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Over 1400 athletes take part in
Standard Chartered NE Road Run

Sri Lanka’s long distance runners converged in the hills of Nuwara Eliya during the April holidays when they all met under the Blue and Green banners of the Standard Chartered Nuwara Eliya Road Run. The streets were full of participants from across the island, including professional runners as well as students and Standard Chartered Bank staff.

The event included nine categories of races that are featured at international level marathon events. Ajith Bandara emerged the winner of the Professional Category Men’s Run with a speed of 49:54. CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, Clive Haswell, an avid long distance runner also took part in the Masters’ Category Veterans’ Run and came in 8th place. Over 600 children below 15 years also participated in race categories such as the Girls’ and Boys’ Race, the Kiddies Fun Run and Fancy Dress Race. Families of three also were able to participate in a novel Family Fun. The event was also a part of the Nuwara Eliya Town’s seasonal festival calendar.

“We are very pleased with the overall impact this event has made to the town of Nuwara Eliya and our sports events in Sri Lanka. It has been a truly international event. We hope to make this event one as big as the Mumbai Marathon which attracts a lot of publicity and tourist dollars for the city and also gives invaluable exposure for the athletes,” said Colonel Sudath Madugalle, Chairman of the Organising Committee of the event.

Standard Chartered Bank was official sponsor of this event as the Bank is globally responsible for sponsoring marathons all over the globe as well as the official sponsor of the Greatest Race on Earth (GROE), also coined as the ‘World Cup of Marathons’; which is the world’s only marathon team relay series, run across four of the most exotic cities on the planet.

“I am pleased that we were able to enhance the Road Run event in Sri Lanka with our contribution towards long distance running in Sri Lanka. As a Bank, Standard Chartered Bank has always invested in long distance runners as they embody the values of our own bank and work ethics; will power, stamina and determination, a ‘can-do’ attitude and a priority on strength of trust. This race is symbolic of our commitment to building a sustainable business in every community and society that we are a part of,” said Haswell, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank, who has participated in marathon events himself, recently running in aid of the National Cancer Hospital of Sri Lanka at the Hong Kong Marathon.

Speaking of the event the President of the AASL, Major General Palitha Fernando said, “We have great hopes that this event will help our long distance runners get the exposure they need to become world class medal winners in long distance running. This event will attract more athletes into this field of sports, which is thought of as a field that is exclusively for those with long distance running capabilities and not the average athlete. We also need to promote the determination and dedication of our unsung long distance athletes. Standard Chartered Bank has helped this aspiration become a reality for our local athletes.”

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Warne spinning young dreams

JAIPUR: He has been away from international cricket for the last year and a half, but hand him the cherry and he can still show you a thousand tricks with it. That is the master tactician for you, the man named Shane Warne.

There hasn’t been a more colourful character in international cricket, and when the 38-year set foot in the colourful land of Rajasthan, one couldn’t help but marvel at the perfect match in the nature of the and the team he turns out for and leads. In an era where big hitting rules the roost and T20 is the new religion, spinners are often left a disappointed lot. Warne’s on-field exploits however, hold out hope for upcoming spinners in India.

An interesting case is that of Kings XI Punjab’s leg spinner Piyush Chawla, who was devastated after his first two matches in the IPL. Given just one over — and two in his next match — the Uttar Pradesh bowler headed for the rival dressing room immediately after the team’s loss to Rajasthan Royals. Warne, who had wreaked havoc in the match with figures of 3/19, had valuable tips for the young man.

Said Piyush from Hyderabad ahead of the match against the Deccan Chargers, “I was devastated. It was a tough period for me. I sought help from Shane after we lost the match to Rajasthan. He understood my condition and taught me small, little things that help a long way when on the field. I picked up those tips and put them to use in the very next match against Mumbai Indians.”

The result was there for all to see when the spinner rattled the Mumbai lineup scalping the prized wickets of Dwayne Bravo and Manoj Tewari conceding a meagre 16 runs. Said Chawla, “In T20 if a spinner gives away just 16 runs in a small ground, he should be the happiest person. And I was one of them. Shane just changed things for me.”

In reply, Warne who is planning to start an academy to train Indian spinners said, “It’s been pretty hard work for the spinners so far in the IPL. I had a good chat with Piyush when we played him here. He was disappointed he bowled only one over.

“I advised him to think about the game more in Test and one-day cricket… how to think a batsman out and construct an over. I was very happy in the next game he bowled leggies and wrong ones and turned the game for his team as well.”

Chawla isn’t the only one who has benefited from Warne’s presence. Saurashtra all rounder Ravindra Jadeja is another player who has reveled under the coach-cum-skipper. The 19-year old exhibited superb ability with the bat and the ball.

Said Jadeja, “If you ask me, I was amazed to see him on day one. He has been a hero for all of us, a legend. To share the dressing room with him was a big, big thing. Players were in awe of him, but things changed gradually. He has a superb cricketing brain. He gave us clear roles.”

Add to this is Warne’s happy-go-lucky attitude that keeps the boys in good humour. Pressed for comments on cheerleaders during their last match in Bangalore, Warne turned the spotlight on young Jadeja saying that the “youngster loved to field in front of them”.

Said Jadeja, “That is how he is. He pushes you to give your best. Each day is a new experience under him.”

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Sharapova fury at publicity shoot

Maria Sharapova has launched a stinging attack on the governing body of women’s tennis over their publicity demands.

The world number three says the WTA is “forcing” her to do a publicity shoot in Rome, ahead of the Italian Open, after flying in from Los Angeles.

“The WTA is telling me if I don’t do this shoot they will fine me over US$300,000,” said the Russian.
In a statement the WTA insisted, “what is being asked of players in Rome is in the rules.”

The tournament begins on 12 May and features a host of leading players, including Justine Henin, Ana Ivanovic, Serena and Venus Williams.

“I want all my fans to know that the WTA Tour is forcing me and several of the other top players to do a four-hour commercial shoot for WTA Tour marketing materials,” Sharapova told her website.
“They want me to do this shoot on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday of the Rome tournament after flying 12 hours from LA.

“I have set my own personal rules when it comes to doing shoots and I never do shoots before tournaments because they are mentally draining and I want to just focus on my tennis.
“Now the WTA is telling me if I don’t do this shoot they will fine me over US$300,000. As you can see the WTA Tour loves to fine players.

“To be honest, I would love to do this and help promote the tour as much as possible, but to force me to do this shoot the day before a Tier I tournament is just not right.”
The WTA insisted players were aware of their obligations.

“Players have many obligations both on and off the court, and what is being asked of players in Rome is in the rules,” a spokesman said.
Sharapova is running a poll on her website asking the question, “What Should Maria Do?” [BBC]

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Women’s cricket gradually becoming popular: Mithali

DUBAI: Indian captain Mithali Raj says with countries like Pakistan qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Australia, women’s cricket is all set to scale new heights and become a more popular sport.

Speaking ahead of the Women’s Asia Cup which started in Sri Lanka on Friday, Mithali said: “Every team tries to improve every year. I think Sri Lanka is a very good fielding side, as they are very agile in the field, and Pakistan have a good set of spinners and some depth in their batting.

“I was following the qualifiers and indeed the last time when we played against Pakistan it was a good test as they gave us the jitters in the initial few overs. They are a team trying to improve every year so it is not a surprise that they have qualified for the World Cup.”

Pakistan, along with South Africa, qualified for the World Cup after reaching the final of the Women’s World Cup Qualifier held in Stellenbosch earlier this February.

The two teams have joined defending champions Australia, India, New Zealand, England, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
Mithali said she was keen to win the World Cup next year and bury the ghost of 2005 when her team lost the final to Australia.
“It’s always a dream for any sports person to be part of a World Cup winning side as a captain or player.

“I’ve always dreamt of being part of a winning side in a World Cup. Last time we couldn’t manage to but I’m sure if we prepare hard we will have a chance,” she said. – [PTI]

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