Allen, Finley shortlisted
Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen and San Antonio Spurs sharpshooter Michael Finley were among the finalists named on Thursday for the NBA Sportsmanship Award. Six finalists, one from each NBA division, were selected by a seven-member panel of former players with a vote of current players to determine a winner that will be announced after the regular season ends in two weeks.
ITF fines Swedish federation
The Swedish tennis federation has been fined US$25,000 and Malmo, Sweden, has been banned from hosting Davis Cup matches for five years after the city’s authorities opted to play the tie against Israel behind closed doors. The International Tennis Federation also said in a statement the Swedish federation would have to pay an additional US$15,000 that it would have received in gate receipts had the March 6 to March 8 tie been open to spectators. The safety of the Israeli team members in Malmo — a city with a large Muslim community — prompted the local authorities to act. Around 1,000 police officers were on duty for the tie and the ITF said the security measures in place would have allowed the contest to go ahead as usual even though more than 6,000 demonstrators protested against Israel’s presence in the competition. Before the tie, Israeli doubles specialist Andy Ram called the decision to bar fans “idiotic.” Israel beat Sweden 3-2 in the tie to reach the quarter-finals.
Marali wins fourth title
Zolani Marali of South Africa won his fourth world boxing title when he beat Gamaliel Diaz of Mexico by unanimous decision for the vacant IBO super featherweight crown at Gauteng, South Africa, on Thursday. Diaz replaced Fahsai Sakkreenin of Thailand, who withdrew with hepatitis B two weeks ago. Marali (20-2) knocked down Diaz (23-9-2) once and both fighters wrestled to the mat several times at Emperor’s Palace.
Woman falls in hole, dies
A Japanese woman playing golf with her family died in a freak accident when the greens under her feet collapsed and she plunged into a 5m deep cavern, police said yesterday. A golf course official said the hollow space just below the lawn may have been formed by springtime mountain snow melt flowing through soils below the golf course fairway on Japan’s far-northern island of Hokkaido. Local authorities were investigating Thursday’s deadly accident, which happened as the woman was playing golf with her husband and two children. “We heard from firefighters that ... all of a sudden she fell into the hole in front of her 10-year-old son,” a police official said. The woman, Takae Gassho, 38, from Sapporo, was dead when emergency officials pulled her from the hole at the Le Petaw Golf Club. Officials believed she may have lost consciousness in the fall and then drowned in a puddle of water at the bottom of the cavern. A Hokkaido Golf Association official said that “normally golf clubs conduct visual check-ups every day” but that “nobody could have noticed that a hollow space was quietly forming underground.”
■RALLY CAR RACING
Solberg leads in Portugal
Henning Solberg of Norway led the Portugal Rally after the first special stage in Portugal’s Algarve Stadium on Thursday. He clocked 2 minutes, 9.6 seconds around the 2.1km track. Dani Sordo of Spain was a close second at 2:09.7, while Mikko Hirvonen of Finland was third at 2:09.8.