India’s sports week: Shuttlers unlocked; teenage golfer Anika Verma makes history

Indian weightlifting star Satish Shivalingam gets down to business while Leander Paes adds some Olympic flavour to his dessert. Top stories in a week that was.

By Naveen Peter

While Olympic hopefuls returned to their natural habitat after a four-month break in India, in the USA, teenager Anika Verma became the first Indian to tee off at the US Women’s Amateur Golf Championship this week.

In Hyderabad, the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy finally opened this week after months of lockdown restrictions due to the coronavirus were relaxed by the Telangana government.

“I am very happy to have our elite shuttlers back for on-field training after this long break,” national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand said. “We are fully equipped to resume training in a safe environment.”

The initial batch include the reigning world champion PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, London 2012 bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, Ashwini Ponnappa, B Sai Praneeth, Chirag Shetty, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and N Sikki Reddy.

Flying the flag high

Meanwhile, in the USA, 16-year-old Anika Verma too was in the headlines as she became the first-ever Indian to compete at the 125-year-old prestigious US Women’s Amateur Championship.

The Indian teenager came into the limelight last year following a fine showing at the 2019 Hero Indian Open, where she finished as the best Indian at the annual Ladies European Tour event.

Seeing her potential, Anika Verma’s parents chose to move to the USA to help their daughter pursue her golfing dreams. They are now based in Sacramento, California.

Anika Verma, however, fell short of making the cut, finishing with a card of seven-over par 151.

Olympics social watch from India

Satish Shivalingam gets down to business

He might have missed the majority of 2019 recuperating from multiple injuries, but India’s champion weightlifter Satish Shivalingam was back to business this week as he hopes to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

The 28-year-old resumed his training after spending months recovering from a back and thigh injury that has been troubling him for a few years. 

“I am doing some exercises to recover as soon as possible. The lockdown gave me time to focus on my back issues. My aim is to get rid of my back problem immediately,” Sathish had told Times of India in a recent interview.


Bronze medallist at Atlanta 1996, Leander Paes, seems to have added some Olympic essence to his dessert, jalebi, as well. Photo: Instagram/Leander Paes

Best of the week from the Olympic Channel

Like every week, the Olympic Channel has some sweet offerings for Indian fans in this one as well.

In an exclusive interview, Bollywood star Farhan Akhtar spoke about the story behind Milkha Singh biopic -- Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. “This is not just a sports film, it is a human story. Sport is incidental to that human,” he said.

Meanwhile, we also caught up with the Indian badminton duo of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy recalled their heroics at 2019 Thailand Open where they became the first Indian men’s double pair to win a Super Series title.