Hockey India Announces 28-Member Core Group for Paris Olympics Preparations

Hockey India Announces 28-Member Core Group for Paris Olympics Preparations

Hockey India has announced a 28-member core probable group for the men’s national coaching camp, aiming to address weaknesses ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics. The camp commenced on Sunday at the SAI Centre in Bengaluru and will continue until May 13.

The team returns to camp after a disappointing 0-5 loss in a five-match Test series in Australia. Chief coach Craig Fulton emphasized the importance of this camp in preparing for the upcoming challenges. “We are looking to begin an important block of training in this camp, and we need to make sure that we are in the best shape possible ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics,” Fulton said. “We have an exciting group of experienced players along with some young players.”

The core group includes experienced players such as goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, defender Harmanpreet Singh, and midfielder Manpreet Singh. Young talents like forward Akashdeep Singh and midfielder Hardik Singh are also part of the squad.

The team will travel to Belgium and London for the next two legs of the FIH Pro League after this camp. They will face Argentina, Belgium, Germany, and Great Britain in these matches.

“The tour to Australia has helped us in realizing where we need to work on and I always believe that we can work on our shortcomings and look to set things straight well before the final leg of the Pro League and the Paris 2024 Olympics,” Fulton added.

The camp and subsequent Pro League matches will provide the team with valuable opportunities to improve their performance and build momentum towards the Paris Olympics.

Indian Wrestlers Dominate Asian Olympic Qualifier, Secure Semifinal Berths

Indian Wrestlers Dominate Asian Olympic Qualifier, Secure Semifinal Berths

Vinesh Phogat, Anshu Malik, and Reetika have all advanced to the semifinals of the Asian Olympic Qualifier in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, putting them one step closer to securing a quota for the Paris Olympics.

Vinesh, competing in the 50kg category, dominated her opponents with ease. She quickly dispatched her Korean rival Miran Cheon in just 1 minute and 39 seconds, followed by a swift victory over Cambodia’s Smanang Dit. Vinesh’s strong hold and gut wrench moves proved too much for her opponents.

Anshu Malik, the 2021 World Championship silver medalist, also had a strong performance. She received a direct entry into the quarterfinals and defeated Kyrgyzstan’s Kalmira Bilimbekova by technical superiority.

U23 world champion Reetika (76kg) showcased her class by outclassing Eunju Hwang of Korea and Davaanasan Enkh Amar of Mongolia. In her final group bout against China’s Juang Wang, Reetika fought back after conceding six straight points to secure a narrow victory.

Mansi Ahlawat (62kg) also advanced to the last-four with a 6-4 win over Kazakhstan’s Irina Kuznetsova.

However, Nisha Dahiya (68kg) was the only Indian wrestler who failed to reach the semifinals. Despite winning her opening bout against Sol Gum Pak of North Korea, she was outclassed by local favorite Meerim Zhumanazarova in round 2. Nisha’s exhaustion from the previous bout proved costly, and she was unable to recover in the must-win round 3.

The finalists at this competition will earn quotas for their respective countries. The last chance to win a Paris Games quota will be at the World Qualifiers in Turkey from May 9.

Sreejesh vs. Pathak: India's Goalkeeper Rivalry Heats Up for Paris Olympics

Sreejesh vs. Pathak: India’s Goalkeeper Rivalry Heats Up for Paris Olympics

PR Sreejesh and Krishan Bahadur Pathak, India’s two elite goalkeepers, are engaged in a fierce rivalry for the coveted spot in the Paris Olympics squad. With only one goalkeeper allowed per team, the competition between these two stalwarts has intensified.

Sreejesh, a three-time Olympian, has been India’s undisputed number one for years, while Pathak has emerged as a formidable challenger. Pathak’s impressive performances, including a crucial role in India’s Asian Games gold medal triumph, have put him on par with Sreejesh.

The team’s strategy of rotating goalkeepers every quarter has provided Pathak with ample playing time, allowing him to develop his skills and confidence. His patience and exceptional stick saves have made him a formidable opponent for Sreejesh.

Pathak has also invested significant time off the pitch, studying opponents’ attacking patterns and penalty corner setups. This meticulous preparation has enhanced his game and reduced his vulnerability during matches.

However, Sreejesh’s experience and expertise in shootouts remain a significant advantage. In the high-stakes knockout rounds of major tournaments, shootouts often determine the outcome. Sreejesh’s intelligent gameplay and composure in these situations make him a valuable asset.

Despite his age, Sreejesh maintains his fitness and mental sharpness. He believes that goalkeepers should be prepared to play full matches and handle the pressure of international competition.

The final decision on who will represent India in Paris rests with coach Craig Fulton. Both Sreejesh and Pathak have proven their worth, making it a difficult choice. The outcome of this rivalry will have a significant impact on India’s Olympic aspirations.

Delay in Naming Indian Shooting Contingent Raises Concerns

Delay in Naming Indian Shooting Contingent Raises Concerns

Legendary marksman Jaspal Rana has raised concerns over the delay in naming the Indian shooting contingent for the Paris Olympics, expressing that it leaves little time for final preparations. While several countries have already announced their squads and are in the final stages of training, India has commenced a month-long trial process.

The top-five ranked shooters in pistol and rifle categories will undergo four trials, with the selection for Paris to be made after that. However, this leaves precious little time for the last phase of training, as the Olympics commence on July 26.

Rana criticized the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) for not announcing the squad in shotgun events, despite the trials being completed. He believes that this delay puts pressure on shooters who have won quota places, while those who have not have less pressure.

Rana also criticized the ongoing trials at the Karni Singh Ranges, saying he had never seen a competition where only five shooters per event were short-listed. He believes that at least three more shooters should have been included to complete the minimum requirements in a competition.

He also expressed concerns about the number of trials, saying that it was too much and gave little time for rest and recovery. In the case of Manu Bhaker and Esha Singh, they will have to appear in eight trials, putting added pressure on their physical and mental well-being.

Rana believes that the federation could have used some of the scores in national and international competitions as trial scores, reducing the number of trials required. He also emphasized that shooters should be ready for anything, but that the current situation is not ideal for de-stressing.

Andy Murray Returns to Practice, Eyes Paris Olympics After Ankle Injury

Andy Murray Returns to Practice, Eyes Paris Olympics After Ankle Injury

Andy Murray Returns to Practice Court After Ankle Injury, Eyes Paris Olympics

Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has made a significant step in his recovery from an ankle injury, returning to the practice court after confirming that he will not undergo surgery.

The 36-year-old Murray suffered a torn ligament in his left ankle during a match at the Miami Open in March. The injury raised concerns about his future, as Murray had previously stated that he was unlikely to play beyond this summer.

However, Murray’s team announced this week that he had been cleared to resume training. “Andy is out of the walking boot and will not be having surgery,” the statement read. “He is hoping to start hitting again on court soon.”

A video posted on Murray’s Instagram account on Friday showed the former world No. 1 hitting forehands on an indoor court. While no timeline for his return has been announced, Murray’s progress is a positive sign for his hopes of competing in the Paris Olympics.

Murray has been a key member of the British Davis Cup team and has expressed his desire to represent his country at the Olympics one last time. The Paris Games will be held in July and August 2024, giving Murray ample time to recover and prepare.

Murray’s return to the practice court is a testament to his determination and resilience. Despite facing a potentially career-ending injury, he remains committed to his goal of competing at the highest level. His progress will be closely monitored by fans and fellow players alike, as he aims to add to his impressive legacy in the sport.

IOA Crisis: EC Calls for Emergency Meeting to Address Issues with President Usha

IOA Crisis: EC Calls for Emergency Meeting to Address Issues with President Usha

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is facing a crisis as the executive committee (EC) has called for an emergency meeting to address urgent issues with president PT Usha. The EC members have raised concerns over the arbitrary functioning of CEO Raghuram Iyer and Ajay Narang, Usha’s executive assistant.

The logjam has affected the functioning of the IOA, with financial bills being held up and preparations for the Paris Olympics in jeopardy. The EC members have pointed to the resignation of two senior members, Raj Laxmi Singh Deo and Sahdev Yadav, due to a lack of information and arbitrary actions by Iyer and Narang.

The EC has alleged that the duo is making unauthorized hotel and ticket bookings, granting unapproved accreditations, and spending IOA funds without following due processes. They have also expressed concerns over the appointment of Iyer as CEO, which they claim was illegal and unconstitutional.

The EC members have demanded that Usha consult them on key appointments, such as the chef-de-mission for the Paris Olympics, and make decisions as per the IOA constitution. They have also reiterated their opposition to Iyer’s appointment and Narang’s contract.

Usha has defended her actions, claiming that Iyer was appointed through proper procedures and that Narang is her executive assistant. However, the EC members maintain that they were not consulted on Iyer’s appointment and that Narang’s contract is a violation of the IOA constitution.

The crisis within the IOA has raised concerns about the preparations for the Paris Olympics. The EC members have urged Usha to address the issues urgently and ensure that the athletes are well-prepared for the Games.

Murali Sreeshankar Ruled Out of Paris Olympics with Knee Injury

Murali Sreeshankar Ruled Out of Paris Olympics with Knee Injury

Long jumper Murali Sreeshankar, India’s brightest track and field prospect for the Paris Olympics, has suffered a devastating knee injury that has shattered his Olympic dreams and sidelined him for the entire year.

Sreeshankar, who had already qualified for the Paris Games with a leap of 8.37m at the Asian Championships last year, sustained the injury during training on Tuesday. Tests revealed a tear in his patellar tendon, requiring surgery that will keep him out of action for months.

The injury is a major setback for Sreeshankar, who had been in excellent form in 2023. He won a silver medal at the Asian Games, finished third in the Paris Diamond League, and set a new personal best of 8.41m at the Inter-State Championships.

Sreeshankar’s absence will be a significant blow to India’s track and field contingent for the Paris Olympics. He was the only Indian jumper to have made the qualification mark for the Games, and his experience and talent would have been invaluable in the quest for medals.

The injury has left Sreeshankar devastated, but he has vowed to overcome this adversity. “My journey to a comeback began the minute I injured my knee,” he wrote in an emotional social media post. “This road is going to be long, difficult, and will take a lot out of me. The good thing is, I have a lot to give. I will overcome this, because that’s what Mamba Mentality is all about.”

Sreeshankar’s injury is a reminder of the fragility of athletic careers and the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. Despite this setback, he remains a talented and determined athlete with the potential to achieve great things in the future.

Indian Hockey Team Counts Down to Paris Olympics with 100 Days to Go

Indian Hockey Team Counts Down to Paris Olympics with 100 Days to Go

With just 100 days remaining until the Paris Olympics, the Indian men’s hockey team is intensifying its preparations, recognizing the significance of every practice and drill in building momentum for the prestigious event.

Harmanpreet Singh, the team captain, emphasized the team’s determination to improve upon their bronze medal performance in Tokyo. “We are hungry to improve our result in Paris,” he said. “Every day, every practice, every drill counts towards that goal.”

The team’s recent tour of Australia, where they were whitewashed 0-5, served as a wake-up call, highlighting areas that need improvement. “We have identified the areas we need to work on,” said Hardik Singh, the team’s vice-captain. “We will iron out any remaining issues well in time for the Olympics.”

Chief coach Craig Fulton is keeping the team on track with a rigorous training schedule. “The countdown to the Olympics is always in our minds,” said Harmanpreet. “We are focused and ready to shine.”

India’s qualification for the Paris Olympics came through their gold medal victory at the Hangzhou Asian Games last year. In Paris, they will face defending champions Belgium, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, and Ireland in Pool B.

The team’s unity and shared goal of winning the gold medal are driving their efforts. “We are a close-knit group with a common purpose,” said Harmanpreet. “We will give our all in the remaining 100 days to make our dream a reality.”

Indian Shooters Prepare for Olympic Selection Trials with a New Mindset

Indian Shooters Prepare for Olympic Selection Trials with a New Mindset

Indian shooters are gearing up for the first of two training camps leading into the Olympic Selection Trials (OST), a month-long exercise that will determine India’s representation in rifle and pistol events at the Paris Olympics. The OST is a first-of-its-kind event, with shooters vying for Paris spots through a scoring system that will factor in their best three scores from the trials.

National rifle coach Suma Shirur has noticed a slight shift in the body language of shooters, who are accustomed to checking into national camps regularly. This time, they are “a little bit on the edge,” with questions about how to prepare for an event like this. Shirur has addressed these concerns through routine discussions, interactive sessions with Olympians, and reiterating the attitude to be taken into the trials.

The approach to these high-pressure trials is crucial, as the anxiety of making the Olympics team can be unnerving. Shirur emphasizes the importance of developing strategies for handling the pressure and staying in the moment. Former rifle shooter turned coach Deepali Deshpande believes the key to the right approach lies in planning, using all events in 2023 for confidence building and ensuring quotas are secured.

Deshpande acknowledges the risk of shooters laying too much emphasis on the trials, potentially affecting their performance at the Olympics. However, she believes that the shooters will be ready for the challenge of peaking twice in around three months. Shirur agrees, stating that shooting doesn’t require physical peaks, so the focus will be entirely on mental peaking.

After the trials, shooters will need to take a break for recovery and get back to the basics before redirecting their energies into the Olympics. Shirur emphasizes the importance of rest and recovery to ensure that every selected shooter is well rested and hungry to perform at the Olympics.

Naomi Osaka Eyes Paris Olympics Return, Aims for Medal

Naomi Osaka Eyes Paris Olympics Return, Aims for Medal

Former world number one Naomi Osaka has expressed her desire to compete in the upcoming Paris Olympics, scheduled for 2024. The four-time Grand Slam champion, who lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games in 2021, is eager to represent Japan once again on the Olympic stage.

Osaka’s participation in the Olympics is contingent on her receiving a spot from tennis chiefs. She may need to go through an appeals process after failing to make two mandatory appearances for Japan in the Billie Jean King Cup during the current Olympic cycle.

Despite her absence from the Billie Jean King Cup, Osaka has been making a strong comeback to tennis after a 15-month maternity break. She has risen from world ranking 831 to 193 since her return late last year.

Osaka’s recent performances have been encouraging, with the 26-year-old reaching the quarter-finals in six tournaments. She is determined to improve her results and achieve a medal at the Paris Olympics.

“I would hope that I get to play,” Osaka said. “And if I do play, I have high ambitions of myself and I hope that I can do really well and get a medal.”

Osaka’s return to form has been marked by her aggressive style of play and powerful serve. She is known for her ability to hit winners from both sides of the court and has a strong mental game.

If Osaka is granted a spot in the Paris Olympics, she will be a formidable opponent for her rivals. Her experience, talent, and determination make her a contender for a medal.

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