Tag: Sport

Hamilton victory is Russia spoiled by team orders

Lewis Hamilton is now 50 points ahead of rival Sebastian Vettel in the battle for a fifth world championship after a victory in the Russian Grand Prix. The Brit’s race was shrouded in controversy as Mercedes ordered teammate Valtteri Bottas to let him past on lap 25 in order to secure a Hamilton win.

With only five races left, the championship is no longer Vettel’s to win, only Hamilton’s to lose. Vettel could come first in all remaining races but still come second in the standings.

The beginning of the race saw intense battling at the front of the grid but no major positional changes. Hamilton had a slow start but managed to use Bottas’ slip stream to avoid being overtaken by Vettel. Further back in the grid both Torro Rosso’s retired in the opening laps after independently spinning out.

Aside from Verstappen storming through the field after a back row start, the excitement died down until the first pit stops. On lap 12 Bottas came into the pits, followed by Vettel a lap later. During this time Hamilton began setting fastest sector times and it seemed he could move into first place, but the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin held him up wasting valuable seconds.

When Hamilton pitted on lap 14 the question was no longer ‘would he come out in the lead?’, but ‘would he come out third to Vettel?’. As the Mercedes emerged from the pit lane he saw the Ferrari of Vettel next to him, and then ahead of him as they went into the first corner. “How did that happen?” he asked. Was Ferrari’s strategy finally coming together?

Hamilton is not a driver to sit back and watch as important points go to his biggest rival and immediately began attacking the German. On lap 16 the Mercedes went to move down the inside but the defence from the Ferrari almost led to a collision, the quick reactions of Hamilton the only thing preventing one.

Several corners later he finally managed to get the better of Vettel and moved into third place, behind his teammate and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who had yet to pit. As the laps progressed the Mercedes team began to notice blistering to Hamilton’s tires and gave orders to Bottas to let him through on lap 25 to protect the team’s interests.

Verstappen pitted on lap 43 and the top three stayed in those positions for the remainder of the race. Bottas asked towards the end if they were going to finish in these positions, hoping to be given back the place he gave up. In response he was told: “Affirm, we will talk about it afterwards.”

After the race Hamilton said: “Valtteri did a fantastic job all weekend and he was a real gentleman to let me by. It has been a great weekend for the team. Usually I would be elated, but I can understand how difficult it was for Valtteri.”

The next race takes place on 7th October at the incredible Suzuka circuit in Japan. If Vettel cannot take significant points from Hamilton, the championship is all but over.

Anthony Joshua retains world heavyweight titles after knockout win against Povetkin

Anthony Joshua resumed his incredible knockout run after a stunning seventh round victory against Alexander Povetkin at Wembley. Povetkin, who has lost just once in 35 fights against Wladimir Klitschko, looked as if he could defeat Joshua with some impressive combinations in the earlier rounds. Joshua weathered the storm though, and gradually grew into the match as his opponent tired.

Half way through the seventh round Joshua landed a brutal right hook that dazed his opponent enough to land a heavy follow up with his left. Povetkin was now staggering and unable to hold his guard. More combinations rocked the Russian before a left and right hook send him crashing to the floor.

After falling over twice trying to get up, Povetkin rose to his feet as the count reached nine. However it would have been foolish to think this was now over. Joshua himself had been in this position against Klitschko but fought back to win, keeping focused was pivotal to see out this bout. He said before the fight that he feared losing to that “one punch”, Povetkin was a fighter who had the ability to turn a fight with just that.

It took less than ten seconds from the restart though for referee Steve Gray to intervene. Povetkin slumped into the ropes after a powerful left hook before ultimately tumbling to the floor again. Joshua had done what Klitschko could not manage five years prior, a win by TKO against the mighty Russian.

After the fight Joshua said: “Povetkin is a very tough challenger, he proved that with good left hooks and counter punches. I came in here to have fun, and give it my best. I knew he was strong to the head but weak to the body. I was just mixing it up.”

“It could have been seven, maybe nine, maybe 12 rounds to get him out of there, but the ultimate aim was to be victorious.”

The victory for Joshua comes less than a day after the WBC champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury sealed the deal for their fight on 1st December. The next fight for the Englishman comes on 13th April back at Wembley, with the opponent yet to be decided.

“I’ve carried the burden of the heavyweight division for some years now,” Joshua said. “It was all about me fighting Wilder, fighting Fury, fighting Klitschko, fighting Dillian, fighting Povetkin. That’s all they were interested in, me fighting them all.

“I will always knock them down, one by one, but people have to be patient. I’m happy Wilder and Fury are fighting and good luck to both of them. I have no interest in who wins. I’ll fight both of them.”

Who he fights will have to be decided before the pair clash in LA later this year. “I don’t want to wait until December for him to win the fight, have his rest and then start negotiating because I’ll start training for the fight in early January,” Joshua said. “I want to get the fight pencilled in as soon as possible, this side of Christmas so I know what I’m doing next year.”

European golf champion murdered in Iowa

Collin Daniel Richards has been charged with murder only hours after rising Spanish golfer Celia Barquín Arozamena was found dead on a golf course in Iowa, USA. Aged just 22, Barquín won the European Ladies Amateur Championship in Slovakia this July after shooting a course-record 63.

She was found by police at the Coldwater Golf Links in Ames after golfers discovered an unattended golf bag on the course early Monday morning and alerted authorities. A police report determined that Barquín had died following an assault.

Originally from Spain, she came to the United States to study Civil Engineering and became a rising talent in the amateur golf world. Her university, Iowa State had named her Female Athlete of the Year and said the following about her passing: “Celia had an infectious smile, a bubbly personality and anyone fortunate enough to know her was blessed. Our Cyclone (team nickname) family mourns the tragic loss of Celia, a spectacular student-athlete and ISU ambassador.”

Her victory in the European Championship allowed her the opportunity to break into professional golf with invitations to the British and US Opens next year. Nacho Gervás, a technical director for the Spanish Golf Federation, said to El País newspaper: “She was a player who was heading for the very top, without a doubt.”

Barquín was part of the Spanish team that achieved a second and third place finish in the European Amateur Team Championships in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Ranked number 69 nationally by magazine Golfweek, she also became the second women’s golfer in Iowa State history to earn a medal at a conference tournament when she claimed the 2018 Big 12 Championship in April.

ISU’s head women’s golf coach Christie Martens said Barquín was “loved by all her teammates and friends” and was an “outstanding representative of our school.”

“We will never forget her competitive drive to be the best and her passion for life.”

James Anderson becomes Test cricket’s most prolific fast bowler

James Anderson broke Glen McGrath’s record for wickets taken by a fast bowler in the final Test match against India this week. The Englishman took the final wicket in the game that saw Alastair Cook bow out of international cricket.

His tally of 564 leaves him fourth in the list of all-time wicket-takers. Only spin bowlers Anil Kumble (619, India), Shane Warne (708, Australia), and Muttiah Muralitharan (800, Sri Lanka) have taken more.

Anderson, 36, deserves a lot of praise for maintaining fitness levels and drive over his long career, which has undoubtedly contributed to his success. The hardest thing for a bowler at the top of his game is to maintain that level for many years. Far too often have we seen great bowlers retire early due to injuries or losing their edge.

Mitchell Johnson is a prime example. The Australian played 73 Test matches taking 313 wickets leaving him as the fourth best wicket taker for his country when he retired. He had a tumultuous career, losing his place in the side due to stints of poor form at times, but also winning ICC Cricketer of the year twice too. Had Johnson had the longevity of Anderson, he could have been challenging for that record too. Gough, Harmison, and Jones too ended their careers early as their bodies let them down.

McGrath was dignified as his record was broken, challenging Anderson to take more wickets. “If he can raise the bar to 600 wickets, that’s an incredible effort. I was proud to hold it for as long as I did. For it to be beaten by somebody like Jimmy Anderson is great”

“I have a lot of respect for Jimmy. He’s been an incredible bowler for a long time. To have played well over 140 Tests and just keep running in, day in, day out, and remain at the top of his game. Yeah, I’m very proud Jimmy’s got there.’

Fellow Englishman Stuart Broad is the next most likely active player to break Anderson’s record. Four years younger and 133 wickets behind, if Broad can keep up with the physicality of a packed cricketing schedule he may eclipse his teammate. McGrath doubts that the record will be broken any time soon, “just to play enough games to get anywhere near it is tough in itself.” Anderson has currently played 143 Test matches, 11 more than any other fast bowler.

He says he isn’t done with Test cricket quite yet though. “I don’t really think about it. I play my best when I focus on what’s ahead of me; the next game, the next series, whatever it is. I don’t like looking too far ahead. I don’t think it helps certainly me or the team.”

England will be hoping they can continue their winning form in tours of Sri Lanka and West Indies this winter. Continuing their momentum will be crucial as the side looks forward to next summer’s Ashes.

US Open: Serena Williams’ claim of sexism devalues the real claims of female athletes

Serena Williams has suffered many times throughout her career from racist and sexist remarks. The American tennis player, who has won 23 singles Grand Slams, has arguably had the greatest impact on the female game alongside others such as Billie Jean King. However her recent remarks about sexism after being sanctioned during the US Open Final were incredibly damaging for her credibility and women’s tennis as a whole.

Williams was ultimately fined $17,000 for three separate violations during the final which she lost to Noami Osaka. The first violation came after the umpire Carlos Ramos judged a gesture from Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou to be coaching. Coaching within the context of a Grand Slam refers to the player’s coach giving information through words or hand gestures during the warm up or the game itself. This is prohibited and if the umpire notices this the player will be penalised.

It is up to the umpires judgement what qualifies as coaching and Ramos decided a hand gesture was enough to have potentially given Williams an unfair advantage. This is something she denies, telling the umpire during the game she would “never cheat to win and would rather lose”. Mouratoglou came out and said in an interview that he “was coaching but I don’t think she looked at me. Everybody does it.”

This argument doesn’t hold up to even the lightest scrutiny. The umpire has to do his best to try and monitor as much as possible and it often seems that coaching slips through the cracks and goes unseen. It is clearly against the rules, no matter how inconsistently people are reprimanded for it. Earlier in the Open tournament Nick Krygios was also accused of coaching. Mohamed Lahyani, the umpire in that game, handled the rule break differently and went to go talk to Krygios.

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The second code violation came in the second set with the score at 3-2. This time it was for racquet abuse leading to her being docked a point. Williams became incredibly angry at the penalty saying to Ramos: “You owe me an apology, I have never cheated in my life.” The game continued briefly but at the changeover, with the score 4-3 to Osaka, she added: “You will never ever ever be on another court of mine as long as you live.”

Ramos, an umpire with a reputation for not being intimidated by players, has taken charge of finals at all Grand Slams, as well as the Olympic Games. Both of the decisions he made were by the letter of the law. Whether or not the rules, specifically the one on coaching, should be changed to reflect how the modern game is played is a separate, equally necessary, discussion. Naturally the crowd in New York sided with Williams, and the atmosphere grew increasingly toxic as the game progressed.

Her remarks led to Ramos dishing out a third code violation, penalising her a game. Now Osaka was just one game away from victory at 5-3 up. Boos echoed around the stadium and Williams refused to continue, demanding to talk to the tournament referee. Eventually she finished the match and Osaka became the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam at just 20 years of age.

Osaka’s special moment, beating her idol for a Grand Slam, was ruined by the disgraceful actions of the fans. They continued to boo and berate her during the ceremony. Rather than enjoying the moment she apologised for winning and covered her eyes to hide her tears. Williams, in her runners-up speech, told the crowd to respect Osaka for her achievement. A move that showed Williams’ great sportsmanship that was partially hidden by anger and frustration.

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Were Ramos’ actions sexist? Objectively, looking at the three calls, there is nothing to suggest that these were anything other than the right decisions. If the umpire notices coaching, it is a violation. The two subsequent violations were incredibly clear, and if Ramos did not act upon them, there would have been a large backlash about him favouring Williams.

British number four Liam Broady said about the incident: “I think incredibly strong from the umpire to not be intimidated by a GOAT of the game and hand out the game penalty. You shouldn’t talk to anybody in this way whether they’re an umpire or person on the street.”

At last year’s US Open Italian player Fabio Fognini was fined $96,000 for verbal abuse he hurled at a female umpire. While this was far worse than Williams, it shows that this is an issue that is taken seriously, regardless of gender.

Williams making this a sexism issue, when it is clear to anyone familiar with the rules of the game that the umpire did nothing wrong, takes the light away from actual gender issues in the sport. A recent example of which is Alizé Cornet getting a violation for adjusting her top after accidentally putting it on back to front, while the male players can take their tops off without issue, a decision the US Open since condemned.

As an incredible role model for young women, Williams needs to be careful about directing her energy to the places where it can bring about the biggest positive change. Women’s tennis has come an awful long way with her in it, but it is events like these that cause small bumps on the tough road to sporting equality.

MotoGP rider fired after grabbing rival’s brakes mid race

22-year-old Italian Moto2 rider Romano Fenati has been fired by his team and has quit the sport completely after grabbing the brake of a competitor while racing at speeds of over 140 miles per hour.

Fenati, who was a rider for the Marinelli Snipers, was black-flagged at the San Marino GP for the incident with fellow rider Stefano Manzi. This event took place shortly after Manzi messed up and overtake and ran Fenati off the road.

Talking about the incident afterward Manzi remarked that he felt like Fenati was trying to kill him. A statement he denies instead saying “Mine was the gesture of someone who wanted to say: “Stop. Look, if I want to, I can make you fall off.”

The reactions to Fenati’s actions have naturally been vitriolic. MotoGP rider Cal Crutchlow said “when he walked back to the garage, the team should have just kicked him straight out the back. You can’t do this to another motorcycle racer. We are risking our lives enough.”

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The punishment was initially not so severe, with stewards giving him a two-race ban. Since then however his team have dropped him and Forward Racing, the team who he has signed for next year, and for who Manzi currently races, has canceled his contract. As a result Fenati says he is quitting the sport for good. “That world is closed to me. I’ll not race anymore. It isn’t my world. There is too much injustice. I was wrong, that is true, but nobody cares about my pain.”

Speaking to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Fenati said: “I was wrong, it’s true: I apologise to everyone. His apology was short lived though as he continued: “Do you want to see my helmet and my leathers? There is a long black strip, the Manzi rubber. He attacked me three times and he could have killed me too, as you say.”

“The last time I had it done to me was 500m before (the incident), then I thought ‘now I do the same, I’ll show you that I can be bad’ and maybe you will finally understand what it means.”

Alastair Cook steps away from international cricket after a record-breaking career

Alastair Cook finished his 12 year batting career with a century in the fifth Test against India at The Oval.  His 147 helped guide England to a 4-1 series win in the final match of the Summer.

In an interview with Sky Sports he said “the timing is right”. “I started noticing things in my game and preparations were missing. That edge isn’t there.”

Cook got his first start as part of the England side that toured India in early 2006. The team suffered heavily from stomach complaints, an issue that almost always dogs the team in India. That didn’t stop Cook however as he scored a promising 60 in the first innings and followed it up with a fantastic 104* in the second.

The centuries came thick and fast and in December 2012, again against India, he became England’s record centurion in Kolkata. Lighting up Eden Gardens he reached 190 in 377 balls before ultimately being run out by Kohli.

Three years and many standing ovations later it was time for another major record to be broken, this time surpassing Graham Gooch as England’s record Test runs batsman.

For his farewell Test this week, the crowd at The Oval gave him an ovation every opportunity they could. He began day four on 46, quickly reaching his half-century early on in the morning session. With every over that passed the fans grew more tense, anticipating the opportunity of a final century.

His stint at the crease wasn’t just plain sailing. On 72 India appealed for a catch at silly point but, to the relief of almost everyone in the ground, he was found not out. On he powered, and soon he reached 96. The crowd rose to their feet, only Jadeja could stop Cook now.

The delivery came, Cook leaned back and cut the ball through point for a comfortable single. The ball rolled out to Jaspit Bumrah, a player whose had a great Test series. A momentary lapse in concentration saw him throw well beyond the stumps, rolling all the way for a boundary. Play was paused for several minutes as The Oval marked the occasion.

When he finally fell for 147, every Indian fielder on the pitch came to shake his hand and, for one final time, the crowd acknowledged Cook. An extraordinary career for an extraordinary cricketer.

The incredible numbers of Cook’s career:

  • Matches:  161
  • Innings:  291
  • Runs: 12,472
  • 50s:  57
  • 100s:  33
  • Highest Score:  294
  • Average:  45.35