Pullela Gopichand Hopes India Will Get Badminton Gold At Tokyo Games


Saying that “every year has been better than the previous one”, chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand is hopeful that India would clinch its first ever gold medal in the discipline at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “Well, I think every year, in the last few years, has been better than the previous one. “In 2008 (Beijing Olympics) — the quarterfinal results was the biggest result, in 2012 (London Olympics) we had the first-ever bronze (Saina Nehwal), in 2016 (Rio Olympics) we had the first-ever silver (P V Sindhu) and, hopefully, 2020 (Tokyo Olympics) we will have the first-ever gold,” Gopichand said here Monday.

The former All England champion was speaking after felicitating the seven winners of the IDBI Federal Quest for Excellence #Young Champ programme who will undergo training at his academy in Hyderabad.

Gopichand said earlier badminton was remembered for men’s singles players like Nandu Natekar, Suresh Goel and Prakash Padukone, among others, but Saina Nehwal changed the perception.

“Well, yes. For a long time before these girls (referring to Saina Nehwal, P V Sindhu) came out, badminton was primarily remembered for men’s singles players, whether it is Nandu Natekar, Suresh Goel, Prakash (Padukone) Sir or Syed Modi. “It is how that whole thing was. The change to that (perception) happened (and for that) Saina (Nehwal) was important.

“We needed somebody with that kind of push, hunger, will to win, because (being) the first person to come out and win is very difficult,” the veteran shuttler said. He heaped praise on Sindhu, saying the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist has at least 2 more Olympics left.

“It is great to see what Sindhu has achieved — World Championship medal, Olympic medal, and all other medals – and you can still look at her and say ”she has two Olympics to go at least”, and that is something fantastic,” he noted.

Gopichand said he was able to pass on the formula for winning to his students at an early age. “I won the All England (Championship) at 27 and all my life I wish I had won All England at 20, then I would have had so many more years of experience.

“When we were starting off (with coaching), it was my mom’s statement — `if you had won early, or if you kids (students) will win early, they will have enough chances to stumble, fall down, tie their laces and move”.

“Because when I realised that I knew the formula for winning, my career was finished.

“So I just wanted to pass it (formula) so that my kids (students) can win at a younger age. And I”m sure I have been successful in that because Sindhu won when she was very young. A lot of my players have won at a young age,” he said.

According to Gopichand, the change in Indian badminton over the last 10 years has been “fantastic”. “Fantastic, I would say. The sport has jumped in all parameters. Prakash (Padukone) Sir played leagues in Denmark,

Vimal (Kumar) played in the UK, I have played in Germany and today we host the biggest league in the world (Premier Badminton League).

“Things have changed. We have (Carolina) Marin coming here to play, Viktor (Axelson) coming here to play.

Tournaments in those countries are stopped because we have leagues more popular than theirs. “The earnings of top players have gone up. They are encouraging a whole set of people to take the sport forward,” he signed off. 



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Khelo India Youth Games: Maharashtra Amass 85 Gold, 228 Medals To Take Overall Trophy


Maharashtra put in a brilliant performance to bag 228 medals, which included 85 gold medals, to clinch the Khelo India Youth Games’ overall trophy. Hosts Maharashtra also bagged an impressive 62 silver and 81 bronze medals which helped them finish ahead of Haryana and Delhi. Khelo India School Games 2018 champions Haryana took the second spot on the podium with 62 gold, 56 silver and 60 bronze with a total of 178 medals, while Delhi were third with 48 gold, 37 silver and 51 bronze, amassing a total of 136 medals.

On the final day, 15 gold medals were at stake and out of them eight were in archery, where hosts Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana picked two each while Delhi and Punjab won one each.

Haryana showed their mettle in hockey, winning the girls Under-21 final to take their third gold in hockey from four finals while Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala won a gold each in volleyball.

Manush Shah of Gujarat emerged as the singles champion in Under-21 table tennis, while Saubhi Patwari of West Bengal won the Girls Under-21 singles.

Team Maharashtra members and officials received the trophy from Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for HRD, Government of India, and Vinod Tawde, Minister of Sports and Youth Welfare, Maharashtra, amidst loud cheers at the closing ceremony held at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex.

Neelam Kapur, Director General of the Sports Authority, pointed out that it was the tremendous effort of the Maharashtra government and the hundreds of volunteers that had made the Games so successful.

“KIYG 2019 had an approximate participation of 10,000 which comprised more than 5,925 athletes, 1,096 support staff, 893 technical officials, 36 chef-de-missions, 1010 volunteers and 1,500 officials.”

“This was almost double in comparison to the approximate 5.500 at the KISG 2018,” she added.



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Khelo India Youth Games: Haryana Make Big Surge With Eight Gold Medals In Boxing


Boxers Ankit Narwal, Vanshaj and Preeti Dahiya played a key role for Haryana who reaped as many as eight gold, eight silver and 15 bronze medals from boxing in the Boys’ Under-17 and Girls Under-17 categories at the at the Khelo India Youth Games (KISG) here on Friday.

Hosts Maharashtra were close behind, winning five gold while Manipur girls marked their presence by winning two gold. Madhya Pradesh, Chandigarh, Punjab, Karnataka and Rajasthan won one gold medal each. 

The girls of Maharashtra — Devika Ghorpade and Mitika Gunele — who both have a great interest in dancing too, won a gold medal each in their respective categories. Devika playing in 46kg class edged out Haryana girl Tamanna 3-2. 

Meanwhile, Mitika, who was gold medallist at the KISG last year, defended her title in the 66kg class. Effectively using her raw power in a combination of punches and jabs, Mitika outshined Muskan from Haryana. The coaches and Haryana supporters were repeatedly urging Muskan to go all out, but the Haryana girl proves no match to 7th Nation Cup gold medallist Mitika. 

Haryana‘s Vanshaj and Ankit Narwal overcame stiff resistance from Maharashtra pugilists in the final. Vanshaj faced lanky Akash Gorkha in the 57kg class, while Ankit was challenged by Laisharam Singh. 

Vanshaj played a clever and despite being at a height disadvantage against his opponent, he managed to gather valuable points in the third round.



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Khelo India Youth Games: Haryana Beat Odisha To Set Up Final With Jharkhand In U-21 Girls Hockey


Khelo India Youth Games: Haryana Beat Odisha To Set Up Final With Jharkhand In U-21 Girls Hockey

Odisha and Haryana U-21 girls in action at Khelo India Youth Games. © Khelo India


Haryana overpowered Odisha 2-0 to set up a title clash with Jharkhand in the Girls U-21 hockey competition of the Khelo India Youth Games on Friday. In the first semi-final, Jharkhand overwhelmed Punjab 3-0. The U-17 girls section will also see a Haryana-Jharkhand face-off for gold medal on Sunday. The gold medal matches between Haryana and Jharkhand in both Under-17 and Under-21 will be held on Sunday, while the bronze medal play-offs will be held on Saturday, with Odisha meeting Punjab in both Under-17 and Under-21 sections, a media release said. 

Haryana started on an aggressive note and opened up a two-goal cushion in the space of four minutes even before the Odisha players could settle down.  Anu put Haryana ahead in the seventh minute when her rasping shot from the top of the circle beat Odisha goalkeeper Asima Minz all ends up.

 

The shock goal rattled the Odisha defence which conceded their first penalty corner in the 11th minute and skipper Ritu with a powerful drive sounded the boards.

 

Odisha regrouped and launched a fierce counter-attack but Binita Kujur fumbled inside the circle and her shot went wide.

 

Though Haryana had a major share of possession, they could not convert the advantage into goals, while Odisha fought back well and did not allow their fancied rivals to widen the 2-0 gap.

 

Odisha also had their share of chances but their strikers were found wanting in front of goal.

 

Earlier, Jharkhand outplayed Punjab 3-0 in a one-sided semi-final and the victory margin was not a true indication of the superiority the winners enjoyed throughout the match. But for the missed chances, Jharkhand could have won by at least six goals.

 

For the winners who led 1-0 at half time, the goal scorers were Alka Dung Dung, Pramila Soreng and Roshni Dung Dung.

 

Jharkhand went ahead in the second minute when Alka scored off the first penalty corner. The winners totally dominated the first half but could not increase their lead with some poor finishing.

 

Punjab’s girls were hardly able to mount a comprehensive threat on the rival citadel in the first quarter and though they forced two penalty corners in the second quarter, Punjab failed to make use of them.

 

Two minutes into the second half, Jharkhand earned their fourth penalty corner and this time Pramila Soreng was bang on target to take the tally to 2-0.

 

Punjab tried hard on the counter but their forwards were not able to create openings or even half-chances.

 

Jharkhand sealed the match in the 44th minute when Roshni capitalised on a defensive lapse and pushed the ball home.

Results: U-21 Girls Hockey Semi-Final Haryana 2 Odisha 0 Jharkhand 3 Punjab 0.


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Khelo India Youth Games: Tamil Nadu, West Bengal Girls On Top In Volleyball


Tamil Nadu and West Bengal swapped favours in the semi-finals of the girls volleyball competition of the Khelo India Youth Games here on Friday. While Tamil Nadu entered the gold medal round of the Under-21 event at West Bengal’s expense, the team from the eastern state returned the favour in the Under-17 draw. In the semi-finals of the girls Under-21 section, Tamil Nadu got the better of Bengal 25-20, 25-21, 25-21 and were joined in the title round by Kerala, who blanked hosts Maharashtra by a similar 3-0 margin, 25-19, 25-18, 25-22.

The second match was a well-contested one with the Maharashtra girls keeping up with their taller rivals for long periods but in the end, Kerala’s experience told to set up a final against long-time rivals Tamil Nadu.

In the girls Under-17 section, West Bengal beat Tamil Nadu 25-8, 25-20-25-9 to set up a meeting with Maharashtra for the gold medal after the hosts ousted the strongly-favoured Kerala 25-23, 25-18, 22-25, 15-25, 15-11 in a pulsating encounter that went on late into the evening.

Another close clash came in the boys Under-17 section where Gujarat were taken to four sets by Kerala before winning 25-22, 23-25, 25-15, 25-13. They take on Uttar Pradesh for the gold medal on Saturday after the latter ousted Tamil Nadu 25-14, 25-20, 25-22.



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Khelo India Youth Games: Punjab, Tamil Nadu Dominate In Basketball


Khelo India Youth Games: Punjab, Tamil Nadu Dominate In Basketball

Action from a basketball match at Khelo India Youth Games. © Khelo India


Punjab and Tamil Nadu made it to three finals each and will be out to claim bragging rights as the powerhouses of basketball at the Khelo India Youth Games 2019 here on Satuday. The Punjab Under-21 lads earned themselves the chance to avenge a defeat in the group stage by Tamil Nadu in the under-21 final. Punjab bounced back in great style to quell Kerala 72-48 while Tamil Nadu handed Maharashtra a 78-57 loss in the other semifinal. In the girls Under-21 semi-finals, Tamil Nadu breezed past Uttar Pradesh 79-52 with Pushpa Senthilkumar (26) standing out. Karnataka took the last final slot of the day, quashing Kerala hopes with a 79-65 scoreline. 

Earlier, in the boys, Under-17 semi-finals, Arvinder Singh (25 points) led Punjab in edging out Kerala 84-81. Trailing 30-40 at the halfway stage, Kerala had Aaron Blessen (31) emerge as the top-scorer. Punjab take on Rajasthan who relatively had it easy against Haryana 67-56.

In the girl’s Under-17 section, Punjab sent hosts Maharashtra packing 80-73. Punjab were powered by Harsimran Dhami (35 points), who emerged the top scorer of the day. Tamil Nadu booked their spot in the final at the expense of Kerala 70-64.

Kerala, who were the only State to make the last four stage in all four sections, disappointed by crashing out of all semi-finals. Kerala’s hopes were dashed by Punjab boys in the Under-21 and Under-17 semi-finals. In the girl’s section, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu played spoilsport in the Under-21 and Under-17 sections.


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Khelo India Youth Games: Muskan Karir Overcomes Pain To Take Top Four Slot In Compound Archery


Khelo India Youth Games: Muskan Karir Overcomes Pain To Take Top Four Slot In Compound Archery

Asian Games silver medallist Muskan Karir overcame nagging shoulder pain to score of 675 points. © AFP


Asian Games silver medallist Muskan Karir from Madhya Pradesh overcame nagging shoulder pain to shoot a reasonable score of 675 points in the girls under-21 compound archery ranking round at the Khelo India Youth Games. She finished a creditable fourth after 72 arrows. Jharkhand’s Anita Kumari topped the girls’ under-21 compound ranking round with an imposing total of 694 points, a media release said. In the boys’ under-21 ranking round, Punjab‘s Sangampreet Singh Bisla was just as good. The Patiala lad’s 695 were two points better than Madhya Pradesh rival Saurabh Pandey’s total. In fact, the top six had scores of 690 and more.

Youth Olympic Games silver-medallist Akash Malik (Haryana) shot with consistency on what has been his home turf for a while now, the Army Sports Institute, but took only the third place in the ranking round in the boys under-17 recurve contest. Shooting at the target 60m away, the 16-year-old Akash Malik shot 665 points, eight behind the leader Amit Kumar (Madhya Pradesh).

Amit Kumar, who won the team gold for Madhya Pradesh in National Championships here last year, will be ready to stop the Haryana trio of Paras Hooda, Akash Malik and Rahul in the Olympic rounds tomorrow. “He is a good Olympic round shooter,” coach Richpal Singh Salaria said of the 15-year-old who picked up a bow for the first time two years ago.

The results (ranking round, top four only): Recurve: Boys under-21: B Dhiraj (Andhra Pradesh) 663 points; Shukmani Gajanan Babreka (Mahrashtra) 662; Uttkarsh (Punjab) 653; Satyam Shyam Patil (Maharashtra) 652. Girls under-21: Sangeeta (Haryana) 647 points; Suparna Singh (West Bengal) 628; Sehajpreet Kaur (Punjab) 627; Ankita Bhakat (Jharkhand) 625. Boys under-17: Amit Kumar (Madhya Pradesh) 673; Pras Hooda (Haryana) 670; Akash Malik (Haryana) 665; Rahul(Haryana) 655. Girls under-17: Komalika Bari (Jharkhand) 668; Ridhi (Haryana) 651; Shaniya Sharma (Jharkhand) 648; Amanpreet Kaur(Punjab) 631. Compound Boys under-21: Sangampreet Singh Bisla (Punjab) 695; Saurabh Pandey (Madhya Pradesh) 693; PadamSehrawat (Delhi) 692; Sumik Kumar (Haryana) 691. Girls under-21: Anita Kumari (Jharkhand) 694; Shristi Kanwar (Rajasthan) 681; Suchitra Tourangbman (Manipur) 675; Muskan Kirar (Madhya Pradesh) 675. Boys under-17: Ritik Chahal (Delhi) 697; Kunderu Venkatadri (Andhra Pradesh) 694; Mayank Rawat (Haryana) 684; Chirag Vidyarthi (Madhya Pradesh) 683. Girls under-17: Priya Gurjar (Rajasthan) 684; IshaKetan Pawar (Maharashtra) 681; Nikesa Sakhrie (Puducherry) 680; Arshiya Chaudhary (Delhi) 677.


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Khelo India Youth Games: Quality Of Shooting Reflects Growing Stature Of Sport


Khelo India Youth Games: Quality Of Shooting Reflects Growing Stature Of Sport

Rajasthan’s Manavaditya Singh Rathore won gold medal in Men’s under-21 trap event. © Khelo India


The growing stature of shooting as a sport in India was amply reflected in the quality of competition and intense battles for the 19 gold medals at stake at the Khelo India Youth Games in Pune. That as many as 11 states won at least one gold medal also an indication of the widespread popularity of the sport, a media release said. Punjab led the charts with three gold, three silver and four bronze medals, while Madhya Pradesh bagged three gold, one silver and four bronze medals. Haryana, with two gold, four silver and a bronze medal pipped Rajasthan (2-3-1) to the third spot.

Dhanush Srikanth, who became the only hearing-impaired athlete to win gold, walked into many a heart with his skills and endearing smile. The likes of Arjun Singh Cheema, Adarsh Singh, Harshada Nithave and Devanshi Rana delivered the goods so tellingly that the threat of some of the sheen being taken away by the absence of pistol wizards like Saurabh Chauhdary, Anish Bhanwala, Manu Bhaker and Muskaan was dealt with quite efficiently.

The beautiful diversity in the Trap gold winners, Manavaditya Singh Rathore and Manisha Keer in the boys Under-21 and girls Under-21 sections was there for all to see. Manavaditya is the son of Olympic double trap silver medallist and Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, while Manisha Keer is the daughter of a Bhopal-based fisherman, Kailash Keer, the release added.


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Maharashtra On Top Of Medals Tally At Khelo India Youth Games


Kerala, showing that they have adapted to the tactics of the sport, picked two silver medals, both in Under-21 section. Delhi (Girls Under-17) and Andhra Pradesh (Boys Under-17) won the other silver medals.

Barring the Boys Under-17 final against Andhra Pradesh, the hosts Maharashtra were made to fight in all the other finals, though they came through with the gold in all with the crowd cheering them hard.

The most entertaining match was in Under-17 Girls’ final where Maharashtra beat Delhi 19-17 as the match was decided through an extra inning which Maharashtra won 7-5 after both teams were level at the end of the second innings.

As the focus shifted to team events, Haryana reached three of the four semi-finals of the Kabaddi competition. The only exception was in Boys Under-21 section, where Haryana was surprisingly knocked out in the League stage.

Haryana beat surprise semi-finalists West Bengal by a massive 36-point margin to reach the final, where they meet Chhattisgarh who edged past beat Uttar Pradesh by three points to reach the final showdown.

The Haryana girls continued their performance in the U-21 category as well as they beat Uttar Pradesh by a handy margin of 32-26. They will meet Himachal Pradesh for the gold. Himachal fought a close match with hosts Maharashtra before winning 22-19.

The boys’ category, U-17 semi-finals were close. Chattisgarh had to sweat it out before earning a 29-27 win, while Delhi took on Kabaddi powerhouse Haryana in the second semi-final. This was the only semi-final, where Haryana were strained a little. After an initial fight from Delhi, Haryana went on to win 44-37.

In tennis, third seed S. Manish of Tamil Nadu stayed on course for the gold medal by reaching the final of boys U-21 singles. He overcame Nitin Sinha of West Bengal 6-3, 6-2. Manish will now take on unseeded Dhruv Sunish of Maharashtra, who upset fourth seed Paramveer Bajwa of Chandigarh in the other semi-final. Dhruv beat Bajwa 6-4, 6-2.

In the U-17 girls singles semi-finals, Prerna Vichare of Maharashtra, who trains at Khar Gymkhana, overcame Lakshmi Reddy of Andhra Pradesh 7-5, 6-4 and will play Priyanshi Bhandari of Gujarat for the gold medal. The Gujarat girl beat top seed Gargi Pawar of Maharashtra 6-2, 6-2.

In the girls’ U-21 doubles semi-finals, Telangana’s Rashmika Bhamdipaty and Humera Shaik reached the final without conceding a game 6-0, 6-0 against Tamil Nadu’s K. Balasubramanian and Sai Avanti Revevanur. They face Gujarat’s Zeel Desai and Vaidehi Chaudhari who defeated Sai Dedeepya and Aditi Aree of Telangana 6-0, 6-2 in the other semi-final.

In hockey, Jharkhand came back from a huge 0-3 deficit to turn the tables on Odisha and emerge 4-3 winners set up a title clash with Haryana in the girls U-17 hockey competition on Thursday. In contrast, Haryana turned the second semi-final into a one-sided affair, hammering neighbours Punjab 4-0.



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Byju’s Acquires US-Based Learning Games Platform Osmo for $120 Million


Byju’s, an Indian online tutoring startup, has acquired US-based maker of educational games Osmo for $120 million (roughly Rs. 856 crores). The deal, which was announced late-Wednesday, is Byju’s first ever purchase of a US company. According to Osmo, the company will continue operate as a standalone brand and Byju’s will incorporate its physical-to-digital technology and content in own products. The Bengaluru-based ed-tech startup is hoping to use Osmo’s technology to target the age-group 3 to 8 by introducing play-based learning products.

“With this acquisition, we are expanding into a new age demographic and entering the world of younger kids (age group 3-8). Our partnership with Osmo will help kids acquire love for learning at an early age by introducing ‘play-based learning’,” said Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO, Byju’s.

Byju’s says that the Osmo acquisition will bolster its international expansion plans and it will continue to make investments in technology that can help it to further personalise learning products. For the same, Byju’s had earlier purchased TutorVista, an India-based online tutoring system, which targets US students.

Osmo was established in 2013 by ex-Googlers Promod Sharma and Jerome Scholler. The company mainly offers learning apps that integrate offline activities for children aged 5 to 12.

“The company’s physical-to-digital experiences, approach to thoughtful design and the elegant, age-appropriate use of technology has led to a faithful following among teachers and parents,” Osmo said in a statement.

The company claims that its apps are being used in tens of thousands of elementary schools across the United States. Osmo had raised a total of $32.5 million (roughly Rs. 230 crores) in three funding rounds.

The Osmo deal announcement comes just a month after the Byju’s had revealed that it has raised $540 million (roughly Rs. 3,865 crores) from Naspers Ventures and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) at a valuation of $3.6 billion (roughly Rs. 25,687 crores). Other investors in the company include Tencent, Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia Capital, Sofina, Verlinvest, Aarin Capital, Times Internet, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Byju’s has raised a total of $784 million (roughly Rs.5,595 crores) so far in a total of eight funding rounds, as per data from Crunchbase.

Founded in 2011 by Byju Raveendran, Byju’s has steadily grown over the years. The company currently boasts of 30 million registered students and 2 million annual paid subscribers. It claims that the students spend an average of 64 minutes daily on its service. The company is aiming to triple its revenue to $250 million (roughly Rs. 1,784 crores) this year.



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