Rio to host new event
Rio the Janeiro will host a combined ATP and WTA event which will be the biggest tournament in South America from next February. Local organizers announced the Rio Open on Wednesday, to be played from Feb. 15 to Feb. 23. The event will be played at the Jockey Club, which features eight clay courts, including a 7,000-seat center court. The men’s prize money will be US$1.2 million, and the women’s US$235,000. The Rio Open will replace the combined ATP-WTA event in Memphis, Tennessee.
Albany win Tavistock Cup
Ian Poulter birdied the first hole of a playoff to lift Albany past Lake Nona in the Tavistock Cup in Florida, ending Lake Nona’s winning streak at four in the team tournament on Tuesday. Poulter shot an even-par 72 at Isleworth, then teamed up with Tiger Woods in the best-ball playoff against Lake Nona’s Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson. Albany tied Lake Nona at seven over, with Woods and Tim Clark shooting 73, and Justin Rose finishing with a 77. The event was shortened to one day of stroke play because of the Monday finish in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. McDowell had a 71 to lead Lake Nona. Ross Fisher had a 72, Stenson shot 74, and Peter Hanson 78. Primland and Isleworth tied for third at eight over, Oak Tree were 12 over and Queenwood 20 over. Primland’s Webb Simpson had the best round, shooting 70.
Former champ in hospital
Wilfredo Gomez’s sister-in-law says the former world champion has been hospitalized because of breathing problems. Nydia Hernandez said on Wednesday that the 56-year-old Gomez, widely considered to be the best Puerto Rican fighter in history, is under sedation in an intensive care unit and is breathing with the assistance of a tube. Gomez was a three-time world champion with the WBA and WBC at super bantamweight, featherweight and junior lightweight. He retired in 1989 with a 44-3 record with one draw and 42 knockouts. Nicknamed “Bazooka,” Gomez had a reputation for taking out opponents quickly, averaging less than four rounds a fight. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1995, becoming only the fifth fighter to be elected in his first year of eligibility.
Sri Lankans get OK for IPL
Sri Lanka’s cricket board said on Wednesday it would allow its players to take part in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament in India next month after receiving assurances about their safety. The government in Colombo had threatened to prevent any of the 13 Sri Lankan players contracted to play in the IPL from taking part after they were all effectively barred from playing in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. However, after talks with the sports ministry on Wednesday, the board said it would give the green light to the players provided they were happy to go and also did not play in Tamil Nadu. The safety concerns surfaced after signs of growing anger among Indian Tamils over the Sri Lankan government’s treatment of their ethnic kinsmen. There have been several anti-Sri Lanka protests in recent weeks and Tamil Nadu lawmakers called on Wednesday for New Delhi to impose an economic embargo on the Colombo government. Tamil Nadu’s chief minister said on Tuesday she would bar any Sri Lankans from playing in her state, prompting organizers to ban all 13 players from taking the field in games in the state capital Chennai.
Beale to seek counseling
The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) says Wallaby fullback Kurtley Beale has agreed to an indefinite break from the game and will seek counseling after being sent home from South Africa over an altercation with his Melbourne Rebels teammates. Following the Rebels’ 64-7 Super 15 loss to the Coastal Sharks in Durban last weekend, Beale was reported to have punched captain Gareth Delve and winger Cooper Vuna. The ARU said Beale had been fined a “substantial” amount after admitting his guilt yesterday. ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said Beale “knows he needs to be accountable for his actions and he is determined to overcome the challenges he has faced in recent times. The unfortunate matter in South Africa was not an isolated incident for Kurtley. He understands it was unacceptable and, most critically, acknowledges he needs to make changes.” Beale is already facing assault charges arising from an incident with a bouncer at a Brisbane nightclub last year.
Wales coach lauds ‘Joniesta’
Welsh coach Chris Coleman said the national side had uncovered another gem, following the sparkling performance of midfielder Jonathan Williams in the last-gasp 2-1 defeat by Croatia in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday. Wales already boast one of world soccer’s hottest properties in Gareth Bale, who Coleman joked could be shunted from the headlines by 19-year-old Williams when their next qualifier comes around in September. “In the next couple of trips you will be asking me about Johnny as much as you do about Gareth. He will go to another level and you can see why everyone is so excited. He’s still got a lot of work to do, but he’s certainly a gifted player,” Coleman said. The diminutive midfielder, who plays in the second tier of English soccer with south London club Crystal Palace, is nicknamed “Joniesta” in reference to Barcelona and Spain’s phenomenal playmaker Andres Iniesta.
Norwegian ‘legend’ dies
Norwegian speed skating great Hjalmar Andersen, who won three gold medals at the 1952 Oslo Winter Olympics, has died at the age of 90, local media reported on Wednesday. Andersen, who swept the board in Oslo over 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m to become that Games’ most successful athlete, was also a triple world champion between 1950 and 1952. “A legend” was how he was described by Norwegian Minister for Culture and Sports Hadia Tajik. He set four world records during his career, including setting the first sub-17 minute 10,000m world record in 1949.
Ullrich ‘contributed role’
Former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich says he played a role in “what happened in cycling,” but did not offer a clear confession to doping like some other leading riders, including his longtime rival Lance Armstrong. Ullrich wrote in his blog on Eurosport that “everyone can make his own opinion about what happened in cycling and I also contributed my role in that,” but added that he would not make any public confessions like Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour titles. The German won the Tour in 1997 and finished runner-up five times, three times behind Armstrong. Ullrich was suspended in 2006 in the fallout from Operation Puerto in Spain. He retired a year later. The Court of Arbitration for Sport banned him for two years last year for involvement in the doping program of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.