Tag Archives: sensational

Jen Chang Duncan Jenkins CCTV image: Liverpool investigate harassment claims

Caught on CCTV: The moment Liverpool chief met the man behind Twitter prankster Duncan Jenkins amid sensational claims of threats and paranoia that could spark fresh image crisis at Anfield

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UPDATED:

12:19 GMT, 16 October 2012

HOW THE STORY STARTED…
Click here to read the full allegations from Duncan Jenkins

This is the first picture of the meeting between a senior Liverpool official and a fake blogger that is at the centre of a potentially-damaging investigation at the club.

Liverpool have started a probe into the background behind the extraordinary claims from a fan – written under the Twitter alter-ego Duncan Jenkins – alleging serious harassment by the club’s director of communications Jen Chang.

Caught on CCTV: Liverpool Director of Communications Jen Chang is pictured meeting 'Duncan Jenkins' - fan Sean Cummins - at a Manchester restaurant

Caught on CCTV: Liverpool director of communications Jen Chang is
pictured meeting 'Duncan Jenkins' – fan Sean Cummins – at Manchester
restaurant Evuna in August

JUST WHO IS DUNCAN JENKINS

@DuncanJenkinsFC is an amusing fake Twitter account of a wannabe football journalist.

It
is the work of Sean Cummins, a 35-year-old who lives in Manchester. The
Duncan Jenkins character originally started on Facebook – someone who
was inept and delusional in equal measure, as well as being obsessed
with The Bill.

Just
under a year ago, he relaunched on Twitter as a 'perspiring journalist'.
Dotted with misspellings and dodgy cliches, it also oddly predicted the
correct Liverpool team well before anyone else ahead of each game.

Cummins later admitted he just pinched it off a fans' forum and published it instantly, as he had done with transfer gossip.

Chang is pictured on the left in this
CCTV image taken from a Manchester restaurant, where he met Sean Cummins
– the man behind the Twitter feed that has caused a fresh headache at
Anfield.

It is the latest PR crisis to engulf the club after their handling of the Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra race row last season.

Managing director Ian Ayre is due to
speak to Cummins as well as Chang and others involved in an unseemly
episode which began when Jenkins started publicising information Chang
believed must have come from inside Anfield.

Chang describes Jenkins’s allegations
about threats made at a genuine meeting in Manchester as ‘fictitious
nonsense’ but his position looks vulnerable if Ayre decides otherwise.

Cummins published his version of his communication and meeting with Chang in an explosive blog post on Friday.

In it, he claims that Chang demanded
to know who his alleged mole inside Anfield is. Cummins has denied that
he has an insider at the club leaking information – instead pointing out
that all his information was lifted from fans’ forums.

Chang set up a meeting with Cummins
at the Evuna restaurant in Manchester in August – but Cummins alleges
this was the start of the meltdown in the relations between the pair.

After accusing Cummins of costing the
club 300,000 extra in the Fabio Borini transfer from Roma this summer
because of ‘information’ posted on the Jenkins Twitter feed, it is then
alleged that Chang demanded he tweet under the fake account to ‘confess’
there was no mole and the whole account was made up.

Bully claims: Chang, who joined Liverpool in the summer, denies allegations made by 'Jenkins'

Bully claims: Chang, who joined Liverpool in the summer, denies allegations made by 'Jenkins'

Duncan Jenkins is followed by thousands on social networking site Twitter

Liverpool

Headlines: Duncan Jenkins (L), followed by thousands on social networking site Twitter, posted about Liverpool

At this point, Cummins asked Change what would happen if he didn’t agree to the deal.

According to the blog post, Chang
claimed he would be banned from Anfield along with the other man he
shares a season-ticket with.

Chang, it is claimed, also threatened
to hand over his dossier on Cummins to journalist who could ‘run smear
stories on me in the tabloid press’.

Internal investigation: Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre will now probe the claims

Internal investigation: Liverpool's managing director Ian Ayre will now probe the claims

And, perhaps most shockingly, Chang
is also alleged to have told Cummins: ‘You know how crazy football fans
are. You’ll have dog shit coming through your letterbox, you’ll have to
take your Facebook page down, you might even have to move house.’

Chang, who has confirmed that he did meet the self-styled Slam Dunc in Manchester, has already denied the claims.

He said: ‘I will not be responding to
total nonsense. The contents of my tweets that are included in the blog
bear no relation whatsoever to the false accusations made by a
fictional character. There was never any investigation by Liverpool over
the tweets.’

However, that has not stopped Liverpool launching an investigation into their own PR chief.

Chang was brought in to Liverpool this summer to boost their PR drive after last season’s troubles with the Suarez affair. He replaced long-serving Ian Cotton, who was forced out after 16 years at the club.

Steven Fletcher recall shows Scotland boss is feeling the pressure, insists Wales keeper Jason Brown

Fletcher recall shows Scotland boss is feeling the pressure, insists Wales keeper

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UPDATED:

05:33 GMT, 10 October 2012

Wales goalkeeper Jason Brown has
branded Craig Levein's recall of Steven Fletcher an act of a desperation
by a manager under siege.

The Aberdeen player is in contention
to start Friday night's vital World Cup qualifier and believes Levein –
who lost Robert Snodgrass and Jordan Rhodes with ankle
injuries on Tuesday – has only turned to Fletcher to try and preserve his position
as Scotland boss.

Back in action: Scotland duo Steven Fletcher (left) and Darren Fletcher

Back in action: Scotland duo Steven Fletcher (left) and Darren Fletcher

The 14million Sunderland striker had been excluded from the national squad since rejecting a call-up by text in February 2011, but made a sensational return ahead of the do-or-die meeting in Cardiff.

And Brown reckons it would have stung Levein to have had to perform a U-turn after having previously closed the door on Fletcher.

'Is it win or bust for both of us on Friday Definitely,' said Brown. 'Craig Levein is under a lot of pressure.

'He's been in the job for a long time now and, from what I gather from the press side of things, people are starting to turn against him.

'He has had to backtrack over the Fletcher issue – which will have probably hurt him. So the manager is definitely under a lot of pressure.

'For us, there is no pressure; we are at home, we know how good we are. It's a great opportunity for us to kick-start our campaign. Scotland have some very talented players.

Injury blow: Scotland manager Craig Levein

Injury blow: Scotland manager Craig Levein

'I have been fortunate to work with guys like Robert Snodgrass and Ross McCormack.

'But for some reason or other, people have said to me the manager sets his side up a bit too negatively. He's been playing two holding midfielders, especially at home and, when Scotland are at home, they tend to be a little more cautious.

'So by picking Fletcher, he's maybe shown a sign of desperation – maybe they'll come out and attack us a little bit more.

'Levein is under massive pressure but we can't worry too much what is going on in with Scotland.

'We have big players and in big games they step up to the plate, so I am sure we will be up for it.'

The pressure on the Scotland boss increased after the withdrawal of Snodgrass and Rhodes, and Kris Commons – as predicted in Sportsmail – was drafted in for the Norwich player ahead of the double-header with Wales and Belgium.

It is 19 months since Celtic's in-form Commons last appeared for Scotland in a London friendly against Brazil.

Upbeat: Wales keper Jason Brown

Upbeat: Wales keper Jason Brown

He pulled out of the Carling Nations Cup squad in May 2011 citing fatigue and was last called up for the friendly against Denmark at Hampden three months later, withdrawing once more with hamstring trouble.

After struggling for form and fitness at club level last season, however, the midfielder now has the opportunity to add to his record of two goals in nine international appearances.

Levein previously said there were more than half a dozen players ahead of Commons in his position and that he was 'unlucky' to be left out of his initial squad.

After performing a U-turn on striker Fletcher, however, the loss of Snodgrass has now promoted the manager to have a second change of heart in a week.

Blackburn striker Rhodes, who appeared from the bench against Serbia and Macedonia, has returned to Rovers nursing a problem with his ankle and a club spokesman said: 'He has an ankle injury which he picked up during our game with Wolves at the weekend.

He has subsequently had to withdraw from the Scotland squad for this reason.'

Levein has 22 players available for the Cardiff clash on Friday night and the game in Brussels four days later.

Steven Naismith is also out of the squad after being handed a two-match FIFA ban for elbowing Serbian midfielder Srdjan Mijailovic.

Wales keeper Brown, meanwhile, also revealed his determination to quit Pittodrie after being frozen out in favour of Jamie Langfield this season.

It is understood the former Blackburn man, who is competing with Owain Fon Williams of Tranmere to start against Scotland, no longer speaks to Aberdeen boss Craig Brown or Langfield after being ditched.

Asked if there was any chance he would play again for Aberdeen, he said: 'No. I haven't been told that, but I won't.

'I was part of a fantastic run when we went 13 games unbeaten and, in 28 games, I kept 11 or 12 clean sheets.

'The statistics are there so, obviously, there are other circumstances that have materialised.

'Jamie has came in and had one or two good performances and the team is on a good run – I'm supportive of them because I want them to do well.

'But you know, I have to look after myself.

'I have to be selfish in the same way the club has to look after itself. So I won't be looking to play for Aberdeen from now until the time I leave.

'My main reason for leaving Blackburn was I wanted to play first-team football.

'When I first went to Aberdeen, I was going to be playing first-team football but, obviously, there's a bigger picture.

'But yes, most definitely I want to play football.

'The supporters have been great to me, the city has been great to me and my family.

'But ultimately, I want to play football and there are one or two issues there with my family, and I think maybe moving back down to England is going to happen sooner rather than later.'

US Open 2012: Andy Murray to face Novak Djokovic in the final

Murray to face Djokovic in US Open final after defending champion crushes Ferrer

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UPDATED:

17:39 GMT, 9 September 2012

Andy Murray will face Novak Djokovic in the final of the US Open on Monday after the defending champion defeated David Ferrer in their
delayed semi-final in New York.

Fourth seed Ferrer had led 5-2 when play was suspended on Saturday but,
although he took the first set, Djokovic quickly hit back and wrapped up
a 2-6 6-1 6-4 6-2 victory after two hours and 32 minutes.

Enlarge

All the rage: Serbia's Novak Djokovic

All the rage: Serbia's Novak Djokovic

It will be the second grand slam final meeting between Murray and Djokovic after the Serb's crushing win at the Australian Open last year at the start of a sensational season that saw him pick up three slam titles.

He successfully defended his title in Melbourne this year, beating Murray and Rafael Nadal back-to-back in brutal five-setters, but Murray got some revenge with victory in the Olympic semi-final before going on to win the gold medal. Djokovic will play in his third consecutive US Open final and his seventh final out of the last nine grand slams.

He said: 'It's a huge relief to get through this match. David's a great competitor, he's one of the fittest guys on tour and he never gives up.

Under pressure: David Ferrer scrambles to hit a a return

Under pressure: David Ferrer scrambles to hit a a return

'We were all praying for less wind today. He handled the wind much
better than I did but I came in today as a different player and I'm just
really happy to get to another grand slam final.'

On facing Murray, the 25-year-old added: 'I don't think there is any
clear favourite. He's looking for his first title, I'm sure he's going
to be very motivated. I hope we can come up with the best tennis for
this crowd.'

Djokovic had looked completely out of sorts in the wind,
complaining to umpire Carlos Bernardes that the match should be
postponed.

Quiet please: Djokovic makes a point

Quiet please: Djokovic makes a point

He was lucky to get his wish, with organisers worried about the threat
of a tornado that did not materialise, and had they carried on the
result may well have been different.

But under blue skies and with only a little breeze, the defending
champion was back to the form that has made him unbeaten in grand slams
on hard courts for two years.

Ferrer served out the first set, the only set Djokovic has lost at the
tournament so far this year, but the Serb promptly reeled off the next
five games.

Actor Stanley Tucci

Will Ferrell

Star appeal: Actors Stanley Tucci and Will Ferrell watch the semi-final

Ferrer finally held to avoid a love set but, although he was trading
well with Djokovic in long rallies, the second seed always seemed to
have one more shot.

Djokovic broke early in the third set as well but Ferrer showed his
tenacity to hit back. The Spaniard was broken again in the seventh game,
though, and that proved to be the crucial moment.

Djokovic wrapped up the set and then all but sealed victory by winning
the first four games of the fourth. Ferrer dug in to ensure at least the
scoreline would be respectable but he was well beaten.

Murray has certainly had the better of the schedule and a day's rest,
but there is no doubt, whatever he says, that Djokovic will go into the
final as the man to beat.

Liverpool face missing out on Michael Owen

Striker light Rodgers faces missing out on Owen after Liverpool bosses block deals

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UPDATED:

22:03 GMT, 3 September 2012

Michael Owen's hopes of a sensational return to Anfield appear to be fading after Liverpool's owners mounted a fierce defence of their transfer policy.

Manager Brendan Rodgers refused to rule out taking free agent Owen back to Merseyside after Sunday's 2-0 defeat by Arsenal, given his small squad.

But principal owner John W Henry said he will not be looking for ‘expensive, short-term quick fixes’ and instead will focus on developing the players already at the club.

Free agent: Michael Owen left Manchester United earlier in the summer

Free agent: Michael Owen left Manchester United earlier in the summer

Free agent: Michael Owen left Manchester United earlier in the summer

The prospect of former Manchester United striker Owen playing for Liverpool again has split opinion in the city, with many supporters unable to forget his three-year stint at Old Trafford.

After giving further thought to the idea, Rodgers has decided to pursue a different avenue anyway as signing Owen would have been viewed as a regressive step.

It is now almost certain the 32-year-old will join Stoke, who have offered him a 1.5million-per-season, two-year deal.

Tough job: Brendan Rodgers has endured a difficult start to life at Anfield

Tough job: Brendan Rodgers has endured a difficult start to life at Anfield

Whether Fenway Sports Group would have sanctioned a move for him is debatable, particularly in light of Henry’s open letter published on the club’s website.

He insisted Liverpool had conducted sound business in the transfer market this summer, even though he acknowledged deadline day had been a disappointment.

He also hinted at the reasons Liverpool failed to sign Clint Dempsey for 6million but many will have regarded his words as a rebuke for Rodgers.

Dempsey moved to Tottenham after Liverpool refused to offer more than 3m for the USA forward and missing out on the 29-year-old has left Rodgers’s squad stretched.

The Northern Irishman was clearly frustrated about Liverpool’s failure to complete the deal and subsequently said there were ‘operational issues’ that need to be resolved.

Henry, though, insisted FSG’s policy of buying predominantly young players would not alter. He said: ‘Spending is not merely about buying talent. Our ambitions do not lie in cementing a mid-table place with expensive, short-term quick fixes that will only contribute for a couple of years.

'Our emphasis will be on developing our own players using the skills of an increasingly impressive coaching team. Much thought and investment already have gone into developing a self-sustaining pool of youngsters imbued in the club’s traditions.’

Henry, who admitted FSG had ‘made mistakes’ in the two years they have been in charge, added: ‘The transfer policy was not about cutting costs. It was — and will be in the future — about getting maximum value for what is spent so that we can build quality and depth.

'No one should doubt our commitment to the club. In Brendan Rodgers we have a talented young manager and we have valued highly his judgment about the make-up of the squad. This is a work in progress.’

London 2012 Olympics: Any Murray beats Roger Federer

Final closure: Murray exacts revenge on Federer for SW19 defeat but can't get across the line with Robson as duo settle for silver

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UPDATED:

00:03 GMT, 6 August 2012

A journey that began with Andy Murray taking delivery of the torch the week before the Olympics and joyously running with it through the Wimbledon grounds came to a perfect end on Sunday — atop the podium on Centre Court.

After a sensational performance in which he dismantled the greatest player of this or any other era, it turned out that the pathways of the All England Club were lined with both the silver and gold of the medals hung around Murray’s neck.

Four weeks on from his spirit being broken by the same player in the same arena, Murray visited near humiliation on Roger Federer, brilliantly scaling the heights of performance and adding to the do-not-adjust-your-set feeling that sometimes accompanied the surreal Olympic tennis at Wimbledon.

Andy Murray beat Roger Federer in the men's singles, exacting revenge from losing the men's final at Wimbledon in July

Andy Murray beat Roger Federer in the men's singles, exacting revenge from losing the men's final at Wimbledon in July

Net gains: Murray looks to he heavens after beating Federer 6-2, 61, 6-4 on Sunday afternoon

Net gains: Murray looks to he heavens after beating Federer 6-2, 61, 6-4 on Sunday afternoon

Federer has never been beaten up at his spiritual home like he was on Sunday afternoon, managing only seven games as he was pummelled 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in only an hour and 56 minutes.

For a while it seemed that Murray was going to carry the momentum to a remarkable second gold with Laura Robson, his late call-up of a partner who was only ever meant to play women’s doubles here with Heather Watson.

Faced by the world’s No1 doubles and singles players, Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka, they so nearly pulled it off but just faltered at the death in the deciding tiebreaker to go down 2-6, 6-3, 10-8.

Murray had appeared dazed at the singles medal ceremony beforehand, trying to control his senses due to the commitment coming up while attempting to drink it all in as he stood between Federer and Juan Martin del Potro, winner of the bronze ahead of Novak Djokovic.

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

What a difference 28 days makes: Murray stormed to victory at Wimbledon after turning in a fine display

There was certainly none of the overt emotion that followed his Wimbledon final defeat and, maybe, if he could have picked one of these feverish Sundays to win upon then it would have been July 9.

That should not detract from Sunday’s magnificent effort and he should look at this past six weeks in the round — not that he has much chance to take stock with the US Open fast approaching towards the end of this month.

Murray went into Wimbledon in unspectacular form and not only played a fine tournament to reach the final but also showed a side of himself that the public has rarely seen with his honest and human reaction to defeat.

If that boosted his standing, then his guts-and-glory performances in the Team GB colours of the past week have only multiplied the effect, so nearly carrying his 18-year-old partner along to gold in the process.

Always technically superb, there has been a purpose and aggression to Murray’s tennis not seen before, like a light has gone on. You even wonder if this might turn out to be his Djokovic ‘Davis Cup’ moment of late 2010, when the charge the Serb got from winning the team competition subsequently powered him towards a phenomenal nine months.

Good return: Murray won two medals in one day, including a silver in the mixed doubles with Laura Robson

Good return: Murray won two medals in one day, including a gold in the men's singles

Good return: Murray won two medals in one day, including a gold in the men's singles

You can't hurry a Murray (or so they say): The British No 1 put Federer to the sword on Centre Court with a dominant display

You can't hurry a Murray (or so they say): The British No 1 put Federer to the sword on Centre Court with a dominant display

And although Ivan Lendl was not here — as was always the plan — it should not be forgotten that Murray’s bold hiring of him as coach is looking a very shrewd move when that was less obvious in an average clay- court season. Still we await a Grand Slam title, although as Federer pointed out, Murray did not need to win the Olympics to convince the great Swiss that he remains a major winner in waiting. The quality of Murray’s tennis was enough to show that.

The world No 1 was mugged by the 25-year-old Scot’s forehand and a serve that, as against Djokovic in the semi-final, continually delivered when it mattered most.

That was the case spectacularly in the final game, when Murray stepped up to serve out for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

At 15-all there might have been a wobble but the response was shudderingly emphatic: service winner, ace, ace. That is what you call closure.

Andy Murray

Roger Federer

Contrasting fortunes: Murray was on another
level compared to Federer as the British ace turned in one of the best
displays of his career

Federer did not try and spin his way out later, but pointed to the toll that his gruelling semi-final against Del Potro may have taken: ‘It was more probably emotional than physical, I had tears in my eyes after my first round, I found this a very emotional tournament. Maybe that’s trying to make excuses, Andy was much the better player than me today.’

Equally, Murray could point to the fact that he did not have the luxury of Saturday off, playing instead two mixed doubles matches that ended with sudden-death tiebreaks.

That might have hampered him in producing this tour de force, which had the effect of making Federer look all of his nearly 31 years.

From 2-2 he conceded nine games in 57 minutes, the crucial one being the third of the second set, when six break points were saved by Murray. Unlike in the Wimbledon final, when Murray also had his rival on the ropes, there was no letting him slip away this time.

Home support: The Wimbledon crowd roared Murray on to glory as they helped create a Davis Cup atmosphere on Centre Court

Home support: The Wimbledon crowd roared Murray on to glory as they helped create a Davis Cup atmosphere on Centre Court

In the stands: Andy Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears assumes her position on Centre Court to cheer on her partner

In the stands: Andy Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears assumes her position on Centre Court to cheer on her partner

Team Murray: Andy made his way into the stands to celebrate his straight-sets victory over Federer

Team Murray: Andy made his way into the stands to celebrate his straight-sets victory over Federer

BRONZE MEDAL MATCH

Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro won the bronze medal in the men's singles after upsetting second seed Novak Djokovic 7-5 6-4 on Wimbledon's Court One.

Djokovic, beaten by Andy Murray in the last four, was the bronze medallist in Beijing four years ago but he ceded first blood when his serve was broken in the 11th game.

He had two chances to break back and force a tie-break but Del Potro held on, and the Argentinian broke again to lead 2-1 in the second set.

Djokovic tried to respond but there was no way back and for the Serb there was only the agony of finishing fourth.

A facet of this grass-court season has been the impregnability of Murray’s serve, and here it was again.

One point was lost on it in the third set and Federer, having the legs run out of him by being moved side to side and handling some uneven bounces from the wearing court less adroitly than his opponent, could not make any inroads on the second delivery.

An hour after that last ace was pumped past Federer to the deafening acclamation of the Centre Court, he was back on to face a vastly more experienced pair who have twice won the US Open. Four years on from winning the Wimbledon junior title, Robson had the chance of another unlikely remarkable triumph and her nerve held admirably until the decisive tiebreak.

There were a couple of double faults in it but it was Murray who faltered slightly at 6-6 to allow high-class opposition to sneak ahead.

Until then it had appeared that the stars were aligning for an astonishing double triumph, but it was not to be.

Robson said: ‘I want to thank him for playing with me because this has been one of the best weeks of my life.’

Neither player should reproach themselves, as to get so far was an achievement in itself.

Not quite: Murray and Robson were beaten in the final of the mixed doubles

Not quite: Murray and Robson were beaten in the final of the mixed doubles

Centre of attention: Murray provided the Wimbledon crowd with some exhibition celebrating

Centre of attention: Murray provided the Wimbledon crowd with some exhibition celebrating

ANDY MURRAY'S MILESTONES: SPORTSMAIL LOOKS BACK AT ANDY'S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

Immense: Murray hammered Roger Federer in one of his many career highlights to take Olympic gold

Immense: Murray hammered Roger Federer in one of his many career highlights to take Olympic gold

US Open junior title (September 2004): Murray's talent for tennis was evident from an early age. He won the prestigious Orange Bowl in Florida aged 12 and went to train in Spain when he was 15 to develop his game. Victory over Sergiy Stakhovsky in the final of the US Open juniors cemented his position as Britain's brightest hope.

Making a mark on grass (June 2005): Wild card Murray reached the third round at Queen's and was in a winning position against former grand slam winner Thomas Johansson before succumbing to cramp. It was a similar story on his senior Wimbledon debut as he beat world number 16 Radek Stepanek in round two and went two sets up against David Nalbandian only to lose in five.

First ATP Tour final (September 2005): Murray enjoyed a superb run to the final of the Thailand Open in Bangkok but found world number one Roger Federer one obstacle too far. The run took him into the top 100 for the first time.

Maiden ATP Tour title (February 2006): Andy Roddick was the Scot's first top-10 victim as he beat the world number three in the semi-finals of the SAP Open in San Jose. He then defeated Lleyton Hewitt in three sets to lift the trophy, climbing into the top 50.

Team Murray (December 2007): The Lawn Tennis Association hired coach Brad Gilbert to work with Murray but the young Scot knew it was not for him. After only 18 months together, Murray ended the arrangement and assembled his own team of coach Miles Maclagan plus fitness trainers, a physio and various friends.

Wimbledon thriller (June 2008): Murray gave the Centre Court crowd a rollercoaster ride as he came back from two sets down to beat Richard Gasquet and reach the quarter-finals for the first time. He was well beaten by Rafael Nadal, though.

Masters magic (August 2008): The Scot won his first Masters title in Cincinnati, beating Novak Djokovic in the final.

US Open breakthrough (September 2008): Murray and the US Open always seemed made for each other. After coming back from two sets down against Jurgen Melzer in round three, 21-year-old Murray beat Nadal for the first time, in a marathon match over two days. Federer was a class act in the final, however.

Back-to-back titles (October 2008): Murray's US Open heroics lifted him to number four in the world for the first time and he cemented that position by winning the Madrid Masters, beating Federer in the semi-final, and successfully defending his St Petersburg Open title. He also qualified for the Masters Cup for the first time.

Biggest title (April 2009): Murray was victorious at the Miami Masters – known as the unofficial fifth major – beating Djokovic in the final.

Ranking milestone (May 2009): Murray became the first British player ever to be officially ranked number three in the world on May 11. He then climbed to number two in August, albeit briefly.

King of Queen's (June 2009): Murray reached the quarter-finals of the French Open for the first time and then justified his number one seeding by becoming the first British winner at Queen's for 71 years, his first title on grass.

Getting closer at SW19 (July 2009): Murray boosted hopes of a first home men's singles winner with a thrilling run to the semi-finals at Wimbledon. He was favourite to beat Andy Roddick but the American produced an inspired display to win in four sets.

Missing out in Melbourne (January 2010): After knocking out Nadal and Marin Cilic to reach the final of the Australian Open, Murray's grand slam hopes were again dashed by Federer. The Swiss triumphed 6-3 6-4 7-6 (13/11) at Melbourne Park.

Another Melbourne final (January 2011): Back in the Australian Open final, Murray was optimistic he could go one better than in 2010. But he suffered a 6-4 6-2 6-3 defeat against Djokovic and lost three straight first-round matches afterwards.

Nadal has Murray's measure (June-September 2011): Murray was having his most consistent season, marked by reaching the semi-finals at every grand slam. At the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open it was the same story, though – Murray was good but not good enough to beat Nadal.

So near and yet so far (January 2012): Under new coach Ivan Lendl, Murray produced one of his best grand slam performances in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, pushing world number one Djokovic all the way before finally losing out in five sets after almost five hours.

First Wimbledon final (July 2012): Murray ended the 74-year wait for a British Wimbledon finalist by holding his nerve under intense pressure to defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last four. He then won his first set in a grand slam final but Federer was not to be denied, the Swiss winning 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4.

Olympic Gold (August 2012): A straight-sets defeat of Djokovic in the semi-finals gave Murray the chance to claim Olympic tennis gold for Britain for the first time since 1908. And he duly delivered as, exactly four weeks since the Wimbledon final, he gained revenge on Federer with what appeared a breakthrough performance, Murray winning 6-2 6-1 6-4 to top the podium.

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London 2012 Olympic Cycling: Ed Clancy wins omnium bronze medal

Clancy wins omnium bronze medal after strong finish in time trial

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UPDATED:

18:01 GMT, 5 August 2012

Ed Clancy claimed bronze in the men's omnium as Great Britain missed out on Olympic gold for just a second time at the London 2012 velodrome, with Denmark's Lasse Hansen taking the title.

On a day when Jason Kenny and Victoria Pendleton made serene progress in the men's and women's sprint competitions, Olympic team pursuit champion Clancy settled for third, but hailed the crowd after rising from fifth place with one discipline to go in the six-discipline event.

Clancy, the 2010 world omnium champion, won two of the events and finished second in a third, but ultimately fell short of the title due to two disappointing displays in the bunch races.

Medal won: Ed Clancy did enough to secure bronze

Medal won: Ed Clancy did enough to secure bronze

Britain had won four of the five events in the previous three days of competition – missing out only in the women's team sprint – and were well placed in tomorrow's only medal event, with Kenny untroubled in advancing to the last four of the men's sprint.

Clancy's competition was varied – he won the flying lap on day one, finished 11th in the points race and fifth in the elimination race to sit fourth at the midway point overnight.

The 27-year-old Yorkshireman moved up to second with second place in the four-kilometre individual pursuit, but fell four points off the pace with a 10th-place finish in the penultimate event, the 15km (60 lap) scratch race.

On track: Ed Clancy competes for Great Britain

On track: Ed Clancy competes for Great Britain

Clancy clocked one minute 00.981
seconds to win the final discipline, the one-kilometre time-trial. It
was a sensational time in the event which was removed as a stand-alone
event from the programme after Sir Chris Hoy won in Athens in 2004 in
1min 00.711secs.

If rumours the kilo could return for
Rio de Janeiro in 2016, possibly at the expense of the omnium, are true,
Clancy would be well placed.

Ireland's Martyn Irvine finished 11th in the final event, clocking 1:04.558, to place 13th overall.

In the mix: Clancy (centre) competes in the Men's Omnium

In the mix: Clancy (centre) competes in the Men's Omnium

London 2012 Olympic rowing: Great Britain win Gold in men"s four

Golden touch: Britain retain Olympic title in men's four after smashing the Aussies

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UPDATED:

10:56 GMT, 4 August 2012

Great Britain produced a sensational performance to beat Australia and win Olympic gold in the men's coxless fours.

Andrew Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed, Tom James and Alex Gregory led from the start to extend Britain's dominance over the Olympic event to 16 years.

Britain won their fourth successive coxless fours title by a quarter of a length from the Australians with the United States winning the bronze medal.

More to follow…

Golden touch: Great Britain's Men's Four of Andrew Triggs Hodge, Tom James, Pete Reed and Alex Gregory won the men's four final

Golden touch: Great Britain's Men's Four of Andrew Triggs Hodge, Tom James, Pete Reed and Alex Gregory won the men's four final

MEN'S FOUR FACTFILE

1979: Andrew Triggs Hodge born on March 9 in Aylesbury. Will go on to start rowing at Staffordshire University.

1981: Pete Reed born July 1981 in Seattle, United States. A Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, Reed will later take up rowing at the University of the West of England.

1984: Alex Gregory and Tom James both born on March 11. James will learn to row at Evesham while Gregory will take up the sport through the GB Rowing Start scheme.

2003: James makes his Great Britain debut in the eight, stroking the boat to bronze at the World Championships.

2005: Hodge and Reed win the Boat Race with Oxford and are part of the British four that wins gold at the World Championships.

2006: Hodge and Reed are part of the men's four that wins gold at the World Championships at Eton Dorney.

2007: James competes in his fourth Boat Race for Cambridge, tasting victory for the first time.

2008: Hodge, Reed and James beat Australia to win Olympic gold with a stunning late charge for the line.

2009: Hodge and Reed move into the pair and win silver at the World Championships. Gregory switches to sweep rowing and wins gold in the men's four.

2010: Hodge and Reed win silver at the World Championships, finishing just three tenths of a second behind New Zealand. Gregory is in the men's four crew that finishes a disappointing fourth.

2011: James returns to the GB squad and joins Gregory in the men's four that wins gold at the World Championships. Hodge and Reed again have to settle for silver behind the Kiwis.

2012: May – Hodge and Reed move back into the four alongside Gregory and James, winning World Cup gold at Belgrade and Lucerne.

June – The British four are beaten twice by Australia in the final World Cup regatta in Munich, taking silver.

August 4 – Britain win gold at the Olympic Games.

Tour de France 2012: Bradley Wiggins set to win

Tour de France victory for Wiggins now a formality after sensational time trial win

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UPDATED:

16:55 GMT, 21 July 2012

Bradley Wiggins is set to become the first British winner of the Tour de France after an imperious victory in the stage 19 time-trial to Chartres.

In the 99th edition of the sport's most fabled race, the 32-year-old Londoner is poised to ride Sunday's 120-kilometre 20th stage from Rambouillet to the Champs-Elysees in Paris knowing he will return home victorious.

Triumphant roar: Bradley Wiggins celebrates after crossing the line

Triumphant roar: Bradley Wiggins celebrates after crossing the line

Top boys: Wiggins with team-mate Christopher Froome

Wiggins in action

Top boys: Wiggins with his team-mate Christopher Froome

Wiggins, a three-time Olympic champion,
began the 53.5km time-trial from Bonneval to Chartres with an advantage
of two minutes five seconds over Team Sky colleague Chris Froome and
enhanced his hold on the maillot jaune with a scintillating display
against the clock to take a 3mins 21secs lead into the final day.

Wiggins completed the route in one hour four minutes 12 seconds.

Tour delight: Wiggins celebrates winning stage 19

Tour delight: Wiggins celebrates winning stage 19

Froome was 1min 16secs slower in 1.05:29 to place second on the stage and all but confirm second place overall, with the final stage effectively a procession to the finish on the Champs-Elysees.

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) is set to complete the podium despite not being in contention on Saturday. The Italian finished in 1.07:51 to place 16th on the stage, 3:38 behind Wiggins, and fall 6:19 adrift overall.

Out in front: Bradley Wiggins on his way to victory in the time trial as he closes in on victory in the Tour de France

Out in front: Bradley Wiggins on his way to victory in the time trial as he closes in on victory in the Tour de France

The margin of Wiggins' victory answered many of those who questioned why Froome, who appeared marginally stronger in the mountains, was not Team Sky's Tour leader.

Team Sky were launched in 2010 with the stated aim of winning the Tour with a clean British rider within five years – it is a target Dave Brailsford and his squad, through Wiggins, are set to achieve in three.

Froome is also on the verge of history – no Briton has finished on the Tour podium in 98 previous editions, with Wiggins' 2009 fourth place equalling Robert Millar's 1984 best. Now there are set to be two.
The last time two riders from the same nation finished first and second in the Tour was 1984, when Laurent Fignon finished ahead of Bernard Hinault.

Out in front: Wiggins will be the first Brit to win the Tour

Out in front: Wiggins will be the first Brit to win the Tour

Hinault's second place two years later behind Greg LeMond was the most recent time two team-mates held the top two positions in Paris.

Wiggins has been in stunning form this season, winning the Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphine stage races, and has carried his form into the Tour, which featured more than 100km against the clock.

He was second in the Tour's prologue on July 30 in Liege and has remained in the top two of the general classification since, taking the maillot jaune on stage seven and winning stage nine and today's penultimate stage.

Wiggins, wearing the maillot jaune for a 12th day, was the last of 153-strong peloton to roll down the starting ramp to begin a route south-west of Paris where there was a large British presence, with Union Flags heavily in evidence.

Buddies: Wiggins' team-mate Froome in action

Buddies: Wiggins' team-mate Froome in action

Luis-Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) began 88th and finished the route in 1.06:03 to be the early leader.
Wiggins was focused as he rolled down the start ramp into a familiar domain – against the clock – and assumed his time-trial position, a still upper body, legs pumping like pistons.

At the first time check, after 14km, Froome was fastest in 17:01, but Wiggins went 12 seconds quicker still.

Froome kept the pace up to lead at the second time check, after 30km, in 37:35, but again Wiggins was faster – this time by 54 seconds, in 36:41.

Froome and Wiggins maintained their remarkable pace in the final third of the route. Froome overhauled Sanchez to claim the fastest time but Wiggins, who began three minutes behind his team-mate, soon bettered it, leaving the Spaniard third on the stage.

Wiggins punched the air in delight as he crossed the line, knowing a lifelong goal is set to be achieved in 24 hours' time.

Let's go: Tour de France 2011 winner, Australia's Cadel Evans, gets his race underway

Let's go: Tour de France 2011 winner, Australia's Cadel Evans, gets his race underway

As well as being the display which all but secured the yellow jersey, Wiggins' was a performance which augured well for the Olympic time-trial on August 1, although some of his Hampton Court rivals were absent on Saturday.

Briton David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) completed the course in 1.10:35, Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) in 1.11:11 and Steve Cummings (BMC Racing) in 1.12:04.

Cavendish, who won stages two and 18, will be seeking to complete a stunning Tour for Britain on Sunday's processional stage, usually contested by the sprinters.

A bell tower is adorned with Tour support

Bearer: Peter Sagan of Slovakia, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey

Decorations: A bell tower adorned with mock leaders' jerseys, while Peter Sagan (right) has the green one on

The 27-year-old Manxman has completed the Tour three times and won on the Champs-Elysees on each occasion – in 2009, 2010 and 2011 – and it is likely Wiggins will be seen leading out Cavendish on the French capital's most famous boulevard.

BRADLEY WIGGINS FACTFILE

1980 – Born March 28 in Ghent, Belgium before growing up in London. Son of Australian former racing cyclist Gary Wiggins.
1992 – Begins track cycling at Herne Hill Velodrome, London.
1997 – Wins individual pursuit gold at Junior World Track Championships in Cuba.
2000: March – Silver in team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester.
October – Bronze in team pursuit at Olympic Games in Sydney.
2001: September – Silver in team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.
2002: July – Silver for England in team pursuit and individual pursuit at Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Gold in individual pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
2003: August – Silver in team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
September – Wins opening stage of Tour de l'Avenir.
2004: August – Olympic gold in individual pursuit at Athens Olympics. Also wins silver in team pursuit alongside Steve Cummings, Paul Manning and Rob Hayles and bronze in Madison alongside Rob Hayles to become first Briton since 1964 to win
three medals at one Games.

So close: Wiggins is virtually assured of victory

2005: May – Wins stage eight of Tour de l'Avenir.
2006: July – Makes Tour de France debut, riding for French team Cofidis.
2007: March – Wins gold in the individual pursuit and team pursuit at Track Cycling World Championships in Palma, Majorca.
June – Prologue victory in Dauphine Libere.
July – Finishes fourth in Tour de France prologue in London behind Swiss winner Fabian Cancellara but his team, Cofidis, later withdraw after team-mate Cristian Moreni fails a drugs test.
September – Individual pursuit gold at Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester.
2008: January – Wiggins' estranged father, Gary Wiggins, is discovered unconscious in New South Wales and later dies.
March – Wins individual pursuit, team pursuit and Madison gold at Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester.
August 16 – Successfully defends Olympic individual pursuit title with gold at the Laoshan Velodrome.
August 18 – Olympic team pursuit gold alongside Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas and Paul Manning in a world record of three minutes 53.314 seconds.
August 19 – Favourite for Olympic Madison alongside Mark Cavendish but ninth-placed finish results in Manxman suffering the ignominy of being the only member of GB's track team to leave the Laoshan Velodrome without a medal and has a public falling-out with Wiggins.
October – Releases autobiography titled 'In Pursuit of Glory' detailing his struggle with alcohol after Athens Games.

Wiggins leads the way

2009: July – Secures fourth place in Tour de France, matching highest-ever placing by a British rider.
September – Wins British Time-Trial Championship.
October – Wins stage five time-trial and overall title at Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Australia.
December 10 – Signs four-year deal with Team Sky, the BSkyB-backed road team which is being led by British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford.
2010: February 7 – Makes Team Sky debut at Tour of Qatar, helping squad to victory in the race's opening team time-trial.
March – Finishes third overall in the Tour of Murcia.
May – Wins Giro d'Italia prologue to become second Briton to wear race leader's pink jersey, the maglia rosa. The victory gives Team Sky a Grand Tour stage win at the first attempt.
July – Finishes 24th on Team Sky's Tour de France debut.
2011: March – Finishes third overall in Paris-Nice stage race.
May – Wins fourth stage of Bayern-Rundfahrt as team-mate Geraint Thomas wins overall.
June – Wins traditional Tour de France warm-up Criterium du Dauphine. Wins British Championships road race.
July 8 – Abandons Tour de France after fracturing collarbone in crash on seventh stage. Wiggins was sixth overall, 10 seconds behind race leader Thor Hushovd, entering the stage.
September – Finishes third overall at the Vuelta a Espana, with Team Sky colleague Chris Froome second. Finishes second in World Championships time-trial before helping Cavendish win the road race.
2012: February: Wins stage five of Volta ao Algarve.
March – Wins Paris-Nice overall, completing victory with win on stage eight.
April – Triumphs in Tour de Romandie, winning stages one and five.
June – Successfully defends his Criterium du Dauphine title and wins stage four time-trial for an unprecedented series of results.
July 7 – Takes the Tour de France yellow jersey after stage seven.
July 21 – Wins the time-trial on the Tour's penultimate day to all but secure victory ahead of the final stage, effectively a procession.

Exclusive: England will turn to Marler, the first of the Mohicans, to face South Africa

Exclusive: England will turn to Marler, the first of the Mohicans, to face South Africa

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UPDATED:

21:16 GMT, 6 June 2012

Joe Marler went cage-diving at the local aquarium but on Saturday the Harlequins prop will be pitched into a drier but more dangerous Shark Tank as he makes his Test debut for England.

The Kings Park stadium in this city by the Indian Ocean has acquired that nickname as the home of the Natal Sharks Super 15 side. That is the forbidding arena where Marler must prove that for all his outlandish Mohican hair-style, he is a young prop of sufficient substance to stand up to the might of South Africa’s formidable pack.

There have been encouraging signs of progress in his scrummaging to complement ample skill in the loose, but that set-piece improvement must be in evidence against opponents who prioritise that staple of the game.

Hair apparent: Joe Marler's strong game in the loose and improving scrummaging has earned him a Test debut

Hair apparent: Joe Marler's strong game in the loose and improving scrummaging has earned him a Test debut

Head coach Stuart Lancaster will name the rookie loosehead in place of Alex Corbisiero, who is still recovering from a biceps operation, in a reshuffled side featuring another Test newcomer, Exeter flanker Tom Johnson.

How they line up

He will start at blindside on the back of a superb display against the Barbarians at the end of last month and in the enforced absence of established No 6s Tom Croft and Tom Wood. Johnson has been chosen ahead of James Haskell, who has considerable experience but is still settling in after his arrival from New Zealand, where he has been playing for Otago Highlanders.

Lancaster and his assistants, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt, have settled on a new-look back-three in light of David Strettle’s inability to train due to a lingering injury.

With the Saracens wing out of the equation for now, Ben Foden has been shifted out wide to make room for Mike Brown of Harlequins to cap a sensational season at club level by reclaiming the England No 15 shirt.

Elevation: Mike Brown (centre) will start as full back

Elevation: Mike Brown (centre) will start as full back

The 26-year-old has been recalled to the starting XV on the strength of his consistently accomplished form during Quins’ record-breaking, title-winning campaign in the Aviva Premiership, but also because he offers a left-footed kicking option and is another player at ease under the high ball.

In all, there are four changes to the XV who lined up for the Six Nations finale against Ireland at Twickenham which ended in a rousing 30-9 victory for the hosts.

Ben Youngs will be reinstated at scrum-half, ahead of Lee Dickson, with the Northampton No 9 to be included among the replacements. Despite his electric form for Quins in the latter part of the season, Danny Care is being made to show patience and persistence in his quest to win back his place.

Although Youngs has played so much of his best international rugby when in tandem with his Leicester half-back partner Toby Flood, the No 10 who is England’s most experienced player will have to bide his time as Owen Farrell is once again picked at fly-half.

Reinstated: Ben Youngs will be at scrum-half

Reinstated: Ben Youngs will be at scrum-half

After an off-key display against the Barbarians, the coaches will be closely scrutinising his contribution in open play, seeking signs of greater assurance and authority. What they will expect is that the young Saracen can punish any Springbok indiscretions with reliable goal-kicking.

Outside Farrell will be the familiar and reassuring figure of Brad Barritt, who will relish a return to his home city and the stadium where he played many times for the Sharks.

He will provide the defensive ballast while Manu Tuilagi’s primary objective at outside centre will be to generate attacking momentum with his strong running in midfield.

Up front, Ben Morgan has recovered from a hamstring injury to retain his place at No 8 alongside Johnson and captain Chris Robshaw. Mouritz Botha is the other South Africa-born player in England’s starting ranks for this game, while Geoff Parling will be charged with orchestrating the destruction of the Boks’ previously-renowned lineout.

Sink or swim Geoff Parling will play in the first Test

Sink or swim Geoff Parling will play in the first Test

Completing the pack are the established pair of Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole at hooker and tighthead prop.

While there are several Test rookies in this England side for such a daunting assignment, South Africa have a callow look too, with three debutant forwards — locks Juandre Kruger and Eben Etzebeth, and flanker Marcell Coetzee.

Yet, Etzebeth is particularly highly regarded as an abrasive ‘enforcer’ in the Bakkies Botha mould and Heyneke Meyer, the Boks coach, said that the 20-year-old from Cape Town could be even better than the notorious hard man whose shoes he is trying to fill.

Rino Gattuso wants Rangers return

Gattuso wants 'dream' Rangers return after calling time on AC Milan career

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UPDATED:

09:30 GMT, 15 May 2012

Rino Gattuso has made the first move in his bid to seal a sensational return to Rangers by speaking to members of Charles Green's consortium.

Gattuso brought the curtain down on a 13-year trophy-laden spell with AC Milan at the weekend and is keen on a move back to Ibrox.

The 34-year-old joined the Gers in 1997 and met his wife Monica during his 15-month spell with the club.

Farewell: Rino Gattuso said goodbye to AC Milan at the weekend

Farewell: Rino Gattuso said goodbye to AC Milan at the weekend

She is keen to spend more time with her family in Glasgow and Gattuso also fancies another stint in Scotland.

The 2006 World Cup winner told the Daily Record: 'I'd like to play for Rangers, that's my dream. However, they are going through a complicated situation right now.

'I've spoken to some people who are looking to enter the club but we'll have to wait and see what happens. They are not the only option. I'm not bothered about money. I want an experience that will touch me emotionally.'

Green was unveiled as the figurehead of a 20-man consortium drawn from English, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern investors.

Fresh faced: A young Gattuso in action for Rangers

Fresh faced: A young Gattuso in action for Rangers

He will try to rush through an 'irrevocable' 8.5million offer to creditors in the hope of avoiding an Ibrox newco scenario by June 6.

A source close to 59-year-old Yorkshireman Green said: 'We heard about the Gattuso story when we were up in Scotland at the weekend.

'We asked Sandy Jardine how old Gattuso is. We joked we could sign Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs too and become a Dad's Army!

'Seriously, I think Gattuso is trying to put himself in the shop window, rather than us getting in contact with him.

Tribute: AC Milan fans were sad to see Gattuso call time on his San Siro career

Tribute: AC Milan fans were sad to see Gattuso call time on his San Siro career

'Nothing has been discussed in terms of players coming in but we certainly wouldn't rule anything out at this stage.'

Rangers are under a transfer embrago but their appeal will be heard this week.

Gattuso was sold to Salernitana when Dick Advocaat took over from walter Smith as rangers boss and the midfielder spent a season there before joining Milan.

He has won two Champions Leagues, two Serie A titles and one Italian Cup.