SPORTS DAY: Clean sweep for SA at Comrades
Your roundup of the sporting news of the day
How Mthembu and Ashworth led SA's dominance
South Africa completed a clean sweep at the Comrades Marathon on Sunday as Bongmusa Mthembu and Ann Ashworth ensured that the coveted titles remained on these shores. It was a SA 1-2 in the two categories with Joseph Mphuthi and Gerda Steyn clinching the runners-up spots. In achieving his feat‚ Mthembu completed a hat-trick of victories (he won in 2014 and 2017) and became only the second man to do it since Bruce Fordyce won in 1988. Ashworth claimed her maiden Comrades title and also the fourth for her club‚ Team Massmart‚ which was launched last October.
Kolisi's historic moment not lost on England coach
The symbolism of Siya Kolisi becoming the first black Springbok captain and doing so at Ellis Park wasn’t lost on England coach Eddie Jones. Jones‚ the articulate and sometimes acerbic Australian‚ has been gracious in his remarks about the country since his team arrived last week. “Full congratulations to South Africa and the country.” he said. “It was a big day. Obviously, it is a big‚ big moment for the country to have Kolisi as captain and to win his first game at Ellis Park. “Whilst I’m desperately unhappy to have lost the game, I think it is a great thing for rugby generally and for the game here in particular. To have the first black captain to win at Ellis Park‚ the spiritual home land of the Springboks, is an enormously symbolic thing for South African rugby and it shows transformation is working and that he’s probably going to be a good captain. I hope he’s not too good in this series.”
Highveld air helped us, says Dyantyi
Springbok debutant Aphiwe Dyantyi knowingly nodded when asked how “the Ellis Park effect” affected England in his team’s 42-39 victory on Saturday. Dyantyi‚ who would have seen several visiting teams suffer at his home ground in Super Rugby‚ acknowledged how the thin Highveld air and fervent support from the stands gradually took its toll. “Especially after the 30th minute, looking the English guys who were really tired. I think to our favour. We needed to put the pressure on and we did‚” Dyantyi smiled.
Bok coach admits he got it wrong against England
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus partly took the blame for his team’s poor‚ uninspiring start on defence in Saturday’s win in the first Test against England at Ellis Park. The Boks slumped to a 24-3 deficit in the first quarter but rallied to record a 42-39 win over the Red Roses. Erasmus admitted that England‚ with three flyhalves in their backline‚ surprised him tactically and his team was caught short. “We thought they were gonna kick‚” he said. “I didn’t think we were gonna have to defend. “They started running in their 22. Tactically I got it wrong a little bit. Also the way they attacked was wider than our 13 and straight into our wings. These days most teams defend high on the outside. We trained that way as well.”
SOCCERChilly start for Portugal at World Cup training
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal held their first World Cup training session on Sunday at the team’s base in Kratovo, southeast of Moscow, five days before their heavyweight opening clash against Spain. All 23 players in Fernando Santos’s squad took part in a 90-minute open session held in light drizzle and chilly temperatures just above 10ºC. The European champions were put through a series of possession-based exercises before working on their finishing, with Valencia winger Goncalo Guedes, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, looking particularly sharp in front of goal. The squad was then divided into two teams for a game on a half-sized pitch, with Ronaldo at one point thumping a ball over the training complex’s fence and into the trees in a fit of frustration.
Czech duo win women’s doubles
Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova claimed their maiden Grand Slam title when they beat the unseeded Japanese pair of Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya 6-3 6-3 in the French Open women’s doubles final on Sunday. The sixth-seeded Czechs needed just over an hour to down the first all-Japanese pair to reach a major final. It was a long-overdue reward for Siniakova and Krejcikova, who captured the junior doubles title in Paris in 2013. They are the first all-Czech duo to capture the Roland Garros women’s doubles title since Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in 2011.
Swiss voters reject funding bid for 2026 Olympics
Swiss voters may have dealt a fatal blow to their country’s chances of hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics on Sunday after provisional results from a poll showed they rejected giving financial support for the bid. About 54% of voters in the southern canton of Valais rejected granting 100-million Swiss francs towards the event, according to provisional results from the Valais government. It was not immediately clear whether this decision would sound the death knell for the Swiss campaign.
MOTOR RALLYNeuville edges Ogier in Sardinia
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville extended his lead in the World Rally Championship after beating M-Sport Ford rival Sebastien Ogier by a fraction of a second in a nailbiting finale in Sardinia on Sunday. The Belgian went into the final 6.96km stage of the Italian event with 0.8 seconds to make up on the reigning champion, who had started the day 3.9 clear, and emerged triumphant with an advantage of 0.7. The results remained provisional, with France’s five-times world champion Ogier risking a penalty after he left the end of the penultimate Cala Flumini 2 stage without collecting his time card. Neuville, who now has a 27 point lead over Ogier after seven of 13 rounds, took five bonus points from the final power stage with Ogier second and collecting four. The next rally is in Finland at the end of July.
Panuphol holds on to win Thailand Open
Panuphol Pittayarat clung to the lead to win the Thailand Open and collect his second Asian Tour title on Sunday despite a topsy turvy final round that ended with an even-par 70. Briefly delayed by lightning as Thailand enters its monsoon season, the event was up for grabs going into the last day as Panuphol maintained an uncomfortably small edge on fellow Thai Poom Saksansin. The 25-year-old Panuphol, who is nicknamed Coconut, barely pulled it off on his home territory at the Thai Country Club on the outskirts of Bangkok, sinking three birdies and the same number of bogeys, including one on the 18th hole. It was his toughest round of the $300,000 tournament, and followed an impressive bogey-free third day. But Poom’s equally lopsided outing meant he could not catch up, finishing one stroke behind Panuphol.
I'll support France in the quarters: Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron said in a television interview on Sunday he would go to Russia when France reached the quarterfinals. “I will go to support them,” Macron told the Telefoot weekly programme, without allowing for the possibility that France might be knocked out before then. Macron also envisioned himself alongside manager Didier Deschamps in the French dressing room in Moscow before the final on July 15. “First I’ll let Didier Deschamps talk to them and I’ll think very hard about the three words: unity, effort and confidence,” Macron said, repeating the phrase he used when he visited Les Bleus last Tuesday at their training centre in Clairefontaine, near Paris.
AFP, Reuters and TimesLIVE