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Christophe Berra says Craig Levein not to blame for Scotland"s Wales defeat

Don't blame Craig! Berra defends Levein after devastating qualifying defeat to Wales

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UPDATED:

13:50 GMT, 14 October 2012

Scotland defender Christophe Berra insists the finger of blame should not be pointed at boss Craig Levein following their World Cup qualifying defeat to Wales.

The manager has found himself under even more pressure in the wake of the 2-1 loss in Cardiff, which leaves the Scots second-bottom of Group A.

But Berra believes the players should shoulder the responsibility for not snuffing out the threat of a Wales side who snatched victory thanks to a late double from Gareth Bale.

Under fire: Craig Levein's Scotland side lost 2-1 to Wales, despite being 1-0 up for much of the game

Under fire: Craig Levein's Scotland side lost 2-1 to Wales, despite being 1-0 up for much of the game

Asked if the players still back Levein, the Wolves defender said: 'It's got nothing to do with the manager – we are the ones who go out on the pitch.

'We played well, we just maybe ran out of steam a bit. A penalty and a 25-yard strike lost us the game.

'At top-level football, it's the flip of a coin sometimes. We didn't have the luck.

'It's a game we should have won comfortably. Our chances came and maybe we should have killed them off.'

Hopes of booking their place in Brazil appear to be all but over for Scotland, who now need victory over favourites Belgium on Tuesday to have any real hope of salvaging their campaign.

Berra knows the odds are stacked firmly against Levein's men ahead of Tuesday's clash in Brussels but he pointed out that Scotland have risen to the occasion in the past when written off.

He said: 'We're second-bottom. It's not a great position to be in.

'But we will look over the game and we will go to Belgium on Monday and prepare for the game on Tuesday.

'They are a top team, with world-class players, but we have done it before. We did in France.
“When we're down, we always seem to bounce back.

Another go: Charlie Adam and his Scotland team-mates were in Cardiff on Sunday preparing for their trip to Belgium

Another go: Charlie Adam and his Scotland team-mates were in Cardiff on Sunday preparing for their trip to Belgium

Another go: Charlie Adam and his Scotland team-mates were in Cardiff on Sunday preparing for their trip to Belgium

Another go: Charlie Adam and his Scotland team-mates were in Cardiff on Sunday preparing for their trip to Belgium

'We didn't play badly against Wales. Lady Luck just didn't go our way.

'Footballers are thick-skinned. At club level as well, you get beat in one game, you've got to move on.

'We are disappointed now but you can't dwell on the past.'

Scotland took the lead against the Welsh courtesy of a James Morrison first-half opener, before seeing what appeared to be a perfectly good Steven Fletcher goal disallowed with 15 minutes to go.

Bale then hauled the home side back into the match when he won and converted a penalty, before grabbing a superb winner in the final minute.

Berra said: 'We don't know how we got beat, really.

'We played well in the first half, we passed the ball well and scored a route-one goal and had a couple of chances.

'They had more of the ball in the second half but they weren't cutting us open.

'It's a strange feeling. It was a comfortable game, we were winning 1-0. They had a lot of the ball in the second half but we weren't under much pressure. It's disappointing.'

Costly: Shaun Maloney gave away the penalty which allowed Wales a route back into the game

Costly: Shaun Maloney gave away the penalty which allowed Wales a route back into the game

Berra admits the Scots should have dealt with the threat of star man Bale better late on.

He added: 'He's a world-class player. I don't know if the first goal was a penalty or not.

'For the second goal, too many of us switched off and you can't give that kind of player 10, 15 yards to run into and have a pop at goal.

'On another day, he might have hit it over the bar. But he's got the ability and he put it into the top corner.

'It was bitterly disappointing for us. We should have won the game.'

Berra paid tribute to the Tartan Army who travelled to Wales in their numbers only to leave the Cardiff City Stadium in stunned silence.

He said: 'They were great, they backed us all the way. We are just as shell-shocked as them.

'We are disappointed we didn't win the game but the fans backed us 100 per cent and we can only thank them for that.'

Welcome back: Steven Fletcher returned to the Scotland squad, but was unable to lift his side to a victory

Welcome back: Steven Fletcher returned to the Scotland squad, but was unable to lift his side to a victory

Orfevre facing huge battle with Camelot in Arc

Orfevre facing a huge battle with rival Camelot in eagerly awaited Arc

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UPDATED:

14:21 GMT, 5 October 2012

Japanese thoroughbred Orfevre will have to overcome a bad draw to beat rival Camelot in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Sunday.

Orfevre, the Japanese Triple Crown winner, has been in good form after winning last month's Prix Foy on the same turf at Longchamp. But Orfevre has been drawn in the 18th stall.

The last horse to win from a double-figure draw was Dalakhani in 2003, which is good news for Camelot and three-time Arc winner Frankie Dettori after they were drawn in the fifth stall.

Looking good: Orfevre (left) getting ready for the Arc

Looking good: Orfevre (left) getting ready for the Arc

Orfevre and Camelot are the favorites after defending champion and course record-holder Danedream was withdrawn earlier this week when her stables in Germany were placed into quarantine due to an outbreak of an equine infection.

Last year, Danedream covered the 2400m Longchamp track in 2 minutes, 24.49 seconds to break the record set by Peintre Celebre in 1997.

After Danedream withdrew, Camelot was entered Wednesday for Europe's most prestigious flat race to make up for recent withdrawals of some high-profile rivals. British contenders Nathaniel and last year's third-place finisher Snow Fairy were also withdrawn.

Camelot will look to make amends for his failure to complete a rare English Triple Crown three weeks ago. The 3-year-old colt was beaten at the post by Encke in the St. Leger, having already won the 2,000 Guineas and the English Derby in 2012.

Big in Japan: Christophe Soumillon speaks to journalists earlier this week

Big in Japan: Christophe Soumillon speaks to journalists earlier this week

The 41-year-old Dettori, who will be
racing in his 25th straight Arc, received the ride after Camelot's usual
jockey, Joseph O'Brien, was unable to get down to the required weight
to race his father Aidan O'Brien's horse.
Dettori
feels confident of winning a fourth Arc, particularly considering
Camelot's favorable draw. The Italian jockey won on Lammtarra (1995),
Sakhee (2001) and Marienbard (2002).

'He looks to be tremendously well alanced. He came into his own in the Derby when he ran over a mile and a half,' he told Racing UK. 'He spread-eagled the field and was mighty impressive… The Arc will be his absolute cup of tea.'

Although he did not get a chance to ride Camelot, Joseph nevertheless has a chance to show what he can do on St Nicholas Abbey from stall 10.

Highly favoured: Camelot in action at the Curragh earlier this year

Highly favoured: Camelot in action at the Curragh earlier this year

'He's been running well all season and I don't see why he won't again,' Joseph said. 'He ran well in it last year, and it's a big thrill to be riding him in a race like the Arc.'

Alain de Royer-Dupre, who trained Dalakhani and the unbeaten French thoroughbred Zarkava – Arc winner in 2008 – has a good chance of going one better with Shareta, the runner-up to Danedream last year.

Shareta, who will be ridden by veteran jockey Christophe Lemaire, comes into the race in superb form having won the Yorkshire Oaks and the Prix Vermeille on her past two starts.

'This year we decided to have two races before the big race,' De Royer-Dupre said. 'Shareta is a strong filly and she can accept everything. It is very interesting to have a filly like that in a big race.'

Fulham"s David Stockdale could join Wolves on loan

Wolves in talks with Fulham over loan deal for Stockdale as De Vries edges closer to exit

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UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 14 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Wolves are in talks over a loan deal for Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale, 26, with Dorus de Vries becoming the fourth Wolves player to ask for a transfer.

The Championship club turned down a second bid of 700,000 for De Vries from Liverpool last week.

Wanted by Wolves: Stockdale (centre)

Wanted by Wolves: Stockdale (centre)

The Dutchman, 31, joins Steven Fletcher, Matt Jarvis and Christophe Berra in wanting to leave, while midfielder Nenad Milijas has been made available.

Wolves turned down an improved offer of 13m from Sunderland for Fletcher.

Meanwhile, Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill is still interested in Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe and Manchester City’s James Milner.

London 2012 Olympics: Usain Bolt needs rope trick

Rules leave Bolt in need of a rope trick… but he still eases through in 200m

PUBLISHED:

21:45 GMT, 7 August 2012

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UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 7 August 2012

Olympics 2012

After easing through his 200 metres heat, Usain Bolt seemed more concerned with beating London 2012’s ‘weird rules’ than defeating compatriot Yohan Blake.

The 100m champion had his skipping rope confiscated once again but insisted he will try to smuggle it in on Wednesday night so he can warm up properly for his 200m semi-final.

Cruise control: Usain Bolt barely broke sweat as he eased through in the 200m heats

Cruise control: Usain Bolt barely broke sweat as he eased through in the 200m heats

'It's weird, some of the rules,' said the Jamaican. 'I had my skipping rope in my bag and they said I can’t bring it in. Next time I am going to stick it under my bag, at the bottom or something.'

Bolt's skipping rope was his only real worry as he jogged through his first-round race in his ‘favourite event’ in 20.39sec. Blake, the 100m silver medallist, was just as impressive during his 20.38 run in what he calls his ‘better event’.

The likes of Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre and the USA’s Wallace Spearmon are, you feel, battling it out only for bronze.

See you there: Yohan Blake was equally impressive in his hear, striding out to win comfortably

See you there: Yohan Blake was equally impressive in his hear, striding out to win comfortably

Great Britain’s Christian Malcolm, competing at his fourth Olympics aged 33, joined them after running 20.59 for second place. But James Ellington could only finish sixth in his heat in 21.23, his slowest time this season.

Ellington, so desperate to compete here that he auctioned himself on eBay to raise sponsorship cash, said: ‘I’ve jogged faster than that. I’m baffled — there is no explanation for it.’

London 2012 Olympics: Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake qualify for 200m semi-final

The Bolt and Blake show dazzle Olympic Stadium again… this time in 200m heats

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UPDATED:

11:40 GMT, 7 August 2012

Olympics 2012

Usain Bolt began his bid to add a second Olympic 200 metres crown to his two 100m titles with a hugely comfortable heat victory.

The Jamaican, who clocked an Olympic record 9.63 seconds to retain his 100m crown on Sunday, cruised to victory in 20.39secs.

Bolt has said he needs to win 200m gold again before he achieves his aim of becoming a 'legend'.

Home straight: Bolt looked impressive as he qualified for the 200m semi-finals

Home straight: Bolt looked impressive as he qualified for the 200m semi-finals

'It was an easy run, I'm enjoying it, it's my favourite event,” said Bolt. 'It's getting pretty chilly. They say the weather should be good on Thursday [for the final] so we'll see.'

Asked what he did to celebrate his 100m success, he said: 'Nothing. I just chilled, met some friends and sat and talked.'

Bolt's countryman and training partner Yohan Blake also breezed through, slowing down well before the line to clock 20.38s.

Lightning Bolt: Usain cruised to victory and then soaked up the atmosphere in the stadium

Lightning Bolt: Usain cruised to victory and then soaked up the atmosphere in the stadium

Lightning Bolt: Usain cruised to victory and then soaked up the atmosphere in the stadium

Blake had to settle for silver in the 100m, but is out to deny Bolt a second gold, having beaten him over 200m at the Jamaican trials

France's Christophe Lemaitre went quicker than both Jamaicans in winning his heat in 20.34 and Bolt nodded in approval as he watched his rival's run on a TV screen.

Cruise control: Blake also eased into the semi-final of the 200 metres

Cruise control: Blake also eased into the semi-final of the 200 metres

Wolves defender Christophe Berra placed on transfer list

Wantaway Wolves defender Berra placed on transfer list

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 3 August 2012

Wolves defender Christophe Berra has asked to leave the club.

Manager Stale Solbakken says the 27-year-old has been placed on the transfer list.

Transfer listed: Christophe Berra (left)

Transfer listed: Christophe Berra (left)

Wolves remain keen on Manchester City defender Stefan Savic on loan.

London 2012 Olympics: Christophe Lemaitre to focus on 200m

European champion Lemaitre skips 100m to focus on 200m at London 2012

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UPDATED:

13:32 GMT, 26 July 2012

French sprinter Christophe Lemaitre is set to compete only in the 200 metres at the London Olympics, his coach has confirmed.

The 22-year-old will not run in the 100m, at which he is the reigning double European champion, in a bid to maximise his medal chances over the longer distance.

His coach Pierre Carraz told L'Equipe they 'have put a definitive cross' against the 100m.

Switching focus: Lemaitre won the 200m at Crystal Palace earlier this month

Switching focus: Lemaitre won the 200m at Crystal Palace (below) earlier this month

Switching focus: Lemaitre won the 200m at Crystal Palace (below) earlier this month

Olympics 2012

He added: 'In the results over 100m, Christophe is only ranked 10th among those who have entered.

'Over 200m, we can hope for a medal.'

Carraz did hint, though, that any significant withdrawals from the 100m might prompt a rethink

Lemaitre, the first white man to break the 10-second barrier, has only run 10.04secs for the 100m so far this year.

He is the world No 4 over 200m, though, having clocked 19.91s to win the Diamond League meeting at Crystal Palace 12 days ago.

Lemaitre also won 200m bronze at last year's World Championships in Daegu.

London 2012 Olympics: Tyson Gay lauds "phenomenal" Adam Gemili

Sky's the limit for Gemili, says Gay as sprint star lauds 'phenomenal' display

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UPDATED:

15:45 GMT, 12 July 2012

American Tyson Gay predicted Britain's Adam Gemili will become one of the greatest sprinters of all time after his 'phenomenal' victory in the world junior championships.

Gemili, 18, stormed to victory in Barcelona on Wednesday night, clocking a new personal best and championship record of 10.05 seconds, making him the fastest British junior in history ahead of Dwain Chambers (10.06secs).

European champion Christophe Lemaitre is the only European athlete to have run quicker than Gemili all season, and former triple world champion Gay was suitably impressed by the teenager's performance.

Record breaker: Gemili smashed the championship record en route to gold

Record breaker: Gemili smashed the championship record en route to gold

'Phenomenal. It was phenomenal,' said Gay, 29, the second fastest man of all time behind Usain Bolt.

'Maybe I can get some tips from him because of the great way he executed (the race).

'He had a great drive phase, came up patient; he did a lot of things I'm working on which I don't know why it's so hard for me to get. He nailed it, man. And he has a lot more potential in the 200m.

Rising star: Gay has tipped Gemili for the top

Rising star: Gay has tipped Gemili for the top

'At 18, that's quite impressive. I think he's going to be around for a while, I think he's going to be one of the greatest sprinters of all time, watching that race. He done it at the big show and that's where it counts.'

Gemili only started concentrating fully on athletics at the start of the year after being a promising footballer previously on the books of Chelsea and Dagenham and Redbridge.

And asked what had impressed him most about the Kent athlete's display, Gay added: 'First of all, he's just started running. That's probably more impressive than anything, for him to pick up the start, the reaction, the drive phase, the finish, in a year. It wasn't perfect but it was damn near.

'For him to do that in a year shows he is a fast learner. And to be running track you have to be a quick learner. You have to come out the blocks, keep focused, react, keep your head down, all at one time in the big show. For him to be able to do that shows he has some talent.

Centre of attention: Gay is the second fastest sprinter of all time

Centre of attention: Gay is the second fastest sprinter of all time

'He has to keep what he's doing, keep listening to his coach, don't change nothing. Don't listen to all the hype. Just carry on with what you're doing.

'For this next four years I don't think people should look for him to break the world record but for him to maintain and get better.

'The time he ran is great for his age. If he goes 9.99 next year, then 9.92 and then the 9.8s in a steady progression, that's what he's capable of doing as long as he stays healthy.'

Gemili's coach had previously expressed concern about the teenager running in the Olympics, fearing he might never recover from getting burnt out in the 'cauldron' of the Games.

Flying the flag: The British star set a new personal best on Wednesday

Flying the flag: The British star set a new personal best on Wednesday

However, Gay believes Gemili is fearless after seeing him train in Florida, where he has indulged in a bit of friendly 'trash talk' with the Briton and nicknamed him Drake, apparently due to his resemblance to the Canadian rapper.

'I think he's tough man, he just needs experience,' added Gay, who joked he was running 10.46 seconds as an 18-year-old.

'As long as keeps humble, and keeps working hard, I think the sky's the limit for him.

'I don't think it (the 100m final in London) is too much too soon because I think anything can happen. I just think he has to continue what he's doing. You tweak a few things but you don't change nothing.

'He's still rough, he's still new to all this so I don't think you should throw a lot at him. I think he's going to get a lot of attention but as long as he understands and has a good team around him, I think he'll be a great athlete for the future.'

British team captain Dai Greene was also hugely impressed by Gemili's performance, saying: 'I don't know too much about sprinting technicalities but I know he won convincingly and ran a PB. It was really impressive.

'It's nice to have someone running so well at such a young age and he seems to have a good mentality as well. I don't think anyone has a bad word to say about him which is very refreshing.

'He looked very laid back, I don't think he realised the magnitude of what he was doing maybe. I wasn't even good enough to qualify for world juniors, never mind win one.

'He did fantastically well and hopefully he can keep pushing over the next few years and really improve as a senior but he's had a fantastic year. Regardless of what happens at the Olympics he's already exceeded all expectation I think.'

London 2012 Olympics: Harry Aikines-Aryeetey admits Olympic dream is over

Aikines-Aryeetey admits Olympic dream is over after Lemaitre shines in Helsinki

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UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 29 June 2012

France's Christophe Lemaitre retained
his European 100 metres title as Britain's Harry Aikines-Aryeetey
admitted his slim chance of an individual Olympic place was over.

Lemaitre maintained his concentration
during a bizarre race which featured a yellow card, one false start and
only five finishers, clocking 10.09 seconds to edge out compatriot
Jimmy Vicaut (10.12secs), with Norway's Jaysuma Saidy Ndure claiming
bronze.

Lead man: Christophe Lemaitre wins 100m

Lead man: Christophe Lemaitre wins 100m

Aikines-Aryeetey finished fourth in 10.31s, but suffered a hamstring injury after 40m and will not have done enough to overhaul Dwain Chambers and James Dasaolu for the discretionary places in the British team alongside teenager Adam Gemili.

'I am massively upset,' Aikines-Aryeetey, 23, admitted. 'When I won the World Youths in 2005 the first question I got asked was 'Are you aiming to be there (London)' And I thought 'Ooh, I wouldn't mind that,' so every day since then I've been dreaming about being there.

'But this year has just been terrible to me after last year being so good, just missing out on a world final by one spot. At the start of the year nothing went right for me, as much as I wanted it, as much as tried to do everything I could, nothing went my way.

Gold medallist Christophe Lemaitre (C) of France powers to the line ahead of silver medallist Jimmy Vicaut (2nd L) of France

Gold medallist Christophe Lemaitre (C) of France powers to the line ahead of silver medallist Jimmy Vicaut (2nd L) of France

'Even going to the Olympic Stadium for the test event I tore a muscle walking, how unlucky can you get I had to walk from the station to the warm up, from the warm up to the track and it's quite a long distance.'

The final began with Lithuania's Rytis Sakalauskas receiving a yellow card, apparently claiming he could not hear the first start, before Italy's Simone Collio was disqualified for a true false start.

The race got under way at the third time of asking, but Sakalauskas again dwelt in his blocks before running a few yards and giving up, while Latvia's Ronalds Arajs at least managed around 70m before collapsing to the track with an injury.

London Olympics 2012: Look out Bolt! Adam Gemili sprints into Olympic contention with personal best in Germany

Look out Bolt! Gemili sprints into Olympic contention with personal best in Germany

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UPDATED:

17:01 GMT, 2 June 2012

Eighteen-year-old Adam Gemili ran the
second fastest time by a European athlete this year, and the second best by a British junior in history, by clocking an
Olympic A standard 10.08 seconds to win the 100 metres at a meeting in
Regensburg.

Gemili achieved the A standard twice
at the Sparkassen Gala in Germany, running 10.11secs in the heats, but
his clocking to win the final, with the tailwind of 0.8 m/s well within
the legal limits, was mightily impressive.

On the up: Adam Gemili came second in the Inter Boys 100m in 2010. Now he's on the verge of an Olympic place.

On the up: Adam Gemili came second in the Inter Boys 100m in 2010. Now he's on the verge of an Olympic place.

The Londoner smashed his previous personal best of 10.23 to become the second fastest British junior of all time.

His time lifted him above Mark Lewis
Francis, a former world junior champion, on the Great Britain junior
all-time list, with only Dwain Chambers' 10.06 set back in 1997 ahead of
him.

And France's Christophe Lemaitre is the only European to have gone faster than the Blackheath and Bromley athlete this season.

Gemili,
who won silver at last year's European Junior Championships in Estonia,
is the second Briton to achieve the A standard of 10.18 this year after
James Dasaolu, meaning the likes of Chambers could have their work cut
out to make the team.

Dasaolu, 24, ran exactly 10.18 in France last month.

Gemili is also a promising footballer, having been a member of the Dagenham and Redbridge Academy squad last season and played on loan at non-league Thurrock.