- Blinded Nepali soldier battles to London start
- Errani, Vinci to be US Open foes not friends
- McIlroy rallies to win Deutsche Bank event
Posted: 03 Sep 2012 06:30 PM PDT
Published: Tuesday September 4, 2012 MYT 9:30:00 AM
LONDON - Nepal athlete Bikram Bahadur Rana on Monday set a new personal best at the Paralympics, capping an extraordinary journey to the British capital from the Himalayan nation where he was blinded by Maoist rebels.
Aided by a guide runner, the former warrant officer came fourth out of four in his T11 200m heat for blind and visually impaired athletes, clocking a time of 26.95sec, more than four seconds behind the quickest qualifier.
He was ultimately slowest of 18 runners overall but the former soldier, one of only a two-strong national team at the Games, is lucky to be in London at all, after nearly losing his life in the forests of central Nepal.
Nine years ago he and his foot patrol triggered two roadside bombs left by Maoist rebels hiding in the forest.
The explosion forced Rana to the ground, blinded and with blood pouring from an open wound in his neck as he scrambled for his rifle while bullets whizzed past and shrapnel burnt into his face.
Now 31, Rana told AFP before travelling to London that he has vivid memories of his last day of active service as a government soldier battling the 10-year Maoist insurgency that finally ended in 2006.
"It was the morning of September 12, 2003. A few rain drops were falling from the sky and we had reached a road area in dense forests," he said.
"I was with two other soldiers when a bomb exploded. Both of my friends died on the spot and I was severely injured. My eyes were hurt, my face was covered with blood and there were wounds across my body."
Rana searched desperately for his gun, coughing acrid black smoke and blinded in one eye, as a group of Maoist rebels sprang from the roadside trees and opened fire. His life was saved when his comrades drove the insurgents back into trees. His last memory before losing consciousness was the silence that descended.
"I also heard music which sounded like water flowing in a small river but I found out it was the noise of the flow of blood from my neck and abdomen," he said.
Doctors battled to save the sight in one of his eyes in the coming days but after two weeks in an army hospital he was totally blind.
"I did not return to work for three months after the incident. I stayed at the hospital and with my relatives. But I did not want to live life doing nothing," said Rana, who lives in Kathmandu with his wife and two children.
As part of his recovery, Rana was persuaded to visit the Nepal Association of the Blind, where he was inspired by an army major who was taking computer classes despite also having been blinded in the insurgency.
He started classes himself and as part of his training at the association's headquarters in Kathmandu he was introduced to sport for the blind by a visiting cricket coach from Pakistan in 2008.
"I started competing in para athletics in 2008 and I became regional and national champion in the 200 metres in 2009," he added.
Rana clocked 12.85sec in the 100m at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Para Games, finished ninth among 32 runners and gaining a wildcard entry to the London Games.
The road to London hasn't been easy for Rana and teammate Maiya Bishankhe, a women's 100m runner who was born with only one forearm.
They have received little help from the authorities in Nepal, a country which does not invest in Paralympic sport and where facilities for disabled athletes are few and far between.
Rana, who is on Nepal's provisional squad list for the Blind Cricket World Cup in Bangalore, India, in November, says they have had no advice on special diets and have not been provided with footwear and clothing for the Games.
He admitted that he did not expect to be among the medals but said getting to London was a major personal victory.
"I feel very proud of my accomplishments. Despite being blind, I will be able to compete carrying the flag of my country," he said.
"I think the opportunity I have received being a blind athlete has made the country proud." - AFP
Posted: 03 Sep 2012 06:16 PM PDT
Published: Tuesday September 4, 2012 MYT 9:16:00 AM
NEW YORK - Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci will put their friendship to one side Wednesday when they clash in the US Open quarter-finals, the first time Italy has seen two of its players reach the last eight of a major.
Errani, the French Open runner-up and 10th seed in New York, reached the quarter-finals for the first time on Monday when she defeated last year's semi-finalist, German sixth seed Angelique Kerber 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.
Vinci, the 30th seed, saw off Polish second seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 6-4 to qualify for her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the age of 29 and at the 32nd attempt.
"We are very good friends in and outside the court. This is one thing that helps very much on the court, because, you know, the other will try and help the other," said Errani, who has won seven doubles titles this year with Vinci.
One of those trophies was at the French Open this year, a welcome boost after she had lost the singles final to Maria Sharapova.
"But also because we are playing both very good. I think this year we are playing very good tennis," added Errani, who has also won four singles titles in 2012.
Francesca Schiavone remains Italy's only Grand Slam title winner from when she won the 2010 French Open. She was also runner-up to Li Na one year later.
Vinci and Errani are also in the women's doubles quarter-finals in New York and Vinci, a singles winner in Dallas in the run-up to the US Open, insisted their friendship will remain strong whatever the result of Wednesday's tie.
Italy will be guaranteed a semi-finalist with either three-time champion Serena Williams or Ana Ivanovic waiting in the other section of the draw.
"First quarter-final against Sara. I'm happy to play against her, for sure an Italian goes to the semi-final. She's my best friend, so I'm very happy to play against her," said Vinci.
She has also taken inspiration from seeing Schiavone make the quarter-finals in New York in 2010 and Flavia Pennetta do so in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
"When Schiavone won Roland Garros and Flavia goes to top 10, also Sara in the final in Roland Garros, I try to come like the other one for sure, yeah," she said. - AFP
Posted: 03 Sep 2012 04:52 PM PDT
NORTON, Massachusetts - World number one Rory McIlroy fired his second consecutive four-under 67 on Monday to capture the PGA Tour's Deutsche Bank Championship by one shot over South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen.
McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, finished at 20-under-par 264 for his third victory of the season. He now has five career PGA Tour wins.
Oosthuizen closed with an even-par 71 on the TPC Boston to finish solo in second at 19-under. The 2010 British Open champion lost earlier this year to Bubba Watson in a playoff at the Masters.
Tiger Woods parred eight consecutive holes beginning at the 10th and then made birdie on 18 for a fourth round five-under 66. Woods finished third at 18-under-par 266. Woods also surpassed the $100 million mark in PGA Tour earnings with his third-place finish.
Dustin Johnson (70) and Phil Mickelson (66) tied for fourth at minus-14. It marked Mickelson's best finish since the Masters, where he finished in a tie for third.
McIlroy, who won the PGA Championship last month, vaults into the top spot in the FedEx Cup standings. - AFP
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