Happy Birthday - Mirza, Ochoa and Verdasco

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(L-R) Mirza, Verdasco and Ochoa.

Sania Mirza is the most successful female Indian tennis player of all time and one of the highest-paid and well recognised sportsperson in the country.

Mirza is currently ranked world No1 in women’s doubles and from 2003 until her retirement from singles in 2013, was India’s No1 player in singles and doubles.

She had a decent singles career with wins over former world No1s Martina Hingis, Dinara Safina and Victoria Azarenka. She reached her highest world ranking at No27 before a major wrist injury forced her to give up her singles career and focus on doubles.

Mirza, who turns 29 today, has won five grand slam titles – two in women’s doubles and three in mixed doubles.

This year has been exceptionally good for Mirza. She teamed up with Hingis and won an incredible nine titles in 2015, including the Wimbledon, US Open and WTA Finals.

1970: Patrick M’Boma, retired Cameroonian footballer and former all-time top goal-scorer for his country (45).

1979: Brett Lancaster, racing cyclist from Australia, currently riding for UCI ProTeam (36).

1981: Lorena Ochoa, Mexican golfer who was the top-ranked female golfer for over three years (34).

1983: Fernando Verdasco, Spanish tennis player who reached a career-high singles ranking of No7 (32).

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Lin Dan sets up Lee Chong Wei semi-final showdown in Fuzhou

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Badminton showdown: Lee Chong Wei.

Chinese badminton legend Lin Dan stormed through the quarter-finals of the China Open in Fuzhou on Friday after dispensing with Hong Kong's Hu Yun, setting up a semi-final showdown with long time rival Lee Chong Wei.

Lin, a two-time Olympic gold-medallist and five-time world champion, defeated Hu Yun, 21-8, 10-21, 21-17, in a tight back and forth match that clocked in at 52 minutes.

The former champion is now set to square off with Lee, after the Malaysian rolled past world number two Jan O.

Jorgensen, 21-11, 11-21, 21-10, in late action Friday. In other play, world number one Chen Long beat seventh ranked Viktor Axelsen in straight sets, 21-17 21-13.

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The win books Chen a semi-final match with South Korea's Son Wan Ho on Saturday.

Chen has replaced Lin Dan as the top male player following his breakthrough world title triumph a year ago and the rangy 26-year-old has has also gone on to develop a rivalry with Lee.

In women's play, world number one and Olympic bronze medalist Saina Nehwal beat Japan's Nozomi Okuhara, 21-16, 21-13, and will face seventh ranked Wang Yihan on Saturday.

The world's number five Wang Shixian and six Li Xuerui, both who hail from China, will meet in the other semi-final after sliding through the quaters on Friday.

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Club of the week: Shaolin Martial Arts

Jay Asser 12/11/2015
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Rich history: Kung fu involves channelling the body, mind and spirit.

Kung fu certainly looks cool in movies and pop culture, but the practice is more than just throwing punches and fighting off bad guys.

The Chinese martial art has a rich history and encompasses the channelling of body, mind and spirit. 

Self defence is a vital part of the discipline and Shaolin Martial Arts strives to teach effective techniques that also happen to be fun.

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As the self-proclaimed first Chinese martial arts school based in Dubai, the centre offers traditional kung fu and tai chi, appealing to those that want to learn kicks, punches, strikes, takedowns, submissions and more, while also relieving stress.

Fairy Wang, manager of Shaolin Martial Arts, believes Dubai is a perfect city for kung fu and tai chi to thrive in.

“Dubai is like a melting pot of cultures and martial arts. People from around the world come here in order to seek their fortunes and build their dreams. Most of them forget to enjoy their life just because of that,” Wang said.

“They work late into the night, they have pressure every day, they eat irregularly, and they sit in the office day by day. 

“Martial arts are a good way for them to get energy, release the pressure and keep healthy.”

Shaolin Martial Arts’ attempt to break into the region wasn’t so easy at first though, according to Wang.

Master Hang, the centre’s founder and chief master, came to Dubai in 2010 from China where he trained at the legendary Shaolin Temple, only to find people weren’t very familiar with kung fu.

Hang, however, recognised there was potential interest due to the popularity of kickboxing as well as jiu-jitsu, and set forth to bring the practice to the UAE.

Start early: Masters teach kung fu to adults and children.

“Being Chinese, as well as a Kung Fu Master, it’s Master Hang’s mission to promote kung fu across the world,” Wang said.

“So in the three years after he came here, he showed people what kung fu was, did market research and collected information. 

“Then in 2014 he decided to run his own kung fu training centre. 

“It was really a challenge for us to start a new martial arts centre here, so Master Hang started a set of teaching systems which is special for self-defence.”

Hang, a sixth Dan black belt in Chinese martial arts and sixth Dan black belt in Shaolin kung fu, has since been joined by Master Gang and Master Lee, both fifth Dan black belts in Chinese martial arts and sixth Dan black belts in Shaolin kung fu.

The masters teach kung fu and tai chi for adults and children, ranging from beginner to advanced levels, as well as for around 10 schools in Dubai.

Classes are held every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday evenings, with three-month packages, yearly memberships, private classes and belt tests available. 

You can even call and book a free trial class to gauge your interest. For more information, call 052 626 5816 and visit www.uaekungfu.com.

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