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Indian sports news wrap, May 8


Geoffrey Emmanuel rides through pain to finish debut race in FIM World Championship JuniorGP

India’s Geoffrey Emmanuel, despite a high-side crash in the qualifying session, went on to complete his debut race in the first round of the FIM World Championship JuniorGP at the famed Circuit do Estoril on Sunday.

Chennai-born 18-year-old Geoffrey, the first and lone Indian rider in the JuniorGP, crashed in the very first flying lap of the qualifying session on Saturday and could not post a time. However, he was still allowed to race on Sunday because of his times in free practice sessions, but had to start from the back of the 29-bike grid and eventually finished 22nd.

Geoffrey, who is sponsored by Fairstreet Sports, Vidiem, Vamcy Merla Sports Foundation and Gusto Racing India, had a very good start in the race. Despite having just 35 minutes of track time on the bike and nursing injuries, he did well to stick on to the last bunch in Moto3. After a red flag due to crashes and a restart of a shortened five-lap race, he moved up to the 19th spot before finishing the race in 22nd position with some good battles with the seasoned Moto3 riders.

Earlier, in Free Practice 1, Geoffrey rode the 2018 bike until the new engine arrived for the season, and was fitted onto the new chassis. It meant he could ride only for the last 15 minutes of FP2. His FP3 outing was curtailed to 20 minutes of track time due to rain.

Reflecting on his performance, Geoffrey said: “I enjoyed riding at the highest level of the Junior World Championship. I have been learning and improving with every lap on the new bike even though I wasn’t at my best physically. Now, we are looking forward to round two in Valencia, Spain, later this month. I would like to thank my sponsors Fairstreet Sports, Vidiem, Vamcy Merla Sports Foundation and Gusto Racing India.”

The second round of the championship, which is a junior class race event that runs under FIM Moto3 regulations and acts as a Moto3 World Championship feeder class, will be held at the Circuit do Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain, on May 20-21.

-Team Sportstar


Third season of Greater Guwahati Baby League concludes

Catch them young – this was the underlying mantra when kids barely four years old descended on the football field in Guwahati to take on peers, all below 12 years of age, in a league especially curated for them.

The Greater Guwahati Baby League, already in its third edition, ended on Sunday with the participation of about 600 children who vied for trophies in four categories – under-6, u-8, u-10 and u-12.

The youngest kid who participated in the third season of the Greater Guwahati Baby League was three-and-a-half years old.

The league was first held in 2018 and 2019 but there was a hiatus of three years due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had 64 teams competing in this edition, which started on March 26 and was played on Sundays. Our league is approved by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Assam Football Association (AFA),” Siddhartha Sankar Deka, director of Guwahati City Football Club (GCFC), the organiser, told PTI. The concept of baby leagues was initiated in South American countries and the AIFF has also adopted it, Deka said.

“Ours was the first entity to start it and such tournaments are now being held in different parts of the country,” the GCFC director claimed.

From providing match exposure to the kids to giving the coaches a chance to hone their team management skills further, the baby league has been beneficial for all stakeholders, Darick Ranjan Deka, also a director at GCFC, said.

“The children get an opportunity to test their skills at a competitive level at a young age. It also helps the development of their team spirit.

“The coaches also benefit as it gives them professional exposure at management,” Darick added.

The baby league has been a stepping stone for budding footballers from the city with quite a few of them already getting into reputed academies for professional training.

Bhaskar Bora and Mogendra Brahma are two such proud fathers whose sons had played in the first edition of the Greater Guwahati Baby League and then got admitted to the Reliance Foundation.

“The basic concept of competition, which is crucial for success for a sportsperson, was introduced to our sons through this tournament. It gave them valuable experience,” Bora and Brahma, who have now become regulars at the baby league fixtures, said.

Organising a baby league is no child’s play as extra care has to be taken to ensure that the kids enjoy the game while also imbibing the competitive spirit in them, a GCFC functionary said.

Most clubs are not coming forward to organise baby leagues as it needs special handling, Bidhan Das, Youth Development Programme head of GCFC, maintained.

“It has to be properly and thoroughly planned to ensure that no technical difficulties arise. If not done correctly, the kids may even get demoralised,” Das said.

The duration of the play and the size of the field have been changed to ensure that the children can play the game according to the requirement of their age group.

“We have to be mindful of the younger lot and provide a taste of serious competition to those who are older. We have to maintain a fine balance,” Darick said.



Junior Davis Cup: India defeats Iran 3-0 in opener

India opened its campaign with a smooth 3-0 victory over Iran in the opening league match of group-B in the Asia-Oceania Junior Davis Cup under-16 tennis tournament in Shymkent, Kazakhstan, on Monday.

Captain Sajid Lodi gave the chance for all three players in the team to get acclamatised to the conditions, and be prepared for the tougher matches ahead. Rethin Pranav and Kriish Tyagi won the singles matches. Aarjun Pandit partnered Kriish for doubles. India dropped 14 games in all in the three matches.

India will next play Indonesia on Tuesday.

The top two teams in each of the four groups will qualify for the quarterfinals. The top four teams will qualify for the World Group competition.

The results (league):

India bt Iran 3-0 (Rethin Pranav bt Mehrad Mansouri 6-3, 6-0; Kriish Tyagi bt Sam Pazoki 6-2, 6-4; Aarjun Pandit & Kriish Tyagi bt Mani Kardan & Mehrad Mansouri 6-3, 6-2).

-Team Sportstar


Hardik becomes World No.1 in under-7 chess

Chess player K. Hardik Varma of Visakhapatnam has become World No.1 in
the under-7 category.

Chess player K. Hardik Varma of Visakhapatnam has become World No.1 in
the under-7 category.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

K. Hardik Varma of Visakhapatnam has become World No.1 in the under-7 category after his impressive performance in the Dani Rumenke International chess tournament in Serbia with three wins, four draws and one loss in eight rounds.

Some of the previous best achievements of Hardik were winning the 2021 All India Open rapid chess (under-7), being the youngest national player at the age of three in 2019, third place in the 2023 International Open FIDE-rating (ELO1600).

Chess officials K.V.V. Sarma S. Bheemarao, and K.V. Jwalamukhi congratulated the young talent on his achievement.

-Team Sportstar


Sharma finishes 26th as Meronk wins third DP World Tour title

India’s Shubhankar Sharma came off with a bittersweet experience at the DS Automobiles Italian Open, finishing tied-26 despite 19 bogeys in four rounds in the DP World Tour event here.

The star golfer, who has already booked his place at The Open in Royal Liverpool, bounced back from being 2-over after 11 holes to 1-under at the finish.

Sharma, who started the season with a tied-seventh place finish at the Abu Dhabi Championships, has since then had a roller-coaster ride. He has been playing well, but also giving away a lot of shots in bogeys.

Overall during the week, the Indian had 16 birdies, an eagle and a hole-in-one against 19 bogeys.

“I know I have been playing well, but dropped shots are taking away the gains. But I know the game is trending well,” said Sharma, who was 29th on the DP World Tour rankings last year.

Poland’s Adrian Meronk, who was the star of the Continental European Team at the Hero Cup where he holed the winning putt, won his third DP World Tour title since July last year.

Meronk said, “I didn’t play as well as the previous days so I had to grind a little bit, but I’m proud of myself and my caddie that we kept believing, kept hitting good shots and the putts on 17 and 18 were very big.

“It is relief to be honest. It was a tough day today. Didn’t play as good as previous days off the tee, and tee to green, so I had to scramble a bit but just super happy and such a relief to come out on top, so very proud of myself.”

He added, “It was amazing, very special (to have his father Andrew watch him win for the first time in person). I started golf because of him and it’s super special for him, so I am very happy that he was here with me today, so now it’s time for my mother, so we will see!”


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