Sindhu, Sameer crash Chinese party

Lucknow: PV Sindhu and Sameer Verma did India proud by entering the semifinals of Badminton Asia Youth Under-19 Championships. Remarkably, both beat Chinese opponents to make the last four.
While Sameer Verma beat Guo Kai 21-19 12-21 21-15, fourth seeded Sindhu got past Zheng Yu 22-20 11-21 21-12. Sameer’s win was particularly significant because Guo Kai had beaten India’s Pratul Joshi in the team championship semifinals. Incidentally, Pratul was among the casualties on Wednesday, falling in the quarterfinals to second seeded Malaysian Zulfaidi Zulfikli in straight games.
Sameer led all through in the first game, and although Guo Kai caught up at 19-all, the Indian held his nerve to take the game. In the second, it was Guo all the way, leading from start to finish. Fortunes fluctuated in the decider, but from 14-all, the Indian took five points in a row to swing the contest decisively.
PV Sindhu had to weather a tense first game against Zheng Yu, which she won 22-20. Although Zheng took the second rather easily, Sindhu sensationally grabbed the decider by shooting to a 8-1 and 17-6 lead.
PV Sindhu however crashed in the women’s doubles, as she and K Maneesha fell in the quarters to a Chinese pair.
Indian Results (Quarterfinals):
MS: Liu Kai (Chn) bt K Srikanth 26-24 21-17; Sameer Verma bt Guo Kai 21-19 12-21 21-15; 2-Zulfaidi Zulfikli (Mas) bt Pratul Joshi 21-15 21-9

WS: PV Sindhu bt Zheng Yu 22-20 11-21 21-12

WD: 2-Ou Dongni/ Rui Xiong (Chn) bt 8-K Maneesha/ PV Sindhu 21-8 21-9
XD: Pei Tianyi/ Ou Dongyi (Chn) bt B Venkatesh/ Ruthvika Shivani 21-11 21-7

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Athletes knowingly take dope: Saina

Mumbai: Ace shuttler Saina Nehwal on Wednesday gave a stunning twist to the raging dope scandal by saying that many athletes and weightlifters had told her in the past that they knowingly consume banned drugs.

“I also know many athletes and weightlifters who themselves tell me that “we take it”,” Saina said.

India was rocked by doping scandal recently with eight top national athletes who got training in NIS failing dope tests.

There were also reports that banned drugs were widely available in chemist shops near the national institute of Sport in Patiala.

Asked if she was aware about the availability of banned drugs at medical stores, the world number six said, “I don’t know whether it is available or not. I don’t take it.”

Saina, however, felt that lack of awareness about medicines was the major reason behind athletes testing positive for banned drugs in the country.

“It’s really sad they don’t know what they are taking. I’m sure everyone knows WADA rules, its very common. They have a website which mentions which medicines are banned and which are not. I think its just that they don’t know. Many athletes and weightlifters are not very educated so whatever their coaches give they take that,” she said.

The 21-year-old Hyderabadi said she consults her physiotherapist and doctors before taking any medicine and others too should do the same.

“If I have fever I ask my physio and doctor which medicines can be taken and which are banned. They should be very careful regarding everything,” she said.

Indian athletics had been rocked by a doping scandal in the last few days when CWG and Asian Games gold-winning relay quartet members Mandeep Kaur and Sini Jose as well another quartermiler Jauna Murmu tested positive for a banned substance – methandienone – in out-of-competition tests.

Apart from the trio, another quartermiler Tiana Mary Thomas tested positive for anabolic steroid epimethandiol, while long jumper Hari Krishnan Muralidharan and shot putter Sonia were the other two athletes who have tested positive in the last few days.

The scandal grew in proportion with two more athletes, the country’s new golden girl Ashwini Akkunji and another quartermiler Priyanka Panwar, testing positive for the same anabolic steroid – methandienone, hours before their departure for Japan for the Asian Championships.

Meanwhile, to a query on Titan brand ambassador Aamir Khan, Saina said, “I interact with him a lot. He sends me messages, congratulates me whenever I win any tournament. Its very kind of him.”

“I don’t see him endorsing too many brands but whatever he does, he does it perfectly. I really wish he was here (for the event).”

The former world number two also wished Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on his 30th birthday on Thursday.

“He’s achieved everything. He is a world champion. So what else…I wish him many more successes ahead,” the ace shuttler said.

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Bonanza for Malaysian badminton

Kuala Lumpur: Sponsors have given Malaysian badminton a $13.6 million cash injection in a bid to win a first Olympic gold medal in London next year and build for the future, local media reported on Wednesday.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) will be sponsored by Maybank for the next six years in the biggest such tie-up in Malaysian badminton. Maybank replaces carmaker Proton as BAM’s new title sponsors, although Proton will continue their sponsorship deal for the next five years.
“It is an indication that badmintons status has reached a lofty height,” BAM President Seri Nadzmi told the Bernama news agency, after signing off on the deal. “It will certainly elevate the game to a higher ground. More importantly, we will be able to mobilise our development efforts in states. However, it is not enough just to have a sound financial backing but the states also need to play their parts by managing the fund and programme well.”
Badminton has a huge following in Malaysia, although they have long been forced to play second or third fiddle behind the mighty Chinese and Indonesia. Their top player, world number one Lee Chong Wei, plans to quit after the 2012 London Olympics and the BAM are looking to groom a new crop of players for the national side. Reuters

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Saina fails in quest to defend Singapore Open

Singapore: Fourth seed Saina Nehwal suffered one of her biggest blows this season, failing in her defence of the Singapore Open Superseries – indeed, failing even to reach the quarterfinals. The Indian was beaten in the second round by Chinese Taipei’s Chen Shao Chieh, 8-21 21-10 21-19.
Saina’s defeat ended the Indian interest in the competition, as her compatriot Arundhati Pantwane had lost her first round match late Wednesday.
The match showcased a dramatic change in fortunes. Saina demolished Cheng in the first game, leading from start to finish and allowing her opponent only eight points.
However, from then on, the Indian was below par, as Cheng gave Saina the same treatment, equaling at one game-all by winning the second 21-10. The decider was tight, and both were locked in a tense battle until 14-all. From there, Cheng took four consecutive points, and then maintained the lead to take the game and match.
Meanwhile, the other big draw in the tournament, Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat, fell to China’s Wang Zhengming in the second round. Wang, who won the World Juniors the same year as Saina, in 2008, won a three-set battle and will take on current World Junior champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark. Others to make the quarters included world champion Lin Dan and Denmark’s Peter Gade, apart from two other Chinese, Chen Jin and Du Pengyu.
In the women’s singles, Saina’s vanquisher Cheng faces Denmark’s Tine Baun, while three Chinese moved into the quarters. That included world No.1 Wang Shixian, No.3 Wang Xin, and No.2 Wang Yihan.

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Arundhati books place in main draw

Singapore: Arundhati Pantwane was the only Indian to survive the qualifying rounds of the Singapore Open Superseries on Monday. Arundhati earned a creditable win over Taipei’s Chen Hsiao Huan in the first round, and then got past Michelle Li of Canada to book a place against another Chinese Taipei player, Tzu Ying Tai, in the first round of the main draw. The Indian joins her senior compatriot Saina Nehwal in main draw action on Wednesday.
Both Indians in the men’s singles qualifying, Guru Sai Dutt and Ajay Jayaram, crashed out. Jayaram offered a torrid test to former All England champion Hafiz Hashim, who just about survived 21-15 14-21 24-22 in the first round, while Guru Sai Dutt won his first round qualifying but fell in the second. Guru got past Hsuan Yi Hsueh (Tpe) 16-21 21-18 21-12, but was outclassed by Thailand left-hander Tanongsak 22-20 21-16. That leaves P Kashyap as the only Indian in the men’s singles. Kashyap takes on Park Sung Hwan on Wednesday.
Arundhati’s match against Chen was a tight affair all through. Arundhati led briefly in the latter part of the first game, but Chen surged ahead in the closing moments and took the first game. Arundhati regrouped and set a big lead in the second game, going up 17-12, but Chen fought back to equalize at 17-all. The Indian refused to buckle and nailed the last four points to take the match into a third game.
The third was tense all the way, with barely a couple of points’ difference. The Indian kept her nerve in the final moments to pluck away the win.
Just as exhausting was her next match against Michelle Li. The Indian once again managed to edge past Michelle Li and win a place in the main draw.
Men’s singles: Guru Sai Dutt beat Hsuan Yi Hsueh (Tpe) 16-21 21-18 21-12; Lost to Tanongsak (Tha) 22-20 21-16; Ajay Jayaram lost to Hafiz Hashim (Mas) 21-15 14-21 24-22
Women’s singles: Arundhati Pantwane bt Chen Hsiao Huan (Taipei) 18-21 21-17 21-19; bt Michelle Li (Can) 21-14 14-21 21-19

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All eyes on Saina at Singapore Open

Guru Sai Dutt, Arundhati, Jayaram in qualifying action today

Dev S Sukumar

The Singapore Open Superseries – scene of Saina Nehwal’s second of three successive titles last year – will see a strong Indian presence as the tournament gets underway on Tuesday. The Indian world No.4 will have to beat off a strong field to defend her title, and if she manages to do that, she will have won her first Superseries title of 2011.
Saina has had uneven form over the past few weeks. While she has beaten several of her top challengers, including top Chinese like world champion Wang Lin, world No.2 Wang Xin, and Lu Lan, she hasn’t won a tournament since the Swiss Open GP Gold in March. Her next best performance was at the Malaysia Open GP Gold in May, where she lost the final to Wang Xin. A foot injury before the Thailand Open last week had hampered her preparations, but her first round match on Wednesday is against Lu Lan – whom she had beaten in the Thailand Open. With players like Tine Baun, Cheng Shao Chieh and Sayaka Sato in her quarter, Saina has a difficult path into the quarterfinals.
Compatriot Arundhati Pantwane will play the first round of qualifying against Chen Hsiao Huan of Taipei, a tough opponent who could offer a stiff test first up. Guru Sai Dutt and Ajay Jayaram will also be in qualifying action on Tuesday – Guru against Hsuan Yi Hsueh (Taipei) and Jayaram against Hafiz Hashim (Malaysia) – who he should beat, for the 2003 All England champion has been on the wane. P Kashyap is due to play former Asian champion Park Sung Hwan of Korea, who reached the semifinals of the Thailand Open. Kashyap’s compatriot Sourabh Verma had stretched Park in the quarterfinals of the Thailand Open, and if Kashyap can go one better, he will have achieved one of the biggest victories of his career.
In the men’s doubles, Rupesh Kumar/ Sanave Thomas have tough first round opponents in Hiroyuki Endo/ Kenichi Hayakawa, while Jwala Gutta/ Ashwini Ponnappa have even more difficult opponents in Danes Christina Pedersen/ Kamilla Rytter-Juhl.

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Saina crashes to Xuerui; braveheart Verma stretches Park

Bangkok: Top seed Saina Nehwal crashed out in the quarterfinals of the Thailand Open GP Gold against last year’s Asian champion Li Xuerui on Friday, but her compatriot Sourabh Verma nearly pulled the plug on third seeded Korean Park Sung Hwan.
The Indian challenge ended with Verma’s loss, as Saina and P Kashyap had both crashed out to Chinese opponents earlier. Saina would be disappointed as she went down without much of a fight, losing 21-13 21-12 to Xuerui, who won the Asian Championships in New Delhi last year after beating Saina in the semifinals.
Kashyap too fell in straight games to top seed Chen Long, losing 21-18 21-5. Sourabh Verma, on the other hand, played brilliantly against former Asian champion Park, even taking the first game, leading from start to finish. The second game was tight, but Park broke away from 8-all and kept his lead to equalize. The third again was close in the early stages, and Park had to use all his experience to seal the victory. What made Verma’s performance creditable was that this was his fourth straight three-set game – he had earlier beaten Andre Tedjono (Indonesia), Jen Hao Hsu (Taipei) and Kuan Beng Hong (Malaysia), all in three-set battles. Three of his four matches had gone beyond an hour. Following his India Open Superseries performance, where he reached the quarterfinals, Sourabh has overshadowed most of his other compatriots.
Xuerui will meet India Open Superseries winner Porntip B of Thailand in the semifinals, while No.2 seed Jiang Yanjiao (China) will take on No.6 seed Cheng Shao Chieh of Taipei.
In the men’s singles, Chen Long faces Park, while Chen Jin will meet either young compatriot Wang Zhengming or sixth seed Korean Lee Hyun Il.

Indian results (all quarterfinals): 7-Li Xuerui (Chn) bt 1-Saina Nehwal 21-13 21-12
MS: 1-Chen Long (Chn) bt P Kashyap 21-18 21-5; 3-Park Sung Hwan (Kor) bt Sourabh Verma 16-21 21-16 21-11

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