Japan star warns of racism
Japanese players need to develop thicker skins to deal with the racism of European leagues, national team goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima said. The Standard Liege ’keeper was speaking after it emerged striker Yuki Nakamura had left his Slovakian club Rimavska Sobota because of racist abuse. “It is a pity that something happened like that, but, and this is just my opinion, Japanese players ... have to be really tough in a foreign country. It is not easy,” Kawashima told Kyodo News on Wednesday. In 2011, Kawashima was reduced to tears midway through a game in Belgium after opposition fans started taunting him with repeated chants of “Fukushima, Fukushima,” referring to the 2011 nuclear disaster. “Sometimes people are against us just because we are Asian. Some stupid people think that way and just joke in that way and we just need to be tough,” he said. “Living in Japan is really comfortable and really easy, but you know when you go abroad the situation isn’t always the same.”
Foot injury sidelines Gasol
Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol has been sidelined indefinitely after sustaining a tear in his right foot, his team said on Wednesday. Gasol was injured during the Lakers’ victory over Brooklyn on Tuesday and received scans which confirmed an injury serious enough to keep him off court for a while. No specific timetable has been given for his return and the Spaniard was due to meet with team doctors yesterday to sketch out a plan for his recuperation. “I’m hoping to recover ASAP so I can be back with the team and keep fighting until the end of the season,” Gasol tweeted on Wednesday.
Szavay quits at 24
Hungarian star Agnes Szavay, 24, has announced her retirement because of back problems. “Unfortunately a long road has led to this decision, I have no choice, I must not risk my health,” Szavay, who had an operation last year for a cracked vertebra, said in a statement. “It is a very emotional and shocking moment. For more than 10 years my life has revolved around tennis. I loved to do it, and probably my career peak was still ahead of me,” she said. Szavay began playing tennis at the age of five, and turned professional in 2004. She won five WTA tournaments in singles and two in doubles. “I’m very proud of my tournament successes and titles. It was difficult, but I have a lot to thank this sport for,” Szavay said, adding that she plans to open a children’s tennis academy.
Icon to miss championships
Russia’s figure skating icon Evgeni Plushenko will have to miss the world championships next month in London, Canada, the country’s figure skating federation general manager Valentin Piseyev said yesterday. “Evgeni [Plushenko] will miss the world championships because he is unable to recover completely after recent backbone surgery,” RIA-Novosti news agency quoted Piseyev as saying. “We will decide who will replace Plushenko in the national team at the Russian Cup finals.” Piseyev has named Maxim Kovtun, Sergei Voronov, Konstantin Menshov and Artur Gachinsky among the candidates for a place in the Russian squad to perform at the world championships. Three-time world champion and 2006 Olympic Games winner Plushenko underwent spinal surgery on Jan. 31.