sports world

The sports wrap: PV Sindhu breaks into the top-5 of badminton world rankings, and other top stories

Manchester United beat Saint-Etienne after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hat-trick, top seed Angelique Keber crashed out of the Qatar Open.

The big news: Sindhu on the rise

Shuttler PV Sindhu became the second Indian woman to break into the top-five of the badminton singles world rankings. The Olympic silver medalist, who broke into the top-10 in 2013, achieved her career-best ranking of No. 5 on Thursday. Former world No. 1 Saina Nehwal is only other Indian woman to achieve such a feat. Sindhu, who started 2016 at No. 12, finished the year at No. 6 owing to her stellar show at the Rio Olympics and for clinching the China Open Super Series Premier in November.

Sindhu was delighted and said the No. 1 rank remains her goal. “I’m really very happy for achieving a career high rank of No. 5,” Sindhu said. “When I started playing in 2016 I never thought I would break into top-five within a year. This is quite unexpected,” she added. Her next target is to be world No. 3 by the end of 2017.

“I want to do well and win tournaments. I want to be No. 3 by the end of the year. But to achieve that I need to work really hard. Hopefully, I will give my best,” said Sindhu, who started 2017 by winning the Premier Badminton League title and the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold. Meanwhile, Nehwal remained static at No. 9, while Ajay Jayaram is the top-ranked Indian in men’s singles at No. 18.

Football:

  • Edin Dzeko smashed a hat-trick for Roma as they beat Villareal 4-0 in their first-leg encounter in the round-of-32 of the Europa League. The former Manchester City striker scored three in the last 25 minutes to take his European total to eight goals.
  • Southampton have signed former Juventus and Barcelona defender Martin Caceres until the end of the season. Caceres, who is a free agent and has 68 caps for Uruguay, left Serie A giants Juventus in the summer.       
  • According to Mesut Ozil’s agent, the forward is being made the scapegoat for Arsenal’s problems. Ozil was criticised again after Arsenal suffered a 5-1 defeat at Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s Champions League clash.
  • Tottenham were handed a surprise 1-0 loss by Belgian side Gent in their Europa league encounter. French striker Perbet scored the only goal of the match in the 59th minute. The second leg of the encounter will take place at Wembley on February 23.  
  • Mark Clattenburg is quitting his job as a Premier League match official to become Saudi Arabia’s new head of referees. Clattenburg is widely regarded as one of the best referees in football and took charge of the Euro 2016 final, the Champions League final and the FA Cup final last season.
  • Manchester United continued their amazing run as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick in their 3-0 win against Saint-Etienne in the first leg of the round-of-32 clash in the Europa league. The two sides meet for the second leg in St Etienne on February 22.
  • India coach Stephen Constantine has been asked to take temporary charge of the Under-17 squad and help them prepare for the World Cup, reported Hindustan Times

Tennis:

  • Top seed Angelique Kerber crashed out of the Qatar Open after she was beaten by Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 0-6, 6-4. Kasatkina will face Monica Puig in the quarter-finals.
  • Top seed Marin Cilic reached his first quarter-final of 2017 after he beat compatriot Borna Coric 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 at the Rotterdam Open.
  • Netherlands’ Jean-Julien Rojer recorded his 300th doubles career win by partnering Horia Tecau to a 6-4, 6-4 victory at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament over second-seeded Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez.      
  • Top seed Ivo Karlovic was stunned by Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6(2), 6-3 of the Memphis Open. With the win, Basilashvili reached the quarter-finals of the tournament. 
  • Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov put up a solid performance at the Argentina Open after he beat second seed Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 7-6(4) to reach the quarters.
  • Sania Mirza and her doubles partner Barbora Strycova beat USA’s Raquel Atawo and China’s Yifan Xu to enter the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open. The Mirza-Strycova duo beat their opponents 6-2, 6-4.

Cricket:

  • India U-19 managed to earn a hard-fought draw against England U-19 in the first Youth Test in Nagpur on Thursday.
  • Former India batsman Mohammad Kaif has been appointed the assistant coach of Indian Premier League side Gujarat Lions for the upcoming Indian Premier League season. 

Boxing:

  • India’s Vijender Singh will be gunning for a second title when he faces WBO Oriental middleweight champion Zulpikar Maimaitiali of China in Mumbai on April 1. 
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London then and now – As experienced by Indians

While much has changed, the timeless quality of the city endures.

“I found the spirit of the city matching the Bombay spirit. Like Bombay, the city never sleeps and there was no particular time when you couldn’t wander about the town freely and enjoy the local atmosphere”, says CV Manian, a PhD student in Manchester in the ‘80s, who made a trip to London often. London as a city has a timeless quality. The seamless blend of period architecture and steel skyscrapers acts as the metaphor for a city where much has changed, but a lot hasn’t.

The famed Brit ‘stiff upper lip, for example, finds ample validation from those who visited London decades ago. “The people were minding their business, but never showed indifference to a foreigner. They were private in their own way and kept to themselves.” Manian recollects. Aditya Dash remembers an enduring anecdote from his grandmother’s visit to London. “There is the famous family story where she was held up at Heathrow airport. She was carrying zarda (or something like that) for my grandfather and customs wanted to figure out if it was contraband or not.”

However, the city always housed contrasting cultures. During the ‘Swinging ‘60s’ - seen as a precursor to the hippie movement - Shyla Puri’s family had just migrated to London. Her grandfather still remembers the simmering anti-war, pro-peace sentiment. He himself got involved with the hippie movement in small ways. “He would often talk with the youth about what it means to be happy and how you could achieve peace. He wouldn’t go all out, but he would join in on peace parades and attend public talks. Everything was ‘groovy’ he says,” Shyla shares.

‘Groovy’ quite accurately describes the decade that boosted music, art and fashion in a city which was till then known for its post-World-War austerities. S Mohan, a young trainee in London in the ‘60s, reminisces, “The rage was The Beatles of course, and those were also the days of Harry Belafonte and Ella Fitzgerald.” The likes of The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd were inspiring a cultural revolution in the city. Shyla’s grandfather even remembers London turning punk in the ‘80s, “People walking around with leather jackets, bright-colored hair, mohawks…It was something he would marvel at but did not join in,” Shyla says.

But Shyla, a second-generation Londoner, did join in in the revival of the punk culture in the 21st century. Her Instagram picture of a poster at the AfroPunk Fest 2016 best represents her London, she emphatically insists. The AfroPunk movement is trying to make the Punk culture more racially inclusive and diverse. “My London is multicultural, with an abundance of accents. It’s open, it’s alive,” Shyla says. The tolerance and openness of London is best showcased in the famous Christmas lights at Carnaby Street, a street that has always been popular among members of London’s alternate cultures.

Christmas lights at Carnaby Street (Source: Roger Green on Wikimedia Commons)
Christmas lights at Carnaby Street (Source: Roger Green on Wikimedia Commons)

“London is always buzzing with activity. There are always free talks, poetry slams and festivals. A lot of museums are free. London culture, London art, London creativity are kept alive this way. And of course, with the smartphones navigating is easy,” Shyla adds. And she’s onto something. Manian similarly describes his ‘80s rendezvous with London’s culture, “The art museums and places of interest were very illustrative and helpful. I could tour around the place with a road map and the Tube was very convenient.” Mohan, with his wife, too made the most of London’s cultural offerings. “We went to see ‘Swan Lake’ at the Royal Opera House and ‘The Mousetrap’ by Agatha Christie. As an overseas graduate apprentice, I also had the pleasure to visit the House of Lords and take tea on the terrace.”

For the casual stroller along London’s streets today, the city would indeed look quite different from what it would’ve to their grandparents. Soho - once a poor suburb known for its crime and sex industry - is today a fashionable district of upmarket eateries and fashion stores. Most of the big British high street brands have been replaced by large international stores and the London skyline too has changed, with The Shard being the latest and the most impressive addition. In fact, Shyla is quite positive that her grandfather would not recognise most of the city anymore.

Shyla, though, isn’t complaining. She assures that alternate cultures are very much alive in the city. “I’ve seen some underground LGBT clubs, drag clubs, comedy clubs, after midnight dance-offs and empty-warehouse-converted parties. There’s a space for everybody.” London’s cosmopolitan nature remains a huge point of attraction for Indian visitors even today. Aditya is especially impressed by the culinary diversity of London and swears that, “some of the best chicken tikka rolls I have had in my life were in London.” “An array of accents flood the streets. These are the people who make London...LONDON,” says Shyla.

It’s clear that London has changed a lot, but not really all that much. Another aspect of Indians’ London experience that has remained consistent over the past decades is the connectivity of British Airways. With a presence in India for over 90 years, British Airways has been helping generations of Indians discover ‘their London’, just like in this video.

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For more information on special offers on flights to London and other destinations in the UK, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of British Airways and not by the Scroll editorial team.