SPORTS DAY: Two crowns at once is a Hek of a feat

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SPORTS DAY: Two crowns at once is a Hek of a feat

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

Sports editor

BOXING
Budler survives knockdown to make history
Hekkie Budler survived a late knockdown to narrowly outpoint Ryoichi Taguchi in Tokyo on Sunday and become the first South African to hold two major world crowns simultaneously. The three judges came up with identical 114-113 scores to hand the South African the IBF and WBA junior-flyweight titles. Budler‚ who turned 30 two days before the fight‚ also lifted the Ring magazine’s belt which Taguchi had earned for unifying the division in his previous outing. The only other SA fighter to own a Ring belt was undisputed world bantamweight champion Vic Toweel in the early 1950s.
SOCCER
Give coach of the season award to Pitso‚ says Khan
Football analyst Farouk Khan has thrown his weight behind Pitso Mosimane and backed the Mamelodi Sundowns coach to win the coach of the season award at the Premier Soccer League’s end-of-the-season awards later this month. His endorsement will come as a surprise to soccer lovers as Mosimane and the SuperSport analyst have an uneasy relationship. “Definitely Pitso is the front runner (for the coach of the season award)‚” said Khan. “The man has a difficult personality but I am not looking at that.
Chiefs' Khune tipped for goalie of the season
Itumeleng Khune is the front-runner to win the Premier Soccer League’s Goalkeeper of the Season award for 2017-18‚ the pundits say. The awards will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre on Tuesday‚ May 29‚ with the nominees to be named on Monday. TimesLIVE polled three pundits‚ with two putting Kaizer Chiefs keeper Khune out front‚ one saying Mamelodi Sundowns’ Denis Onyango might win‚ and Maritzburg United’s Richard Ofori also mentioned as a candidate. Khune’s statistics are impressive. Playing for a Chiefs who laboured to third place in the PSL‚ he kept 16 clean sheets in 27 starts.
RUGBYEnd of the road for Stormers in 2018
The Stormers could mathematically still qualify for the Super Rugby play-offs‚ but in reality their campaign is over with three matches to play. Losing 26-23 to the Sunwolves in Hong Kong on Saturday‚ the Stormers’ eighth defeat in 13 outings this season and their seventh out of seven away from home‚ signals the end of the road. Sunwolves flyhalf Hayden Parker coolly slotted an 84th minute drop-goal to win the match after the Stormers lost the ball inside the home team’s half. It was an error that was all too familiar throughout the game.
Lions far from convincing against Brumbies
In the end they won by a handsome margin‚ but the Lions failed to convince against the team one place from the bottom of the Super Rugby points table at Ellis Park on Saturday. On the occasion of Elton Jantjies’s 100th Super Rugby game‚ unlike elsewhere‚ there was little pomp or ceremony. By no means was their 42-24 win against the Brumbies a carriage ride in the park and they only got to touch the icing after some of their guests departed the scene. The result‚ at the very least‚ would have been less decisive in favour of the hosts had visiting locks Rory Arnold and Sam Carter not been red and yellow carded respectively‚ just after the hour mark.
MOTO GP
Marquez cruises at Le Mans as Zarco crashes out
Marc Marquez reeled off his third win on the bounce in the French MotoGP on Sunday as home favourite and pole sitter Johann Zarco crashed out. Marquez took his 38th success in the top category unchallenged from Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Pramac) with Italian veteran Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) in third. Zarco had the home fans at Le Mans’ Bugatti circuit dreaming of a rare French win after his record-setting pole 24 hours earlier, but the Yamaha Tech star slid out of contention on lap seven. Zarco’s premature exit left Marquez in control in a race that after early drama turned into something of a procession. The result tightened Marquez’s grip on the MotoGP standings with the defending four-time champion on 95 points.
SOCCER
Chelsea owner Abramovich ‘waiting for UK visa’
Russian state media have cited an unconfirmed report that Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich’s British visa has run out, while his spokesperson declined to comment. Russian state news agency Tass and other media picked up a report on The Bell website, which said an acquaintance of Abramovich and two in his inner circle had told it the billionaire’s visa ran out three weeks ago and he is waiting for a new one. Amid a spiralling diplomatic crisis between Britain and Russia over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent, there have been calls in Britain for sanctions that would hurt super-rich Russians who have homes in London. Abramovich formally has residency in Jersey in the Channel Islands, a tax haven, but has never taken it up.
TENNISSvitolina lays down French Open marker in Rome
Elina Svitolina underlined her status as a top favourite for the French Open by sweeping Simona Halep aside 6-0, 6-4 to successfully defend her Italian Open crown on Sunday. In a repeat of last year’s final at the Foro Italico, Ukrainian Svitolina, seeded fourth, was up against Halep a day after the Romanian top seed had ousted Russian Maria Sharapova. But Halep’s hopes of overturning last year’s defeat to the 23-year-old Svitolina quickly evaporated in a completely one-sided encounter in which the Romanian failed to produce a real challenge. Svitolina has now successfully defended three tournament titles in her career and has won her last eight finals.
GOLF
Catlin takes victory at the Asia-Pacific Classic
American John Catlin won his first Asian Tour title Sunday finishing off the final day of play at 16-under-par over four rounds at the Asia-Pacific Classic in central China. Catlin finished two strokes ahead of Natipong Srithong from Thailand and Adam Blyth of Australia to clinch victory in the $300,000 purse tournament held at St Andrews Golf Club in the city of Zhengzhou, Henan province. After turning pro in 2013, Catlin has racked up four wins with the Asia-Pacific Classic marking number five, bringing in $54,000 in prize money for the 27-year-old.
RALLYING
Neuville top of the rally world after Portugal win
Belgium’s Thierry Neuville clinched his second victory of the season on Sunday, winning the “dirt road” Rally of Portugal in his Honda after seeing a number of top rivals blunder. The win lifted Neuville top of the world rally championship standings after six of the 13 events on the calendar, with the Rally of Italy in Sardinia next up in two weeks. In Portugal Neuville was 40secs clear of second-placed Welshman Elfyn Evans in his Ford and 47 ahead of Finland’s Teemu Suninen, also racing a Ford. Already a winner on the snow in Sweden this season, Neuville saw previous leader Kris Meeke barrel-roll his Citroen on the 12th special on Saturday. Five-time world champion Sebastien Ogier fell out of contention for victory on Friday after slipping off the course and into trees in his Ford Fiesta.
AFP, REUTERS and TimesLIVE

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