A summary of sports events and persons who made news on Thursday
India's Saina Nehwal progressed to the quarter-finals of the US$ 600,000 Korea Open after seeing off Korea's Kim Ga Eun at the BWF World Tour Super 500 tournament in Seoul on Thursday.
Former World No. 1 Saina, who had won a bronze at the Asian Games and gold at Commonwealth Games this year, defeated Kim Ga Eun 21-18, 21-18 in a 37-minute women's singles pre-quarterfinal.
Fifth seed Saina will take on 2017 world champion and third seed Japanese Nozomi Okuhara in the last eight encounter.
Saina has a 6-3 head to head record against Okuhara but she has finished on the losing side in her last two encounters against the Japanese.
In the Round of 16 match, the Indian made a rampaging start, jumping to a 10-2 lead but Kim narrowed the gap to 8-11 at the break.
After the breather, Saina continued to move ahead, grabbing a 16-10 lead but the Korean reeled off six straight points to draw level at 18-18. However, Saina ensured there were no hiccups, grabbing the next three points to pocket the opening game.
Kim came back strongly in the second game, surging to an 8-1 advantage but the experienced Saina slowly clawed her way back to 10-13 and then claimed seven points in a row to turn the tables on the Korean to take a 17-13 lead.
There was no stopping Saina as she sealed the contest, despite Kim's attempts to fightback.
Saina had reached the final of Indonesia Masters in January and the only tournament she won was the Commonwealth Games in April, beating compatriot P V Sindhu in the final at Gold Coast.
Mary Kom named brand ambassador of Tribes India
Five-time world champion boxer MC Mary Kom was on Thursday named as the brand ambassador of Tribes India, an initiative of Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
"I am so happy to be a brand ambassador for Ministry of Tribal affairs for a good initiative," Mary Kom said during the function in New Delhi.
"I am from Manipur and I hope my association with Tribes India will bring great change in the life of tribal community financially and economically. I will try from my end to help the tribal people come forward."
Punch Tantra exclusive collection, which comprises a range of ethic and traditional tribal handicrafts and handloom products, was also unveiled during the event.
India enter quarter-finals of AFC U-16 Championships, first time in 16 years
India entered the quarter-finals of the AFC Under-16 Championship for the first time in 16 years after playing out a goalless draw with Indonesia in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, continuing the string of encouraging results in recent times.
India ended their Group C engagements with five points from three matches. Their previous best performance came way back in 2002, when they finished the group stage with four points.
With the draw, India finished runners-up in the group, and are likely to face Korea Republic in the next stage.
Head coach Bibiano Fernandes termed the moment "special for Indian football fans".
"We have worked really hard to get where we are and we are very happy with our performance in the group stages. The boys gave their cent percent on the field and we played according to our plan."
Referring to the qualification to the quarters, Bibiano said, "This is a special moment for each and every one back home. The credit goes to all my staff, the grassroots coaches who tutored these kids at a young age, and my players for putting in the hard work day in and day out."
Indonesia had the better of the first half but fell prey to complacency in front of goal, and the spirited Indian defending kept them at bay.
However, India could have taken the lead as early as the 6th minute when a counter-attack from the flanks saw Vikram Partap's header go inches over the goal after he was found on the flank by Ridge De'Mello.
Indonesia upped the ante soon after and threatened the Indian defence.
On the 20th minute, the Indian colts were awarded a golden opportunity to take the lead but Ricky Shabong's shot from inside the box earned a deflection off the leg of an Indonesian defender and went out for a corner.
Despite all the possession by Indonesia, goalkeeper Niraj Kumar was forced into action for the first time only in the 27th minute, when he dived to save a shot from distance.
The Indian defence played tight and compact, thwarting the Indonesian attack line and whatever chances the opponents created, were wasted in front of Niraj Kumar.
Changing over, the Indian Colts restricted Indonesia to the midfield and held them at bay from the attacking third. India even came close to scoring in the 63rd minute when De'Mello was found unmarked in the box but failed to find the back of the Indonesian net as the opponents survived the counter-attack.
Indonesia, despite dominating possession, were not able to create a clear goal scoring chance, often flustered by the Indian defence.
India had the chance to take the lead again on the 72nd minute, but Ricky Shabong failed to find the net from close range, despite the Indonesian custodian being absent.
Long jumper Sreeshankar shatters national record
Sreeshankar Murali of Kerala shattered the men's long jump national record with a big jump of 8.20m on way to winning the gold at the National Open Athletics Championships in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.
The 19-year-old bettered the earlier national record of 8.19m which was in the name of Ankit Sharma made in Almaty in 2016. He came up with 8.20m in his fifth and penultimate jump.
He also had a jump of 8.11m in his third attempt, which was also better than his previous personal best of 7.99m.
His 8.20m jump is the world leading jump of the season among Under-20 athletes, bettering Cuban Maikel Yorges Vidal's 8.12m effort in June.
Sreeshankar was selected in the Indian team for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games but just days before the big event he underwent an appendix surgery. In the recent Asian Games in Indonesia, he had finished sixth with a best jump of 7.95m in the final.
Sreeshankar begun the competition strongly, clearing a distance of 7.95m in his very first jump. After fouling his second jump, he set a new personal best jumping 8.11m in his third attempt.
After another foul attempt in his fourth attempt, he set the new national record in his penultimate attempt.
Sreeshankar was followed on the podium by Services athlete VO Jinesh who jumped a credible 7.95m. That effort was better than the previous meet record of 7.87m set by Ankit Sharma at the 2014 edition of the tournament in New Delhi.
The bronze medal went to Haryana's Sahil Mahabali who secured a new personal best by clearing 7.81m. The jump beat his previous best was 7.56m.
Another bright performance on the day came through Murli Kumar Gavit who completed a golden double in the 5000m and 10000m at the Kalinga Stadium.
Gavit had won a gold medal on the first day of the competition in the 10000m and he followed it up in the 5000m on Thursday. Gavit, representing Gujarat, clocked a relatively slow time of 14.35.96 seconds but that was still enough to beat out Railways' Abhishek Pal who clocked 14:36.62 seconds to claim the silver medal.
Services athlete Man Singh took the third step of the podium after recording a time of 14:37.18 seconds.
The women's 5000m race was meanwhile won by L Suriya who clocked a time of 16.10.35 seconds. Fellow Railways athlete Parul Choudhary claimed the silver medal with a time of 16.13.88 seconds while Monika Athare of LIC came third with a time of 16.24.42 seconds.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Navjeet Kaur missed out on the chance to complete a golden double in the women's shot put and discus throw after she was beaten by Kamalpreet Kaur in the discus event. Navjeet, had won gold in the women's shot put event on the opening day but was edged to silver medal by Kamalpreet Kaur on Thursday.
Navjeet was leading until the final throw of the competition with a throw of 54.84m but fellow Railways athlete Kamalpreet, flung the iron disc to 56.11m in her final throw of the competition to secure the gold. Sandeep Kumari made it an all Railways podium after she claimed bronze with a throw of 53.96m.
With depleted fields in the men's shot put and hammers throw, gold medal were secured by Services athletes Praveen Kumar and Taranvir Singh. Kumar threw the iron ball a distance of 18.76m to secure a gold medal in the shot put, beating Jasdeep Singh and Sunil Kumar who recorded best throws of 18.73 and 18.09m respectively. The meet record stood at 19.82m.
In the men's hammer throw, Taranvir Singh secured his gold with a throw of 63.12m. The silver and bronze medals went to Damneet Singh and Sukhdev Singh of ONGC and Railways respectively. Damneet Singh, who had won a silver medal at the 2017 World Youth Championships recorded a throw of 62.27m. Sukhdev meanwhile recorded a throw of 61.56m.
F1: More legal battles in store for Force India
Russian potash producer Uralkali announced legal action against the administrators of the Force India Formula One team on Thursday after losing out in what it called a 'flawed sale process'.
The company said in a statement it had started proceedings in the London High Court and was seeking substantial damages for “prejudicial and unequal treatment”.
Joint administrators Geoff Rowley and Jason Baker, for FRP Advisory LLP, said, however, that they were unaware of any such action against them.
“No such claim has been received by us or, as far as we are aware, by the Court,” they said.
“We have fulfilled our statutory duties as administrators throughout this process and ultimately achieved a very successful outcome for all stakeholders.
“Any legal action brought against us will be defended vigorously, and we are confident it would be dismissed.”
British-based Force India went into administration at the end of July before a rescue deal led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, the father of 19-year-old Williams F1 driver Lance, was announced on Aug. 7.
Uralkali co-owner Dmitry Mazepin is the father of 19-year-old Nikita, who is a development driver for Force India. The team are competing at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.
The statement did not mention Mazepin but emphasised the business rationale behind Uralkali’s bid.
“The Company sells its fertilizers to more than 60 countries worldwide, including 20 in which Formula One holds its Grand Prix Championship,” it said.
“For several years, Uralkali, together with one of its subsidiaries, has been a partner of Force India and one of the sponsors of the Russian Formula One Grand Prix in Sochi,” it added.
“Force India would be a highly effective and valuable marketing tool for the business.”
Uralkali said the winning bid was lower than the one it had submitted and described the responses from administrators as “inadequate”.
The Russian company said its “extremely generous offer”, that had included a cash consideration of between 101.5 and 122 million pounds, would have paid more than 40 million pounds to Force India’s holding company, Orange India Holdings Sarl.
The team was previously co-owned by troubled Indian magnate Vijay Mallya, whose assets are subject to the terms of a freezing order in favour of 13 Indian banks, and the Sahara Group.
“We had a strong business case for acquiring Force India and we believe our bid was the best one tabled,” said Paul Ostling, a senior independent director of Uralkali.
“We have serious concerns as to why the Administrators did not use the opportunity to maximise the amounts that could have been paid to creditors and shareholders.”
Madrid to host first two revamped Davis Cup finals
Madrid has been selected to host the first two revamped Davis Cup finals in 2019 and 2020, the premier international men’s team event organisers announced on Thursday.
The revised week-long, 18-team finals are scheduled to be held at La Caja Magica, the current venue for the Madrid Open, in November 2019, while the following edition will be held at either the same location or the WiZink Center.
“We are delighted to be bringing the 2019 Davis Cup... finals to Madrid,” International Tennis Federation (ITF) President David Haggerty said in a statement.
“The city is a fitting location to stage the highest quality tennis... We look forward to working with the city to realise our ambitions of elevating the Davis Cup to a new level.”
The new format will see a group stage take place over the first four days, with the participating countries split into six groups of three.
Each tie consists of two singles and one doubles match over a best-of-three set format, with the six group winners and two best second-placed teams qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Teams who finish fifth to 16th in the group stages will participate in qualifiers the following year, while the teams who finish 17th and 18th will be relegated to their respective Zone Groups.
The announcement comes a day after Argentina and Britain were handed wild cards to compete in the 2019 finals
(PTI and Reuters)