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Sportsmail"s Magnificent Seven, including Louis Smith and Tom Daley, come together for the final time

Thanks for being MAGNIFICENT! Sportsmail pays tribute to the seven athletes we have followed from 2005 to the 2012 Olympics

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UPDATED:

00:04 GMT, 28 December 2012

Seven years ago, Sportsmail began following seven young athletes as they set out on their journeys to try to reach the 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games in London.

Three of the original seven made it to the Games but two called time on their sporting careers before the start of this year. Their replacements, however, were both part of Team GB and Paralympics GB last summer.

It has been an enlightening experience, punctuated by extremes of success and disappointment, watching the development of these athletes' careers since 2005.

Recently, Sportsmail's Magnificent Seven met up for the final time and shared memories of their experiences.

Then and now: From left, Gemma Howell, Tom Daley, Louise Watkin, Sportsmail's Andy Hooper, Emily Pidgeon, Shanaze Reade and Louis Smith met up for one final time recently

Then and now: From left, Gemma Howell, Tom Daley, Louise Watkin, Sportsmail's Andy Hooper, Emily Pidgeon, Shanaze Reade and Louis Smith met up for one final time recently

As they were: The original Magnificent Seven lined up at Lord's, from left, Tom Daley, Louis Smith, Jean-Rene Badrick, Emily Pidgeon, Giles Scott, Rachael Latham and Shanaze Reade

As they were: The original Magnificent Seven lined up at Lord's, from left, Tom Daley, Louis Smith, Jean-Rene Badrick, Emily Pidgeon, Giles Scott, Rachael Latham and Shanaze Reade

Tom Daley, Diving, 18, from Plymouth

The youngest of the Magnificent Seven has become a superstar. Daley was selected for the Beijing Games aged just 14 after becoming a British and European champion in the 10-metre platform.

He added the world title in 2009, two Commonwealth golds (in the individual event and synchronised 10m platform) in 2010 and then won an emotional Olympic bronze medal in London, despite intense pressure and expectation and the passing of his father, Rob, in May 2011.

'When I look at some of the photos from 2005 I'm so small! It's crazy how much I've changed since then and what I've achieved in that time.

'Life's changed, too. In fact, it's stacked up to a whole new level since London. Going out anywhere, there are so many people who stop you and say, “Congratulations”.

'It's nice to feel appreciated and respected but it does feel weird that seven years of training were geared towards London 2012 and now it's been and gone.

Superstar: Tom Daley won a bronze medal in the men's 10m platform at the London Games

Superstar: Tom Daley won a bronze medal in the men's 10m platform at the London Games

In the spotlight: Daley (right) presented the Young Sports Personality of the Year award to Josef Craig (centre)

In the spotlight: Daley (right) presented the Young Sports Personality of the Year award to Josef Craig (centre)

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN…

The Magnificent Seven series originated in 2005 through Sportsmail selecting seven talented athletes to follow through to London 2012.

The National Lottery joined as partner in 2006 to promote their funding into the seven chosen athletes, along with over 1,200 other competitors, on their journey to the London 2012 Games.

National Lottery funding, originating directly from the Lottery-playing public across the UK, enables elite athletes to benefit from the world-class coaching, facilities and medical support, giving them every possible chance to succeed during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As the nation's attention moves from the London 2012 Games to Rio 2016, The National Lottery will continue to invest in sports facilities, support staff and coaching, providing opportunities for future generations to succeed on an elite level.

No-one has contributed more to our athletes than National Lottery players, with more than 1,200 athletes having benefited from world-class coaching and support. www.national-lottery.co.uk/London2012

'I think 2012 changed the face of British sport but there was a bit of a crash after the Olympics when I thought, “I can't believe it's all over.” I'm slowly, gradually, building my way back up there.

'After the Games, I went on holiday with my family and then got two golds at the World Junior Championships: one in the 10-metre event and one in the 3m synchro with Jack Laugher. Then I went to Dubai with my friends and have been back at school catching up on my maths and Spanish A-levels. I want to get three A*s rather than three As.

'Rio in four years' time does seem a long way away, but there are also World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games in between, so there's plenty to look forward to.

'I think in total I might make maybe four or five Olympic Games – depending on how diving moves on – but we'll get to Rio first. It's outdoors, which the Chinese don't like, and I love diving outdoors.'

Louise Watkin, Paralympic Swimming, 20, from Redhill (replaced Rachael Latham)

Latham, who was born with Erbs Palsy, which limits the use of her left arm, made two swimming finals at the Paralympic Games in Beijing.

She retired in 2010 due to injury but went on to become a Channel 4 presenter and was a Sportsmail columnist during the London Paralympics. Watkin, who has upper limb deficiency, won two Paralympic silvers and two bronzes in London.

Dazzling: Louise Watkin won four medals in the London Paralympic Games

Dazzling: Louise Watkin won four medals in the London Paralympic Games

'The Paralympics were amazing. I didn't want them to end. You could hear the crowd when you were under water in the Aquatics Centre. I came away with two medals from the individual events and two in the relays. It went brilliantly.

'In the past four years, the Paralympics has moved on so much. People are still talking about it now. It's nice so many people have got the Paralympics bug. 'I hope there will be more integration in the future. Come and watch us at the World Championships next year. Then hopefully I'll get my gold in Rio!'

Giles Scott, Sailing, 25, from Huntingdon

Scott was a world youth champion in the Laser class when he joined us in 2005 and became world champion in the Finn in 2011. The one major disappointment was missing out on London 2012.

Scott competes in the same class as Ben Ainslie and GB could only send one sailor. With Ainslie now retired, Rio 2016 cannot come soon enough.

Disappointed: Giles Scott missed out on the London Games as he was in the same division as gold medal winner Ben Ainslie

Disappointed: Giles Scott missed out on the London Games as he was in the same division as gold medal winner Ben Ainslie

Who they are

'I wouldn't call it bad luck, being in the same division as Ben. If I had performed at the right regatta it would have led to me being selected to go to the Olympics.

'I was unsure whether to watch the Olympics and some of it was hard, but I got into it and was probably as addicted as everyone else by the end. Since then I have joined an America's Cup team (Team Korea) and moved away from the UK. I wanted to broaden my horizons so I don't mess up for Rio like I did this time around.'

Emily Pidgeon, Athletics, 23, from Cheltenham

Pidgeon was an outstanding junior 5,000 metres runner but has struggled with injuries and found it difficult on the senior circuit. She still hopes her best years are to come.

Her boyfriend, GB runner Andrew Osagie, was in the fastest 800m race in history, the Olympic final in London.

'It has been an amazing journey. It's scary how quickly it's gone. I always thought I'd be there in London, so it's been up and down.

'When I realised I wasn't going to be
able to compete, it wasn't that I didn't want anything to do with the
Olympics but I just knew I'd find it hard to go and watch.

A first: Emily Pidgeon ran around the Olympic Park stadium before anyone else

A first: Emily Pidgeon ran around the Olympic Park stadium before anyone else

'But because I got injured in May I had dealt with that by the time the Olympics came round.

'I was determined to enjoy the experience and I'm so glad I did. I was there to watch Andrew in his heat and his final. I think there's a reason I was injured and I hope Rio will be my time.'

Gemma Howell, Judo, 22, from Telford (replaced Jean-Rene Badrick)

Badrick, then 16, won bronze at the European Youth Olympics but retired in 2010 through injury. Howell replaced him, battled back from serious injury and was selected for London.

She was disqualified in her first-round fight against world champion Gevrise Emane.

'It was the worst and best week of my life. I was devastated. When I came off the mat I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible but then I thought, “I just have to use this going forward to Rio.”

Devastated: Gemma Howell was disqualified in her first round bout at the 2012 Olympics

Devastated: Gemma Howell was disqualified in her first round bout at the 2012 Olympics

'I was more nervous than I'd ever been. I have dreamed since I was little of being Olympic champion and I was a bit overwhelmed. Hopefully I can just get on with the job next time around.

'I've started a sport and exercise science degree at Bath University. My brain hurts after four years out of education. But while I want an Olympic medal more than anything, it's education and judo going forward.'

Louis Smith, Gymnastics, 23, Peterborough

In 2006, Smith won the Commonwealth pommel horse title aged 16 and has not looked back. He won Britain's first individual Olympic gymnastics medal for 100 years with a bronze in Beijing and went one better with silver in London.

He also won a bronze in the men's team event. Since the Games he has won the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. 'No one would ever have thought we could have got that bronze in the team event. I didn't even think we could do it. It was a big statement to the rest of the world.

'It was really hard to come back again for my individual event. Winning the bronze was such a high and then you've got to come back down again for the event that was most important for me, and the one everyone expected me to do well in. It was tough but I'm glad I finished it the way I did.

Enjoying it Smith posed for Sportsmail on the back of a real 'pommel horse'

Enjoying it Smith posed for Sportsmail on the back of a real 'pommel horse'

Proud: Smith put in a sterling performance on the pommel horse to take silver home

Proud: Smith put in a sterling performance on the pommel horse to take silver home

A different route: Smith recently won the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing

A different route: Smith recently won the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing

'There are about seven different paths I could take now: fashion, property, sport. Do I carry on to Rio The Commonwealths When do I call it quits It's about making the right and the best decision, not necessarily the one everyone wants me to make.

'I want to start my own fashion range. It's something I've wanted to do for a while, although I won't be keeping any clothes I've worn on Strictly. They love their glitz and glam and shiny stuff!

'Magnificent Seven has been remarkable in so many different ways. It's been fantastic and we've done some funky stuff along the way.

'I never want to go on a horse again after that photoshoot when I pretended it was a pommel horse! I was scared stiff. I did it, although I probably wouldn't do it now!'

Shanaze Reade, BMX Cycling, 24, from Crewe

Reade went to Beijing as a world champion but crashed out in the final after deciding she would not settle for silver. Reade regained her BMX world title in 2010 and has also won two world championship golds on the track, but that Olympic medal still eludes her. Reade finished sixth in the BMX final in London.

'It was quite hard, mentally, after the Games. Everyone in British cycling did so well and I was tipped to get a medal but, again, I didn't fulfil my potential. I can definitely see what went wrong. It's about staying injury-free moving forward and just getting on that good mental pathway of getting some success under my belt and getting my confidence back.

'I have “Team Reade”, a group of people who I trust and I know will push me, to help me do that, but first and foremost it comes down to me.

Crushed: Shanaze Reade finished sixth in the final of the Olympics BMX Cycling

Crushed: Shanaze Reade finished sixth in the final of the Olympics BMX Cycling

Crushed: Shanaze Reade finished sixth in the final of the Olympics BMX Cycling

'I'm at a crossroads now where I feel I want to be world champion again in BMX, hopefully in New Zealand next year, and win a BMX Olympic medal. But then I've been world champion on the track and I also want to get further in that because I've only ever done six- to eight-week blocks of training. I would like to do the Commonwealth Games, and BMX isn't in it, so we'll see.

'I went to Beijing on such a high. I hadn't lost a race for six or seven years so I thought, “Why should it be any different”

'Coming into London was the opposite. I had been injured, missed races, crashed out of finals. I had never really fulfilled what I was capable of doing on the day. Now I don't want to short-change myself any longer.'

Javier Hernandez claims Ron Vlaar own goal as part of his hat-trick

I scored a hat-trick! Hernandez claims Vlaar own goal as his own after super-sub display

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UPDATED:

20:40 GMT, 10 November 2012

Javier Hernandez claims he scored all three of Manchester United's goals as they came back from two down to win 3-2 against Aston Villa.

Youngster Andreas Weimann scored twice but half-time substitute Hernandez dominated the game after entering the fray.

The striker bagged United's first goal, then saw his shot take a huge deflection off Villa skipper Ron Vlaar for the equaliser, before heading home the late winner.

Mine! Javier Hernandez claimed the match ball after his superb performance - but did he score three goals

Mine! Javier Hernandez claimed the match ball after his superb performance – but did he score three goals

The Mexican, who scooped up the match ball at the end, said of the second goal: 'Of course (I will claim the hat-trick). I think I hit the target and the defender touched the ball.

'That's the decision of the referee but I've just seen the replay and that was definitely hitting the target.'

The result sees United stretch their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League to four points, and Hernandez admits that is more important than arguing over whether he hit a hat-trick.

He added on Sky Sports 2: 'It doesn't matter who scored the goals.

'The most important thing is who is top of the league and that we came back from two goals down to win.'

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was unsurprisingly delighted with the way his side fought back during the second half.

'It was a magnificent result and a magnificent game,' he said.

'Villa did fantastic today, they ran their socks off. We have to feel for them but we never gave in.

'We hit the bar twice but it was after the second goal we came alive, and it was a fantastic game.

'I was disappointed to go behind like that, but I started to think about (how) if we got a goal we would have a chance, and we did.

'We did put pressure on ourselves today but we came through it. The lesson is we need to do better defensively.

Own goal: Hernandez's 'second' took a big deflection off of Ron Vlaar

Own goal: Hernandez's 'second' took a big deflection off of Ron Vlaar

'I admire the tenacity of the performance, though. When they need to do it, they do it.'

Defeat leaves Villa just one place above the bottom three and with two wins to their name this season.

But manager Paul Lambert refused to lay the blame with his players, despite them letting slip a two-goal advantage today.

'We gave it absolutely everything, we were brilliant,' he said on Sky Sports 2.

'I can't fault the team. We've got lots of young lads in the team and they were great. I can't ask for any more from them.'

Contortionist: Hernandez flings himself at the ball to head in No 3

Contortionist: Hernandez flings himself at the ball to head in No 3

Saracens 29 Wasps 24

Saracens 29 Wasps 24: Hodgson to the rescue as Sarries edge to victory

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UPDATED:

17:10 GMT, 4 November 2012

Former England fly-half Charlie Hodgson kicked a magnificent seven penalties from seven attempts but it was not quite enough to enable Saracens to depose Harlequins at the top of the Aviva Premiership.

Hodgson's only kicking miss was a conversion attempt from the touchline after lock Alistair Hargreaves scored Sarries' only try.

South African Hargreaves had an afternoon of mixed fortunes, grabbing his charge-down try and being sin-binned before being carried off on a stretcher following a controversial challenge by James Haskell.

Main man: Charlie Hodgson kicked Saracens to victory

Main man: Charlie Hodgson kicked Saracens to victory

Saracens' other three points came from a Nils Mordt penalty while Hodgson was off the pitch receiving treatment for a cut.

But Wasps pushed them all the way, with tries from winger Tom Varndell and scrum-half Charlie Davies, three penalties and a drop goal from Nick Robinson and a conversion by his replacement Tommy Bell not quite enough to stop their four-match winning run in all competitions from coming to an end.

Saracens, who needed to win by seven points to go top, were without Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton, Mouritz Botha, Alex Goode and Mako Vunipola through England call-ups while Wales prop Rhys Gill was ruled out by injury.

Former England winger David Strettle served early notice on Wasps, slicing through their defence before opposite number Christian Wade produced a try-saving tackle.

But Wasps conceded a penalty, allowing Hodgson to kick Sarries ahead after only four minutes.

The visitors took only two minutes to hit back with the opening try.

Diving over: Saracens' Alistair Hargreaves scores a try against Wasps

Diving over: Saracens' Alistair Hargreaves scores a try against Wasps

Wade found full-back Hugo Southwell, whose well-timed pass provided Varndell – this season's leading Premiership tryscorer – with the space to outpace Richard Wigglesworth on the outside and touch down in the corner for his seventh of the campaign.

Robinson missed the conversion and a long-range penalty before landing a calmly-struck 30-metre drop goal in the 20th minute.

But two penalties in the following three minutes from Hodgson edged the home side 9-8 ahead.

Hargreaves, showing remarkable agility for a big man, scored Saracens' sole try in the 28th minute.

The giant South African second row made the most of his 6ft 7in frame to charge down an attempted clearance kick by Davies from the base of a Wasps scrum and then won the chase to dive on the ball and claim the try, but Hodgson was off-target with the difficult conversion.

Centre Elliot Daly was narrowly wide with a long-range penalty shot for Wasps before Robinson landed one from closer in.

Robinson struck again to level the scores in the final minute of the first half after tryscorer Hargreaves was yellow-carded by referee JP Doyle for going over the top at a ruck.

Over and out: Hargreaves was taken off with neck injury

Over and out: Hargreaves was taken off with neck injury

Two minutes into the second half Hodgson went off with a blood injury after Saracens were awarded a penalty and Mordt came on to kick the goal and put the home side back in front.

Six minutes later Robinson levelled the scores with his third penalty.

England back-row forward Haskell incurred the wrath of the home crowd with a huge hit on Hargreaves, who received treatment on the pitch for several minutes before being carried off.

But the only sanction from referee Doyle was a penalty, which Hodgson struck from 40 metres to put his side back in front at 20-17.

Two more penalties from Hodgson in a three-minute spell stretched Sarries' lead to nine points.

Robinson's replacement Bell was just short with a penalty from inside his own half before Hodgson struck his seventh from two metres inside the Wasps half.

But Wasps battled to the end and they were rewarded with a losing bonus point when Davies squeezed over for a last-gasp try, converted by Bell.

Reading 5 Arsenal 7 – match report as Theo Walcott scores hat-trick in incredible comeback

Reading 5 Arsenal 7: Madejski mayhem with tennis score as Gunners fight back from FOUR goals down with Walcott hat-trick

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UPDATED:

07:36 GMT, 31 October 2012

Amazing. Incredible. Breathtaking.

After another weekend of controversy, football was finally the winner at the Madejski.

Reading manager Brian McDermott might not see it that way after watching his side squander a four-goal lead. But even he will find it hard to deny his side were part of something very special.

Main man: Arsenal's Theo Walcott celebrates as he helps his side to a stunning victory

Main man: Arsenal's Theo Walcott celebrates as he helps his side to a stunning victory

Match facts

Reading: Federici, Gunter, Gorkss, Morrison, Shorey, Tabb, McCleary (McAnuff 73), Leigertwood, Robson-Kanu,
Roberts (Church 90),Hunt (Pogrebnyak 73).

Subs Not Used: Stuart Taylor, Pearce, Le Fondre, Harte.

Booked: Leigertwood, Morrison.

Goals: Roberts 12, Koscielny 18 og, Leigertwood 20, Hunt 37, Pogrebnyak 116.

Arsenal: Martinez, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Djourou, Miquel (Meade 105), Arshavin, Frimpong (Giroud 62), Coquelin,
Walcott, Chamakh, Gnabry (Eisfeld 62).

Subs Not Used: Shea, Squillaci, Bellerin, Yennaris.

Booked: Miquel, Chamakh, Giroud, Koscielny, Martinez, Eisfeld.

Goals: Walcott 45, 90, 103, Giroud 64, Koscielny 89, Chamakh 103, 120.

Att: 23,980

Ref: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

Click for the latest League Cup results and stats

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed
the Capital One Cup was rock-bottom of his priorities list at last
week’s fiery AGM. It certainly looked that way when his side went 4-0
down after 37 minutes.

But the Gunners somehow conjured a miracle — hauling themselves back into the game, forcing extra time with two goals in the last minutes of regulation and then claiming an unbelievable win.

Theo Walcott, who scored three of Arsenal’s magnificent seven, told Sky Sports 2: ‘It was an unbelievable game. I’m absolutely knackered now. Seven goals away from home — it was great going forward. Maybe defensively it wasn’t great at times, but we’re in the draw and that’s what matters.’

Wenger described the results as a ‘miracle’ and added: ‘Reading were playing very well and at a higher pace than us and we conceded goal after goal. The turning point came when Theo scored our first goal just before half-time to make it 4-1.’

McDermott admitted he was stunned by the result. He said: ‘That was extraordinary. We have to pick ourselves up and move on. It is embarrassing but we have to take it on the chin and just move on.’

A night of heart-stopping action started in the 12th minute when the Royals were rewarded for their enterprising start as Jason Roberts slid home Hal Robson-Kanu’s low cross.

Off and running: Jason Roberts fires home to put Reading in front against Arsenal

Off and running: Jason Roberts fires home to put Reading in front against Arsenal

Six minutes later they doubled their lead. Right-back Chris Gunter came flying down the flank before arrowing a low cross in the box that Laurent Koscielny made a mockery of clearing as the ball squirmed between goalkeeper Damien Martinez and his near post.

McDermott and the home supporters were in dreamland. So, goodness knows what must have been going through their minds in the 20th minute when midfielder Mikele Leigertwood picked up the ball 20 yards from goal before unleashing a powerful drive that Martinez could only parry into his own net.

Dejected: Laurent Koscielny scores an own goal to gift Reading a second

Dejected: Laurent Koscielny scores an own goal to gift Reading a second

Bullet: Mikele Leigertwood fires home to extend Reading's advantage further

Bullet: Mikele Leigertwood fires home to extend Reading's advantage further

It didn’t seem possible, but Arsenal’s night got even worse in the 37th minute when Noel Hunt climbed highest in the box to nod past the stunned Martinez after Garath McCleary’s excellent cross.

That was the cue for dozens of Arsenal supporters to head for the exits. And who could blame them as they launched into cries of: ‘We want our Arsenal back.’ But how wrong they were to leave as the Gunners staged a scintillating comeback.

The early departures must have been kicking themselves as they listened to the game on the way home. First, Theo Walcott cooly finished past Adam Federici after Andrey Arshavin’s through ball on the stroke of half-time.

Heads you win: Noel Hunt finds the back of the net to add Reading's fourth

Heads you win: Noel Hunt finds the back of the net to add Reading's fourth

Back in the game: Theo Walcott scored a fine goal just before half time for Arsenal

Back in the game: Theo Walcott scored a fine goal just before half time for Arsenal

It was not enough to appease Gunners fans who booed their side off at half-time, but when substitute Olivier Giroud headed in Walcott’s corner in the 65th minute, a sense of impossible hope took over.

Arsenal threw everything at their hosts and with a minute of normal time they cut the deficit to single goal as Koscielny nodded home another Walcott corner.

Fourth official Michael Oliver signalled four minutes of stoppage time and Reading looked home and dry with the ball deep inside the Arsenal half with seconds left to play. But with the final kick of normal time, Walcott somehow squeezed a shot past Federici to score what at half-time had seemed an impossible equaliser.

Nodding off: Olivier Giroud grabbed a second goal fro Arsenal as the comeback continued

Nodding off: Olivier Giroud grabbed a second goal fro Arsenal as the comeback continued

Making amends: Koscielny scores at the right end to reduce Arsenal's arrears even further

Making amends: Koscielny scores at the right end to reduce Arsenal's arrears even further

Level pegging: Walcott fires the ball home to complete a stunning comeback

Level pegging: Walcott fires the ball home to complete a stunning comeback

The Gunners were euphoric, so much so that Giroud and Francis Coquelin threw their shirts into the away supporters thinking they had won. But their delirium could easily have been short lived as substitute Jobi McAnuff drove into the Gunners box two minutes into extra time before unleashing a powerful drive that Martinez did well to parry.

Marouane Chamakh put Arsenal ahead for the first time in the 103rd minute with a low drive from the edge of the box that flew past Federici.

And another: Marouane Chamakh makes it five for Arsenal as the Gunners scrape through

And another: Marouane Chamakh makes it five for Arsenal as the Gunners scrape through

Level again: Pavel Pogrebnyak equalised for Reading in extra time

Level again: Pavel Pogrebnyak equalised for Reading in extra time

The Royals keeper made a brilliant stop to deny Walcott in the first minute of the final period of extra time. And the Australian’s save looked vital when Reading substitute Pavel Pogrebnyak nodded home to make it 5-5 in the 116th minute.

But you just knew that was not the end, and right on cue, in the dying seconds of extra time, Walcott completed his hat-trick, thumping home from close range after Arshavin’s shot was saved.

Reading pressed for an equaliser and Wenger berated Martinez for hoofing the ball downfield when he could have ticked off a few seconds. But when Arsenal regained possession, Chamakh lobbed Federici for the seventh. Miracle accomplished.

Six of the best: Walcott completes his hat-trick (above) before Chamakh makes it seventh heaven (below)

Six of the best: Walcott completes his hat-trick (above) before Chamakh makes it seventh heaven (below)

Marouane Chamakh scores the seventh goal

Newcastle praised by Alan Pardew after Sunderland draw

Pardew praises Newcastle players after hard-fought derby draw at Sunderland

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UPDATED:

15:31 GMT, 21 October 2012

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew hailed his players after they claimed a 1-1 draw at Sunderland, despite playing for more than an hour in the Tyne-Wear derby with 10 men.

The visitors went ahead after three minutes through Yohan Cabaye, but they were on the back foot when Cheick Tiote was sent off after 25 minutes.

The Magpies nearly held out, though, only for Demba Ba's own goal four minutes from time to earn Sunderland a point at the Stadium of Light.

Opening salvo: Newcastle celebrate scoring the first goal against Sunderland

Opening salvo: Newcastle celebrate scoring the first goal against Sunderland

Pardew told Sky Sports: 'It was a magnificent effort. We said to the players before the game how important it was to the fans, we've now shown how important it is to us.

'Playing an hour with 10 men, if we could have just seen it out it would have been one of the greatest victories ever here. But it's a great point and I'm very proud of my players.'

The Newcastle boss admitted the sending-off changed the game, with Ivory Coast midfielder Tiote punished for an over-the-ball tackle.

Pardew added: 'At first I didn't think it was that bad, but looking back at it again we can't have any complaints. But what a response from the rest of the group.'

Level pegging: Demba Ba's own goal earned Sunderland a deserved point

Level pegging: Demba Ba's own goal earned Sunderland a deserved point

Sunderland defender John O'Shea claimed the hosts deserved a point.

'I think so,' he added. 'Newcastle have a good shape about them, work hard on their shape with two banks of four and the big men up front, so it was difficult, but we managed to get the goal.

'It was a great game to be involved in, both (sets of) players wanted to win so much, It was vital not to lose the game.'

Sebastian Larsson admitted he was starting to lose hope before the late leveller.

Delighted: Alan Pardew was pleased with his side's performance on Sunday

Delighted: Alan Pardew was pleased with his side's performance on Sunday

'When we had that much possession for so long we were starting to doubt it maybe, but luckily we managed to get the equaliser.

'It would have been devastating to lose that game, all that possession and not to get a goal would have been harsh.'

London 2012 Paralympics: Hannah Cockroft wins T34 200m gold

Hurricane Hannah blows opposition away to grab second Paralympic gold in T34 200m

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UPDATED:

19:18 GMT, 6 September 2012

'Hurricane' Hannah Cockroft destroyed her competition and the Paralympic record to win her second gold medal at the Olympic Stadium.

The 20-year-old claimed she felt like she was 'flying' after a dominant run in qualifying this morning and lived up to her nickname in emphatic fashion by storming to T34 200 metres glory.

The Halifax racer, the world record holder and already the 100m champion, finished in 31.90 seconds, more than two seconds clear of the field.

Ecstasy: Hannah Cockroft celebrates her magnificent victory

Ecstasy: Hannah Cockroft celebrates her magnificent victory

So dominant is she at the event that, racing from lane six, she was already passed the two competitors outside her after barely 20m and was streets clear by the time she crossed the line.

More to follow.

Streaks ahead: Cockroft leads the way

Streaks ahead: Cockroft leads the way

Full pelt: Cockroft gave it all as she took her second medal

Full pelt: Cockroft gave it all as she took her second medal

London Paralympics 2012: Day six five athletes to watch

Rachael Latham's five Paralympians to watch on day 8

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UPDATED:

23:24 GMT, 5 September 2012

One of our original Magnificent 7, Rachael made two swimming finals in Beijing but injuries forced her to retire in 2010. Now she is part of Channel 4’s coverage of the Games and here she selects her daily viewing highlights for day eight…

Silver service: Louise Watkin

Silver service: Louise Watkin

LOUISE WATKIN (SWIMMING)

Louise, 20, has won two medals already but it will be tough to beat South African Natalie in the 200m individual medley. Du Toit took gold ahead of Louise at the world championships but Louise has a quiet determination.

TIME: Heats 9.40am. Final 5.38pm.

TOM HALL-BUTCHER (FENCING)

Wheelchair fencing may not sound like it works but it does. Tom, 22, is in the sabre class A and was 14th at last year’s world championships. He could do better with home support. He has four qualifying matches then it’s knockout.

TIME: 11am.

JONNIE PEACOCK (ATHLETICS)

The 19-year-old runs in the T44 100m final. It is the most anticipated event of the Games and world record holder Jonnie is a favourite. It’s a tough field, including Oscar Pistorius, but Jonnie has the talent and belief to win.

TIME: 9.24pm.

In front: Jonnie Peacock (centre) shone in the 100m heats

In front: Jonnie Peacock (centre) shone in the 100m heats

TERRY BYWATER (BASKETBALL)

Terry, 29, scored 19 points in wheelchair basketball against Japan and 23 v Turkey in the quarter-final — they call it having ‘hot hands’. He doesn’t care who scores the points as long as Britain beat Canada today and they have a medal.

TIME: 9.15pm.

HELENA LUCAS (SAILING)

Helena looks a near-certainty to secure Britain’s first Paralympic sailing gold, needing a top-nine finish to do so. She is the only woman in a fleet of 16 in the single-person keelboat 2.4mR class and she has racked up four wins in 10 races.

TIME: 11.10pm.

Lassad Nouioui joins Celtic

Striker Nouioui joins Celtic from Deportivo La Coruna on two-year deal

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UPDATED:

14:24 GMT, 2 September 2012

Neil Lennon completed his summer signings on Sunday when Tunisia striker Lassad Nouioui joined the Parkhead club on a two-year deal, subject to international clearance.

The Hoops boss had already recruited defender Efe Ambrose from Ashdod as well as bringing in Getafe forward Nicolas Fedor – known as Miku – and Nantes goalkeeper Lubos Kamenar on loan.

Nouioui, 26, who spent the last three years with Spanish side, Deportivo La Coruna, is looking forward to playing for Celtic in the Champions League where they will come up against Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow.

Incoming: Lassad Nouioui has joined Celtic

Incoming: Lassad Nouioui has joined Celtic

'I am absolutely delighted to sign for Celtic,' he told the club's official website.

'Celtic is a huge club with a magnificent history and a fantastic support. I know all about the wonderful atmosphere at Celtic Park and I can4t wait to play there.

'I know that Celtic already has a great squad of players and I4m very much looking forward to joining up with my team-mates.

'I hope to play my part in bringing success to the club and, of course, I4m also looking to competing in the UEFA Champions League with such a great football club.'

Lennon, who is looking for Nouioui to 'bring another dimension to the team', is hoping the international break will allow some of his injured players to recover.

Scott Brown, Georgios Samaras, Charlie Mulgrew, Joe Ledley, Beram Kayal and Dylan McGeouch all missed Saturday's 2-2 Clydesdale Bank Premier League draw with Hibernian at Parkhead.

Kris Commons' ankle problem meant he started on the bench and when midfielder Victor Wanyama was replaced by debutant Jackson Irvine for the start of the second-half after the Kenyan could not overcome a dead leg, he teamed up with fellow youngster Filip Twardzik in the middle of the park.

Arrival: Celtic's new signings Nicolas Miku (left )and Efe Ambrose

Arrival: Celtic's new signings Nicolas Miku (left)and Efe Ambrose

Lennon said: 'It's taken its toll on the squad. We had so many players out and we lost Victor at half-time.

'He has had a dead leg for quite a while, it is not majorly serious but there's no doubt we missed him because we had two rookies in centre of midfield.

'They did fine. Filip has been there or thereabouts for a while and Jackson made his debut.

'Hopefully after this two-week break when we go to St Johnstone we will have a good squad to pick from.

'But I am not using that as an excuse, we want to bring the kids through.

'For the majority of the game we played great, I'm not overly unhappy.'

It was a game Celtic should have won with ease.

Defender Mikael Lustig fired in his first Hoops goal from a Paddy McCourt corner in the 11th minute but a calamitous mix-up between the Swedish defender and keeper Fraser Forster in the 53rd minute allowed Tim Clancy to level.

Lustig helped force in a second goal via Hibs' skipper James McPake after Easter Road keeper Ben Williams had spilled a Twardzik free-kick.

Missed opportunity: Hibs scrambled a draw against Celtic on Saturday

Missed opportunity: Hibs scrambled a draw against Celtic on Saturday

However, the champions conceded another poor goal when Paul Cairney manoeuvred himself into the box before guiding his shot the ball low past Forster.

Lustig denied the accusation of complacency within the Hoops ranks in the second-half.

'Absolutely not,' he said. 'Some of the players were playing their first game or not had played so much so it should be not be that way.

'When you play at Celtic Park you should fight for 90 minutes, I don't know what it was but football is sometimes in your head.

'When you play really well in the first half and everything worked well and then when they scored a goal they started playing better a and we started thinking too much, I don't know.

'I think we played really well in the first half, we created big chances.

'We played really bad in the second half, so it ain't good enough.'

Cairney hailed the fight of his side after the point moved that up to second in the table level on points with Celtic.

He said: 'People can say what we want but we know we have a team who can do well in this league.

'Everyone has written us off but we have good character in the team.

'We were happy with a point.'

Adam Federici extends Reading deal until 2015

Federici thrilled to sign contract extension at Reading to keep him at the club until 2015

PUBLISHED:

18:23 GMT, 2 August 2012

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UPDATED:

19:16 GMT, 2 August 2012

Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici has signed a new contract committing him to the club until the summer of 2015.

The 27-year-old Australian international joined the club in 2004 and his previous deal had less than 12 months to run.

New deal: Federici

New deal: Federici

Federici said: 'It's absolutely great to have signed this new contract. I've been here a long time, I've put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears so it wouldn't have been right to do anything other than sign again.

'The club has got great backing, there's a really good feel around the place, the club is only going in one direction and that's upwards.'

Manager Brian McDermott said: 'I am really pleased to have secured Adam for another three years.

'I have known him for a number of
years now, it seems like time has flown and he has constantly been
developing into a top class goalkeeper.

'He is a lesson to young professionals about what is required to get to the top of your game.

'His workrate, diligence and desire are second to none and we're delighted he's chosen to commit to us again.'

Royals chairman Sir John Madejski said: 'Adam has been an absolute mainstay of our football club for nearly eight years now.

'He is part of our backbone and was so vital in getting us promoted again. He has a tremendous pedigree and I'm over the moon he has signed for us once more because he is without doubt one of the best goalkeepers in the country.'

The club's director of football Nick Hammond said: 'This is a very, very important signing for us.

'Adam was the best goalkeeper in the Championship last year and I think he will prove to be one of the best in the Premier League as well.

'He is a magnificent example to young players of what can be achieved when hard work and dedication are allied with talent. We are all delighted that he has signed.'

London 2012 Olympics: Gemma Howell disqualified

Horror show for Howell as British hope is disqualified in judo clash with Emane

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UPDATED:

09:47 GMT, 31 July 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

Gemma Howell was controversially disqualified from her opening-round clash in the women's under-63kg against reigning world and European champion Gevrise Emane of France.

Since switching to under-63kg earlier this year, Howell – from Wolverhampton but now fighting out of the British Judo performance institute at Dartford – won four events in a row, including two World Cup titles.

Tackling Emane at the Olympic Games may have been a step up in class, but that did not stop the Briton taking on her opponent during the opening exchanges, cheered on by the partisan home crowd.

Gutted: Gemma Howell was left with her head in her hands after being disqualified on Tuesday morning

Gutted: Gemma Howell was left with her head in her hands after being disqualified on Tuesday morning

The bad news: Gemma Howell learns she is disqualified during her clash with Gevrise Emane

The bad news: Gemma Howell learns she is disqualified during her clash with Gevrise Emane

There were boos when Howell, one of Sportsmail's Magnificent Seven, picked up a passivity penalty with two minutes left. With less than 30 seconds to go before golden score, the fighters fell to the ground, with video referees ruling that Howell had illegally grabbed her opponent's leg, and that meant she was automatically disqualified.

Scottish fighter Euan Burton leads the Team GB medal hopes in the under-81kg half-middleweights.

After being given a bye into the second round, Burton, world bronze medallist in 2010, will face Antoine Valois-Fortier.

In the first contest on mat two on Tuesday morning, Canadian Valois-Fortier pulled off a shock judges' flag victory over Elnur Mammadli of Azerbaijan, the reigning European champion who won Olympic gold at under-73kg in Beijing.

Getting a grip: Gemma Howell and Gevrise Emane battle it out

Getting a grip: Gemma Howell and Gevrise Emane battle it out

Hitting the mat: Gevrise Emane and Gemma Howell