Tag Archives: relentless

Rafa Benitez writes open letter to Chelsea fans saying he will make them a success

Benitez writes open letter to Chelsea fans after his first league win saying he will fight for trophies at Stamford Bridge

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UPDATED:

08:14 GMT, 9 December 2012

Rafa Benitez has written an open letter to the Chelsea fans and says he will do all he can to bring success to Stamford Bridge.

The Chelsea interim manager has endured a testing baptism to his time in the Blues hot-seat and has been jeered by some supporters unhappy with his appointment in the wake of Roberto Di Matteo’s sacking.

The former Liverpool boss won his first league game in charge of his new side at the fourth attempt in the 3-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday just days after their Champions League defence was brought to a shuddering halt at the group stage.

Putting it in writing: Rafael Benitez has written to Chelsea fans telling them he will do all he can to deliver success

Putting it in writing: Rafael Benitez has written to Chelsea fans telling them he will do all he can to deliver success

The Spaniard has highlighted the relentless schedule of matches since his appointment, with the Sunderland game their fifth in a fortnight, and was keen to pay tribute to the Chelsea fans who have been in touch to offer their support.

Benitez used his own website to reach out to the Chelsea fans, saying: ‘From the moment I accepted the offer to join Chelsea, my team and I have worked towards improving the results and getting the wins that we all want – no matter what hours we have to put in and the effort and sacrifice in order to achieve this.

In the goals: Fernanado Torres scored a brace against Sunderland

In the goals: Fernanado Torres scored a brace against Sunderland

Winning feeling: Juan Mata helped secure Chelsea's first league win under Benitez

Winning feeling: Juan Mata helped secure Chelsea's first league win under Benitez

'As you can imagine from what you may have seen, we have been immersed in the tasks ahead and since the change in my work situation it has been a cycle of training and matches with virtually no time to do anything else.

'My official presentation as Chelsea manger took place on Thursday November 21 and I came straight from Abu Dhabi where I was giving a lecture. We literally walked straight off the plane into running my first training session in Cobham. After two sessions we faced my first match in charge against Manchester City and then just a further two sessions before facing Fulham in a local derby.

'Two massive league commitments in just three days. We had a couple of conditioning workouts with referrals and then another London derby against West Ham United. We rested on Sunday and then the same timetable again, Nordsjaelland and then Sunderland.

'The team’s win against the Danish side (6-1) was the biggest home win of the season for Chelsea but was not enough for us to progress in the competition. The results of previous matches of the group stage and the results that occurred on the night in other games left us without options. We would have liked to be able to offer our fans another ending to this story, to offer our fans another Champions League win but we now look forward to the Europa League.

'We are now challenged with the Club World Championship in Japan and it will not be easy – I tell you this from the experience of two previous participations with differing results. This team is willing to give everything to try and return with a new title to bring home to the fans.

'But let’s get back to why I am writing this letter and the basic purpose of trying to give a full account of my new situation and feelings before I seize this exciting new challenge of coaching at Chelsea FC. It is on that basis of the challenge I accepted the offer that was made. With the same faith, the same honesty, with the same loyalty and dedication I put into each of my previous projects.

Getting it right: Benitez says he has had little time to work with the Chelsea players on the training pitch

Getting it right: Benitez says he has had little time to work with the Chelsea players on the training pitch

‘That said, thank you all for your support, to those who have sent messages, emails, letters… To those who have called, who have tried to contact by any means possible… To all, I sincerely thank you for your support. We’re going to Japan right now to fight for the FIFA Club World Cup spurred on with all of your support.’

Scotland 10 South Africa 21

Scotland 10 South Africa 21: Strauss at the double as hosts slump to defeat

PUBLISHED:

16:26 GMT, 17 November 2012

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UPDATED:

16:41 GMT, 17 November 2012

Scotland waited 50 minutes to find their attacking game against South Africa, but a spell of sustained pressure could not overturn an Adrian Strauss double at Murrayfield.

The Scots could not cope with a first-half physical barrage and Strauss went over after a maul before intercepting Mike Blair's pass early in the second period to help open up an 18-point lead.

Replacement scrum-half Henry Pyrgos soon crossed for the home side and sparked half an hour of relentless pressure, but the home side missed a series of chances.

Scotland forced a series of short-range penalties but failed to take advantage through a mixture of poor decision-making, some desperate defending and crucial decisions by referee George Clancy.

Over the line: The away side celebrate as Strauss scores a try with 21 minutes gone at Murrayfield

Over the line: The away side celebrate as Strauss scores a try with 21 minutes gone at Murrayfield

Andy Robinson's side had enough
chances to at least equal the three tries they scored in last weekend's
51-22 defeat by New Zealand, but they had been posted missing as an
attacking force throughout the first half, although they were not helped
by the loss of Richie Gray to a head injury.

Robinson was expecting a direct
threat from South Africa and they did not disappoint in the opening
moments with several kicks towards Scotland's left side,.

The visitors chose to kick the ball
into touch after an offside offence and looked set to drive over from
the resulting maul, but referee Clancy pulled them up for obstruction.

The tourists opened the scoring in
the seventh minute when Patrick Lambie kicked a penalty after the Scots
were penalised for holding on.

Scotland had barely been within 40
metres of the South Africa line but were level on 10 minutes when Greig
Laidlaw kicked a long-range penalty, only for Laidlaw himself to be
penalised for offside three minutes later and Lambie made no mistake
with the penalty.

Gray took a heavy hit as the South
Africa forwards quickly closed him down after a kick over the top and
the pressure told in the 21st minute when the Springboks instigated a
maul after a four-man lineout and once again drove Scotland back with
Strauss touching down.

Double: Strauss scores for a second time

Double: Strauss scores for a second time

Gray went off with concussion
immediately after the try with Al Kellock coming on. There was some
respite for Scotland as Lambie missed the conversion.

Springboks flanker Francis Louw then
burst through the home defence and won a penalty from Murray with Lambie
dispatching a simple kick to make it 14-3.

A penalty near the halfway line on 33
minutes allowed Scotland to put their opponents under serious threat
for the first time as they kicked for a lineout six metres from the try
line.

Scotland's forwards exerted severe
pressure as they looked for an opening but Clancy controversially
penalised Kellock for holding on.

Scotland survived the first wave of
South Africa attacks after the break but some slack play at both ends of
the park in the 46th minute led to them conceding a second try.

Hogg kicked well into the tourists' 22 but was too easily sidestepped by flanker Willem Alberts after chasing the ball.

South Africa quickly worked the ball
back into Scotland's half but Blair had possession under little stress
and saw his pass intercepted by Strauss. The hooker quickly got the ball
under control and ran 40 metres under the posts.

Simple: Pyrgos goes over for Scotland after captain Kelly Brown won a line-out

Simple: Pyrgos goes over for Scotland after captain Kelly Brown won a line-out

Blair was replaced by Pyrgos as Lambie converted and he got Scotland back into the game in the 51st minute.

Scotland opted to kick for touch from
a penalty and Pyrgos ran in unchecked inside of Kelly Brown to collect
the instant pass and cross over.

Scotland soon had South Africa on the
rack and were moving the ball quickly but Laidlaw inadvertently
relieved the pressure by trying to chip over the top.

The visitors could not break away though and Ruan Pienaar had a kick charged down as Scotland stepped up the pace.

Jim Hamilton was over the line at one
stage but was pushed back before he could touch down and Nick De Luca
almost broke through as South Africa defended on their line.

Scotland forced a penalty and opted
for a lineout but Ross Ford was penalised for not throwing straight, in
what looked a marginal decision, and Clancy soon decided Scotland had
collapsed the scrum.

Brown's interception ensured the
Springboks' respite was brief and Scotland forced another chance after a
lineout from a penalty, but substitute Ruaridh Jackson attempted to
kick over the try line from 10 metres out and Zane Kirchner comfortably
averted the danger.

Again there was no let-up and Flip
van der Merwe paid the price for the growing number of infringements
when he was shown a yellow card in the 77th minute.

Denton almost went over from the
resulting set-piece and Scotland worked a chance on the left wing, but
Tim Visser could not hold Jackson's close-range pass and the knock-on
was called as De Luca crossed in the corner.

Real Madrid have been hit by the return of the Cristiano Ronaldo sulk

Good news, City: Real Madrid have been hit by the return of the Ronaldo sulk

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UPDATED:

21:49 GMT, 16 September 2012

Just before midnight on Saturday, in the relentless heat of the Spanish night, Cristiano Ronaldo shaped to take a free-kick in his usual fashion.

Three paces back. Legs a stride apart. Arms by his side. It is so familiar, we could see it in our sleep.

Seconds later the ball was in the crowd behind the goal at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. The shot had not remotely threatened Sevilla goalkeeper Andres Palop and, it transpired, was the final kick of another demoralising, confusing night for Ronaldo and his Real Madrid team.

Brooding Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and his Real Madrid team have been beaten in two of four La Liga matches

Brooding Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and his Real Madrid team have been beaten in two of four La Liga matches

When the final whistle blew at 1-0 – Real's second defeat in only four La Liga games – Ronaldo left the pitch hastily, rubbing his bleeding left forearm to accentuate, once again, the physical suffering he felt he had endured from his opponents.

For him, it was one of those nights. Those of us who have watched him dozens of times for Madrid, Portugal and Manchester United, recognise the signs of discontent immediately.

Ronaldo, by nature, is a brooder. Despite the flamboyant nature of his football, he withdraws when things are not going well.

About 45 minutes later, he walked briskly through the interview area without pause. His features dark, still he rubbed that left arm.

He was red around the eyes and looked as though he had been crying. We can only presume that he had not. Within Jose Mourinho's team, Ronaldo is not the only problem.

After this defeat, the Madrid coach accused his players of not wishing to suffer enough. He bemoaned his team's lamentable defending.

'At the moment, I don't even have a team,' said Mourinho. Undoubtedly, though, Ronaldo's publicly declared unhappiness is at the heart of the malaise.

Having announced a fortnight ago he felt unloved and sad (maybe he had been crying, after all), he looks less of a talisman and more of a burden.

We have all seen the best and the worst of the 27-year-old over the years, of course. On Saturday, we saw only the ugly side.

Not his day: Ronaldo had a disappointing match against Sevilla ahead of Real's clash with Manchester City

Not his day: Ronaldo had a disappointing match against Sevilla ahead of Real's clash with Manchester City

Not his day: Ronaldo had a disappointing match against Sevilla ahead of Real's clash with Manchester City

During the first 15 minutes, Ronaldo tumbled to the ground five times. It set a pattern. He clashed off the ball with Fernando Navarro, Gary Medel and Emir Spahic.

There was not a lot of dignity involved. In the second half, pinned to the left side by the introduction of a second Madrid striker Karim Benzema, his influence waned further.

Occasionally, he shot from distance but it was selfish, wasteful football and when the fourth official – mistakenly, it turned out – held up his number for substitution with half an hour left, nobody was surprised.

Ronaldo rarely plays good football when he is not relaxed. He looks under pressure – even if it is of his own making – and that is only encouraging news for Manchester City ahead of Tuesday night's Champions League meeting.

Back on home turf on Tuesday, Ronaldo will strain to impress. He always does against English teams and on really big occasions. Often, though, the strain clouds his vision and complicates his decisions.

Mourinho certainly knows he has a problem. When asked on Saturday night about the relationship between Ronaldo's mood and the team's performance, he answered at length even if it was all rather cryptic. 'I do not think it has anything to do with it,' he said.

Unhappy camper: Jose Mourinho said he would have made seven changes on Saturday, were he allowed to

Unhappy camper: Jose Mourinho said he would have made seven changes on Saturday, were he allowed to

'Today's match was no different from those against Getafe and Granada, which we won.

'So I don't think that the rumours of the last couple of weeks have anything to do with it. It is about a state of mind and of two or three who aren't thinking like the rest.

'They are the minds of players who are not committed and for whom football is not a priority in their lives. There aren't many involved and it's complicated, but I'm coach and if there are those less committed, then it is my fault.'

We can only guess at the identity of Mourinho's private scapegoats, although the fact that Angel di Maria and Mesut Ozil were hauled off at half-time may provide a clue.

'If I could have made seven changes, I would have,' added Mourinho.

'From the first to the last minute, we were poor. In the first minute, they scored a goal from a corner. 'This shows me the image of my team, lacking concentration, without being mentally prepared to suffer. At this time, my team isn't up to scratch.'

A poor man's Mario Ronaldo's brooding and melodrama was reminiscent of City's Balotelli (centre)

A poor man's Mario Ronaldo's brooding and melodrama was reminiscent of City's Balotelli (centre)

Mourinho's summation was accurate. The goal his team conceded in the second minute here – Piotr Trochowski volleying in unmarked from a corner – was as deflating for Madrid as it was uplifting for the home supporters. What is more, it set the tone.

Madrid enjoyed a lot of possession but attacked without fluency and defended poorly.

There were exceptions – Xabi Alonso and the dangerous attacking left back Marcelo – but they were few.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, was often peripheral. Too much posturing and not enough football.

On Sunday, the influential Marca newspaper described him as being 'less like Cristiano than ever'.

Certainly, on nights like this, he looks less a Ballon d'Or candidate and more a poor man's Mario Balotelli.

London 2012 Paralympics: David Weir wins 800m gold

Three and easy for Weir in the 800m as Paralympic star gets another gold

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UPDATED:

22:05 GMT, 6 September 2012

David Weir continued his relentless pursuit of quadruple gold in London by making it three out of three with yet another masterful ride on Thursday night.

The wheelchair racer has established himself as the hero of the Olympic Stadium in the same way Mo Farah did at the Olympics, with confident, stylish and tactically-superb racing.

And the 'Weirwolf' was at his imperious best as he devoured a world-class field to deafening roars from the enthralled capacity crown, adding the 800m crown to his 1500m and 5,000m titles.

Hat-trick hero: David Weir takes in the applause he deserved for his accomplishment, and celebrates his victory (below)

Hat-trick hero: David Weir takes in the applause he deserved for his accomplishment, and celebrates his victory (below)

The hat-trick: David Weir celebrates winning the 800m

The 33-year-old, the defending champion, tracked China's Zhang Lixin for the first lap before attacking with 250m to go.

Urged on by the whole stadium, he moved level with Zhang on the home straight before racing past to win in one minute 37.63 seconds.

Champs: Weir (right) with Jonnie Peacock

Champs: Weir (right) with Jonnie Peacock

Weir, who has the marathon left to come on Sunday, now even has his own battle cry thanks to the werewolf howls his team-mates have developed, adapted from the rock song Werewolves Of London by Warren Zevon.

And the 1970s track was played in the stadium ahead of the race.

Victory took his total haul of Paralympic golds to five, having won Great Britain's only two in Beijing four years ago.

Home straight: Weir on the way to winning

Home straight: Weir on the way to winning

'I had to dig deep tonight, it did hurt,' said Weir, whose suit came undone on the first lap.

'They're all special. I've defended my title in both the distances I've won and now I've got a gold in the 5,000; I only got bronze in Beijing.

'I've really enjoyed the last six months of training. I've got the hunger back, which I thought I lost last year. I feel like I'm on top of the world at the moment.

'I dreamt about it and wished I'd come away with three gold medals, with maybe another one on the way, but you just dream of things like that. I won't believe it until I'm at home and can relax – then it might sink in a little bit more.'

A fourth gold of London 2012 is now the target for Weir.

Can he make it four Weir has one more event

Can he make it four Weir has one more event

'The marathon is going to be tough, because you can't train for these emotions, going up and down,” he added.

'I've done the mileage to cover all these distances, but you can't match these emotions in training. It's impossible.

'We'll see how it goes on Sunday. I've got two days left. I might train, I might not. I'm seeing my family tomorrow and that will do me good.

'It's 26.2 miles. It's not just two laps or 12 laps of the track. We'll see what happens on the day. I'll give it my best shot.'

Cheered on: The crowd love David Weir

Cheered on: The crowd love David Weir

Jonnie Peacock beats Oscar Pistorius in 100m – London 2012 Paralympics

Go Jonnie, go! Brit star Peacock wins 100m in record time as Pistorius misses medals

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UPDATED:

21:09 GMT, 6 September 2012

British teenager Jonnie Peacock sealed his status as the fastest amputee in the world by upstaging Oscar Pistorius in the biggest race of the Paralympics.

The 19-year-old from Cambridge showed no regard for reputations as he stormed away from the field to win in 10.90 seconds, a new Paralympic record.

Jonnie Peacock

All smiles: Peacock was the class act of the field after storming to victory on Thursday night

He came into the Games as the T44 world record holder but inexperienced on the big stage, but proved he can more than handle the occasion.

Only American Richard Browne could get close to the Briton, claiming silver in 11.03secs.

Over the line: The 19-year-old set a new Paralympic record with a time of 10.90 seconds

Over the line: The 19-year-old set a new Paralympic record with a time of 10.90 seconds

Pistorius, the defending champion, was never in contention, finishing fourth behind fellow South African and room-mate Arnu Fourie, but was quick to embrace Peacock at the finish.

Chants of 'Peacock, Peacock, Peacock' rang around the stadium before the start, which was delayed when Brazilian Alan Fonteles Oliveira appeared to twitch and the field were asked to stand up.

Out of the running: Pistorius (far right) was a distant fourth

Out of the running: Pistorius (far right) was a distant fourth

A faulty rather than a false start was the verdict and the added tension did not affect Peacock, who was able to race off on a lap of honour draped in the Union Flag.

Peacock's victory crowned a golden night for Great Britain, coming minutes after David Weir had continued his relentless pursuit of quadruple gold by making it three out of three with yet another masterful ride, this time to win the 800m title.

Gracious in defeat: Pistorius embraces Peacock

Gracious in defeat: Pistorius embraces Peacock

Peacock told Channel 4: 'It's absolutely surreal. For the past four days, this event being quite late on, you've got these guys going out getting gold and you just want to be part of that.

'This Games is definitely a legacy and to be part of that is amazing.

'I knew this crowd was going to be intense. Dave Weir going minutes before – I knew he'd win, and I knew the crowd would be on a high. We'd had a great day so far, Hannah opened up the evening with a gold. I knew they were going to do that.

'[But] I didn't think it was going to be that crazy, I was like, who's going to get a bigger cheer, Oscar or me

'It was just surreal. I had to tell them to be quiet after a while. 'I was really annoyed with my start yesterday. This time I actually knew I could push. About 60m I started to think, “oh c**p I'm in the lead. What's going on here”

'I was rocking a little bit. It was crazy.'

Pistorius was quick to hail Peacock's gold, telling Channel 4: 'What we've seen tonight is the start of an amazing Paralympics sprinter.

'I've just been watching it on the screen again and it was a great performance. 'I can't imagine how happy he must be to do this in front of his home crowd.

'Well done, it's a great time for him. He's still young and he's got a great future ahead of him.

'I was hoping to finish in the medals but the 100 is not my thing. My room-mate (Fourie) pipped me on the line for third.' Pistorius admitted he is now hoping for gold in his favourite event, the 400m.

'I'm desperate for that,' he said. 'I'm looking forward to the 400m.'

Flying the flag: The British star enjoys a lap of honour in front of his home crowd

Flying the flag: The British star enjoys a lap of honour in front of his home crowd

Tour de France 2012: Bradley Wiggins edges closer after stage 17

Wiggins edges closer to Tour de France victory with strong stage 17

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UPDATED:

16:01 GMT, 19 July 2012

Bradley Wiggins moved within three days of becoming the first British winner of the Tour de France after successfully negotiating the final day in the Pyrenees and putting further time on his rivals for glory.

Wiggins began the 143.5-kilometre route from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes in the yellow jersey for a 10th day and with a lead of two minutes five seconds over Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, with Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) 18 seconds further adrift.

Getting nearer: Bradley Wiggins keeps the yellow jersey

Getting nearer: Bradley Wiggins keeps the yellow jersey

TOUR DE FRANCE

Click here for the overall classification

No other rider was within five minutes
of the triple Olympic champion and Nibali knew he had to make a move,
with Wiggins likely to perform better than him in Saturday's penultimate
day time-trial.

But Wiggins, with able support from Froome, distanced Nibali on the finishing ascent.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the stage, Froome was 19 seconds behind in second place, with Wiggins on his wheel in third.

Nibali finished 37 seconds behind in seventh, conceding 18 seconds to Wiggins and falling 2mins 41secs behind.

Friday's 222.5km 18th stage from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde features three classified climbs, but could end in a sprint.

Team-mates: Chris Froome held back to cross the line with Wiggins

Team-mates: Chris Froome held back to cross the line with Wiggins

Valverde led in the closing stages of the route as Wiggins took to the front of an eight-man group 4km from the summit of the day's final ascent, the 15.4km climb to Peyragudes.

Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) attacked, increasing the pace, before Froome took to the front, keeping the tempo high.

The relentless pace saw the group disintegrate and Nibali lost contact 3km from the summit.
Froome forged on and Wiggins latched on to his wheel.

The Team Sky duo pushed on as their rivals lost touch and the Britons closed in on Valverde.
Froome implored Wiggins to keep up, eager to distance Nibali in his own
bid to make it on to the podium – something no Briton has done before in
98 previous Tours.

Mountain mist: Wiggins speeds down Mente pass in dense fog

Mountain mist: Wiggins speeds down Mente pass in dense fog

Triumph: Alejandro Valverde won the stage

Triumph: Alejandro Valverde won the stage

Valverde passed through 2km to go with an advantage of 40 seconds and Froome continued to push.

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-Bigmat) bridged
the gap to the Team Sky duo, with Froome leading Wiggins and Nibali
struggling to stay in contact.

Froome and Wiggins pushed forward as
they finished second and third on the stage to enhance their places at
the top of the general classification standings.

Pinot was fourth, three seconds
further adrift, with Pierre Rolland (Europcar) fifth and Van den Broeck
sixth, both 26 seconds behind Valverde.

Van den Broeck remained fourth, but fell 5:53 behind Wiggins.

The pack: Wiggins looks likely to win the Tour de France

The pack: Wiggins looks likely to win the Tour de France

Scenic route: Wiggins cycles past various animals

Scenic route: Wiggins cycles past various animals

The final mountain day of the 99th Tour was a late opportunity to eat into Wiggins' advantage.

Nibali made a short-lived move on the descent of the day's opening climb, the 9.3km category one ascent of the Col de Menthe, but was rejected by the seven-man breakaway group, who believed his presence would end their escape.

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) had beaten Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana), his nearest rival for the polka dot King of the Mountains jersey, to the top and did so again on the category two Col des Ares and category three Cote de Burs.

Nibali's Liquigas-Cannondale team led the peloton and kept the pace high on the fiendishly steep Port de Bales.

Four Team Sky riders and Wiggins were immediately behind. Up ahead Valverde and his team-mate Rui Costa joined forces and forged forward. Valverde powered on alone and went over the summit 2:25 ahead of the peloton.

Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Costa, who made a wrong turn at the foot of the final climb, were in pursuit of Valverde as the peloton swept up the rest of the day's break.

On your marks... Riders wait at the start of stage 17

On your marks… Riders wait at the start of stage 17

The tempo set by the maillot jaune group saw Martinez and Costa caught and with Valverde the only rider up the road, Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) made a late attempt to catch the Spaniard.

Defending champion Cadel Evans lost touch with the maillot jaune, leaving his BMC Racing team-mate Tejay van Garderen alongside 14 others.

Van den Broeck attacked with the peak of the Col de Peyresourde in sight, with Rolland and Pinot going with him.

Vanendert was quickly caught and Nibali, Wiggins, Froome and Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) bridged the gap.

Pinot then took the initiative, stringing out the group in the mist before the short downhill section and the final 3.6km climb to the finish, where Wiggins and Froome enhanced their positions in first and second place overall.

More to follow.

David Beckham not in London 2012 Olympics Team GB squad

Beckham stunned after being left out of Team GB Olympic squad as Pearce chooses Richards, Giggs and Bellamy

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UPDATED:

11:05 GMT, 28 June 2012

David Beckham is stunned after being left out of the Great Britain Olympic football squad by Stuart Pearce.

The former England captain seemed to be certain to be part of the summer event but Micah Richards, Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs have been picked as the over-23 players.

Beckham is still expected to come to the Games in some respect and may have a role to play at the opening ceremony.

Shock: David Beckham is not in the Team GB squad

Shock: David Beckham is not in the Team GB squad

Big role: Beckham has played an instrumental part in the run-up to the games

Big role: Beckham has played an instrumental part in the run-up to the games

Pearce called Beckham on Wednesday night to inform him of the decision, explaining that he had enough cover for midfield and he wanted to add experience to his defence.

The 36-year-old superstar, who currently plies his trade for MLS side LA Galaxy, played a massive role in Britain securing the games in 2005, and has stayed involved in a huge capacity since.

Beckham said on Thursday: 'Everyone knows how much playing for my country has always meant to me. So I would have been honoured to have been part of this unique Team GB squad.'

He added: 'Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold.

'As a Londoner, I will have been really proud to have played a small part in bringing the Olympics to my home town as part of Seb's [Coe] team, and I can't wait for the games to begin and enjoy every moment along with the rest of Great Britain.'

Beckham was included in Pearce's 35-man shortlist for the Games but has not made the final cut.

Watching: Stuart Pearce went to see Beckham in action before he made his decision

Watching: Stuart Pearce went to see Beckham in action before he made his decision

Beckham's relentless efforts on the Olympic front make his exclusion all the more surprising.

He accompanied the Olympic Flame from Athens to British soil and carried it in Cornwall after it was lit.

Beckham also took part in the closing ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as part of the London 2012 team.

The British Olympic Association will also be surprised by the decision to leave Beckham out.

Curtain call: Beckham at the Beijing closing ceremony

Curtain call: Beckham at the Beijing closing ceremony

But BOA chief Andy Hunt had previously said Pearce will have free reign to do as he pleases with the squad.

He said: 'Stuart Pearce will make a decision on the best squad available given where he is in respect of now having assessed the players that are not involved in the Euros and the current state of injuries.

'He will then make the best call he can – on merit. I am not putting any pressure of him whatsoever to pick anyone. We discussed the whole topic of selecting over-23 players back more than a year ago but I haven't subsequently.

Effort: London 2012 sport ambassadors (from left) Beckham Sir Steven Redgrave and Denise Lewis

Effort: London 2012 sport ambassadors (from left) Beckham Sir Steven Redgrave and Denise Lewis

Delight: Beckham and his wife Victoria (left) leave the London 2012 celebration party after London won the Games in 2005

Delight: Beckham and his wife Victoria (left) leave the London 2012 celebration party after London won the Games in 2005

'We have been very clear from the outset, it's absolutely Stuart's choice and he is totally free to make the selection of the team he believes will put in the best performance. It's as simple as that.'

As a global superstar Beckham would have been a big pull for fans to come and watch Team GB at the games and get excited about the Olympic football – which is not normally a major pull.

Floyd Mayweather beats Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas

Mayweather battles to victory over Cotto and claims yet another world title

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UPDATED:

09:08 GMT, 6 May 2012

Floyd Mayweather Jr added the WBA Super World light-middleweight title to his supreme career roster with a battling unanimous points victory over Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas.

Mayweather, fighting at the 154lbs limit for the first time since defeating Oscar De La Hoya to win the WBC belt exactly five years ago, won favour by margins of 118-110 and 117-111 (twice) on the judges' scorecards to preserve his unblemished 43-fight record.

Still the champion: Floyd Mayweather celebrates after beating Miguel Cotto

Still the champion: Floyd Mayweather celebrates after beating Miguel Cotto

Still the champion: Mayweather celebrates his victory

Defending champion Cotto, unbeaten in
his previous three bouts at light-middleweight, enjoyed moments of
success with brutal spells of inside pressure, but slips to 37 wins and
three defeats as a a professional.

Attentions
will once again turn towards the prospect pairing Mayweather with
pound-for-pound rival Manny Pacquiao, but the 35-year-old American must
first serve a three-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to a
domestic violence charge.

Respect: Cotto hugs Mayweather after their fight at the MGM Grand

Respect: Cotto hugs Mayweather after their fight at the MGM Grand

Mayweather's
crisp left jab was the defining feature of the opening round, while the
challenger showed he was willing to trade at close quarters as Cotto
increased the pace and physicality of the contest in two.

/05/06/article-2140225-12F29597000005DC-298_634x446.jpg” width=”634″ height=”446″ alt=”Landing a blow: Miguel Cotto impressed many observers in Las Vegas” class=”blkBorder” />

Landing a blow: Miguel Cotto impressed many observers in Las Vegas

Cotto
landed a meaty left hook in five as he relentlessly burrowed forward
and the 31-year-old Puerto Rican enjoyed his best three minutes to date
in round six, drawing blood from the nose of his opponent who appeared
to be feeling the relentless pace.

An
absorbing ebb and flow continued across the subsequent two sessions, as
Mayweather's slick backfoot work gave way to another dose of Cotto's
frenetic pressure.

Bruising: Mayweather lands a punch in Las Vegas on Saturday night

Bruising: Mayweather lands a punch in Las Vegas on Saturday night

The champion managed to impose his
style down the stretch, regularly pulling Mayweather out of his comfort
zone and into the trenches.

But
Mayweather's dazzling defensive and counter-punching skills came to the
fore in the final two rounds, as he sealed an eighth world title across
five weight divisions.

Receiving instructions: Floyd Mayweather in his corner during the fight

Receiving instructions: Floyd Mayweather in his corner during the fight

Speaking to US broadcaster HBO after
the fight, Mayweather stated his desire to face Pacquiao next and
suggested the bout might have already taken place but for the presence
of the Filipino's promoter, Bob Arum.

'This fight right here, I was looking to fight Manny Pacquiao,' he said. 'The fight didn't happen, I don't think the fight could happen because of Bob Arum. Bob Arum was in the way – he stopped the Pacquiao fight.

'Let's give the fans what they want to see. They want to see Mayweather-Pacquiao.'

Justin time: Bieber holds up a belt for Mayweather before the fight

Justin time: Bieber holds up a belt for Mayweather before the fight

Celebrity friends: Justin Bieber, Rapper Lil Wayne, Mayweather and rapper Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson pose after the fight

Celebrity friends: Justin Bieber, Rapper Lil Wayne, Mayweather and rapper Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson pose after the fight

World snooker championship 2012: Ronnie O"Sullivan: Stephen Hendry won"t be only quitter

Hendry won't be the only one to quit… Ronnie warns snooker bosses over burnout

|

UPDATED:

07:36 GMT, 3 May 2012

Ronnie O'Sullivan has warned more players could quit snooker in the wake of Stephen Hendry's retirement.

Seven-time world champion Hendry has elected to focus on lucrative promotion of another cue sport, pool, in China, believing there was no prospect of combining that role with a competitive snooker career.

To maintain a lofty world ranking, players cannot risk missing events, even the low-profile, low-pay Players Tour Championship (PTC) tournaments.

Farewell: Stephen Hendry waves to the crowd after walking out to take a bow at the Crucible on Wednesday

Farewell: Stephen Hendry waves to the crowd after walking out to take a bow at the Crucible on Wednesday

O'Sullivan said earlier this season he felt 'blackmailed' into playing the PTCs, and he feels the demands on the game's stars are excessive.

After beating Neil Robertson 13-10 in his Betfred.com World Championship quarter-final, O'Sullivan said of Hendry's retirement: 'I'm not surprised really. I'm pleased he has [retired] because he has nothing to prove in the game.

'Snooker has changed in the last couple of years and I think it suits certain people but it's not going to suit a lot of other people.

New horizons: Hendry has retired from professional snooker to promote pool in China

New horizons: Hendry has retired from professional snooker to promote pool in China

'You might see a few more retiring because of it, because it's a relentless schedule and until they get it right, it's very difficult.'

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn insists the growing schedule offers opportunities for all, and has laughed off suggestions that burnout can be a factor in snooker. But Hearn would have to listen to concerns if other star players followed Hendry, who was another critic of the PTC circuit, into retirement.

The primary focus for O'Sullivan in Sheffield is to bag his fourth world title, and he begins a semi-final spanning three days against Matthew Stevens this evening. At the age of 36 years and three months, O'Sullivan would become the oldest world champion since 45-year-old Ray Reardon triumphed aged 45 in 1978, should he triumph on Monday.

Guard of honour: Steve Davis, Dennis Taylor, Terry Griffiths, John Parrott and Ken Doherty line up

Guard of honour: Steve Davis, Dennis Taylor, Terry Griffiths, John Parrott and Ken Doherty line up

'I'd love to win another one but there's still a long way to go,' O'Sullivan said. 'Everyone here is still capable of winning this event.'

Robertson, the 2010 champion, said of his defeat: 'A lot of people thought this was maybe the final. Ronnie handled it better than me. He seems really focused. He'll definitely take some stopping.'

Stevens completed an 11-frame winning streak as he came from 5-3 behind to beat Ryan Day 13-5 in their all-Welsh quarter-final, finishing the job in Wednesday's morning session.

Concern: Ronnie O'Sullivan reached the world championship semi-finals with a win over Neil Robertson

Concern: Ronnie O'Sullivan reached the world championship semi-finals with a win over Neil Robertson

Seeing his good friend Day suffer was not a pleasure for Stevens, who said: 'It was tough. But we're here to try to do a job.'

Welsh qualifier Jamie Jones' Crucible debut came to an end when he was edged out 13-11 by Ali Carter, who will play Hendry's quarter-final conqueror Stephen Maguire this afternoon, in the opening best-of-33-frames semi-final.

Carter, who is battling Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel condition, revealed he was feeling unwell from the start of the match. He has cut out dairy and wheat products, and was coping well in his early-round matches against Mark Davis and Ali Carter.

But Carter said last night: 'I've felt terrible really this last day or two. I went out and ate a steak and I think it was too heavy, so I've got the bloatedness back and everything like that.'