Category Archives: Sports

The ‘other’ Indian who bagged a silver at Rio Olympics

Rajeev Ram, a first-generation of American of Indian origin, was Venus Williams’ partner in the mixed doubles tennis category but lost the finals to fellow US mates Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock

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When Rajeev Ram won the quarter-final match to enter the mixed doubles tennis final at the Rio Olympics along with partner Venus Williams, he was in a poignant mood amidst all the celebration by US fans in the stands.

The feeling was palpable, after all he’s a first-generation American of Indian origin, and had just beaten India’s Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna. He said after the match on August 14: “I will be the most hated person in India today. I am a first generation American having been born in the US in 1984.”

In the finals, however, Ram and Williams lost to fellow Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock 7-6 (3), 6-1, 10-7, denying Williams a chance to become the first five-time champion in Olympic tennis history in the process.

Interestingly, the 32-year-old Carmel, Indiana resident – son of Raghav and Sushma Ram, who had migrated to the US from Bangalore – was supposed to be watching the Olympics on TV. But when defending men’s doubles champions Bob and Mike Bryan pulled out, Ram was rushed to Rio a few days before the opening ceremony.

He was paired with Brian Baker in the doubles competition, losing in the second round.

Ram has claimed eight ATP doubles titles in his career, with several different partners. His career-high singles ranking is world no. 56, achieved in April 2016. He reached as high as world no. 20 in doubles in August 2016.

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The Indian-origin chef who will win hearts, and stomachs, at Rio

Dion Vengatass is part of the South African Olympic squad

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An Indian-origin chef will be part of South Africa’s Olympic squad and will charm the country’s athletes with his sumptuous dishes during their stay in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, reports IANS.

The South African Olympic squad of all races will be tasting cuisine of Dion Vengatass who is part of South African National Culinary Team, considered an honour for a chef. “Being part of a national culinary team is one of the greatest achievements for a chef in any country, so representing South Africa and wearing the national colours means a lot to me because I’ve always been a hardcore patriot. This is what I have worked for my entire career!” said an excited Vengatass.

Vengatass took up hotel-keeping and catering in high school after mastering the art of balancing flavours and respecting the ingredients from his grandmothers and aunts. One of his teachers, Majam, began to hone his unrefined talent to the extent that he ended up furthering his studies at the Swiss Hotel School.

“Living with my great-grandmother I was always exposed to the richness of Indian cooking. When I was young she used to let me grate onions or soak the rice for meals. When I became older she used to let me work with her spices to make curry,” Vengatass told Moneybags in an interview a few years ago.

Vengatass’ love for cooking, however, saw him undertake a self-study programme to become a chef. His role in the culinary team sees him in charge of the cold starter in the Hot Kitchen and the tapas items on the five course festive menu for the Cold Table.

Athletes are sure to love Vengatass’ speciality of a starter dish popularised by Cape Malay cuisine – poached crayfish, pressed carrot terrine, carrot mayonnaise and Malay curry sauce – which he says remind him of his childhood and Indian culinary heritage.

The 28th edition of the modern Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janereio from August 5 to 21. A total of 306 medals are on stake and more than 10, 500 players will be participating in the grand event. A total of 137 athletes will be part of Team South Africa to participate in this year’s Olympics, according to South African Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).

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Australian cricket’s next big thing

Meet Arjun Nair, the Canberra-born son of Indian immigrants who has taken the junior cricket ranks of New South Wales by storm

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He made his first grade debut at the age of just 15 and two years later he’s already played for Australia at Under-19 level and made his Sheffield Shield debut for New South Wales (NSW). Sheffield Shield is the domestic first-class cricket competition of Australia. The tournament is contested between teams from the six states of Australia.

Having started out as a batsman who bowls occasional leg-spinners, Nair harbours hopes of becoming the next big spinner from the land of the Kangaroos. Ask him how this change came about, and the 18-year-old blows the mind away with his response.

“I made the grade back home mostly through my batting, but I also bowled leg-spin once in a while. However, I started watching YouTube videos of Sunil Narine and R Ashwin, and their bowling really caught my imagination. That’s when I started practising off-spin in my backyard. I used to bowl a lot to my father and beat him quite often with my deliveries. That’s when the thought of concentrating on off-spin came to mind,” Nair, who has modelled himself on Narine, told The New Indian Express.

His father Jayanand, a former hockey player in India, has been a big influence on him taking up cricket. “I started playing when I was four. I and my dad used to play in our backyard at our Sydney home. He has been vital in my development and in me taking up the sport. He always said that sports was as important as studies, and didn’t let me miss matches even if that meant skipping studies,” Nair said.

For most of the next decade since he tossed his first ball at four, batting was the path Nair followed, and handy scores in his first two Shield matches for the Blues showed there is talent in both disciplines – numerous good judges in NSW think his batting may yet overtake his bowling.

But the breakthrough from junior and club cricket for Hawkesbury in the Sydney grade competition arrived after Nair began slowing down those aforementioned YouTube clips. He practised his variations in a compact backyard net constructed at the family home in the western Sydney suburb of Girraween, over time adding more pace, power and revolutions.

“I was mainly a batsman who bowled part-time leggies,” Nair told ESPNCricInfo. “Then I started watching a bit of YouTube, clips of guys bowling carrom balls and stuff. I’d watch clips of past matches, slow it down, watch replays and pick things up here and there. I started trying that for fun at the backyard with my dad and he couldn’t pick it. At first I couldn’t get many revs on the carrom ball, but over time and getting used to it, I’ve started to get more on it and my accuracy has improved,” he added.

Pic courtesy: Helen Nezdropa/Hawkesbury Gazette

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This Indian American teen is the rising star of American table tennis

At 16, California native Kanak Jha is the youngest male to represent the sport in the forthcoming Rio Olympics

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He can easily pass off as just another American teen going to school and playing sports. But 16-year-old Kanak Jha is also the first US athlete born in 2000 to qualify for the Olympics, and in Rio de Janeiro this summer, he will be the youngest male player in the world ever to compete in table tennis at the Games.

Having spent nine months playing professional table tennis in Europe, California native Jha threw out the first pitch at a New York Mets game on his birthday and qualified for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. “I’m happy that I’m the youngest, but I don’t think about it so much,” Jha was quoted as saying by AP, who in April, when he was still 15, became the youngest male to qualify for table tennis in Olympic history. “In the end, it’s just men.”

Originally from suburban San Jose, Jha was a toddler when he started watching his older sister, US national team member Prachi Jha, now 19, play table tennis at a local recreational centre. Although his hands could barely reach above the table — he began playing at 5. He said he always felt natural with the paddle in his hand, instinctively hitting the ball.

By the time he was 12, Jha was playing in international tournaments and quickly realised he had the potential to compete among the best. After several national championships, he became the youngest World Cup participant in 2014.

However, as his game improved, he needed to find a more advanced environment. So in August, he moved to Sweden to train at Halmstad Bordtennisklubb, working with some of the world’s top coaches and players, along with his sister Prachi.

“Our club has a very strong level of players, and the environment is much more competitive when you’re playing in a group where everyone is trying to win,” Jha told USA Today. “There are a lot more styles in Sweden, and you see a lot of these people and what their strengths are and how they play the game, and you can improve just from being there in that environment.”

The teenager, whose mother Karuna is from Mumbai and father Arun grew up in Allahabad and Kolkata, is the flag-bearer of the table tennis team. His father came to America to study business and works at Oracle. His mother worked at Sun Microsystems before starting her own hypnotherapy and reiki business.

The Indian connect does not end there. The India Community Centre (ICC) in California, which began as a modest four-table club in 2005, is now home to USA’s Olympic team, which is coached by Italian Massimo Costantini. Costantini, who was India’s national coach till 2012, is also the head coach at the ICC. It is here that Jha got his big break.

Pics courtesy: AP

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India’s loss is Australia’s gain: Haryani wrestler to represent Down Under at Rio Olympics

31-year-old grappler Vinod Kumar Dahiya qualifies in the 66-kg weight category in the Greco-Roman event

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Indian origin wrestler Vinod Kumar Dahiya is all set to represent Australia at the Rio Olympics after he qualified in the 66kg weight category in the Greco-Roman event.

According to the official website, Dahiya, who originally hails from Khanda, a small village in Haryana, became a citizen of Australia a year ago and is now all set to make his debut at the Olympics, to be held in August this year.

The 31-year-old grappler secured an Olympic berth after winning a silver medal at the African/Oceania Olympic qualifiers in Algeria.

Following the footsteps of his older brothers, Vinod started wrestling at age of eight. Seeing his potential, Dahiya’s family sent him to Mahabali Satpal’s wrestling academy in New Delhi in 1998.

Thereafter, he participated in state and national competitions for four years. He also competed in the popular Indian sport of dirt wrestling.

Dahiya migrated to Australia in 2010, where he started training at the United Wrestling Club under former Wresting Australia President, Kuldip Bassi.

Based in Victoria, Dahiya has so far claimed six national championships and countless medals at the Australia Cup and Canberra Cup tournaments.

He represented the green and gold for the first time at the Oceania Championships in New Zealand in March, where he bagged the gold medal.

Pic courtesy: Reuters

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10 cricketers of Indian origin who are playing the 2016 T20 World Cup

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Munis Ansari (Oman)

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Munis Ansari (born April 1, 1986) debuted for the Omani national side at the 2013 World Cricket League Division Three tournament. A right-arm pace bowler, his slinging bowling action has been likened to that of Lasith Malinga, although he does not produce the same speed. Ansari began his cricket career in his native country of India. He was born in Sehore, Madhya Pradesh, a city near the state capital of Bhopal. After failing to gain selection for the state team, he began to play in corporate tournaments in the Middle East, eventually relocating to Oman permanently.

Ansari made his international debut for Oman at the 2013 WCL Division Three tournament in Bermuda, and took 16 wickets from only six matches, the most of any player. His best figures, 4/72, came against Italy in the fifth-place playoff. Ansari has since played for Oman in various ICC and Asian Cricket Council (ACC) tournaments, including at the 2015 World Twenty20 Qualifier.

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Anshuman Rath (Hong Kong)

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Anshuman Rath made his One-Day International debut for Hong Kong on November 8, 2014 against Papua New Guinea in Australia. He made his Twenty20 International debut for Hong Kong against Nepal at the 2015 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier tournament on July 15, 2015. He made his first-class debut for Hong Kong against the United Arab Emirates in the 2015–17 ICC Intercontinental Cup tournament on November 11, 2015.

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Rajesh Ranpura (Oman)

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Rajeshkumar Jagdishchandra ‘Rajesh’ Ranpura made his debut for the Omani national side at the 2011 ACC Twenty20 Cup, aged 28, and has played regularly for the side since then. He played in all eight of Oman’s matches at the 2012 World Twenty20 Qualifier in the United Arab Emirates, which were accorded full Twenty20 status. Ranpura was born in Palanpur, Gujarat.

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Gurinder Sandhu (Australia)

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Gurinder Singh Sandhu (born 14 June 1993) has represented Australia internationally. Of Indian descent, he is a tall fast bowler. He played for the Australia Under-19 cricket team in the 2012 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup. Sandhu made his senior cricket debut for the Sydney Thunder in the 2011–12 Big Bash League season. He made his List A and First-class cricket debut for New South Wales at the end of the 2012–2013 Australian cricket season.

Sandhu, born in Blacktown, New South Wales, is the first male cricketer of Indian ancestry to represent Australia in an international tournament. His parents emigrated to Australia in the 1980s. In March 2013, Sandhu was voted the Australian Cricketers’ Association player of the month.

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Ajay Lalcheta (Oman)

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Ajay Vrajlal Lalcheta (born 22 October 1983) is an Omani cricketer of Indian origin. From Gujarat, Lalcheta played underage cricket in India before emigrating to Oman, making his debut for the Omani national side at the 2011 ACC Twenty20 Cup. He played five matches at the 2012 World Twenty20 Qualifier in the United Arab Emirates, which were accorded full Twenty20 status. He was born in Porbandar.

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Inderbir Singh Sodhi aka Ish (New Zealand)

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Inderbir Singh Sodhi (born 31 October 1992), known as Ish Sodhi, Northern Districts in the New Zealand team. He bowls right-arm leg spin, and bats right-handed.

Sodhi began his career representing Northern Districts in the 2012–13 season. He made his debut for New Zealand in a Test match against Bangladesh during New Zealand’s tour of Bangladesh in October 2013. He made his T20I debut against the West Indies in July 2014. In November 2014 Sodhi was selected for a 3-test series against Pakistan cricket team. In the First Test, he scored 63, a personal best and the best score for a number 10 batsman for New Zealand cricket team in test cricket. He made his One Day International debut for New Zealand against Zimbabwe on 2 August 2015.

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Kinchit Shah (Hong Kong)

Kinchit-Shah

Kinchit Devang Shah (born December 9, 1995) is an Indian-born Hong Kong cricketer. He is a left-handed batsman and a right-arm offbreak bowler. He is also the contributing wicket-keeper.

Shah made his T20 cricket debut against the Canada cricket team on March 15, 2012. He made his One Day International debut for Hong Kong on November 8, 2014 against Papua New Guinea in Australia. He made his Twenty20 International debut on November 24, 2014 against Nepal in Sri Lanka.

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Sunil Narine (West Indies)

Sunil Narine

Sunil Philip Narine (born May 26, 1988) is a Trinidadian cricketer who plays for the West Indies in all forms of the game. Primarily an off-spin bowler, he is also a left-handed batsman.

Domestically, Narine has played for Trinidad and Tobago since 2009 and made his One Day International debut in December 2011, and Test debut in June 2012. Narine’s participated in the 2012 Indian Premier League where he represented Kolkata Knight Riders and was named Player of the Tournament in his first season with 24 wickets at a miserly 5.47 runs per over. He also became the first player in IPL 2013 to take a hat-trick on 16 April 2013 playing for Kolkata Knight Riders against Kings XI Punjab at the PCA Stadium in Mohali.

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Jatinder Singh (Oman)

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Jatinder Singh (born March 5, 1989) is an Omani cricketer who made his debut for the Omani national side at the 2011 World Cricket League Division Three tournament. He is a right-handed top-order batsman.

Born in Ludhiana, India, to Punjabi parents, and raised in Oman, Jatinder represented the Omani under-19 side in five matches at the 2007 ACC Under-19 Elite Cup. He served as Oman’s wicket-keeper at that tournament, and, unusually, all five of his dismissals were stumpings. Jatinder made his senior debut for Oman in January 2011, aged 20, playing two matches in the WCL Division Three tournament. Both of these came against Italy. He was dismissed for a golden duck on debut in the group stages, caught by Hayden Patrizi off of Vince Pennazza, and did not bat in the third-place playoff, which Oman won. Jatinder played two further matches for Oman at the 2011 ACC Twenty20 Cup, where they finished third to qualify for the 2012 World Twenty20 Qualifier in the United Arab Emirates.

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Hashim Amla (South Africa)

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Hashim Mahomed Amla (born March 31, 1983) is a South African cricketer who bats at number three for South Africa in Test matches and opens for them in One Day Internationals (ODIs). He is also a former captain of the Proteas and is a right-handed batsman and occasional medium-pace bowler. He was South Africa’s Test captain from June 2014 to January 2016. He is currently ranked by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as the world’s number eight batsman in Tests and the world’s number five in ODIs. Amla became the first South African to score a Test match triple century when he scored 311 not out against England in 2012.

Of Indian origin; his grandparents migrated to South Africa from Gujarat.