Indian chess has grown consistently in the last three decades, believes five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand, who expressed optimism that the country's progress would be reflected in the Chess Olympiad.
"I am proud to have played part, (as a) catalyst and convinced a lot of people to try out chess. I was the first Grand Master in 1987 and now we have 52. So that's quite a growth," Anand said.
"Obviously someone like Praggnanandhaa, has done it at the age of 12. But the growth (of chess in India) has been solid and consistent over the last 30 years.
"Increasing steadily and compounding. I hope the (Chess) Olympiad will a demonstration of that, but it has to happen at many levels. I hope the next (development) will be that some Indian (player) getting into the Candidates," added 48-year-old Anand.
Anand, the brand ambassador of Fincare Small Finance Bank, was speaking on the sidelines of its event in Mumbai.
The 43rd Chess Olympiad will be held from September 23 to October 7 at Batumi in Georgia.
Anand expects that his participation in the Olympiad would help India to improve their performance.
"Our last few performances (in the Chess Olympiads) are almost as good as you can get, given the fact there are so many strong roughly balanced teams. The main thing is to go there, try to do your best, deal with things as they come up rather than say we finished fourth, so now we are going to go for third, that makes no sense.
"There are lot of strong teams and you can play a very good Olympiad and still finish fifth if the last round goes one way or the other. In the last two Olympiads we have done spectacularly well. So I hope my participation will improve on that," he said when asked about the Olympiad.
Anand asserted that the team is not aware of the opponents and so a lot of work will have to be done at the Olympiad.
Shooter Jitu among seven dropped from TOP Scheme
Top Indian marksman Jitu Rai was dropped from the Target Olympic Podium Scheme, along with three other shooters, on grounds of recent lack of form.
Three track and field athletes were also dropped on the basis of recent below-par performances. The decisions were taken after a meeting of the Mission Olympic Cell in New Delhi.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist table tennis player Manika Batra has been sanctioned Rs 2.4 lakh (approximately) for her training till the Asian Games. This amount includes her training with coach Sandeep Gupta, use of support staff (physiotherapist, fitness trainer and masseur) and purchase of playing equipment.
Rs 93,555, which was already approved for Vinesh Phogat's participation at the Gran Premio De Espana Wrestling tournament where she won the gold medal, was ratified at the meeting.
"Proposals of TOPS shooters of about Rs 50 lakhs who will be representing India at Asian Games and World Championships were approved at the meeting. A thorough performance review of shooters under TOPS was also undertaken and four shooters including Jitu Rai were dropped from the scheme, on grounds of recent below-par performances and non-selection in Asian Games and World Championship squads," a release from the Sports Authority of India said.
The three other shooters dropped from the TOP Scheme are Yashaswini Deswal, Amanpreet Singh and Neeraj Kumar.
Jitu won a gold each in the men's 50m pistol event in the 2014 Asian Games and also bagged the yellow metal in the men's 10m air pistol in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April. But he is experiencing a lack of form of late and he was left out of the Indian shooting team for the upcoming Asian Games.
Praneeth crashes out; Subhankar, Ruthvika progress in Singapore Open
Defending champion B Sai Praneeth crashed out of the Singapore Open after suffering a narrow three-game defeat against Japan's Yu Igarashi in the opening round of men's singles competition in Singapore.
Sixth seed Praneeth, who has been out of form of late, went down 21-16, 16-21, 18-21 to Igarashi in a match that lasted an hour and 11 minutes.
Meanwhile, Sourabh Verma, Subhankar Dey, Ruthvika Shivani Gadde and former national champion Rituparna Das advanced to the second round after notching up contrasting wins in the opening round.
While Subhankar saw off Canada's Jason Anthony Ho-Shue 14-21, 21-14, 21-16, Ruthvika prevailed over Bulgaria's Linda Zetchiri 21-15, 17-21, 21-16 and Rituparna emerged victories with Switzerland's Sabrina Jaquet retiring after trailing 3-5 in the opening game.
Former CWG champion Parupalli Kashyap suffered a back strain in the training session yesterday but the Indian had to take the court against compatriot Sourabh since according to BWF rules a player can't retire or give walkover against a fellow countrymen.
Playing the last match of the evening, Kashyap went down 9-21, 6-21 to Sourabh, who has recently being included in the Asian Games squad.
India's best mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy beat Germany's Jones Ralfy Jansen and Carla Nelte 21-19, 16-21, 21-12 to enter the second round.
Also through to the next round was the second seeded men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who defeated local hopes Rizky Hidayat and Loh Kean Hean 21-16, 24-22.
However, it was curtains for former Commonwealth Games bronze medallist RMV Gurusaidutt and young Vaishnavi Reddy Jakka.
Gurusaidutt's fight ended after he went down 14-21 19-21 to China's Qiao Bin, while Vaishnavi lost 19-21 7-21 to Japan's Minatsu Mitani.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallists Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy also bowed out after their gallant fight ended in a 21-18, 13-21, 14-21 loss to NG Tsz Yau and Yuen Sin Ying of Hong Kong.
Sai Uttejitha Rao Chukka also ran out of steam after winning the first game as she lost 23-21 4-21 6-21 to Spain's Beatriz Corrales.
Viresh prevents medal-less day for India, wins bronze at Junior Asian
Viresh Kundu saved the day for India by winning an exciting battle against Korea's Jeongyul Kwon to claim a bronze medal in the 97kg category while four of his compatriots bit the dust on the second day of the Asian Junior Wrestling Championships.
Viresh, who hails from Uttar Pradesh and trains in Zirakpur, won 14-5 against his Korean opponent before the first three-minute period was completed, winning by technical superiority. It's the first international level medal for the 20-year-old.
Kundu had got past China's Yiming Li 8-6 in the quarterfinals before losing his close semifinal 6-8 to Iran's Vahid Dadkhah Ghasem Abadi.
Of the five Indian Greco Roman wrestlers in action today, only two reached the medal rounds. Malkit Hooda was outclassed 0-7 by Iran's Sajad Ali Imentalabfoumani in the 67kg bronze medal bout.
Sachin Rana (60kg), Kuldeep Malik (72kg) and Sanjeet (82kg) failed to make it to medal round.
The Greco Roman style competition ended today with India finishing with five medals, including one gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
India finished fourth in team rankings with 129 points while Iran won the team title with 225 points. Kazakhstan (147) finished second and was followed by Kyrgyzstan (135).