SPORTS DAY: Sprint stars line up to track champ Gatlin

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SPORTS DAY: Sprint stars line up to track champ Gatlin

Mninawa Ntloko compiles the news of the day

Agencies

ATHLETICS
Makwala eyes elite club ruled by Wayde
Botswana star Isaac Makwala would like to become the fourth man in the world to break 31 seconds when he races the 300m in Pretoria on Thursday. Makwala‚ one of only five athletes on the planet to have run a sub-20sec 200m and sub-44 400m‚ will be one of the foreign stars on show at the Liquid Telecom Athletix Grand Prix meet at the Tuks track. World 100m champion Justin Gatlin of the US is the main attraction in the 150m where he takes on Anaso Jobodwana‚ leaving Akani Simbine the out-and-out favourite for the 100m.
CRICKET
Australia wrap up 118-run win over South Africa
Australia needed just 22 balls and 20 minutes of play on the fifth day at Kingsmead to secure a 118-run triumph over South Africa in the opener of their four-match series on Monday.  The visitors required a single wicket to secure success after South Africa resumed on 293 for nine, chasing an improbable victory target of 417. Five runs were added by the home side before Quinton de Kock was hit on the back pad and trapped leg before wicket by Josh Hazlewood (3-61) as he tried to launch the ball over the boundary. The second Test starts on Friday at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth, with Tests to follow at Newlands in Cape Town and the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
RUGBY
Blitzboks fail in their Las Vegas objective
The Blitzboks’ failed in their objective to reach the final in Las Vegas – the fifth stop of the 2017/18 HSBC World Sevens Series – but still managed to extend their lead at the top of the overall standings at the halfway point in the season. SA coach Neil Powell said prior to the Las Vegas and Vancouver tournaments that two finals would be an acceptable return considering his team was missing six front line players. By scrapping their way through Pool B against Wales‚ Canada and England and then beating Australia in the quarterfinals in Las Vegas‚ the Blitzboks were on track to meet Powell’s objective. But losing 12-10 to Argentina in the Cup semis‚ meant a bronze medal match against Fiji for the Blitzboks. The Blitzboks lost 26-22 to Fiji to finish fourth and claim 15 log points. That moved SA to 92 on the standings and extended their lead to 10 points over New Zealand‚ who could only end fifth in Las Vegas.TENNIS
Serena’s comeback her ‘greatest challenge’
Serena Williams’ return to the WTA Tour following the birth of her first child will be the “greatest challenge” of her career, but the American can get back to her best in time for the French Open, according to her coach Patrick Mouratoglou. Williams, who won her 23rd grand slam title at last year’s Australian Open before going on maternity leave, pulled out of this year’s tournament in Melbourne.  Asked if her latest comeback represented the biggest test of her career, Mouratoglou said: “It probably is ... now she is 36, just had a child, a second blood clot, has gone more than a year without any competition. I think we can say without a doubt that this is her biggest challenge.” Former world number one Williams, who returned in 2012 from surgery for a life-threatening blood clot on her lung and climbed back to the top of the rankings, said she almost died after giving birth to her daughter in September.
SOCCER
FA chief sorry for ‘offensive’ Star of David comment
English Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn apologised on Monday for “offensive” comments he made comparing the Jewish Star of David with symbols such as the Nazi swastika. Glenn’s remarks came as he tried to justify the FA’s decision to charge Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola for wearing a yellow ribbon in support of jailed Catalan independence leaders, breaching FA regulations that ban the wearing of political symbols. The FA has faced accusations of hypocrisy, given their prolonged campaign to persuade world football chiefs to allow players to display a poppy on their shirt to mark Armistice Day. But Glenn rejected the comparison. “Things like a poppy are OK but things that are going to be highly divisive are not. That could be strong religious symbols, it could be the Star of David, it could the hammer and sickle, it could be a swastika, anything like Robert Mugabe on your shirt — these are the things we don’t want.  To be honest, and to be very clear, Pep Guardiola’s yellow ribbon is a political symbol, it’s a symbol of Catalan independence and I can tell you there are many more Spaniards, non-Catalans, who are pissed off by it.” Glenn issued an apology on Monday.
Without Neymar PSG have to just get on with it
Dani Alves insists Paris Saint-Germain have what it takes to beat Real Madrid in their Champions League showdown on Tuesday even without the injured Neymar.  “We always have two options — either we sit down and cry, or we get up and do what we have to do,” said Alves when asked about the absence of his compatriot, who is back in Brazil recovering from a foot operation.  “With Neymar PSG are stronger, and without ‘Ney’ we are still strong because there are other players,” added Alves, who was speaking at Monday’s eve-of-game press conference in Paris. “For sure, we will feel his absence. But I insist that between sitting down and crying and getting up and getting on with it, I always opt for the second option.” The world’s most expensive player had an operation on Saturday on a small fracture to a metatarsal in his right foot and is now recovering with the aim of being back towards the end of the season.
Investigation opened into Astori death in Italy
A judicial inquiry had been launched following the death of 31-year-old Italian footballer Davide Astori. Italy was in shock on Monday following the sudden death of the captain of Fiorentina who played for his country 14 times. “We have opened a manslaughter investigation for the moment,” Antonio de Nicolo, a magistrate in the northeastern city of Udine, told Rai radio, adding that such a procedure was “mandatory“. He also said arrangements were in place to perform an autopsy.  Astori was found dead in a hotel room on Sunday in Udine, where his team was due to play Udinese in a Serie A match. De Nicolo was quoted on Sunday as saying Astori died of “natural causes” after a “cardiac circulatory collapse” — a type of heart attack.
RUGBY
Scotland boosted by injury returns
Scotland have been bolstered by the inclusion of 10 new players into an expanded squad for their Six Nations clash against Ireland in Dublin this weekend. Former British and Irish Lions lock Richie Gray is off the injury list in a major boost to Scottish hopes of success in Dublin along with hooker Fraser Brown, props Zander Fagerson and Darryl Marfo and centre Alex Dunbar. They all missed Scotland’s opening three games of the championship, which have brought victories over France and England at home after defeat in Wales. Coach Gregor Townsend has also called up loose forward John Hardie, who was suspended last year for alleged cocaine use, and uncapped 22-year-old scrumhalf George Horne, who has scored 10 tries in 14 games for Glasgow Warriors this season.
MARATHON
Nepal’s monks trade robes for running shoes
Swapping their maroon robes for running shoes, seven Buddhist monks take off at a sprint across the hills surrounding their remote village in the foothills of Nepal’s Himalayas. They are aspiring ultra-marathon runners, hoping the sport will put their remote village on the map and provide the funds needed to rebuild homes destroyed by a massive earthquake nearly three years ago. “We found out that we can get many opportunities through running and hope to do something from our monk team — make a name for our village and bring development here. That is why we are running,” says Man Bahadur Lama, 21, the fastest of the group. The monks — most of them in their early twenties — follow a strict regime, praying in the morning before disappearing into the hills to run up to 40km each afternoon.
COMMONWEALTH GAMES
Norovirus threat raises its head
A Gold Coast school that will serve as a key residential and training venue for next month’s Commonwealth Games is to undergo sanitisation measures due to a highly contagious virus which causes nausea and vomiting. The Southport School has been hit by the norovirus this term and will be cleansed before the athletes arrive for the quadrennial multi-sport event from April 4-15. An outbreak of norovirus struck down hundreds of security staff and Games personnel at last month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea’s Pyeongchang.
AFP, Reuters, TimesLIVE

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