Alonso secures pole position
Championship leader Fernando Alonso secured his second consecutive pole position yesterday when he outpaced his rivals in qualifying for today’s German Grand Prix. The Spaniard was four-tenths of a second ahead of nearest rival and defending double champion, Sebastian Vettel of Germany, and his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber of Australia. German local hero and seven-times champion Michael Schumacher, 43, was fourth fastest in front of a big crowd of his dedicated fans, with another German, Nico Hulkenberg, taking fifth place on the grid for the Force India team. Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado of Williams was sixth ahead of the McLaren pair of Britons Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, whose bright promise in dry conditions in practice on Friday was not converted into grid positions in the rain. Button’s relative success in taking seventh place was the first time this year that he has outpaced Hamilton in qualifying. Another Briton, Paul Di Resta, was ninth in the second Force India, ahead of Finn Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus.
Man U eye Van Persie
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has confirmed the club’s bid for Arsenal captain Robin van Persie. Ferguson said United are aware other clubs are interested in the player, but added: “We’ve shown an interest and that’s where we’re at at the moment.” His comments were posted on the club’s Web site on Friday. Juventus and Manchester City have been among the bidders for the Netherlands striker, who announced earlier this month that he would not extend his Arsenal contract because of a disagreement over the club’s future strategy. Van Persie scored 37 goals in all competitions for Arsenal last season.
Monfils pulls out of tennis
Frenchman Gael Monfils has become the latest player to withdraw from the Olympic tennis competition, the International Tennis Federation said on Friday. In a statement the governing body said the world No. 15 had been injured with his place in the singles draw going to compatriot Julien Benneteau. Benneteau, who led Roger Federer by two sets at Wimbledon this year, joins countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon and Richard Gasquet in the men’s singles. Defending men’s singles champion Rafa Nadal pulled out on Thursday with knee problems, while Germany’s Andrea Petkovic’s ankle injury has led to her withdrawal from the women’s singles.
Gasol is Spanish flag bearer
Basketball player Pau Gasol has been chosen to replace Rafael Nadal as the country’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony for the London Games, the Spanish Olympic federation said on Friday. Nadal, the gold medal holder in the men’s singles from Beijing, was forced to pull out of the Games on Thursday after failing to recover from a knee problem. Los Angeles Lakers center Gasol is one of the country’s most recognized sportsmen and helped Spain win silver in Beijing four years ago, when they lost in the final to the US. One of the first people to congratulate the Barcelona-born 32-year-old was Nadal. “Congratulations. I am very pleased you are the flag bearer. You are a reference and a great example to everyone. Enjoy it. You deserve it,” the French Open champion said on his Twitter account.