By Mike Collett-WhiteSOCHI (Reuters) – Two athletes tested positive for banned substances on Friday in the Sochi Olympics‘ first doping cases, but an emotional gold for crisis-torn Ukraine and ice hockey victory for Canada over the United States ensured sporting action had the final say.There will be few more popular winners at Russia’s first Winter Games than the women’s biathlon relay team from Ukraine, who edged out the hosts at the end of a week when anti-government protests had left at least 77 people dead.A Ukrainian skier had already pulled out of Sochi in protest at President Viktor Yanukovich’s handling of the crisis, and other athletes from the team said they struggled to focus as their country went up in flames.“When I was on the podium I couldn’t stop crying. I tried to calm down and was trying to hide it behind my skis. They were tears of happiness, not only mine, but of the whole country, our team,” team member Valj Semerenko told reporters.“We are so happy that the people of Ukraine are happy back home and that something good happened for our country,” added Olga Pidhrushna.Ukraine’s only other Winter Olympic gold medal was won by figure skater Oksana Baiul in the women’s individual event at the Lillehammer Games in 1994.In the big ice hockey clash, Canada once again prevailed over arch-rivals the United States in their semi-final at the futuristic Bolshoy Ice Dome, denying the Americans revenge for the final of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.A single goal was the thin dividing line between the sides in the end. Jamie Benn, charging toward the slot, redirected Jay Bouwmeester’s low shot past a helpless Jonathan Quick.In the other semi-final, Sweden beat Finland 2-1, and they meet the Canadians in the final event of the Games on Sunday evening played just hours before the closing ceremony.In the short track speed skating, Russia’s Viktor Ahn added two more golds to his impressive tally in the men’s 5,000 metres relay and the individual 500 metres events.It takes his Olympic gold medal haul to six, three for South Korea and three for his adopted country Russia.His feat propelled Russia to second in the overall medals table with nine golds, one behind Norway.SKATING SCANDALThe intensity on the field of play was a welcome tonic on a day when two athletes were thrown out of Sochi for doping.German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, a two-times Olympic champion at cross country, tested positive for a banned stimulant and was sent home.The 33-year-old, who also has three Olympic cross country silvers to her name, narrowly missed out on medals in Sochi, coming fourth in both the 12.5km mass start and the mixed relay.“This is the worst nightmare you could imagine,” she said. “I can’t explain to myself at all how the doping test could be positive.”At around the same time, Italian officials announced that bobsleigh athlete William Frullani, a policeman, also tested positive for a banned substance and was excluded from the team.The announcements came as the Olympics were still reeling from a judging scandal in the women’s figure skating late on Thursday that threatened to take some of the gloss off the host nation’s first-ever gold in the event.Adelina Sotnikova, who few expected to be among the medals before the contest began, beat favourite Kim Yuna late on Thursday, despite the South Korean defending champion producing a performance many viewers deemed superior.The controversy rumbled on into Friday, when South Koreans expressed shock and anger at a decision they said had been engineered to favour the Russians.More than 1.5 million people signed an online petition demanding an inquiry into Kim’s loss, which many people stayed up into the early hours to watch. “Queen Yuna” is South Korea’s most loved and best-known athlete.It was not only her compatriots who questioned the scoring.“How the hell were Yuna and Sotnikova so close in the components?” exclaimed Canada’s four-time world champion Kurt Browning. “I just don’t get it.“Yuna Kim outskated her, full stop. I’m shocked. What, suddenly, she just became a better skater overnight? I don’t know what happened. I’m still trying to figure it out.”Russian television and radio lionised their 17-year-old champion on Friday, and little mention was made of the judging.RUSSIAN RECORD BREAKERIn the men’s 5,000 metres short track speed skating final, the United States finished second to claim their only medal in either short track or traditional long track speed skating at the Sochi Olympics.In the long track events, their men’s and women’s team pursuit trios were both knocked out in the first round.The U.S. team had predicted they were capable of winning eight medals prior to the Games, but their efforts may have been hampered by a fiasco over their suits when they decided to change them halfway through the Olympics to no apparent effect.Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa took gold and silver in the rough and tumble of the women’s ski cross final held at the Extreme Park.German Anna Woerner was taken off the course on a stretcher with a knee injury after a nasty fall during the quarter-finals, her leg appearing to give way on impact as she hit the icy landing slope.Safety concerns were high after Russian free skier Maria Komissarova fractured a vertebra and dislocated her spine during practice on the same course last week.Canada’s men also won the curling, brushing aside Britain to win 9-3 and claim the country’s third successive title and complete the double after their women also took gold.The women’s Alpine skiers bade farewell to the Games as American Mikaela Shiffrin won the slalom ahead of Austrian duo Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel.But arguably the moment of the day came in the women’s biathlon. Given upheaval at home, in which Russia played a major role by backing Yanukovich against pro-European protesters, it was an emotional moment as Ukraine’s flag was raised.Russian President Vladimir Putin will be desperate for the crisis in neighbouring Ukraine not to overshadow Sochi, which he has used to project his country as a modern, tolerant state that does not deserve the Western criticism it receives.But Russian protest group Pussy Riot, who released a music video in Sochi this week attacking the Games and Putin’s human rights record, have drawn international attention to what critics say is his refusal to brook opposition.In Moscow on Friday, a judge convicted eight defendants of assaulting police during a protest against Putin, in what activists called a “show trial”.Sentencing was postponed until Monday, however, meaning it will be revealed after Sunday’s close of the Olympics. Putin says he does not use courts as a political tool.
By Martyn HermanDefending champion Novak Djokovic emphatically booked his place in a fourth Wimbledon final with a clinical 7-6(2) 6-4 6-4 defeat of gallant Frenchman Richard Gasquet on Friday.Underdog Gasquet offered fans on a sun-baked Centre Court plenty of “oooh-aahh” moments with his trademark single-handed backhand but there were not enough to really concern the world number one who looked supreme.There were a few more unforced errors than normal off the Djokovic racket in a tight first set but once he cruised through the tiebreak he bolted the door on the 21st seed whose wait for a first grand slam final continues.In the second and third sets a miserly Djokovic made just nine unforced errors and his only slight concern was a stiff shoulder that needed a couple of visits from the trainer.In the final the 28-year-old Serb will face either seven-time champion Roger Federer, the man he beat in five sets to win his second Wimbledon title last year, or Andy Murray, who beat Djokovic in the 2013 final.“It was a good performance, considering the occasion. It’s always tough. Richard had a great tournament and deserved to be in the semis,” said the eight-time grand slam champion. “The first set could have gone his way, luckily it went to me.”The pre-match statistics did not give 29-year-old Gasquet’s many admirers cause for optimism.Djokovic had beaten him 11 times out of 12, had lost one of his previous 31 matches against the Frenchman and had not lost to a player ranked as low as Gasquet in a grand slam arena for five years.LETHAL BACKHANDGasquet does possess arguably the most lethal backhand in the game though and arrived on court fuelled with the confidence of winning a five-set quarter-final thriller against Stanislas Wawrinka, the man who stunned Djokovic in the French Open final.He used it to great effect early on, too, recovering from dropping his opening service game to break back with a flashing drive, played from shoulder height straight down the line.At 4-4 he fired another beauty that Djokovic barely saw and then had the Serb on the run only to blaze a jump smash wide.Those misses usually prove costly against the best and, although Gasquet continued to play with flair, he disintegrated somewhat in the tiebreak to gift Djokovic the opener.“It was 2-2, then it was 7-2 very fast,” Gasquet, who had been looking to become the first Frenchman since Cedric Pioline in 1996 to reach the final, told reporters. “It wasn’t good.”Djokovic forged smoothly ahead early in the second set but offered a glimmer of hope at 5-4 when he went 0-30 down, only to dial up some unreturnable serves and pinpoint ground strokes.Hundreds of fans left their seats at the end of the second set to revive themselves for the day’s later blockbuster.Djokovic did not keep them waiting too long, closing out the match with a single break of serve in the third set.
Last Saturday saw the girls from Moem Primary School, St Mary’s Primary School, Kreer Primary School, Kaindi Primary School and Mongniol Primary School march onto the Wewak field with their uniforms for the launching matches.Each of the participating schools were given shoes, socks, shin pads, uniforms and balls that will be used for the weekend Merifutbol matches.Present to witness the launching of the Merifutbol program was PNG Football Association (PNGFA) general secretary, Dimirit Mileng, vice-president Linda Wonuhali and mayor of Wewak town, Charles Malenki.Mileng thanked the Wewak Football Association, especially Futsal, saying Wewak was selected for the Merifutbol program because of talents that have come from Futsal to represent PNG.He challenged the Wewak Football Association saying the onus was now on the management to nurture it and make the program grow.Secretary for the Department of Justice and Attorney-General Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, who did the official kick-off, thanked PNGFA for believing in the Wewak Football Association.“We have three of our girls in the PNG U-20 team, two are injured. However, when they look at the statistics, most of the players have Sepik blood in them,” said Dr Kalinoe.The Merifutbol program aims to encourage young girls who want to pursue their dreams in football to participate in competitions in their schools.
The former West Coast Eagles star is expected to make an appearance in court today after breaching the violence restraining order taken out against him by former partner Maylea Tinecheff.The 38-year-old was charged with the same offence a month ago and was granted bail. He was scheduled to appear in court later this month in relation to that offence.
President of the Football Federation of PNG, John Kapi Natto, said he was impressed with the talent on show, especially from the new teams from rural areas.He said the competition is heading towards the end of round one.The current standings: 1. MRDC Hekari United FC – 13 points2. FC Papaka – 10 points3. PRK Erema FC – 6 points4. PKA Rapatona FC – 5 points5. Admiralty FC – 4 points6. Amoana FC – 3 points Southern Conference Northern Conference 1. Laiwaden FC – 10 points2. Nawaeb FC – 10 points3. Markham FC – 9 points4. Morobe United FC – 6 points5. Lahi United FC – 5 points6. Bulolo FC – 3 points “I am excited that finally NPL is on and it’s going into its second round with a lot of excitement and I am sure all our fans and supporters will come in numbers to support their teams in the two conferences.“I am hoping that one day this will become the premier competition in PNG for everyone,” said Kapi Natto.
Photo Getty Images. Caption: Dillian Whyte promoting his fight with Dereck Chisora The 30-year-old has been touted as a potential 2019 opponent for IBF, WBA and WBO belt-holder Joshua, though WBC champion Deontay Wilder is his priority for an April 13 fight at Wembley.Whyte beat former WBO champion Joseph Parker last July to enhance his claim for a title shot and he insisted it is inevitable he will get another chance to take down Joshua, who won their previous encounter with a seventh-round knockout in December 2015.”I can’t bank on what he’s doing, I’ve got to focus on my own career,” Whyte told Sky Sports ahead of his fight with Dereck Chisora at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday.”It would be great if we could get the rematch on, but it’s only a matter of time.”There’s only six or seven top guys around and I have consistently proved I am of that level and I am only getting better and better. It’s only a matter of time.”#TeamBodySnatcher @DillianWhyte#WhyteChisora2 pic.twitter.com/q6OHnNoWQn— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) December 17, 2018Joshua described Whyte as an “enemy” and expressed a desire to see Chisora “whup” him when they meet for the second time this weekend.Whyte responded: “They’re both Finchley boys and they’re mates, but I bet he said it with a stupid smile on his face.”It’s cool though. Listen, I’ve been fighting all my life, climbing this hill my whole life, and I’m not looking for sympathy.”I don’t care, people can say what they want. I think when I fought him [Joshua] there were 50 guys on a panel and I think everyone picked me to get knocked out in the first round.”And I almost knocked him out in the second. It is what it is. He can say what he wants. I’m easy, I’m nice and I train hard. I am ready.”Nothing great comes easy. If it comes easy everybody would be doing it.”
Results from the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Round 4 matches on Monday: 3-Roger Federer (Switzerland) beat 13-Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) 6-4 6-2 6-411-Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) beat 8-Dominic Thiem (Austria) 6-3 6-7(1) 6-3 3-6 6-324-Sam Querrey (U.S.) beat Kevin Anderson (South Africa) 5-7 7-6(5) 6-3 6-7(11) 6-31-Andy Murray (Britain) beat Benoit Paire (France) 7-6(1) 6-4 6-47-Marin Cilic (Croatia) beat 18-Roberto Bautista (Spain) 6-2 6-2 6-2Results from the Wimbledon Women’s Singles Round 4 matches on Monday:2-Simona Halep (Romania) beat Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) 7-6(3) 6-26-Johanna Konta (Britain) beat 21-Caroline Garcia (France) 7-6(3) 4-6 6-424-CoCo Vandeweghe (U.S.) beat 5-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) 7-6(4) 6-410-Venus Williams (U.S.) beat 27-Ana Konjuh (Croatia) 6-3 6-214-Garbine Muguruza Blanco (Spain) beat 1-Angelique Kerber (Germany) 4-6 6-4 6-4Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) beat Petra Martic (Croatia) 6-4 2-6 6-313-Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia) beat 4-Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) 6-3 7-6(6)7-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) beat 9-Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) 6-2 6-4
Apoel’s gruelling Champions League adventure continues tonight as they host Borussia Dortmund at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia (kick-off 9.45pm).Both sides have started their group campaign with two defeats in their opening two matches meaning that anything other than a win will do little to satisfy either team. With visits to Spurs and Dortmund coming up either side of a home game against Real Madrid, Apoel are likely to see Tuesday’s match as their best chance of claiming three points. While Dortmund will still be aiming to qualify for the knockout stages, Apoel’s aim may be a little more modest, with third place, which means a spot in the Europa League Last 32, being their best hope.Apoel coach Giorgos Donis has a few of injury concerns ahead of the big game. Spanish left-back Roberto Lago is a doubt and so, with the long-term absence of Nick Ioannou, veteran Nektarios Alexandrou is likely to step in at full-back.Key central defender Carlao and winger Roland Sallai were left out of the squad for Friday’s 2-0 league win over Doxa, but the pair trained with the group on Sunday, providing some optimism that they will be fit to start on Tuesday. Facundo Bertoglio took part in individual training as he recovers from injury while Tommy Oar has not been included in the Champions League squad. Giorgos Efrem remains an absentee.Dortmund manager Peter Bosz has some injury problems of his own, especially in defence where a host of his backline are sidelined.Lukasz Piszczeck, Raphael Guerreiro and Erik Durm are all unavailable leading Bosz to produce a makeshift backline for the recent league match against RB Leipzig. The Dutch manager has now been boosted by the news that left-back Marcel Schmelzer has made the trip to Nicosia, though it is unclear if he is able to take any part in the match. Marco Reus remains a long-term absentee with knee ligament damage and Sebastian Rode is out through a pelvic injury.Greek centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who played at the GSP just two weeks ago in his country’s 2-1 win over Cyprus, was carrying a knock before Dortmund’s recent league game against Leipzig. The defender started the game but was sent off after 47 minutes and Dortmund ended up losing 3-2 to Leipzig, their first league defeat of the season and a result that brought an end to their 41-match home unbeaten run in the league.They still remain top of the Bundesliga, two points clear of title holders Bayern Munich, but the defeat will have certainly dented morale ahead of their trip to Nicosia.Their 3-1 defeat to Tottenham on Matchday 1 coupled with another loss by the same scoreline against Real Madrid last time out means Dortmund go into the game against Apoel in need of three points if they are to stand a chance of finishing in the top two. Apoel lost 3-0 to both Real Madrid and Spurs and therefore will need to get points on the board if they are to have any chance of finishing third in the group.The group’s other fixture, which will take place at the same time, sees Real Madrid and Tottenham go head-to-head at the Santiago Bernabeu. Both teams have made perfect starts to their European campaigns with two wins out of two.
Former champions McLaren showed their true colours on Friday with a new papaya orange and blue Formula One car they hope will take them back up the starting grid after three nightmare years with Honda.The MCL33 is the team’s first to be powered by Renault, the manufacturer whose engines took Red Bull to three race wins last season.The striking livery, on a car with plenty of space for sponsors after the departure of some big names in recent years, revives the colour first used half a century ago by team founder Bruce McLaren.“Looking at our new car, I feel incredibly excited — but also apprehensive,” said double world champion Fernando Alonso, who partners Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne in the lineup, in a statement.“I know just how important this car is to the team, and I just hope that it delivers in the way we all want it to.”McLaren, dominant in the late 1980s and early 1990s with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, have not won a race since 2012.Their last title was with Lewis Hamilton, who has won three world titles since at Mercedes, in 2008 and the past three years have seen them plunge down the pecking order to ninth of the 10 teams competing in 2017.The Honda engine’s lack of power and reliability led to McLaren announcing the split last September, a decision with some design implications.“Making the switch had a big impact on the installation of the engine,” said technical head Tim Goss.“The advantage of the Renault layout means that we can push the engine forwards, but then you have the compressor at the back of the engine, so you’ve got to get the outlet pipes forward without impacting the packaging.“We had to redesign the back of the chassis, the gearbox bell-housing area, the rear suspension, and the cooling layout. That was two weeks of intense effort to get right,” he added.McLaren face strong competition even in midfield while Mercedes have won the last four drivers’ and constructors’ championships, with Ferrari and Red Bull their closest competitors last year.“We are humble about the challenge ahead, but feel we’ve prepared well, have a solid package that we can build upon and exploit as the season progresses, and have two excellent drivers who will make the difference in races,” said racing director Eric Boullier.The car was due to make its track debut at a filming day in Spain on Friday before testing starts in Barcelona on Monday. The first race is in Australia on March 25
Chelsea forward Eden Hazard has the potential to become the world’s best player while still representing the Premier League club, manager Maurizio Sarri said on Friday.The in-form Hazard had suggested this month that he may need to join a Spanish club in order to win the Ballon d’Or, which is awarded every year to the world’s best player.The Belgium international, who has a contract with Chelsea until 2020, has also stated his desire to play for Spanish giants Real Madrid.“Eden is a fantastic player. It’ll be important for us if he will remain. He can win everything, also the Ballon d’Or, here without playing in Spain,” Sarri told a news conference before Saturday’s Premier League clash with Manchester United.“Chelsea will be able to win the Champions League, Belgium will be able to win the European Cup… I only saw him yesterday, but I want to tell him (that) very soon.”Chelsea have made a strong start to the campaign under new manager Sarri, winning six out of eight games and drawing the other two to sit second in the table behind leaders Manchester City on goal difference.They come up against former manager Jose Mourinho, who has endured a testing time with United this season having lost three times to lie in eighth spot.“We are talking about a coach who has won everything. He has won everywhere. So I think that I have to respect him. But I think you also all have to respect him,” Sarri added.United came from behind to seal a 3-2 win over Newcastle United with three late goals in their last match.“They are a very strong team. Maybe player-by-player, they are the best team in the Premier League. At the moment I think City is better like a team. But player-by-player, they are really very strong.”