SPORTS DAY: Snags strike grand unified Korean plan
David Isaacson rounds up the day's sports news you need to know
Language barrier in unified Korean team
The unified Korean women’s ice hockey team faced an unexpected challenge at their first joint training session, reports said on Monday — vastly different hockey terminology on either side of the divided peninsula.
Seven decades of almost total separation after the 1950-53 Korean War, with all ordinary civilian contact blocked between North and South, has seen their once common language diverge in many respects.
The squad, made up of 23 South Korean players and 12 Northerners who crossed the demilitarised zone last week, has been accorded its own country code, but its last-minute creation has sparked controversy among many South Koreans who accused Seoul of using athletes for political purposes and robbing Southern players of opportunities to compete at the Olympics.
Woods passes comeback test
An upbeat Tiger Woods on Sunday declared his surgically-fused back had passed its first big test with flying colours.
After finishing a respectable equal 23rd at the Farmers Insurance Open, Woods spoke with optimism as he reflected on his official PGA Tour comeback.
He found the sticky rye grass rough with monotonous regularity at Torrey Pines South course, hitting only three fairways in each of the final three rounds, but hit some creative and brilliant recovery shots and putted well in his first official start since his spinal fusion last April.
“Overall I thought I did pretty well this week,” said the American who finished seven strokes behind the winner. “Some of the shots I had to hit out of the rough, out of the trees, a few times I had to jack up the speed and had no issues at all (with my body).”
Probe into possible flaw in dope-testing bottles
The World Anti-Doping Agency says it has launched an investigation into a possible glitch in drug-testing kits which could allow sample bottles to be opened manually.
WADA said in a statement on Sunday it had been alerted by an accredited laboratory in Cologne that bottles manufactured by Swiss manufacturer Berlinger could be opened after being frozen.
The glass containers, known as the BEREG-KIT Geneva, were touted as the next generation of sample bottles after being released last year in the wake of the Russian doping scandal that dogged the 2014 Winter Olympics. It was not clear if the new Berlinger bottles were due to be used at next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Teen cricketer boosts Nepal hopes
Teenage leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane could boost the sagging fortunes of Nepal’s scandal-tainted domestic cricket with his breakthrough deal to become part of the Indian Premier League, officials said on Monday.
Lamichhane, 17, made history on Sunday becoming the first cricketer from Nepal to land an IPL contract when he was picked by the Delhi Daredevils for $31,466 during a player auction ahead of the Twenty20 tournament, which starts in April.
Lamichhane’s entry into the cash-rich league comes on the heels of weekend meetings between the International Cricket Council and the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) about ending Nepal’s two-year suspension from the global governing body.
The ICC banned CAN in April 2016 over political interference in the running of the domestic governing body, but continued to allow Nepal’s national teams to participate in top events.
Teams shift to lesser known players
The eight teams in the cash-rich Indian Premier League spent almost $70-million at an auction for players ahead of the Twenty20 tournament, which starts in April.
The results showed a marked shift away from purchasing big-name foreign stars, in favour of up-and-coming players from India and elsewhere.
While there were no bidders for England’s Test and one-day captains Joe Root and Eoin Morgan, Kings XI Punjab paid $628,000 for Mujeeb Zadran, a 16-year-old spinner from Afghanistan and the youngest player to be signed by an IPL team.
One reason for the signings could be a desire to expand the IPL’s fanbase in other South Asian countries. “We will have some new fans for IPL ... I hope this will start a cricket revolution in Nepal,” Delhi chief executive Hemant Dua said.
Alonso satisfied after Daytona spin
Fernando Alonso believes he has gained vital experience for a future crack at the Le Mans 24 Hours after finishing 38th in the Daytona endurance race on Sunday.
The Spanish former Formula One world champion’s campaign in Florida was derailed by mechanical problems that included two brake failures in his United Autosports Ligier JS P217.
“It happened two times in the first corner — you’re right there at 300-310 kilometres an hour then you hit the brakes and there’s no brakes,” said Alonso, who has spoken of his desire to take a crack at the “Triple Crown” of motor-racing — winning the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans.
Only one other driver — Graham Hill — has successfully achieved that hat-trick.
Wozniacki returns to top of rankings
Caroline Wozniacki moved to the top of the WTA rankings released on Monday on the back of her maiden Grand Slam triumph at the Australian Open.
The 27-year-old Dane usurped Romanian Simona Halep whom she beat in an epic Melbourne final, reclaiming the number one ranking six years to the day since she last relinquished it.
Halep dropped to number two.
Roger Federer’s victory in the Australian Open has taken him to within 155 points of world number one Rafael Nadal in the ATP rankings.
Marin Cilic, who took Federer to five sets in the final, moves up three places to a career-high ranking of third.