Seahawks sign Earl Thomas
The Seattle Seahawks officially signed safety Earl Thomas to a contract extension on Tuesday, reportedly making him the highest-paid NFL player at his position. The defensive star had a career-high 105 tackles, five interceptions and nine passes defended in 16 games last season, leading the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” defensive secondary in the team’s run to a first Super Bowl title. Terms of the deal were not announced, but multiple media outlets reported on Monday that the deal is worth US$40 million over four years.
McKinnon gets ‘job for life’
Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) has pledged a “job for life” for Newcastle Knights forward Alex McKinnon, whose neck was broken in a match last month. The 22-year-old suffered the sickening injury against the Melbourne Storm on March 24 after being dumped heavily into the turf in a lifting tackle by three opposition players. One of the tacklers was banned for seven matches. McKinnon, restricted to a wheelchair, watched his teammates at a match last week and said he had recovered movement in his arms and experienced feeling in his legs. “His spirit and determination are an inspiration for all of us,” NRL chief executive Dave Smith said in a media release yesterday. “The NRL would be honored if Alex wanted to channel that spirit into a career in our game and the offer is on the table — for life.”
Malik’s ban up for review
The Pakistan Cricket Board is to review the life ban for matchfixing imposed on the country’s former captain Saleem Malik on the recommendation of a judicial inquiry commission, board chairman Najam Sethi said on Tuesday. Malik was one of three international captains, along with South Africa’s Hansie Cronje and India’s Mohammad Azharuddin, to be given life bans from all forms of cricket after Delhi police discovered evidence in 2000 that Cronje had accepted money from a bookmaker to throw matches. During an enquiry into the scandal, Cronje, who died in a plane crash in 2002, named Malik as one of the players involved in the deal. “After a seven-year struggle in 2008, on the orders of the Supreme Court, the sessions court declared my ban illegal,” said the 51-year-old Malik, who played 103 Tests and 283 one-day internationals.
Waratahs coach hit with ban
NSW Waratahs coach Michael Cheika was hit with a suspended six-month ban yesterday for abusing a cameraman during the Australian team’s loss to Super 15 leaders the Coastal Sharks in Durban last month. Governing body SANZAR also ordered Cheika to write a letter of apology to the cameraman and pay A$6,000 (US$5,500) in costs, warning the ban would be triggered if he re-offended. SANZAR judicial officer Nigel Hampton found that Cheika repeatedly swore at the cameraman shortly after halftime as his team were handed a 32-10 drubbing by the Sharks. He said the abuse was unprovoked and Cheika’s record showed he had a “disturbing” propensity to abuse match officials. In 2011, Cheika, then coaching Stade Francais, had to pay a fine of 22,000 euros (US$30,400), half of it suspended, for insulting comments he made to match officials. SANZAR gave Cheika a warning about his behavior last year, but the coach reportedly smashed the glass door of the coaching box at Canberra Stadium in March last year after the Waratahs were defeated by the ACT Brumbies.
Newcastle face Irons in NZ
Newcastle United and West Ham United will play pre-season exhibition matches in New Zealand in July, the English Premier League sides said yesterday. The teams are to play two matches each against A-League sides Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC. Newcastle play Sydney at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr stadium on July 22, with West Ham taking on Phoenix at Auckland’s Eden Park the following day. The teams then head to New Zealand capital Wellington for a double-header at Westpac Stadium on July 26, where Phoenix host Newcastle and Sydney take on West Ham.
Wigan make playoffs
Wigan Athletic secured a place in the English Championship (second-tier) playoffs with a 1-0 win at relegation-threatened Birmingham City on Tuesday, fueling their hopes of an immediate return to the Premier League. A third-minute goal from Callum McManaman was enough to wrap up victory and move Wigan up to fifth on 73 points, four clear of playoff-chasing Brighton in seventh, with one game of the season remaining. The final playoff position will almost certainly be filled by sixth-placed Reading, who host promoted Burnley on Saturday, or Brighton, who are point behind their rivals before their visit to Nottingham Forest also on the last day of the season. Blackburn Rovers are still mathematically in the race, but trail Reading by three points and are seven goals worse off. Leicester City have already won the title, with Burnley finishing runners-up, while Derby County and Queens Park Rangers have booked their places in the playoffs.
Thorpe leaves hospital
Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe has left a Sydney hospital after battling serious infections for more than three weeks following shoulder surgery, his manager said yesterday. At one point, there were reports that the 31-year-old five-time Olympic gold medalist would lose the use of his left arm, although they proved unfounded. Thorpe had broken his shoulder in a fall in Australia a few months ago and Erskine previously said the swimmer known as “Thorpedo” would not be resuming his career in the pool. He retired in 2006 after a glittering career in which he ruled the pool from 1998 to 2004, taking nine Olympic medals and 11 world titles and setting 13 long-course world records. He returned to racing in 2011 in Singapore, but had a string of disappointing results.
Cup playoffs this month
The playoff between the seventh-placed teams in the French Top 14 and the English Premiership for the final place in the new European Champions Cup will be held over two weekends this month. French League president Paul Goze announced on Tuesday that the first leg would be played on May 17 or 18 and the return on May 24 or 25 after a draw to decide who will host the first leg. The draw will be made as soon as seventh place in England is decided. The Top 14 regular season ends on Saturday, with Stade Francais currently in seventh. Wasps are favorites to finish seventh in England, having a two-point advantage over eighth-placed Exeter with two matches remaining, but could clinch their place with victory over Newcastle this weekend. The Champions Cup will involve 20 teams, down from 24 under the old format, with six from the English Premiership, six from the French Top 14 and seven from the Pro12. The 20th qualifier will be decided by the playoff.
‘CRIMINAL ACT’: The UCI said it ‘strongly condemns’ Dylan Groenewegen’s ‘dangerous behavior,’ which left Jakobsen in critical condition and injured other cyclists Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was in a coma on Wednesday, in “serious” condition, after he was thrown into and over a barrier at 80kph in the conclusion to the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. Footage showed 23-year-old Jakobsen, of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step, racing elbow-to-elbow with fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma as both men frantically tussled in a tight sprint to the line in Katowice. However, Jakobsen came off worst, somersaulting over the barriers before colliding with a photographer after Groenewegen had veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall. “His condition is very serious. His life is
Taiwan Steel on Sunday grabbed three points with a narrow 1-0 win against Hang Yuan FC, to move into the No. 2 spot on the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) log, while Taipower FC beat NTUS 2-0 to maintain first place. Taking advantage early in the match of opposition defenders who had not yet settled down, Taiwan Steel’s attacking trio of Wu Chun-ching, Marc Fenelus from the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Benchy Astama from Haiti pushed forward with good passes. After only one minute of play, Fenelus dribbled from the right flank, feeding a short pass inside the penalty area to
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
STAYING COOL: Hamilton said that his ‘heart nearly stopped’ when he noticed the puncture, but he kept going to beat Alain Prost’s total of six home wins in France Lewis Hamilton said he feared he might not make it home when a last lap puncture almost derailed his charge to a record seventh British Grand Prix victory on Sunday. “I didn’t think I would make it round the last two corners,” the world champion said. The front left tire of his Mercedes had delaminated and deflated on his final lap, leaving the six-time world champion to nurse his vehicle to the finish as second-placed Max Verstappen hunted him down. “I just can’t believe it,” Hamilton said. “It was heart-stopping. I backed off and stayed chilled and was so glad it happened on