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Monaco GP: 'It’s not going to be enjoyable', Verstappen predicts tough race for Red Bull

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Monaco, May 26 (IANS) Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has struggled with his car ever since the first practice session in Monaco as he finished sixth on the grid following the qualifying session.

Following the end of the qualifying session on Saturday, Verstappen revealed how much he struggled with the car and how the race on Sunday would “not going to be enjoyable.”

“To be honest, I was positively surprised all the way until Q3 that we were actually looking like we were in the mix – it was a big surprise to me. But it’s just like driving on a knife’s edge. I can’t drive on the kerbs, to be honest. That’s why we are losing so much time in Sector 2… I have to drive around everything while everyone else is just ploughing over it,” said the Dutchman to reporters after the qualifying session.

Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc shone brightly at his home race qualifying as he grabbed pole position followed by McLaren’s Oscar Piastri at P2, teammate Carlos Sainz at P3 and Lando Norris at P4.

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“It’s costing a lot of lap time, the car is like a go-kart over the kerbs and the bumps, so it’s just incredibly difficult. If you turn in one centimeter too late you might bounce half a meter more to the left or the right, and that makes it just very unpredictable.

“We were very good in the medium to high-speed, where you don’t have the bumps so much, so that’s where I felt really comfortable and it was actually a lot of fun to drive, but we lost too much in all the low-speed,” added the three-time World Champion.

Verstappen was not the only Red Bull driver who struggled on the day as teammate Sergio Perez was eliminated in Q1 making it evident to the struggles the team is facing when it comes to pace on the track.

“It’s not going to be enjoyable, every lap that I did so far, in the low-speed it’s a challenge to be consistent. Of course, in the race, you don’t push it to the limit, everyone is saving [the car] and just making sure you have the tyres to go with it. We’ll all calm down a little bit but we don’t have the fastest car anyway, so all the cars that are ahead of us are faster. We’ll just try to follow. It’s Monaco, things can happen, but I also don’t expect miracles,” said Verstappen, who won last year’s race in Monaco.

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–IANS

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Ankita Bhakat secures Olympic quota in women's individual recurve archery for Paris 2024

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Antalya, June 16 (IANS) Ankita Bhakat secured a quota for the women’s individual recurve archery event at the Paris 2024 Olympics by reaching the quarterfinals of the Final Olympic Qualifier tournament, here on Sunday.

Bhakat’s impressive performance ensured India’s presence in the coveted event, with eight individual quota places available and a maximum of one per National Olympic Committee (NOC).

Seeded ninth in the tournament, Bhakat received a bye in the first round, which gave her a smooth start. She then registered decisive victories, defeating Israel’s Shelley Hilton 6-4 and Mikaella Moshe 7-3 in the second and third rounds, respectively. Playing for the crucial quota place, Bhakat showcased her skills and composure by defeating Gabrielle Monica Bidaure of Philippines with a 6-0 clean sweep in the fourth round.

Meanwhile, Bhajan Kaur, the tournament’s third seed, stormed into QF of women individual event beating Slovenian archer Urska Cavic 7-3 in fourth round. After a bye into the round of 32, Kaur overcame Mongolia’s Urantungalag Bishindee 6-2.

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However, it was a challenging day for Deepika Kumari, the second seed and one of India’s top archers. Despite receiving byes in the first and second rounds, Kumari was narrowly defeated by Azerbaijan’s Yaylagul Ramazanova 4-6 in the third round, after leading 4-0. The loss was a setback for Kumari, who has been a prominent figure in Indian archery.

On the men’s side, Dhiraj Bommadevara had already secured an individual quota from the Asian qualifying leg earlier, ensuring India’s representation in the men’s recurve event at the Paris Olympics.

The individual competition for men will continue on Monday, with more opportunities for Indian archers to qualify.

Both the Indian men’s and women’s recurve teams missed out on direct qualification but will be relying on their world rankings as of June 24 for potential spots at the Paris Games.

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Won’t be ruling Ellis out of the Super Eight conversation, says Bailey on Australia’s ideal 11

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Gros Islet (St Lucia), June 16 (IANS) Australia’s chief selector George Bailey has insisted that pacer Nathan Ellis won’t be ruled out of the conversation when the side seeks to select its best playing eleven for the Super Eight stage of the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup.

With either of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood being rested from Australia’s Group B fixtures at some point in the tournament, Ellis has made a strong case for himself by picking four wickets in his three games, as Australia will have just a day’s gap between their Super Eight matches, with India and Afghanistan being confirmed as their opponents.

“Coming back to how we structure up two or three different ways … I certainly won’t be ruling Nathan Ellis out of that conversation. I think he’s got a fantastic skill-set. I think they (the bowlers) all work together really well. It’s a nice squad balance to have.”

“It’s been really pleasing because I think we’ve gone to every selection meeting so far and there are genuinely 15 names on the table. It’s going to be a challenge, this Super Eights (and finals) period of … playing and travelling the next day. Travel is not easy here. Prioritising that recovery in that day is going to be really important for everyone,” said Bailey to cricket.com.au.

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With captain Mitchell Marsh expected to bowl in Super Eights once he takes up bowling loads in practice post a recovery from hamstring injury and Marcus Stoinis available to bowl some overs of pace, it means more bowling options in hand for Australia.

“It’s an option. One of the things that we’re big on, particularly in tournaments and World Cups, is having two or three styles of game that you can go to. That’s depending on the surface and the opponent.”

“Mitch (Marsh) coming back online as a bowler over the next week or so is another piece to that puzzle potentially. Then just weighing up (if) you look to extend that batting line-up if it’s a good wicket (or) if it’s actually an ordinary wicket,” he added.

Australia, the 2021 T20 World Cup winners, will start its Super Eights campaign on June 21 against either of Bangladesh or Netherlands at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua. It will be followed by meeting Afghanistan at the Arnos Vale Ground in St Vincent on June 23 and facing India at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in St Lucia on June 24.

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–IANS

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National Motorcycle Racing: Double delight for Sarthak, Basim, Rakshitha and Kaushik

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Chennai, June 16 (IANS) It was a day of the “double” at the Madras International Circuit here on Sunday as the first round of the MRF MMSC FMSCI Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship 2024 concluded with the new generation of riders emerging to displace the old guard.

Teenager Sarthak Chavan (Pro-Stock 301-400cc Open), schoolgirl Rakshitha Dave (Girls, Stock 165cc), Abdul Basim (Novice, Stock 165cc), and Kaushik Subbiah Ganesan (Novice, Stock 301-400cc) won both races this weekend in their respective National Championship categories.

Barring Pune’s Sarthak, the other three riders are from Chennai.

Sarthak Chavan, the 17-year-old prodigy, established himself as the top gun in the premier Pro-Stock 301-400cc Open class, winning both races over the weekend in an emphatic manner. Following him in P2 in both races was another 17-year-old, Chiranth Vishwanath from Bengaluru, who just couldn’t match Sarthak’s pace. The duo dominated both races leaving the rest to scrap for the other podium spot.

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Sarthak, however, missed a possible win, despite starting P7 on the grid, in the other premier category, the Pro-Stock 165cc, when he crashed again after tangling with Chiranth when the two were fighting for 1-2 positions. The Pune youngster had crashed in Race-1 on Saturday when leading.

Though both Sarthak and Chiranth recovered to rejoin the race, veteran TVS Racing team-mates Jagan Kumar, KY Ahamed and Deepak Ravikumar made the best of the free space in front to finish in that order. For Jagan, a multiple National champion, it was his first win of the season after a barren 2023.

Chennai schoolgirl, 15-year-old Rakshitha Dave completed a fine double in the Girls (Stock 165cc) category. Having won Race-1 on Saturday, she extended her domination with a sweeping win in Race-2 today, virtually unchallenged.

Similarly, another Chennai teenager Abdul Basim (Rockers Racing) achieved a clean sweep in the Novice (Stock 165cc) category, winning Race-2 today with as much ease as in the previous outing on Saturday.

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Later, another Chennai rider, Kaushik Subbaiah Ganesan also notched a double in the Stock 301-400cc (Novice) class with another fine ride starting from pole position.

–IANS

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Raducanu opts out of Paris 2024, Murray to compete in Olympic swan song

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London, June 16 (IANS) Emma Raducanu has declined the opportunity to represent Great Britain in next month’s Paris Olympics. The 2021 US Open champion, who is still recovering from surgery on her wrists and ankle, was offered one of the two International Tennis Federation (ITF) places reserved for former Grand Slam champions.

However, Raducanu has chosen to focus on her fitness and prepare for the upcoming British grass-court season.

Raducanu’s current world ranking is too low to qualify outright for the Olympics, a consequence of her time away from the sport due to injury. The 21-year-old missed the French Open, which is played on the same Roland Garros clay courts that will host the Olympic tennis tournament, to ensure she is in peak condition for the British grass-court swing.

Iain Bates, head of Great Britain’s Olympic tennis team, shared insights into Raducanu’s decision. “I have had various conversations with Emma over the last couple of weeks and a slightly longer period where it’s very clear how much being part of a British team at an Olympics would mean to her,” Bates said.

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“I think she feels this isn’t going to be the right timing for her for this summer. She’s hopefully got many Olympics ahead of her. I’m very comfortable with the decision that she’s made.”

Meanwhile, two-time Olympic gold medallist Andy Murray is set to compete in what might be his final tournament. The 37-year-old tennis icon, who won gold in London 2012 and Rio 2016, has been granted an ITF place for Paris 2024.

Earlier this year, Murray hinted that he did not expect to “play much past this summer,” adding a layer of poignancy to his participation in the upcoming Games.

Great Britain’s tennis nominations, announced at Queen’s Club on Sunday, include a mix of seasoned players and rising stars. Joining Murray in the men’s singles are Cameron Norrie, Jack Draper, and Dan Evans. Katie Boulter is the only British woman to have qualified by ranking.

In doubles action, Murray and Dan Evans are slated to pair up in the men’s doubles. Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski will also compete in the men’s doubles, leveraging their high world rankings. For the women’s doubles, Boulter and Heather Watson will team up, alongside another pair, Harriet Dart and Maia Lumsden.

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The Olympic tennis tournament, scheduled from July 27 to August 4 at Roland Garros, will feature five medal events: women’s singles, men’s singles, women’s doubles, men’s doubles, and mixed doubles. As the event draws closer, the ITF will finalize and announce the full entry list on July 4.

–IANS

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Asian Team Squash : India women's team finishes fifth

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Dalian (China), June 16 (IANS) India women’s team finished fifth while the men’s team ended at sixth place in the Asian Team Squash Championships which concluded on Sunday.

The women’s team beat Iran 2-0 in the match to decide the fifth and sixth positions with Rathika Suthanthira Seelan and Pooja Arthi Raghu scoring comfortable wins.

However, the men’s side lost to South Korea 1-2, with Velavan Senthilkumar recording a win before Suraj Kumar Chand and Om Semwal lost by narrow margins.

India results:

Men: India lost to South Korea 1-2 (Velavan Senthilkumar bt Jeongmin Ryu 11-5, 11-1, 11-4; Suraj Kumar Chand lost to Minwoo Lee 11-7, 11-13, 9-11, 8-11); Om Semwal lost to Jooyoung Na 9-11, 6-11, 9-11).

Women: India bt Iran 2-0 (Rathika Suthanthira Seelan bt Fereshteh Eghtedari 11-5, 11-9, 11-7; Pooja Arthi Raghu bt Parmin Nekopayantak 11-5, 11-7, 12-10).

–IANS

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