Bolt, Isinbayeva win awards
Triple Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt and Russia’s pole vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva were confirmed as IAAF athletes of the year in Monaco on Sunday. The 22-year-old, world-record breaking Bolt captured the 100m, 200m and 4x100m golds in Beijing, where Isinbayeva held the Bird’s Nest Stadium enthralled when she defended her Olympic title with a world record 5.05m. Cuba’s Dayron Robles, the Olympic 110m hurdles champion and world record holder, won the male performance of the year award, while Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia and Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic shared the female performance award.
Player of the Year named
Welsh winger Shane Williams, who played a pivotal role in his team’s Six Nations Grand Slam triumph earlier this year, was on Sunday named the International Rugby Board Player of the Year. The 31-year-old Ospreys star saw off competition from Wales captain Ryan Jones, New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter, Scotland captain Mike Blair and Italy skipper Sergio Parisse to land the award at a gala dinner in London. Pint-sized Williams, 31, scored six tries in this year’s Six Nations and was named player of the tournament as Wales won the Grand Slam. He also broke Gareth Thomas’ try-scoring record and has now scored 43 tries in 60 Tests.
Norway win opening events
Norway won both World Cup cross-country ski openers by small margins on Sunday. Petter Northug proved he has one of the strongest finishing kicks by edging Marcus Hellner of Sweden by 0.2 seconds in the men’s 4x10km mixed-style event. “It turned out to be a dream scenario,” Northug said. “Good for me, bad for him. It feels really good.” The Norwegian quartet crossed in 1 hour, 30 minutes, 58.8 seconds. Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Eldar Ronning skied the first two classic-style legs and Tore Ruud Hofstad skied the first freestyle leg. Marthe Kristoffersen, a 19-year-old rookie making her debut on Norway’s “A” team, edged Riitta Liisa Roponen of Finland by 0.4 seconds in the women’s 4x5km relay. Sweden were third, 42.7 seconds back.
Montgomery admits doping
Disgraced former world record holder Tim Montgomery said he took testosterone and human growth hormone before the Sydney Olympics and does not deserve the gold medal he won in the 400m relay. The admission was made during an interview scheduled to air tonight on HBO television. “I have a gold medal that I’m sitting on that I didn’t get with my own ability,” Montgomery said in the interview. “I’m not here to take away from anybody else’s accomplishments, only my own. And I must say, I apologize to the other people that were on the relay team if that was to happen.” Montgomery never tested positive for drugs, but he was banned from track for two years and his world record in the 100m was erased after he was linked to the BALCO doping investigation.
Contador goes under knife
Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, winner of last year’s Tour de France, was scheduled to undergo surgery yesterday to relieve a blockage in his nasal passage. Contador, 25, said on Sunday he would undergo a two-hour operation at Madrid’s Ramon and Cajal hospital to relieve the blockage, which was the result of an injury sustained in a crash last May as he won the Giro d’Italia. Contador will also have a polyp in his vocal chord removed.