My Aim Is To Equal Sushil's Feat Of Two Olympic Medals : Sakshi
- NEW DELHI : She may be India's first and only woman wrestler to have won an Olympic medal but that does not seem enough for Sakshi Malik as she now aims to equal Sushil Kumar's historic feat of winning two Olympic medals at the 2020 Tokyo Games. "My aim is to equal Sushil Kumar's historic feat by winning an Olympic medal at Tokyo in 2020. I am completely focussed to achieve that goal. I want to become a double Olympic medallist just like Sushil ji," Sakshi said. "For the Olympics, one has to start his/her training four years in advance and I have already started my training accordingly," she added. Sakshi said her immediate goal is to prepare for the World Championships, to be held later this year. "My target this year is to do well at the World Championships. As of now, I am also planning to participate at the Asian Championship, to be held in Delhi, in May.
- Besides, I am looking forward to bagging gold medals at next year's Commonwealth and Asian Games," Sakshi, who became India's first woman wrestler to bag an Olympic medal at Rio last year, said. The 24-year-old admitted that life has completely transformed after the Olympic medal and it felt good when people recognise her. "Life has changed for good. People recognise me a lot more now and it gives a very good feeling. It also inspires me to do better." Whether it adds extra pressure to perform well every time she takes the mat, Sakshi said: "Yes, no doubt the pressure has increased manifold and every time I come on mat there is a huge burden of expectations that I carry on my shoulders. But that also motivates me to work harder and improve upon my game. I am trying to iron out all my flaws and train better. "In a way that helps me prepare better and I am more confident now when I fight my bouts." Sakshi was the captain of Delhi Sultans team at the Pro Wrestling League this season and although she did well, her team failed to make the semifinals. "Personally for me, I did win all my bouts and that gives a lot of satisfaction. I also learnt a lot from other foreign wrestlers. Last season also I learnt many new things and that had helped me during the Olympics.
- "This time also I managed to pick up a few tricks of the trade from some experienced wrestlers and I am sure that will hold me in good stead at the international tournaments. It was an invaluable experience, even though my team failed to make the cut." "I think Bajrang Punia's injury cost us the most. Otherwise we had a very good team. We fought well but lost quite a few close bouts. There were a couple of upsets as well that had turned things around. We also lost four out of five tosses and some of our best wrestlers were blocked by the opposition teams. So luck was another factor that did not favour us too much this time," explained Sakshi, who won a bronze medal at the Rio Games in women's 58kg. The owner of Delhi Sultans, Anurag Batra also believed that the franchise fielded a strong team but the most expensive Indian wrestler of PWL-2, Bajrang's injury marred their chances in the tournament.
- "I do not regret paying Bajrang the maximum money. He is a very good wrestler and had he been fit, things would have been different for us today. We have lost most of our matches 3-4. Had we managed to pull off a couple of close bouts, we would have been in the semifinals. "But things sometimes don't go as planned. That's part and parcel of every sport. But we had a very good team and I would like to retain most of the players in the next season as well. They are all very good, gave their 100 per cent. Coaches and support staff were fantastic. "I have no complains. We gave our best but results did not go our way. But that happens sometimes. Next season I am confident that my team would put up a much better performance," said Batra, who is also the Chairman of BW Businessworld.
Thomas Romps To Sony Open Victory In Record Style
- Justin Thomas overcame a slow start for a second straight day before five birdies in seven holes helped him wrap up a wire-to-wire victory in record style at the Sony Open in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday. The long-hitting American clinched his fourth PGA Tour title, his second in a row and his third of the young season, by seven strokes after firing a five-under-par 65 at Waialae Country Club for a stunning 27-under total of 253. Thomas, who had opened with a magical 11-under 59 to take control of the tournament, signed off with a comfortable two-putt birdie at the par-five last to add yet another slice of golf history to his dominant week of multiple records. His aggregate for 72 holes eclipsed the previous PGA Tour low of 254, set by Tommy Armour III at the 2003 Texas Open.
- "That's awesome," Thomas, 23, told Golf Channel after becoming the first player since Ernie Els in 2003 to win back-to-back titles in Hawaii during the same season. "I remember someone saying in a press conference that I needed 10-under on the weekend (for the PGA Tour low) so I told (caddie) Jimmy (Johnson) with two holes left we need to get one of these last two. "It's been an unbelievable week, unforgettable." England's Olympic champion Justin Rose birdied three of the last four holes for a 64 to finish second at 20-under, one stroke ahead of double major winner Jordan Spieth, who fired his best round of the week with a 63.
- "I honestly felt like I was trying to win the tournament for second place," Spieth said while paying tribute to the sizzling form of his good friend Thomas. "JT, it's pretty unbelievable what he's doing right now. "He's got full control of his game, full confidence and he's executing under pressure. It's a lot of fun to see." Seven strokes in front after the third round, Thomas took a while to find his rhythm on Sunday. He three-putted from long range to bogey the par-three fourth, did well to sink an eight-foot putt for par at the sixth and briefly had his lead cut to just four before he clicked back into gear.
- "I was really nervous this morning, I just had a hard time getting into a comfortable mind frame," said Thomas, who is projected to rise to a career-high eighth in the world rankings on Monday. "I was doing what I needed to do. I was making some pars, besides that bad bogey on four, but that par putt I made on six was huge. "I think if I missed that I start maybe worrying a little bit but I knew the last 10-hole stretch I was very comfortable with so I just tried to stay patient." Thomas drained a 22-footer at the par-four eighth, the first of five birdies over the next seven holes as he shut the door on his closest challengers to cap a triumphant fortnight in Hawaii.
I Had Put Too Much Pressure On Myself In England : Virat Kohli
- NEW DELHI : Indian captain Virat Kohli feels that chinks in his technique apart from utter desperation to succeed in England led to a disastrous tour of 2014 post which, he not only worked on his mindset but also on his batting. In a chat with former England captain Nasser Hussain on bcci.tv, Kohli decoded his technique that led to his downfall during 2014 England series where he failed to get a 50 plus score in five Tests and then smashed four hundreds in four Tests Down Under a few months later. "I had put too much pressure on myself before going to England (2014) that I needed to score here. I don't know why sub-continent players are given different benchmarks that we have to perform in certain countries and if you don't do that, you are not considered a good player. "I think it was more about me being desperate to do well in England and then when you don't do well at start, you start going down mentally," Kohli was honest about what went wrong during that series. World's premier batsman then elaborated as to what went wrong.
- "Technique is important but even people with not that strong technique have been able to score well there because of a good mindset. The problem with me was that I was expecting inswingers too much and opened up my hip a lot more than I should have done. I was constantly looking for the inswinger and was in no position to counter the outswing." The skipper then decoded his earlier stance. "I used to stand at two leg (middle stump) and my stance was pretty closed and then I figured out that after initial movement my toe wasn't going towards point rather it was towards cover point, so anyway my hip was opening up initially. "So to get the feel of the ball, I had to open up my hip as I was too side on. Anyway, I had too much of a bottom hand grip and I didn't have too much room for my shoulder, to adjust to the line of the ball, so it was getting too late when it swung in front of my eyes," Virat explained as to why he was getting dismissed outside the off-stump during that series.
- He then spoke about the changes that he made in his drills. "Changes I made was I did some drills, making sure someone is recording me from the side. Everytime, I played the ball, I wanted to make sure that my toe is pointing in point direction rather than cover, that's how I kept my hip nice and side-on and gave myself room. I widened my stance as well so that I have good balance when I wanted to go forward," he said. Kohli then spoke about how things changed in Australia. "Short ball was not an issue for me. That really helped me in widening my stance and that forward press (front foot stride) that is important at the international level. So in Australia, I wasn't worried about pace and bounce as I knew that I could handle it. But I stood a foot outside the crease to counter those deliveries on the corridor (of the off-stump) and standing on the fourth stump. So they had to really bowl far from me and unless my bodyweight is far behind, they can't hit my pads."
- Although it looks natural now but Kohli said that it wasn't easy at the beginning. "This change has become easy now but it was not so at the beginning. I was batting three hours a day. I had cramps in my forearms by the end of the week. I did that for about 10 days. You know in golf they say you have to hit a shot 400-500 times before you can perfect that shot. So it was more about precise practice as I wanted to tune my head to play that way. I wasn't used to forward pressing as I was waiting for the ball to clip it off my leg or waiting for short ball." Kohli also said that the forward movement was something that the legendary Sachin Tendulkar also advocated. "There Sachin helped as he told me that I have to approach a fast bowler (forward press) just like you approach a spinner. One has to get on top of the ball not worry about pace or swing, you got to get towards the ball and give the ball lesser chance to move around and trouble you. Those advice helped me and became my second nature."
- At the beginning of his career, he was primarily an on-side player with only cover drive as his pet scoring shot. But then he made slight adjustment to his grip and things changed. "Bat speed has been natural to me more towards on-side as I have been a bottom hand player. I worked on my off-side play a lot more. I used to hit past covers a lot and straight but the shot I hit past point is helping me a lot now. It's a very minor adjustment to my grip. "I know bowlers are hesitant to bowl on my pads as I can whip them so I know they would bowl a bit wide and I get deep into my crease, open the bat face and hit the bowler past point. Once you do that, he can either move fielder towards right or left, but they won't understand it's a minor adjustment." His mere presence is intimidating for the bowlers but Kohli says that watching a bowler's body language he understands the areas he can perhaps bowl. "I don't nominate too many areas. It's like point, covers, straight and mid-wicket to cow corner. I know if the ball is in these areas my body instinctively follows," he said.
Illegal Trade Thrives Along Border, BSF Looks On
- KOLKATA/AGARTALA : Villages along the international border in West Bengal and Tripura have been witness to various illegal activities, with officers from Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) allegedly being a part of smuggling and trafficking circles. As reports of corruption among high-ranking paramilitary forces came to the limelight, TOI travelled to border villages to verify these claims. At a bus stand in North 24 Parganas' Bangaon city, a villager who helps people cross over to India said cross-border exchange rates are set by officers on both sides. "Today, the rate was settled at Rs 1,000 per person by the BGB. But the BSF demanded Rs 500 more per head. Finally, they agreed at Rs 300. I have collected whatever extra these people had but still lost some money," he said, pointing to a group of men, women and children huddled around a fire. An estimated 1.7 lakh Bangladeshis are suspected to reside in West Bengal alone. This may be just the tip of the iceberg as several lakhs have spread to other states in the country.
- It was estimated that about 50 Bangladeshi nationals used to cross over into India every day before demonetisation. This figure has fallen slightly since. A trader from Nadia, who claimed to have bought supplies from BSF jawans, said, "Not a single item can cross the border without the BSF's permission, be it gold, silver, drugs, guns, fake currency or illegal migrants. Even we receive food that is diverted from BSF supplies on a regular basis. Some of this goes across the border. There are few fuel pumps along the border but it doesn't bother people much. They regularly buy petrol and diesel from the BSF. It is a racket," he said. Another menace that plagues the border villages is cattle smuggling. Till a few years ago, about 50,000-60,000 heads of cattle were smuggled across the border every day. Sources said the figures fell to 10,000-20,000 after the Modi government came to power.
- After demonetisation, on an average 2,000-3,000 heads of cattle are smuggled every day. Residents of 35 Tripura villages along the border claim their livlihood depends on illegal trade. The daily supply of fish, consumed in these villages, are sneaked in through check posts manned by BSF. "For past many years the markets of Agartala are fed by Bangladeshi fish every day and the supply has been on the rise. Unless the BSF jawans are complicit how can we get fresh fish from Bangladesh every morning?" said Shahdeb Das, a fish trader. While fish, cloth, electronic items and even illegal firearms are smuggled into India, sources said narcotics are sent to Bangladesh on a regular basis right under the nose of BSF personnel.
- A senior BSF official rubbished the claims but added that they were still being investigated. "There were more than 20 skirmishes reported between the villagers and the security forces along the international border last year. We managed to seize contrabands worth more than Rs 10 crore being smuggled by Bangladeshis," he said. A senior BSF officer from the eastern sector admitted the prevalance of crimes along the border but denied the presence of institutionalised corruption. "This is a peculiar border. It is densely populated. People don't have livelihood means and they turn to smuggling. Even politicians ask us to go easy on them," he said.