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Sports Shorts: Force India fear podium will be a one-off boost

Last updated on: April 30, 2018 17:46 IST

A summary of sports events and persons who made news on Monday

Sergio Perez

IMAGE: Sergio Perez celebrates on the podium. Photograph: Sahara Force India/Twitter

Sergio Perez put Force India back on the podium in Baku on Sunday but team boss Bob Fernley sees little hope of anyone else from outside Formula One's top three teams doing something similar this season.


Until Perez's breakthrough in a crazy Azerbaijan Grand Prix, only one other man since 2016 had broken into the exclusive group of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers that has filled every podium position.

That was Canadian teenager Lance Stroll, who was third for now-struggling Williams in an equally chaotic Grand Prix in Azerbaijan last June.

Force India's most recent podium before Sunday was also in Baku, with Perez third in the 2016 race after qualifying a stunning second.

They might have had another last year but Perez and Esteban Ocon collided, an incident that led the team, owned by financially-troubled magnate Vijay Mallya, to enforce strict terms of engagement.

"It will be extremely difficult to get podiums for anybody other than the top three (teams)," Fernley told Reuters when asked whether Perez's podium might ultimately be as much of a one-off as Stroll's.

The deputy team principal said it would take another "massive incident" for it to happen again, adding " ... and that’s not going to happen that often".

Mercedes, winners of both titles for the past four years, took their first win of the season with Lewis Hamilton handed victory on a plate after Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas collected a puncture three laps from the end while leading.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was undone by the safety car and a mistimed lunge on Bottas, finishing fourth, while the Red Bull drivers collided with each other and put themselves out of the reckoning.

Perez, who has never had a winning car, would not have got near the podium without that totally unpredictable sequence of events.

The last team to win a race -- other than Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull -- was Lotus (now Renault) with Kimi Raikkonen in 2013, before the V6 turbo hybrid era.

Force India, fourth overall last year with a highest individual race finish of fourth, had scored only one point in three races before Baku and Perez's result lifted them from ninth to sixth.

Ko breaks victory drought in style

A two-year win drought marked by changes in coaches, caddies and clubs ended for Lydia Ko on Sunday as the former world number one closed out victory at the Mediheal Championship with a stroke of brilliance.

Needing something special to shake off Australian Minjee Lee in the first playoff hole, New Zealander Ko pulled out a three-wood out from 234 yards and landed the ball two-and-a-half feet from the pin for a tap-in eagle.

Ko brushed tears from her eyes after the draining the putt, having notched her first win in 44 starts.

She now boasts a 15th LPGA title and two major wins since turning professional in 2014.

"I don't think I've ever cried in the other 14 (wins)," she told reporters at Lake Merced Golf Club with a laugh.

Prajnesh leaps to career-best 176

Making a huge jump, India's Prajnesh Gunneswaran today leapfrogged 84 places to a career-best singles rank of 176, following his maiden title-triumph on the ATP Challenger circuit.

The Sunday's win in Anning in China gave the left-hander 125 points, pushing him inside top-200 for the first time in his career.

Yuki Bhambri leads India's chart at number 85, a loss of two places, and is followed by Ramkumar Ramanathan (120, -5).

The next best Indians are Sumit Nagal (225, -6), Arjun Kadhe (397, +1) and Sasi Kumar Mukund, who jumped 98 places to 418.

In the doubles, Rohan Bopanna lost a spot to be 23 while Divij Sharan also lost two places to be placed 43. Also sliding down was Leander Paes, who is now ranked 50 (-2).

In the WTA rankings, Ankita Raina, now included in TOPS, further improved her career-best rank as she was now placed 193 (+2) and was followed by Karman Kaur Thandi (267).

In the doubles, out of action Sania Mirza was static at number 24 while Prarthana Thombare slid to 164 after losing 16 spots.

We're WADA-compliant now, claims AIBA

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) today claimed that it has become WADA-compliant since adopting a revamped anti-doping programme, which was cited as an area of concern by the IOC when it threatened to expel the sport from the 2020 Olympics.

"Following the review of the International Boxing Association's Corrective Action Report (CAR), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) concluded that all non-conformities based on the CAR have been addressed appropriately by AIBA," the AIBA said in a statement.

AIBA has been ordered to revamp its doping programme, its judging and refereeing system and the governance structure by the International Olympic Committee to save boxing from expulsion from the 2020 Games.

After outsourcing the management of its anti-doping programme, the AIBA is likely to join the Independent Testing Authority by June this year.

"Being in compliance with the World Anti-Doping marks a big achievement for AIBA and shows its commitment to move our organisation forward. We believe this is just the first step and we will continue our talks with WADA as we working together in the fight for clean sport," AIBA Executive Director Tom Virgets said.

AIBA said it is currently making "strong efforts" to ensure a secure and functional Anti-Doping system is in place during the World Championships next year.

With its new partners, the Global Association of International Sports Federations' (GAISF) and Doping-Free Sport Unit (DFSU), AIBA is currently establishing a new anti-doping educational programme dedicated to ensuring that "all AIBA member federations and athletes understand the applicable rules and regulations".

The IOC has also objected to to the appointment of Uzbek Gafur Rakhimov as AIBA President owing to his alleged links to financial crimes, a criticism that has been rejected by AIBA.