Focus on Sindhu as she looks to end title drought at Malaysia Masters

| | Kuala Lumpur
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Focus on Sindhu as she looks to end title drought at Malaysia Masters

Tuesday, 21 May 2024 | PTI | Kuala Lumpur

Back from a break, P V Sindhu will look to hit the right notes in her quest for some confidence-boosting wins ahead of Paris Olympics when she spearheads India’s campaign in the Malaysia Masters badminton tournament starting here on Tuesday.

Sindhu, a former world champion, returns to the international circuit after skipping the Uber Cup and Thailand Open, and she will aim to go deep in the women’s singles draw of the BWF World Tour Super 500 event.

The 28-year-old from Hyderabad hasn’t been able to hit top form after recovering from a knee injury sustained in October last year.

A silver and bronze-winner at the Olympics, Sindhu’s return hasn’t been smooth and she has endured a series of narrow losses. Sindhu has just two quarterfinal finishes to show in her six competitive appearances so far.

The last title win for her came in the 2022 Singapore Open though she did come close to claiming the Spain Masters last year when she reached the finals in Madrid.

Sindhu, who had also suffered a stress fracture on her left ankle en route to the 2022 Commonwealth Games gold, will look to hit the ground running when she opens against Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour this week.

Top stars such as An Se Young, Chen Yu Fei, Akane Yamaguchi or Carolina Marin are not participating this week and Sindhu will be desperate to test her preparation against the next generation players, who have troubled her recently.

With a new set-up under mentor Prakash Padukone, Sindhu has shown glimpses of her menacing game but she hasn’t been consistent with her shot-selection.

Ashmita Chaliha, Aakarshi Kashyap and Malvika Bansod too will look to produce some good results after having been in the circuit for quite sometime now.

Chaliha has played some quality matches against the likes of Han Yue and Aya Ohori, both of whom she had pushed to three games recently.

In men’s singles, Kiran George is the lone Indian in fray and he will open against Japan’s Takuma Obayashi.

While Thailand Open champions Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have opted out and it will be a chance for Krishna Prasad Garaga and Sai Pratheek K to show their prowess in men’s doubles.

In mixed doubles, the husband-wife duo of B Sumeeth Reddy and N Sikki Reddy, and Sathish Kumar Karunakaran and Aadya Variyath would be carrying India’s hopes.

Paralympics opens in 100 days; Paris organizers launching campaign to boost ticket sales

Paris, (AP) With 100 days until the Paralympics begin, Paris organizers are delivering a message from the athletes in a bid to boost ticket sales: I am not missing anything, except you. The countdown campaign for the August 28-September 8 Paralympic Games begins Monday. It features three Paralympic athletes, each of them alone in an empty stadium.

The campaign slogan - “Il ne me manque rien, sauf vous” (I’m not missing anything, except you) - is a rallying call to get people to come along and watch them compete.

The French athletes featured in the campaign are Arnaud Assoumani, a long jump and triple jump specialist who won gold at the 2008 Games in Beijing; wheelchair tennis player Pauline Déroulède, and blind soccer player Gaël Rivière who was a European championship winner two years ago. He plays at club level for Bondy Cécifoot Club - in the same suburb where France star Kylian Mbappé grew up.

National broadcaster France Télévisions will show the campaign in a bid to raise awareness and - ultimately - boost sales. So far, 900,000 of the 2.8 million tickets have been sold.

A total of 4,400 athletes will take part in the Paralympics. Tickets are available from 15 euros (USD 16) for track and field sessions at Stade de France, wheelchair tennis at Roland Garros, or blind soccer at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. The finals cost from 25 (USD 27) euros and it costs 45 euros (USD 49) to watch the closing ceremony.

Ticket sales could escalate once posters start appearing around Paris, with organizers aiming to raise awareness and increase fan engagement and solidarity.

There will be 651 posters dotted around the city, 972 on the subway and a further 2,520 on the sides of buses.

On Tuesday, four Paralympic athletes will walk up the famed steps at the Cannes Film Festival along with Paris 2024 Olympic head Tony Estanguet.

Of the tickets sold so far, organizers said 300,000 have been bought by the state and 150,000 by the International Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee.

Organizers haven’t released details for the amount of tickets sold for the opening ceremony, which takes place along a section of the famed Champs-Élysées.

Paul McCartney has let the song “We All Stand Together” be used in a promotional film for the International Paralympic Committee.

The Paralympics will have a record 164 broadcasters worldwide covering 549 events across 22 sports.

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