Al Shaqab Racing continued its impressive series of wins in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe weekend, held under Qatari sponsorship represented by the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club (QREC).Following the two Group 1 PA titles landed by their runners at Saint Cloud on Friday, excellence continued with Nour Al Maury (Azadi x Nectarina Al Maury) carrying Al Shaqab Racing to a third victory in less than 24 hours when the Thomas Fourcy-trained filly took the Group 1 PA Qatar Arabian Trophy Des Juments with Olivier Peslier in the saddle at ParisLongchamp on Saturday. Khalifa bin Mohamed al-Attiyah QREC, Board Member, presented the trophies to the winners.QREC delegation was present on the race day at ParisLongchamp and led by Issa bin Mohamed al-Mohannadi, QREC Chairman, who crowned the winners of the Qatar Prix du Cadran (Group I) and the Qatar Prix de Royallieu (Group I).The delegation included QREC Board Member Khalifa bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, QREC Acting CEO Bader Mohamed al-Darwish, Racing Manager Abdulla Rashid al-Kubaisi – who crowned the winners of the Qatar Prix De La Place De La Concorde, Director of Support Services Department Ahmed Amanalla al-Sheebani – who crowned the winners of the Qatar Prix De La Place Des Vosges, Director of Public Relations and External Communications Dr Nasser Ahmed al-Hamar – who crowned the winners of the Gr 2 Qatar Prix Daniel Wildenstein and the winners of the Gr 2 Qatar Prix Dollar, Director of Marketing Salem Khejaim al-Adbi – who crowned the winners of the opening race, the Gr 2 Qatar Prix Chaudenay, Adviser to QREC Chairman Sami Jassim al-Boenain and Director of the QREC CEO Office Saoud Hamad al-Hababi.Saturday’s win at Qatar Arabian Trophy Des Juments, for 4YO fillies, was the Nour Al Maury’s fourth straight Group 1 PA victory. Trained by Thomas Fourcy, the Purebred Arabian filly was sent off the short-priced favourite. The four-year-old was an excellent winner on her three previous starts and showed huge ability when beating top class mare Lady Princess (General) earlier this year.With Olivier Peslier in the saddle, Nour Al Maury was prominent behind the leader of the 2,000m contest. Forced to switch wide at the beginning of the home straight after leader Casbar Meteora (Nieshan) got injured, Nour Al Maury was quickly able to get back on terms to win a shade cosily. Gorat Aeen (Azadi) ran a stormer in second in the colours of HE Sheikha Reem bint Mohamed bin Khalifa al-Thani for trainer F Rohaut and jockey Maxime Guyon. The second favourite, Ghadah (Azadi), who was another representative of Al Shaqab Racing took third for the winning trainer and jockey Faleh BughenaimBred by Mlle Renee-Laure Koch, Nour Al Maury is out of Nectarina Al Maury (Jalnar Al Khalidiah). Speaking after the race, the winning jockey Peslier said: “I had a good race but the two horses in front of me completely stopped. I didn’t feel comfortable but I took my time and I knew she was able accelerate again from this incident. I wish they went a stronger gallop as she would have benefited from it but she won and she is very talented”Meanwhile, French-trained three-year-old Double Major (Daiwa Major) who took the Group 2 Qatar Prix De Chaudenay. Sporting the silks of famous owner Wertheimer & Frere, Double Major was having his second start at group level. Having finished second on a few occasions, the Christophe Ferland trained - showed real consistency to score a first Group 2 success. Ridden by Maxime Guyon, Double Major tracked the early leader Kahraman (Shamalgan) throughout the 3,000m contest. Travelling well into the straight, Double Major pulled clear to win by three quarters of a length despite hanging to the far rail of the track. The held up Harbour Wind (Nathaniel) ran on well for second while Shembala (Cracksman) took third.The Group 1 Qatar Prix du Cadran went the way of the superb stayer Trueshan (Planteur) who ran out the wide margin winner of the €300,000 contest. After an impressive win in the 2021 edition, Trueshan enters in history as the first horse to land this race twice since Westerner in 2003 and 2004.Sporting the colours of Singula Partnership and trained by Alan King, Trueshan showed once more that he is one of the most talented long distance horses in the world with this impressive success in the 4,000m contest.A seven-year-old, Trueshan never looked in trouble when able to make all despite the drying ground. With loyal partner Hollie Doyle, the gelding extended his advantage in the straight and stormed clear to win by four lengths over Moon Wolf (Intello) in second, with Run For Oscar (Oscar) heading on for third.The Winner of the Group 3 Sky Bet Lester Piggott Stakes, the four-year-old Sea Silk Road (Sea The Stars) showed that she had more improvement to come when winning the Group 1 Qatar Prix de Royallieu. After a respectable third in the Gr 1 Qatar Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp, the Sunderland Holding Inc-owned filly was stepping up in trip and reversed the form with favourite Melo Melo (Gleneagles) to win the 2,800m Group 1 contest.Winner of the Group 3 Barriere Prix Quincey at Deauville last month, Poker Face (Fastnet Rock) continued his stellar season by winning the Group 2 Qatar Prix Daniel Wildenstein. Having won his last two starts, Poker Face is trained by Simon & Ed Crisford, and was ridden by the on-fire Maxime Guyon, who made a hat-trick on day one of Arc weekend.Pitched into Gr 2 company for the second time and relatively consistent, Poker Face took on ten rivals to land the 1,600m contest.Unbeaten since stepped up to 2,000m, Horizon Dore landed his second victory at Gr 2 level by winning the Qatar Peix Dollar. Trained by Patrice Cottier, the three-year-old came into the race off the back of four consecutive wins.The son of Dabirsim was warmly fancied by punters and despite carrying a 3lbs penalty, the Gousserie racing, Ecurie Du Sud Et Al-owned colt won in a smart style.Partnered by Mickael Barzalona, who was also on board in the Gr 2 Prix Eugene Adam, Horizon Dore was situated towards the rear of the peloton through the opening stages of the race which was taken along by the fast pace setting Jack Darcy (Gleneagles), who finished second.Angled out in the straight Horizon Dore never looked in danger and found more to get up in the final 100m. Erevann (Dubawi) took the third place.Bred by Miss C Becq, he is out of Sweet Alabama (Enrique) and a half brother to Gr 3 winner and Gr 1 Placed Cavale Doree (Sunday Break).
Manchester City’s perfect start to the Premier League season came undone in a shock 2-1 loss to Wolves, but Liverpool missed the chance to go top as they were reduced to nine men in a 2-1 defeat at Tottenham. Manchester United slumped to another damaging defeat as Crystal Palace won 1-0 at Old Trafford, while Arsenal moved to within one point of the top after cruising to a 4-0 win at Bournemouth.City had won the opening six games of their title defence as they aim to become the first side to ever claim four consecutive English top-flight titles.By contrast, Wolves had taken just four points from their first six games, but stunned the champions at Molineux. Ruben Dias’ own goal put the home side in front only for City to respond through Julian Alvarez’s free-kick.Wolves, though, were a constant threat on the counter-attack and got their reward when Hwang Hee-chan swept home at the second attempt 25 minutes from time. “We have to do more but even when we win we have to do more,” said City boss Pep Guardiola, who watched the game from the stands due to suspension. “When we win and lose we do it together. Today we were not at our best.”City’s defeat meant victory would have taken Liverpool top, but Jurgen Klopp’s men had a mountain to climb when Curtis Jones was shown a straight red card for going over the top of the ball and making contact with Yves Bissouma after just 26 minutes. Son Heung-min put Tottenham in front, but the 10 men hit back when Cody Gakpo levelled in first-half stoppage time. Liverpool were then reduced to nine men as Diogo Jota was shown two quickfire yellow cards.Yet the visitors held out until the 96th minute when Joel Matip turned Pedro Porro’s cross into his own net. The three points take Tottenham above Liverpool into second, one point behind City, as they remain unbeaten in the Premier League under Ange Postecoglou.United are now off to their worst ever Premier League start to pile more pressure on Erik ten Hag. Joachim Andersen’s stunning first-half volley separated the sides at Old Trafford. United had won a League Cup meeting between the sides 3-0 in midweek but with Palace restored to full strength, the Red Devils suffered from a familiar lack of cutting edge up front as they laboured to get back into the game.Arsenal moved up to third as Mikel Arteta’s men eased to victory at Bournemouth. Bukayo Saka had been an injury doubt, but was able to make his 87th consecutive Premier League appearance and headed into an empty net to open the scoring. Saka could have had more had he not then handed over penalty duties to Martin Odegaard and then Kai Havertz before Ben White rounded off the scoring in stoppage time.Ollie Watkins bagged a hat-trick as Aston Villa thrashed Brighton 6-1. Two goals from the England striker and a Pervis Estupinan own goal put Villa 3-0 up inside 26 minutes before Ansu Fati reduced the deficit with his first Brighton goal. But the day belonged to Watkins and he became the first Villa player in 47 years to score two hat-tricks in one season. Jacob Ramsey and Douglas Luiz piled on the pain for Brighton in the closing stages and did enough to edge Villa ahead of the Seagulls into fifth on goal difference.Luton secured their first ever Premier League win with a 2-1 victory at Everton. Tom Lockyer and Carlton Morris were on target for the Hatters, who climb out of the relegation zone.Sheffield United remain bottom after the Blades were beaten 2-0 at West Ham with Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio getting the goals for David Moyes’ men.ResultsAston Villa 6 (Watkins 14, 21, 65, Estupinan 26-og, Ramsey 85, Luiz 90+8) Brighton 1 (Fati 50); Bournemouth 0 Arsenal 4 (Saka 17, Odegaard 44-pen, Havertz 53-pen, White 90); Everton 1 (Calvert-Lewin 41) Luton 2 (Lockyer 24, Morris 31); Manchester United 0 Crystal Palace 1 (Andersen 25); Newcastle 2 (Almiron 14, Isak 76-pen) Burnley 0; West Ham 2 (Bowen 24, Soucek 37) Sheffield United 0; Wolves 2 (Dias 13-og, Hwang 66) Manchester City 1 (Alvarez 58); Tottenham 2 (Son 36, Matip 90+6-og) Liverpool 1 (Gakpo 45+4)Playing today (GMT): Nottingham Forest v Brentford (1300)Playing tomorrow: Fulham v Chelsea (1900)
The House of Sport Volunteers, a flagship global initiative that connects skilled volunteers with receiving organisations, such as events’ organisers, sport organisations, NGOs, foundations, and other strategic partners from sport and beyond, was officially launched on Friday, marking a significant milestone in promoting volunteering in sport.The launch took place through a virtual kick-off meeting, bringing together experts from a range of institutions, international organisations, NGOs, representatives from the world of sport, grassroots initiatives, and academia.This ground-breaking initiative provides a platform that aims to support sport volunteerism and the promotion of its educational and societal values across communities, by connecting and supporting volunteers in sporting events of any size and sport-based projects, providing a global database of Sport Volunteers’ profiles, volunteering opportunities, and a unique offer of training, educational programmes, certification of skills and competencies.Shaped across three years of research and testing implemented thanks to the support of the European Union, The House is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other United Nations frameworks like Unesco Fit for Life.The House is an open-ended and voluntary initiative; individuals and organisations can easily join The House and have access to opportunities through its dedicated digital platform www.houseofvolunteers.comSave the Dream CEO Massimiliano Montanari, said, “The House of Sport Volunteers represents a full recognition of the importance of volunteering as an essential element of sport, at all levels, and as a tool to empower youth, promote their mobility and future employability. We feel proud of being one of the pioneers of this “LinkedIn” for sport volunteerism and for the benefits it will create to its users, particularly the organisations who will benefit from the support of our volunteers and the volunteers themselves.”Currently, the open-ended group of the members of the House comprises Save the Dream, International Olympic Truce Centre, European Multiclub Sport Association, CIFAL MÁLAGA, Sportanddev, FARE Network, Sport at the Service of Humanity, European Observatoire of Sport and Employment, Italian National Olympic Committee, International School Sport Federation, European School Sport Federation, World Boxing Council, World Ethnosport Confederation, Fundação do Desporto, Olympiacos F.C., HAŠK Mladost F.C., Dragones de Lavapies F.C., Portuguese Swimming Federation, Foundation for Sport, Development and Peace, Sport4Impact, Sport and Citizenship, You Energy Volley, Centro Sportivo Italiano, Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation, European Football for Development Network, Qatar Youth, Power La Fondazione Sportcity, garagErasmus Foundation, and Somali Women Foundation.Among the members are also the Integrated Community Development Initiative, Odyssey Sports Volunteering Association, Goleadoras, Generation Amazing Foundation, International Peace Group, Katowice Internationals Foundation, European Platform for Sport Innovation, FanniRaghmanAnni, Agenţia Metropolitană Brașov, Local Youth Corner Cameroon, Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado, Youth for Peace and Development Uganda, and Youthorama.The House also brought together a number of academic institutions including the University of the District of Columbia, the Georgetown University in Qatar, Universidad Pablo de Olavide de Sevilla, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, the University of Coimbra, University of Leeds, Universidad Andrés Bello, George Washington University, Canterbury Christ Church University,and Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas.
World number three Daniil Medvedev progressed to the quarter-finals of the China Open with a hard-fought win over Australia’s Alex de Minaur in Beijing on Saturday.The Russian navigated an awkward first set before triumphing 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 and will face Ugo Humbert of France in the next round.Medvedev led 5-2 in the first set but errors crept in and he needed a tie-break to see off a stirring comeback from the 12th-ranked de Minaur.wHe found his range in the second set, securing an early break before taking his second match point with a fierce volley. Medvedev told AFP that issues with the match balls contributed to his up-and-down performance. “As soon as you play some shots with them, they go very big, much (fluffier)... it becomes like a grapefruit,” the 27-year-old said. “We’re basically playing 30-shot rallies because it’s almost impossible to hit a winner,” he said, adding that the problem made injuries more likely.“With these balls, you have to be 100 percent on every point, until the last point of the match. I managed to do it well so this, I’m happy about.”Humbert scored a surprise 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) victory over Medvedev’s compatriot and world number six Andrey Rublev. Earlier, Nicolas Jarry battled to a marathon victory to set up a potential quarter-final with Alexander Zverev, who plays later on Saturday.The unseeded Chilean triumphed 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 over Italy’s Matteo Arnaldi in a three-hour match.Tournament favourite and world number two Carlos Alcaraz will play Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti in round two after dispatching qualifier Yannick Hanfmann on Friday.
Jorge Martin cut the gap with championship leader Francesco Bagnaia to just eight points at the Japan MotoGP on Saturday with his third straight sprint victory.After cutting the gap to 13 points last weekend in India, the Spaniard from Ducati satellite team Pramac also secured pole position for today with a record lap at Motegi. “I felt super strong for today’s race,” the smiling 25-year-old, nicknamed “Martinator”, said after the sprint victory ahead of Brad Binder (KTM) in second and Bagnaia (Ducati) in third.“I think we found a great base... Tomorrow I can be having more calm. With more laps, we need to manage the tyres. I feel really happy overall and yeah, let’s go for another victory tomorrow,” Martin said. Defending world champion Bagnaia, 26, will be second on the grid today, when he could in theory be replaced at the top of the standings with just six more races to go after Japan.“We have to be happy with what we had, so the position is ok. Jorge is in his best moment,” said the Italian, now on 299 points compared with Martin’s 291.“But we have to remain calm and work for tomorrow. That will be another story,” Bagnaia said.South Africa’s Binder is fourth in the overall table on 201 points behind Marco Bezzecchi on 252 and will be fourth when the riders line up on the grid today.“My plan was to try get to the front straightaway, but Jorge had incredible pace. I couldn’t believe the lap times we were doing,” Binder said after the sprint.“I am happy to be back on the podium. My boys did an amazing job. The bike worked better than it has worked all year. So let’s try again tomorrow,” he said.In qualifying, Martin set a new lap record at a dry Motegi of one minute, 43.198 seconds, followed 0.171 seconds later by Bagnaia, and 0.353 seconds by 2022 Japanese GP winner Jack Miller on KTM. “I feel strong. Making the lap record here in Motegi is always special. I really enjoy this track,” said Martin.His time surpassed a record set only on Friday by Binder, who came back in one minute, 43.489 seconds in practice, breaking the Motegi record set eight years ago by legend Jorge Lorenzo.Bagnaia started third on the grid last week in India but the defending champion lost control of his Ducati just over halfway into the race and went for a somersault.Martin won the sprint race in India and finished second behind Italy’s Bezzecchi, who will start from the second row in Motegi, joined by Binder and Fabio Di Giannantonio. The third row will feature Honda’s Marc Marquez, making him the only rider on a Japanese machine in the front four rows.Result1. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac) 21min 00.734sec, 2. Brad Binder (RSA/KTM) 1.390sec, 3. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 5.279, 4. Jack Miller (AUS/KTM) 6.194, 5. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac) 6.315, 6. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA/Ducati-VR46) 8.919, 7. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 9.298, 8. Fabio de Giannantonio (ITA/Ducati) 10.189, 9. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Aprilia) 12.404, 10. Raul Fernandez (ESP/Aprilia-RNF) 15.366World championship standings1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 299 pts, 2. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac) 291, 3. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA/Ducati-VR46) 252, 4. Brad Binder (RSA/KTM) 201, 5. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac) 162, 6. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 160, 7. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Aprilia) 139, 8. Luca Marini (ITA/Ducati-VR46) 135, 9. Jack Miller (AUS/KTM) 115, 10. Alex Marquez (ESP/Ducati-Gresini) 108.
Bayern Munich came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at RB Leipzig on Saturday, Harry Kane kick-starting a second-half revival to prevent a first league loss of the season.Leipzig were 2-0 up and cruising at half-time thanks to goals from Lois Openda and Castello Lukeba, but Kane converted a penalty early in the second half to give his side hope. The goal, Kane’s eighth in six league appearances since moving from Tottenham, had the desired effect, spurring Bayern on. The visitors’ Leroy Sane scored shortly after.Just a day before the match, Leipzig fired sporting director Max Eberl, who had been heavily linked to a move to Munich, saying the former Bayern defender had shown a “lack of commitment” to the Saxony club.Bayern invited the hosts into the game early, goalkeeper Sven Ulreich roaming well out of his box and scuffing a pass to Emil Forsberg, but the Sweden international’s long-range shot drifted just wide.The home side did not have to wait long however, Openda latching onto a superb long pass from Xaver Schlager to score his fourth league goal of the season.Leipzig extended their lead shortly after through Lukeba, who slammed in a rebound from a corner, his first goal since moving from Ligue 1 in the summer.Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel made two changes at half-time to ignite his lethargic squad, who pulled one back from the penalty spot through Kane after VAR detected a Leipzig handball.Bayern drew level shortly after, Musiala carrying the ball up the middle of the park and laying off to Sane, who stroked the ball into the bottom corner.Bayern’s Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had a chance deep into injury time but headed directly at the goalkeeper, meaning the sides split the points for the second time in a row in Leipzig. Earlier, unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen continued their blistering start to the season, winning 3-0 at struggling Mainz to go top of the table.Leverkusen, who dropped their only points in the league this season in a 2-2 draw at Bayern, took the lead after 18 minutes as wing-back Jeremie Frimpong forced Mainz defender Sepp van den Berg into an own goal.Dead-ball specialist Alejandro Grimaldo doubled Leverkusen’s lead with a pinpoint free-kick before Germany winger Jonas Hofmann scored a third to round out another win.“It’s a lot of fun. Everyone pats you on the shoulder and tells you how nice the football looks,” said Hofmann. Hofmann toasted his team’s “extreme potential” after Leverkusen’s best start to a league season in their history, but said “it’s important to stay humble.”Union Berlin’s poor start to the season continued, losing 1-0 away at promoted Heidenheim after a second-half goal from Jan-Niklas Beste. Beste’s free-kick deflected into the net midway through the second half, consigning Champions League participants Union to their fifth consecutive defeat in all competitions for the first time since 2004.“There are going to be phases like this. It’s up to us to get out of it,” said Union captain Christopher Trimmel, who has been with the side for a decade, well before their promotion to the first division in 2019.Surprise package Stuttgart continued their remarkable rise this season, winning 2-0 at Cologne thanks to a brace from Deniz Undav. Stuttgart, who needed to win a relegation playoff against Hamburg last season to stay in the top division, sit second having won five of six matches.Wolfsburg striker Jonas Wind carried on his strong form in front of goal, scoring both goals to help his team to a 2-0 home win over Eintracht Frankfurt.Wind now has seven of his team’s nine goals in the Bundesliga this season.
Paris Saint-Germain warmed up for a trip to England to face Newcastle United in the Champions League by drawing 0-0 away to Ligue 1 strugglers Clermonton Saturday.PSG coach Luis Enrique selected Kylian Mbappe in his starting line-up despite the France superstar having been an injury doubt during the week, but he endured a frustrating afternoon against in-form Clermont goalkeeper Mory Diaw and was booked for diving late on. The reigning French champions had been hoping to build on impressive wins against Borussia Dortmund and Marseille in their last two outings, but this result confirms they are far from the finished article under their new manager.“We tried to create and to win the match but it was almost impossible to kick the ball in the right way because it was always bouncing, especially for the strikers when they tried to score,” Luis Enrique told broadcaster Amazon Prime, with reference to a newly-laid pitch at Clermont’s Stade Gabriel-Montpied. “I knew the pitch was new, they changed it three days ago, but we were unlucky to have to play on it in these conditions.”PSG have won just three of their first seven league games and sit provisionally second in the table, a point behind surprise leaders Brest. Clermont had beaten the Parisians away in their final game of last season but came into this match bottom and with just one point so far in this campaign.They are still winless, but the unexpected point lifts them off the foot of the table on goal difference from Lyon, who play on Sunday.Mbappe shakes off injuryMbappe had been a doubt in the build-up to the game after coming off with an ankle injury against Marseille last weekend, but Luis Enrique resisted any temptation to rest his star player with Wednesday’s game at Newcastle in mind.PSG’s top scorer was heavily involved, setting off on a lightning break down the left early on and providing a low pass for Ousmane Dembele, whose first-time shot was well saved by Diaw.The Clermont goalkeeper, who was on the books at PSG as a youngster but never played a top-team game, then denied Mbappe, Randal Kolo Muani and Dembele again before the interval.Visiting goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was called into action a minute after the interval, producing a brilliant save on his line to deny Jamaican striker Shamar Nicholson and then seeing Yohann Magnin hit the post from the follow-up.Most of the action was at the other end, however, with Mbappe hitting the outside of a post from a Dembele assist before being cautioned 10 minutes from time for throwing himself to the ground in the area.Diaw saved his best for just after that incident as he managed to claw away a Goncalo Ramos effort despite going to ground early, and he rounded off his afternoon’s work with another crucial stop from a Danilo Pereira header.New coach Gennaro Gattuso will take charge of Marseille for the first time later on Saturday when they travel to Monaco.On Friday, Lens won 1-0 away at Strasbourg thanks to an Elye Wahi goal as they warmed up for Tuesday’s home Champions League meeting with Arsenal.Brest are away to third-placed Nice today.
Inspired by Jude Bellingham, Real Madrid showed both steel and class to beat high-flying Girona 3-0 on Saturday and move back top of La Liga.Girona headed into the weekend as unlikely leaders but champions Barcelona usurped them by beating Sevilla on Friday, with Real then deposing their rivals at the league’s summit with a solid triumph on Catalan soil.Joselu and Aurelien Tchouameni’s first-half goals were enough to burst Girona’s bubble and after that the record 35-time La Liga winners kept the plucky upstarts at arm’s length.The stylish Bellingham netted with 20 minutes remaining to seal Madrid’s victory and continue his own sparkling run of goalscoring form.Madrid defender Nacho was sent off late in the match for an ugly high tackle on Portu, who went off injured.Michel’s side beat Real Madrid 4-2 at home last seasonand their fans believed they could repeat the trick, but they found a determined side in their path.In only their fourth season in the Spanish top flight and unbeaten in their first seven games, the City Football Group owned side are flourishing, but their illustrious visitors arrived with a point to prove about the natural order of things, and snapped that run.Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti brought in Eduardo Camavinga at left-back to bolster the defence after Atletico Madrid found too much joy down the flanks in Los Blancos’ derby defeat last weekend.The coach also handed Vinicius Junior his first start after injury, following his cameo in the win over Las Palmas on Wednesday.Girona came out with their tails up, looking to capitalise on the boisterous home atmosphere at their small but fired-up Montilivi stadium.They almost did, with Yangel Herrera heading narrowly over and Viktor Tsygankov hitting the post in an early onslaught inside the opening five minutes.However Madrid took the lead against the run of play to stop the hosts in their tracks.Joselu converted from close range after Bellingham found the Spain striker with a sublime outside-of-the-boot cross.The on-loan forward’s effort was straight at goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, but he did not have the reflexes to keep it out.Four minutes later the visitors netted their second, with Aurelien Tchouameni given a free header from Toni Kroos’ corner, gratefully accepting his first goal for Madrid since joining in 2022.Bellingham was not so clinical when played in on goal, with Gazzaniga denying him well and then tipping over a Kroos volley.Girona started the second half strongly and Kepa Arrizabalaga was called into action to repel David Lopez’s header.Tchouameni survived a penalty appeal after tangling with Herrera inside his area as Madrid rode the pressure, with Gazzaniga again denying Bellingham at the other end.However few teams have been able to keep the England international at bay this season and Girona eventually bowed.Bellingham, the division’s top scorer with six goals, turned home the rebound after Gazzaniga parried a Joselu effort to kill any hope of a comeback.The midfielder celebrated in his now-traditional fashion, with arms held wide, drawing half-hearted ire from Girona fans. Nacho was dismissed in the final stages for his vicious foul on winger Portu, which sparked a brief brawl between the players.Madrid lead with 21 points from eight games, a point ahead of Barcelona, who are in turn a point ahead of Girona.
Chinese swimmer Zhang Yufei won the 50m butterfly on Friday to claim her sixth gold medal of the Hangzhou Asian Games, the most by a female athlete at a single edition of the continent’s sporting extravaganza. Zhang, 25, won the butterfly in a Games record time of 25.10 seconds on the final day’s swimming action in Hangzhou, ensuring that each of her six golds included a Games record.“I am quite happy about the results,” said Zhang. “From the National Games to the Asian Games, even my coach said he has never seen me this disciplined before.”But Zhang missed out on a seventh gold in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay after her team mates were disqualified in the morning’s heat after a false start.Had she also won that she would have equalled the men’s record of seven golds from a single edition of the Games held by North Korean shooter So Gil-san from the Games in New Delhi in 1982. Zhang’s teammate Qin Haiyang, 24, who won the men’s 50m breaststroke, finished his Games with an impressive five golds, five Games records and two Asian records. Both are likely to shine at next year’s Paris Olympics.Earlier on day six India’s shooters enjoyed another strong day with their men’s 50m rifle team breaking the world record as they won gold. Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Swapnil Suresh Kusale and Akhil Sheoran secured gold with a total of 1,769 points, six points more than China and eight more than the previous record set by the United States last November.India had a sensational one-two finish in the women’s 10m air pistol final as 17-year-old Palak Gulia and 18-year-old Esha Singh won gold and silver, respectively.Pakistan’s Kishmala Talat picked up bronze for her country’s first medal of the Hangzhou Games.On the first day of athletics, Tokyo Olympic champion shot putter Gong Lijiao delighted home fans with her third straight Games title thanks to a throw of 19.58m, with her teammate Song Jiayuan collecting silver. The hosts won golds across the board again on Friday including in track cycling, artistic gymnastics and tennis where 2023 US Open quarter-finalist Zheng Qinwen, beat her compatriot Zhu Lin 6-2, 6-4 to win the women’s singles title.At the eSports venue superstar gamer ‘Faker’ and his Korean teammates celebrated after overcoming Taiwan 2-0 in front of an excited crowd to take gold in the multiplayer battle game “League of Legends” category. As was the case in the semi-final, ‘Faker’ whose real name is Lee Sang-hyeok, was only a reserve for the final due to illness, according to Games organisers, and did not come on. But since he played in a previous round he still joined his teammates on the podium. As Asian champions they will all also now officially qualify for exemption from Korea’s military service for young men.Meanwhile, Afghan boxer Mohamed Khaibar Nooristani has been provisionally suspended at the Asian Games after failing an anti-doping test, the International Testing Agency (ITA) said. He is the first athlete at the Games to be announced as having failed a drugs test.The 37-year-old, who had been set to compete in the men’s 63.5-71kg category, has been informed of the case. He can request the analysis of the B-sample.
Qatar’s handball and 3x3 basketball teams continued their winning spree at the Hangzhou Asian Games on Friday, while Ismail Abakar qualified for the men’s 400 metres final.The handball stars look in good form to defend their gold medal from 2018 Jakarta Asiad as they thrashed Kazakhstan 46-13 at the Zhejiang Gongshang University Sports Centre. It was Al Annabi’s third straight win after their victories over Hong Kong and South Korea. Qatar will take on China today before their third and final main round match against Japan tomorrow as they seek a place in the semi-finals.The 3x3 basketball team cruised into the quarter-finals after a 21-5 rout of Cambodia in the Round Robin Pool D match. It was the hooper’s fourth straight win as they had earlier beaten Kazakhstan 19-11, Thailand 16-12 and Kyrgyzstan 21-5. In the quarter-finals today, Qatar will meet the winner of the tie between Japan and Macau.Meanwhile, the athletics action kicked off on Friday as Ismail Abakar sealed his place in the final of the 400 metres final after clocking a personal best time of 46.03 secs in the first heat on Friday. While Abakar missed out on automatic qualification as he finished third in his heat, he made it to today’s eight-man final as one of the two fastest qualifiers outside the heats. However, there was no such luck for Ashraf Osman after he finished fourth in his heat with a time of 46.82.Also on Friday, former Asian champion Femi Ogunode booked his place in the semi-finals of the men’s 100 meters after clocking 10.24 secs to finish second in his heat. Ogunode’s time was fifth fastest among 42 sprinters who took part in yesterday.The shooting contingent, which has given Qatar three of its four medals so far, drew blank on Friday. In the men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions, Ali Al-Muhannadi failed to advance into the final after finishing 29th in the qualifications with a total score of 574, while Nasra Mohamud was 51st in the 10m air pistol women’s after a score of 549.The swimming event of the Hangzhou Games concluded on Friday with none of the Qatari swimmers – Abdalla al-Khaldi (men’s 50m breastroke and 400m freestyle), Abdalla El Ghamry (men’s 200m backstroke), Diab Ahmed (men’s 400m freestyle), Ismail Mohamed and Tameem ElHamayda (men’s 200m butterfly) advancing into the finals. In the men’s triathlon, Qatar’s Salman al-Farsi and Tamim al-Kuwari failed to finish the race.Today, apart from Abakar, three other Qatari athletes are in action in the finals at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium. In the men’s hammer throw, Ashraf Elseify and Ahmed Elsify are in contention for medals, while Seifeldin Abdelsalam will take part in the men’s pole vault final.Abdirahman Hassan and Mohamed Algarni will also be in action in the men’s 1500m heat today.
Al Shaqab Racing’s horses made an impressive start for the racing action associated with the 2023 renewal of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, as they topped the two Arabian races for fillies and colts at Saint-Cloud in Paris on Friday.In the colours of Al Shaqab Racing, Ajfan took the Group 1 Qatar Arabian Trophy Des Poulains (colts) and Norma Al Maury dominated the Group 1 Qatar Arabian Trophy Des Pouliches (fillies). In doing so, the two three-year-olds have declared themselves the leaders of their generation, re-confirming Qatar’s leadership in Arabian racing worldwide. Following the two races, Issa bin Mohamed al-Mohannadi, QREC Chairman, presented the trophies to the winners.Present on the race day at Saint-Cloud as well were QREC Board Member Khalifa bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, QREC Acting CEO Bader Mohamed al-Darwish, Racing Manager Abdulla Rashid al-Kubaisi, Director of Support Services Department Ahmed Amanalla al-Sheebani, Director of Public Relations and External Communications Dr Nasser Ahmed al-Hamar, Director of Marketing Salem Khejaim al-Adbi, Adviser to QREC Chairman Sami Jassim al-Boenain and Director of the QREC CEO Office Saoud Hamad al-Hababi.Showstopper Afjan Winner of the Group 3 (PA) Prix Tidjani - the Al Shaqab-owned homebred Afjan (Tm Fred Texas) produced a show stopping performance to win the Group 1 (PA) Qatar Arabian Trophy Des Poulains, which followed on from his excellent third place in the Group 2 (PA) French Arabian Breeders’ Challenge - Poulains at La Teste earlier this month.Trained by Francois Rohaut, the Purebred Arabian colt was one the fancied contenders for the 2,000m contest at Saint-Cloud. Still lightly raced, the three-year-old was having his only fourth start and is now a Group 1 (PA) winner. With Christophe Soumillon in the saddle, Afjan was held up second last of the twelve runners through the early stages of the contest. Still a lot to find on the leader on the turn for home, Afjan gradually improved his position showing a plenty of determination to beat and reverse the form with Extra Time (Valiant Boy) in second. Kanti De Bozouls (No Risk Al Maury) took third.Speaking after the race, the winning trainer said: “We made a mistake last time out at La Teste when he made the running, he’s a horse that we need to ride cold at the back of field as he can be a bit nervous. We know he has a good turn of foot and that our main dangers today were the ones that finished ahead of us last time out at La Teste. I was worried about the David Morrison-trained Extra Time who ran a remarkable race once again”Norma Al Maury too goodRecently purchased by owner Al Shaqab Racing, the three-year-old Purebred Arabian, Norma Al Maury (Azadi) improved quickly to land the Group 1 (PA) Qatar Arabian Des Pouliches at Saint-Cloud only 30 minutes after Ajfan secured the colts’ trophy for the same owner.Trained by Xavier Thomas-Demeaulte and patiently ridden by Olivier Peslier, the filly was having her second start and despite having shown greenness when the pace lifted, Norma Al Maury delivered with tenacity. Kept towards the outside of the pack, Norma Al Maury stayed on strongly to win by one and a quarter lengths in front of Divana Chica (Majd Al Arab). Alrasha (Mahabb) took third.Norma Al Maury is now a Group (PA) winner and remains unbeaten from two lifetime starts. The winning trainer said after the race. “I was a bit worried about the wide draw but the magic hands of Olivier Peslier and the talent of the filly made the difference. I didn’t want to run between her first start and today as she needed to come into this race fresh. She’s well bred and I never had any doubt about her ability.” Bred by Mlle Renee-Laure Koch, she is by Azadi and out of Nemosie Al Maury, sister to Group 1 PA winner and sire No Risk Al Maury.
Sprinter Kimia Yousofi said she was “here to represent Afghan girls” as she competed at the Asian Games on Friday in defiance of the Taliban. Yousofi, who resettled in Australia last year after fleeing persecution in her homeland, is one of 14 women athletes listed in Afghanistan’s team in Hangzhou.“The most important thing for me is to represent our girls in Afghanistan,” she said. The other Afghan women are competing in volleyball and cycling, and like Yousofi have built new lives for themselves around the world.Women’s sport in Afghanistan was effectively banned by the Taliban when they returned to power in 2021. That meant no women travelling from Afghanistan in the delegation of more than 120 competitors, coaches and supervisors. But with the help of overseas sports bodies, foreign-based Afghan women are taking part.The 27-year-old Yousofi, who carried Afghanistan’s flag at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago, competed in the first round of the women’s 100m in Hangzhou. And although she finished last in her heat, she said there was a bigger meaning at play – “here to represent Afghan girls who don’t have permission for education and sports”.When asked to send them a message, she replied: “Work on themselves. That means read books, everything they need for themselves personally.”Wearing a black headscarf and pink running shirt, Yousofi ran a time of 13.32sec. That was almost two seconds behind heat winner Hajar Alkhaldi of Bahrain, but just 0.03sec short of her personal best. Yousofi said the atmosphere in the stadium was “amazing”. “The people are amazing and they give us very high energy,” said Yousofi, who will also compete in the 200m heats tomorrow.Yousofi was resettled in Australia in August last year, the culmination of a year’s work by foreign sports officials trying to help Afghans with ties to the Olympic movement. Olympic officials said they would have faced significant risks had they remained in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s women’s volleyball team begin their Asian Games campaign against Kazakhstan today.In women’s shot put, China’s Gong Lijiao took gold with a best throw of 19.58m – the 34-year-old’s third Asiad gold in a row. “I am very happy about it. I feel like the competition is getting tougher and I am now more than 30 years old, but I was still able to win the gold medal again,” said the Olympic champion. Teammate Song Jiayuan was second and India’s Kiran Baliyan third.The host nation claimed more gold when Wang Zheng won the women’s hammer throw. The Olympic silver medallist had a best throw of 71.53m to finish ahead of compatriot Zhao Jie and South Korea’s Kim Tae-hui.Bahrain’s Violah Motosio won the women’s 10,000m in a time of 31min 43.73sec. Japan’s Ririka Hironaka was second ahead of Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui of Kazakhstan.Earlier in the day, China’s Zhang Jun became the first athletics gold medallist of the Hangzhou Games when he won the men’s 20km race walk ahead of compatriot Wang Zhaozhao and Japan’s Yutaro Murayama. China’s Yang Jiayu came out on top in the women’s event, beating countrywoman Ma Zhenxia and Japan’s Nanako Fujii.
Al Wakrah scored a crucial 3-2 win over Al Rayyan in Week 5 of the 2023-2024 season Expo Stars League at the Al Janoub Stadium on Friday.Al Wakrah’s Mohamed Benyettou hit a brace (45+4 minute) and (52nd minute) after Ayoub Assal’s 16th-minute goal, while Achraf Bencharki (seventh minute) and Rodrigo Tabata (55th minute) scored for Al Rayyan.Ahead of the match, Al Rayyan were leading the table with 12 points, having won all their four matches. Now, Al Wakrah have 11 points.Bencharki gave Al Rayyan an early lead with a well-taken right-footed shot from outside the box, following a precise pass from Gabriel Pereira that goalkeeper Saoud al-Khater could not provide an answer to as the ball rolled into the bottom left corner.The lead only lasted eight minutes as Al Wakrah got their equaliser after captain Benyettou’s centre line pass located Jacinto Dala, who waltzed his way past the Al Rayyan defence before unleashing a ferocious shot that was parried by goalkeeper Fahad Younes into the path of Assal, who made a simple tap in to restore parity.Four minutes into the added time of first half, Benyettou registered his name on the scorers sheet to give Al Wakrah, who had been in superb form throughout the match, the lead. The Algerian’s knock-down header from the centre of the box following Trent Sainsbury’s pass was simply too much for goalkeeper Fahad Younes to handle as he pushed the ball into the net to give The Blue Wave a 2-1 lead going into the dugout.In search of a desperately needed equaliser, Tabata was brought in for Al Rayyan on the resumption of second half in place of Ibrahim Ali.Benyettou got his brace of the night and the third for Al Wakrah in the 53rd minute through a header from the left side of the six-yard box to the bottom left corner following a Lucas Mendes corner.The celebrations of the goal had hardly died down before Tabata got Al Rayyan back in the game with a well-taken goal from a left-footed shot from the right side of the six-yard box to the bottom right corner. The assist was from Bassam al-Rawi.Ahmed Fadel got very close to securing the fourth goal for Al Wakrah in the 65th minute, but his left-footed shot from outside the box narrowly missed the top right corner of the goal.Umm Salal post 3-1 winIn another match, Umm Salal continued their winning run by beating Al Shamal 3-1 at Al Bayt Stadium on Friday.Nasser Ibrahim (27th minute), Kenji Gorre (52nd minute) and Andy Delort (90+3 minute penalty) were on target for Umm Salal, who recorded their second successive win of the season.Ali Olwan (45+1 minute) scored the only goal for Al Shamal.In the day’s last match on Friday, Al Ahli regrouped in fine style as they beat Muaither 4-1 at Al Thumama Stadium. In the previous round, Umm Salal beat Al Ahli 3-1.
Freed from her “twisties”, gymnastics superstar Simone Biles returns to the global stage at the world championships which start in Antwerp today, with the 2024 Paris Olympics in her sights after a two-year break to treat her mental health.Getting back to business at the beginning of August, American Biles demonstrated that she had lost none of her incredible level.She made a triumphant return by winning the US Classic, where she obtained the best scores on vault, floor and beam, followed by a record eighth US all-around title at the national championships.At 26, she is preparing to break another record in Antwerp by becoming the first American to participate in six world championships, a sign of her extraordinary longevity.Among the greatest gymnasts of all time, she returns to the Flemish city where she opened her world tally 10 years ago, winning four medals, including two gold.“It feels surreal, it’s like full circle because obviously the world championships was here 10 years ago which was my very first one,” Biles said in an interview with the international gymnastics federation FIG.“So now it’s just really exciting because I get to see some people who were here in 2013 which is absolutely crazy and insane. But to be back in the same arena, in the same atmosphere, I think it will be really fun and wild.”These worlds come a little more than nine months before the Paris Games, where the four-time Olympic champion said recently she would “love” to win more titles.“That’s the path that I would love to go,” she told NBC television in early September, confirming for the first time since her return her goal of participating in the next Olympic Games.The American has so far made an impressive comeback, two years after the gruelling Tokyo Olympics.Arriving in Japan as the big favourite thanks to her four titles won five years earlier in Rio, Biles broke down in full view of a global audience, withdrawing from most of the events.She then explained that she was fighting against “twisties”, a temporary mental block whereby gymnasts lose their sense of where they are in the air, with the risk of injury when they land.If she left Japan with a silver in the team event and a bronze on the beam, her setbacks contributed to highlighting the long taboo subject of athletes’ mental health.“I think I have to take care of myself a little bit more and listen to my body,” she said of how she has changed as a gymnast.“Making sure that I’m making time for the important things in my life rather than before it was just like go, go, go and then making time after.“This time around it’s being intentional, going to therapy, making sure everything is aligned so that I can do the best in the gym and be a good wife, good daughter, good friend, all the good things.”Her training partner in Houston, French gymnast Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos, sums up Biles’ two-year break: “She’s had her own little life!”“To see her at such a level, it’s quite impressive,” Dos Santos told AFP.“But seeing as I’m training with her now, I think it’s less impressive than other people. Because I see how it goes in training, I see when she succeeds, I see when she fails, I see when it’s hard. So for me she’s just a gymnast who works hard to achieve her goals.”In Belgium, Biles could expand her monumental collection of 19 world titles.To further perpetuate her legacy in gymnastics, she will also try to include a fifth element in her name in the FIG code, which regulates the scoring of events.The US women are favourites for a seventh consecutive world team title, in the absence of Russia, the last team to defeat them in a major competition.In the men’s competition, world and Olympic all-around champion Hashimoto Daiki is favourite to defend his title and help Japan dethrone China, who have won 12 of the last 15 world team titles.Britain’s Max Whitlock also returns after an extended break with mental health struggles as the two-time Olympic pommel horse champion builds towards his bid to become the first gymnast to win four Olympic medals on the same apparatus next year - he won pommel bronze in 2012.The world championships also double up as an opportunity for gymnasts to obtain quota berths for their nation for the Olympics.
Rachin Ravindra and returning Kane Williamson played key knocks as New Zealand chased down 345 to thrash Pakistan by five wickets in a World Cup warm-up match on Friday.Chasing 346 for victory, New Zealand lost an early wicket before Ravindra (97) and Williamson (54) put on 137 to put their team on course and they achieved the target with 6.2 overs to spare in Hyderabad.Mohamed Rizwan hit 103 and Babar Azam made 80 in Pakistan’s 345-5 after electing to bat first but the Kiwi batsmen made the total look easy against an attack missing pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi.Williamson, who returned from a six-month lay-off due to his knee injury and played the match only as a batsman, looked impressive in his 50-ball stay before he retired out.“It held up pretty good,” Williamson, who will miss the tournament opener against England on October 5, said about his knee after the win.“Little bit of icing after that (knock). But that’s part of the process. Fortunate with that recovery and being named in the squad was exciting to me.”Ravindra smashed the opposition bowlers to all parts of the ground as he hit 16 fours and one six but was denied a century by Agha Salman.Pakistan spinner Usama Mir struck twice in the space of his two overs but Daryl Mitchell made 59 to keep the chase on track.Left-hand batsmen Mark Chapman, who hit the winning six in his unbeaten 65, and James Neesham, who made 33, put on a partnership of 68 as New Zealand reached the target in 43.4 overs.Earlier Azam hit eight fours and two sixes before he fell to Mitchell Santner but Rizwan stayed on to complete his century in another key stand with Saud Shakeel, who made 75.Rizwan struck nine fours and two sixes in his 94-ball innings and said: A “hundred is hundred in any conditions. I feel proud and satisfied.”The match, which along with other warm-ups was not an official one-day match, was played in an empty stadium due to a Hindu festival and security issues in the southern Indian city.BRIEF SCORESPakistan 345-5 in 50 overs (M. Rizwan 103 retired out, B. Azam 80 S. Shakeel 75) v New Zealand 346-5 in 43.4overs (R. Ravindra 97, M. Chapman 65 not out, M. Santner 59 retired out, K. Williamson 54 retired out)Result: New Zealand won by five wicketsLiton, Tanzid and Mehidy star as Bangladesh down Sri LankaLiton Das, Tanzid Hasan and Mehidy Hasan Miraz struck half-centuries to guide Bangladesh to a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their World Cup warmup match in Guwahati on Friday.Chasing Sri Lanka’s 263, Bangladesh knocked off the runs with eight overs to spare to give themselves a timely booster before the tournament which gets underway next week. After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, Sri Lanka got off to a fine start with the openers adding 64 before Kusal Perera retired hurt on 34, suffering a shoulder injury.His partner Pathum Nissanka pushed on to make 68 from 64 balls, including eight fours and six, before becoming the first of three victims for off-spinner Mahedi Hasan.Mahedi went on to remove Sadeera Samarawickrama (2) and Charith Asalanka (18) to finish with 3-36 as the Sri Lankans began to lose momentum, slipping to 177 for five. All-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva dug in for a gritty 55 from 79 balls but the Lankans were bowled out for 263 with five balls remaining. Liton and Tanzid got Bangladesh motoring from the off as they put on 131 for the first wicket in 20 overs.Liton cracked 10 boundaries in his 56-ball 61 before being caught by Matheesha Pathirana off Dushan HemanthaTanzid, 22, has only played five ODIs but looked at home as he stroked two sixes and 10 fours on his way to 84 from 88 balls.Any concern for the Lankans over the state of their senior wicketkeeper were eased as Perera took the gloves, catching Towhid Hridoy, the new star on the Bangladesh block, for a golden duck.Mehidy Hasan Miraz, skipper for the day, led Bangladesh home with an undefeated 67 off 64 balls with five boundaries and two sixes.He and Mushfiqur Rahim (35) put on an undefeated 76 for the fourth wicket as Bangladesh cruised home.Both sides have one further warmup match before their opening World Cup games on October 7.Sri Lanka face Afghanistan in Guwahati on Tuesday before teeing off their tournament against South Africa in Delhi.Bangladesh meet England in a warmup in Guwahati on Monday and start their World Cup proper against the Afghans in Dharamsala.BRIEF SCORESSri Lanka 263 all out in 49.1 overs (Pathum Nissanka 68, Dhananjaya de Silva 55; Mahedi Hasan 3-36) v Bangladesh 264-3 in 42 overs (Tanzid Hasan 84, Mehidy Hasan Miraz 67 not out, Liton Das 61)Result: Bangladesh won by seven wicketsProteas, Afghanistan frustrated as rain washes out warm-upThe World Cup warm-up match between South Africa and Afghanistan at Thiruvananthapuram was abandoned without a ball being bowled on Friday.Heavy rain frustrated both sides who now have one further warm-up to get the plans in order before the tournament gets underway next week.The Proteas, whose captain Temba Bavuma has had to travel home for family reasons, will hope the weather improves in Thiruvananthapuram before their final warm-up against New Zealand on Monday.
Brad Binder set a new Motegi lap record yesterday to be the fastest in practice for the Japan MotoGP ahead of championship leader Francesco Bagnaia.The South African (Red Bull KTM), riding a new carbon-fibre chassis, smashed an eight-year-old record at the Japanese circuit with a time of one minute, 43.489 seconds.Reigning world champion Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo) of Italy finished strongly to end second, 0.029 seconds behind Binder. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) was third, 0.295sec off the pace, followed by fellow Spaniard Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), 0.354sec behind.In MotoGP, the 10 quickest riders in practice take part in the final qualifying session on Saturday for the first 12 places on the grid. They are joined by the two fastest riders from the first qualifying session, which sets spots 13 to 22.Bagnaia crashed out of the last race in India, allowing Martin to cut the defending champion’s lead to just 13 points with seven races still to go.
Iga Swiatek crashed to a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 defeat by eighth seed Russian Veronika Kudermetova in the quarter-finals of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo yesterday.The top seed, playing in her second match since a fourth-round defeat at the US Open that saw her drop to number two in the world rankings, sprayed the errors around in the opening set as Kudermetova grabbed a double break before going 4-0 up.Swiatek finally got on board with a hold and looked to mount a comeback but could not prevent world number 19 Kudermetova from taking a set off her for the first time in five meetings.Kudermetova surrendered the second set tamely, but the 26-year-old found herself ahead in the decider as Swiatek gifted her an early break with a double fault.The Russian held her nerve towards the end of the contest and finished it off with a superb serve.“I tried to just believe I can beat her. Today it happened. I’m really happy I managed to switch (the head-to-head) and win one match,” said Kudermetova, who took full advantage of the 50 unforced errors from Swiatek’s racket.“In the last game, I just focused on playing the point. I don’t need to hit aces. I think that was the key. I was ready to play the rally, not just finish with the serve.”Up next for Kudermetova is Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who reached her first semi-final since her run to the 2021 French Open final with a 6-2, 7-5 win over fellow Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova. Pavlyuchenkova’s career was derailed last year due to a knee injury that needed surgery, but she battled her way back to peak match fitness on the lower tours before reaching the Roland Garros quarter-finals in June.“I think the most important (thing) is to be humble and play whatever you can to get back to the level,” said Pavlyuchenkova.“I was just working my way back to this level, trying to get back to the top. Just trying to enjoy, since I’m getting towards the end of my career.”Later, American second seed Jessica Pegula dropped her serve in the opening game of her encounter with Daria Kasatkina before producing a ruthless display to seal a 6-1, 6-0 victory in 59 minutes and ease into her seventh semi-final of the season.Pegula meets Guadalajara champion Maria Sakkari, after the fourth seed beat fifth seed Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-2. “Being happy on the court really makes me play good. Smiling, enjoying,” said Sakkari, who extended her winning streak to seven matches. “There’s a big process behind it. I just feel like the happier I am on the court and the more I smile on court, the better I play.”
Last-gasp heroics from Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Justin Rose helped Europe hold off a United States fightback to seize a massive 6.5-1.5 lead after the opening day of the Ryder Cup on Friday.Rahm, Hovland and Rose all holed clutch putts on the 18th green to snatch dramatic halves in their afternoon fourballs matches to extend the hosts’ advantage to five points after sweeping the morning foursomes.The Americans, bidding for a first Ryder Cup success away from home in 30 years, failed to win a match in a day for the first time.Luke Donald’s Europe could not have dreamed of a better start to their attempt to regain the trophy in Rome after suffering a record-breaking 19-9 thrashing by the Americans at Whistling Straits two years ago.Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, surprisingly left out of the foursomes by US skipper Zach Johnson, played out a thrilling tie with Tyrrell Hatton and Hovland, who holed his 20-foot birdie putt on the final green.Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick dismantled Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa 5 and 3 in the fourth fourballs match to briefly put Europe 5.5-0.5 ahead.The USA appeared likely to win both the other two matches, but Rahm chipped in for eagle on the short par-four 16th before draining a 30-foot eagle putt on the 18th to steal half a point with Nicolai Hojgaard against Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka.“Just keep fighting. You never know what’s going to happen,” insisted Koepka. “Still got a long day tomorrow.”Europe looked even less likely to avoid defeat in the final match on the course with Rose and Robert MacIntyre 2-down to Max Homa and Wyndham Clark with two to play.But a Rose par on the penultimate hole took the match down 18 and the oldest player in this year’s event showed all of his experience by calmly rolling home an eight-foot birdie putt with all of his teammates watching on.“That’s for the boys, because everyone’s in it together,” said the 43-year-old Rose.Thomas and Spieth, who had four points from six previous matches as a Ryder Cup duo, led 2-up with five holes remaining.But Spieth was unable to contribute to any of the last four holes and Thomas was left to hole a nervy short birdie putt on the 18th just to tie after Hovland kicked off the last-green drama.Fitzpatrick’s incredible run early on paved the way for victory with McIlroy, playing the second to sixth holes in six under par as Europe raced six ahead through just seven. After Rahm’s stunning surge, it was left to Rose to put another dagger in American hearts in the setting sun after a baking hot day at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club. Donald’s men made a rapid start and never gave the Americans a sniff in the morning as they romped to victory in all four matches for the first time in a morning session. The US never led in a single foursomes contest as Rahm and Hatton led the way with their 4 and 3 triumph over Scheffler and Sam Burns in the opening clash. McIlroy hit a brilliant tee shot on the par-three 17th within two feet to close out a tense 2 and 1 win with Tommy Fleetwood in the bottom match against Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.European captain Donald had opted to switch the usual schedule and open with the alternate shot foursomes instead of fourballs in the hope of a “fast start” - and his team delivered it in style.Masters champion Rahm was Europe’s talisman early on, almost making a hole-in-one at the par-three seventh when his tee shot hit the pin. “I think it might have been too much if it goes in but it got the job done,” said Rahm.Norwegian Hovland and Swedish sensation Ludvig Aberg, who is the first golfer to be selected for a Ryder Cup without playing in a major championship, cruised to another 4 and 3 victory against Homa and Brian Harman after Hovland chipped in on the first.Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka rode the wave with a 2 and 1 success over Collin Morikawa and Rickie Fowler. McIlroy and Fleetwood inflicted Schauffele and Cantlay’s first foursomes defeat in international competition after five previous successive wins.Another strong performance in today morning’s foursomes would drive home Europe’s already significant advantage.
London: Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will fight in Saudi Arabia for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world at a date to be decided, organisers said yesterday after contracts were signed.Britain’s Fury is the WBC world champion while Ukrainian Usyk holds the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts. Both men have unbeaten records.A long-awaited blockbuster unification fight between the two has failed to get over the line in the past, with a previous attempt to meet at London’s Wembley Stadium breaking down amid recriminations on both sides.Now, with the backing and financial muscle of Saudi Arabia, it appears to be on.Organisers said it would be promoted by Queensbury Promotions, Bob Arum’s Top Rank, K2 and Usyk17 at Riyadh’s Kingdom Arena.“You can’t run rabbit run anymore Usyk, you’re getting it,” Fury, 35, wrote on Instagram.Heavyweight boxing’s last undisputed champion was Britain’s Lennox Lewis in 1999, before the current four-belt era.“This is the fight that everyone has wanted to see for some time and now it is finally happening,” said Turki Alalshikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, in a statement.“It is the biggest fight in boxing, the world will be watching, and we are so proud to be the hosts for this spectacle as part of the fourth edition of our Riyadh Season celebrations.”“Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk are the two greatest heavyweights of their generation, and I can’t wait to see what happens when they step into the ring in Riyadh,” Arum said.“They are special talents worthy of competing for the greatest prize in sports.”Fury is due to fight former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia on Oct 28 in a bout with professional boxing rules.That fight marks the start of the Riyadh Season, a winter festival of sporting and cultural events.The BBC, citing unconfirmed reports, suggested Fury v Usyk could take place on Dec 23 or in January.Queensberry’s Frank Warren, who promotes Fury, said he was delighted to get the Usyk fight signed off at last.“This is the biggest fight that could possibly be made in our sport,” he said.“The heavyweights always spark the imagination of the fans, and I have no doubt this will be the biggest boxing event of the century. I look forward to Tyson reclaiming the three belts that he never lost in the ring.”Fury, the self-styled ‘Gypsy King’, has held the WBC belt since 2020 when he beat American Deontay Wilder and has a professional fight record of 33 wins and one draw.He defeated Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 for the IBF, WBA and WBO belts but was stripped of the IBF title when he agreed to a rematch with the Ukrainian rather than facing a mandatory challenger.In 2016 he had his boxing licence suspended hours after he announced he was relinquishing his WBA and WBO titles to focus on his mental health.“I can’t believe that it’s happening but it is,” said Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk.Usyk, 36, has a record of 21 wins - 14 by knockout - and turned professional after winning the heavyweight gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.Saudi Arabia also hosted Usyk’s title defence against Britain’s Anthony Joshua in Jeddah in August 2022.Top fights in recent years in Saudi Arabia: ** George Groves vs Callum Smith, September 2018** Andy Ruiz vs Anthony Joshua, December 2019** Anthony Joshua vsOleksandr Usyk, August 2022
The gold medal was just a formality as Qatar’s beach volleyball pair Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan stamped their authority in Hangzhou as they reigned supreme at the Asian Games on Thursday.The Tokyo Olympic bronze medallists and World No 3 pair went through their campaign in Ningbo, China without dropping a single set in six matches to defend the Asian Games gold, which they had won in Jakarta in 2018.In the gold medal match on Thursday, the Qatari standouts secured a 2-0 (22-20, 21-16) victory over China’s Ha Likejiang and Wu Jiaxin. This was Qatar’s first gold at the Hangzhou Asiad, with the skeet mixed team featuring Reem al-Sharshani and Rashid Saleh al-Athba winning bronze.The two medals won on Thursday took Qatar tally to four. On Wednesday, Nasser al-Attiyah won bronze in the individual skeet event, while the Qatar team picked up a silver.Younousse and Tijan were considered overwhelming favourites and they lived up to the expectations. But they were pushed to their limits by Likejiang and Wu Jiaxin in the first set, before the Qatari pair prevailed in 24 minutes. In the second set, they jumped into an early and never relinquished the grip on the match.Moments after their triumph, Younousse and Tijan set their eyes on winning gold at the 2024 Paris Olympics. “It wasn’t an easy final. It’s an honour to win consecutive gold medals at the Asian Games. We will give our best to continue winning titles for Qatar,” Tijan said.“The first set was not easy because China was fighting and they also were playing at home. We are going to do our best in Paris, and we are hoping for different coloured medal this time,” he added.Tijan hoped to continue title wins for Qatar as the World No.3 pair will now prepare for next month’s World Championship in Mexico. The bronze went to Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Yakovlev & Sergey Bogatu, who managed a tight 2-0 (25-23, 30-28) win over Iran’s Abbas Pourasgari & Alireza Aghajanighasab.Meanwhile, al-Sharshani and al-Athba combined to land the third skeet medal for Qatar on Thursday. In the bronze medal play-off final, the pair missed just two targets each as they outplayed Bahrain’s Tammar Ali Alwatt and Maryam Alasam 44-37.Kazakhstan’s Eduard Yechshenko and Assem Orynbay hit 40 targets to take the gold, while Kuwaiti veteran Abdullah al-Rashidi and teaming up with Eman al-Shamaa could only strike 35 to settle for the silver. The Kuwaiti pair had topped the qualifying stage with 149 hits, equalling the qualification world record of the event.Al-Sharshani, who missed out on a women’s individual medal after finishing fifth in the final on Wednesday, was thrilled to have won the medal. “I am proud to win the first Asian Games medal for my country. This medal is a huge boost for me in the competitions ahead as I look to win more medals for Qatar,” she said.Al-Athba, who was also a part of silver winning skeet team along with al-Attiyah and his brother Masoud, said: “We delivered a good performance and won bronze with a good lead. Reem was very impressive. We were aiming for a gold medal but winning a bronze is also special.”3x3 basketball continue winning runQatar’s 3x3 basketball continued their impressive run as they overpowered Kyrgyzstan 21-5 for their third successive victory. They had earlier defeated Thailand and Kazakhstan. The Pool D toppers will next meet Cambodia today.But there was disappointment today in basketball, as the men’s team lost 64-76 to South Korea in Group D. Earlier they had lost to Japan. In the equestrian dressage intermediate freestyle, Jassim al-Kuwari riding Handretti finished a creditable 10th with a total aggregate score of 66.915.Today, Qatar handball team will take on Kazakhstan in their Group B match eyeing their third straight victory. The defending champions defeated Hong Kong and South Korea in their first two games. Al Annabi’s track and field stars will also start their medal hunt as athletics competition kicks off today.