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Was training with my coach, so didn’t fall far behind in lockdown: Amit Panghal




Amit Panghal still awaits an update on his coach Anil Kumar Dhankar joining him at the boxing national camp currently underway at the National Institute of Sport (NIS) in Patiala, Punjab. Amit has been training at the Patiala facility since July and says that the amount of training he used to do during lockdown under Dhankar was more effective than what he does now at NIS.

“The latest update I have is that the file has been sent to the (Sports) ministry. For now nothing is confirmed,” Amit told IANS.

The 24-year-old boxer, who became the first Indian to win silver at the men’s World Championships in 2019, had first put forward the request for Dhankar to be with him at the national camp in December. In the past, he has credited Dhankar numerous times for shaping his career and even pleaded for a Dronacharya award for the coach.

“I can do all my basic training and fitness stuff with him very well. I would train with him before and after competitions and that always helps me. So if he is with me all the time, it will be very good for me,” said Amit, the world no.1 in the 52kg category.

“In my opinion I didn’t fall too far behind because I was training with my coach at home all along. The way I train with him, I don’t think I can match up to that even here. That is why I requested SAI (Sports Authority of India) and BFI (Boxing Federation of India) that I need him for the Olympics.”

SAI’s Standard Operating Procedure for restart of training amid the Covid-19 pandemic prohibits physical contact which means that the boxers at the camp have been unable to spar during training. Amit said that the restrictions on movement inevitably brings on boredom but the camp has been good for the boxers to work on their weaknesses and places where they fell behind during the lockdown.

“Yes it has been boring because we cannot go outside anywhere, we have not been home for the past three months. But it has been great for training. I could see that my power had reduced a lot in the beginning and that is what we are working on among other things,” he said.

Among the things discussed at the recent Special General Meeting held at the BFI was restarting sparring in Patiala and a possible European tour for the boxers next month with the first stop being Italy.

“It is time to restart sparring,” said Amit. “It has been three months that we have all been here and none of us have got any sort of sickness. If we are allowed to train with partners it will be great. Maybe we will start doing that next month after we go to Italy.”


IPL: RCB moves to 2nd spot; KL, Rabada hold on to their Caps




Royal Challengers Bangalore have moved to the second spot in the points table following their one-sided victory against Kolkata Knight Riders in the 39th match of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).

On Wednesday evening, RCB first restricted KKR to mere 84/8 in their allotted 20 overs and then chased down the target with ease, losing just two wickets and more than six overs to spare.

The Virat Kohli-led side now have 14 points from 10 games, same as that of table toppers Delhi Capitals, but because of the lower net run-rate, RCB are placed second. With 12 points from nine games, Mumbai Indians currently occupy the third spot.

Meanwhile, Kings XI Punjab skipper KL Rahul and Kagiso Rabada of Delhi Capitals have held on to their respective Orange and Purple Caps.

Rahul is leading the batting charts with 540 runs from 10 games. He is followed by Shikhar Dhawan, who after scoring back to back hundreds, has amassed 465 runs in 10 innings. Mayank Agarwal, who has collected 398 runs in 10 innings, is third in the list.

In the bowling list, Rabada continues to remain at the top spot, having scalped 21 wickets in 10 matches so far. He is followed by Mohammad Shami who has 16 wickets to his name in same number of matches. Jasprit Bumrah of Mumbai Indians completes the podium with 15 wickets in nine matches.

These running caps are presented to the leading run scorer and wicket-taker and keep changing hands throughout the duration of the tournament.

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Ritu Phogat: Dream of World Championship title in MMA not too far




India’s star athlete and ONE Championship fighter Ritu Phogat is set to win the belt at ONE: INSIDE THE MATRIX against Nou Srey Pov when she takes on the Cambodian MMA sensation on October 30 in Singapore.

The 25-year-old, who put forth a gutsy showing against experienced opponent Wu Chiao Chen of China, registering her second Championship win last February, recently shared insights on the build-up for her bout against Srey Pov.

Q: How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted your life? How have you managed training and keeping a positive mental attitude?

A: Yes, my training has obviously been impacted, especially because for me, MMA is a new sport. So it has been a challenging transition. I am also living in a new country, Singapore, all by myself. So it has definitely been hard because the game is new and the country is new. Also, I don’t have my sisters around or my father to take advice from.

However, during the lockdown when training was halted because wrestling and grappling are contact sports, the coaches helped me by making training videos. But everything has slowly become better now because the lockdown has eased considerably in Singapore and now I am working out and training at the gym. I have been working on improving my striking technique as I want to show the world that we Indians are ‘all rounders’. On field or off field!

But yes, it is quite unfortunate that the pandemic has caused problems for everyone around the world.

Q: How are you keeping your morale up during such tough times?

A: My motivation has always been my father and his words, he has always said to me – You have to sacrifice to win something. My prime goal is to make my family and my country proud. I am here all by myself and I’ve left my country behind, my sisters behind, hence, my sole focus is on doing the best and that is my motivation.

Q: What will be your participation in wrestling on behalf of India, will you be participating in wrestling matches now?

A: I have moved away from wrestling now and am now training in MMA.

Q: How challenging will it be to fight in an empty arena? How will this experience be? Also, what kind of a diet have you been following and who is your inspiration?

A: My sisters have always been my inspiration. I have always watched them wrestle and I have tried to emulate them, and now I want to make my country proud in the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) space.

Yes, no audience in the stadium will definitely feel different as crowds can provide motivation and cheer. But when I step into the ring, my sole focus is my opponent. Besides, an empty stadium means that you can hear nothing but your coach, guiding you through the match.

Q: What do you think India’s position will be in the upcoming Olympics?

A: I strongly believe that Indians are really raising the benchmark with every match/game we play. Today, we are tough competitors to some of the greatest athletes across the world. Our athletes are working hard and I feel that we will surely do well at the Olympics.

Q: What will your strategy be while playing against your opponent Nou Srey Pov?

A: She is an experienced MMA champion and it will be a tough and interesting fight between the both of us. I am ready and have worked extremely hard for this. I am ready to give it my best! And as far as strategies are concerned, I would want each one of you to tune in and watch some of the strategies I deploy against the opponent.

Q: You wanted to be the first Indian to win an MMA world title. How close are you to that dream? Also what sets you apart from other Indian fighters? What are the weaknesses of your opponent that you have studied?

A: I am not far from my dream of bagging the world championship title in MMA because I have been working hard for a long time now. One Championship has also announced a Grand Prix tournament next year which will feature eight champions.

My target is to get selected for that tournament although my first focus is my upcoming match. My opponent is a good fighter and I have studied her strengths and weaknesses, you will see it in my match!

Q: What are you doing to promote MMA in India?

A: My goal is to win and make MMA popular in India firstly. India is not short on talent. I just want to be an inspiration so that others approach MMA more seriously. I want to induce conversations around the sport in the country to give it the recognition it deserves.

Q: Your previous bouts have been similar wins, what will you do differently this time. What are your expectations from this bout?

A: Yes, I have worked on a different strategy to win this time. I want to win this match a little differently. My goal this time will be to knockout my opponent.

Q: How do you want to win this fight, do you want to do something differently.

A: Yes, I definitely want to break out of my wrestling mould and do something different. I want people and my opponents to know that I am not just a wrestler and I know how to strike.

Q: You are called ‘the female Khabib Nurmagomedov’ by Indian fans since you’re both a world class wrestler and are undefeated. Have you seen him fight?

A: Yes, I have been very motivated by him and I watch a lot of his videos. I like his fighting style a lot and I am inspired by him. I aspire to be like him some day.

Q: Have you drawn any particular lessons from Nurmagomedov?

A: Yes, his control on the ground is immense. I keep watching his videos to learn more.

Q: How has staying away from your family been and how much support does your family provide?

A: Of course, staying away from my family has been very difficult. At home, I could solely focus on my training, here, since I am on my own, I have to manage my strict diet and training and everything else at home, I have to be self reliant.

Q: Apart from your sisters, which other sports personalities are your icons?

A: Virat Kohli is really inspiring, I like watching his training videos. Also, like I said, Khabib is very inspirational for me.

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Wanted to deliver a magical performance for RCB: Mohammad Siraj




Right-arm fast bowler Mohammad Siraj, who led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to a comfortable win over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), has stated that he wanted to deliver a “magical performance” for the team.

On Wednesday, Siraj became the first bowler in IPL history to bowl two maidens in a single game. He picked up three wickets before he had given up a single run. He finished with the most economical figures this season – 3/8 as RCB defeated KKR by eight wickets to move to the second spot in the points table.

“Everyone in the RCB supports me a lot, even the fans. So, I wanted to deliver a magical performance for the team and it was a magical performance,” Siraj said during the post-match press conference.

Before the game, Siraj had an economy rate of 9.29 – the worst among 92 bowlers with at least 100 overs to their name.

However, in Abu Dhabi, skipper Virat Kohli gave him the new ball. “I have been practising a lot with the new ball,” Siraj said at the presentation. “We hadn’t planned that I will open but when we went out, Virat bhai said Miyan, ready ho jao. (Sir, get ready.).”

“Virat (Kohli) bhai’s plan was for me to bowl a bouncer,” Siraj said during a chat with teammate Navdeep Saini for later. “But when I was at the start of my run-up, I thought ‘no let me pitch it up’. I pitched it up, and it came out well and I got a wicket,” he added.

Siraj has so far taken six wickets in four matches this season and RCB would be hoping he continues to bowl in the same way in the upcoming matches like he did against KKR.

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