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ARTICLES - National 24 Jul, 2023

Mohammad Talha attains World Athletics Silver-Level Referee Certification
Sports Bulletin ReportLAHORE: Mohammad Talha Iftikhar, CECS Level-I Lecturer, has reached a significant milestone in his officiating career by securing the World Athletics Silver-Level Referee certification. Talha's exceptional achievement is a testament to his expertise and unwavering dedication to excellence in the field of athletics officiating.In a competitive International Examination organized by World Athletics, 400 top technical officials from around the world, including 4 from Pakistan, showcased their skills and knowledge. Mohammad Talha has been declared as the first and only Pakistani to attain the highly-coveted Silver-Level Referee certification, positioning him among the top five referees to successfully clear the examination in Asia.According to an official of the Athletic Federation of Pakistan (AFP), with this distinguished certification, Talha Iftikhar will be entrusted to officiate athletics track and field events at the international level. His responsibilities may encompass presiding over some of the most prestigious competitions in the world, including the Olympic Games, World Championships, the Diamond League, and the World Athletics Continental Tour.The Athletics Federation of Pakistan extends heartfelt congratulations to Mohammad Talha Iftikhar for this outstanding feat. His dedication, commitment, and pursuit of excellence serve as a testament to the values and principles upheld by our federation. We firmly believe that Talha's achievement will inspire aspiring officials within Pakistan and beyond to strive for greatness in the world of athletics. Moreover, this certification opens up a world of opportunities for Talha's future in the officiating realm. Building on his four years of proven experience as a Silver-Level Referee, Talha will become eligible to pursue the prestigious World Athletics Gold Level Referee certification, the international recognition for officials in athletics events.

ARTICLES - National 17 Jan, 2023

Cash prizes for athletes for winning medals in Egypt and Kirghizstan
Sports Bulletin Report LAHORE: Director General Sports Punjab Mohammad Tariq Qureshi distributed cash prizes among medal winning athletes of Pakistan pentathlon team that demonstrated glorious performance and clinched 8 medals in recently-held International Pentathlon Championships in Egypt and Kirghizstan. Director General Sports Punjab Mohammad Tariq Qureshi was the chief guest at the impressive prize distribution ceremony held at National Hockey Stadium under the auspices of Pakistan Modern Pentathlon Federation on Tuesday. Secretary Pakistan Modern Pentathlon Federation (PMPF) Zahoor Ahmed and other officials were also present on this occasion. As many as seven countries participated in International Islamic Pentathlon Championship in Egypt where Pakistan athletes captured three silver and two bronze medals. After this event, national pentathlon team featured in 6-Nation International Pentathlon Championship in Kirghizstan in which national players bagged one gold, one silver and one bronze medal. Mohammad Munir Ahmed was given a cash prize of Rs 15,000 for winning gold medal while three athletes Sharjeel Zafar, Asad Ali and Naeem Ahmed Zafar were given cash prizes of Rs 10,000 each for winning silver medals while Salman Ahmed, Mohammad Talha, Mohsin Razzaq and Kamran Babar got Rs 8,000 each for winning bronze medals in Pentathlon Championships. Five officials of the national pentathlon team - Syed Mohammad Ali Shah, Syed Mubasher Iqbal Shah, Mehr M Saqlain, Abdul Hannan and Tariq Ahmed Rashid were given Rs 10,000 each for their key role in medal-winning performance of national pentathlon team. The other participating players - Sarfraz Ahmed, Zeeshan Zafar, Rana Asrar Ahmed, Zeeshan Ahmed, Sadeed Ahmed, Rana Ahsan Kamal, Rana Waqas Ahmed, Farhan Butt, Ali Hamza, Shahzad Anwer, Hashir Ahmed and Hassan Noman Ghani - were also given Rs 5,000 each. Addressing the ceremony, Director General Sports Punjab Mohammad Tariq Qureshi congratulated Pakistan pentathlon team on winning eight medals in two International Pentathlon Championships. “National team demonstrated wonderful performance in all departments of the game. We are fully encouraging and supporting the athletes who are winning medals for the country in any international sports discipline,” he added. Director General Sports Punjab Mohammad Tariq Qureshi said pentathlon is a new game and it is getting rapid acceptance among the young generation of the province. “The medal winning performance of the national team will definitely prove to be a great inspiration for our talented youth,” he added.

ARTICLES - National 23 Nov, 2022

Arshad Nadeem to participate in the National Athletics Championship
Sports Bulletin Report LAHORE: The gold medalist of Commonwealth Games 2022, Arshad Nadeem will take part in the 50th National Athletics Championship that will be held from November 25 to 27 at Punjab Stadium Lahore. Also, females’ event will be held at same venue. According to an official of Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP), international javelin thrower and national hero Arshad Nadeem will take part in the top national athletics showpiece. Besides defending champions Pakistan Army, Navy, Pakistan Air Force (PAF),WAPDA, Railway, Higher Education Commission (HEC), Police, Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhutan Kawa (KPK), Balochistan, Islamabad, Azad Jammu & Kashmir(AJK) and Gilgit Baltistan will fight for top honour.

ARTICLES - Int News 01 Aug, 2022

Pakistan and China enjoy close and friendly relations
Mohammad Rizwan Malik ISLAMABAD:-The relationship between Pakistan and China has built on the strength of its successive achievements, and has become formidable with each passing day and year. The leadership of both countries is committed to take this relationship ahead. Pakistan was one of the first countries that recognized the People’s Republic of China.  Pakistan considers China as one of its closest friends and partners and China considers Pakistan as its “Iron Brother”. The bilateral relationship between the two neighboring countries is characterized by feelings of mutual trust, respect and goodwill towards each other. There is a regular exchange of visits at the highest level between the two countries. The strategic cooperation between Pakistan and China has grown over the past several decades. Economically, China is Pakistan’s largest trading partner and a major investor, especially in the infrastructure and energy sector.  With the official launch of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the bilateral relationship has been elevated to a higher level. CPEC is a flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative of “One Road and One Belt”. It aims at enhancing connectivity and improving infrastructure between Pakistan and China. Several projects are being implemented under CPEC, for enhancement of infrastructure and generation of energy. People-to-people contacts are an important aspect of the bilateral relationship. Pakistan Ambassador to China, Moin-ul-Haque said: “Economic Corridor will play a vital role in the future economic development of Pakistan, with the Gwadar port as the main component. The CPEC is one of the most important flagship projects of the five corridors launched under the Belt and Road Initiative. Half of its projects have already been executed. Under the first phase of the CPEC, several major energy projects including hydro, wind and solar projects were executed”. “The second component of the CPEC is infrastructure, highways, waterways and bridges which have been built across Pakistan, improving the communication and road infrastructure. The important part of physical infrastructure was laying the fiber optic link from the Chinese border to Pakistan to help the communication network. The third important component of the first phase was the Gwadar port which is almost complete and functional”. “A large number of Chinese companies are setting their businesses there. The country has entered into phase two which is even more important and focused on industrialization, agriculture, social well-being of the people, poverty alleviation and green economy. We have also launched recently China-Pakistan healthcare corridor, digital corridor, green corridor. Under the Green Corridor, we are focusing on agriculture and food security, and in the digital corridor, we are benefiting from China’s experience and expertise in the IT sector and industry”. “The government is developing special economic zones and encouraging relocation of Chinese industries to Pakistan not only to help the domestic market, but also to the region and exporting to other countries. Terming the CPEC a broad framework of economic development for Pakistan and also for the region, as the Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has rightly linked it with the economic future of Pakistan, “he concluded.  

ARTICLES - Int News 24 Jul, 2022

Arshad Nadeem claims 5th position in the World Athletics Championship
Sports Bulletin Report ISLAMABAD:-Top national javelin athlete, Arshad Nadeem secured 5th position with a throw of 86.16 meters in the international javelin throw competition, World Athletics Championships that held in Eugene, United States of America (USA).  According to an official of Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP), this achievement is a historical milestone as no Pakistani athlete has ever qualified or secured a place in the finals of a World Athletics Championships. AFP had made tremendous efforts to prepare the Arshad for competing in this event. He had a special 2-month training tour of South Africa where he trained by the Terseus Liebenberg the world renowned javelin coach. We are grateful to our sponsor Zahid Hussain for turning this dream into reality. Despite nurturing a throwing elbow injury Arshad competed courageously to achieve this unprecedented success. Now, Arshad Nadeem will go to UK where he will take part in the XXII Commonwealth Games, Birmingham. It is unfortunate that the athlete is being denied the right to have his personal coach in the CWG as the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) is willing to send a non-athletic person as an official with the Pakistani athletics team at Birmingham. AFP is extremely apprehensive of this unfair and unprofessional approach by POA as this action can be detrimental to the performance of Arshad. The Federal minister of Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ehsan ur Rehman Mazari is requested to kindly use his influence and redress this prevailing situation that can adversely affect the chances of Pakistan winning a medal in Commonwealth Games 2022.

ARTICLES - Int News 18 May, 2022

Squash: Michelle Martin: first Commonwealth Games gold medallist
The 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur represented a landmark in our sport. After 68 years of exclusion, squash was to be brought in from the cold and given the spotlight it deserved, finally included after so many years on the outside looking in. Australia’s Michelle Martin, who beat compatriot Sarah Fitz-Gerald in the women’s singles gold medal event, says she feels an added sense of pride when she recalls being at the Games. “The dream was to get this Commonwealth Games gold medal. And I always tell people I won the very first one, because the women’s final is always before the men’s final. So I do claim that, big time!” she says. For Martin, such was the momentous importance of the ’98 Games, she remembers the event far more clearly than any of the matches, including the final. “To be honest, I don’t really remember much of the match,” Martin says. Instead, the two defining memories of the ’98 Games are the opening ceremony, and the presentation of her gold medals, earned in the women’s singles and the mixed doubles. “I remember the opening ceremony. Myself and [fellow squash player] Carol Owens just wanted to get in front of the swimmers of the Australian team because they used to get all the spotlight! Our aim was to get in front of them on the edge of the track because we knew where the cameras were, just to get on the big screen. And we achieved that. “Then I remember standing on the podium and I had the biggest smile on my face. I still remember having sore cheeks just from being so happy and so honoured and being able to stand up there when you’ve achieved everything that you set out to achieve. It was just awesome! “I was very lucky to have my brother there supporting me and coaching me, and my mum up there in the grandstands, that was really special.” Though Martin went into the Games as an experienced player, ranked World No.2 at the time and having spent 1993 to 1996 as the World No.1, she admits the atmosphere of the Commonwealth Games was something entirely new to her. “It was a very different experience, particularly living in the athlete’s village. There were a lot of other people, a lot of very well known sports people amongst the village. But when you’re in there you’re just a dime a dozen really. There’s so many people that you don’t know from other sports, who are just as good as you. “It was it was really interesting being in amongst it, going to the food hall, getting on the bus every day to and from the courts and being amongst all these other elite athletes, but you’re just one out of the many at the time.” Just as crowded as the athletes’ village were the public galleries in Malaysia’s National Squash Centre. A mere four days after wowing the crowd with her 3-0 demolition of Fitz-Gerald, Martin was picking up another gold medal alongside Craig Rowland in the mixed doubles. Reminiscing about her partnership with Rowland, Martin says: “It’s always very different because it’s not just you playing anymore. It’s a team and that you don’t want to let the other person down. “I just loved playing in that atmosphere in a team environment. I was very fortunate enough to be able to play mixed doubles knowing that I would be able to partner with a very strong male and have the most opportune moment to win another gold medal.” Martin admits that, invariably, women would be targeted by men during matches, though she feels anyone targeting her would have been pursuing a losing strategy. “You knew that the men were always going to play against the women the so-called weaker one, but I beg to differ with that in my partnership with Craig,” she says.“I pitied the other teams because I – being the strongest woman at the time – knew that the woman on the other team was going to get picked on.” In picking up two gold medals, Martin was part of a dominant Australia team that picked up 80 golds in Kuala Lumpur, 44 more than second-placed England. While she says that a huge part of the credit for her success must go to her brother, Rodney, and uncle, Lionel Roberts, for their coaching, she says being able to keep calm on court despite the carnival atmosphere outside was also crucial. For players heading to their first Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Martin has the following advice: “Go out there and enjoy every moment of it. You don’t necessarily get to experience going to the other sports if you’re very focused on your own sport, but just embrace it all and enjoy the journey as it goes along. Because it’s not something that happens every other tournament. It’s very different.”

ARTICLES - Int News 01 Jan, 2022

ICE-HOCKEY: A look back at 2021
Andrew Podnieks---- It was the best of times and the worst of times, a time of triumph and a time of sadness. There were celebrations, and there were quarantines, great goals and empty arenas. There were thrilling tournaments, and cancellations, star performances and players in isolation. The IIHF world has never seen a year like 2021, so as we look back at the complexities of the last 365 days, we can be thankful for what we have had and be mindful that a worldwide pandemic took away some things we’re used to. January 2021 The New Year started as it always has for the last 45 years, at the World Junior Championship. Red Deer was removed as co-host so Hockey Canada could create as 10-team bubble for everyone in Edmonton. Rogers Place was empty, but the games went on safely. The low point was when Germany had to face Canada with a mere 15 skaters because of Covid protocols, but the high point came when the hosts faced their geographic rivals in the gold-medal game. The U.S. spoiled the party, winning 2-0, on goals by Alex Turcotte and Trevor Zegras, and a shutout by Spencer Knight. It was their fifth all-time gold at the U20, and the fourth time they defeated Canada to win it. Zegras led all scorers with 18 points, the most in a decade at the U20. He went on to create the most buzz-worthy goal of 2021, with Anaheim, using “the Michigan” from behind the net to set up Sonny Milano for a one-of-a-kind goal. April-May 2021 The men’s U18 was scheduled to take place in Plymouth, Michigan, USA Hockey’s home base for its marquee NTDP, but once again Covid prevented the tournament from going ahead as planned. The Dallas Stars with their facilities in Frisco and Plano, Texas, however, stood up and hosted a couple of weeks later, and the bubbled event took place safely and successfully. It was the first IIHF event ever held in the Lone Star State. Nearly 20 years after the Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry began, Texas can also lay claim to the start of another Canada-Russia pairing in 15-year-old Connor Bedard, and 16-year-old Matvei Michkov. Both were sensational for their teams, but Canada had its best U18 roster in years and won gold with a perfect 7-0 record, scoring 51 goals and allowing only 12. Meanwhile, the round-robin in Frisco (Group B) played host to one of the most memorable World Junior games of all time. Russia beat the U.S., 7-6, in overtime, on a Nikita Chibrikov goal. The Americans led 2-0, 5-1, and 6-4, but couldn’t hold the lead, and the Russians stormed back to tie the game in the third before winning in OT. May-June 2021 The World Championship had its latest start and finish ever (21 May to 6 June) because of Covid, and arenas had to be empty for most games, but again the IIHF and host Riga managed to pull off a successful event. Minsk was removed as co-host for safety concerns, giving Riga sole hosting rights as it had in 2006, the last and only previous time the Worlds had been held in Latvia. Canada won gold, which in and of itself would come as no surprise to any hockey fan, but it won in a manner never before achieved in 92 years of World Championship play. Canada lost its first three games of the round robin, yet rallied to win with a series of great games along with a little luck with other results. During that 0-3 run, Latvia beat Canada for the first time ever, and the U.S. beat them, 5-1, the worst result in that WM rivalry. But when forward Andrew Mangiapane came out of quarantine, the Canadian team was different. He played MVP hockey the rest of the way, and Nick Paul scored the golden goal in OT to give Canada gold. They defeated Finland, which had bested Canada in the previous year’s gold-medal game. The lesser-known Finns were led by towering captain Markko Anttila. At the other end of the spectrum, because of the late start, the late-running NHL playoffs, and Covid worries, the Swedes iced a team that finished a shocking 9th, its worst placing since 1937 (9th also). Along the way, the Danes beat Tre Kronor for the first time ever, 4-3, on the first day of the tournament. August-September 2021 There was no more divisive, disappointing, controversial, and, in the end, feel-good story, than the Women’s World Championship. It had been scheduled for Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada, for April 2020, but same as all other IIHF tournaments that spring was cancelled when Covid was at its apex. A year later, those hosts were ready again, but only a short time before the start date it was pushed back and then cancelled by the provincial government one day before team arrival. Women from around the hockey world spoke out, but behind the scenes the IIHF and Hockey Canada kept their promise and worked towards an alternate plan, and the WW took place in an empty arena and bubble in late August, in Calgary. In the early going, the star of the show was American Hilary Knight, who became the all-time goals leader at the Women’s Worlds. A bit later, Hungary defeated Denmark, 5-1, for its first ever WW win, and in the playoffs the Swiss staged a sensational rally to defeat ROC, 3-2, in overtime of the quarter-finals. But those were all preambles to another great gold medal game between the North Americans. The U.S. was favoured because they were not only reigning Olympic champions, they had also won the last five WW tournaments dating back to 2013. But Canada rallied from a 2-0 deficit, and captain Marie-Philip Poulin, who has two gold-medal winning goals at the Olympics to her credit, wired a hard shot crossbar and in to win it for Canada for the first time in a decade. December 2021 The teams arrived early in Edmonton and Red Deer to prepare for the World Juniors, but they did so at a time when omicron was just about to explode across Alberta, Canada, and the world. The games started, punctuated by a second thrilling round of Bedard vs. Michkov which saw the Russian score three goals in two games and Bedard score four in a single game. But the Covid case counts started to rise and three games had to be cancelled with teams put in quarantine. The IIHF, in consultation with Hockey Canada and tournament doctors, saw no option but to cancel the tournament. Immediately all parties concerned promised to explore options to re-start the tournament in June or July, same as they did earlier for other cancelled tournaments such as the U18 Women's Worlds. Fingers crossed, but as we have seen over the last two years, Covid will tell everyone what to do, and the hockey world will be asked once again to be flexible.

ARTICLES - Int News 07 Dec, 2021

Jamie Renton The ITF’s Class of 2021 series recognises and celebrates players who have had a successful year progressing along the ITF player pathway, and beyond. The first of five categories being unveiled this week identifies two players who have had a stunning year on the ITF World Tennis Tour – winning a hatful of titles to accelerate their climb towards the top of the game. Anhelina Kalinina and Juncheng Shang might be at very different stages of their tennis development, but they both shone brightly on the ITF World Tennis Tour in 2021. Shang, or Jerry as he’s better-known amongst English speakers, not only carried the mantle of junior world No. 1 through the second half of the year and produced performances to match in boys’ competition, he also made a prolific start to the men’s game, winning his first three ITF singles titles in the space of five weeks. All that, and he is still only 16-years-old. Kalinina’s journey, by contrast, has been one of sustained effort and resilience. She too was a promising junior, ranking at No. 8 in the world and finishing runner up in the girls’ singles at the 2014 US Open, but success has not come quickly since. Until this year, that is, when she rocketed up the rankings with five ITF singles titles – including her first three at W60 level and the biggest of the lot at W100 Contrexeville. Anhelina Kalinina “Quite a successful year, yes,” says 24-year-old Kalinina modestly when reflecting on a season that saw her claim titles at W25 Oeiras, W60 Zagreb, W60 Montpellier, W100 Contrexeville and W60 Nantes. The Ukrainian also reached her first WTA final without dropping a set in Budapest in July, and by November had climbed to a career-high No. 52 in the WTA rankings, having started the year at No. 163. So why the understated summary of her success? “I don’t like the word success,” Kalinina adds, matter-of-factly. “Success for me is like… Novak Djokovic this year. This is success. In all four Grand Slams this year the guy is going! “But it is a big step forward in my career,” she admits. “A big step forward in terms of the confidence I gained, the experience I got, that’s what I would call this year.” “I don’t like the word success. Success for me is like… Novak Djokovic this year. This is success." Every top player has a different journey, but Kalinina is a fine example of a laser-focused individual who has honed her craft over time – capitalising on opportunities that have allowed her to develop her tennis in a way that might not otherwise have been possible. The Grand Slam Development Fund (GSDF) has been a pivotal feature of her early career in that regard. She was a member of GSDF/ITF Touring Teams at both under 14 and under 16 level which afforded her the opportunity to travel and compete against the world’s best young players, and then, at the start of 2020, Kalinina – along with 23 other players – was given a $25,000 Grand Slam Player Grant by the GSDF to assist with her competition-related costs. The timing couldn’t have been better. While the world went into Covid-induced lockdown, Kalinina was able to “put this money to my process, to keep going, to keep training with a fitness trainer every day.” Buoyed by that extra conditioning work, she hit the ground running when international tennis resumed again later in the year and kicked on to new heights in 2021, compiling a 47-15 win-loss record from January through to the end of November (including a mighty impressive 31-4 record on clay). “I was not expecting to be here now, on the edge of the Top 50, because I was not waiting for this,” Kalinina admits. “I was expecting my improvement, but I wasn’t thinking I would be close to the Top 50. My goal was to be Top 100 and to be in the main draw of Grand Slams.” “I was expecting my improvement, but I wasn’t thinking I would be close to the Top 50. My goal was to be Top 100 and to be in the main draw of Grand Slams." Kalinina achieved landmark wins over Angelique Kerber at Roland Garros and Daria Kasatkina in Moscow, but reaching that maiden WTA final was a particularly special moment. “I was proud of myself, not only because it was a WTA event, but because it was my third tournament in a row,” she says. “I was on the road three weeks and I won a 60k (Montpellier), 100k (Contrexeville) and I was in the final in Budapest. I lost my 15th match… after 15 in a row!” Kalinina played 21 tournaments in total from January through to November (“I’ve never played so much in a year”) and believes the work ethic and stability of her coaching team has largely contributed to her, er… success. “I have had my husband (Anton Korchevskyi) as my tennis coach already for three years, and I’m really happy with that,” she says. “He’s been doing a huge amount of work and we’re very happy with the results of the work we’ve done. I’ve also had my fitness coach for two years and he knows what to do with me at each part of the season. My team is really ready.” "No one guarantees that you will win a lot or you will succeed like crazy every week.” So what next after her standout season? “It’s important that next year we plan the schedule very smart,” Kalinina acknowledges. “Now I can get into the big tournaments like Doha, Dubai, Miami. In previous years it was very tough to play those, so I need to mix WTA tournaments with the ITF’s – 100k or WTA 125ks. “I’m jumping in on these highest-level tournaments, but no one guarantees that you will win a lot or you will succeed like crazy every week.” There’s no guarantee, for sure, but it’s safe to say Kalinina has all the tools to keep on climbing. Coach’s view Roberta Burzagli, the current Brazilian Billie Jean King Cup captain, was head coach on the GSDF Touring Team that Kalinina participated in at both under 14 and under 16 level. Burzagli reflects on the qualities that made her stand out from an early age: ”Anhelina was a very focussed and professional athlete from an early age. She was 100% committed to being a professional player and she knew what it took to get there. Her biggest strength was her mental outlook. She had a great attitude towards competing and tough matches always brought the best out of her. She has demonstrated her dedication over the past seven years (hovering between 100 and 300 on the WTA rankings) and it is great to see that her perseverance has finally paid off, with her recent successes taking her to the fringes of top 50. I’m sure there is a lot more still to come!” Juncheng Shang Tennis players often mature early but even with the known demands of making it in a high-pressure, individual sport, Juncheng Shang stands out as a wise head on young shoulders. Never mind his results this year on both the Junior and Men’s ITF World Tennis Tour - and they really have been exceptional - at just 16 years old, Shang’s level-headed approach and cheery, likeable nature suggest he has all the ingredients to be a future star. “I’ve learned so much this year from playing the ITF Tournaments, from juniors to men’s, [but] tennis is not the most important thing,” says the Beijing-born teen, prudently. “I think it’s more important to be a better person, a more professional athlete, and be disciplined to do all the things off court.” In a season of two halves, Shang effectively completed his junior career by reaching the last eight in the boys’ singles at Roland Garros, the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the final at the US Open, before embarking on the start of his men’s career in style with titles on US soil at M15 Fayetteville, M15 Naples and M15 Vero Beach. Next year, his attentions will turn next to the ATP Challenger Tour. “I’ve learned so much this year from playing the ITF Tournaments, from juniors to men’s, [but] tennis is not the most important thing” Shang produced a 17-3 win-loss record in men’s competition on the ITF World Tennis Tour this year, but admits that his transition to the professional realm has been particularly aided by playing the world’s best juniors. “It’s been a very fun and special year for me - not just with the results but most importantly the experiences I’ve had in the junior slams,” he says. “I was also very grateful to play the South America tournaments at the beginning of the year. It was so hard for all the players to play tournaments in 2020, so it was important to get some matches and have the chance to complete.” Shang rates the Grade A junior event in Brazil, JA Criciuma, where he polished off all but one of his five matches in straight sets, as his most important title in 2021. “My condition wasn’t 100% ready but during that tournament I learned how to win matches in a shorter amount of time, which was something I struggled with,” he admits. Two weeks later, Shang was mixing it with the pros after being handed a wild card into qualifying for the ATP tournament in Miami, where he ultimately fell to Britain’s Liam Broady in a deciding tie-break. “[That] was an unreal experience,” he remembers. “Seeing how the top players play and how they get ready for their match, I learned a lot that week and I know I need to be more professional to compete at a higher level.” “It’s been a very fun and special year for me - not just with the results but most importantly the experiences I’ve had in the junior slams” Winning a junior Grand Slam would have been the perfect way to sign off on his boys’ career and while Shang admits he still has “a lot of regrets after the US Open”, he learned plenty following the defeat to Daniel Rincon in the boys’ title match in New York. “Unfortunately I didn’t take the trophy I wanted but it was an amazing experience to play in the final and I had some sort of momentum going into the pro tournaments,” he reasoned. “It was quite special to then go on and win my first $15k title while still a junior, saving a match point in the first match [at M15 Fayetteville] and grinding all the way to the final.” Given his age, what he’s already achieved, and the fact that he hails from a family used to performing in elite sport (Shang’s mother was a table tennis player and his father a footballer), it’s clear there’s plenty more to come from the current junior world No. 1. Coach’s view Jimmy Arias is the Tennis Director at the IMG Academy in Florida, where Shang trains. He comments on the qualities that are key to the youngster’s impressive development. Arias: “Jerry’s game is based around being a shot maker, incredibly fast and solid all around. Jerry has amazing feel and can get out of difficult positions with ease. He is able to transition well from defence into offence. He is successfully transitioning from junior tennis into the pro tour on path to a career full of achievements.”

ARTICLES - Int News 03 Dec, 2021

Can anyone beat Wisconsin?
Andrew Podnieks When Mark Johnson was a wee sprite of a lad, he was part of what the IIHF later called the greatest moment in international hockey history, leading the U.S. to a Miracle on Ice gold medal at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. Johnson led all Americans with 11 points and scored two goals in the Miracle game, a 4-3 win over the heavily-favoured Soviet Union. As he celebrated with teammates and basked in this extraordinary glory, he could never have seen a day a quarter of a century later when he would be coaching a women’s hockey team in college or that four decades later he would be the winningest coach in NCAA women’s hockey history. Yet that where he’s at today, coaching the University of Wisconsin Badgers for a 19th season, a team that earned its sixth national championship under Johnson last year and which is now undefeated in 16 games to start the 2021/22 season. Their only blemish to date is a scoreless tie with Bemidji State a couple of weeks ago. You can’t be a good coach if you don’t have good players, and good players won’t come to your college unless you have a good coach. Yet from the very start in 2002, Johnson recruited well and won, year after year. The Badgers won the title last spring thanks to an overtime goal from Daryl Watts, a Toronto native who played for Canada at the 2016 and 2017 Women’s U18 team. Watts is back for a fifth year. She is the only freshman ever to win the Patty Kazmaier Award, which she did in 2018 with Boston College, before transferring. She is currently third on the team in scoring with 28 points in 16 games, and she is one of many players from both sides of the border to have loads of U18 experience. Consider the team’s top scorer, Makenna Webster, who is tearing the NCAA apart with 33 points in 16 games. She also played at three U18’s, winning gold in 2018 and 2020 and silver in between. Casey O’Brien, a 20-year-old forward, was teammates with Webster in ’18 and ’19 and in second in Badgers’ scoring so far this season. Indeed, Webster, O’Brien, and Watts are 1-2-3 in NCAA Division I scoring overall. Goalie Kennedy Blair, meanwhile, has played in 14 of the team’s 16 games and leads the NCAA with 13 wins and five shutouts. She was the winning ‘tender in last year’s championship after transferring from Mercyhurst. Other Americans on the current Badgers’ team with WW18 experience include defender Natalie Buchbinder (2017), forward Delaney Drake (2017), Grace Bowlby (2015, 2016), and Nicole Lamantia (2017). Lacey Eden played at the 2019 and 2020 Women’s U18 and then made the leap to the top level, playing at the Women’s Worlds in Calgary this past August. The 19-year-old had two assists in five games, winning silver. Britta Curl played at the 2018 U18 and joined Eden on the team in Calgary, playing three games and scoring the game-winning goal in a 6-0 win over ROC during the preliminary round. Among the Canadians, the Shirley sisters from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan are prominent. Sophie, the older at 22, played at the 2016 and 2017 U18’s and was named IIHF Directorate Best Forward in the latter. A great skater, she in the kind of talent who will certainly play for Canada’s senior team sooner rather than later. Her younger sister, Grace, followed Sophie and played at the ’18 and ’19 WW18s against, among others, Webster and Eden. Marianne Picard played for Canada at the 2020 WW18 alongside Sarah Wozniewicz; Daryl Watts played in 2016 and 2017; and, Brette Pettet played in 2017. Maddi Wheeler played in 2019 and 2020. In all, an incredible 15 players on this year’s Badgers team have WW18 experience on their resume. It’s no wonder they are undefeated. Johnson’s successes are long and rich. Alumna to his program include all-time scorers Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight as well as a who’s who of IIHF women’s hockey stars, including Brianna Decker, Sarah Nurse, and Meaghan Mikkelson, and goalies Alex Rigsby (now known by her married name, Alex Cavallini) and Ann-Renee Desbiens. Johnson has also coached five women to Kazmaier Award success – Sara Bauer (2006), Jessie Vetter (2009), Meghan Duggan (2011), Brianna Decker (2012), and Ann-Renee Desbiens (2017). At the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, there were nine Badgers in the tournament, five Canadian and four American. Johnson has now won more than 550 games with the Badgers and led them to national championships in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2019, and 2021. The only time he hasn’t been behind the bench in the last two decades was for 18 games during the 2009/10 season when he took a leave of absence to coach the U.S. National Team at the Olympics in Vancouver. He won’t be coaching in Beijing, but his Badgers are clear favourites to repeat as champions this year. They have the experience, the skill, the scoring and goaltending. Really, what’s to stop them?

ARTICLES - Int News 21 Oct, 2021

Brett Lee: Australia have what it takes to become champions
First and foremost, it is great to be back at a big tournament again. The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 is huge and it is so good to have this event because so many people have been locked down around the world. T20 cricket is a great format to bring people together and I am expecting to see some brilliant cricket in the next few weeks. Hopefully, a lot of that will come from Australia, who begin their campaign against old foes South Africa on Saturday. This is the one format of the game Australia’s men have not succeeded in at an ICC tournament and we Australians are hungry for it. For me, the expectation is that Australia will go and win the tournament. I know they might be high expectations but if you don’t go and set the bar very high, you are not going to succeed. We have not had a lot of success in this format – it is time we changed it and we do have a side that can take it all the way. It obviously won’t be easy, especially when you look at how strong teams like England, India and New Zealand are. But this Australian side is loaded with talent and for me, the key is David Warner. I would like to say he is saving the runs for the games that count after his IPL form! He was really harshly dealt with there and it may have knocked some confidence out of him but he thrives on the big stage. Everything should be rosy for him here, class is permanent. I will also put a lot of weight behind Mitchell Starc. There has been some debate in the last year about Starc being past his best but he would be in my team every single time, Josh Hazlewood has had a good IPL and Pat Cummins is a superstar. He is the David Beckham of the team, whatever he touches turns to gold! The build-up has not always been smooth for Australia but it’s amazing what an early win can do for confidence and South Africa pose a massive threat. Players come and go, greats come and go. But when you play against a nation like South Africa, the respect is always there. We know they have some match-winners and that is where the T20 game will suit them. They have guys who can take the game away within four or five overs and it will be a real test. I think South Africa are closer to the Australian culture than any other nation, in terms of sport. New Zealand are obviously closer geographically but South Africans are abrasive on the sports field. They are always in your face and I love that, it’s great. It is also why they have been so successful in all formats. I know they will give Australia a red-hot crack. The teams who have had success on these wickets are generally from the sub-continent, so they normally have that advantage. But because we have just had the back end of the IPL played on these pitches, I think it brings the playing field a lot closer and both the Aussies and Proteas will be thinking that. But saying that, I think India are probably the favourites with their top four or five batters and their bowling attack. I have KL Rahul down as the top run-scorer in the tournament and Mohammed Shami to be the leading wicket-taker, purely going on the last few months. So if they deliver and India have one of the leading run-scorers and wicket-takers, it’s a good start. But I’m confident Australia can do it and it all starts against South Africa – a brilliant match to start what will hopefully be a brilliant tournament for the Baggy Greens.