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David Weir and Sarah Storey will carry British flag in London 2012 Paralympics closing ceremony

Fairy Storey for Sarah and Weir as pair rewarded with flag duties in closing ceremony

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UPDATED:

17:24 GMT, 9 September 2012

David Weir and Sarah Storey, who each won four gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympics, will carry the British flag together in the closing ceremony on Sunday night.

The move is a change to the normal protocol of selecting a single individual, and team officials had to gain permission from the International Paralympic Committee to make the move.

'During the London 2012 Paralympic Games, ParalympicsGB has witnessed some outstanding performances, and most notably from Sarah Storey and David Weir,' said chef de mission Craig Hunter.

Selected: David Weir has been rewarded for his superb performances along with Sarah Storey

Selected: David Weir has been rewarded for his superb performances along with Sarah Storey

'I'm thrilled and delighted that the IPC has recognised and agreed to our request to allow joint flagbearers at the closing ceremony.

'These athletes represent the spirit of Paralympic athleticism.'

Wheelchair racer Weir has lit up the Olympic Stadium over the last 10 days, with victories over 5000m, 1500m and 800m and won Britain's last gold of the Games in the T54 Marathon this morning.

At the end of his fourth Games, the 33-year-old Londoner now has a career haul of six gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

'It will be a great honour to come out to the closing ceremony carrying that flag,' said Weir.

'I'm a proud Brit and Sarah is as well. She has done fantastically well too.

'To do it as a Londoner in front of a London crowd makes it even more special.'

Golden girl: Storey with husband Barney (right)

Golden girl: Storey with husband Barney (right)

Storey starred in the Velodrome and on the road, taking individual pursuit and 500m time trial victories on the track before moving to Brands Hatch where she won the Time Trial and triumphed in emphatic fashion in the C5 Road Race on Thursday.

That win brought her 11th career gold, making Mancunian Storey – a former swimmer who switched to cycling in 2005 – Britain's most decorated female Paralympian.

With eight silver medals and three bronze in a 20-year career she surpassed former wheelchair racer Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's collection of 11 golds, four silvers and one bronze.

'I'm amazed at the news, I never expected it,' said Storey, 34.

Amazed: Storey said she never expected the honour

Amazed: Storey said she never expected the honour

'I've not been to a Paralympic ceremony since Athens and can't wait to see the stadium tonight. It's a huge honour and it should be a very exciting night.'

Weir said he had hoped to be nominated to carry the flag in the opening ceremony but the athletics team chose not to attend as they finished Games preparations at a holding camp in Portugal.

Tennis player Peter Norfolk was nominated in an athletes' vote to perform the honour.

'Our sport rules meant that wasn't possible so I had to forgot about it and focus on my performance,' said Weir

'The Games has been special for everyone; every Paralympian has said it's been special. So to go out in the stadium tonight will be a tearjerker. Not much is going to top this.'

London 2012 Paralympics: David Stone wins gold

Golden service resumes for Stone as Brit bounces back to defend Paralympic title

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UPDATED:

10:51 GMT, 8 September 2012

David Stone successfully defended his Paralympic Games title with victory in the mixed T1-2 road race at Brands Hatch on Saturday.

The 31-year-old relinquished his time-trial title on Wednesday and was disappointed with bronze.

Stone, who has cerebral palsy and rides a tricycle, bounced back in the 24-kilometre road race to win his third Paralympic gold medal, seven seconds ahead of Italy's Giorgio Farroni. David Vondracek of the Czech Republic was three minutes 17 seconds behind in third.

Flying the flag: Stone claimed victory at Brands Hatch on Saturday morning

Flying the flag: Stone claimed victory at Brands Hatch on Saturday morning

London 2012 Paralympics: Rachel Morris wins road race bronze

Brits fail in bid to share road race bronze as Morris is awarded medal in photo-finish

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UPDATED:

12:24 GMT, 7 September 2012

Great Britain's Rachel Morris was awarded bronze in the women's H1-3 road race at Brands Hatch after crossing the line holding hands with team-mate Karen Darke in an apparent bid to share the medal.

Morris and Darke finished one minute 34 seconds behind Marianna Davis of the United States, who added road race gold to her time-trial victory on Wednesday, and despite their best efforts to finish together and share bronze, Morris placed third in a photo finish.

Monica Bascio, another American, was second, 33 seconds behind, before the British duo rode towards the final place on the podium at the end of the 48-kilometre race.

In it together: Karen Darke (left) and Rachel Morris in the women's road race

In it together: Karen Darke (left) and Rachel Morris in the women's road race

'We wanted it together, we crossed the line with our hands together,' Darke, who won time-trial silver on Wednesday, told Channel Four.

Morris said: 'We worked so hard together today.'

The 33-year-old from Guildford won time-trial gold in Beijing, but was injured and had her bike written off in an accident with a car in July which left her place in London in doubt. She was fifth in the time-trial on Wednesday.

Morris added: 'I've not had the best lead-in to this Games. This bronze medal means more than gold. It just means everything.'

It was the British cycling team's 21st medal of the Games, taking the team past the 20 they won in 2008.

Team work: Morris and Darke failed in their bid to share the bronze medal in the road race

Team work: Morris and Darke failed in their bid to share the bronze medal in the road race

Alex Zanardi wins gold – London 2012 Paralympics

Ex-F1 driver Zanardi completes incredible journey after storming to Paralympic gold

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UPDATED:

16:45 GMT, 5 September 2012

Motor-racing star Alex Zanardi lifted his bike in one mighty hand in celebration of his first Brands Hatch victory as the Italian became Paralympic champion.

The 45-year-old Italian made 45 appearances in Formula One following his debut in 1993 and competed at Brands Hatch when racing in F3000 early in his career, placing second, and then in the World Touring Car Championship later, placing third.

His more recent appearances in Kent came after he was critically injured in the American Memorial 500 Cart event in Germany on September 16, 2001. A 200mph accident dissected his car and he lost both his legs.

Italian job: Zanardi celebrates winning Paralympic gold at Brands Hatch

Italian job: Zanardi celebrates winning Paralympic gold at Brands Hatch

As well as competing in top-level motorsport since the accident, Zanardi has made a successful transition to hand-cycling, culminating in his London 2012 Games triumph.

He won the 16-kilometre men's H4 time-trial at Brands Hatch before lifting his bike above his head in celebration of a success which included the promise of a ride in one of motorsport's most fabled events.

He said: 'I'm Alex Zanardi, I always have to come up with something at the end of a race – I have a bit of a big head.

'My great friend Jimmy Vasser called me last night and said if you win a gold medal I'm going to put you in a car for the Indy 500, so I will have to call him back tonight.

Need for speed: Zanardi blew away the rest of the field, with a winning margin of 27 seconds

Need for speed: Zanardi blew away the rest of the field, with a winning margin of 27 seconds

'I only collected a second place, a third-placed finish and to win I had to come back with a hand-cycle. It's an amazing feeling.

'I'm really, really happy for the result and I knew that this moment was going to bring a little bit of sadness as well.

'This is almost the last day of a great adventure and from Monday I will have to find something different, otherwise life will become a little boring.

'It's at the top of the scale with many other great moments I've been lucky enough to live.'

Recovery: The former Formula One driver was the class of the field at Brands Hatch

Recovery: The former Formula One driver was the class of the field at Brands Hatch

Zanardi clocked 24 minutes 50 seconds but had to watch his rivals finish before being certain of gold ahead of Germany's Norbert Mosandl (25mins 17secs) and Oscar Sanchez of the United States (25:35).

'That was the toughest moment; it was very hard to wait,' Zanardi added. 'I was a little bit emotional, because the prize was very high. I knew I could only do my best and I had to be happy.'

Zanardi played down his personal feat.

'Anybody can be an inspiration for each other,' he said.

Man of the moment: Zanardi's success will be one of the stories of the Games

Man of the moment: Zanardi's success will be one of the stories of the Games

One such inspiration is Gaysli Leon, who sustained spinal cord injures during the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which tragically took the lives of his wife and eight children.

He finished 10th in the H3 race won by Poland's Rafal Wilk.

Leon was granted a late entry to the Games and given a rapturous reception by the crowd.

'I feel like all the biggest athletes in the world,' he said. 'To hear the crowd cheering me on, I was so happy.

Determination: The 45-year-old in action on Wednesday afternoon

Determination: The 45-year-old in action on Wednesday afternoon

'I thank everybody all over the world who helped me. I didn't think it would come true, but by being here I have realised something very, very important.

'It's very hard for people with disabilities in Haiti, but I think I have showed they can do a lot of things.

'This is one of the greatest examples that we can show to them, to inspire them to go further.'

The 45-year-old concentrated on the task in hand while racing, before reflecting on his family afterwards.

'When I'm racing I have to be focused on what I'm doing,' he added. 'If I'm here I'm okay, all my family is okay.'

Thumbs up: Zanardi salutes the crowd at Brands Hatch

Thumbs up: Zanardi salutes the crowd at Brands Hatch

London 2012 Paralympics: Alex Zanardi back on Formula One course

Former F1 driver Zanardi, who lost his legs 11 years ago in horrific crash, is going for hand cycling gold at the Paralympics

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UPDATED:

08:54 GMT, 27 August 2012

Paralympic hand cyclist Alex Zanardi knows the course being used at Brands Hatch next week like the back of his hand – because of his time as a Formula One racing driver.

The 45-year-old Italian suffered a horrific crash in 2001 which saw him lose his legs – but it could have been so much worse.

As he pulled out of a pit stop he lost control of his car and stalled, causing Canadian driver Alex Tagliani to crash into his Reynard-Honda at 217mph which split both the car – and Zanardi – in two.

Going for gold: Alex Zanardi on his hand cycle

Going for gold: Alex Zanardi on his hand cycle

The accident, at Germany's Lausitz track in 2001, left the driver with less than one litre of blood and his doctors could not comprehend how he had survived.

Now Zanardi, who raced for Jordan, Minardi, Lotus and Williams, competes on a three-wheeled hand bike and is going for gold at the Paralympics.

'Last time I was here I was going about five times faster but I still love this circuit,' said Zanardi.

Marathon man: Zanardi celebrates his New York marathon victory

Marathon man: Zanardi celebrates his New York marathon victory

'What saved me was the clean break,' he explained about his injuries. 'I could have easily died right there from the impact.

'They compared my injuries to a Nasa study that charts the critical point beyond which a human body cannot survive and told me I was officially a dead man.'

But despite his horrific crash, Zanardi was more determined than ever to start racing again.

Treatment: Zanardi is helped after the crash

Treatment: Zanardi is helped after the crash

'The first thing I asked myself was “How am I going to do all the things I want to do with no legs”' he said.

Zanardi became a World Touring Car Championship driver and started racking up wins immediately.

'To drive the BMW 320 I convinced the team to create a special brake pedal that I could use with my prosthetic leg,' he said. 'Having no legs doesn’t mean you can’t drive fast and I wasn’t going to be happy scoring the odd point, I thought it was possible to win and went for it.'

In 2007 discovered hand biking – where the pedals are turned by riders' hands rather than their feet – and after only four weeks training came fourth in the hand bike section of the New York marathon.

Comeback king: Zanardi with his Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award in 2005

Comeback king: Zanardi with his Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award in 2005

He retired from racing in 2009 and started in his bid to get into the Italy squad for the London 2012 Paralympics.

At his fourth attempt he finally won the New York marathon and is expected to push for gold at the Games.

Zanardi has modified his own bike to suit his physique perfectly, and even drescribed his carbon-fibre seat as 'like a Cinderella shoe'.

Determination: Zanardi kept racing motor vehicles until 2009 when he started full-time on the hand cycle

Determination: Zanardi kept racing motor vehicles until 2009 when he started full-time on the hand cycle

'It’s not much different to Formula One where they are improving the cars constantly,' he said. 'The difference is every hand biker needs a different bike depending on their residual ability,' he said.

'If some people could fly, Usain Bolt would feel disabled,' he said. 'Doing the best with what I have is the biggest challenge.'

He added: 'My parents taught me that I could always improve on things,' he said. 'After my crash I never doubted it would be hard but I would be lying to say this new life has been a surprise to me. I did it because I thought it was possible.'

Roger Federer and Tiger Woods: Who"s better?

Federer and Woods: Two greats who have dominated their sports, but who's better

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UPDATED:

10:33 GMT, 22 July 2012

The weather may drive us to distraction in this country, but we are still blessed that our sporting heritage sees us host an array of events that means regular visits from the world's greatest athletes.

So when Tiger Woods teed up at Lytham it came only eleven days after Roger Federer had simultaneously scintillated and broken the hearts of Wimbledon’s Centre Court crowd.

The two biggest stars of two global individual sports are uncannily comparable, and it is a privilege to be able to see them in the flesh, especially when you remember that Woods’s attendance at the Open is, in some years, the only time he actually sets foot in Europe.

Two of the best: Woods and Federer have dominated their sports

Two of the best: Woods and Federer have dominated their sports

Two of the best: Woods and Federer have dominated their sports

While Federer's first Wimbledon was in 1999 Woods's first Major in Britain was three years previously at Lytham, as an amateur.

The memory of him walking off the eighteenth to happily chat with a few journalists, telling us he was enjoying Blackpool because it reminded him a bit of Las Vegas, seems a lifetime ago.

In the intervening period the two of them have performed astonishing deeds in their respective pursuits, similar to the point where the Swiss, has won 75 tour titles and his golfing counterpart 74.

Both have recovered from comparative slumps to regain position at the head of the herd, Federer officially, Woods only denied by the lag in golf’s more complex ranking system.

Before the motorway pile-up in the American's private life the world's major brands queued up to have them both endorse their products, and they established a friendship, still enduring, when they were both signed up for those epically cheesy razor commercials.

In the thick of it: Woods has battled back following drama in his private life

In the thick of it: Woods has battled back following drama in his private life

While Woods chases Jack Nicklaus's mark of eighteen Majors, Federer is setting his own bar by having just collected his seventeenth, raising the question of who is going to end their career with more.

Although nearly five years his golfing counterpart’s junior just ahead of his 31st birthday, the Wimbledon champion is older in terms of his sport, and has less time to up his tally.

The unknown, however, is how their bodies hold up. Federer's glorious economy of movement still sees him remarkably injury-free despite approaching veteran status, while Woods's knees are increasingly unco-operative.

Who is the greater in pure sporting terms A personal view is that it is Woods, marginally and maybe temporarily, because of the nature of winning Majors in his sport.

While the format of tennis Grand Slams makes them intrinsically harder to win than regular tour events, unlike in golf, the head-to-head nature of knockout competition makes them less subject to uncontrollable performances by others.

Hence fifteen different winners of the last 15 Majors and the utter dominance of three tennis players at the Slams.

Simply the best: Federer has won an incredible 17 major tournaments

Simply the best: Federer has won an incredible 17 major tournaments

In terms of champion behaviour away from the sporting arena, though, it is no contest.

Federer may get teased for his occasional displays of ego but his treatment of others, multilingual manners and good grace bears no resemblance to that of the singular and boorish Woods – and that is before getting on to how they have conducted their private lives.

The American's reception on the first tee on day one told of awe and admiration for his athletic prowess, but he will never enjoy the kind of human embrace Federer gets when he walks out onto Centre Court.

Liverpool closer to new stadium decision – Ian Ayre

Liverpool chief insists Reds are closer to making a decision on new stadium

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UPDATED:

10:50 GMT, 23 May 2012

Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre insists progress is being made on a decision about the club's long-term future home with a new stadium and a redevelopment both still under consideration.

There is a reluctance from owners Fenway Sports Group to move away from Anfield to a new build in Stanley Park because of the financial implications, with an investment of 300million-plus only delivering an extra 15,000 seats.

Remaining at Anfield has its own problems, however, as expansion would infringe on the 'right to light' homeowners in the surrounding area are entitled to.

Dream: Some Liverpool fans would love a new stadium in Stanley Park

Dream: Some Liverpool fans would love a new stadium in Stanley Park

FSG have been criticised for not coming up with a definitive plan in the 19 months they have been in charge but Ayre stressed they were making headway.

'There is progress and we are still in dialogue on both fronts,' he told the Liverpool Echo.

'We have more dialogue going with the Anfield residents than we ever have, as with other stakeholders in and around Anfield.

'I think it's also fair to say that we are already fairly well down the line with a couple of major brands who have shown significant interest in naming rights for a new stadium.

'We want to explore both options to a solution and I think it's fair to say if we continue making progress in that area, it might move faster than we originally anticipated.

New generation: Will Martin Kelly get to play at a 'new Anfield'

New generation: Will Martin Kelly get to play at a 'new Anfield'

'Part of the problem is that people assume that because we don't make a major announcement that nothing's gone on and no progress has been made.

'It's all right for people to say 'Liverpool's a big football club – 60,000 seats, why don't you just go and get on with it' but go and look at the economics of that – a 300m build for 15,000 new seats.

'It's pretty hard to make that stack up. The work is going on and a decision will be announced when we've got certainty.'

Damon Hill back on track with his Rat Pack pals

British F1 legend Hill back on track with his Rat Pack pals at Brands Hatch

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 8 May 2012


Back in the driving seat: Damon Hill

Back in the driving seat: Damon Hill

Damon Hill will return to racing for the first time since his final grand prix in 1999 as a guest driver in the British round of the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup at Brands Hatch next week.

The 1996 Formula One world champion will take part in the support event to the German Touring Car championship race which features David Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher.

Also joining Hill will be former rivals from his junior racing days, Mark Blundell, Perry McCarthy, Martin Donnelly and Julian Bailey.

'Perry, Julian and I are coming out of retirement for this race, so we are sure to be pretty rusty,' said Hill.

The drivers, who were dubbed 'The Rat Pack' in their younger days, have remained close friends and are racing to raise money for Hill's charity HALOW which helps to support young people with learning disabilities.

Stobart to sponsor Super League in three-year deal

Super League to be sponsored by haulage firm Stobart after agreeing three-year deal

The Rugby Football League are today celebrating a three-year sponsorship deal with the Stobart Group they believe could be worth up to 2.5million a year.

The nationwide logistics company, which already sponsor Widnes, have not paid any cash to secure the naming rights of the Stobart Super League but will instead freely advertise the game on their famous trucks and the RFL insist the sport will not lose out financially.

Engage Mutual Assurance, who ended their seven-year sponsorship at the end of last season, paid 1m-plus a year for exclusivity and the RFL say the agreement with Stobart enables them to bring on board additional commercial partners as part of a multi-layered package.

New deal: The Stobart Super League trophy and promotional trailers

New deal: The Stobart Super League trophy and promotional trailers

RFL chief executive Nigel Wood told a news conference at Stobart's training centre in Widnes that the 14 clubs rejected cash offers in favour of Stobart, who will display the Super League artwork on 100 of their 2,250 40ft-trucks as they travel across the country.

He said nine of the clubs voted for the Stobart deal, which he claimed was 'too good to turn down'.

'The title sponsorship in previous years was all-encompassing, in effect a lock-out of other brands,' Wood said.

'This is the exact opposite. This has freed up inventory that is available which has a commercial value for other blue-chip brands to come in and support the Super League.

'You will see over the course of the next couple of months partnership packages supporting the Stobart sponsorship so that you will find that the sport as a whole is financially in the same position.

'We set ourselves the challenge of getting all the benefits of this enhanced visibility of profile without hurting the profit/loss account.

'We had lots of interest and there was more than one offer on the table but, without a shadow of doubt, the offer from Stobart was one the RFL and the clubs themselves thought was too good to turn down.

New era: RFL chief executive Nigel Wood and Stobart CEO Andrew Tinkler announce the new deal

New era: RFL chief executive Nigel Wood and Stobart CEO Andrew Tinkler announce the new deal

'It's a positive, progressive partnership which will move the sport forward. This is a fantastic deal for the sport.

'We think, and more importantly, the clubs believe we have an obligation to promote the Super League competition as aggressively as possible and at the same time retain the commercial value.

'It's always difficult to nail it down to a notional figure but we've had estimates ranging from 1m to 2.5m a year in terms of the marketing value of this association.'

Stobart chief executive Andrew Tinkler insisted his company were ready to become fully involved in rugby league, even going as far as to suggest players could be offered jobs as truck drivers at the end of their careers.

'This partnership is a great opportunity for us to help promote Super League and enhance our own status as a superbrand which is defined by quality, reliability and distinction,' he said.

'There is a cash investment because there is always costs involved in dealing with something like this. There might be cash involved further down the line.'

The Stobart Super League kicks off on Friday week when Widnes host Wakefield and champions Leeds meet Hull KR at Headingley.

Peter Gethin dies: McLaren lead tributes

McLaren lead tributes to Gethin as former British F1 driver dies after long illness

Constructors McLaren and Lola have paid tribute to Peter Gethin, the man who won the closest race in Formula One history, following the former driver”s death at the age of 71.

Gethin, who died on Monday after a long illness, will be best remembered for his dramatic win for BRM at the 1971 Italian Grand Prix.

In black and white: Gethin famously won the 1971 Italian Grand Prix

In black and white: Gethin famously won the 1971 Italian Grand Prix

He also served as director of the British Racing Drivers” Club between 2005 and 2008.

The Surrey-born racer, the son of jockey Ken Gethin, secured his only win in a world championship event by coming out on top in a frenetic race at Monza where the top five cars across the line were covered by just 0.61 seconds, the closest finish in the sport”s history.

During his 30 starts in the top echelon of motorsport, Gethin also competed for McLaren and the Embassy Hill team.

His F1 debut came at the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix when McLaren drafted him in to replace founder Bruce McLaren, who had been killed in a sportscar accident.

Grand Prix star: Gethin drove for McLaren, the Embassy Hill team and BRM

Grand Prix star: Gethin drove for McLaren, the Embassy Hill team and BRM

And the Woking team posted a message on their official Twitter feed saying: “RIP Peter Gethin – 1940-2011. Our thoughts are with Peter”s family at this sad time.”

Gethin left McLaren and made the switch to BRM in the middle of the 1971 season in the wake of the death of their Mexican driver Pedro Rodriguez, his win at Monza coming in just his second outing for the team.

Gethin also triumphed in non-championship F1 races at Brands Hatch in 1971 and 1973, the latter proving a particularly impressive drive as he saw off a strong field while racing Formula 5000 machinery.

He was a two-time British F5000 champion and was also a race winner in the Can-Am series, and secured notable wins with Lola in both classes.

VIDEO: Gethin wins closest race in Formula One history at Monza

A statement on Lola Group”s website said: “Peter Gethin was one of the most dependable and versatile racing drivers of the late 1960s and 1970s. Successful in most forms of motor sport at his time, Gethin was a true enthusiast who won many races driving for Lola amongst many other constructors.

“Lola Group would like to extend its sympathies with his family and many racing fans and friends.”

A statement on the BRDC website said: “It is with great regret that the club has to announce the death of life member and former director, Peter Gethin, who passed away on December 5.

“Condolences have been passed to his wife, Robbie. Funeral details will be announced shortly.”

Gethin”s final F1 race came at the British Grand Prix in 1974 but he returned to the sport as manager of the Toleman team in the mid-1980s and also briefly ran a team in Formula 3000.