Hyderabad, Jun 27 (PTI) Shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth, B Sai Praneeth, H S Prannoy along with Chief National Coach P Gopichand were today felicitated by Telangana Governor ESL Narasimhan here.Srikanth bagged back to back mens singles titles at the Indonesian Open Super Series Premier tournament and the Australian Open Super Series event.Recalling that he had spotted a spark in Srikanth one year ago during the felicitation of shuttler PV Sindhu, Narasimhan, who is also the Andhra Pradesh Governor, said the young player has now proved him right.He said aspiring sports-persons have nowhere else to look but within the country as it has excellent sports infrastructure like the Gopichand badminton academy, according to an official release.Speaking on the occasion, Gopichand said it was a privilege for them to come to the Raj Bhavan for felicitation.Gopichand also said many people do not know that he had requested the Governor to save the Academy and that the Governor has generously helped the institution overcome the troubles, according to the release.He recalled that the corporates did not believe him those days and the Academy struggled to stand on its feet.Srikanths parents Kidambi Krishna and Radha were also felicitated on the occasion.Sai Praneeth recently won the Singapore Open and Prannoy defeated few top players in recent times.The shuttlers were complimented by sports administrator V Chamundeswarinath at the Gopichand Academy earlier in the day.Srikanth and Prannoy were also felicitated by the IDBI Federal at the Academy and also presented with the prize money under their programme, Quest For Excellence, in association with Gopichand. PTI SJR NRBadvertisement
Dale Evans sits in his hotel room in Oxford as the words tumble from him on a freezing night. At first, of course, it is difficult. Evans knows I will ask him about death and guilt. He knows we will return to a place which haunts him but, after a day working on the railways, a long way from his home in Wales, the former fighter finds the strength to talk with moving honesty.Eighteen months ago this week, on a tragic night in Glasgow, Evans and Mike Towell fought a British welterweight title eliminator. They both stepped through the ropes with grim determination on that late September evening. Boxing Humble Anthony Joshua has his sights on top of the boxing tree Dale Evans, with the name Iron Mike on his shorts in memory of Towell, pictured fighting Bradley Skeete. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters Twitter The silence breaks when Evans says: “You don’t wish anything bad to happen. Back at the hotel I eventually came down as people had paid for flights, hotels and tuxes because it was a black-tie event. The least I could do was thank them.“This man said: ‘Mike’s not going to make it.’ He’d had a few to drink so I said: ‘Leave me alone.’ I was upset. Then one of the officials broke the news to Gary. Mike was on a life-support machine. The next day we had that dreaded phone call. I just locked myself away. I hardly slept, hardly ate.”It says much about Evans, and the Towell family, that his wish to attend the funeral was welcomed. “It was amazing. This lady came out of the funeral car. As soon as she walked towards me I realised it was Mike’s mum. It broke my heart and she said: ‘Come here. Don’t be silly.’ She kissed and hugged me and I thought this woman is unbelievably strong. I felt guilt all day surrounded by Mike’s friends and family but not one bad word was said to me. It was just me and Nick Blackwell who went up for the funeral. Nick had come out of his coma and understood what it meant to me.”Blackwell, still smitten with boxing, engaged in an illicit spar six weeks later and suffered a terrible bleed to the brain. He survived but will never recover fully. Evans takes comfort from Towell’s family. “They’re wonderful people. I went up for a football match in Mike’s memory for the anniversary last September. I still felt guilt but they welcomed me with love. I belonged with them.”Evans had stayed out of the ring for eight months before his low-key return in Swansea. Then, last July, he fought Bradley Skeete for the British title. “Bradley’s a tricky operator but my brother said: ‘Dale, you were crap. You were just happy to be hit.’”Was he afraid of hurting Skeete? “Yeah. I once had that nastiness in the ring. It’s gone now.” Topics Share on Pinterest Facebook Mourners arrive for the funeral of boxer Mike Towell at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Dundee. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA Evans won the fight but Towell lost his life. The hurt is visible in Evans’s face but he has forged a poignant bond with Towell’s family, which is why the 26-year-old Welshman has refused other interview requests since retiring last month. He wants to honour Towell here and explain why he can no longer fight on.The pain is deepened because a month ago, on 25 February, three days after he publicly gave up boxing, another fighter died. “When I heard about Scott Westgarth all the emotions came back,” Evans says. Westgarth won a gruelling light-heavyweight battle against Dec Spelman in Doncaster but died in hospital the following morning. “I thought of Scott and his family and put out a tweet to say I was thinking of Dec.”Evans mentions his girlfriend Jess, who is studying to become a teacher and from whom he is parted every week while he works in Oxford. “It’s not often I cry but I broke my heart to Jess so often. Sometimes, sitting in silence, I’d break into tears. It will stay with me forever. I came home from that fight and Mike didn’t. Mike had a girlfriend, Chloe [Ross], who is mum to his young boy, Rocco. There’s no way I should dare think it’s hard for me.”Evans thought with new clarity last month when offered a European title fight. “I had five weeks to prepare. After work I trained every night in the fitness gym up the road. I was trying to get back into my old zone but I questioned myself: ‘Why am I going back in there knowing the risks more than ever?’ My friends said: ‘Dale, you can’t turn down a European title shot.’“I thought, ‘If I win or lose it’s a payday’, but my brother said: ‘Don’t do it.’ I then texted [his trainer] Gary Lockett and said: ‘I can’t do it. The passion and hunger is gone.’ Gary understood.”Evans had 19 pro fights and lost four while working as a labourer. “I’ve been a plasterer, worked in factories, done roofing and concreting. I’d be up at 4.30am, do a five-mile run, shower, go to work, train at night. I hated every minute of it. I’d say much more than 50% of professional fighters are having to work. It’s just that small minority on telly who are backed by big promoters. I started to hate the business of boxing.”Evans’s biggest payday of £16,000 came in 2013 when he won two three-round fights on the same night and reached the final of Prizefighter. One of his defeated opponents, Sam Eggington, eventually became the British champion and Evans was given only 10 days to prepare for their title fight in October 2015.“I knocked him down with a big shot in the second but I didn’t have the conditioning to beat him. I lost on points but I was cheered out after being booed in. My purse was £10,000 but after tax, paying your manager, trainer and cut man, half goes straightaway.”Evans’s next big chance came in September 2016 against Towell. They were both 25 and, as Evans says, “Mike was unbeaten [after 12 fights] and reminded me of myself. He was intimidating because he wanted the title so bad. Before the fight I was watching videos of him chopping trees down with an axe. I’m scared before every fight. I had fear against Mike.”Six months earlier, Nick Blackwell, who trained alongside Evans, had been put into an induced coma after fighting Chris Eubank Jr. “Nick’s my friend and a lovely boy. That fight upset me but you never think it’s going to happen to you. At the press conference, Mike and me were having to do take after take for TV. We were getting annoyed but had a laugh together.”Evans’s face scrunches up. “His family told me Mike said to his girlfriend and friends that: ‘Dale seems a nice fellow.’ They were winding him up saying: ‘Oh, Mike, you’ve gone soft.’”His distress is evident. When I remind him he knocked down Towell in the first round Evans shakes his head. “I can’t remember. Was it the first? He got up because he was tough. He could punch as well. I’ve never been hit like that before but I was winning.”After the fight was stopped in the fifth round, “the paramedics came into the ring with oxygen and we knew something was up. The room was just cold. It was quiet. It was silent when Mike was taken away.”Evans looks up, bereft: “I can’t get any words out now.” Share on Messenger Facebook Pinterest Evans’s trunks carried the name Iron Mike in his last two fights. “I wanted to win the title for Mike and some of his friends came to London to support me against Bradley. They had a big Scottish flag with Iron Mike Towell on it. To see that from the ring brought a tear to my eye.”Towell should not have been in the ring against Evans. “I’ve heard he was complaining of headaches before the fight. He was in excruciating pain but they just gave him paracetamol. The dangers are never changing but we need more scans to protect fighters.“I’m passionate about it. You have one MRI scan at the start of your boxing year but some of the worst damage is done in sparring and one scan isn’t enough. All you get before fights is a visual check during a quick medical. Why can’t the Boxing Board give a free brain scan before a fight? It would save lives. Chloe and Tracey, Mike’s mum and girlfriend, raised money for two brain scanners. If you think of the amount of money boxing generates, and the money the board makes, surely each boxer can have a full MRI before a fight?”Away from boxing, Evans is doing “everything you don’t see on the railways, underground. We’re doing the sidings at Oxford station and putting the platforms in. I’ve had harder jobs.”Will Evans find peace away from boxing? “I think so but former boxers need help. They make promoters all that money but after it’s over so many turn to alcohol and drugs. They’re depressed. People say boxing is one of the loneliest sports but retired fighters are 10 times lonelier. Sometimes I feel I’ve gone from the limelight to being nothing. But if you’ve got good people you can avoid deep loneliness. I’m also lucky Mike’s family are such beautiful people.”It’s raining but, after two hours together, Evans insists on walking us to the car park – even carrying the photographer’s lights. He is gentle when I thank him for talking. Evans stretches out his hand and I remember his closing words in that empty hotel room. “Talking was hard but it was good. I just want people to know I think of Mike Towell, and his family, every day. They are always with me.” Twitter interviews Share on Facebook Read more Pinterest Share on Twitter … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. 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Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Marcia Gilbert-Roberts; and Chargé d’Affaires, United States Embassy in Jamaica, Eric Khant, signed the agreement on Thursday (May 31) at the Ministry’s New Kingston headquarters. Mrs. Gilbert-Roberts, in her remarks, said that the objective of the partnership is to save Jamaican children and at-risk youth from being trafficked. Story Highlights The Governments of Jamaica and the United States of America have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership, which is aimed at combating the trafficking of children in Jamaica. The Governments of Jamaica and the United States of America have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership, which is aimed at combating the trafficking of children in Jamaica.Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Marcia Gilbert-Roberts; and Chargé d’Affaires, United States Embassy in Jamaica, Eric Khant, signed the agreement on Thursday (May 31) at the Ministry’s New Kingston headquarters.As part of the agreement, the United States will provide Jamaica with funding valued at US$4.5 million for projects and other related activities over a period of four years.Mrs. Gilbert-Roberts, in her remarks, said that the objective of the partnership is to save Jamaican children and at-risk youth from being trafficked.“One of the most valuable assets for the future of any country is its young people – our children. We are pleased, therefore, that Jamaica was invited by the Government of the United States to participate in this project,” she noted.She said that the MoU signing represents another milestone in Jamaica’s relations with the United States.“Without partnerships of this kind, our journey towards achieving our targets under the sustainable development goals and Vision 2030 would certainly be more extensive and arduous,” she said.Mr. Khant, for his part, said his Government is pleased to be partnering with Jamaica on this initiative, and stressed that human trafficking is a very serious offence which must be eliminated.“Approximately 2.5 million people are victims of human trafficking every year and many of those victims are children. This type of modern-day slavery should not exist in our society…because of that, we work closely with our international partners to fight this heinous crime, and we’re delighted that we can now partner with Jamaica under this Child Protection Compact Partnership,” he noted.Mr. Khant said the four-year agreement will help to strengthen Jamaica’s ability to prosecute and punish traffickers, identify and provide comprehensive services to victims and prevent these crimes from happening.“Our hope is that together, we will be able to eliminate child trafficking altogether in Jamaica and the wider region,” he added.Jamaica is the fourth country to have been selected for a CPC Partnership and the first country from the Caribbean region. The others are Ghana, Peru and the Philippines.The Government has been tackling human trafficking through public education and training and capacity-building measures under the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons.The Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit, set up in 2005, has been making gains, with 76 victims rescued and 19 persons arrested and charged for violations. Millions of dollars in fines have been secured.These initiatives will be strengthened when they are merged with activities under the CPC Partnership.