Abeylegesse From Turkey Wins Gold Medal In 10000m Race In Barcelona

BARCELONA - Turkish athlete Elvan Abeylegesse won women's 10,000m at the European Athletics Championships at Barcelona's Olympic stadium.

Abeylegesse, Turkey's first world record holder, --at 5,000m in Bergen in 2004-- clinched Turkey's first gold medal at the championship on Wednesday.

Turkish athlete finished the race in 31 minutes 10.23 seconds, 12 seconds ahead of Russia's Inga Abitova. Portuguese runner Jessica Augusto finished in third place.

"I am now very happy to win the gold medal in 10,000m. I was a little bit afraid just before the race because of strong rivals and the wind. I have won silver in all previous races but today I won the gold," Elvan told the A.A after the race.

She also said that she had a minor injury in her foot and that she has not yet decided whether or not she would run 5,000m women's final.

Meanwhile, another Turkish athlete, Meryem Erdogan, came fifth in the race with her 31 minutes 44.86 seconds run

Source: http://www.aa.com.tr/index.php?option=com_haber&popup=hayrinti&haber_id=282386

Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse (R) receives a bouquet of flowers after winning the women's 10,000m final at the 2010 European Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona on July 28, 2010. AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)(Photo Credit should Read /AFP/Getty Images)


Sania Mirza: Whither Goest Thou?

ByLinus Fernandes

It was a heady day in 2003, when Sania Mirza burst onto the stream of Indian sport consciousness, an awareness that if India were to ever have a world beater in an individual sport, it would not be a hirsute male, but a member of the weaker, fairer sex.

Sania Mirza erupted onto the scene like a long dormant volcano, heralding the birth of a new breed of Indian athletes, who not only excelled at their sport but were media savvy and clever enough to carve an image, a niche for themselves, in games other than cricket.

She was smart, she was intelligent, she was articulate, she was pretty, she was sexy, she was photogenic and she had attitude with a capital A. She carried off the anachronism of a nose ring with aplomb and style.

To top it all , she owned a killer forehand—the one that drew comparisons with her idol Steffi Graf —that was almost impossible to return when she dispatched the tennis ball with all the power and strength at her disposal. The forehand was flat and it was skiddy.

Sania Mirza had arrived on the stage of world tennis and Indian tennis would never be the same again. Or so we hoped.

Bouquets and Brickbats

We stood by her, we rooted for her, and we put up with all her shenanigans. We gathered around our television sets to cheer her every shot, her every return, her every serve.

She was the face of a modern India, a cosmopolitan India and most of all, she was a Muslim, a brave heart standing for progress contrasted against the conservatism and insularity of a minority community. She presented a brave new India; she had balls and she had gumption.

We craved learning what her T-shirts read; her sassy T-shirts hit the headlines as often as her brushes with the religious fanatics who chastised her for donning un-Islamic attire—mini-skirt and sleeveless vest—and being chummy with doubles partner Peer from the I of Israel. The evil I!

Some of her more interesting T-shirts needled "Well-behaved women rarely make history ," "I'm cute? No shit.," "Don't stand in my way," and "You can either agree with me, or be wrong."

This young tennis star, swimming in potential, was lapped up not just by the Indian media but by the international press as well. She appeared on the cover of Time magazine and was listed by the New Statesman as one among 10 youngsters who could change the world.

She happens to be the most searched Indian sportsperson on Google India ahead of Sachin Tendulkar, her appeal truly transcending notional, national boundaries.

She was hurt most when she was misquoted as endorsing pre-marital sex; a source of consternation for her in-the-know admirers as she came from a conservative Muslim background. Her choice of partners bears this out as she was first engaged to her cousin Sohrab Mirza but wed Shoaib Malik , a Pakistani cricketer . She has, of course, been linked to other sports stars and celebrities, the most notable being the dashing Yuvraj Singh, but then who believes the tabloids?

Tennis Career

Her singles career stats read 224-122 and she has one WTA title, the 2005 Hyderabad Open, and thirteen ITF titles in her singles kitty. She also enjoys playing doubles and has won eight WTA and four ITF tourneys. Her other sporting honors include a gold in mixed doubles, a silver in singles and a silver in team tennis all at the 2006 Doha Asian Games .

Her best singles performance in a Grand Slam has been a fourth round finish at the 2005 US Open.

The year 2007 was her finest one. She reached a career-high ranking of 27th. But over the years, her opponents have grown smarter; they wait and prey on her many errors. Her one-dimensional game was soon exposed; the mishits kept piling up as the rallies and matches grew longer.

Further, she was plagued by injuries, mostly to her wrist. Injuries that have dogged her more than any controversies.

She is not the fittest of players and she does seem to be carrying excess fat compared to the extremely fit and stronger players on the circuit. She is also just 5 ft. 8 inches, tall perhaps by Indian standards, but average compared to other players on the WTA tour. She, however, plays fearlessly and is not afraid to launch into her groundstrokes at the slightest opportunity.

Her finest hour, arguably, was the doubles championship she lifted at the Australian Open in 2009 in tandem with Mahesh Bhupathi. She is India’s foremost woman player ever and she cannot be blamed for not having an Indian tennis role model to emulate. She has blazed a path for Indian Eves and it is for them to take up the torch and surpass her, if they can.

A Second Coming?

Sania Mirza is not to be counted out yet. In her own words, she intends to give tennis a go for a couple of years following her recent marriage.

She has, just last week, had her best performance in recent times, reaching the final of the Aegon classic . That is not an achievement to be sneezed at, although the ITF and WTA tournaments are not on the same plane and Mirza was the top seed in the tournament. (Maria Sharapova too, on her recent return from injury, preferred to give the bigger tournaments a miss and participated in second-tier tournaments to regain her confidence and boost her points tally.)

Can Sania regain her lost glory? Can she arrest her slide?

Her current ranking is a dismal 142. Can she fulfill the promise she once displayed? Can she overcome her injuries and be the beacon for Indian women tennis players for some more years to come?

Or is she destined to follow the path of other Indian tennis players who have foregone any chances at personal glory and prefer their percentages in doubles? (If there is one thing I begrudge Leander and Mahesh, is that once they stumbled on the magic formula to lucre in doubles, it became an easy act to follow for the other tennis players from India.) Will Sania lose her way along the same route?

Only time will tell!

Source: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/425635-sania-mirza-whither-goest-thou


Sahra Hassan - Golfer

What is your family background?
I was born in Newport Gwent, raised in Newport until I was 14 then moved to Bridgend where i currently live. I have 2 sisters Ayesha Hassan and Myriam Hassan.
What were your dreams and aspirations as you were growing up?
To be the best lady golfer in the world, not just Europe or Great Britain, but the world.
What is your educational background?
Attended Glasllwch Primary School from age 4 to 11, then attended Bassaleg Comprehensive School for 2 years, then moved to Bridgend and finished off my studies at Bryntirion Comprehensive School. I have 9 GCSE's and 1 AS Level in English.

What is your current job?
Professional golfer, play on the Ladies European Tour and Ladies Asian Tour. I have always loved sport as my dad played cricket and squash, i got into sport at a really early age. I started playing tennis at 4 years old and won a number of Welsh titles by the age of 13, Ithen started taking an interest in golf as my dad played. I was playing county golf by the age of 14 then international golf at 15. I have represented Wales and Great Britain.

What barriers have you faced, either on a personal or professional level?
My Parents wanted me to get a proper profession like a doctor, accountant or barrister, but I have always loved sport and admired people like Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam and the Williams sisters. My Dads family especially wanted me to get a proper profession like most Asian families, they didn't agree with having golf as a profession.

What achievements are you most proud of?
Came 2nd in European Nations cup, won the Welsh Championship, Represented Wales and Great Britain a number of times and represented Wales in the World Cup 2006 and 2008.
What is your success due to?
Hard work and support from my family.
What role has Islam, if any, played in your life?
To be kind to others and be a nice human being.
Who was your role model and what impact or influence have they had on your life?
My Father, and he still is.
Do you have any hobbies or interests?
Still love playing tennis for fun and fitness, all sports, love going to the gym shopping, RnB/ hip hop music, movies bollywood and hollywood, spending time with friends and family.
What further aspiration do you have?
Not to just be the best in this country but to be the best in the world and i'd love to see more asian and ethnic children to take interest in sport particularly golf.

What words of wisdom or advice would you give to Muslim women in Britain today?
Just follow your dreams and try to be a good human being and let Allah be the judge not other people.
Source: http://www.bigsister.org.uk/roleModelDetail.php?rolemodel=52


Iran Women's Soccer Team Sidelined for Islamic Dress


Iran's women's soccer team may be sitting out the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore next month because of a dispute over their Islamic uniforms. The young athletes, all under 15, are at the center of a struggle over how to follow Iran's dress code and still compete in the international arena.

Last week the government unveiled the team's new outfits, a modest ensemble of pants, long sleeves, and high knee socks, with a cap that covers their hair. The outfits are designed in red, white and green to match the Iranian flag.

The top female official of Iran's physical education department was apparently offended by the uniforms, saying they were "inappropriate" and that the team would not compete in them. The uniforms had been a compromise; in 2007 FIFA, the organizing body of world soccer, had banned the old uniform because it included the hijab, or Islamic head scarf. The hejab violated FIFA safety regulations and a rule barring religious or political symbols on the field, Reuters reports.

Turkey Hungry For First Women's Medal in Basketball

Turkey may have won all three first round games at the U20 European Championship for Women, but Friday's quarter-finals is all that matters for Turkish coach Aziz Akkaya.

Turkey lost in the quarters of the past two U20 women events after finishing fourth in 2007. And Akkaya desperately wants to lead Turkey to their first ever women's European medal - senior or youth competition.

"I really hope that we can reach the last eight. It doesn't matter if we win these three (first round) games. The main day is Friday. That's what's important to us," said Akkaya after Turkey's exciting victory over Lithuania on Saturday.

The come-back victory over Lithuania gives Turkey a 2-0 record heading into the qualifying round starting on Monday with up-coming games against Italy, Serbia and Spain. One victory could be enough to get Akkaya's women back into the quarters.

"This time we want to win in the quarter-finals," said Akkaya.

The closest Turkey have come to a medal in women's youth tournaments was fourth place at the U20 women in 2007 and 2000 and the U16 women in 2005.

"We are on a quest for our first women's Euro medal. We really hope to finally win a medal at a tournament. This is very important for us," said Tugce Canitez, who scored 29 points against Lithuania including the game-winning three-point play with 7.4 seconds left.

"Beating Lithuania is a big step for us."

Canitez said Turkey must continue to play great defense and have a strong team spirit if they want to reach the final eight.

"Serbia and Spain are very good teams and it will be a great challenge for us," said the 19-year-old Canitez, who leads the team in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocks.

The power forward's 18.7 points per game rank her third in the tournament while she leads all players with 14.0 rebounds a contest.

And Canitez will very soon also play a crucial role in the Turkey senior team, according to Akkaya.

The coach said the Turkish federation is trying to get Canitez to play for the senior national team for the EuroBasket Women qualification this summer when Turkey will take on Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Montenegro in Group C.

Canitez however is due to head back to the United States in August as she returns to North Idaho College for her sophomore season. The Konak native is hoping to transfer to a bigger university after next season and needs extra help for her grades, Akkaya said.

The coach said Canitez - and Turkish women's basketball - would be better served if she came back to Turkey.

"It's her decision to go to play in the United States but I told her she should play in turkey. In the U.S., she may be stronger but fundamentally I am sure that Europe is better than the United States," said Akkaya.

"So I think she needs to come back and play here. We need her for our senior team and Turkish women's basketball needs her."

He added: "She will be an important player for us for a long time.

Canitez could eventually help Turkey to their first women's youth medal and women's senior team medal.


Muslim women game for rugby


NEW Zealand's traditional game has a fledgling following in a very unlikely place.

Following male-dominated Iran's relaxation of social rules in the 1990s, women began playing rugby union.

Auckland-based, Iranian-born, film-maker Faramarz Beheshti, 51, was so fascinated he made a documentary about it.

Salam Rugby will feature at the 2010 New Zealand International Film Festival, which screens until July 25 in Auckland.

"I went to Iran in 2006 to work on another film project that didn't end up happening and I saw by chance a picture of these girls playing rugby," Beheshti told Sunday News.

"I found it kind of charming as an idea so decided to work on it."

Beheshti said the code became so popular that representatives from around Iran gathered for training.

But soon after the birth of the new women's sport, legislation was introduced limiting the amount of contact men could have with women. That made it difficult for a male coach to take part in training.

The film, Salam Rugby, follows the would-be players as they challenge the law so they can compete.

"Sport is one of the few avenues for women in small towns to get out of the house," Beheshti said. "But the available rugby trainers were all men. The past four or five years have severely restricted the development of the women's game.

"The sport has potential in Iran for men, but with women there is a dire need for female coaches."

Beheshti is married to a Kiwi and has lived in New Zealand with their children since 2005, where he gained a passion for the game.

"Growing up in Italy it was all about football."

Beheshti was born in Iran and emigrated to Italy when he was four so had little experience of his birthplace before he made Salam Rugby.

"It gave me the opportunity to meet these wonderful people in this wonderful country. I had a desire to visit Iran properly but I now feel so blessed I have the chance to experience this," he said. And he loves his new homeland. "I love Auckland, I've found my spiritual city. It's beautiful."

Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-news/news/3906876/Muslim-women-game-for-rugby


Afghan Girls Soccer

Under the Taliban rule in the mid 1990s, most Afghan children had no opportunity to play sports. So in the summer of 2004, after the fall of the Taliban, Awista Ayub, who had grown up in Afghanistan, brought eight Afghan girls to the United States for a soccer clinic.

In her newly published book, Kabul Girls Soccer Club, Ayub tells her own story and how these eight girls found the strength in each other, in teamwork, and in themselves, to take risks to obtain the kinds of freedoms that many of us take for granted. Fifteen teams now compete in the Afghanistan Football Federation, with hundreds of girls participating.

Ayub was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. In 1981, at the age of two, her family brought her to the United States where she thrived through organized athletics. She was determined to make a difference in her home country someday, and after September 11, 2001, she was inspired to start the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange, an organization dedicated to nurturing Afghan girls through soccer.

Get ready to vote for the winning solutions in the Changing Lives Through Footballcompetition from July 27 to August 18.

“While the field of sports and development is still relatively young, evidence is growing that sports can play a key role in creating a safe space for women outside of the home and even go so far as to change the role of women in society long-term,” Ayub said. “Sports as an instrument for empowering women and girls in developing countries has engendered increased interest and support within the international development community in recent years.”

Until the Soviet invasion in 1978, Afghanistan’s larger cities, particularly Kabul, were progressive, as men and women had near equal opportunity and access to education and athletics. Throughout the 1970s, Kabul University had co-ed classrooms, and girls’ basketball and volleyball were common throughout the city. Even though men dominated the athletic arena during this time, women’s participation in sports was strong.
“During the next 20-plus years, both genders had limited access to sports,” Ayub said. “Brutal warfare dramatically changed the cultural landscape of the country, which regressed from a veritable ‘age of liberation’ in the 1970s to the age of social repression during the civil war in the early 1990s and under Taliban rule in the mid 1990s. Most Afghan children had no opportunity to play sports much less receive the proper training and coaching necessary for a high level of success in athletics.”
Currently in Afghanistan, sports have become a more acceptable activity for women and girls. Gender-segregated arenas and gymnasiums are a way to ensure that women can play sports in a female-only environment, ensuring the safety of young female athletes. Dedicated women coaches, trainers, and referees for women’s sports events and practices also are a way to respect current cultural traditions.

When boys see girls in a new, action-oriented role, they learn about the strengths and capabilities that girls and women possess.

In Kabul Girls Soccer Club, Ayub writes about one girl, Robina, who after taking up soccer, rediscovers herself:
“Now, after playing soccer seriously for months, Robina is aware of her body in a new way. Before, it was her hands that were necessary to her: to carry water up the mountain to their house, to scrub the floors, or to write out her lessons. But in soccer, they are useless. Now she's discovered her legs, her balance, the speed with which she can run. And her forehead, which she uses to butt the ball.”
“Before soccer, her legs and feet simply got her places, or kicked at rubbish or stones in her way. Now she knows each part of her foot intimately, the way it curves on one side, perfectly contoured to the side of the ball. She knows the strength of the broad, smooth sweep leading up to her ankles, and the dense, solid circle of her heel, perfect for pivoting.”
Ayub believes that girls’ athletics can also change the perception that men and boys may have of appropriate roles for women in Afghan society. When boys see girls in a new, action-oriented role, they learn about the strengths and capabilities that girls and women possess.
A portion of the books sales of Kabul Girls Soccer Club will be donated to the non-profit organization Women Win, which supports the empowerment of girls and women worldwide through sport. Awista was a Featured Commentator in the Gamechangers: Change the Game for Women in Sport competition.

Muslim women’s cricket at the Lord’s

By Neelam Farzana

Cricket in England is a sport of the elite, in South Asia, it is the sport of the people. Followed with a ferocious passion by so many, mums, dads, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunties all gather round staring intently at the TV…but for many women in the Muslim community that’s where it ends.

Many of us have been fans of the great game for a long time but have never been given a real chance to actually play it here in the UK whether that be due to cultural influences or a lack of facilities. So imagine my jubilation when I heard of the opportunity to once again pick up my playing career at none other than the Lord’s, the home of cricket!

Over two Saturdays on May 15 and 22, the Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation (MWSF) in conjunction with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) provided the opportunity for women and children of all ages to experience the facilities and atmosphere of the Lord’s Indoor Cricket School.

On entering the grounds the awe and excitement on the faces of those participating shone as brightly as the gloriously white, spaceship like media centre reflecting the sun’s rays. Greeted by England ladies international Isa Guha, and ex-international Laura Newton, the sessions catered perfectly to the needs of the Muslim community enabling women from all backgrounds and abilities to enjoy a fun family day out.

First time participant, Nabeela Akram attended with her two children aged 5 and 7. Commenting on the day she said, “It was a wonderful experience. I am a passionate follower of cricket but with two young children I never get the opportunity to actually play. Playing at Lord’s is an experience I will never forget and my kids absolutely loved it. I hope I get the chance again.”

MWSF Chairperson, Rimla Akhtar, said, “We are grateful to the MCC and ECB for enabling us to bring this event to our community at such a prestigious venue. This is one way of empowering ourselves, our women, and a strong way of providing opportunities to those who are often forgotten in the ethnic minority communities.”

Following on from the success of this event and due to popular demand, the MWSF will be working with the ECB to provide further opportunities for ethnic minority women to access cricket throughout the UK.

Anybody interested in getting involved should contact the MWSF on 020 8427 0873 or email info@mwsf.org.uk

Source: http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/paper/index.php?article=4705