immediately – a 0.3 penalty that would yield a lowly 14.066 (Difficulty 6.0), for an average of 14.683 and a fifth position in the world. It was 0.983 points off the gold, and 0.858 short of the bronze medal.

No federation

The finishing finesse is utterly lacking in Karmakar’s jumps, and the trembling landings often leave first-time watchers doubting her prowess against girls who stick them landings clean and finish with a poised flourish. But the Indian is onto a very challenging path towards medalling at big events (choosing two of the toughest jumps), and perhaps how she started is more eye-popping than how she finishes the effort.

“There is no federation in India right now,” coach Bisweshwar Nandi says (“Federation ka koi astitva hi nahi hai”), a fact so staggering when juxtaposed against the highly sophisticated support systems for the rest of the finalists here, that India looks like one right oddball in the mix at Glasgow. The US, Great Britain, North Korea (with a great tradition in the sport) and Russia took the first four places. The famous fifth one is a country, rather notoriously, without a functioning national federation. “SAI helped set up the camp, so we could reach here,” the coach adds.
Since the time the federation erupted into factions, there is no governing body for the sport. When Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal visited his native north east and hopped across from Assam to Tripura, Dipa, her coach Nandi and father Dulal had met him and requested him to allow for a camp at Delhi. The Sports Authority of India would set up the camp after Dipa had gone 8 months without practice. She would learn the Tsukahara – in 3 months flat heading to the Worlds. “I spoke to all the coaches of the girls who finished 1, 2, 3 and 4. They’ve been doing their vaults for at least 3 years now. So Dipa’s effort wasn’t bad,” the coach would say.

Olympic dream

The effort is right almighty on its own, though the tangibles are tough to state. There’s no medal and no direct qualification to the Olympics. “I’m hearing that even second reserves (Dipa is 26th on list; 24 make the cut) might be invited to the Test event in April at Rio. We’ll know in a month and half from the FIG (international body),” coach Nandi says.

“I am happy. But I really want to play at the Olympics,” Dipa says, her eagerness for the ultimate competition apparent in her tone. “I want to be in the Olympics because I am good enough. Even if it’s the 2020 Games,” says the 22-year-old. “I know if I’d done better on my second vault, I could’ve been 4th. I know I’m very close to being the best,” she repeats. “Maybe if I had more time on the Tsukahara, practicing more, I could’ve medalled,” she says, not too distraught at where she’s finished at her best-ever Worlds.

The top gymnastics nations had ensured team qualifications to Rio, but the individual event finals were Karmakar’s stage to shine. The American great Simone Biles showed technical perfection and the Russian had pedigree. What the Indian had was tremendous hunger to prove herself. Having done that at the World Championships showing she belonged, no one dare tell Dipa Karmakar now that the Olympics is an uphill climb for her.

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