Tag Archives: cheers

Rhys Priestland is seeing a sports psychologist to regain form

Wales fly-half Priestland reveals he's having therapy to halt declining form

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UPDATED:

01:05 GMT, 26 November 2012

Rhys Priestland has revealed that he is seeing a sports psychologist in a desperate bid to recapture his form.

The Wales fly-half has been severely criticised for his performances during Wales' run of sixth consecutive defeats and has now quit Twitter because of the torrent of abuse.

Following the 33-10 thumping by New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, Priestland said: 'After Samoa (which Wales lost 26-19) I did not want to leave the flat or see anyone, I felt I had let people down.

Desperate: Rhys Priestland is talking to a therapist to regain his form

Desperate: Rhys Priestland is talking to a therapist to regain his form

'The poor performances were a lot to do with me because I have been playing with blinkers on.

'I buried my head in the sand, cutting myself away and that has been the problem. One of the issues I have is I have not been asking for help.

'I have started to see the sports psychiatrist we used during the World Cup and he has been really good. A lot of the boys have been using Andy McCann so I thought I would give it a shot because I had nothing to lose.

'I have tried to address it and hopefully I can get back to the way I have been playing.'

Priestland was the surprise star of Wales' run to the World Cup semi-final last year but his form has been on a steady descent ever since and Warren Gatland's stubborn commitment to stick with him regardless is a cause of fierce debate in the pubs of Queen Street.

United: Priestland (right) says a number of the Wales team use a sports psychologist

United: Priestland (right) says a number of the Wales team use a sports psychologist

Alternative: James Hook received a massive cheer when he was introduced against New Zealand on Saturday

Alternative: James Hook received a massive cheer when he was introduced against New Zealand on Saturday

Wales have a very able deputy in James Hook and the Perpignan playmaker was greeted with one of the loudest cheers of the afternoon when he replaced Priestland with 13 minutes left to play.

Unfortunately, next week's game against Australia falls outside the official IRB Test window, so Hook has to return to his club in France.

With alternative Dan Biggar unlikely to be fit Wales must stick with Priestland for another week at least.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says Dad grief spurred him to score first England goal

Like father, like son: Oxlade-Chamberlain relieved to join Dad as an England scorer

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UPDATED:

10:40 GMT, 13 October 2012

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain revealed his father had given him plenty of grief about his lack of goals for England after finally getting off the mark against San Marino.

Arsenal star Oxlade-Chamberlain, 19, became his country's fourth youngest scorer in last night's 5-0 World Cup qualifying win, mirroring dad Mark Chamberlain's own Three Lions record of one goal from eight caps.

However, Chamberlain netted on his England debut against another minnow – Luxembourg – and was becoming impatient for his son to join him on the international scoresheet.

Happy days: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was delighted to join his Dad as an England goalscorer

Happy days: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was delighted to join his Dad as an England goalscorer

'It's a relief to get the monkey off my back as they say,' Oxlade-Chamberlain said.

'I've been looking for my first goal for England and my dad's been pushing me, telling me I need to get a goal.'
Oxlade-Chamberlain was in danger of another lecture after a first half that saw San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini perform heroics to keep him out.

'I was plugging away, I was shooting,' he added.

'It wasn't paying off in the first half but, luckily enough, it went in for me in the second.

'I didn't have too much time to think about it, to be fair.

'I think it was a bit of a dodgy touch from Tom Cleverley. I don't even think he meant to give it to me!

'It just came to me and I've just tried to pass it and caress it into the corner.'

Oxlade-Chamberlain was not alone in his frustration before the floodgates opened.

There were as many groans as cheers at a packed Wembley, amid expectation of a cricket score against one of the world's worst international teams.

Back of the net: Oxlade-Chamerlain watches his shot sail over the San Marino goalkeeper to break his England duck

Back of the net: Oxlade-Chamerlain watches his shot sail over the San Marino goalkeeper to break his England duck

Admitting he had never played in such a one-sided game, Oxlade-Chamberlain said: 'Sometimes people, spectators, don't realise how frustrating that can be, when another team comes and camps behind the ball and puts 11 men behind the ball.

'Obviously, we had a lot of chances and maybe people would say that we should've won by more.

'At the end of the day, we needed to get three points and 5-0 I don't think is a bad scoreline for us, and we can take a lot into the next game.'

That game is Tuesday's Group H clash in Poland, a significantly more difficult challenge.

Oxlade-Chamberlain said: 'Their fans will be right up for it, so it'll be a very hard game for us and we're going to prepare for it in the same way we do every game, with respect for the opposition.'

Keeping up appearances: Oxlade-Chamberlain is fast becoming an important player for England

Keeping up appearances: Oxlade-Chamberlain is fast becoming an important player for England

England could be without Oxlade-Chamberlain's Arsenal team-mate and fellow Southampton graduate, Theo Walcott, who was taken to hospital for an X-ray on his chest after being clattered early on by Simoncini.

'He's important for England and important for Arsenal and obviously he's my friend as well, so I wish him a speedy recovery,' said Oxlade-Chamberlain – who arguably is becoming more established in the England side than his stricken colleague, even if he remains more at home playing computer games with his team-mates.

He said: 'The only time I think I belong there is when I'm playing FIFA with the lads and I've got a bit of friendly banter going with the boys.

'I'm just going to keep my head down and keep working hard and keep doing well for England.'

Rebecca Adlington: My Olympics career is over

My Olympics career is over, says Adlington – and she may decide to quit swimming altogether

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UPDATED:

20:32 GMT, 22 September 2012

Rebecca Adlington, the golden girl of British swimming, has revealed that she will not race at the next Olympic Games in Rio in four years' time – and may even have swum in her last event.

Adlington, who shot to fame at 19 when she won two gold medals at the Beijing Games in 2008, admits that, just four years later, she has been overtaken by much younger swimmers.

'Rio is out of reach,' she said last night. 'I'll be 27 then, and swimming, especially for distance swimmers, is a young person's game. Do I want to carry on and not get any faster The answer is No.

Cheers to tears: Adlington is distraught on the podium in London where she could do no better than a bronze after hoping to replicate her golden glee from Beijing

Cheers to tears: Adlington is distraught on the podium in London
where she could do no better than a bronze after hoping to replicate her golden glee from Beijing

'I know what it's like to stand on a medals podium. Everyone's different, of course. Some swimmers are happy to carry on even if they have little chance of winning. But I don't want to swim unless it's at a very high standard.

'If I was a sprinter, then I'd go to Rio. But I don't have an ounce of sprinting in me, and that's why my Olympics are over.'

Last month, Adlington was in tears as she stood on the podium to receive a bronze medal after the 800metres freestyle final at London 2012.

Golden moment: Adlington won gold in the women's 800m freestyle final in Beijing

Golden moment: Adlington won gold in the women's 800m freestyle final in Beijing

She had smashed the world record for the event when she took the gold in Beijing, but in London's Aquatics Centre she found herself trailing home in third place behind 15-yearold American Katie Ledecky, and in a slower time than she had achieved in the British trials.

Adlington feared then that the game was up, but while she hinted that she may not compete at Rio in 2016, she wanted time to make a rational decision on her future.

Now she has reached that decision and it could mean she will not even swim at either next summer's world championships in Barcelona or the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.

'Swimming is still in my heart but, physically, I'm ready to finish completely,' she said.

'If I were to race in Glasgow – and that's an if – then it would be in the 200m and 400m, but definitely not the 800m,' she said.

'I'm done with that distance. I have a holiday coming up and then a charity bike ride in Africa and there are many other things I plan to do, so maybe I'll decide after that to call it a day completely. I'd like to be in Rio, though, even if I'm just a fan.

Looking to the future: Adlington

Looking to the future: Adlington

'Hopefully, I can be a bit more than that, like a mentor, or have some kind of official or unofficial role with the British swimming team. I'd love the chance to be able to give back and share my own Olympic experiences with the Rio team.'

As Britain's most successful swimmer of all time, with two Olympic gold and now two bronze medals to her name, Adlington believes she should be contributing to the review examining British swimming's disappointing performance at London 2012.

The team's haul of one silver – Michael Jamieson in the 200m breaststroke – and Adlington's two bronze medals in the 400m and 800m freestyle was well short of an official target of five to seven medals.

But Adlington believes British swimming's perceived failure at London does not tell the whole story.

'I think it's been exaggerated,' she said. 'We won three medals in the pool in Beijing, too, although they were two golds and a bronze. London was still better than Sydney or Athens, and we had a record number of finalists.

'I think the reason I swam slower in the Olympic final than at any point during the year is because our first trials last March were too early. Most of the British swimmers swam their fastest times before the Games, too.

'We have a 15-week cycle, which is why we all swam so well in our June trials. But it was too long to hang on to that form for London.

'The first trials would have been better held in April. I've trained and raced well all season, but swam slower when it mattered. I wasn't upset with the bronze in the 800m. It was the time that bothered me.'

Adlington leaves for a week's holiday today before embarking on a 10-day charity trip to Zambia in a fortnight in which she will cycle 280 miles in four days.

'Mel Marshall [a former teammate] asked me last January if I wanted to come, and I jumped at the chance to do something completely out of my comfort zone and face a new challenge,' she said.

'I haven't ridden a bike since I started swimming properly at 12, so I fell off a few times to begin with, and with camping in the wild it's going to be tough. But it's something I've always wanted to do, especially as we're raising funds for Sport in Action so they can build a treatment centre in Zambia.'

On her return she has a number of swimming days with schools, and has hopes of skiing holidays and even a trip to Australia to catch up with friends.

'I'm excited and scared about the future,' she added.

'Swimming is all I've ever known since I was a child. It's all I've ever wanted to do, but I've also missed doing things normal 23-year-olds do.

'After the next few weeks of travelling and other commitments, I'll have a better idea of whether I want any more 5am starts, and the hard, hard training that's required. I may not. I may be finished completely. 'All I know is that three Olympics is one too many for me.'

To donate to Rebecca Adlington's charity bike ride, go to justgiving.com/zambiacycle

Fulham fans love Dimitar Berbatov already

So it begins: Berbatov starts love affair with Fulham fans after dazzling display

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UPDATED:

21:24 GMT, 16 September 2012

Dimitar Berbatov just wants to be loved – and two goals on his full debut at Craven Cottage made Fulham fans start loving him.

The 31-year-old surprised many when he opted for Fulham ahead of Juventus, who offered Champions League football, and Fiorentina.

Tucked away: Dimitar Berbatov struck his second goal from the spot

Tucked away: Dimitar Berbatov struck his second goal from the spot

He flew to Italy, but when he returned, chose Fulham and Martin Jol, for whom he played some of his best football at Tottenham.

Jol said: 'I didn't expect a player
like him who could play all over the world to come to Fulham. He knows
he will play a lot of games for me and that was great.

'The only thing he said was: “Do you think they (the fans) will like me” I said: “I think they will love you.” I think they love him already.'

Cheers mate! Steve Sidwell believes Berbatov could be the best striker the club have ever seen

Cheers mate! Steve Sidwell believes Berbatov could be the best striker the club have ever seen

Classy: Berbatov was in electric form on Saturday as Fulham took apart West Brom

Classy: Berbatov was in electric form on Saturday as Fulham took apart West Brom

Berbatov said he just wants to
reproduce the football that earned him a 30.75million move from Spurs
to Manchester United in 2008.

He said: 'If the coach is trusting in
my ability, I can do special things. I want to show that I appreciate
they took me to the club. I know the coach trusts me and my ability.'

Steve Sidwell, who scored the third
goal in the 3-0 win over West Brom, said: 'You look at that season he
played the year before last. He was top scorer for United. He's always
calm and collected. He brings the best out of everyone else.'

Jol thinks Berbatov is the best
striker the club have ever had. Does Sidwell agree 'If he carries on
playing the way he did today, he's got every chance of fulfilling it.'

Andy Roddick loses to Juan Martin del Potro

Flushing Meadows awash with tears as Roddick's career ends at hands of Del Potro

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UPDATED:

23:26 GMT, 5 September 2012

Andy Roddick's hopes of a dream ending to a distinguished career were buried on Wednesday on the court he has lit up so often at the US Open.

The former world No 1 was muscled out of the fourth round 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4 by 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro, bringing the curtain down on America's leading player of recent years.

In tears: Andy Roddick was emotional after he was beaten by Juan Martin del Potro in his final professional match

In tears: Andy Roddick was emotional after he was beaten by Juan Martin del Potro in his final professional match

Roddick was unable to clinch another US Open before his retirement

Roddick was unable to clinch another US Open before his retirement

He managed to claim the first set tiebreak, which they had resumed after a suspension on Tuesday night.

But when the Argentine had wrestled the second set he asserted his authority to break the hearts of Roddick's assembled family and friends, including Pippa Middleton.

It was fitting that the American's final moments in tennis should be played out on Arthur Ashe Stadium, the court where he enjoyed his biggest success when he won the title in 2003.

The match had begun on Wednesday before rain interrupted and for a while he looked like he might extend his career in glorious fashion with victory over the seventh seed.

Del Potro outplayed the American to book his spot in the semi-finals of the US Open

Del Potro outplayed the American to book his spot in the semi-finals of the US Open

Del Potro outplayed the American to book his spot in the semi-finals of the US Open

Roddick saved a match point to huge cheers from the patriotic crowd but it was not to be as Del Potro eventually snatched victory from the American.

The 30-year-old had tears in his eyes after he crashed out of his final ever professional tennis match, and the crowd roared after he had hugged Del Potro and saluted the masses before exiting the court.

Roddick's wife Brooklyn Decker was looked inconsolable as she wept after watching husband's wonderful career being brought to an abrupt end by the Argentine.

Devastated: Brooklyn Decker, Roddick's wife, looked distraught after the match

Devastated: Brooklyn Decker, Roddick's wife, looked distraught after the match

Out with a bang: Roddick battled hard but was unable to budge the tough Argentine

Out with a bang: Roddick battled hard but was unable to budge the tough Argentine

Lukas Podolski insists Arsenal can challenge for Premier League

Podolksi promises Premier League title charge with Arsenal pal Cazorla

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UPDATED:

07:49 GMT, 4 September 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Lukas Podolski is confident of firing up Arsenal's Premier League title challenge with fellow new recruit Santi Cazorla.

Podolksi was set up by Cazorla for the Gunners' opener at Liverpool on Sunday and returned the favour for the Spaniard to seal a 2-0 win.

Off the mark: Lukas Podolski sent Arsenal on their way at Anfield

Off the mark: Lukas Podolski sent Arsenal on their way at Anfield

The victory came on the back of two goalless draws and Germany international Podolski insists it is just the beginning.

'If we can play like we did at Liverpool, then we will fight for the title,' he said.

'We are happy with the way we played. But it must be the start for us.#

'The Premier League is very hard to win. It is not like Spain, where you have only Real Madrid and Barcelona fighting for La Liga.

'In the Premier League, you have five or six teams who want the title. We are one of those teams and we must fight for it.

'We can be in the top four for sure if we play like this.'

Former Arsenal captain Robin van Persie was also on target on Sunday, scoring a hat-trick as Manchester United beat Southampton.

Podolski, an 11million signing from Cologne, added: 'I won't say we will forget Robin van Persie because he is an amazing player.

Cheers pal: Podolski celebrates his opener with Santi Cazorla

Cheers pal: Podolski celebrates his opener with Santi Cazorla

'But the fans want to win every week and if we are successful in doing that, they will be positive about us.

'I've loved the way it has gone with Santi in training. I like the style of his football.

'All the time we work on this, one and two touches – and you could see that for the goals. But we've only played three games, so we must keep improving.'

Anything you can do: Cazorla weighed in with a goal after Podolski played him in

Anything you can do: Cazorla weighed in with a goal after Podolski played him in

Mohamed Bangura"s car covered in Post-it notes by Celtic team-mates

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UPDATED:

11:41 GMT, 30 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

With bitter rivals Rangers relegated to the depths of the Scottish Third division, Celtic seem to have a lot of time on their hands.

Joint top of the Scottish Premier League with a game in hand, Neil Lennon's camp appear to be pretty relaxed.

So relaxed, in fact, that Kris
Commons, Joe Ledley and captain Scott Brown (or 'Broony') took a break
from training to smother post-it notes all over Mohamed Bangura's car.

Sticky situation: Mohamed Bangura's car was tampered with

Sticky situation: Mohamed Bangura's car was tampered with

Rear view of Bangura's banger

The striker, who has failed to make
any impact at all at the club, has been sent on loan to AIK Solna – the club he signed from in August 2011.

To see him off the Celtic boys came up
with this prank. Ledley tweeted: 'Look what me @kcommons15 (Commons) and broony has been up to this week'. Commons, meanwhile, wrote: 'Little gift from the boys for Mo!!!'

He moved to Celtic for 2.2million from the Stockholm club after being recommended by Henrik Larsson, but things did not work out.

Bangura is set to return in December – hopefully by then he'll get the memo about what he's supposed
to do in-front of goal.

Sent out: Bangura will go back on loan to AIK

Sent out: Bangura will go back on loan to AIK

Cheers guys: Bangura will have something to remember Scotland by

Cheers guys: Bangura will have something to remember Scotland by

Jessica Ennis greeted in Sheffield

Golden girl Ennis greeted by over 10,000 people as she makes Sheffield return

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UPDATED:

19:19 GMT, 17 August 2012

Olympics golden girl Jessica Ennis has told thousands of people in her home city: 'This is my home and this is the place that I love.'

More than 10,000 are thought to have crammed into Sheffield city centre to welcome the gold medal-winning heptathlete back.

Homecoming: Jessica Ennis is greeted by thousands of fans in Sheffield

Homecoming: Jessica Ennis is greeted by thousands of fans in Sheffield

Ennis with her gold

Many at the front of the barriers had waited for more than four hours for Ennis to appear on the stage outside the City Hall.

When she stepped out and waved to the crowd, she was greeted by deafening cheers and a sea of Union flags.

Ennis told the vast crowd: 'Thank you so much to every single one of you here.

'If I could thank you all individually, I would. There are so many of you. You've been incredible – not just these past few weeks, but the past few years.

Support: Ennis praised the city and its people

Support: Ennis praised the city and its people

The crowd wave flags and a poster

'You've always been there to support me. I can't thank you enough.'

Ennis was asked to unveil a golden version of the plaque commemorating her achievements which is already outside Sheffield's Town Hall.

Council leader Julie Dore said: 'You have truly helped to change this great city of ours from a city of steel to a city of gold.

'Sheffield is your home and we know you are so proud of the city – maybe as much as we are of you.'

More to follow.

Rory McIlroy wins US PGA Championship with a smile – Derek Lawrenson

Derek Lawrenson: McIlroy wins by a mile after he remembers to smile

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UPDATED:

23:35 GMT, 13 August 2012

The summer of learning for Rory McIlroy and the state of flux in the sport he plays have both come to an end in the most emphatic of ways.

Four days was all it took to restore order to the world of chaos. Four days of ruthless brilliance from McIlroy and the conversation has shifted from 16 different winners of 16 different majors to how many one man can win in the years to come.

One record-breaking win at the US PGA Championship on Sunday, and all foolish talk of Caroline Wozniacki being some sort of Yoko-like distraction (younger readers, ask your dad) has been thankfully buried.

Cup that cheers: Rory McIlroy parades the US PGA trophy after his eight-shot triumph

Cup that cheers: Rory McIlroy parades the US PGA trophy after his eight-shot triumph

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Over the past two summers McIlroy has had to deal with throwing away the Masters in heartbreaking fashion and becoming one half of a celebrity love item, and yet he's still finished up being the youngest winner of the US Open for 90 years and the youngest winner of the US PGA since it became a strokeplay event in 1958.

What on earth's he going to be like next year, with a settled life away from the course and all that wisdom gained on it

Some people drink for a week after winning a major and never get over the feeling of celebration, their lifetime's mission accomplished.

McIlroy was back on the beach at Kiawah bright and early yesterday morning, doing a photo shoot for his sponsor, Oakley. He spoke of his relief at winning his second major so quickly after the first and his determination to press on in the years ahead and fulfil his destiny among the immortals.

Holding 54-hole leads in big golf tournaments had come to resemble running down a slope backwards until McIlroy came along on Sunday and showed, like Tiger Woods before him, that if you've got the quality there's no better place to be.

Yes, we've enjoyed watching the Webb Simpsons have their day in the sun. But there's nothing that compares to watching greatness and the manner in which McIlroy dismantled the course considered the toughest in America was truly something to behold.

The nominal par might be 72 but to give you some idea of its difficulty, a scratch golfer would be considered as playing to his handicap if he shot a 36-hole total of 158 strokes. Over the weekend, McIlroy played those holes in 133 blows.

In a league of his own: Rory blew away the world's best golfers in a fashion that Tiger once did

In a league of his own: Rory blew away the world's best golfers in a fashion that Tiger once did

When you win two majors in successive years by eight shots it's only natural for people to think of Tiger and Jack Nicklaus, but first things first.

Let's think Seve Ballesteros and Sir Nick Faldo and becoming the most successful European golfer of all time.

Ballesteros won five majors and Faldo six, and the latter has no doubt that both totals will be eclipsed.

'I think we saw at Kiawah, as we did at the US Open last year, that he is a very special golfer,' said Faldo.

Water view: McIlroy is back at the top of the world standings after his US PGA triumph

Water view: McIlroy is back at the top of the world standings after his US PGA triumph

'I didn't win my first major until I was 30 and yet here he is at 23, with all that knowledge of winning already gained.

'The only other golfers in recent times to win two majors at his sort of age were Tiger, Jack and Seve and that's exactly where Rory should be ranked. He is that good.'

'I think we saw at Kiawah that he is a very special golfer'Nick Faldo

Like Tiger at the same age, Rory is in love with the majors. Last Wednesday the year had a B rating, but this victory, which has seen him recapture the world No 1 spot from Luke Donald, has elevated it instantly to an A plus.

When asked about beating Nicklaus's PGA record winning margin of seven shots, set in 1980, the smile almost cracked his face. 'That's a nice record to have, the sort you're really proud to own,' he said.

McIlroy felt intuitively when he arrived at Kiawah it was going to be a special week. He played the course, looked around the clubhouse, took in the sublime views and told his team he thought it time to confine a difficult summer to history, and prove a few people wrong.

He said: 'I just had a good feeling about the week. Earlier in the summer I was frustrated with how I was playing but a few people pushed panic buttons for no reason and it did motivate me. I don't think I could have answered the criticism in a better way.'

Dave Stockton, the American who has done so much for McIlroy's putting technique, told him to remember the boy within, the lad who never wanted anything else but to compete on the big stage, and play with a smile on his face. How better McIlroy looks when everything comes naturally.

Rory McIlroy

How many majors will he win On big courses like Kiawah and when he's playing well, there's simply no-one who can live with him. It's inconceivable he won't win at least a couple of green jackets, for example, for Augusta National might have been built with him in mind.

But the next test for McIlroy is learning to do what doesn't come naturally and cope with tight tests where the strategy is all about patience and playing conservatively.

How quickly he absorbs those lessons might well decide whether he challenges the majors totals set by Seve and Sir Nick or pushes on for the rarefied territory of double digits. That all lies ahead in what promises to be an intoxicating future.

For now, however, let's do what Rory did after sinking his 20-foot birdie putt on the final green to complete his round of 66 and create history. For a few seconds he closed his eyes and savoured the moment.

All week he had gone back to his rented villa, turned on the television and taken in the inspiring scenes from the London Olympics. Now he has made his own stirring contribution to the sense of sporting euphoria sweeping the nation.

Garcia in final bid for Ryder Cup spot

Sergio Garcia and Nicolas Colsaerts have entered this week's Wyndham Championship in North Carolina in search of Ryder Cup points to force their way into Europe' s team.

Eleventh and 12th in the automatic standings, the pair would likely need a top-three finish to move past Ian Poulter in 10th and into the last automatic spot.

Eyes on the prize: Garcia is hopeful of forcing himself into the Ryder Cup reckoning

Eyes on the prize: Garcia is hopeful of forcing himself into the Ryder Cup reckoning

Colsaerts has also entered next week's final qualifying event, the Johnnie Walker Championship. However, the in-form Belgian is likely to be one of captain Jose Maria Olazabal's two wildcard picks.

America's top eight is now known captain Davis Love will pick four wildcards in three weeks' time.

EUROPE (top 10): McIlroy, Rose, McDowell, Paul Lawrie, F Molinari, Donald, Westwood, Hanson, Kaymer, Poulter.

UNITED STATES (top eight): Woods, B Watson, Dufner, Bradley, Simpson, Johnson, Kuchar, Mickelson.

Surprise package Lynn’s head in a spin

Prior to finishing second at the US PGA, David Lynn's claim to fame, if fame is the right word, was for a picture of him with his head in a washing machine and his feet on a table top.

'Very uncomfortable,' said the 38-year-old from Stoke. 'Far more uncomfortable than being in contention to win a major.'

Life-changing round: Lynn finished second in this week's major

Life-changing round: Lynn finished second in this week's major

Lynn is an arch exponent of the practical joke known as planking but the joke he played on Sunday had him laughing all the way to the bank.

The majors are supposed to be for the best of the best, only for a relative unknown to finish one place above Justin Rose and Ian Poulter and register a higher finish in his second grand slam event than Luke Donald has managed in 38.

Lynn's prize of 550,000 trebled his previous best and could be described as life-changing. It guarantees entry into next year's Masters and US Open, and he could join the US Tour.

Now part of the world's top 40, he's even thinking Ryder Cup, which is some change in circumstances for a 17-year tour veteran who has never finished inside the top 25 on the money list.

Quote of the week

'Rory is proving that when he plays well it is like when Tiger played well. Tiger turned up for a few years and if he brought his 'A' game the rest of us struggled to compete. Rory is showing the same thing and there's only going to be less weight on his shoulders after this second major win. The frightening thing for the rest of us is he's only going to get better.' – Padraig Harrington heralds the Rory McIlroy era with a paean of acclaim.

London Olympics 2012: Time for Usain Bolt to give his answer on the biggest stage of all

Time for Bolt to give his answer on the biggest stage of all

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UPDATED:

21:29 GMT, 4 August 2012

The man the London Olympics has been waiting four years to greet finally stepped on to the track just before one o'clock.

Olympics 2012

Even before his name had been mentioned, they were roaring the very presence of Usain Bolt at the Olympic Stadium.

The
Jamaican, likened by one of his rivals to Neil Armstrong – the first
man on the moon – for the scale of his achievements, acknowledged the
cheers, stroked his head and waved to the crowd.

When the gun went, Bolt, as has been his habit, simply stood up out of his blocks rather than accelerating out of them.

Something to prove: Usain Bolt is under pressure

Something to prove: Usain Bolt is under pressure

Well down on his competitors, he then proceeded to reel them all in, stride by lengthy stride, as he loped his way to victory in 10.09sec.

And, so, the questions persist: Is the fastest man in the world, the man who has run 100m in 9.58sec, merely toying with us, making us believe the final will be competitive

Or is he, on a track which is helping to record fast times, about to rewind the clock and revisit that scarcely conceivable time he set at the world championships in Berlin in 2009

Best of the bunch: Ryan Bailey ran the fastest time in the heats

Best of the bunch: Ryan Bailey ran the fastest time in the heats

At the Jamaican trials he was beaten by Yohan Blake over both 100m and 200m and his compatriot jogged over the line in his heat in 10.00.

Another Jamaican, former world record holder Asafa Powell, also ran well within himself in 10.04, as did the American Tyson Gay, the second fastest man ever, in 10.08.

Justin Gatlin, the American banned for four years for taking testosterone, took it a mite more seriously, running 9.97, but still looking mightily impressive as he eased up.

And no one looked better than Ryan Bailey, the third American, who won his heat in 9.88.

Bolt sounded unruffled.

'My start was much better than at the Jamaican trials,' he said. 'I've been doing a lot of work on it but we have come to the conclusion that we shouldn't worry about the start. We should just focus on the rest of the race as we always do, the last 50m – that is my strong point, so that is what we're focusing on.'

Normally that would be enough. But this is a man who has sought treatment on a hamstring injury.

And the four fastest men ever – Bolt, Gay, Powell and Blake – will be in the final. Gatlin would be the fifth fastest if his time had not been ruled out by his drugs ban.

And they will be running on a track that has been designed to stabilise foot control and, therefore, maximise the efficiency of athletes.

So if the capricious English weather holds out, we could be about to witness something very special.

'If everyone's ready to roll and the weather holds on, Blake, Gay, Gatlin and Powell can all run 9.7 here – and Bolt can't give those guys a two-metre start,' said Mike McFarlane, the British former athlete who was fifth in the Olympic 100m final in 1984 and is now a celebrated sprint coach.

'I also really like Bailey and was saying so in the run-up to yesterday's race. Someone could now run 9.95 and not make the final and all eight runners could go under 10sec. If everyone comes to London wanting to party, then this could be the most ridiculously fast race in history.'

Gatlin gun: Justin Gatlin storms to victory

Gatlin gun: Justin Gatlin storms to victory

Gatlin agreed with that. For a drug cheat in denial – he claims he was sabotaged – he speaks eloquently on his event.

'What Bolt did in Berlin was the equivalent of a man walking on the Moon, so when you line up alongside him, you're going to be in awe of him,' he said.

He might have been talking about Britain's James Dasaolu who, with team-mates Dwain Chambers and Adam Gemili, qualified for today's semi-finals. Dasaolu, drawn alongside Bolt, endearingly reached across to grasp the great Jamaican's hand in glee as they qualified together.

Promising: Adam Gemili impressed for Team GB

Promising: Adam Gemili impressed for Team GB

It looked almost like the gesture of a fan rather than a fellow competitor. But then Bolt can have that effect on people, even hardened rivals.

To watch Bolt is to witness a freak of human nature, as Gatlin acknowledged.

'He takes fewer strides than everyone else and he's looking good,' said the American. 'He looks like the real Bolt.'

Maybe, but Gatlin also added that there was nothing to be sacred of and, for once, he did not sound like a man whistling in the dark.

Easy does it: Yohan Blake looked untroubled

Easy does it: Yohan Blake looked untroubled

For Gatlin, Blake and Gay – and perhaps Bailey and Powell, too – should all feel they can get close to Bolt. And that would never have been true three years ago.

'If the Bolt of Berlin turns up, no one can live with him,' said McFarlane. 'But if it's the Bolt we saw at the Jamaican trials, where he was well down at the 30m, that might not be enough.'

Not in this exceptional race. This time, Bolt finally has to answer the questions as the world watches.