Japan trounce the Aussies
Japan defeated Australia 6-0 on Thursday in a tune-up for next month's Asian qualifiers for the baseball tournament at the Beijing Olympics. Takahiro Arai drove in a run in the first inning and Atsunori Ibata made it 2-0 in the fourth inning at Fukuoka Dome with a single to left. Japan scored four more runs in the eighth. One team will qualify for the Olympics in the Dec. 1 to Dec. 3 qualifiers to be held in Taiwan. Two more teams will advance from Asia in a tournament to be held next March, also in Taiwan.
Leukemans fails dope test
Belgian cyclist Bjorn Leukemans has been suspended by the Predictor-Lotto team after an out-of-competition test came back positive for testosterone. "If the B sample was to be positive, the rider would be immediately sacked," the team said on its Web site late on Wednesday. "This isolated case has no influence on the normal operations of the team." Leukemans, 30, finished fourth in the Paris-Roubaix classic in April and won the fourth stage of the Tour of Austria in July. Leukemans denied any wrongdoing in a statement on his Web site. "I will clear my name," he said.
America's Cup postponed
The 2009 America's Cup was postponed on Thursday because of a protracted legal dispute. Organizers said the 33rd edition of the sailing classic will be staged at a later date because of Golden Gate Yacht Club's dispute with two-time defending champion Alinghi's Societe Nautique de Geneve over the rules for the next race. "The ongoing uncertainty around the conclusion of the New York court case brought by BMW Oracle Racing leaves the organizers no choice but to delay the event, as many indicators demonstrate a lack of viability to stage the event in 2009 to the same standards as the 32nd America's Cup," America's Cup Management said in a statement.
Fernando fit to play Tests
Sri Lanka's fast bowler Dilhara Fernando will play in the upcoming Test series against England despite a recurring ankle injury, his captain Mahela Jayawardene said yesterday. Fernando, 28, is a key member of Sri Lanka's pace attack along with Lasith Malinga and 99-match veteran Chaminda Vaas for the three back-to-back Tests starting in Kandy on Dec. 1. His availability is crucial for the hosts in the absence of seamer Farveez Maharoof, who will miss the entire series after suffering a stress fracture during the recent Test tour of Australia. Jayawardene said Fernando, who is due for surgery next April, took injections in Australia to make himself fit for the England series.
Liu feeling the pressure
Reigning Olympic and World champion 110m hurdler Liu Xiang has been told he will be a failure if he does not pick up gold at next year's Beijing Games, it was reported yesterday. Liu, who also holds the world record in the event, has consistently complained of the enormous pressure he is under in the lead-up to next year's Olympics, and his coach Sun Haiping gave a glimpse of one reason why. "Officials from the State General Administration of Sports once told us if Liu could not win a gold in Beijing, all of his previous achievements would become meaningless," Sun said, according to the China Daily newspaper. "So we have to take everything possible into consideration to keep him in top form.