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Bryan Habana joins Toulon

Habana joins Jonny and Co at Toulon as South Africa star pens three-year deal with French side

By
Chris Foy

PUBLISHED:

13:54 GMT, 11 January 2013

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UPDATED:

14:01 GMT, 11 January 2013

Bryan Habana's move to Toulon has been confirmed with the World Cup-winning Springbok wing joining a host of other Galacticos on the Cote d'Azur, on a three-year deal.

The 29-year-old, who has amassed 83 caps, has scored 47 Test tries along the way in establishing himself as one of the most prolific finishers in the world game.

He was named the IRB Player of the Year in 2007, after being at the forefront of the Boks' successful World Cup campaign in France.

Catch me if you can: The South Africa star has joined Toulon on a three-year deal

Catch me if you can: The South Africa star has joined Toulon on a three-year deal

His career has taken him from the Pretoria-based Blue Bulls to Cape Town, where he has played for Western Province and the Stormers in Super Rugby.

Now, after years of being linked with a lucrative move to Europe, he has agreed to add his name to the stellar cast list at Toulon, alongside the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Giteau, Carl Hayman and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.

Here's Jonny: Wilkinson will be joined by Habana at Toulon

Here's Jonny: Wilkinson will be joined by Habana at Toulon

'I would like to thank everyone at Western Province for their support throughout my stay in Cape Town,' Habana said.

'I've had three great seasons in the Cape thus far, and I am looking forward to finishing off on a high before taking on a new challenge overseas.'

In the past, such a move would have removed a player from contention to be picked for South Africa, but that restrictive practice has been relaxed, which leaves the path clear for Habana to aim for a century of international appearances.

'Playing for the Boks is a huge part of my life and I would never turn
my back on my country,' he added.

'I will never stop giving 100 per cent on the field for any team I play for, and
if the Springbok coach picks me, I will be there. It's a wrench to
leave my home, even if only for a short while, but the chance to test
myself against different opposition in a new environment was difficult
to turn down.'

What Toulon will have at their disposal is a player renowned for his blistering pace, having reportedly clocked a time of 10.2 seconds for the 100metres. Such was the fixation with his raw speed that Habana was once pitted against a cheetah in a race.

Having made his Test debut against England at Twickenham in 2004, he soon established himself as a lethal try-scorer and equalled Jonah Lomu's World Cup record tally of eight at the 2007 tournament.

Four years later, he broke the South African record for international tries when he struck against Namibia in a pool match.

Toulon coach Bernard Laporte was in charge of France during the 2007 World Cup and he has made a strong push to recruit the Springboks who evidently caught his attention during that event across the Channel.

In addition to the previous signing of Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw is due to arrive at the club shortly, when he has finished his final season in Japan, while ex-Bok skipper John Smit has agreed to join Toulon from Saracens at the end of this season.

Demba Ba"s scoring streak revives Newcastle but that 7.5m release clause has big clubs circling

Good news: Deadly Demba's scoring streak revives Newcastle… Bad news: That 7.5m release clause has the big boys circling (again)

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UPDATED:

11:35 GMT, 4 December 2012

Two-goals up at half-time against 10 men and cruising to victory, the message from Alan Pardew was clear. Any niggles, strains or pulls and you’re coming off.

And so, against his normal judgement, Cheick Tiote put his hand up for the hook at half-time to preserve his weary limbs, and when Davide Santon and Jonas Gutierrez felt twinges and knocks, they made the sign to the physios and missed parts of the second half, too.

Demba Ba’s tightening of his hamstring in the last 10 minutes left Newcastle United down to 10 men for the closing moments of last night’s 3-0 win over Wigan Athletic. Caution rather than concern was the verdict of Pardew, who has his eyes on Newcastle continuing their resurgence at Fulham next Monday night. He expects Ba to be there.

Spot on: Demba Ba drills home his penalty for Newcastle to put them ahead against Wigan

Spot on: Demba Ba drills home his penalty for Newcastle to put them ahead against Wigan

Catch me if you can: Ba is joint-top of the Premier League scoring charts this season

Catch me if you can: Ba is joint-top of the Premier League scoring charts this season

Whether the Newcastle boss will have to get used to seeing his team without Deadly Demba remains to be seen now. Pardew knows he is in for an anxious six weeks.

Ba has yet to be persuaded to sign a new deal which will bury the 7.5million release clause contained in his initial contract from summer 2011.

Newcastle have been locked in negotiations with Ba’s representatives for some time, but there is understood to be a significant gap between the wage deal the club are prepared to offer and Ba’s demands.

And with that stalemate hanging in the air, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool are hovering and perhaps finally ready to offer a more lucrative sanctuary to a player who has already scored 10 goals this season. And has allegedly not been playing that well.

Pardew swapped his players around last night to enable Ba to play as the central attacker in a team which blitzed Wigan after the unfortunate and harsh dismissal of Maynor Figueroa.

Fans' favourite: The St James' Park faithful are desperate to see their star man stay

Fans' favourite: The St James' Park faithful are desperate to see their star man stay

Papiss Cisse was shifted to the right, with Jonas Gutierrez well advanced on the left, and there was even the sign of Cisse and Ba combining together, communicating and reading each other’s movement. Newcastle’s opening goal originated from a terrific, instant one-two between the Senegal pair whose body language, on occasion, has not always been so positive.

Ba was on the hunt for his first hat-trick since October last year – when he delivered a message to Stoke City after they had rejected him over a dodgy medical – and was willing to shoot on the turn from the slightest gaps. He looked like a man brimming with confidence again.

No wonder Wigan captain Gary Caldwell, who was fortunate to avoid a red card for two assaults on the striker, was withdrawn at half-time.

It was a performance to alert the scouts up and down the Premier League. In a way, the best thing Newcastle can hope for is a revived Demba Ba. And we certainly saw that last night. But it’s the worst thing that can happen, too.

Pardew is confident the striker will stay. He will not be the only one at Newcastle hoping he is correct.

The Newcastle boss said: 'I have to say he has never looked me in the eye and said he wants to anything other than stay here and I hope he does.’

Proud moment: Gael Bigirimana celebrates

Proud moment: Gael Bigirimana celebrates

It’s been the land that football forgot so far this season, but this week the North East is the land of opportunity.

For Newcastle United’s younger players, it is a week to grow and reinforce their manager’s faith in them.

They will travel to Bordeaux relaxed and in considerably better shape and heart after their demolition of 10-man Wigan at St James’s Park last night.

Pardew, a place in the first knock-out round of the Europa League secured, has always said he would blood a young team in France on Thursday night.

With just a three-day turnaround, and the more important visit to Fulham to ponder on Monday night, he will leave senior players at home, rest the weary limbs which were not risked in the latter stages against Wigan, and dip into his squad.

It’s difficult to pick the team which will try and beat Girondins de Bordeaux and clinch top spot in their qualifying group. But we can expect to see Gael Bigirimana’s beaming smile once again in the Stade Chaban Delmas.

The teenager from Coventry City was joy unfounded when he scored his brilliant goal to seal last night’s win and could not wipe the smile from his face when he was greeted by coach John Carver by the side of the pitch after the game. And you could feel his delight spreading round the ground.

The majority of Newcastle fans may believe the club should have spent more, and brought in more quality during the summer, but they have still welcomed the likes of Bigirimana with open arms.

Injuries and the European campaign have forced Pardew to blood his young bloods in difficult circumstances, but it is to the entire squad’s credit that the changes and tweeks did not harm their European campaign while they were stuttering in the Premier League.

Wonder goal: Bigirimana's effort soars into the top corner

Wonder goal: Bigirimana's effort soars into the top corner

And it is on domestic duties that the fringe players have struggled to make their impact. Until last night anyway.

Everywhere you looked, the newest recruits were coming of age. As well as Bigirimana’s goal, Shane Ferguson put in his most effective Premier League performance and Sammy Ameobi could enjoy his brief cameo.

The biggest revelation was Vurnon Anita. Pardew may have expected the Dutchman to be a sure starter in France but his superb display against Wigan as Cheick Tiote’s stand-in, make him a vital player of a heavy league programme.

Pardew said: `It has been difficult for the young players. They have come in when the experienced players have not been playing well. Anita was outstanding. I have to pay credit to him.

'He came over from the Dutch champions and must have wondered what it was all about because we couldn’t win a game because he wasn’t part of it last season. So it was great to see him on a winning side.’

And opportunities at Sunderland too, if injuries work against Martin O’Neill.

If Steven Fletcher is unable to face Chelsea on Saturday, he too will have to turn to the benchwarmers to find alternatives to his top scorer. Fletcher is the only striker to have scored for Sunderland this season.

On Sunday, at last, the Sunderland manager turned to Connor Wickham, rather than Louis Saha or Fraizer Campbell, and he was rewarded with a vastly improved performance from the England Under 21 striker. He may not have scored, but Wickham, according to his manager, put in an impressive shift.

Ray of hope: Sunderland will hope that Connor Wickham can start firing

Ray of hope: Sunderland will hope that Connor Wickham can start firing

Enough to give O’Neill the impression he was right to block a loan move out of the club, and perhaps enough to indicate he could be a Premier League striker.

Facing Chelsea as the lone striker is a considerable step up, but at least O’Neill knows he can turn to a striker who is hungry because he knows he has yet to live up to his 8million fee.

And let’s face it he has few other options who have shown they can make the step up at all from the bench so far this season.

John McCririck axed by Channel 4 as Clare Balding leads new-look racing team

Outspoken McCririck turfed out by Channel 4 as Balding leads new-look racing team

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UPDATED:

08:20 GMT, 26 October 2012

'Devastated' John McCririck, one of the best known
faces in racing broadcasting, will not be part of the new Channel 4
Racing team which takes over sole terrestrial broadcasting of the sport
from January 1.

The outlandish and often outspoken
figure, who transformed the way news from the betting ring at
racecourses was shown on TV, has been involved in racing broadcasting
since 1981 when the racing was shown on ITV.

Axed: John McCririck

Axed: John McCririck

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The 72-year-old will be replaced by his sidekick Tanya Stevenson but McCririck accused the broadcasters of ageism, with just one of the 13 presenters in the new line-up over 50.

'I'm devastated. I've been covering TV betting for 31 years,' he told The Mirror.

'According to Channel 4 I'm being sacked after audience research. Yes, I do antagonise people, as reactions to me on Celebrity Big Brother proved. But I was never asked to change my presentation style.

'Clare [Balding] is a terrific choice to lead the new young team. But it's so sad Channel 4 have again gone down the path of ageism.'

With his eccentric headgear, Old Harrovian McCririck was an original member of the Channel 4 Racing team three years later.

His catch-phrases and use of Tic-Tac, the system of hand signals that traditionally transfer messages across the Ring, attracted huge attention to McCririck who became better recognised than many of its best-known participants.

That led to appearances in programmes like Celebrity Big Brother and Wife Swap, the latter with wife Jenny or The Booby as he refers to her.

All change: Clare Balding (L) will lead the new-look Channel 4 racing team in the New Year

All change: Clare Balding (L) will lead the new-look Channel 4 racing team in the New Year

Fellow C4 presenters also to fail to make the new line up are stalwarts Derek Thompson, Mike Cattermole and Alistair Down.

John Francome and Lesley Graham had already ruled themselves out of a role in the new-look team which will be led by Clare Balding.

She moves from the BBC and will be supported by Nick Luck, currently host of C4' s Morning Line.

Other C4 faces to survive include Jim McGrath, Alice Plunkett and Emma Spencer.

Recruited from the BBC is Grand National winning jockey Mick Fitzgerald plus Rishi Persad while joining the team as paddock analyst Graham Cunningham, who has been working on specialist channel Racing UK.

Gold Cup winning jockey Sam Thomas will be a contributor as will Gina Bryce, who works for Attheraces.

Mad-cap: McCririck was an outspoken character in racing

Bonkers: McCririck was an outspoken character in racing and appeared on Channel 4's Celebrity Wife Swap alongside Edwina Currie (below)

Bonkers: McCririck appeared on Channel 4's Celebrity Wife Swap alongside Edwina Currie

The lead commentator will be C4's Simon Holt supported by Richard Hoiles.

Jamie Aitchison, Channel 4's Sports Editor, said: 'Being the new home of horseracing is a real privilege and I'm delighted to announce this carefully selected team of presenters and reporters; a mix of broadcasting heavyweights and racing experts.

'Sports fans have something to look forward to – our racing coverage will be insightful, intelligent and ground-breaking. I'm hugely excited about the future of racing on Channel 4 and greatly look forward to 2013.

'I would like to thank all of the presenting team for their commitment and enthusiasm to Channel 4 and the racing coverage over the years.'

Jamie Donaldson leads after course record at BMW Master

Donaldson outshines Ryder Cup stars…but McIlroy and Co are ready to pounce

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UPDATED:

09:48 GMT, 25 October 2012

Welshman Jamie Donaldson left Europe's Ryder Cup side trailing in his wake with a brilliant course-record 62 at the BMW Masters in Shanghai.

Donaldson, whose victory at the Irish Open in July was his first in 255 European Tour events, birdied 10 of the first 16 holes at Lake Malaren and then saw his chip to the short 17th lip out of the hole.

Catch me if you can: Welshman Jamie Donaldson is four clear after a course-record 62 at the BMW Masters

Catch me if you can: Welshman Jamie Donaldson is four clear after a course-record 62 at the BMW Masters

Golf blog

The 37-year-old parred the last and has a four-stroke lead over Swede Peter Hanson and Italian Francesco Molinari.

Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal, without a top-10 finish since January, and Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey were both in with 67s.

Rory McIlroy joined the pair after a superb approach to three feet at the last set up his birdie.

The world No 1 was back on the course
where he won the Shanghai Masters a year ago, playing alongside 10 of
his team-mates from Medinah. Sergio Garcia was not in attendance.

Game for a laugh: Rory McIlroy (left) kept his Ryder Cup team-mate Justin Rose amused in Shanghai

Game for a laugh: Rory McIlroy (left) kept his Ryder Cup team-mate Justin Rose amused in Shanghai

Martin Kaymer, Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Rose were in a group on four under as the top half of the leaderboard became crammed with star names.

Donaldson told European Tour radio: 'It was one of those rounds where you hit every shot where you want to and every putt where you want to.

'The course suits me. The fairways are quite generous and if you miss the bunkers you can play aggressive golf.

'It's an awesome field, so I need to keep playing like that to stay ahead of them.'

Aaron Ramsey says Wales want to qualify for World Cup in memorial to Gary Speed

Let's do it for Gary! Ramsey says Wales will try to reach World Cup in memory of Speed

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UPDATED:

00:02 GMT, 7 September 2012

Aaron Ramsey believes a successful World Cup qualifying bid would be a fitting memorial to Gary Speed as an injury-hit Wales side attempt to kick-start their campaign by upsetting the group favourites.

The Red Dragons’ skipper might have welcomed a star-studded Belgium team to Cardiff but he did so by invoking memories of the sparkling football played under the late head coach.

Wales rose 72 places in the FIFA rankings under Speed and, although they have since lost twice under Chris Coleman, the Arsenal midfielder said that the tragedy provided them with an ‘extra incentive’ to reach the finals in Brazil.

Ambition: Aaron Ramsey is looking to help Wales reach Brazil

Ambition: Aaron Ramsey is looking to help Wales reach Brazil

‘This was our target,’ said Ramsey, ‘the first game that Gary and his staff aimed for. Their goal was to qualify for Rio.

‘All the games previous to this were aimed at getting us into the best possible shape and playing as well as we could.

Wales v Belgium

Wales: (4-3-3) Myhill, Gunter, Collins, Williams, Ricketts; Edwards, Allen, Ramsey; Robson-Kanu, Morison, Bale.

Belgium: (4-4-1-1) Courtois, Gillet, Kompany, Vermaelen, Vertonghen; Dembele, Witsel, Defour, Mirallas; Fellaini; Hazard.

Referee: Stefan Johannesson (Sweden)

‘We wanted to go into this game full of confidence and actually qualify – we all know that and we will be trying our hardest to do that in his memory.

‘It was a huge loss. And had a similar effect on the team. We all enjoyed playing for him and everyone saw the massive improvements we made.

‘We are just trying to carry on doing what he brought. We know we are capable and although we have had a few poor results, we’ll be putting them behind us tomorrow.’

Coleman is caught in a Catch 22 situation. As a friend and colleague, he does not want to denigrate the legacy. But as a coach in his own right, he wants to make his own mark.

‘I don’t want them to forget,’ he said, 'but we need to look ahead of us. I don’t mean that in a cold way. Everyone knows what my relationship was like with Gary. But we have to look forwards.

Blow: Chris Coleman has a large injury list

Blow: Chris Coleman has a large injury list

'It’s been a strange time for everyone. But we cannot keep looking over our shoulder at the past. People are already talking about this crop as being a golden generation. While they won matches, qualification matches – and that is an achievement in itself – they didn’t qualify.

'That’s what we have to do. I want us to get back that rhythm if we can.'

Coleman has been struck with a sizeable injury list which includes the likes of Cardiff City’s Craig Bellamy, Swansea City’s Neil Taylor and Celtic’s Joe Ledley.

In total, he is missing seven players who could consider themselves part of his first-choice XI.

It does not help that Belgium boast an array of talent. Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Everton’s Marouane Fellaini, Spurs’ Moussa Dembele and Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany are all expected to line-up in opposition at the City of Cardiff Stadium.

Threat: Eden Hazard will be tricky to handle

Threat: Eden Hazard will be tricky to handle

'I know a lot of people are talking about Belgium,' said Coleman, 'they are a team with a lot of good individuals. But then, we have good individuals too.

'But the good thing about football is that it’s not always the best team which wins. It’s about the best team on the day. We want to make sure it is us.

'We can’t wait until we are a goal behind before we get angry and start giving a little bit. We need to be brave. That doesn’t mean being nasty or bad-tempered, just brave.

'It’s a tough group. We need points. We don’t want to be chasing because it’s a ten-game league. You don’t have time to catch up.

'And it’s a tough group. Belgium, Serbia and Croatia will be the teams that people think will qualify. But ourselves, Scotland and Macedonia will have a say in that.'

London 2012 Olympics: Rebecca Adlington blazes trail in 880m freestyle

Adlington blazes trail to 800m freestyle final as British star fires warning

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UPDATED:

11:20 GMT, 2 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

Rebecca Adlington produced the fifth fastest 800 metres freestyle in the world this year as she sent out an ominous warning to her rivals.

The 23-year-old is seeking to become the first Briton to successfully defend an Olympic title and her time of eight minutes 21.78 seconds has been bettered only by herself and American 15-year-old Katie Ledecky this year.

The Nova Centurion swimmer has swum four of the five top times in 2012 but anyone who thinks gold is a mere formality should take heed of Lotte Friis, just nine hundredths of a second behind.

Friis was second behind Adlington when the Briton triumphed in a final-length shootout at last year's World Championships as she wrested the world crown from the Dane.

Catch me if you can: Rebecca Adlington powered into the 800m freestyle final

Catch me if you can: Rebecca Adlington powered into the 800m freestyle final

Friis, who was locked out of the medals as Adlington took bronze in the 400m earlier this week, has said she 'hopes to spoil the party' and she is a real threat to Adlington's ambitions.

Ledecky announced herself on the world stage in June when she won the United States trials in 8:19.78, the third fastest time in the world this year and one bettered only by Adlington on two occasions.

This time the teenager touched in 8:23.84 to qualify third fastest.

She said: 'It was my first Olympic race, so I went in with a lot of adrenalin and a few nerves, but it carried me through the first 400m and I finished with a solid time.

Hard to beat: Adlington was the fastest qualifier for the 800m freestyle final

Hard to beat: Adlington was the fastest qualifier for the 800m freestyle final

'I managed to get some sleep last night. I felt pretty good, I just wanted to set the tone for the remaining two heats and post a fast time.

'I was a little nervous, that was to be expected though.'

City of Sheffield swimmer Eleanor Faulkner was 22nd in 8:38.00 and said: 'It was a hard tough swim, a great experience, I did as best as I possibly could but my time wasn't there today.

'It's been great, the crowds have been amazing. My first international and I am happy with everything, it's been a great experience and I definitely want to come back for more, 2016 hopefully.

'It's been a long wait, yesterday was my first swim in the relay and went out there and got the team into the final. Didn't swim in the evening because I wanted to concentrate on the race today and it didn't go my way.'

See you tomorrow: Adlington will be back on Friday for the 800m freestyle final

See you tomorrow: Adlington will be back on Friday for the 800m freestyle final

Adam Brown failed to make it through the heats of the 50m freestyle. As in the 100m freestyle, the 23-year-old was the only British representative and his 22.39 was only good enough for 20th.

Brown said: 'I thought the swim itself was going really well but I think I glided into the finish which cost me a few tenths and in the 50 a few tenths is the difference between making the semi-final or not.

'I'm a bit gutted, I would have liked to have gone faster but it's right around what my season's best is so I can't really complain in front of a massive crowd all cheering for me.'

On a more positive note, Brown admitted Michael Jamieson's silver medal on Wednesday night had been inspirational.

'Definitely,' he said. 'It's been a while since the lads got a medal so silver medal, Olympic Games in front of a home crowd, he's a bit of a legend now. He's a good guy and he definitely deserves it.'

George Bovell of Trinidad was quickest in 21.77 ahead of world record holder and world champion Cesar Cielo.

Also through was Anthony Ervin, the 31-year-old who left the sport in 2003 before returning after an eight-year hiatus from competition.

The American was joint champion with team-mate Gary Hall Jnr in this event in Sydney as well as silver medallist in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

He walked away from the sport, setting out on a long and winding road that saw him live a nomadic lifestyle, join a rock band – the Weapons of Mass Destruction – and sell his gold medal to raise money for victims of the 2004 tsunami as well as lose his silver along the way somewhere.

Inspired to return to the pool after helping a friend teach children to swim, Ervin qualified for the splash and dash at the American trials in June.

He went through in fourth in 21.83 while James Magnussen returned hours after being touched out of the 100m freestyle by one one hundredth of a second by Nathan Adrian.

It has not been the championships the Australian had hoped for after he entered London with realistic ambitions of at least two gold medals.

However, the Aussie sprint relay squad – also known as the Weapons of Mass Destruction – finished fourth before Wednesday's silver, despite being red-hot favourite.

Mo Farah wins 5,000m at European Championships in Helsinki

Mighty Mo shows his class by retaining European 5,000m title with ease in Helsinki

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UPDATED:

17:29 GMT, 27 June 2012

Britain's Mo Farah has retained his 5,000 metres title at the European Championships with a supremely confident performance in Helsinki.

Farah, who is also world champion over the distance, led at the bell and was never going to be caught as he powered to victory in 13 minutes 29.91 seconds.

Champion: Mo Farah celebrates winning the 5000metre final at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki

Champion: Mo Farah celebrates winning the 5000metre final at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki

Champion: Mo Farah celebrates winning the 5000metre final at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki

That was more than 30 seconds slower than his world-leading time in 2012 set in Oregon earlier this month, but the gold medal was all that mattered and proved once again that the 29-year-old has matured into a superb championship athlete.

Running his penultimate 5,000m before the London Olympics, Farah was content to sit at the very back of the field for the opening 600m before slowing moving through the pack.

Catch me if you can: Farah sprinted to victory with a late burst after running a superb tactical race

Catch me if you can: Farah sprinted to victory with a late burst after running a superb tactical race

Catch me if you can: Farah sprinted to victory with a late burst after running a superb tactical race

With eight and a half laps remaining he and Turkey's Kemboi Arikan finally began to close the gap on Russia's Anatoliy Rybakov, who had been allowed to open a lead of around 40 metres, and with five laps remaining Farah had hit the front.

That was where he stayed until the bell signalled a last-lap sprint for glory, Farah gradually pulling away from the field to win by almost two seconds from Germany's Arne Gabius, with Arikan claiming bronze.

London 2012 Olympics: Great Britain open hockey test event with Korea win

British women edge out Korea on Olympic pitch at Riverbank Arena test event

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UPDATED:

18:25 GMT, 2 May 2012

Great Britain won their first match on the Olympic hockey pitch after Alex Danson scored the only goal against Korea at the test event for London 2012.

Reading forward Danson celebrated winning her 50th international cap with a superb winner eight minutes from full time in front of a 4,000 strong British crowd at the Riverbank Arena.

The 26-year-old's reverse-stick strike proved enough for Danny Kerry's side, who will again lock horns with Korea at the Games themselves.

Match-winner: Great Britain forward Alex Danson (centre) celebrates with her team-mates

Match-winner: Great Britain forward Alex Danson (centre) celebrates with her team-mates

Catch me if you can: Danson is challenged by South Korea's Han Hyelyoung

Catch me if you can: Danson is challenged by South Korea's Han Hyelyoung

Danson said: 'The atmosphere was amazing. It was incredible to receive my 50th cap here on home turf and it was lovely to get a goal too.

'I was thinking I'd take it on my reverse because I'm pretty comfortable there and I just hit it. The goalkeeper got a glove to it but it was great to see it go in.'

Danson's strike got Britain off the hook after a disappointing performance that offered little in attack. Coach Kerry admitted his side had not played to their full potential but was able to take some positives from the win.

Striking: Spectators watch Britain play Korea on the colourful blue and pink Olympic pitch

Striking: Spectators watch Britain play Korea on the colourful blue and pink Olympic pitch

Up and running: India (in white) play Australia in a men's preliminary round match at the test event

Up and running: India (in white) play Australia in a men's preliminary round match at the test event

'In terms of chances Korea probably shaded it overall with corners, but we did have some good open play opportunities which we unfortunately we didn't take,' said Kerry. 'I'm not overly disappointed with our performance, we got a win, but I am disappointed that we didn't take the good chances we had.'

British captain Kate Walsh, who won her 100th cap, added: 'We know we can play a lot better but it's brilliant to get out there, get the first game in our legs and start building the positivity and the momentum towards the Olympics.'

Fans' view: Argentina beat China in the opening match at the Riverbank Arena at the Olympic Park

Fans' view: Argentina beat China in the opening match at the Riverbank Arena at the Olympic Park

Chase: South Korea's Hyelyoung Han gets away from Great Britain's Nicola White and Sarah Thomas

Chase: South Korea's Hyelyoung Han gets away from Great Britain's Nicola White and Sarah Thomas

Eight teams – four per gender – are playing in London over the five days of the test tournament. In the opening match of the event, gold medal favourites Argentina cruised to a 3-0 win over Chile.

The arena was operating at just a fraction of its 12,000 capacity, but the attendance will edge up towards the weekend. Britain are due to play Argentina on Saturday.

Britain's men take on Germany in their opening game on Wednesday evening.