Those who stereotype women in hijabs should watch Doaa El-Ghobashy and Nada Meawad of Egypt play beach volleyball.
Wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers, the Egyptian Olympians made their debut in the sport on Sunday, silencing critics who believe Muslim women cannot participate in games, and creating a storm of comment on social media that soon overtook the fact that the Egyptians lost to Germany 21-12, 21-15 in this first round match.
While most of the teams have dressed in bikinis since women’s beach volleyball was introduced in 1996, the Egyptian debutants were fully clothed in their traditional hijabs, making their game less about audience voyeurism and more about the sport itself.
“I have worn the hijab for 10 years. It doesn’t keep me away from the things I love to do, and beach volleyball is one of them,” El-Ghobashy told the Associated Press.
The International Volleyball Federation had reportedly agreed to relax regulations regarding beach volleyball uniforms before the 2008 London Games, so that women from different countries could compete in the biggest sports event in the world. As a result, more countries sent women’s teams for beach volleyball in Rio this year.
Let’s face it, we’re all quite disappointed, whether we’re sports fans or not. It’s the third day of the Rio Olympics and India still doesn’t have a medal to show for it. When, last night, 2008 Olympics gold medallist Abhinav Bindra missed a bronze by just a point, our hearts sank.
But cheer up. There’s a whole bunch of women yet to compete who could still bring home the glory.
After Prakash Padukone, Saina Nehwal was the first Indian to rank as World No. 1 in badminton. She was also the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships, she won a Bronze for India in the 2008 London Olympics, and this time, if official reports are to be believed, she is at the peak of her form. Perhaps this badminton star will win the first medal for India at Rio.
Hoping to ace the singles round: Sania Mirza ( Picture Credit: indiatoday.in)
Let’s not forget our tennis star, Sania Mirza. She is still confident of a medal in the singles rounds, even after her loss in the first round of the women’s doubles when she played alongside inexperienced teammate Prathana Thombare. Mirza’s chances are even higher now that many of her competitors are pulling out due to health concerns. We will next see her play mixed doubles with Rohan Bopanna.
PV Sindhu: Her aggression could be her advantage ( Picture Credit: timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
PV Sindhu was the first Indian women’s singles player to win a medal at the World Badminton Championships, and this year at Rio, we have great hopes that she will repeat the feat, given that she is the first Indian woman to represent India in the Olympics at badminton singles.
Hoping for Olympics glory: Dipa Karmakar ( Picture Credit: rediff.com)
Dipa Karmakar has already made us proud by being the first Indian to qualify for a gymnastics final round. Her exceptional performance at the vault made her instant hit with the audience as well as the judges.
Looks like woman power will lead India this Olympics. We’re sure they won’t let us down.
But we also woke up on Monday to some highly inspiring updates, and here they are.
- India’s Dipa Karmakar created history by becoming the first Indian to make it to the apparatus finals in gymnastics. Her vault during the artistic gymnastics women’s qualification round landed her the 8th position. The Tripura girl managed to perform her much-appreciated ‘Produnova’ vault cleanly to secure 14.850 points after two attempts. Now, with the other vault specialists, Dipa will vault in the final on August 14.
T 2341 – #DipaKarmakar .. they said they would show you but never did .. channels interested in the other country athletes ! Good luck
- United States’ swimmer Katie Ledecky celebrated her gold medal in the women’s 400-meter freestyle by smashing her own 2012 London Olympics world mark. And she won her second Olympic gold medal — and third to date. She had won the gold at London when she was just 15 years of age.
Swimmer Katie Ledecky celebrates her gold medal at Rio 2016 (Picture Credit: Businessinsider.com)
- American Simone Biles’ floor exercises during the artistic gymnastics women’s qualification generated a score of 62.366, far ahead of the second highest scorer, her teammate Aly Raisman. Biles proved again why she’s been world champion for the past three years.
- China’s Wu Minxia was named as the Olympics’ most decorated female diver after the 30-year-old partnered with Shi Tingmao defeated the competition in all five dives for a score of 345.6, way ahead of Italy’s Tania Cagnotto and Francesca Dallape on 313.83 points. Wu Minxia won the gold medal in the women’s 3 metres synchronized springboard event, where Australia took the bronze with 299.19 points.
China’s Wu Minxia: Named the most decorated female diver (Picture Credit: Independent.co.uk)
- South Korea’s archers Ki Bo-bae, Choi Mi-sun and Chang Hye-jin have successfully maintained their unbroken reign in the women’s team event to an eighth successive Olympics. The team beat the Russians in the final. At the Sambodromo, the archers shot their opponents out by 5-1 and became champions.
For the first time since they began competing in the Olympic Games in 2000, tennis aces and sisters Serena and Venus Williams crashed out in the very first round at the Rio Olympics 2016 when the last-moment pair of Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova thrashed the dynamic American stars by 6-3 6-4.
The Williams sisters won gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the 2012 London Olympics. They did not compete in the 2004 Athens Games because Serena was recovering from an injury.
Had they made it through the Rio 2016 Games, they might have created a record for winning four consecutive Olympics golds.
“We played terrible and it showed in the results,” Serena Williams told BBC Sports. The 22-time Grand Slam singles winner tried her best to sound positive even after her defeat. “It was what it was,” she said. “We had a chance to compete for our country and did the best that we could. We had a blast out there.”
She added: “I wouldn’t say it was devastating. It was a lot of fun and we will always remember these moments and these matches. At the end of the day, I think that’s what matters most.”
Serena, 34, is still in the running to win the singles gold, which would make her the first woman to win two consecutive Olympic singles medals after London 2012. Earlier on Sunday, she beat Australia’s Daria Gavrilova in the first round.
“Dutee Chand and Lalita Babar’s roads to Rio is inspiring, in addition to all the other women who have powered their way to Brazil on the Track and Field have proved that Indian athletics has the potential to threaten the best despite the lack of support,” this is what Suhail Chandhok, former domestic cricket player and now a commentator for both the men’s and women’s hockey competitions at Rio said to SheThePeople.TV. Adding one more to his list, here are three that one should definitely look out for this Olympics:
Dutee Chand: Odisha sprinter Dutee Chand became the first Indian woman athlete in 36 years to qualify for the 100m event in the Olympics, after PT Usha competed in the 100m and 200m at the 1980 Moscow Games. India’s ace woman sprinter qualified after clocking a record time of 11.30 seconds at the XXVI International Meeting G.Kosanov Memorial in Kazakhstan in June by clocking 11.30 seconds in the women’s 100m race. With that, she also managed to better her own national record.
This 20-year-old runner led the women’s relay team which smashed the 18 year old national record with their sprint at IAAF World Challenge in Beijing, making it to the 4th position in the competition.
Srbani Nanda: 25-year-old Srabani Nanda clocked 23.07 seconds at the G Kosanov Memorial Meet in Almaty 2016 which gave her the ticket to Rio in the 200 metres women’s event. A very consistent performer in the recent times, Srbani specialises in the 200 metres as well as the 100 metres category. A gold and silver medalist in 200 and 100 metre sprint respectively at the 2016 South Asian Games, Srbani came into spotlight when she clinched Bronze medal in women’s 4×100 metre relay event of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Making the Olympic cut: Sribani Nanda( Picture Credit: indiatoday.in)
Lalita Babar: The long distance runner will be competing in the 300 m steeplechase event at Rio. Babar, who finished eighth in the women’s 10,000m at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, was awarded the Sports Person of the Year in 2015. She secured a bronze medal at the Incheon Asian Games, 2014 and became the Asian champion. She is the first Indian woman to ever qualify for the World Championship final in August 2015 in Beijing. Also, she clocked her personal best in the marathon, 2:38.21s in Mumbai in January this year
Lalita Babar, competing in the 3000m steeplechase at Rio ( Picture Credit: indainexpress.com)
Deepika Kumari, Bombayla Devi and Lakshmi Majhi lost to world champions Russia in the quarterfinals.
India women’s hockey team fights back to draw 2-2 with Japan. In their first Rio 2016 Olympics contest, the Indians staged a brilliant comeback to draw 2-2 with Japan. 0-2 down at the end of the second quarter, India hit back with goals from Rani Rampal and Lilima Minz.
The sport of Golf is making a comeback this year at the Olympics after a huge gap of 112 years. And travelling to Rio to participate in this historic moment along with seasoned golfers Anirban Lahiri and SSP Chawrasia, is one of the youngest players of the sport, 18-year-old Aditi Ashok. Aditi is the only women player who will be representing India in the women’s event. Her qualification is the result of the Olympic criteria of players being eligible based on the world rankings. According to the criteria, a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15 are selected.
Debutant Aditi was the only Indian golfer who played the Asian Youth Games (2013) Youth Olympic Games (2014) and Asian Games (2014), and will be spearheading India’s campaign at Rio this year. Three time National Junior Champion in 2012, 2013, 2014 and a two-time National Amateur Champion in 2011 and 2014, Aditi may be short on experience but as far as skills and passion for the game are concerned, she is right up there.
Off to the greens in Rio: Aditi Ashok ( Picture Credit: sportstarlive.com)
“Playing for my country at the Olympic Games is a matter of great honour and immense pride”
While speaking exclusively with SheThePeople.TV just before taking off for the Olympics, a confident Aditi said, “To be playing for my country at the Olympic Games is a matter of great honour and immense pride. I feel I have adequate experience of being in an elite field such as this and I wish to use learnings from my past experiences to do my best. In terms of planning for this tournament all I am doing right now is working hard on all aspects of my game, putting in a lot of practice hours and that should help me get ready for the tournament.”
The mascot of Indian women’s golf at Rio, Aditi started gaining confidence early in 2016 with her participation in the Full Member of Ladies European Tour. “I have played in a lot of big events in the past few years and so I won’t be doing anything different. I qualified for an LPGA event last year and the field consisted of the top 60 players on the LPGA so I do have that experience. I am sure with all my international exposure I will be well prepared for Rio game wise,” added Aditi.
Trained under Steven Giuliano who is her Swing Coach and Nicolas Cabaret who takes care of her Fitness and Performance Training, Aditi explained, “I have been working with them since 2012 and 2010 respectively. I have had two intensive training sessions with both of my coaches in the last ten months, which was good. I will continue to follow my regular practice routines and set schedules to prepare for the tournament at Rio. Also my dad will be accompanying me. He has been caddying for me since I was 7 years old and the Olympics will be no exception”.
My main goal is to have four good, consistent rounds and have a great finish
Aditi, whose only focus now is winning a medal for her country at Rio, is taking all the pressure very calmly. In fact, when we asked what’s her main goal at the Olympics, she replied,“To have four good, consistent rounds and have a great finish.” The highly focused young player is positive about the effect of the comeback of the sport at the Olympics, “It will bring the attention of majority of viewers to golf and that’s very much needed. It will definitely help grow the sport in a big way as more people will want to know about golf and maybe learn golf too.”
For many of us, the most identifiable Indian woman badminton player is Saina Nehwal. But this year at the Olympics, there are others too who will be looking to shine. Here are three more players to look out for, who have performed consistently on the world stage over the years:
P.V. Sindhu - Debutant to the Olympics, P.V. Sindhu is the second women’s singles player to qualify from India. And when she gets her aggressive game going, she is as dangerous as Saina Nehwal. The 21-year-old from Hyderabad made her case for a Rio ticket strong with bagging the world championships bronze medal in 2013 and 2014. The ninth seed is also an Arjuna Awardee and her fine footwork may just give her the edge this year.
Adapting to conditions will be key for PV Sindhu ( Picture Credit: Indiatimes.com)
Jwala Gutta – The ace Badminton player is considered to be one of the best women’s Doubles Badminton Players India has ever produced. Gutta is currently ranked 22nd in the women’s doubles category, and has been playing for India for more than a decade. This year Jwala has qualified for two events at the Olympics — Women’s Doubles with Ashwini Ponnappa and Mixed Doubles with V Diju, much like the her last outing at the 2012 Olympics. A gold and silver winner at the Commonwealth Games in Doubles, her game will definitely be worth watching.
Ashwini Ponnappa – 26-year-old Ponnappa is a champion in both the women’s and mixed doubles disciplines. She makes a great team with Jwala Gutta.The Bangalore-born shuttler hit the highest ranking spot of number 10 in women’s doubles category in 2015 while currently the pair are ranked 14. Ashwini won the gold medal in Women’s Doubles event pairing with Jwala Gutta In the 2010 Commonwealth Games. If she plays to her strengths along with her doubles teammate, India will definitely make a mark at the Games.
Looking towards a medal in the doubles: Ashwini Ponnappa ( Picture Credit:Sportskeeda)
The final part of our interview series with CNN-News18 Sports Editor Digvijay Singh Deo, co-author of My Olympic Journey, with Amit Bose. He talks to us about the challenges Indian athletes in particular face, the hurdles women are surmounting by the day, turning into impressive role models for all… and what really is so special about the Olympics after all? Not to mention the incredible level of pressure on our top athletes.
Q. You were the only journalist Olympic torch-bearer before the Beijing Olympics — drawing on that experience and also from when you talk to these athletes… there’s something different about the Olympics. Take us through what that feeling is.
Sania (Mirza) said that as tennis players, we’re used to the fame and adulation. Our biggest tournaments of the year are four majors, and even if we don’t win an Olympic gold and win WImbeldon, it sort of compensates for us. But she says the difference with a continental games like an Olympics, you’re always on the look-out, did India win anything today? Did we win today? How did this one do, how did that one do?
She says automatically that team spirit comes in even though we’re all individual athletes. Apart from hockey, everyone’s an individual athlete, even in shooting where it’s a shooting team, it’s 12 individual athletes going for 12 individual events.
What the Olympics is, it’s got that aura around it? It’s that aura, which pulls people down; someone who goes in without the pressure, actually does well.
You look at last time — nobody expected Vijay (Kumar, shooter) to win. He writes I thought I will go and replicate my practice form, this is my first Olympics, if I come in the top 10, job done. But he says, my practice turned out so well, that I finished with a medal.
Nobody gave a chance in hell to Joydeep Karmakar. But he came 4th, because there was no pressure on him.
At times the big guns put pressure, Abhinav writes about how when he went to Beijing, he had to win the medal. Gagan writes that he considered himself a very good shooter, but he said what do I have to show for it? Am I good enough? I missed out in Athens, I missed out in Beijing, so the athletes put a lot of pressure on themselves as well.
Manav talks about it, how he’s been to 3 Olympics, two as a contender, and each time he’s returned in disappointment.
Even Heena Sidhu spoke about, after her event got over — she had a chance to get the medal, she was number 4 — after the event got over, she went with me (Digvijay) to see the finals of the women’s air pistol. She says I don’t remember much of what happened — I was in a daze, that what happened?
Battling the Olympic pressure: Heena Sidhu, ace Indian shooter ( Picture Credit: Sportskeeda)
Abhinav writes that every day of my life, I get dressed, hoping that one day I will win an Olympic medal. The day I won my Olympic gold, I didn’t know what to do. Same thing with Heena, she said for my entire six months, everything was prepared for that day — how do I perform on that day? But when that day was over and I didn’t do well, I didn’t know what to do — I was in a daze, ki main kya karoon?
…Preparing for an Olympics takes a lot out of the athlete.
A lot of our sportspersons leave their kids. Mary (Kom) talks about how the kids were in Manipur with Onler, and how she was in Pune…Everyone has to go through that kind of sacrifice. Some have kids, some don’t. There are sacrifices. Vijender says he didn’t go home for 5 months before he won the medal.
These are stories that don’t get told; that was the idea behind writing the book. Ultimately what gets reported? When an athlete comes off his/ her event, mostly they haven’t won. What do you expect from them? Some banal answers? I shot well, I didn’t do this etc… They’re all in a daze. What gets reported and becomes recorded fact is a few banal answers immediately after the event. Remember, at that point of time they’re all shattered — they’ve spent four years of their life for that one hour, two hours, three hours, two days of competition in case of trap. So I wanted to keep the record straight. This is not how it is. The Olympics is not that someone went and finished fourth or eighth or twelfth or last. To even qualify for the Olympics, you need to win a tournament — in most events, like shooting, you have to win a certain quota. You have to excel in a competition, which is prescribed in one year, there are four competitions, in that competition only you can win the quota.
What gets reported and becomes recorded fact is a few banal answers immediately after the event. Remember, at that point of time they’re all shattered — they’ve spent four years of their life for that one hour, two hours, three hours, two days of competition in case of trap. So I wanted to keep the record straight.
In certain sports, it’s world ranking, but tell that to Saina – world ranking means she has to consistently maintain her ranking as well.
Look at elite sportspersons, look at Leander, he almost struggled to get into the Olympics this time.
That just shows how difficult it is.
Getting to the Olympics itself is a huge ask — do we in India have a system to constantly produce champions? No we don’t. It’s largely self-driven. The athlete is self-driven. Of late you’ve got things like OGQ and Mittal Champions Trust and all.
The system is not ready to accept that we need to fund our athletes. People think, oh you’re going abroad? Masti karke aayenge,
Krishna Poonia talks about it — she says, how can it be masti, when I’m leaving my son behind and going abroad for two years to train? She says, give me the facilities to train.
The role model: Saina Mirza ( Picture Credit: indiatoday.in)
Sania says it — everyone keeps talking, where is the next Sania? The next Leander? Mahesh? Where are your world-beaters? (To be fair, Rohan (Bopanna) hasn’t won anything yet.) The Indian sports cycle doesn’t produce champions — when they come out, you keep them wrapped in cotton wool because sadly there’s nobody one else.
That’s why the book, I wanted to give the athletes’ perspective on what it actually means to get here.
And a lot of them have spoken about that moment: Devendroh, Shiva Thapa, young kids, overawed by Michael Phelps, Srijesh and all running up to meet Djokovic, Ashwini Ponappa bumping into Djokovoic, and him telling her Khush Raho when she said thank you.
The athlete is a fan.
There is a photo of Abhinav Bindra and Anjali Bhagwat with Monica Seles. There is a lovely story on that … Our athletes are also fans.
As a sportsperson, everyone’s an equal there. You may be Usain Bolt, at the Olympic village, you’re one among many.
The Olympics has that aura — you look around left, there’s Nadal, saamne Phelps, Bolt in front — it can get unnerving, we don’t train our athletes to think like that, the mental side of it.
Or that they can get there.
That’s why Abhinav’s medal was so important, it shattered that perception and gave us that belief that we can get a gold.
Q: It’s bad enough for men, but for women, especially there are more hurdles?
There are some lovely stories. There’s a girl called Savita Poonia – goal keeper of the women’s team, from Haryana. She told me, contrary to perception, some families back you. My grandfather didn’t want me to wash utensils in the house; he told my father, send her out to study. And I went out and picked up a hockey stick and wanted to play hockey.
So yes, there are barriers, but a lot of barriers are breaking.
So yes, there are barriers, but a lot of barriers are breaking.
When I started covering sports, we used to laugh at badminton. Kya sport hai, koi nahin khelta. But today, thanks to Saina Nehwal, that’s the fastest sport in the country — every dad and mum wants that girl to play badminton. If Saina can win…
And unlike Abhinav Bindra, who came from a privileged background, Saina’s parents are humble lower middle class — Dr Harvir (Singh Nehwal) was an agricultural scientist, he used to take her on the scooter. People are seeing that if you have talent, you can grow.
Look at Sania Mirza — Yes, Imran (her father) was well-educated and all, but they didn’t have the money, which, say, Abhinav Bindra had, some of these shooters have.
Some of them don’t have the money. Ayonika Paul who is going to the Olympics in Air Rifle (along with Apurvi Chandela) — her father is a rail employee. They stay in a one room flat in Chembur, which I think they bought after Ayonika won the silver at the Commonwealth Games.
Gearing up for Rio: Ayonika Paul (Pic Credits: indiatoday.intoday.in)
Now the belief is there —slowly it’s happening. Look at the Phogats. They have single-handedly changed the perception that girls cant win.
What’s happening is that when you win these medals, and then states like Haryana are backing you with money — you win a medal at the Asian Games, Rs 1 crore each is done. Look at all the shooters who have qualified — Everyone has got a minimum 1 crore funding from the governemnt. Some federations actually back their athletes.
Look at Sania — she maybe single-handedly saved Indian tennis, look at the number of girls coming in.
Mary Kom may not have qualified this time, but she’s a role model.
The more icons you get, the more people have that belief. What helped with Saina Nehwal was that humble background, because then you aspire. Mary Kom, Karnam Malleswari: they come from humble backgrounds. These are the role models.
These are female equivalents of what they call “sons of the soil”.
You and I have had much more privileged upbringing and education than them. When you see these people with lots of money and endorsements, that’s built aspiration. Indian sport is also changing… Look at the hockey league — earlier, the hockey players were very happy if they had a car. Most of them used to have bikes, now they have Fortuners! The Wrestling league is getting money into wrestling now. Vijender says, when I went to sports, I wanted to get into Olympics to get a government job. If you win an Olympic medal today, it’s like a minimum of Rs 6-7 crores in your bank account, then you get endorsements. Saina Nehwal and Mary Kom are the most marketable athletes in the country — massive endorsements they do. Per event they charge 10 lakhs for appearance.
If you win an Olympic medal today, it’s like a minimum of Rs 6-7 crores in your bank account, then you get endorsements. Saina Nehwal and Mary Kom are the most marketable athletes in the country — massive endorsements they do. Per event they charge 10 lakhs for appearance.
My Olympic Journey by Digvijay Singh Deo and Amit Bose, is published by Penguin Random House India in July, 2016.
Former footballer and current referee Uvena Fernandes will become the first Indian woman to officiate the games at the Fifa U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan next month. No mean feat this, since the only other person to have played a similar role was K Shankar who was assistant referee ( linesman) at the Fifa World Cup 2002.
“I have to prepare myself well for this assignment; it’s the highest tournament where an Indian women referee will take part. Till my assignment is actually over, I am working hard and keeping my fingers crossed,” elated Uvena told TOI. Here are a few facts we dug up about Uvena:
Uvena is not only amongst the best-qualified Fifa referees at the moment in India and but also a well known former international footballer. In 2003 she was selected to represent India at the Asian Women’s Football Championship in Bangkok.
In the year of 2006, Uvena joined the Air Force Academy, where she rose to the rank of a flight lieutenant and then served as a an air traffic controller. But joining the air force led her to give up playing football which was her first love.
She came into prominence as an assistant referee in 2012 when she was certified as a Category 2 referee by the AIFF, allowing her to officiate in national-level matches.