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Premier League referees: Graham Poll verdict for November 17 and 18

Sportsmail's expert guide to the refs in charge for this weekend's big games

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UPDATED:

13:31 GMT, 16 November 2012

Howard Webb once again takes centre stage this weekend, charged with looking after the north London derby in Saturday's early kick-off.

Webb's achievements on the world stage have given him supreme confidence in environments such as this, and it was interesting to see him maintain a perfect demeanour throughout Chelsea v Liverpool last week.

His calmness seems to transmit itself through to the players who accept his decisions even when they are debatable.

Hot seat: Howard Webb (left) takes charge of the weekend's biggest fixture

Hot seat: Howard Webb (left) takes charge of the weekend's biggest fixture

The season so far….

All the latest referee stats and facts in the Premier League

Pierluigi Collina, who is clearly
influencing Webb’s style, always said you would be considered a very
good referee when the players accepted your decisions even in the event
you were wrong.

Webb has certainly achieved that status now and deserves the big appointments on a regular basis.

Arsenal v Tottenham – Webb (G 7, YC 30, RC 1)

I refereed the first north London derby at Emirates Stadium, following the the Gunners' move from Highbury – a game they won 3-0 – and it was a superb atmosphere.

The bad blood and acrimony this fixture used to have in droves has all but disappeared on the field, with less and less local lads in either of the squads.

However, there is always plenty of hostility between rival fans, and referees are well aware how this can affect players attitudes. Webb will be looking to quieten the game down.

Also, it will be interesting to see how attentive he is at set pieces after missing Luis Suarez push before the Liverpool striker equalised at Stamford Bridge last weekend.

Webb has refereed both teams in away wins this season; Arsenal 2-0 at Anfield and Spurs 3-1 at Reading.

Tense atmosphere: The North London derby is always a stunning spectacle

Tense atmosphere: The North London derby is always a stunning spectacle

QPR v Southampton – Mike Dean (G 8, YC 27, RC 1)

It's very early in the season for a game to be 'must win', but the clash of the bottom two teams is just that. Dean will be well aware of the desperation for both sides to win.

This affects attitudes as tempers are lost quicker and Rangers, as has happened all too often, end up playing with 10 men.

Dean was having a quiet season in disciplinary terms but his eight cautions and the dismissal of Jack Wilshere in the Manchester United v Arsenal game a fortnight ago has pushed his average up to over three a game.

This is Dean’s first game with Rangers since their last day defeat at Manchester City, but he has refereed Southampton in their 2-3 defeat against Manchester United.

Big decisions: Anthony Taylor

Big decisions: Anthony Taylor

Norwich v Man United – Anthony Taylor G8, YC 14, RC 3

Manchester based referee Taylor is enjoying an excellent season and returns to Premier League action after a live Championship game between Leicester City and Nottingham Forest last weekend.

I thought he performed well, though he was lambasted by Foxes boss Nigel Pearson for a penalty decision which got Forest back into the game.

He is happy making big decisions as his three red cards show. Importantly, all have been correct.

Taylor refereed Norwich’s defeat at Stamford Bridge and United’s Capital One Cup win at Old Trafford against Newcastle.

Fixtures elsewhere…

Reading v Everton – Martin Atkinson G9, YC35, RC1

West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea – Michael Oliver G6, YC13, RC1

Manchester City v Aston Villa – Jon Moss G5, YC21, RC1

Newcastle United v Swansea City – Phil Dowd G6, YC18, RC2

Liverpool v Wigan Athletic – Kevin Friend G6, YC22, RC1

Fulham v Sunderland – Lee Probert G6, YC19, RC0

West Ham United v Stoke City – Chris Foy G8, YC14, RC0

David Ferrer beats Jerzy Janowicz in Paris Masters final

Murray's conqueror Janowicz beaten in Paris final by London-bound Ferrer

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UPDATED:

16:26 GMT, 4 November 2012

Polish qualifier Jerzy Janowicz could not complete his fairytale week after he was dispatched in straight sets in the Paris Masters final by Spaniard David Ferrer.

World number 69 Janowicz has beaten, among others, top-10 players Andy Murray and Janko Tipsarevic en route to Sunday's showpiece event but he proved no match for Ferrer.

The fourth seed ensured he will enter next week's ATP World Tour Finals in London in supreme confidence after a 6-4 6-3 win gave him his first Masters 1000 crown.

David Ferrer celebrates victory against Jerzy Janowicz

David Ferrer celebrates victory against Jerzy Janowicz

Party time: David Ferrer celebrates victory against Jerzy Janowicz

Muhammad Ali receives Liberty Medal

Ali receives Liberty Medal in Philadelphia for lifetime role as humanitarian fighter

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UPDATED:

10:46 GMT, 14 September 2012

Muhammad Ali received another title for his legendary collection on Thursday when he was honoured with a Liberty Medal for his role as a humanitarian fighter.

The boxing legend took centre stage at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to receive the award for his longtime role outside the ring as a fighter for humanitarian causes, civil rights and religious freedom.

The three-time world heavyweight champion received an honour that his wife, Lonnie Ali, called 'overwhelming'.

Scroll down for video

Family affair: Ali receives the award from his daughter Laila in a ceremony which the legendary fighter's family describe as 'overwhelming'

Family affair: Ali receives the award from his daughter Laila in a ceremony which the legendary fighter's family described as 'overwhelming'

She said: 'It is especially humbling for Muhammad, who has said on many occasions, “All I did was to stand up for what I believe”.'

70-year-old Ali, who has battled Parkinson's disease for three decades, stood with assistance to receive the medal from his daughter Laila Ali.

He looked down at his medal for several moments and then waved to the crowd. The award comes with a $100,000 cash prize.

Ali was born Cassius Clay but changed his name after converting to Islam in the 1960s. He refused to serve in the Vietnam War because of his religious beliefs and was stripped of his heavyweight crown in 1967.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling later cleared him of a draft evasion conviction, and he regained the boxing title in 1974 and again 1978.

Legend: The boxing icon received the award from his daughter Laila for his lifetime role as a fighter for humanitarian causes

Legend: The boxing icon received the award from his daughter Laila for his lifetime role as a fighter for humanitarian causes

Legend: The boxing icon received the award from his daughter Laila for his lifetime role as a fighter for humanitarian causes

One of his most famous fights took place in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he battled George Foreman in the 'Rumble in the Jungle' in 1974.

At the ceremony, retired NBA star Dikembe Mutombo recalled the impression Ali's visit made on him as an 8-year-old growing up in that country.

'He changed my life,' said Mutombo, who also is a trustee of the Constitution Center. 'I can never forget how inspired I was to see a black athlete receive such respect and admiration.

'He changed how the people of Zaire saw themselves, and in turn how the world saw them.'

Since hanging up his gloves in 1981, Ali has traveled extensively on international charitable missions and devoted his time to social causes.

Ali received the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2005. He also has established the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Research Center in Phoenix and a namesake educational and cultural institute in his hometown, Louisville, Ky.

The National Constitution Center, which
opened in 2003, is dedicated to increasing public understanding of the
Constitution and the ideas and values it represents.

One of a kind: Ali's family, including his wife Lonnie (second left) and sister-in-law Marilyn Williams (right) said the icon received the award despite 'standing up for what he believes in'

One of a kind: Ali's family, including his wife Lonnie (second left) and sister-in-law Marilyn Williams (right) said the icon received the award despite 'standing up for what he believes in'

Another title for the collection: Ali, who has been battling Parkinson's disease for three decades, did not speak at the award ceremony

Another title for the collection: Ali, who has been battling Parkinson's disease for three decades, did not speak at the award ceremony

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London 2012 Paralympics: Will these Games capture the nation"s imagination?

Revolution games: Will we fall in love with the Paralympics… who knows

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UPDATED:

22:51 GMT, 29 August 2012

At 9am on Thursday, a brave new world unfolds in east London. The first competitive action of the 2012 Paralympic Games begins, with the Great Britain men’s goalball team among the first athletes to compete inside the Olympic Park.

Three members of the British team wearing eye masks will take on world champions Lithuania and try to roll a ball containing bells into their opponents’ net.

Who knows what will happen after that.

The stage is set: The Paralympic Games opened on Wednesday night in a glitzy ceremony

The stage is set: The Paralympic Games opened on Wednesday night in a glitzy ceremony

London calling: Following the success of the Olympic Games, the capital will play host to the Paralympic alternative

London calling: Following the success of the Olympic Games, the capital will play host to the Paralympic alternative

Star attraction: Professor Stephen Hawking played his part in the Opening Ceremony

Star attraction: Professor Stephen Hawking played his part in the Opening Ceremony

Races and matches will be held,
medals will be won and lost, records will be broken and injuries
suffered. But we don’t yet know how these events will be received.

Will we witness the first sold-out
day in Paralympics history because patriotic punters want to paint their
faces red, white and blue again and tour the venues where the Olympians
performed, like a lap of honour on a day out Or is there a genuine
desire to see this country’s Paralympians sustain — or even better — the
phenomenal achievements of their Olympic compatriots; to watch some of
the world’s finest athletes attain supreme success and then look back
with pride and think, ‘I was there.’

Nobody really knows. There is
potential excitement and exhilaration in this sense of the unknown, but
it’s nerve-racking, too. As the opening ceremony showed us in
borrowing heavily from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, this is a brave new
world after all.

The choice of theme was apt. When it
comes to the Paralympics, it is hard not to feel that same
disorientating sensation of suddenly being thrust on to a strange
island; a landscape littered with beings with which we are not familiar.

Even a multiple gold medallist such
as Great Britain’s equestrian star Lee Pearson, who will surpass Dame
Tanni Grey-Thompson if he wins his 12th gold in London, is not a
household name.

5 paralympians to watch

5 paralympians to watch

Boccia could as well be a type of
Italian bread as a game of tactics and skill, similar to boules. Is
sitting volleyball really a discipline that will have you shouting and
screaming when points are won and lost

There has been much talk about the
Paralympics ‘coming home’ to the country where the first organised
competitions for disabled people were held in 1948, yet the concept is
still very much uncharted territory.

As the Olympics showed, however, the
rules and regulations of this strange new world should not be a barrier
to revelling in it. Few could confidently explain the intricacies of
Charlotte Dujardin’s performance in winning dressage team and individual
gold, or exactly how Jade Jones fought her way to become Britain’s
first taekwondo gold medallist, but that did not stop us enjoying and,
crucially, sharing in the experience.

/08/29/article-2195458-14BDE64F000005DC-413_470x423.jpg

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Britain’s judokas noted the crowd’s
reactions in the ExCeL Arena were much more delayed than on the Grand
Prix circuit as they waited for scores to appear on the board rather
than celebrating a successful ippon as it happened. But none of that
seemed to matter. It was still sport — glorious and emotional, with
winners and losers, triumph and disaster.

But will this brave new world of the
Paralympics be a sporting one, too That’s the Utopia, but the potential
reality carries a nagging, underlying uncertainty about the next 11
days: we really don’t know what to expect.

Wednesday night’s opening ceremony
was about challenging perception, not celebrating the British platform
on which the best athletes on the globe had their opportunity to be the
very best they could be.

Interest: More than 2.4 million tickets for the Paralympic Games have already been sold, including half a million to overseas visitors

Interest: More than 2.4 million tickets for the Paralympic Games have already been sold, including half a million to overseas visitors

Interest: More than 2.4 million tickets for the Paralympic Games have already been sold, including half a million to overseas visitors

Interest: More than 2.4 million tickets for the Paralympic Games have already been sold, including half a million to overseas visitors

Is the Paralympic movement, then,
about increasing awareness around disability or is it actually about
‘hardcore sport’, to borrow a phrase from Oscar Pistorius Can it ever
be both

Sometimes it doesn’t seem as if it is
particularly sure; it’s just happy to be here and to enjoy its moment
in the spotlight. Yet, sport has to be at the heart of this Paralympics
if it is to be a genuine success — with a genuine legacy.

When Britain’s world record-holder
Jonnie Peacock takes on world champion Jerome Singleton and defending
Paralympic champion Pistorius in the final of the men’s T44 100metres on
Monday night, we must look past the prosthetic legs and see the
sporting spectacle: three men aiming to be the quickest in their field, a
Paralympic gold medallist.

Flying the flag: All eyes will be on London for the Paralympic Games which runs over the next fortnight

Flying the flag: All eyes will be on London for the Paralympic Games which runs over the next fortnight

Flying the flag: All eyes will be on London for the Paralympic Games which runs over the next fortnight

Flying the flag: All eyes will be on London for the Paralympic Games which runs over the next fortnight

We have to see the competitors as
athletes, not just inspirational role models or uplifting individuals
who have overcome extraordinary obstacles, but athletes; sportsmen and
women gunning for gold medals.

They want to be discussed not in
terms of the limbs they have lost or never had, but the hundredths of
seconds they shaved off their personal bests, the points they scored and
the metres they gained.

If we don’t talk about them in those
terms then it’s just one big show: very nice for a week and a half but
offering little to tell the grandchildren. We will start to become
hardened to the stories of bomb raids, car crashes and genetic
conditions, which would be the biggest disappointment of all. The
Paralympics will never have a better opportunity to break through the
glass ceiling in this country, just like actress Nicola Miles-Wildin,
playing Miranda, did physically inside the Olympic Stadium.

Pack your umbrella: Although the wet weather eased for the opening ceremony

Pack your umbrella: Although the wet weather eased for the opening ceremony

Stat's interesting: 18,000 LED lights were included in the performers' hat brims, while 23 sway poles featured in the opening ceremony

Stat's interesting: 18,000 LED lights were included in the performers' hat brims, while 23 sway poles featured in the opening ceremony

The British team is backed by almost
50million of funding and will perform in front of packed crowds and a
free-to-air TV audience, offering nearly 500 hours of action on Channel
4. This is the Paralympics’ opportunity to show its brave new world is
an exciting sporting place to be.

So will the apples we were all encouraged to bite into on Wednesday night
symbolise Sir Isaac Newton’s moment of inspiration or the poisoned fruit
eaten by Snow White

Nobody knows. But let’s hope the
closing ceremony on September 9 heralds not a fairytale ending, but a
new beginning for Paralympic sport.

GAME ZONE:

Holmes honoured
Nine -time Paralympic gold medallist Chris Holmes will be inducted into the Visa Paralympic Hall of Fame. Holmes, who lost his sight as a teenager, competed at four Games and was made an MBE for his services to sport. He is the director of Paralympic integration at LOCOG.

Class Distinction
British swimmer Ellie Simmonds will avoid her main rival for the S6 100m and 400m freestyle after American Victoria Arlen was reclassified. Arlen, 17, returned to swimming last year after a neurological virus left her in a vegetative stage for two years.

Playing hardball
Simon Munn wants the wheelchair basketball to be the fiercest test he has experienced in six Paralympics. 'If it's not worth winning then why go out there It's got to mean something, it's got to be tough,' he said.

Dancing Queen
British dressage rider Sophie Wells is taking inspiration from the GB Olympic gold medal team. 'We realised how captivating dancing horses could be this summer and our para-dressage riders should remind us all over again,' she said. 'The able-bodied team did really well, and that inspires us.'

Peacock: I'm loving it
Jonnie Peacock is enjoying his first Games. The 19-year-old British sprinter, who will race Oscar Pistorius in the T44 100m, tweeted a picture of the 'pretty big' food hall at the athletes' village and wrote: 'Look what will be waiting for me after the final! ;)' Needless to say, it's a McDonald's.

BY LAURIE WHITWELL

London Olympics 2012: Tom Daley wins diving bronze

This medal's for you Dad! Poster boy Daley delivers bronze in diving thriller

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UPDATED:

10:22 GMT, 12 August 2012

Tom Daley spectacularly won the Olympic medal his late father Rob always believed was his destiny.

At 18, Daley delivered the most heart-warming bronze medal of these Games.

In the ecstatic crowd, his mother,
Debbie, younger brothers Will and Ben, and his grandparents wept tears
of joy for Tom; and tears of remembrance for Rob.

Show us your medal: Tom Daley shows off his Olympic bronze medal

Show us your medal: Tom Daley shows off his Olympic bronze medal

Here we go: Tom Daley is thrown into the pool after winning his bronze medal

Here we go: Tom Daley is thrown into the pool after winning his bronze medal

'I wish my dad could have been here,'
said Daley. 'I'm so happy. After losing my dad, and all the tough
experiences and hard times, it's about time my family had some good
news.

'Although it's a bronze medal, for
me it's like a gold medal as it's a symbol of all the hard work I have
put in. It's one of those things I have wanted for so long, to compete
in front of a home crowd and I wanted it to go the way I wanted it to.

Surprise winner: David Boudia celebrates his gold for USA

Surprise winner: David Boudia celebrates his gold for USA

'I went out there and gave it my best
shot. I did absolutely everything and with a shaky start having to do a
re-dive because of the flash photography.

'That's one downside of the homecrowd
thing, but honestly I'm just so happy. I just can't wait to go and see
my family and just have a massive bundle. It's going to be great.'

Close contest: Qiu Bo was in contention throughout

Close contest: Qiu Bo was in contention throughout

Leading man: Tom Daley took the lead with one round to go

Leading man: Tom Daley took the lead with one round to go

Only a final dive of supreme
excellence from America's David Boudia, to claim the gold, and another
from China's Qiu Bo, deprived him of a medal of a more dazzling colour.

Daley was not the least bit
disappointed. He wore a smile the width of the diving pool. He danced
with his team-mates on the deck, then frolicked with them in the water.

He had offered an exemplary performance under the most intense scrutiny.

Second life: Tom Daley was allowed to repeat his first dive after complaining about the camera flashes

Second life: Tom Daley was allowed to repeat his first dive after complaining about the camera flashes

Top man: But Tom Daley had some tough competition

Top man: But Tom Daley had some tough competition

And he thoroughly deserved the
ovation he received from the crowd, which included David Beckham, as he
walked around the pool as flags were waved in his honour.

No child unwrapping his gifts at
Christmas has ever looked happier than Daley when he received his
Olympic medal here last night.

As he grabbed a Union flag, to be
worn like a cloak on a celebratory lap of honour, cameramen scrambled to
find the best angle to photograph him.

Boudia must have wondered who had won
the Olympic title, while Bo looked like a man who understood that
silver was not going to placate the diving commissars back in China.

Great reception: Tom Daley enjoyed fantastic support

Great reception: Tom Daley enjoyed fantastic support

On the most important night of his
life, Daley reacted to the burden of expectation on him with the
ice-cold demeanour of a man untouched by nerves, and undiminished by the
enormity of his task.

Daley appeared the coolest man in town.

Yet with a bronze medal draped from
his neck, he admitted afterwards: 'To be honest, I was very nervous. I
went into it with a do-or-die mentality.'

Perhaps more has happened in the life of Daley than any other athlete who appeared at the last Olympics in Beijing.

The death of his father 15 months ago, at just 40, is one more burden Daley has had to shoulder.

Tom boy: Tom Daley recovered after a tricky start

Tom boy: Tom Daley recovered after a tricky start

From the moment he was selected to dive in Beijing, he was anointed the poster boy of London 2012.

Casually, we reminded ourselves that
he was still at school; yet since Beijing, he has grown more than five
inches in height to 5ft 9in, and now weighs a muscular 11st 4lb, at
least 25lb heavier than he had been when he became the second youngest
athlete in history to represent Team GB at an Olympic Games.

Daley's evening began controversially
as he strode belligerently towards the senior official of the
competition to lodge an irate protest after his first dive.

Golden moment: David Boudia won for USA

Golden moment: David Boudia won for USA

His coach, Andy Banks, had already
arrived to register his own displeasure at the number of flash bulbs
from cameras within the audience. After a brief conversation, the judges agreed.

He was awarded a re-dive – and Daley
seized the moment to deliver his backward two-and-a-half somersaults,
twoand- a-half twists with pike with such a distinct improvement that he
was in third place after the first round.

He never looked back, and his
fourth-round dive on the most important night of his life – the Big
Four-and-a-Half – was an absolute triumph, moving him into the bronze
medal position.

Briefly, he held top spot; but then Boudia and Bo flew without mishap and the bronze was his.

Banks was the first to hug him, a clasp round the shoulders that acknowledged how far they had travelled together.

Topsy turvy: Daley's repeat first-round dive scored very high

Topsy turvy: Daley's repeat first-round dive scored very high

'Tom's already talking about competing in Rio,' said Banks.

Beckham had been texting Daley, and Prime Minister David Cameron had been to see him.

Gordon Brown, then Prime Minister, was in the best seats when Daley finished eighth in the Olympic final four years ago.

In January, he was photographed with London Mayor Boris Johnson on the 10-metre board.

Home crowd: Tom Daley's mother Debbie, and brother William, watch the diving final

Home crowd: Tom Daley's mother Debbie, and brother William, watch the diving final

Daley's comfort in such company has always come easily to him.

Now he is unafraid to consider himself to be responsible, in some part, for the future of his mum and brothers.

Last night Tom Daley's brave performance may not have won him the Olympic title, but it enhanced his reputation as a young man who is destined to remain at the forefront of British public life.

London 2012 Olympics: Zara Phillips shines in Greenwich

Zara shines in Greenwich to stay in the hunt for an Olympic medal

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UPDATED:

17:06 GMT, 30 July 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
EVENT SCHEDULE |
MEDALS TABLE

Zara Phillips delivered a stunning performance in front of 50,000 people on her Olympics cross-country debut at Greenwich Park to keep Great Britain firmly in medal contention.

The Queen's granddaughter was watched from the main arena stands by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cornwall – and she did not disappoint her audience.

The 31-year-old former world champion produced a clear round inside the time, completing a course that claimed its fair share of casualties.

What a view: Zara Phillips rides High Kingdom on the cross country course during the Eventing at Greenwich Park

What a view: Zara Phillips rides High Kingdom on the cross country course during the Eventing at Greenwich Park

Making a splash: Phillips was in fine form as she aimed for glory

Making a splash: Phillips was in fine form as she aimed for glory

Seven of the first 27 combinations fell and were eliminated, but Phillips kept supreme control all the way around a testing track that was very slippery in places.

Her team-mate Nicola Wilson also went clear inside the time aboard Opposition Buzz, while 51-year-old Mary King collected just 1.2 time penalties on Imperial Cavalier.

The British could not have hoped for better displays from their first three riders – and they still had former European champion Tina Cook and current world number one William Fox-Pitt to go.

Phillips said: 'I am so happy. He is such a dude. He lost a front shoe, so he really stepped up. He was awesome – the course was very suitable for him.'

Five combinations were clear inside the time as the competition entered its second half – Phillips, Wilson, Germany's Ingrid Klimke, Sweden's Sara Algotsson Ostholt and Australian Christopher Burton.

Go girl: Zara Phillips

Go girl: Zara Phillips

Go girl: Phillips seemed to enjoy her ride around the famous park

Phillips punched the air as she went through the finish to an ecstatic reception from an adoring crowd as she finished on her dressage score of 46.10.

Earlier, Canadian rider Hawley Bennett-Awad required medical attention after falling at fence three, with her condition described by organisers as “stable” while she underwent further assessment in an on-course ambulance.

Belgian Carl Bouckaert fell at the same fence, while Japan's Takayuki Yumira also parted company with his horse Latina, which required the horse being treated.

The combined effect meant that King and Imperial Cavalier were about 25 minutes late starting their round after Wilson had given the host nation a flying start. The combination are regarded among the world's leading cross-country exponents, and they lived up to that billing.

The world and European team gold medallists delivered a brilliant round, finishing almost 12 seconds inside the time allowed of 10 minutes, three seconds.

Famous faces: William, Kate and Harry were among those watching on

Famous faces: William, Kate and Harry were among those watching on

An elated Wilson, who was called into the Olympic team after Piggy French's horse DHI Topper W suffered an injury last month, remained on her dressage score of 51.70 penalties. Fans ran over to congratulate her after she finished finishing the course, some waving union flags. She pumped her hand in the air and waved.

'He was just unreal, what a fantastic horse,' Wilson said. 'This is his favourite stage by far. When he gets to go cross-country day it's like all his birthdays and Christmases have come at once. He never fails to give me the wow factor.'

King, meanwhile, utilised all her experience, kept concentration, and she completed the course with just 1.2 time penalties, taking her overall score to 42.10 and into the lead ahead of Burton despite being briefly held on course while Yumira's horse was attended to.

King danced with happiness when she looked up at the scoreboard and saw she was in the lead. She ran over to kiss her daughter before speaking to journalists.

'It was a great place to be stopped, so it was an advantage to us really,' King said. You can pick up the speed before they stop the stop watch that they've had running through your stoppage time. There was a nice straightforward fence ahead and I managed to gallop through it at a really nice stride.'

Mario Balotelli and Roberto Mancini in "angry" exchange

Talking tactics or a telling off Balotelli gets private training ground chat with Mancini

PUBLISHED:

16:51 GMT, 9 May 2012

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UPDATED:

16:51 GMT, 9 May 2012

So what's he done now then Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is busy preparing his side for Sunday's title decider at home to QPR.

But he had to take time out during Wednesday's training session at Carrington to pull controversial striker Mario Balotelli to one side.

listen here: Mario Balotelli was taken to one side to be spoken to by manager Roberto Mancini

listen here: Mario Balotelli was taken to one side to be spoken to by manager Roberto Mancini

listen here: Mario Balotelli was taken to one side to be spoken to by manager Roberto Mancini

The pair appeared to hold an animated
discussion with Mancini waving his finger at Balotelli, in what looked
to be a bit of a grilling.

After he was sent off at Arsenal last month, Mancini initially warned that Balotelli would never play for the club again.

Despite backtracking on that
statement days later, the former Inter Milan striker has yet to make an
appearance for City since returning from a three-match ban – coinciding
with the club overturning an eight-point gap from rivals Manchester
United.

They now head into the final day of
the Barclays Premier League needing only to equal Sir Alex Ferguson's
side's result at Sunderland in order to lift their first championship
since 1968.

Back with the boys: After his talking to, Balotelli joined in with the rest of the title-chasing squad

Back with the boys: After his talking to, Balotelli joined in with the rest of the title-chasing squad

City host the side with worst away
record in the top flight and after last weekend's impressive 2-0 win at
Champions League chasing Newcastle go into the showdown with supreme
confidence that they can end their 44-year title wait.

But Balotelli – despite his 13 goals
in the league this season – looks like he'll have to settle for a place
on the bench with Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko all above
him in the City pecking order.

Perhaps that was what Mancini was attempting to explain…

Lukas Podolski: I"ll win Arsenal trophies

I'll win Arsenal trophies, roars Podolski… but 11m striker admits he's never met Wenger!

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UPDATED:

21:48 GMT, 2 May 2012

Lukas Podolski vowed to end Arsenal's title drought after explaining why he turned down both Milan clubs and Schalke in favour of a near-11million move to the Emirates.

Admitting that he accepted a four-year deal worth around 100,000 a week without visiting the club or meeting boss Arsene Wenger, the Cologne forward, 26, said: 'The target must be to win titles over the next couple of years. That is a given when you join a club like Arsenal, and I believe I can help make it happen.

Feed the goat and he will score: Lukas Podolski poses with the FC Cologne mascot

Feed the goat and he will score: Lukas Podolski poses with the FC Cologne mascot

'Arsenal are a good fit for me, and that's why I didn't consider the other offers.'

Meanwhile, Wenger has called for a committee with the power to over-rule referees.

FA rules state a player cannot be disciplined retrospectively for an incident if any of the officials saw it.

On the move: Podolski leaves a press conference in Cologne after talking about his Arsenal switch

On the move: Podolski leaves a press conference in Cologne after talking about his Arsenal switch

Wenger said: 'I am convinced a committee with a supreme authority – an ethics committee – could make sure justice is done.'

Mervyn Davies dead; Peter Jackson tribute

Peter Jackson: Goodbye Merv… you were a giant among giants

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UPDATED:

22:01 GMT, 16 March 2012

Moments after Wales had beaten France to the Grand Slam at Cardiff Arms Park, Mervyn Davies sat in a corner of the dressing room unfurling his trademark white bandana.

Ignoring the bedlam all around him, as well as a gaping hole in one leg which he would live with for the rest of his days, the Wales captain addressed the question of what next for the supreme champions of European rugby.

‘Three Grand Slams in a row,’ he said in that understated, matter-of-fact way of his, dragging on a cigarette. ‘This team will get better. We are only at the beginning of what we can achieve. Nothing is impossible.’

Skipper: Mervyn Davies will be remembered for leading Wales to success

Skipper: Mervyn Davies will be remembered for leading Wales to success

The events of that day, Saturday March
6, 1976, confirmed that Davies truly had the world at his feet, that
there was still no limit to the history he would continue to make in the
two, at most three seasons left. ‘Merv the Swerve’ would go on giving
the history books the runaround for some time yet.

He had already won a Test series against the All Blacks for the Lions,
been an integral part of the invincible team in South Africa and only a
few weeks before the denouement against France he had been asked to go
back to New Zealand the following year as captain.

The greatest All Black of them all, Colin Meads, has always sworn that
the Lions would never have won the 1971 series without Davies. As the
tributes flooded in, that of old ‘Pine Tree’ stood out. ‘Mervyn
dominated the back of the line-out in that series,’ he said. ‘He stopped
us playing.’

The all-round skills of a supreme No 8 were the indestructible rudder
steering his team through the storms. An unusually high pain threshold
meant he would rarely succumb to injury, an iron will to win tested as
never before during that Grand Slam decider when he defied the torture
of a calf muscle punctured by a French stud.

Memories: Davies starred at the highest level - for Wales and the Lions

Memories: Davies starred at the highest level – for Wales and the Lions

Nobody knew then that he would never play for Wales again, that he had
less than half an hour’s rugby left. Three weeks after the triple Grand
Slam prophecy he was back in Cardiff fighting for his life after
suffering a brain haemorrhage 28 minutes into a Welsh Cup semi-final for
Swansea against Pontypool.

There were claims that he ‘died’ twice during the short ambulance
journey from the Arms Park to hospital and Davies admitted he stopped
breathing ‘two or three times’. The neurosurgeon, Robert Weekes,
admitted that Davies was indeed fighting for his life and the gravity of
his condition was such that they had to wait nine days before
operating.

‘They cut along my hairline from the centre of my forehead to the tip of
my ear, peeled back my skin, drilled a hole in my skull and got on with
the job,’ Davies said in a book on Welsh greats entitled Triumph and
Tragedy. ‘The stakes were high. The slightest mistake could have caused
irreparable damage or even death.’

Davies had survived a brain
haemorrhage four years earlier playing for London Welsh against London
Irish which ought to have ended his rugby career there and then in April
1972. True to form, he went the distance despite a headache which he
likened to ‘the entire All Black pack doing the Haka inside my skull’.

Honoured: Davies with comedians Eric Morecambe (left) and Ernie Wise after they had received the OBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 1976

Honoured: Davies with comedians Eric Morecambe (left) and Ernie Wise after they had received the OBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 1976

‘Really, my career should have ended there and then,’ he said when we
reminisced at his home in Swansea one day last summer about the old
times. ‘Other players, like Bill Beaumont and Keith Jarrett, had a
similar sort of thing and had to retire. I was fortunate to have four
more years.’

He found it hard to come to terms with the catastrophic after-effects of
the second haemorrhage. Suddenly, the all-conquering Welsh Lion found
himself unable to beat his infant son at tiddlywinks.

Never the same again but grateful to be alive, ‘Swerve’ forged an
alternative career as a pundit and after-dinner speaker with a sharp
line in self-deprecation, always happier talking about others. How
poignant that after a four-month illness the man who played 20 times for
Wales in Cardiff and lost just once, to Ian Kirkpatrick’s All Blacks by
three points, should pass away on the eve of another Wales-France Grand
Slam finale. He was only 65.

Flags at the Millennium Stadium were immediately lowered to half-mast, a
fitting tribute to a giant among giants who might have been the only
man to have won a Grand Slam hat-trick and back-to-back series victories
for the Lions in New Zealand, if only fate had not played the dirtiest
of tricks.

He is survived by his second wife Jeni, son Christopher and daughter Laura.

Andy Murray beats Marco Baghdatis in Brisbane: British No 1 reaches semis

Murray's in a hurry as British No 1 beats Baghdatis to reach semis

Top seed Andy Murray showed no mercy to doubles partner Marcos Baghdatis as he cruised to a 6-2 6-2 victory in the quarter-finals of the ATP Brisbane International.

The British No 1, who along with the Cypriot was knocked out of the doubles competition on Thursday, was quick out of the blocks and looked full of confidence as he raced into a 4-0 lead which he never looked in danger of relinquishing.

Baghdatis proved a trickier proposition at the start of the second set but when Murray clinched the first break in game five it was only a matter of time.

At ease: Andy Murray showed supreme confidence in dispatching Marco Baghdatis

At ease: Andy Murray showed supreme confidence in dispatching Marco Baghdatis

The world No 4 had slow starts in his opening two rounds, losing the first sets against both Mikhail Kukushkin and Gilles Muller, but looked sharp from the outset on Pat Rafter Arena.

His powerful forehands troubled the 2006 Australian Open runner-up from the word go, a Baghdatis double fault handing Murray the opening game before the Scot clinched a second break to love in game three.

Baghdatis got on the board by holding serve at the third time of asking, but never looked like threatening the Murray serve as the Briton held firm to win the opening set.

The start of the second set was a much tighter affair than the first, Baghdatis holding his opening two games and forcing a break point in game four which Murray saved thanks to his serve-and-volley tactics.

Victory: Murray surges into the final four of the Brisbane International

Victory: Murray surges into the final four of the Brisbane International

Murray made his rival pay for that missed opportunity by securing a break of his own in the next game, and consolidated that advantage by holding serve – saving another break point – to go 4-2 up.

Another break followed as crowd favourite Baghdatis ran out of steam, Murray completing an impressive win with minimum fuss.

Nineteen-year-old Tomic later set up a mouthwatering semi-final clash with Murray by posting a straight-sets triumph over Istomin.

In a match dominated by serve, Tomic needed a little over 79 minutes to wrap up the 6-3 7-6 (7/4) victory and clinch his spot in the last four.

Second and third seeds Gilles Simon and Alexandr Dolgopolov claimed their places in the last four on Thursday.