China’s star to miss Sochi
China’s most decorated winter Olympian has confirmed that she will miss next month’s Sochi Games after suffering a broken ankle, state media reported. Short track speed skater Wang Meng told China Central Television there was no chance she would participate in the Winter Olympics, which begin in two weeks. The loss of the 28-year-old star is a bitter blow for China, as she took three of the national team’s five gold medals at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada, the overall world champion won gold in the 500m, 1,000m and 3,000m relay. She also won the 500m at the Turin Winter Olympics in 2006, along with the 1,000m silver and 1,500m bronze. The skater, from the icy northeastern province of Heilongjiang, has developed an image as the “rebel” of Chinese sport after several run-ins with authority. Wang was banned from competition for 13 months after being involved in a drunken brawl with a coach in 2011 in the eastern city of Qingdao. She and her teammates were also forced to make a “reconciliation” following a separate drunken confrontation with security guards in Yunnan in June 2011. Prior to that, Wang was dropped from the national team for half a year in 2007 for criticizing a coach for poor tactics at the Asian Winter Games.
Gunman kills players
An Afghan official said a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire at a group of local cricket players, killing five of them during a game in eastern Laghman Province. A provincial spokesman, Sarhadii Zhouak, said the attack took place on Thursday in Alinghar district. He says the attacker fled the scene. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Zhouak blamed the Taliban. When the Taliban ruled the country, they severely restricted sports and public celebrations. Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a statement condemning the attack.
Ireland’s Earls injured
Ireland back Keith Earls is likely to miss the entire Six Nations after being ruled out for six to eight weeks through injury, his club said on Thursday. A statement on the Munster Web site said the player had suffered medial ligament damage to his left knee during Sunday’s Heineken Cup game against Edinburgh. The 26-year-old underwent a scan on Monday before meeting a specialist in Dublin where the injury prognosis was confirmed. Ireland begin their Six Nations campaign against Scotland on Sunday next week and finish with a game in France on March 15. Earls has not played for Ireland since Joe Schmidt took over as coach in April last year, having missed the November internationals with knee problems.
Go to Open from Joburg
Three players could qualify for The Open at the Joburg Open next month. Organizers of the Johannesburg European Tour event said on Thursday the top three finishers within the top 10 not already exempt will earn a place at the game’s oldest major. The British Open is at Royal Liverpool in July, and the Joburg Open becomes one of 14 tournaments in nine countries that offer players a chance to go. Former US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, fellow South African Branden Grace and 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand have all confirmed for the Joburg Open that starts on Feb. 6.