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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: Mayer and Asher-Smith are European athletes of the year

Sports Shorts: Mayer and Asher-Smith are European athletes of the year

Last updated on: October 27, 2018 21:34 IST

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

Kevin Mayer is the first Frenchman to hold the decathlon world record

IMAGE: Kevin Mayer is the first Frenchman to hold the decathlon world record. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

World decathlon record-holder Kevin Mayer and British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, the European 100m, 200m and 4x100m champion, have been named men's and women's European athletes of the year.

Mayer is the third Frenchman to be earn the title after Christophe Lemaitre in 2010 and Renaud Lavillenie in 2014. He is also the first decathlete to win the award since Tomas Dvorak of the Czech Republic did so in 1999.

 

Asher-Smith is the fourth British athlete to win the women's award after Sally Gunnell in 1993, Kelly Holmes in 2004 and Jessica Ennis-Hill in 2012.

She fended off competition from last year's winner Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece and reigning European, world and Olympic heptathlon champion Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium.

Asher-Smith dominated the sprints at the European Championships in Berlin, anchoring the British 4x100m relay team to victory to become the third woman in European Championships history to win a sprint treble.

Mayer was one of four finalists for the award alongside Turkish world and European 200m champion Ramil Guliyev, Norway's European 1,500m and 5,000m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Swedish European pole vault champion Armand Duplantis.

He won the world indoor heptathlon title in Birmingham at the start of the season and ended his campaign by breaking Ashton Eaton's decathlon world record with a score of 9,126 in Talence in September.

Gymnast Biles in hospital with kidney stone hours before worlds

Gymnast Simone Biles posted a picture of herself in the Emergency Room in Doha

IMAGE: Gymnast Simone Biles posted a picture of herself in the Emergency Room in Doha. Photograph: Simone Biles/Twitter

Simone Biles was in an emergency room in Doha with kidney stone problems less than 24 hours before she was to compete in qualifying for the world gymnastics championships, the Olympic champion said on Twitter on Friday.

The problem, however, was not going to keep her out of the championships, she said.

"Nothing like a late night ER visit less than 24 hrs before world championships," Biles tweeted, adding pictures of her in the emergency room.

"This kidney stone can wait....doing it for my team! ...I'll be gucci girls!"

USA Gymnastics was not immediately available for comment, but an hour after Biles' comments, the federation said in a tweet of its own "@Simone_Biles and the rest of the team are amped to get things rolling."

Biles, 21, won four gold medals and a bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

She returned to competition this year after taking a break in 2017 and is aiming for her fourth world all-around title.

 

Prajnesh loses in Liuzhou Challenger semi-final

 

Prajnesh Gunneswaran's good run at the Liuzhou Challenger ended with a straight-set defeat against top seed Radu Albot in the semi-finals of the US$50,000 tournament in China on Saturday.

 

Prajnesh, who had ended a runner-up at Ningbo event last week, lost 3-6 3-6 to world number 89 from Moldova.

 

Prajnesh earned 29 ranking points and will jump a few places up to touch a new  career-best rank on Monday when the new lost will be issued by the ATP.

 

Former Armstrong doctor's sanction lifted after team manager banned

A former doctor for Lance Armstrong's US Postal Service (USPS) cycling team has had his lifetime ban lifted following his testimony against Armstrong team manager Johan Bruyneel, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said on Friday.

Luis Garcia del Moral, a Spanish physician who worked with the Armstrong team and formerly practiced sports medicine, "has been granted a reduced period of ineligibility that supersedes his previous lifetime sanction from USADA and he is no longer under sanction with immediate effect," USADA said in a news release.

The announcement came two days after Bruyneel was banned from cycling for life after a successful appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). [L8N1X503U]

CAS also handed doctor Pedro Celaya a lifetime ban while trainer Jose “Pepe” Marti had his period of ineligibility increased to 15 years from eight.

USADA said the CAS panel of arbitrators found del Moral’s testimony in the case to be credible, truthful and useful. According to the decision, the panel regarded del Moral’s testimony and email evidence as “the straw that literally broke the back of Mr. Bruyneel’s evidence,” USADA said.

Armstrong’s US Postal Service team (USPS), which changed its name to Discovery Channel after a change of sponsors in 2005, had opted for arbitration when anti-doping charges were originally levelled against them in June 2012.

Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles and given a lifetime ban in 2012, finally admitting his use of banned substances in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013.

Del Moral and two others had been banned from cycling for life by USADA in 2012 for anti-doping rule violations while with the Armstrong team.

Four years later Del Moral agreed to provide testimony at the CAS hearing regarding Bruyneel, Celaya and Marti.

His lifetime ban would be reduced to five years in the event he provided truthful testimony and full cooperation, USADA said.

But the agreement stipulated any reduction would not take effect until a final determination was reached in the case against Bruyneel, which occurred on Wednesday.

Bruyneel, a 54-year-old Belgian, was initially banned for 10 years in 2014 by the American Arbitration Association North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (AAA) for helping orchestrate an elaborate doping program that helped Armstrong to seven Tour de France titles.

“If a lifetime ban is a possible sanction, as it is, the Panel sees no reason why it should not be imposed in this case for Mr. Bruyneel’s active involvement in widespread, systemic doping in the sport of cycling spanning many years,” CAS said in its ruling on Wednesday.

Bruyneel acknowledged in an open letter sent to cycling websites that “mistakes have been made”, but that he still felt USADA did not have the jurisdiction to bring charges against him.

Ayhika wins silver, Anthony-Sanil clinch bronze at Belgium Open

Indian table tennis player Ayhika Mukherjee settled for a silver medal after going down 1-3 to Korea's Youjin Kim in the final of the ITTF Challenge Belgium Open in the under-21 women's singles category.

Anthony Amalraj and Sanil Shetty too fought their way into the medals' bracket, bagging a bronze in the men's doubles.

Ayhika put up a brave fight in the summit clash but Kim proved to be a tough nut to crack in the end. In the semifinals, Ayhika had defeated Hong Kong's Chengzhu Zhu 3-1 to enter the finals.

She had lost the first game 6-11 but showed great spirit to win the next three 11-3, 11-7, 11-8 against Chengzhu.

Ayhika's impressive run in the tournament started with a 3-1 win against Poland's Natalia Bajor in the round of 32. Compatriot Sreeja Akula also beat Alina Nikitchanka of Belarus by a 3-0 margin to enter the prequarters.

However, Archana Kamath and Moumita Dutta bowed out with defeats.

In the pre-quarters, Ayhika downed France's Audrey Zarif 3-0 but Sreeja lost to eventual winner Youjin Kim of Korea.

In the quarter-finals, Ayhika dominated the proceedings against Satsuki Odo of Japan, winning the first two games 11-9, 11-9. She slipped in the third though, going down 4-11 rather quickly.

However, she regained her wits to win the last game 11-4 to move into the semifinal round.

In men's doubles, Amalraj-Shetty started slowly, losing a tight opening game 10-12 to the Belgian pair of Olav Kosolosky and Laurens Devos. They had a tough second game too which they eventually managed to win 15-13.

There was no stopping them thereafter, winning the next two 11-9, 11-6.

In the quarter-finals too, they had to use all their experience to ward off the Swedish pair of Viktor Brodd and Simon Berglund. They won the tie 3-1, losing the second game which brought the best out of them.

Up against the daunting Korean pair of Seungmin Cho and Jaehyun An in the semifinal, the Indian duo fought valiantly but yielded 6-11, 8-11, 7-11 to settle for the bronze medal.

Sharma finds a par round, as Finau grabs 3-shot lead at WGC

India's Shubhankar Sharma finally registered a modest round against his name as he carded an even par 72 in the third round of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions here on Saturday.

Sharma, who was 80-80 for the first two days, opened superbly from the 10th with three birdies in first five holes, but then had a start-stop-start kind of a round.

He dropped a double on 15th and then had back-to-back birdies on second and third. Then again he lapsed with three bogeys in last four holes for a 72. He is presently 76th out of the 77 left in the tournament.

Gaganjeet Bhullar (81) had a disappointing day. He was fine for the front nine with one birdie and one bogey, but on the back nine he had five bogeys and two doubles.

Meanwhile, Tony Finau had a stunning finish by being the only player to birdie last three holes as he raced to a three-shot lead.

Finau was two-over through 12, but birdied 13th and then had three in a row from 16th.

Defending champion Justin Rose (70), seeking to become the only player other than Tiger Woods to defend a World Golf Championships title, returned with a 70 to share second place with Americans Patrick Reed (70) and Xander Schauffele (69).

Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat carded two-under-par 70 to sit at tied seventh.     While a maiden WGC win at the Sheshan International Golf Club is still within sights, the Thai preferred to play down expectations and just focus on getting off to a fast start so that he can chase Finau down on the final day.

 

Like Kiradech, Finau is also eyeing his breakthrough at a WGC event.

World decathlon record-holder Kevin Mayer and British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, the European 100m, 200m and 4x100m champion, have been named men's and women's European athletes of the year.

Mayer is the third Frenchman to be earn the title after Christophe Lemaitre in 2010 and Renaud Lavillenie in 2014. He is also the first decathlete to win the award since Tomas Dvorak of the Czech Republic did so in 1999.

Asher-Smith is the fourth British athlete to win the women's award after Sally Gunnell in 1993, Kelly Holmes in 2004 and Jessica Ennis-Hill in 2012.

She fended off competition from last year's winner Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece and reigning European, world and Olympic heptathlon champion Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium.

Asher-Smith dominated the sprints at the European Championships in Berlin, anchoring the British 4x100m relay team to victory to become the third woman in European Championships history to win a sprint treble.

Mayer was one of four finalists for the award alongside Turkish world and European 200m champion Ramil Guliyev, Norway's European 1,500m and 5,000m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Swedish European pole vault champion Armand Duplantis.

He won the world indoor heptathlon title in Birmingham at the start of the season and ended his campaign by breaking Ashton Eaton's decathlon world record with a score of 9,126 in Talence in September.

Gymnast Biles in hospital with kidney stone hours before worlds

Simone Biles was in an emergency room in Doha with kidney stone problems less than 24 hours before she was to compete in qualifying for the world gymnastics championships, the Olympic champion said on Twitter on Friday.

The problem, however, was not going to keep her out of the championships, she said.

"Nothing like a late night ER visit less than 24 hrs before world championships," Biles tweeted, adding pictures of her in the emergency room.

"This kidney stone can wait....doing it for my team! ...I'll be gucci girls!"

USA Gymnastics was not immediately available for comment, but an hour after Biles' comments, the federation said in a tweet of its own "@Simone_Biles and the rest of the team are amped to get things rolling."

Biles, 21, won four gold medals and a bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

She returned to competition this year after taking a break in 2017 and is aiming for her fourth world all-around title.

Former Armstrong doctor's sanction lifted after team manager banned

A former doctor for Lance Armstrong's US Postal Service (USPS) cycling team has had his lifetime ban lifted following his testimony against Armstrong team manager Johan Bruyneel, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said on Friday.

Luis Garcia del Moral, a Spanish physician who worked with the Armstrong team and formerly practiced sports medicine, "has been granted a reduced period of ineligibility that supersedes his previous lifetime sanction from USADA and he is no longer under sanction with immediate effect," USADA said in a news release.

The announcement came two days after Bruyneel was banned from cycling for life after a successful appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). [L8N1X503U]

CAS also handed doctor Pedro Celaya a lifetime ban while trainer Jose “Pepe” Marti had his period of ineligibility increased to 15 years from eight.

USADA said the CAS panel of arbitrators found del Moral’s testimony in the case to be credible, truthful and useful. According to the decision, the panel regarded del Moral’s testimony and email evidence as “the straw that literally broke the back of Mr. Bruyneel’s evidence,” USADA said.

Armstrong’s US Postal Service team (USPS), which changed its name to Discovery Channel after a change of sponsors in 2005, had opted for arbitration when anti-doping charges were originally levelled against them in June 2012.

Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles and given a lifetime ban in 2012, finally admitting his use of banned substances in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013.

Del Moral and two others had been banned from cycling for life by USADA in 2012 for anti-doping rule violations while with the Armstrong team.

Four years later Del Moral agreed to provide testimony at the CAS hearing regarding Bruyneel, Celaya and Marti.

His lifetime ban would be reduced to five years in the event he provided truthful testimony and full cooperation, USADA said.

But the agreement stipulated any reduction would not take effect until a final determination was reached in the case against Bruyneel, which occurred on Wednesday.

Bruyneel, a 54-year-old Belgian, was initially banned for 10 years in 2014 by the American Arbitration Association North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (AAA) for helping orchestrate an elaborate doping program that helped Armstrong to seven Tour de France titles.

“If a lifetime ban is a possible sanction, as it is, the Panel sees no reason why it should not be imposed in this case for Mr. Bruyneel’s active involvement in widespread, systemic doping in the sport of cycling spanning many years,” CAS said in its ruling on Wednesday.

Bruyneel acknowledged in an open letter sent to cycling websites that “mistakes have been made”, but that he still felt USADA did not have the jurisdiction to bring charges against him.

Ayhika wins silver, Anthony-Sanil clinch bronze at Belgium Open

Indian table tennis player Ayhika Mukherjee settled for a silver medal after going down 1-3 to Korea's Youjin Kim in the final of the ITTF Challenge Belgium Open in the under-21 women's singles category.

Anthony Amalraj and Sanil Shetty too fought their way into the medals' bracket, bagging a bronze in the men's doubles.

Ayhika put up a brave fight in the summit clash but Kim proved to be a tough nut to crack in the end. In the semifinals, Ayhika had defeated Hong Kong's Chengzhu Zhu 3-1 to enter the finals.

She had lost the first game 6-11 but showed great spirit to win the next three 11-3, 11-7, 11-8 against Chengzhu.

Ayhika's impressive run in the tournament started with a 3-1 win against Poland's Natalia Bajor in the round of 32. Compatriot Sreeja Akula also beat Alina Nikitchanka of Belarus by a 3-0 margin to enter the prequarters.

However, Archana Kamath and Moumita Dutta bowed out with defeats.

In the pre-quarters, Ayhika downed France's Audrey Zarif 3-0 but Sreeja lost to eventual winner Youjin Kim of Korea.

In the quarter-finals, Ayhika dominated the proceedings against Satsuki Odo of Japan, winning the first two games 11-9, 11-9. She slipped in the third though, going down 4-11 rather quickly.

However, she regained her wits to win the last game 11-4 to move into the semifinal round.

In men's doubles, Amalraj-Shetty started slowly, losing a tight opening game 10-12 to the Belgian pair of Olav Kosolosky and Laurens Devos. They had a tough second game too which they eventually managed to win 15-13.

There was no stopping them thereafter, winning the next two 11-9, 11-6.

In the quarter-finals too, they had to use all their experience to ward off the Swedish pair of Viktor Brodd and Simon Berglund. They won the tie 3-1, losing the second game which brought the best out of them.

Up against the daunting Korean pair of Seungmin Cho and Jaehyun An in the semifinal, the Indian duo fought valiantly but yielded 6-11, 8-11, 7-11 to settle for the bronze medal.

 

Sharma finds a par round, as Finau grabs 3-shot lead at WGC

India's Shubhankar Sharma finally registered a modest round against his name as he carded an even par 72 in the third round of the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions here on Saturday.

Sharma, who was 80-80 for the first two days, opened superbly from the 10th with three birdies in first five holes, but then had a start-stop-start kind of a round.

He dropped a double on 15th and then had back-to-back birdies on second and third. Then again he lapsed with three bogeys in last four holes for a 72. He is presently 76th out of the 77 left in the tournament.

Gaganjeet Bhullar (81) had a disappointing day. He was fine for the front nine with one birdie and one bogey, but on the back nine he had five bogeys and two doubles.

Meanwhile, Tony Finau had a stunning finish by being the only player to birdie last three holes as he raced to a three-shot lead.

Finau was two-over through 12, but birdied 13th and then had three in a row from 16th.

Defending champion Justin Rose (70), seeking to become the only player other than Tiger Woods to defend a World Golf Championships title, returned with a 70 to share second place with Americans Patrick Reed (70) and Xander Schauffele (69).

Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat carded two-under-par 70 to sit at tied seventh.     While a maiden WGC win at the Sheshan International Golf Club is still within sights, the Thai preferred to play down expectations and just focus on getting off to a fast start so that he can chase Finau down on the final day.

Like Kiradech, Finau is also eyeing his breakthrough at a WGC event.

 

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