Much has happened in the last seven days. Two towering world tournaments came to an end – Euro 2016 and Wimbledon – while the year-around sports began their season once again. Test cricket is back. F1 rolls down mid-way into its season. 50 days to go for the Rio Olympics. More track-and-field Indian athletes have qualified for the event. More top golfers (Rory “honesty” Mcllroy, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth) have withdrawn from the Olympics citing fears of the Zika virus. Never mind that the women golfers haven’t pulled out, neither have any of the other Olympians, despite mostly everyone being of child-bearing age.
Portugal won their first ever major football championship, at long last, 12 years after disappointingly losing in the Euro final with their ‘golden generation’ against Greece. They defeated hosts France 1-0 despite star Cristiano Ronaldo hobbling off in the first half, injured and heartbroken. Much heart was shown by this team, and they ended the tournament without being beaten, yet only winning one of their seven games in regulation time. It was ugly, but effective, just like the Greek job in 2004. And finally, Ronaldo has an international title to his name. Meanwhile, France’s Antoine Griezmann, the Golden Boot winner with six goals, ended up on the losing side in a final for the second time in two months after he missed a penalty for Atletico Madrid against Ronaldo’s Real Madrid in the Champions League Final.
To make matters worse, France, who were hoping to provide some joy to the public amidst a torrid year of terrorism attacks, were struck again in the coastal town of Nice during their Bastille Day celebrations. 84 lives were lost, and suddenly, football has become the last thing on everyone’s minds.
Andy Murray won his second Wimbledon title by defeating Canada’s Milos Raonic in a one-sided final, three years after he won his first title in 2013. Murray was heavy favorite to win the event after the exit of Novak Djokovic in the third round, and the Scotsman provided some cheer to a post-Brexit Britain, though there has been a few other Brit athletes making the news.
TOUR DE FRANCE
Defending champion and Team Sky cyclist Chris Froome is leading the prestigious Tour de France by 47 seconds, and looks set to win his second straight title. The champion was forced to run up the climb of Mont Ventoux in stage 12 after a crash into the back of a bike, losing precious time in the chaos, before the administrators ruled in favour of his retaining the yellow jersey after a wind-shortened stage. Adam Yates remains in second place while Froome’s closest rival Bauke Mollema is third at 56 seconds. Froome can’t afford another accident like this, given the delicate lead he has over the contenders.
Lewis Hamilton won his third straight British Grand Prix at Silverstone in a row – his 4th of the season and second consecutive race in two weeks after the Austrian Grand Prix – cutting Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg’s lead down to a mere one point. Teenager Max Verstappen landed his third podium place of the season, cementing the fact that he will be a future World Champion with Red Bull in the years to come. Hamilton is now well placed to win his 4th F1 Championship title after a stormy start to the season. Next up is the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 24th.
The world’s first multi-national football tournament will begin today in Chennai, with six teams competing for the title over 13 matches and 8 days. The final will be in Goa, which seems to be an appropriate destination given Portugal’s recent Euro victory, on July 24. Futsal is a shorter and improvised viewer-friendly 5-a-side version of football with two short halves of 20 minutes each. The six teams are: Kolkata 5s (marquee player is Argentine Hernan Crespo), Chennai 5s (marquee player Brazilian Falcao is widely considered the best Futsal player in the world), Bengaluru 5s (marquee player is Manchester United legend Paul Scholes), Goa 5s (marquee player is Brazilian legend Ronaldinho), Kochi 5s (marquee player is Spanish legend Michel Salgado) and Mumbai 5s (marquee player is United legend Ryan Giggs).
Fun fact: Brazil is the top-ranked futsal team in the world, followed by Spain and Russia. Iran is ranked 5th.
The Test series between Pakistan and England is finally underway, with the much-hyped return of Mohammed Amir back to the country where he was found guilty for spot-fixing six years ago. But it was captain Misbah ul Haq who stole the show in his first Test in England ever, scoring a century at Lord’s and rescuing his team on the first day with one of his career’s best innings. The 43-year-old is still at the peak of his game, and he even did ten push-ups on the pitch to demonstrate the same after reaching his century.
India will start their four-match Test series against West Indies on July 21, after their second practice game. Virat Kohli, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma and Murali Vijay are the only players to have played a Test series in the Caribbean (2011) before this.