Motorsports: I could have made it to the podium, Gill rues as Rally of Australia is cancelled

Harpal Singh Bedi

Gaurav Gill

New Delhi: Ace rally driver Gaurav Gill on Tuesday expressed his disappointment as the Rally of Australia was cancelled, owing to the bush fire around New South Wales.

“WRC organisers announced the cancellation of the Rally due to the serious fire that continue to affect Northern NSW. It is very unfortunate that this lovely country is going through something like this. I hope that the fire is doused soon and normalcy is restored. My thoughts are with the families who have been impacted by this,” the WRC2 driver and three-time APRC champion Gaurav saidin a statement.

“Personally, I feel sad that the Rally could not take place. I was feeling confident and the car was looking good too and I thought I could make the podium, especially as I had a good run last year,” Gill added.

The Arjuna Awardee, supported by JK Tyre, is now looking forward to the rest of the season in India.

“I will be back for the INRC soon and I will try to reassert my supremacy,” Gill said.


Martial Arts: Ritu Phogat’s successful transition to MMA

Harpal Singh Bedi

New Delhi: Ace wrestler Ritu Phogat’s first professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) bout this Saturday,has evoked a very positive response from fellow Indian athletes who have transitioned successfully to MMA from other sports

Ritu, the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship gold medallist joined Singapore’s Evolve MMA earlier this year where she’s been training since then to prepare for her professional debut on ONE Championship’s global stage. She will be taking on Nam Hee Kim in “ONE: Age of Dragons” at Beijing, China.

The Indian has already reached China, where she is a popular figure due to the Bollywood film “Dangal” which was based on the story of her family. Ahead of her first MMA bout, she said she was neither worried nor in any hurry,

“I joined MMA because I want to become the first Indian world champion. I watch all the fights in ONE Championship and I have a lot of respect for the fighters in my division, like Angela Lee. But I believe in my training, that I will be able to prove myself.”

Ritu asserted that she was ready to test herself in MMA, “I have been training non-stop in boxing, kickboxing, and jiu-jiutsu here in Evole MMA. The coaches have been great and I’ve been training with world champions so the preparation has been great; I’m not worried about where the fight may go. If it’s on the ground I’ll strike with her. If I get the chance I’ll take her down and finish her with ground and pound.”

Her decision to join MMA has created a buzz in the Indian combat sports community, where her potentia for success in the ONE Atomweight division – which includes superstars like Angela Lee, Stamp Fairtex and Bi Nyugen – is a big topic of discussion.
It’s rare for athletes to excel in one sport then try to conquer another. Arjan Singh Bhullar, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist in wrestling who became a successful Mixed Martial Artist at the highest level, believes Ritu can go very far with the right approach,

“It’s very important to become an adept striker, to get comfortable with hitting and getting hit. Wrestling will always be there, but it’s an MMA fight, not a wrestling match. You have to be well-rounded. Ritu has been training in Evolve MMA; they have top notch coaches so I’m sure they’ve been focusing on her striking.”

Arjan alluded to his win against Mauro Cerilli which established him as one of the top contenders in ONE Championship’s heavyweight division, “My opponent was focused on defending against takedowns so I beat him on the feet, Ritu can do the same. Since they’ll be worried about Ritu’s wrestling, they’ll always be looking to defend against level changes and that will leave them vulnerable to strikes.”

Most of Ritu’s prospective opponents are from Muay Thai and Kickboxing background; something that can play to her advantage, explained Arjan, “Wrestlers go through hundreds of matches during their career. It conditions you to develop instinctual responses to dangerous situations during a bout. You become mentally tough and create a knack for problem-solving. Ritu’s extensive wrestling background gives her that. Her skill-set is different from others and if she can complement it with her striking, sky is the lim

Four-time Delhi state wrestling champion turned MMA fighter, Roshan Mainam Luwang, who trains in Evolve MMA along with Ritu, agreed with Arjan’s assessment, “Ritu’s first fight will be very exciting. Her opponent has a lot of training in jiu-jiutsu, so Ritu may have to work hard to get the submission.”

Roshan got a dominant win in ONE Championship last week where he submitted his opponent in the very first round. Speaking about how Ritu’s fight may go, he said, “When both fighters are good on the ground, the bout may see a lot of striking exchanges. Ritu has benefited a lot from world class training at Evolve. Hopefully she will be able to hold her own. It will give us a good look at where she stands in the Atomweight division, which has some world class strikers.”


Golf: Ridhima attempts fifth win as Hero WPGT’s final leg tees off in Kolkata

Newsroom24x7 Network

Ridhima Dilawari

Kolkata: Barring Gaurika Bishnoi, most other leading Indian players will be in attendance at the season-ending Rs.10 lakh 15thLeg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour, which will tee off at the historic Royal Calcutta Golf Club on Wednesday.

Last week’s winner Ridhima DIlawari will go for a whopping fifth success this season, a feat not accomplished since Vani Kapoor registered seven wins in 2016. She will be challenged, however, by Diksha Dagar, winner on the Ladies European Tour, in-form Tvesa Malik and the experienced Vani Kapoor among others.

The event will miss Hero Order of Merit leader Gaurika Bishnoi, who has skipped the event on account of medical reasons. She has however made certain of the Order of Merit honours as she is almost Rs.2 lakhs clear of the second placed Amandeep Drall and the winner’s cheque this week will be Rs.1,40,000.

The final event of the season has 26 professionals and one amateur, Pranavi Urs, who next year could be expected to turn professional.

The event also sees an international flavor with the entry of Thai duo Numa Gulyanamitta and P Supakchaya.

In the current season the first 14 events have been won by seven players, with Ridhima Dilawari accounting for four wins and Tvesa winning three times. The only other player to win more than once has been Gaurika Bishnoi, who has also had a very consistent season with a string of Top-3 finishes. Amandeep Drall, Neha Tripathi, Gursimar Badwal and Gauri Karhade have been the other winners this year.

The Money list is headed by Gaurika Bishnoi who has amassed Rs.11,84,100, while the second placed Amandeep Drall has won Rs. 9,85,933. Ridhima Dilawari, who has won four times in 11 starts, is lying third with Rs.9,69,433.


Table Tennis: Suhana, Preyesh are Sub-Junior top seeds

Newsroom24x7 Network

Bhavnagar: Haryana’s Suhana Saini, with maximum ranking points in her kitty, has been given the pride of place, as Delhi’s Lakshita Narang followed her closely at No. 2 spot when the seeding was drawn for the Sub-Junior Girls in the UTT National Ranking (Central Zone) Table Tennis Championships at the SAG Sports Complex here today.

But in the title-race tomorrow, one can expect the two to figure apart from Kavyashree Baskar of Tamil Nadu. And the other six seeds that follow them in that order include Kavyashree Baskar, Taneesha Kotecha of Maharashtra, Nehal Venkatasamy of Tamil Nadu, Nilishma Sarkar of West Bengal, Pritha Vartikar of Maharashtra and Sneha Bowmick, also of West Bengal.

Similarly, Preyesh Raj Suresh of Tamil Nadu, yet again touted as the favourites to win the title, and Sarth Mishra of UP have been given the top billings among Sub-Junior Boys as No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. The others who are behind them include Jash Modi of Maharashtra, Divyansh Srivastava of UP, Ankur Bhattacharjee of West Bengal, Shivam Chandra, also of UP, while Aadil Anand and Rajveer Shah, both of Maharashtra, at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively.

Not only the top eight seeds in both sections will enjoy first-round byes, but 16 among the 32 qualifiers will benefit from the largesse as the main draw will be of 64 slots. Indeed, the top group qualifiers will be the first ones to reap the benefits with a few others joining in a random draw.

With the Cadet and Sub-Junior Nationals at Dharamsala just four days away, the thin attendance of players, which resulted in several walkovers, is understandable but the pullouts has given a breather to those in the fray as the notable players have preferred to opt out of the last championships.

Maharashtra, expectedly, topped the chart of qualifiers with their sheer number of participation as seven of their girls have made the main draw cut with Tamil Nadu following them with seven qualifiers. With more pullouts from West Bengal, only five of their girls could make it to the second stage with Delhi at fourth place with three players in the main draw.

Jeeya Lakhani of Gujarat was the lone representative for the hosts who, too, like many others benefited from walkover in group 13.

Among the Sub-Junior Boys, West Bengal lead the list with seven of their paddlers qualifying for the main draw while Maharashtra (5), Tamil Nadu and Gujarat (5 each) have a big say in the qualification rounds.

Among the Gujarat qualifiers, Sumith Nair and Harsh Patel figure among the early group toppers even as Mahiraj Jadeja and Dhyey Shah from the latter groups have made the cut.