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'I have no intentions of getting into coaching', says Abhinav Bindra

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) India’s 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalist Abhinav Bindra believes that the Indian shooting contingent have the “potential to secure multiple medals” at the Paris Olympics, scheduled to kickstart from July 26.

Speaking exclusively to IANS, he further added that the depth of talent in Indian shooting is immense. Asked if he has any plans to take over the coaching role in the near future, Bindra said “no”.

The former Indian shooter also explained about the collaboration between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Abhinav Bindra Foundation, designed to inspire physical activity and celebrate the 2024 Games.

Below are excerpts from the interview:

IANS: Paris Games are just a month away, how many medals do you think India can win in shooting? Since Tokyo was empty!

AB: Predicting the exact number of medals is challenging, but I am optimistic about our chances in Paris. Our shooters have been training rigorously, and with the right support and preparation, I believe we have the potential to secure multiple medals.

IANS: Who do you think can become the next Abhinav Bindra of shooting? Any chance of taking over the coach’s role in the Indian side?

AB: The depth of talent in Indian shooting is immense, and I am confident that we will continue to produce many champions in the years to come. As for myself, I have no intentions of getting into coaching.

IANS: Indian shooters perform well in other major tournaments, but when it comes to the Olympics, they often fall short. What do you think is the reason?

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AB: We must rally and support our athletes wholeheartedly. Shooting has won Olympic medals in the past, and there is no reason why we can’t achieve this success again in the future.

IANS: How is the collaboration between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Reliance Foundation, and the Abhinav Bindra Foundation designed to inspire physical activity and celebrate the Paris Olympics?

AB: The collaboration between the IOC, Reliance Foundation, and the Abhinav Bindra Foundation is built around the “Let’s Move India” initiative. This program aims to inspire physical activity by engaging people of all ages in celebrating the Paris 2024 Olympics. Through a series of digital challenges and regional school initiatives, we are encouraging individuals to participate in various forms of movement, be it dance, local sports, or athletic celebrations. This partnership not only highlights the importance of physical well-being but also brings communities together in a shared celebration of our athletes heading to Paris 2024.

IANS: What role do schools play in the Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) as part of this collaborative effort?

AB: Schools play a pivotal role in the Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) as they serve as the primary platforms for engaging young minds. Through OVEP, we integrate the core values of Olympism—excellence, respect, and friendship—into the educational framework. Schools across the country participate in physical activities, educational workshops, and community events, fostering a culture of physical fitness and sportsmanship. This involvement ensures that children not only stay active but also internalize the positive values associated with the Olympic movement. Through my foundation – ABF, we work with schoolchildren to experience these values through sport, art and activities, which helps them imbibe values and 21st century life skills.

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IANS: How has the initiative positively impacted children in Odisha and Assam, and how many children have benefited from it?

AB: The initiative has had a significant positive impact on children in Odisha and Assam, enhancing their physical activity levels, promoting gender inclusivity, and improving educational outcomes. Through our collaborative efforts, we have reached and benefited over 7 million children. These children have gained access to better sports facilities, training, and educational resources, fostering a holistic development that combines physical fitness with academic growth.

IANS: In what ways does the Abhinav Bindra Foundation contribute to promoting physical well-being?

AB: The Abhinav Bindra Foundation contributes to promoting physical well-being through various initiatives focused on sports science, athlete training, and community engagement. Our high-performance training centers provide grassroots athletes with access to state-of-the-art facilities and professional coaching. Additionally, our STEAM and Sport4Her initiatives aim to develop young athletes, particularly girls, while our Sport of Life and Athlete Mental Wellness programs offer surgical assistance and mental health support, respectively. We also focus on addressing environment and climate change through the Olympic Forest Project. By integrating global best practices, we strive to create a supportive environment that nurtures physical and mental well-being.

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IANS: What is the Olympic Movement’s mission in terms of enhancing physical and mental health through sport?

AB: The Olympic Movement’s mission is to make the world a better place through sport by enhancing both physical and mental health. This mission is accomplished by promoting regular physical activity, fostering community spirit, and encouraging healthy lifestyles. The “Let’s Move” initiative exemplifies this mission by inspiring millions of people worldwide to engage in daily physical activity, which in turn improves overall well-being and creates a more active, healthier global community.

IANS: Why is it important to support Indian athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics, and how does this collaboration aim to achieve that goal?

AB: Supporting Indian athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics is vital to highlighting the incredible talent and dedication within our sports community on a global platform. Through initiatives like “Let’s Move India,” we aim to generate widespread support and enthusiasm, significantly boosting our athletes’ morale. The Olympic movement is gaining traction in India, and with Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of hosting the Olympics in 2036, programs like OVEP and Let’s Move India are crucial in connecting young audiences with the global community. Furthermore, our efforts to promote physical activity at the grassroots level are essential in nurturing a strong pipeline of future Olympians.

–IANS

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5th T20I: Mukesh, Riyan come in as Zimbabwe win toss and elect to bowl first against India

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Harare, July 14 (IANS) Mukesh Kumar and Riyan Parag come into India’s playing eleven as Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bowl first in the fifth and final T20I of the series at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday.

India have already sealed the series with a 3-1 unassailable lead, thanks to their ten-wicket triumph in the fourth game on Saturday. Mukesh and Riyan replace Khaleel Ahmed and Ruturaj Gaikwad in India’s playing eleven, as they aim to end the series with a 4-1 scoreline.

“We were looking to bat first anyway. Our spinners have bowled well and the fast bowlers have been economical. The players have been hungry. It’s not easy to play back-to-back matches,” said India captain Shubman Gill after winning the toss.

Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza said Brandon Mavuta has replaced Tendai Chatara in the playing eleven for Sunday’s game, which they are eyeing to win for ending the series on a high.

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“The wicket will get better when we bat second. Not difficult at all, the motivation is there, the confidence is there and the skillset is there. We want to do well and finish the series on a high. Chatara has been rested, he’s played four games in a row and we have a Test match coming up (against Ireland),” he said.

Playing XIs-

India: Shubman Gill (captain), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Abhishek Sharma, Sanju Samson (wicketkeeper), Riyan Parag, Rinku Singh, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Tushar Deshpande and Mukesh Kumar

Zimbabwe: Wessly Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Brian Bennett, Dion Myers, Sikandar Raza (captain), Johnathan Campbell, Faraz Akram, Clive Madande (wicketkeeper), Brandon Mavuta, Richard Ngarava and Blessing Muzarabani

–IANS

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Copa America final: 28-game unbeaten Colombia stand in the way of Argentina’s record title win (preview)

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Miami, July 14 (IANS) The 2024 Copa America has boiled down to its final game. The defending champions Argentina, will be taking on a strong Colombian side at the Hard Rock Stadium on Monday (IST).

Argentina’s path to the finals was straightforward with their biggest hurdle proving to be Ecuador in the quarter-finals which the side won on penalties thanks to the heroics of Emiliano Martinez. Lionel Scaloni’s men defeated Canada 2-0 in the semi-finals of the tournament.

Colombia on the other hand are on a dream run which has seen them remain unbeaten in 28 games which is a national record. Their previous record was of 27 games and their victory over Uruguay in the semi-finals saw them create history.

Argentina’s Lautaro Martinez is currently the leading scorer at the tournament with four goals to his name whereas James Rodriguez sits miles above the rest in the assists leaderboard with six to his name with the next best being several players tied with two assists.

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Head-to-head: The two sides have faced each other 42 times in their history with Argentina holding a impressive lead with 25 wins to their name compared to Colombia’s eight, nine games ended in draws.

What the managers said-

“I hope the fans have a party, I want it with all my heart. Apart from the joy of winning the title, I think it would be a joy for everyone if it ends well,” said Scaloni to reporters in the pre-match conference. “Even though we know it will be his(Angel Di Maria) last game, we will always decide first what is best for the team. If he has to play it’s because he has to play, if we decide not to play him it’s because we think differently,” he added.

“We hope that everything goes well and that Angel can retire in the best possible way. We need to be the best Colombia, the best version, to beat Argentina, the champions of everything. To win against Argentina, we have to be very well-prepared, because they are the champions, it will be a very demanding match,” said Colombia head coach Nestor Lorenzo.

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–IANS

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England will miss Anderson, it's difficult to replace his rare skill: Ian Chappell

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) Former Australia captain Ian Chappell believes England are going to miss James Anderson in Test cricket, citing the difficulty to replace his rare skills of swinging the ball.

Anderson finished his 21-year Test career for England as the third-most successful bowler in the longest format with 704 wickets at an average of 26.45 in 188 matches, when the hosts’ thrashed the West Indies by an innings and 114 runs at Lord’s earlier this week.

“Jimmy Anderson retired as the greatest swing bowler the game has seen. There have been many other fine swing bowlers but none have plied their skill for such a long period at the highest level.

“Anderson had that rare ability to swing the ball both ways with very little change to his action. Where other good bowlers gave the batter a clue with their change of arm slot, Anderson was able to produce swing both ways minus the early warning signal.

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“This is a remarkable skill and it made Anderson an extremely tough opponent. England will miss Anderson as it’s difficult to replace his rare skill. Importantly, though, Anderson’s career is now a celebrated one where he’s recognised as the best swing bowler the game has produced,” wrote Chappell in his column for ESPNCricinfo on Sunday.

He also went on to laud Anderson for his hardwork in terms of maintaining his longevity and not wandering from his testing lines and lengths in Test cricket. “Twenty-one years at the top is a tribute to his fitness, skill and ability to learn. There was also his desire to keep playing when big life changes, like having a wife and kids, could easily have surpassed the priority of Test cricket.

“His subtle skills became more obvious as he continued to run in with the same smooth rhythm and produce a probing delivery on a testing line. He continued to do so no matter whether he was bowling to a right- or left-handed batter. That was another skill that set him apart from many swing bowlers – it made little difference what type of batter he was facing.”

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Chappell signed off by praising Anderson for maintaining his patience despite getting no rewards in his stern bowling spells, a factor which he thinks was crucial in the pacer’s success.

“The tributes for Anderson have been many, touching not just on his undoubted bowling skill but also his grumpiness, the changes of hairdo and his stubbornness with the bat. It’s not surprising that he was occasionally grumpy, which resulted in the odd terse comment.

“Most people’s patience would be severely tested if they regularly charged in to bowl only to beat the bat and receive no reward. Despite the occasional outburst Anderson retained his patience, which was partly responsible for his amazing success.

“As retirement loomed, the thing that stood out most in Anderson’s often reluctant comments was his desire to win. This was a crucial motivating factor in his success.”

–IANS

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'Pleasure for everyone if final concludes peacefully', Argentina coach ahead of Copa America final

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Florida, July 14 (IANS) Ahead of the Copa America final against Colombia, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni hopes for a peaceful match at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Monday (as per IST).

Scaloni’s comments came at the heels of the clashes that erupted between Uruguayan players and Colombia supporters after the former’s 1-0 loss in the semifinal match in North Carolina.

“I hope the fans can enjoy themselves, I sincerely wish for that. Besides the joy of winning the title, it would be a pleasure for everyone if the final concludes peacefully,” Scaloni said during a press conference on Saturday.

Scaloni showed compassion in response to the incident between Uruguayan players, recognising the anguish that results when family members find themselves in such circumstances.

“We expect players to set a positive example, but in such circumstances, reactions can be difficult to predict. I hope incidents like these are not repeated. Witnessing your loved ones amidst such chaos must be deeply distressing,” he remarked.

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Speaking on forward Angel Di Maria’s farewell match for Argentina, Scaloni remains committed to the goal of winning the trophy over individual accolades.

“Even though it may be his final match, our primary consideration remains the team’s needs. Whether he plays or not will be decided accordingly,” Scaloni expressed.

Argentina sealed the final berth after defeating Canada 2-0 in the semi-final. Argentina hope to build on their previous finals success, having won the Copa America in 2021, the Intercontinental Cup in 2022 against Italy, the European champions, and the World Cup in Qatar against France.

“Every final has its own unique challenges. We will approach it with determination to win. Every team understands the significance and pressure that comes with a final,” Scaloni concluded.

–IANS

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Euro 2024: Luis de la Fuente claims Spain are not 'favourites' heading into finals

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Berlin, July 14 (IANS) The joint-record winners of the European Championship, Spain will be taking on England in a blockbuster final of the Euro 2024 at the Olympiastadion Berlin on Monday (as per IST).

Ahead of the highly-awaited encounter, many believe that the Spaniards are the favourites given the ruthlessness they have shown throughout the tournament but head coach Luis de la Fuente has stated that ‘there are no favourites’ in the matchup.

“There are no favourites. It’s an even match-up, just as our previous knockout games were. If we are not above the level we displayed in those games, we won’t have a chance of winning — and the same if we make mistakes,” said de la Fuente in the pre-game conference.

Spain have been one of the best teams at the tournament, they are playing with a fun, free-flowing identity, raising their game to a level which we are accustomed to seeing the La Roja perform at.

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They have scored 13 goals so far in the Euro 2024, the highest by any team in the tournament whilst only conceding three goals which has seen them remain the only team that has won all their games so far.

“It’s fantastic to be here and we are excited to be in the final. It’s one of the biggest sporting achievements there is. We are relaxed and looking forward to playing. Sunday will be a complicated game against a great team, between the best two teams [in the tournament], that’s why we are in the final,” he added.

Out of the two finalists, Spain have definitely had the harder road to Berlin. The side defeated Georgia 4-1 in the Round of 16 which set their clashes against Germany in the quarterfinal (2-1) before a 2-1 victory over France in the semi-finals of the tournament.

“These matches, which are so even, are often decided by the finer details. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will have the best chance of winning,” concluded the Spanish head coach.

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–IANS

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