Sports Briefs


Sat, Jan 01, 2005 - Page 18

■ Baseball

Court reduces sentences

A Taiwan court on Friday cut a number of sentences against 23 baseball players and trainers involved in the nation's biggest sporting scandal after hearing their appeals. The game-fixing scandal rocked baseball -- Taiwan's most popular sport -- in 1996. The next year, the 23 accused were convicted of throwing games and received jail terms of up to 2 years and 6 months. In the appeals verdict Friday, the High Court still found 22 of the 23 guilty, but cut most of their sentences, often by half. One player, Tsai Ming-hung of the Times Eagles, was acquitted because he had never set foot on the field during the games, court spokesman Wen Yao-yuan said. Tsai had been sentenced to 8 months in jail in the 1997 trial. The accused were banned from the sport after the first trial, and were forced to find other work.

■ Tennis

Martina keeps on ticking

Martina Navratilova has two perfectly good reasons to keep her stellar tennis career going: she's good, and she's always improving. So stop asking the 48-year-old champion why she is still playing. "I've been asked that question for the past five years and frankly I consider it an insult," said Navratilova, entered in the doubles draw at the Australian hardcourt championships at Royal Pines. "Women's tennis is really strong and all I can say is I'm that damn good. "I'm sorry but I really have to blow my own horn here -- I'm still that good. The ball doesn't know how old you are." Navratilova, winner of 58 Grand Slam titles, accused the media of double standards when reporting on male athletes coming back from retirement and playing well. "Mario Lemieux came back after two years and started scoring goals and all the reporters were saying, `Wow he's really good,'" Navratilova said Friday.

■ Hockey

Saku Koivu comes home

Saku Koivu has found that you can go home again. The Montreal Canadiens captain capped his Finnish League comeback with 38 seconds remaining Thursday night when he scored an empty-net goal for TPS of Turku. Koivu had a goal and assist in a 2-0 victory over Espoo 2-0 -- giving him 139 points in as many games in the league. He left home in the spring of 1995 after helping TPS to the championship, and a few weeks later led Finland to its only World Championship gold medal. Koivu was then off to the NHL. Now during the North American league's lockout, Koivu is making TPS a likely title contender again. "For long, I will remember this game, having the opportunity to play in my home town. I acknowledge the expectations and the pressure as a reality, but I hope I can enjoy this into the spring," Koivu said.

■ Athletics

Holmes made a dame

Dual Olympic gold medalist Kelly Holmes was awarded the highest royal honor when she was made a dame in Queen Elizabeth II's New Year list. Holmes joined rower Matthew Pinsent, who was knighted Friday after winning his fourth gold medal in as many Games, in a list loaded with Olympic medalists. Holmes won the 800m and 1,500m in Athens, despite being a 100-1 underdog to pull off the double. She was the first Briton to win both events since Albert Hill in Antwerp in 1920. Pinsent led Britain to victory in the coxless fours in Athens by only eighty one-hundredths of a second. Pinsent also won golds in the 1992, 1996, and 2000 Olympics.