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    Showing posts with label Olympics. Show all posts

    Dipa Karmakar Creates History, First Indian Gymnast to Qualify for Olympics

    Dipa Karmakar on Sunday created history by becoming the first ever Indian gymnast to qualify for the Olympic Games.

    Karmakar produced a strong show, finishing ninth in the first of the four subdivisions of the women's artistic category, at the Final Qualifier and Olympic Test Event in Rio de Janeiro.

    She garnered a total score of 52.698 points. Her final rankings will be known only after completion of the event with competition in three other subdivisions going on currently.

    Her first vault, the much difficult Produnova, gave Karmakar 15.066 points, the highest among the 14 competitors. But a poor show in the uneven bars took her points down as she collected 11.700, the second worse among the 14 participants.

    The Tripura girl secured 13.366 and 12.566 points in the beam and floor exercises.

    Gymnastic officials said that her Rio Games berth is more or less assured after the strong show.
    "Dipa is 100 per cent assured of an Olympic berth with this 52.698 score. There are three subdivisions to go but she has already beaten gymnasts from three countries. So she has qualified," international referee Deepak Kagra told PTI.

    "This Test event has participants from 33 countries and since her score is above the participants of at least three countries, she will finish in the top 30 country-wise. That is enough for her to qualify for Rio Olympics," he added.

    The 22-year-old could not clinch an Olympic berth in the World Championships in November last as she finished outside the podium, in fifth place.

    She was earlier put as second reserve for the ongoing Olympic Test event in Rio but was informed last month that she had sneaked into the shortlist of participants.

    Karmakar had created history by becoming the first woman gymnast to win a medal -- a bronze -- in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. He then became the first Indian woman gymnast to feature in the finals of World Championships in November last.

    Once Told He’d Never Walk Again, Irish Gymnast Is Now Olympian

    Before life threw more adversity at him than one person ought to bear, Kieran Behan told his mother that he would be an Olympic gymnast someday.

    He was just a boy, maybe 6 years old, when he fell in love with gymnastics, drawn to the thrill of it while watching the Summer Games, enamored by the possibility that he too could defy gravity and flip through the air as if he could fly.

    But that was before a series of injuries, two so severe that doctors told him he would never walk again: a botched leg operation that caused nerve damage and a brain injury that kept him from doing even the simplest things, like sitting or eating.

    Yet Behan, a 5-foot-4-inch plucky phoenix, pushed on.

    “Doctors told me, stop thinking about your crazy dreams because you’ll never walk again and you must accept that it’s over for you,” Behan said. “But I just kept saying: ‘No, no, no — this is not the rest of my life. This is not how it’s going to play out.’ And look at me now, an Olympian. They said it was impossible, but I did it.”

    Behan, 23, barely clinched an Olympic berth in January, qualifying second to last at the Olympic test event to become the first Irish gymnast to make it to the Games by his own talent, not by wild card. He benefited from a new Olympic rule that limits each team to five gymnasts instead of six, to make more spots available to individuals whose country does not field a full team.

    Many of the powerhouse squads, including the United States’, criticized the rule change, saying it watered down the competition and forced some teams to leave a world-class gymnast at home. But the rule has an upside: it allows athletes like Behan to compete on the sport’s highest stage.

    “Kieran has gone through so much,” his mother, Bernie Behan, said through tears. “He deserves this.”

    Kieran Behan started gymnastics when he was 8, showing a talent for the tumbling. But soon came the first of many obstacles: when he was 10, he found a lump the size of a golf ball on his left leg.

    During surgery to remove what turned out to be a benign tumor, doctors kept a tourniquet on him too tight for too long, causing nerve damage that left Behan with limited feeling in his left foot. It also caused such pain that even a slight brush against his leg would cause him to scream. He could not walk, heading to school at one point to the taunts of other youngsters who already had it out for him.

    “They’d say, ‘Oh, look at the cripple,’ and that was so hard for me because, already, I was doing gymnastics and I was short, and I was doing a girls’ sport,” he said. “So a lot of times, I would sit at the kitchen window and watch all the kids running around the park and playing football, and I’d get pretty emotional. All I wanted to do was be an ordinary kid again.”

    Doctors warned him that the damaged nerves might never regenerate. A psychiatrist told him to prepare him for life in a wheelchair. They were wrong.

    Although it took 15 months, Behan did become an ordinary kid again. And he went back to gymnastics.

    But about eight months after he returned from his leg injury, disaster hit again. In what he calls a freakish accident, he smacked the back of his head on the metal horizontal bar during a routine and tumbled to the ground in a lump.

    How one Kenyan village dominates the Olympics

    Even before the sun has risen, hundreds of Kenyan runners pound the roads around Iten -- perhaps not yet fully awake, and still dreaming of future glories. The men and women hardly seem to notice the thin, crisp air -- the town is 2,400 metres above sea level -- as they seemingly glide up and down the steep hills. Most, but not all of the runners here are from the same ethnic group, the Kalenjin.SOUNDBITE 1 Renato Canova (man), Athletics coach (English, 21 sec):"They can be like similar to Formula One, where the engine is very very strong, and the weight of the body is very very light. This is the main attitude for long distances."Iten, with a population of just a few thousand, has produced a staggering number of world and Olympic champions and they’re expecting a healthy crop of new medals from the London Games. The village's high altitude pushes the body to produce more oxygen-rich red blood cells so that when they run at sea level, they can go faster, for longer.Last year, the 20 fastest official marathon times were all clocked by Kenyans, the majority of whom train in Iten. SOUNDBITE 2 Elias Kiptum Maindi (man), Linz Marathon winner, 2008 and 2009 (English,
    14 sec):"We ran to school from a very long distance so everybody is actually a runner, and the people around here are very encouraging, the community keeps encouraging everyone to run, to make a living."Runners from all over the world are drawn to the magic of the place, and come here to benefit from the high altitude and try to uncover/learn the secrets. Johana grew up in Kenya's lowlands -- on the edge of the Maasai Mara. From a family of animal herders, he learnt to run by chasing away lions and elephants. He now has bigger dreams and funds his sporting ambition by selling souvenirs to tourists.SOUNDBITE 3 Johana Kariankei (man), Runner and owner of Olympic corner (English, 13 sec):"I was thinking that I cannot achieve being in the Olympics because these guys are very far from me, but now when I see them, when I train with them I know I'm very close now."The sign at the entrance of town leaves no doubt as to what lies within. No one really knows why so many Olympians come from here, but the conveyor belt of talent shows no sign of stopping.SHOTLIST:ITEN, KENYA, JULY 9 AND 10, 2012. SOURCE: AFPTV-VAR runners -Shot of sunrise-VAR runnersSOUNDBITE 1-VAR runners on the track-Shot of Wilson Kipsang, favourite for gold in London and second faster marathon runner ever-Shot of trackSOUNDBITE 2-Shot of European runners-Shot of runner-Shot of Olympics corner and Johana Kariankei-Shot of Olympic sign-Shot of tourist at Olympic corner stall-Shot of Johana's handsSOUNDBITE 3-Shot of Town of champions sign-Shot of girls running

    Olympian and fighter Ronda Rousey calls out Michael Phelps’ behavior in Beijing

    Before becoming an MMA fighter and the Strikeforce bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey made her name by winning a bronze medal in judo at the Beijing Olympics. In a recent interview with Elie Seckbach, she talked about how great it was for all Olympians, no matter the stature, to get together and have fun.

    Well, almost all Olympians. There was one Olympian who didn't want to mingle: Michael Phelps.

    Rousey said while at a party for all American Olympians, the athletes happily mingled together. NBA players hung with the rest of the group, but Phelps had his own area that was just for his group.

    "These NBA players are a bigger deal than this guy, and they're hanging out with us. We're teammates. We're not a bunch of groupies. Come hang out with us," Rousey said.

    She said it was a similar set-up when Team USA visited "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which rubbed her the wrong way.

    "I don't like being somebody's teammate and being treated like I'm a groupie.
    swimmer before I did this stuff, and you can't tell me that swimming is OH MY GOD, because it's not."

    Rousey isn't the first athlete to criticize Phelps, who can break Larissa Latynina's all-time medal record with three medals in London. Fellow swimmer Tyler Clary questioned Phelps' work ethic after the Olympic Trials.

    Saudi Arabia: Sports Minister Confirms Women's Exclusion

    The Saudi sports minister and head of the Saudi National Olympic Committee confirmed on April 4, 2012, that Saudi Arabia will not support women in practicing sports. Prince Nawwaf al-Faisal said: “Female sports activity has not existed [in the kingdom] and there is no move thereto in this regard.”

    “At present, we are not embracing any female Saudi participation in the Olympics or other international championships,” Prince Nawwaf continued.

    “If the International Olympic Committee was looking for an official affirmation of Saudi discrimination against women in sports, the minister in charge just gave it,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It is impossible to square Saudi discrimination against women with the noble values of the Olympic Charter.”

    Speaking at a press conference in Jeddah that concluded a meeting of Arab youth and sports ministers, the prince claimed that the demand for women’s participation in the Olympics and other international championships came from Saudi women living abroad, and that his organizations would not officially support that demand, but would instead cooperate with those women to ensure their participation “occurred in the appropriate framework and comported with Islamic law.” The prince said he was in constant contact with the Saudi mufti and religious scholars to insure nothing “infringed upon the Muslim woman.”

    In a February report, “’Steps of the Devil’: Denial of Women's and Girls' Rights to Sport in Saudi Arabia,” Human Rights Watch documented the systematic discrimination against women in sports in Saudi Arabia, including their exclusion from the 153 sports clubs regulated by Nawwaf’s ministry, the Saudi National Olympic Committee (NOC), and the 29 national sporting federations, which are also overseen by Nawwaf in his capacity as head of the NOC.

    Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to put Saudi discrimination against women in sport on the agenda of its next executive board meeting in Quebec on May 23.

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