The seasoned duo of Gaurav Solanki (57kg) and Ashish Kumar (75kg) advanced to the pre-quarterfinals of the Asian Olympic Qualifiers for boxing with dominating wins in their respective opening-round bouts, in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday.
Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Solanki defeated two-time Kyrgyz national champion Akylbek Esenbek Uulu, while Asian Championship silver-medallist Ashish got the better of Taiwan's Kan Chia-Wei. Both the Indians won 5-0 following strong performances.
Ashish will square off against Kyrgyzstan's Omurbek Bekzhigit Uulu, who has been seeded fourth. The Indian had beaten Uulu in the quarterfinals of the Asian Championships last year.
Solanki, whose CWG gold was in the 52kg division, will be up against top-seeded Uzbek Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov, who got a bye into the second round.
Mirzakhalilov is the reigning world champion in this weight category besides being a gold-medallist at the 2018 Asian Games as well as the Asian Championships.
Solanki dominated from the word go, helped by Uulu's poor defence. The Indian was relentless and accurate in his attacks, scoring mostly through clean straight punches.
Later, Ashish also produced a confident performance against a sprightly rival. The Indian kept his guard low and relied on counter-attacks to get the judges' nod.
The Indian's superior reach and power wore down the Taiwanese boxer, who took a tumble more than once in the second and third rounds after a split verdict in the opening three minutes.
Advancing to the semifinals in this event would assure boxers of a spot in the Tokyo Olympics scheduled later this year.
World silver-medallist Amit Panghal (52kg) has been given the top billing in the men's competition, while the iconic M C Mary Kom (51kg) is seeded second in the women's event.
Among other Indians, two-time World Championships bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), Asian Championships gold medallist Pooja Rani (75kg) and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Satish Kumar (+91kg) are one win away from qualifying for the Olympics due to the small size of their respective draws.
Hockey India nominates Manpreet and Rani for Player of the Year award
Hockey captains Manpreet Singh and Rani Rampal were nominated for Dhruv Batra Player of the Year award in male and female category respectively by Hockey India for its third Annual Awards scheduled on March 8.
A total prize money of Rs 1.30 crore along with trophies will be awarded to hockey stars as the national federation on Tuesday released the list of nominations for the awards, given in recognition of excellence in performance for the year 2019 and overall contribution to the game.
Manpreet, who became the first Indian to win the FIH Best Player of the Year award earlier this month, was nominated for guiding the team to Tokyo Olympic berth. He was named alongside Harmanpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh and Surender Kumar for the award which carries a prize money of Rs 25 lakh.
India's women team captain Rani, who became the first-ever hockey player to win the prestigious World Games Athlete of the year award last month, was nominated for along with Deep Grace Ekka, Gurjit Kaur and Savita.
Teenager Vivek Sagar Prasad, who had won the FIH Men's Rising Star of the Year, was nominated for Jugraj Singh Upcoming Player of the Year 2019 (Men剖nder 21) along with Dilpreet Singh, Gursahibjit Singh and Mandeep Mor. The award carries a proze money of Rs 10 lakh.
The nominations for Asunta Lakra Upcoming Player of the Year 2019 (Women剖nder 21) included forward Lalremsiami, who had won the 2019 FIH Women's Rising Star of the Year, Salima Tete and Sharmila Devi.
Rani was also named in the list of nomination for Dhanraj Pillay Award for Forward of the Year, which has a purse of Rs 5 lakh, along with Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh and Navneet Kaur.
For Rs 5 lakh Ajit Pal Singh Award (Midfielder of the Year), Manpreet and Vivek Sagar was nominated along with Monika and Neha Goyal.
Deep Grace, Harmanpreet Singh, Surender and Varun Kumar were nominated for Pargat Singh Award (Defender of the Year), which also carries a prize purse of Rs 5 lakh.
India custodian PR Sreejesh along with Krishan B Pathak, Rajani Etimarpu and Savita were nominated for Baljit Singh Award for Goalkeeper of the Year.
The nomination for Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award (Rs 30 lakh), President's Award for Outstanding Achievement (Rs 5 lakh) and Jaman Lal Sharma Award for Invaluable Contribution (Rs 5 lakh) will be announced during the function.
Fed Cup: Rutuja goes down fighting, India trail China 0-1
Rutuja Bhosale fought her heart out before losing to world number 35 Shuai Zhang in the first singles as India trailed China 0-1 on the opening day of the Fed Cup competition in Dubai.
The 23-year-old from Pune led 3-1 with an early break of serve but Shuai showed why she is a top-50 player as the Chinese won the match 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 16 minutes.
Shuai, who reached the Australian Open third round where she lost to eventual champion Sofia Kenin, broke Rutuja early in the second set to race to a 3-1 lead and never looked back.
To her credit, the 433rd ranked Rutuja gave her all in the contest as captain Vishal Uppal preferred her ahead of higher-ranked Riya Bhatia (388), who is yet to play a singles match in Fed Cup.
Riya lost the two doubles matches she played in 2017 (against China) and 2019 (against Kazakhstan).
The onus to bring India back in the contest now rests on India number one Ankita Raina, who is up against world number 29 Qiang Wang. Wang had defeated Serena Williams in the third round of the Australian Open in January.
The top two teams in the six-nation Asia/Oceania Group I will qualify for the Play-offs, to be held next month.