Tag Archives: fashion

Caroline Wozniacki poses for photoshoot – PICTURE SPECIAL

At least she's in fine form! Struggling McIlroy's girlfriend Wozniacki poses in steamy shoot to launch underwear range

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

18:53 GMT, 19 March 2013

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UPDATED:

19:49 GMT, 19 March 2013

After apologising for storming off at the Honda Classic and struggling to get to grips with his new set of clubs, it's hardly been a stellar start to the golf season for Rory McIlroy.

But the world No 1 golfer's girlfriend, Caroline Wozniacki, has hit some fine form in this steamy photo shoot.

The 22-year-old tennis star, who was beaten by Maria Sharapova in the BNP Paribas Open final last week, has been in solid form on the court this year.

Scroll down for video

Stunner: Caroline Wozniacki models her new underwear range with Danish company JBS

Stunner: Caroline Wozniacki models her new underwear range with Danish company JBS

But now she's attracting attention outside the white lines too.

The former world No 1 has teamed up with Danish company JBS to launch her own line of underwear – and posed for a series of raunchy shots to promote her new product.

The new range Wozniacki has launched has been called 'this is me'.

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki

Raunchy: Wozniacki launched he range which she says reflect who she is as a person

Caroline Wozniacki

Rory McIlroy

Under par: Golfer Rory McIlroy (right), Wozniacki's boyfriend, has struggled so far this season

Wozniacki's description of the 'sexy, durable underwear' says: 'What I wear reflects who I am.

'That’s why I chose to create my own underwear collection for the girl who wants the good looks from fashion, a perfect fit for her body, and a quality that’s hard to beat.'

The photoshoot was also filmed too for good measure. Click the link below to watch the Danish star in action.

In action: Wozniacki lost to Maria Sharapova at the BNP Paribas Open last week

In action: Wozniacki lost to Maria Sharapova at the BNP Paribas Open last week

VIDEO Watch Caroline Wozniacki pose in her new underwear range

Caroline Wozniacki bares all for sexy underwear range advert

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Stewart Downing: Liverpool are starting to click into gear

I love it when a plan comes together! Downing hails Rodgers after Liverpool thrash Wigan

By
Carl Markham, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

13:49 GMT, 3 March 2013

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UPDATED:

13:49 GMT, 3 March 2013

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing believes the side are starting to click into gear and while it may be just a little too late to snatch a Champions League place he is confident they can still finish the season on a high.

The 4-0 demolition of Wigan at the DW Stadium came courtesy of a Luis Suarez hat-trick after Downing's second-minute header but there were other elements of the performance which impressed.

Since taking over in the summer manager Brendan Rodgers has spent his time trying to ingrain a new way of playing into the side, although he admits he will still require a number of transfer windows to bring the best out of his methods.

On the up: Stewart Downing celebrates after scoring against Wigan

On the up: Stewart Downing celebrates after scoring against Wigan

But the ease with which 8.5million January signing Philippe Coutinho seamlessly fitted in on only his third appearance – providing assists for the first two goals – suggests Rodgers' plan is working.

And despite their frequent difficulties in finishing off their dominance in possession results are starting to suggest when things go right they do so in impressive fashion.

The sequence of Liverpool's last six league victories since December 22 is 4-0, 3-0, 3-0, 5-0, 5-0, 4-0.

'I think it's coming together. We've had some good results of late. We're finishing teams off and defending ever so well,' said Downing.

'Pepe Reina made some great saves (against Wigan) and if we do our bit at the other end of the field, we've got a chance.

'It's all coming together. We've got 10 games to go and we've got to keep winning games.'

Liverpool's total of 53 goals from 28 matches is their second best at this stage of a Premier League season – bettered only by the 56 scored in 1995-96 – but Rodgers is not getting carried away.

He can see the progress being made but knows Champions League qualification this season remains some way off for his seventh-placed side at this point.

Treble: Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick as Wigan were put to the sword

Treble: Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick as Wigan were put to the sword

'We are not thinking about that. All we are looking at this moment in time is the next game – that is what we spoke about in the last few days,” said the Reds boss.

'We have played well a lot of this season, what has got us behind has been individual errors.

'Yesterday I could see the graft the players are doing on the training field being taken onto the pitch.

'There was a real focus and concentration in our performance.

'They are being very accustomed to how we are asking them to press as a team high up the pitch and when to drop in and build a block and control the game. That was wonderful for us.

'We have to give great credit to the players because it is very easy, especially after getting knocked out of the Europa League, to feel sorry for ourselves.

'We will focus on finishing as high as we can and look to finish the season strongly.'

Suarez stole the show again with a hat-trick which lifted him to 21 league goals for the season and past Manchester United's Robin van Persie as the country's leading scorer.

'It was another great performance,' added Downing.

Cruise control: Liverpool are finding their feet under Brendan Rodgers

Cruise control: Liverpool are finding their feet under Brendan Rodgers

'There were all types of different goals for his hat-trick.

'At the minute he's on fire and if you have a striker like that in your team, you always have a chance of winning games.

'We played some good football. Obviously getting the early goal helped.

'It settled us down and on a tricky pitch, I thought we dominated for large periods of the game.'

Of his rare header he said: 'It was nice to get a goal, no matter how they come.

'The manager said to me to try to get in a position to score goals and if you get in the box, you have a chance.

'It was a great ball from Philippe and I was able to make a good contact on it to get it past the keeper.'

Downing's goal set the tone for what was probably Liverpool's most comfortable victory of the season.

Coutinho's perfectly-weighted pass put Suarez through for a clever finish in the 18th minute and the Uruguayan then scored a deflected free-kick with 34 minutes gone and Wigan in disarray.

Four minutes into the second half right-back Glen Johnson charged 40 yards downfield before releasing Suarez to complete his treble with an angled shot through the legs of goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi.

Track Cycling World Championships: Laura Trott looking to repeat Olympic omnium win over Sarah Hammer

Trott looking to repeat Olympic omnium win over dangerous American Hammer

Olympics bronze medallist Annette Edmondson fourth, just one point further back.

Trott is attempting to win an incredible sixth title at a major championships in the space of just 24 months.

Contender: Sarah Hammer, who Trott beat to the title at London 2012, leads the Brit by five points

Contender: Sarah Hammer, who Trott beat to the title at London 2012, leads the Brit by five points

She finished third in the flying lap before she came home 10th in the points race, leaving her needing to perform well in the elimination.

Trott, whose boyfriend Jason Kenny was dumped out of the sprint in disappointing fashion last night, duly won but Hammer was the last rider to go out.

Player of the Month Matthews hopes to carry form into Europe and topple Juventus

Player of the Month Matthews hopes to carry form into Europe and topple Juventus

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

17:24 GMT, 8 February 2013

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UPDATED:

17:24 GMT, 8 February 2013

SPL Player of the Month Adam Matthews is hoping he can take his magnificent league form with Celtic and help them win the Champions League last-16 tie against Juventus.

The Welsh defender has been in exceptional form this season for the Bhoys, and was awarded with the monthly gong for January.

The 21-year-old now hopes to kick on and is focusing on 'one of the biggest games of my career' when the Italian giants visit Parkhead on Tuesday for the first leg of the knockout rounds.

Forward thinking: Adam Matthews hopes Celtic can get past Juventus in the Champions League

Forward thinking: Adam Matthews hopes Celtic can get past Juventus in the Champions League

Celtic progressed through the group stages in spectacular fashion, even managing to beat tournament favourites Barcelona at home in a thrilling 2-1 win.

Matthews said: 'I think it's a good achievement. We have a few young good players in the SPL and it's the first time I've won the award but hopefully I can win it some more.'

'It is the first time I have won the award but hopefully I can win it a few more times.

Superstar: Andrea Pirlo is hoping to spoil the party at Parkhead

Superstar: Andrea Pirlo is hoping to spoil the party at Parkhead

Leading the line: Gary Hooper has been in lethal form for Celtic

Leading the line: Gary Hooper has been in lethal form for Celtic

'You play against the best teams in the world like Barcelona and you can only improve.

'Juventus will be one of the biggest games of my career.

'The Barcelona game was one of them but this, for the club and the fans, is even bigger.'

Juventus are favourites to progress past the SPL champions and currently sit top of Serie A, three points clear of chasers Napoli.

M&C Saatchi complete ground-breaking deal with Merlin talent agency

Magic touch: M&C Saatchi seal Merlin tie-up in bid to rule world of sport and entertainment

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

09:58 GMT, 24 January 2013

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UPDATED:

10:15 GMT, 24 January 2013

The biggest players in sport will join up with some of the leading lights in showbusiness in a company aimed at ruling the world of entertainment.

M&C Saatchi UK Group, one of the world’s fastest growing global communications companies, has acquired leading talent management agency Merlin Elite.

It combines leading sportsmen, such as Amir Khan, with Merlin’s stable of clients, including Andrew Flintoff, Jamie and Louise Redknapp, pop star Jay Kay, TV personality and fashion model Jodie Kidd and radio presenter Jamie Theakston.

Deal: Amir Khan (right) is represented by M&C Saatchi

Deal: Amir Khan (right) is represented by M&C Saatchi

It is the first time a global advertising agency has bought a talent business and the ground-breaking enterprise sees M&C Saatchi acquire a majority 60 per cent of the talent business, with the new company, M&C Saatchi Merlin, becoming the first new organisation to be part of M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment Group.

To be based at M&C Saatchi’s headquarters in London, M&C Saatchi Merlin will act as a stand-alone business and will look to further grow its portfolio in sport, TV and entertainment, with a number of new names expected to join the line-up.

Represented: Andrew Flintoff

Represented: Andrew Flintoff

Since founding Merlin a decade ago,
chairman Richard Thompson has built an impressive roster of clients
within sport and entertainment and he commented: 'I am extremely excited to be joining the M&C Saatchi family. With the quality of people I have met, to the level of creativity and professionalism, I have no doubt this merger of talents will help create a new breed of Management Company – the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

'Talent management, both for sportspeople and entertainers, has fundamentally remained the same for the past thirty years. M&C Saatchi Merlin will have a creative approach to managing, nurturing and developing a career that will be unique. This acquisition demonstrates why M&C Saatchi have long been regarded as pioneers.'

Steve Martin added: 'This is not about selling Merlin’s talent portfolio back to our existing clients. We are joining forces with Merlin Elite to allow us to develop new revenue streams, build valuable intellectual property and harness some of the best talent in the country. It is a pioneering business model and the combination of creativity with strategic personal management will really freshen up a part of the industry that has been doing the same thing for a long time.'

The board of M&C Saatchi Merlin will consist of Richard Thompson, who will be chairman, Sian Connolly, Merlin Elite MD, Steve Martin, Lisa Thomas and Jamie Hewitt, M&C Saatchi Group FD.

Lisa Thomas, CEO M&C Saatchi (UK) Group, added: 'The combination of these two incredibly successful businesses will form a formidable powerhouse in our growth areas of Sports and Entertainment. M&C Saatchi Group has always done things differently and we are delighted to lead the way with this brutally simple, strategic acquisition.'

Sam Allardyce wants West Ham to start 2013 with a win over Norwich

'We need to bounce back': Allardyce wants Hammers to ring in the New Year by ending run of poor form against Norwich

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UPDATED:

16:25 GMT, 31 December 2012

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce wants a positive reaction from his players when they welcome Norwich to Upton Park on New Year's Day.

The Hammers slipped to a 1-0 defeat against fellow promoted side Reading on Saturday and have now won just one of their last eight Barclays Premier League fixtures.

Norwich, who had previously been on a 10-match unbeaten run, have lost their last three and Allardyce is hoping his players can end the congested festive period on a high.

Testing times: Sam Allardyce has seen West Ham win just once in their last eight Premier League matches and has called for an instant improvement in 2013

Testing times: Sam Allardyce has seen West Ham win just once in their last eight Premier League matches and has called for an instant improvement in 2013

'We need to bounce back,' he said.

'We've got to make sure we become better at creating and taking our chances, otherwise it's going to be tough.

'The balls into the box haven't been given enough quality to open up a defence as everybody starts tightening up at this stage of the season.'

Allardyce has had to deal with a host of injuries in the past couple of months with key players such as Andy Carroll and Mohamed Diame still sidelined.

The 58-year-old believes the number of players unavailable to him of late has led to a slip in form that leaves the Hammers six points clear of the bottom three.

He said: 'We haven't had our best team out for ages and since we beat Chelsea, our points total has diminished rather than kicked on from there.

'Normally when you get a result as big as that one you kick on and get more and more results as the euphoria keeps you going.

Nightmare: 2012 ended in poor fashion for West Ham after James Collins (left) gifted Reading's Pavel Pogrebnyak the winning goal with a tame back pass

Nightmare: 2012 ended in poor fashion for West Ham after James Collins (left) gifted Reading's Pavel Pogrebnyak the winning goal with a tame back pass

'The injuries have unfortunately kicked in and we've not been able to pick up the results we wanted to.

'It's about getting the players back fit and then keeping them fit, and then we'll be OK but that's got to happen very quickly now.'

The recently recovered trio of Ricardo Vaz Te, Jack Collison and Alou Diarra were all in the matchday squad for the defeat at Reading with only the latter not making it onto the pitch at some stage.

But, despite welcoming a few players back from injury, Allardyce must now cope without the suspended duo of captain Kevin Nolan and defender James Collins for the match with Norwich.

Suspended: Captain Kevin Nolan will miss the New Year's Day match with Norwich after collecting a fifth yellow card of the season

Suspended: Captain Kevin Nolan will miss the New Year's Day match with Norwich after collecting a fifth yellow card of the season

'Losing the game (at Reading) was hard enough, but to lose two key players in the last game of the suspension period makes it even worse,' he said.

'If they had got booked on Tuesday, there's no suspension, but they go and get booked at Reading and now we have to make do without them.'

Collins was at fault for the goal at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday as his under-hit backpass was collected by Royals' striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, who then converted coolly past Jussi Jaaskelainen and the Wales international must now wait to make amends.

'James has to get over the mistake,' said Allardyce.

'But unfortunately he can't on Tuesday as he's suspended. The rest of the team have to get over it and start getting a few more points.'

Nuisance: Reading's Pavel Pogrebnyak, seen here challenging Winston Reid, proved a real handful on Saturday

Nuisance: Reading's Pavel Pogrebnyak, seen here challenging Winston Reid, proved a real handful on Saturday

With the Hammers on a run of poor form Allardyce is expecting a tense atmosphere at Upton Park for the visit of the Canaries.

'I think it is going to be a big test for our nerve for the first time this season,' he said.

'Norwich have been very good defensively, particularly away from home and I think that they make life very difficult for you to break them down and play very well on the counter-attack if you leave too many spaces.'

Allardyce said he was not surprised to see Norwich string together an impressive run of form once their manager Chris Hughton became comfortable in his new surroundings at Carrow Road.

'They did so well last year, there was a little disruption with a change of manager that the club didn't expect,' he said.

'A new manager gets his feet under the
table and doesn't quite know his players and the players don't know him
and once they get to do that and he gets to show he is a good manager
and can replace Paul Lambert they start playing for him the way they
are.

'It is no mean feat to
go 10 games in the Premier League without defeat, that is a great,
great run any of the top six sides would be pleased with that one never
mind someone that is just competing in the Premier League for the second
season running.'

Stalemate: The two sides drew 0-0 at Carrow Road back in September, despite the best efforts of Jonny Howson and Matt Jarvis

Stalemate: The two sides drew 0-0 at Carrow Road back in September, despite the best efforts of Jonny Howson and Matt Jarvis

Andy Murray delighted to receive OBE in New Years Honours

Murray proud to receive OBE as 'final touch' to incredible year for US Open and Olympic champion

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UPDATED:

15:10 GMT, 29 December 2012

Olympic and US Open champion Andy Murray expressed his pride at being awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list.

The 25-year-old was one of a host of sporting stars to receive honours as part of a special list rewarding British athletes who excelled at the London Olympics and Paralympics.

Murray said in a statement on his website: 'It is with incredible pride that I have been named in the New Year's Honours List to receive an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen for services to sport.

What a year: Andy Murray won two Olympic medals and lifted the US Open trophy

What a year: Andy Murray won two Olympic medals and lifted the US Open trophy

'This has been an amazing year for British sport and I am proud to have been able to play my part.

'I reached my first Wimbledon final, competed and won gold at the London 2012 Olympics with Team GB at Wimbledon, and then won my first grand slam title at the US Open.

'Being recognised in such a way at the end of such a great season is the finishing touch on 2012. Thank you all for your support, I hope everyone has a very happy New Year…..and here's to 2013!'

Murray went into the Olympics still looking to win one of tennis' biggest titles after falling just short at Wimbledon in July.

The Scot reached the final for the first time, ending a 74-year wait for a home men's singles finalist, but was beaten in four sets by Roger Federer, his devastation clear for all to see as his sobbed his way through a post-match interview.

Devastation: Murray (right) had to settle for second best at Wimbledon after losing to Roger Federer (left)

Devastation: Murray (right) had to settle for second best at Wimbledon after losing to Roger Federer (left)

Bouncing back: Murray beat Federer in the Olympic final at Wimbledon to take gold in the men's singles

Bouncing back: Murray beat Federer in the Olympic final at Wimbledon to take gold in the men's singles

Murray reacted in superb fashion, though, beating Novak Djokovic to guarantee himself a first Olympic medal and then handing Federer his worst defeat on grass to clinch gold in the men's singles on Wimbledon's Centre Court.

Murray almost made it two gold medals on the same day but had to settle for silver in the mixed doubles with Laura Robson.

The hope was the success would spur him on to break his grand slam duck, and he did just that at the first opportunity by winning the US Open in New York, ending Fred Perry's 76-year reign as Britain's last male grand slam singles champion.

Busy: Murray was in action earlier this week in Abu Dhabi

Busy: Murray was in action earlier this week in Abu Dhabi

The Wimbledon final was the fourth slam showpiece Murray had lost but he matched coach Ivan Lendl in winning at the fifth time of asking with a five-set victory over Djokovic.

Murray revealed after his triumph that his friends had been teasing him about the possibility of a knighthood – something he definitely was not expecting.

The world No 3 said: 'A lot of my friends have been messaging me about it and I don't really know what to say. I think it should take more than one or two good tournaments to deserve something like that. It would probably be a bit rash.'

The OBE is the first honour received by Murray, who survived the school shooting in his home town of Dunblane when he was eight.

Jonathan McEvoy reflects on British sport in 2012

'Unforgettable'… Jonathan McEvoy reflects on the greatest ever year of British sport

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UPDATED:

23:11 GMT, 27 December 2012

The lessons of a sporting lifetime were stood on their head in seven unforgettable months between the late spring and mid-winter of 2012.

Even if you were born in the immediate pre-War years, you knew no British chap could ever win a Grand Slam tennis tournament.

Think of the Olympics and the home-grown heroes were so conspicuously few that they were marked out for life. The Tour de France was marvelled at for its epic climbs but was still as Gallic as Brie and Bordeaux.

Outstanding: London 2012's opening ceremony reflected a superb year of sport

Outstanding: London 2012's opening ceremony reflected a superb year of sport

India’s cricketers traditionally dominate on the subcontinent. Our rugby lads had recently distinguished themselves at dwarf-throwing and little else. As for Manchester City, they had not won the title since Noah was a boy.

All this contributed to talk of vulnerability in the country’s competitive psyche. We had grown weary of the plucky-loser narrative but were still searching for a remedy when this annus mirabilis began.

Even the Barclays Premier League, the foremost sporting phenomenon of the past two decades, was losing a little of its lustre to Spain’s La Liga. But it was on the concluding, heart-stopping, see-sawing day of the season that the national game set the dramatic standard for the summer that was to come.

Sunday, May 13, 2012, the Etihad Stadium. The seemingly simple requirement for City to end their 44-year wait for the title was to beat Queens Park Rangers, the team with the worst away record in the League.

Champions: City finally secured the title in the most dramatic fashion possible

Champions: City finally secured the title in the most dramatic fashion possible

That would render a Manchester United win at Sunderland irrelevant, save a mathematical miracle. As we now know, City won 3-2 to finish top on goal difference. Mark Hughes’s QPR, who knew they would avoid relegation unless Bolton beat Stoke, stayed up. But those bare facts do not tell a fraction of the ebb and flow we will now briefly relive.

City had printed T-shirts with ‘Champions’ on but that seemed premature after Djibril Cisse cancelled out Pablo Zabaleta’s opening goal and Jamie Mackie’s magnificent header put QPR 2-1 up. United were winning 1-0. So dire were the portents at this stage for City that the catering trolley — pizza, pastries, and muffins — arrived in the dressing-room minus champagne.

David Platt, City’s assistant manager, who carried little son Charlie on to the pitch pre-match for his I-was-there moment, asked himself: ‘How has this happened’

Fans leave, some in tears. On the bench, City midfielder Gareth Barry spots a helicopter and thinks, wrongly, that the Premier League trophy is being taken to Sunderland. Micah Richards, an unused sub, is in the dressing room on his hands and knees.

But in the 90th minute, Edin Dzeko’s header makes it 2-2. Three minutes and 46 seconds of added time remain. Once-disconsolate fans turn back.

Saviour: Aguero's last-gasp goal was that which won City the Premier League

Saviour: Aguero's last-gasp goal was that which won City the Premier League

The Stoke-Bolton game is over and QPR know they are safe. Their supporters celebrate. And then, Sergio Aguero is played in by Mario Balotelli — a decisive and often overlooked contribution by the petulant one — to score the winner. Ecstasy is limitless. One press officer jumps on to the shoulders of a steward. Or — as it turned out — a doping official.

Jubilant manager Roberto Mancini is greeted by father Aldo, who has travelled from Italy despite heart problems. This afternoon can hardly have helped the old fellow’s ticker.

After a 10-month season the destination of the title was decided in a few fevered seconds. In Sunderland, Sir Alex Ferguson could hear the din generated by his noisy neighbours. On returning home it is understood he told Lady Ferguson he could not now retire for another year.

City, despite the influx of distorting money, had many neutrals with them. Chelsea, on the other hand, test the sympathy of all non-partisans. There was John Terry, found guilty of racism by the FA if cleared in a court of law. This was before his club made their own casual accusations of racism against later exonerated referee Mark Clattenburg.

Put that calumny together with the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo months after winning the Champions League and you could say Stamford Bridge has a knack of making itself look a basket case.

In the dock: John Terry's court case was one of the year's biggest negatives

In the dock: John Terry's court case was one of the year's biggest negatives

Still, credit where due for their vanquishing of Europe. After beating Barcelona — the team of another joy-giver of 2012, Lionel Messi, scorer of 91 goals over the year — they faced Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. Resolute but outplayed, Chelsea equalised with two minutes left through Didier Drogba.

Then Drogba, perhaps the ultimate terrace hero of Chelsea’s Russian roubles era, rolled in the winning penalty, his final act for the club. The Abramovich project had found its Holy Grail. And, yes, an English team had beaten a German team in a penalty shootout. We said this year was something novel.

Via a one-line mention of England’s negligible impact on the European Championship and Spain’s gracing of the tournament with a bedazzling brand of football, we move on to the boys of summer.

Bradley Wiggins was our first individual conqueror of the Olympic preamble. ‘I told my teacher there were two things I wanted to do when I grew up,’ Wiggins recalled. ‘I want to wear the Tour de France yellow jersey and win an Olympic gold medal. She told me I must be mad.’

Against the odds: Chelsea battled to an unlikely Champions League title

Against the odds: Chelsea battled to an unlikely Champions League title

Well, he is a little bit. Which road cyclist isn’t He has suffered despair and hit the bottle but self-sacrifice is a key ingredient of success. That means there are times he drinks water while wife Cath tucks into a club sandwich. His diet is so controlled that a package of food arrives each day. He eats out of the cartons supplied, perhaps a box of rice.

He is a 6ft 3in jockey, down from 82kg (12st 13lb) — his weight when he competed on the track at the Beijing Olympics four years ago — to 72kg (11st 5lb) for this year’s crusade, the third attempt by the British-run Team Sky to win the Tour de France.

Wiggins took the yellow jersey for the first time in his life on stage seven. He was then dominant in the mountains where the defending champion Cadel Evans had been expected to ask the hard questions. Wiggins ended up riding into Paris unassailable, his hands in the air down the Champs-Elysees.

No Briton had won the Tour in its 109-year history. He had done it, as far as every expert and all our instincts knew, clean of drugs. That was even more important after Lance Armstrong was stripped of his saintly reputation by the US Anti-Doping Agency in October. Their boss Travis Tygart is another hero of 2012.

Leading the way: Wiggins became Britain's first Tour de France champion

Leading the way: Wiggins became Britain's first Tour de France champion

Wiggins was still haunted by the crimes of the Nineties and the very Naughties, with malicious gossipers implying he was on the illegal juice. This is what he thought of those accusations: ‘It’s easy for them to sit there on Twitter under a pseudonym and write that sort of s*** rather than get off their own a**** and work hard to achieve something.’

Well said. But he could act as a sportsman as well as a straight-talker, slowing the peloton when tacks thrown on the road caused a puncture to Evans. The French called Wiggins Le Gentleman. Thankfully an eschewer of celebrity, sometimes unnecessarily caustic, he is certainly Monsieur Quirky. We hail him for his foibles and his brilliance. And to think Mark Cavendish, our fabulous sprinter, began 2012 as the pre-eminent name in British road cycling, to the extent that Wiggins was asked earlier in the year: ‘Do you think you’re the forgotten man’

Wiggins won Sports Personality of the Year and, in the view of this observer, rightly. The addition of his Olympic time-trial gold medal made his case irresistible. However, there was also a fine argument advanced on behalf of Andy Murray, who became Britain’s first male Grand Slam winner for 76 years.

Before that, Murray lost the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer before making one of the most lachrymose speeches centre court has witnessed. But back for the Olympics, he avenged that result.

Tears: Murray could not hide his emotion after losing the Wimbledon final

Tears: Murray could not hide his emotion after losing the Wimbledon final

My belief is that tennis — like football with its World Cup — should be axed from the Olympics as it does not represent the zenith of the sport. Yet Murray’s straight-sets gold-medal win over the Swiss master was gripping. It was the most popular BBC iPlayer broadcast of the Games.

With his latest coach, Ivan Lendl, an unsmiling and unforgiving presence, there seemed a hardening of Murray’s spirit where he might previously have made a drama out of a twinge. No less than Novak Djokovic detected a fraction more aggression in his rival’s play.

Finally, at Flushing Meadows, Murray (right) made his talent and flair work for him, beating the approving Djokovic 7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 after four hours and 54 minutes of sapping combat to win the US Open.

He had accomplished his lifetime’s ambition during tennis’s golden age. The Federer-Rafael Nadal duopoly was legendary and enduring even before Djokovic intervened by superseding them as No 1. The company Murray keeps is a measure of the player.

In golf, Rory McIlroy was touched by the angels. He was also the scamp chewing on an energy bar on that unforgettable Ryder Cup day. The crowd shouted, ‘How’s the hangover, Rory’ as he arrived on the last morning scarily close to his tee-time, having apparently muddled up the time zones.

Breakthrough: Murray finally won his first Major at the US Open

Breakthrough: Murray finally won his first Major at the US Open

I was a touch suspicious, but journalistic friends there assure me his excuse was genuine. No practice, no matter, he breezed to an outward nine of 32. He and his European team-mates, with Ian Poulter at the heart and soul of the revival, were enacting the Miracle at Medinah.

At the end of Saturday with the home team leading 10-6, one American sports journalist, Gene Wojciechowski, wrote: ‘For those who think this Ryder Cup is finished, think again. Team Europe can still win if the following five things happen Sunday: 1. Keegan Bradley is abducted. 2. Team USA captain Davis Love III inserts Cup spectators Michael Jordan, President George W Bush, Amy Mickelson and the Rev Jesse Jackson into the singles line-up. 3. Lee Westwood: US citizen. 4. Marty McFly shows Team Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal how to go back in time. Last Friday morning will do. 5. Team Europe wins eight of the remaining 12 matches to retain the Cup.’

Oh dear, even if we did share the broad sentiment. Around the country, people stuck with Sky’s gripping coverage as the clock ticked towards midnight. It dawned on us that Europe could accomplish the greatest victory in the 85-year history of the competition.

Cheers filled every sitting room as Martin Kaymer holed from five feet to seal a 14-13 win. Jose Maria Olazabal had gone from much-questioned captain to smiling hero. He had honoured the memory of great friend Severiano Ballesteros.

McIlroy’s personal accomplishments also evoked Ballesteros. His victory at the US PGA made him the youngest multiple major winner since the great Spaniard 32 years earlier. McIlroy’s margin of victory was eight shots, just as at the 2011 US Open.

Shock: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate Europe's Ryder Cup triumph

Shock: Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy celebrate Europe's Ryder Cup triumph

His triumph came after a mini-slump, which he laudably ascribed to having taken his eye off the ball. Chivalrously, he refused to blame tennis-playing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki for providing the distraction. He ended the year as world No 1 and golf’s greatest attraction since Tiger Woods drove into a fire hydrant.

The equine star of 2012 was Frankel, who retired from Flat racing with 14 wins from 14 races. Twice he won by 10 lengths or more, including at Royal Ascot this year. He ranks among the greatest horses ever bred. Still, we were nervous at the start of his final race, the Champion Stakes. Rain had threatened to spoil the script. Anxiety was heightened when he made an awful start.

But we are talking about 2012, the year when everything went right. So he and jockey Tom Queally recovered to sign off in style. It was a poignant day because his celebrated Dr Dolittle of a trainer, Sir Henry Cecil, was fighting cancer.

Untouchable: Frankel saw off all competition

Untouchable: Frankel saw off all competition

Sir Henry was in the paddock, his voice a whisper, his manners exemplary, every autograph-hunter obliged. Work done, Frankel went off to Banstead Manor Stud for several hundred assignations. Cecil left with everyone’s wishes for a reprieve. Speaking of the future, it was announced that the other wonder-horse of the era, steeplechaser Kauto Star, is destined for a second career in dressage, which seems a trifle dainty for such a fine beast.

As the nights drew in here, England’s rugby team came up with perhaps the year’s least expected victory. As New Zealand came to Twickenham, one of the All Blacks staff enquired where they should stand when they collected the winners’ Hillary Shield.

But England prevailed, 38-21. It was one of the finest performances at HQ, all the more remarkable for the defeats against Australia and South Africa that preceded it. A watershed or a fabulous one-off We look to the Six Nations and beyond for the answer.

Flying: England surpassed all expectations by beating the All Blacks

Flying: England surpassed all expectations by beating the All Blacks

And then, finally, 2012’s Indian summer. Brought down to earth by South Africa a few months earlier — with Graeme Smith causing a third England captain, Andrew Strauss, to perish during his long and brutal reign — our cricketers were now led by Alastair Cook.

He faced the task of winning on the dusty graveyard of so many tourists. England lost the first Test and won the second magnificently. Cook scored stoic centuries in both. Then in the third Test, in Kolkata, he swept from outside his off-stump for three runs. His century was up — the 23rd of his Test career, more than any other Englishman. It eclipsed a record set by Wally Hammond 73 years earlier.

Cook had beaten the showboating and recently quarrelsome Kevin Pietersen to the mark. Who could begrudge the unshowiest of captains his reward The series — and the team’s peace with Pietersen — followed.

Leading by example: Cook captained England to victory in India

Leading by example: Cook captained England to victory in India

It was a final confirmation that 2012 has been the year British sport delivered even when the result appeared to be getting away.

You could almost put your mortgage on our teams, and how often have we been able to say that Forgive the amateur philosophy but 2012 might just have changed the country’s relationship with sport. At least for now.

Steve Clarke fumes at Santi Cazorla dive

Clarke fumes at Cazorla penalty dive as West Brom fall to Arsenal

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UPDATED:

19:16 GMT, 8 December 2012

West Brom manager Steve Clarke hit out at referee Mike Jones after he failed to spot a dive by Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla as the Gunners recorded a 2-0 Barclays Premier League win at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal took the lead in controversial fashion midway through the first half as Spain midfielder Cazorla flung himself to the floor following a challenge by Steven Reid, with replays showing there was no contact.

Mikel Arteta converted the resulting penalty.

Easy as that: Mikel Arteta scored his first goal from the spot

Easy as that: Mikel Arteta scored his first goal from the spot

MATCH FACTS

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Coquelin 77), Cazorla (Podolski 87), Giroud, Gervinho (Rosicky 81)

Subs not used: Martinez, Squillaci, Jenkinson, Ramsey

Booked: Mertesacker, Giroud

Goals: Arteta 26 (pen), 64 (pen)

West Brom: Myhill, Reid, Olsson, Ridgewell (Popov 6), McAuley, Morrison, Brunt, Mulumbu, Gera (Rosenberg 75), Long, Odemwingie (Lukaku 62),

Subs not used: Daniels, Tamas, Dorrans, Fortune

Booked: Olsson, Brunt, Reid

Referee: Mike Jones

Attendance: 60,083

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LATEST PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE, FIXTURES AND RESULTS

The Baggies, who lost twice last week
to halt their fine start to the season, never really recovered from the
sense of injustice and there was no way back once Arteta converted from
the spot again on 64 minutes after Chris Brunt had tripped Alex
Oxlade-Chamberlain – which Clarke felt had come following a foul by the
midfielder on Goran Popov in the build-up.

'There was zero contact, it wasn't even close. I am not sure what the referee saw,' said the angry West Brom manager.

'It was a bad decision for us and obviously changed the shape of the afternoon.

'It could have been a nervous afternoon for Arsenal, at 0-0 they hadn't created too much.

'We knew the longer the game went the
more pressure would come on Arsenal and then we would have a chance.
That decision changed it.'

Clarke continued: 'The second was a
clear penalty, no complaints, Chris fouled Oxlade-Chamberlain – but
Goran Popov was fouled in the lead up to it and for some reason the
referee, who gave soft free-kicks all afternoon, decided not to give
that one.

Arms aloft: Arteta wheels away after the penalty hit the back of the net

Arms aloft: Arteta wheels away after the penalty hit the back of the net

Bust up: Mike Jones is surrounded by West Brom players after awarding the first penalty

Bust up: Mike Jones is surrounded by West Brom players after awarding the first penalty

Another poor decision for us, you
can add the [Per] Mertesacker handball in the first half – it was a
normal ball into the box and somehow the officials decide it was a
free-kick as it's the easy way out.

'They gave it for a free-kick on somebody but I've seen the replay and for the life of me cannot see a free-kick.'

Clarke stopped short of calling
Cazorla a cheat, though, adding: 'There is a share of culpability, but
on that one it is so clear there was no contact, the referee has to be
better with his decision..

Contact Santi Cazorla won the penalty but there appeared to be no touch from Steven Reid

Contact Santi Cazorla won the penalty but there appeared to be no touch from Steven Reid

Not even close: Cazorla went down easily in the box

Not even close: Cazorla went down easily in the box

'I don't want a witch hunt on
referees, in his country we have fantastic referees and a fantastic
group that work hard to make the game the game it is.

'We have to try to work as hard as we
can with the referees, in this game unfortunately it was the poorest of
a really good group.

'We have a number of good referees, we have to find good more referees. that is the way forward.'

Up and away: Jack Wilshere battles for the ball

Up and away: Jack Wilshere battles for the ball

Mismatch Wilshere squares up to Jonas Olsson

Mismatch Wilshere squares up to Jonas Olsson

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had not reviewed the incident, but revealed Cazorla insisted there had been contact.

'I am sorry if it was not a penalty,
but I have spoken to Santi and he said he was touched, lost his balance.
Has he made a bit more of it I don't know,' Wenger said.

'When he [a player] is touched, he goes down, the referee can give or not give the penalty.

Catch me if you can: Goran Popov slides in on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Catch me if you can: Goran Popov slides in on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

'Of course [I will speak to Santi if he has not been touched]. I will look at it, don't worry.'

Despite its controversial nature, it
was a much-needed first victory in four matches for the Gunners, who
have moved back up the Premier League table as a result.

'Overall we played well. We were
maybe a bit lucky on the first penalty, but we created chances and kept a
clean sheet,' Wenger said.

'We have shown a great spirit, which many people questioned after our last game, so we did our job very well.

'You could feel we were ready for a fight and that we absolutely had to win this game, which is what we did.'

England midfielder Jack Wilshere produced a composed display and was the heartbeat of the Arsenal side.

Wenger said: 'Jack is getting closer to the player we know he is and today I think he made a big step.

'You could see it already this week
in training, that he has gained a little burst again, a little zip in
the first three or four yards.

'In football, you have sometimes to
be patient. He can only gain it by playing but of course in the first
games you cannot be at that level.'

You again! Arteta scored his second penalty of the game

You again! Arteta scored his second penalty of the game

Vying: Olivier Giroud and Jonas Olsson battle for possession

Vying: Olivier Giroud and Jonas Olsson battle for possession

WENGER WATCH

Wenger watch: Arsene Wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger went into today's match against West Brom under pressure following four matches without victory. Here, Nicholas McAvaney takes a look at how he performed.

BODY LANGUAGE Looking sharp in his suit, Wenger (right) lasted five minutes before donning his winter coat – not because of a frosty reception from the fans however.

Often out of his seat in the opening half, Wenger stormed to the bench on 22 minutes after venting his frustration on the turf following Gervinho's missed.

Even Mikel Arteta's goal three minutes later could not remove the Frenchman's scowl, which remained until the whistle. Arteta's second goal also failed to excite the manager, who was a touch more animated in the second half, mostly in the final 10 minutes when the victory was assured.

At full-time and following a quick handshake with Steve Clarke, he was off the pitch without hesitation.

TACTICS Opening with a 4-4-2 formation, Arsenal dominated possession and regularly peppered the opposition goal, albeit with little success.

Wenger resisted the urge to shake up his forward line soon after the break, much to the frustration of fans who grew tired of Gervinho's wasted opportunities 15 minutes into the second half and vehemently appealed to Wenger for an urgent substitution.

Francis Coquelin and Tomas Rosicky helped strengthen his midfield with 10 minutes remaining at the expense of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho.

INTERACTION The Frenchman was unusually quiet with the officials across the first 45 minutes, only once questioning a call that saw Oliver Giroud writhing on the ground clutching his lower back just past the half hour.

He was quickly out of his seat in the second half, though, exchanging words with the fourth official to little effect.

He vented with greater aggression five minutes later after a questionable call against Arsenal, then spent the remainder of the half with his hands in his pockets, only occasionally commanding player movements in the final 10 minutes.

FANS The home fans reserved any stick for the manager for prior to kick off. An ironic cheer erupted on 10 minutes as the manager craftily flicked the ball back from the bench for a throw in, but few had anything to say to the Frenchman throughout the half.

Fans seemed happy with Arteta's brace all but assuring Arsenal of the three points, and dutifully applauded the boss for a job well done on 90 minutes.

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez prepare for fourth and final fight

This is it: Pacquiao vows knock out Marquez and end long running rivalry in fourth and final fight

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UPDATED:

15:13 GMT, 6 December 2012

Having shared the ring for 36 rounds over their careers there is not too much that Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez don't know about each other – yet they are prepared to go head to head for one final time.

Officially, the tally stands at two Pacquiao wins and one draw, though many fans and boxing writers believe Marquez could legitimately have won all three encounters.

Saturday’s fight is likely to be another close encounter and Filipino Pacquiao believes this will be the last time the two set foot in the ring together.

Fourth and final time: Manny Pacquiao and Juan Marquez prepare for their fight on Saturday

Fourth and final time: Manny Pacquiao and Juan Marquez prepare for their fight on Saturday

'I think this is the last fight with him,’ Pacquiao said.

'Last time,’ agreed trainer Freddie Roach. ‘We're going to knock him out. End of story.'
Pacquiao lost his last fight to Timothy Bradley – albeit in controversial fashion – and Roach says his fighter is hungrier than ever to succeed, especially if he is ever to get Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring.

'The fourth fight could be the same as the last three, but Manny's hungrier now,’ Roach said. 'I don't think Marquez has seen the best Manny yet.’

The final showdown: Pacquiao and Marquez both say this will be the last time they fight each other

The final showdown: Pacquiao and Marquez both say this will be the last time they fight each other

But in the opposite corner, Marquez says his sole motivation for Saturday's non-title welterweight clash is the prospect of finally being able to celebrate victory over the Filipino.

'I want them (his corner) to raise my hand (in triumph),’ Marquez said.
'People tell me, 'You really beat him', in the last three fights, a lot of people feel I beat him.

'But I want to have my hand raised. I want the judges to really look at what they're doing and get it right this time.’

We've met before: Pacquiao and Marquez go head-to-head before their fourth fight

We've met before: Pacquiao and Marquez go head-to-head before their fourth fight

For his part, Pacquiao appears to be growing increasingly frustrated by the Mexican's insistence that he was the deserved winner of their previous three contests, particularly because of the counter-punching style favoured by Marquez.

'He always claims he won the fights,’ said Pacquiao. ‘So he needs to prove something.

'You cannot say, 'Yes I won the fight' when you are always backing off. It's contradictory. If you're claiming you won the fight, then you have to press the action.’

Nice and relaxed: Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach laugh during the press conference

Nice and relaxed: Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach laugh during the press conference

The four-fight rivalry between the two boxers almost failed to last one round. Pacquiao knocked down Marquez three times in the opening round of their first encounter in 2004, but the Mexican rallied to outbox his opponent and eke out a draw.

In their second meeting four years later, Pacquiao knocked down Marquez in the third round, which proved the difference after he won a close split decision.

Their third bout was adjudged a majority decision victory for the Filipino southpaw, despite Pacquiao's surprisingly unimpressive display.

Game face on: Marquez looks serious as he bids to finally get a win over his rival

Game face on: Marquez looks serious as he bids to finally get a win over his rival

'I thought Manny won that fight,’ Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach said on Wednesday. “But the booing was very loud and very vocal.

'Someone said, 'Why aren't you smiling You won the fight'. And I said, 'It's very hard to smile when you're being booed that bad'.’

Pacquiao acknowledged that his series of fights with Marquez had been the defining rivalry of his career.

Capturing the imagination: A blackjack table at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas promotes the fight

Capturing the imagination: A blackjack table at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas promotes the fight

'When you say 'Muhammad Ali', you think 'Joe Frazier',’ the Filipino said. ‘And I think when you say 'Manny Pacquiao', you think 'Juan Manuel Marquez'. And when you say 'Marquez', you think 'Manny Pacquiao'.’

But neither man is expecting a fifth fight, whatever happens in the ring on Saturday. The fourth bout, they insist, will be the last.

'This is the last fight with Manny,’ said Marquez. ‘I don't know what will happen in the ring, but this is the last time.'

Pacquiao v Marquez is live on Primetime from 2am on Sunday morning