Olympic medallist Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth’s hopes of making it to this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games ended on Friday as badminton’s global governing body said that no more qualifying tournaments would be played due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Badminton World Federation (BWF) can confirm no further tournaments will be played inside the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifying window. As such, while the qualification period officially closes 15 June 2021 as per the Revised Tokyo 2020 Qualification System, the current Race To Tokyo rankings list will not change,” the world body said.
Four Indians — PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, and Chirag Shetty — have qualified for the July-August Olympics in Tokyo. Olympic silver medallist Sindhu and 2019 World Championships bronze medallist Praneeth will represent India in women’s and men’s singles while Rankireddy and Shetty have qualified for the men’s doubles event.
While Srikanth and Saina were the closest to qualifying among the Indians, Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy too had an outside of chance of making it to the Olympics in women’s doubles.
Players had to be ranked inside the top 16 of the singles rankings in the Race to Tokyo standings and the top eight of the doubles rankings to achieve qualification. Saina is ranked 22nd while Srikanth is 20th. Ashwini and Sikki are ranked 26th. Sindhu, who won gold at the 2019 World Championships, is ranked seventh while Praneeth is 13th.
Both Saina, India’s first Olympic medallist in badminton, and Srikanth, who became world No.1 in 2017, are ageing and might find it difficult to appear in the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Three years from now, the competition too could become tougher.
Saina is 31 while Srikanth is 28. Srikanth may still pose a challenge for a spot in the 2024 Olympics, by which time he would be 31. On the other hand, Tokyo might have been the last chance for Saina to challenge for a second Olympics medal as she would be 35 by 2024.
Their chances of making it to the Olympics were significantly depleted by postponement of a number of tournaments that served as qualifiers, most notably the Indian Open, the Malaysian Open, and the Singapore Open, in March and April.
The three tournaments were the last in the qualification calendar and were all deferred amid a deadly second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in India.
“The Olympic qualification process is in effect closed as there are no additional opportunities for players to earn points,” said BWF secretary general Thomas Lund.
“However, we still need to receive confirmations from National Olympic Committees and Member Associations, followed by any possible reallocations, and this will take a number of weeks to complete,” he said.
Invitations will be sent shortly, with final participation lists and seedings to be published at the conclusion of this process, the BWF said.
PKL 8: Patna Pirates beat Puneri Paltan 38-26
Raider Sachin scored 10 points as three-time champions Patna Pirates defeated Puneri Paltan 38-26 in Match 17 of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 8 at The Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, on Tuesday. Sachin scored a Super 10 (10 points) and was ably supported by Patna’s defensive trio of Sunil (4 points), Mohammadreza Chiyaneh (3 points), and Sajin C (3 points). The lack of a quality raider despite promising performances from youngsters will be a cause of concern for the Puneri Paltan who succumbed to their second loss in three matches.
All eyes were once again on Pune’s Rahul Chaudhari but the showman, despite starting the match, was substituted for young Mohit Goyat by coach Anup Kumar in the first half. The trio of raiders including Aslam Inamdar and Pankaj Mohite caused problems for the Patna defence while at the other end Prashant Kumar Rai and Sachin were equally effective.
Patna were facing the risk of an all-out with six minutes left to half-time, but their defender Sajin C completed a Super Tackle to turn the momentum. The three-time champions got lucky later when Monu Goyat entered the lobby without contact, in a do-or-die raid only to be followed by three Pune defenders who had been deceived by his actions. The first half ended 14-14 with Pune having just two men on the mat.
Pune coach Anup Kumar clearly expected from his set of raiders and brought in Shubham Shelke for Pankaj Mohite in the second half. But Patna kept fighting back, thanks to the largely confident tackles from the likes of Mohammadreza Chiyaneh and Sajin. With 10 minutes remaining, Patna had a four-point lead and that was extended a’ Pune’s plan to play on the Do-or-Die raid backfired. Sachin scored two points in the crucial raid for Patna to inspire another ALL OUT in the 13th minute and open a 10-point lead.
Patna maintained the momentum and though Sunil and Vishal Bharadwaj picked up yellow cards in the final minutes as the match became intense the three-time champions ensured there was no late comeback by Pune and clinched an important win.
PKL 8: Bengal Warriors beat Gujarat Giants
Bengal Warriors defeated Gujarat Giants 31-28 on Day 3 of the Pro Kabaddi League Season 8 held at The Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, here on Friday. This was Bengal Warriors’ second win in as many matches while Gujarat Gaints have one win and one loss. The Warriors have 10 points the same as Dabang Delhi but are placed second on a lower points-difference while Gujarat have six points.
Bengal Warriors started well and established a slender lead (16-11) against Gujarat Giants at half-time. They maintained their advantage despite the valiant efforts of the Gujarat Giants, managed to register a narrow victory.
Maninder Singh was the top scorer for Bengal Warriors with eight points while Esmaeil Nabibakhsh contributed four points.
Bengal Warriors won 18 raid points as against 19 by Gujarat Giants. But it was in defence that they scored, claiming 10 points as against eight by their rivals. They bagged two all-outs as against none by the Giants.
Rakesh Narwal was the top scorer for Gujarat Giants with 12 points while Rakesh Sungroya contributed four points.
Rishabh Pant appointed as Uttarakhand’s brand ambassador
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Sunday announced that Indian wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant has been appointed as the brand ambassador of the state.
Taking to Twitter, the Chief Minister said that Pant will encourage the youngsters to take up sports.
“One of the best cricket players of India, the idol of youth and son of Uttarakhand, Rishabh Pant has been appointed as “State Brand Ambassador” by our government with the aim of encouraging the youth of the state towards sports and public health,” tweeted Dhami in Hindi, along with the video.
In the video, CM Dhami can be seen interacting with Rishabh and asking about his well-being.
The attacking batter also thanked the Chief Minister for the opportunity, saying that he will try his best to motivate people towards fitness.
“Thank you @pushkardhami sir for giving me the opportunity to be the Brand Ambassador of promoting Sports and General Health among the people of Uttarakhand. I’ll do my best to spread this message and feeling happy that you are taking these steps towards a fitter India,” tweeted Pant.
“Coming from a small town of Roorkee, I am confident that the people here have the ability to make the country proud in various fields of life,” he added.
The 24-year Pant, who was rested for the New Zealand Tests, is currently in Johannesburg, South Africa as the Indian Team is all set to face Proteas in the three-match Test series, starting December 26.
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