Tuesday 30 July 2013

Rory Lamont Injury Claims

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Claims by former Scotland full-back Rory Lamont that players are pressured to play through injuries is to be investigated by his home rugby union.

Lamont says treatment of concussions in particular is a ticking health time bomb waiting to explode worldwide.

But Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson expressed surprise at the suggestions by the now-retired Lamont.

"We're right at the cutting edge of medical care and we mean to stay in that position," said Dodson.

"We have a world-leading medical team led by Doctor James Robson, who is respected throughout the world and who's a British Lions doctor.

"I'll have a look at it and I'm sure James will.

"We look after our players extremely well and ensure these people are fit, looked after properly and only reintroduced to the field when they're fit enough to do so.

"Moreover, we're talking to the RIB at the moment about concussion protocols that exist and the experiment that's taking place."

Lamont failed to fully recover after breaking his leg against France in a 2012 Six Nations match and the 30-year-old former Glasgow Warriors full-back announced his retirement from rugby in April because of the injury.

He recalled the autumn Test against New Zealand in 2010 when he started the match nursing a hamstring injury and failed to finish the match.

"I didn't feel that I could withdraw myself from that match," he said.

"I was unsure if I was going to be able to make it through the game. I felt that I didn't really have a choice if I wanted to keep on trying to be picked for Scotland and keep a good relationship with the coaches."

Lamont said he had witnessed players cheating concussion tests in a bid to be back in action before they are safely ready.

"Unless people identify the issues and come out and actually speak about it then things aren't going to change," he said.

"At the moment, it's a ticking time-bomb with the concussions. Sometimes you can be put under a huge amount of pressure, where you feel you have no other choice but to take the field, when you know there are possible consequences."

Perthshire-born Lamont won 29 caps for Scotland after making his debut against Wales in 2005.

His first spell with Glasgow was from 2004 to 2007, when he scored 19 tries in 55 games before moving to Sale Sharks and then Toulon.

He left the French club to rejoin Glasgow in 2011 but only made six appearances in his second stint.

"I spent a whole season with a broken scaphoid when I was at Toulon and I was refused a scan on it," added Lamont. "They just kept playing it down as something insignificant, whereas effectively I was running the risk of arthritis in later life by not having it fixed."

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Sunday 28 July 2013

Hamilton Completes Hungary Miracle

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Lewis Hamilton had said it would be a miracle if Mercedes were to win the Hungarian Grand Prix, given he was expecting to struggle with tyre wear in the anticipated 50 degrees C track temperatures. Instead, in a gripping race in which the tension ran high throughout, he duly delivered that miracle as he joined the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss as a Grand Prix winner for the three-pointed star.

The race began with Hamilton maintaining his advantage from pole position as Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was slow away and had to fight very hard to push Romain Grosjean wide and prevent the Lotus from taking second. Fernando Alonso jumped up to fourth from Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa, whose left front-wing endplate was damaged in a collision with the slow-starting Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, whose race went to pieces thereafter.

Vettel closed initially on Hamilton, but it soon became clear that the Englishman was not running into the massive tyre degradation that he had been anticipating, despite the high temperature throughout the 70 laps.

Hamilton was the first lead runner to pit to switch from soft to medium Pirellis, on the ninth lap, followed by Vettel on the 11th, Alonso on the 12th and Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen on the 13th. That put Mark Webber into the lead after he’d started his Red Bull on the medium tyres, but as Hamilton regained second, Vettel lost crucial time behind Jenson Button’s medium tyre-shod McLaren.

When Webber pitted on the 22nd lap Hamilton went back into the lead until the 31st, and regained it three laps later when Vettel pitted again.

By half distance it was clear that the Mercedes was not going to fade as it had done in Germany, setting up a tense denouement as two-stopping Raikkonen came into the equation when Hamilton and Vettel made their final stops on the 50th and 55th laps respectively. By then Hamilton had escaped and was seven seconds clear of Raikkonen, who had his hands full on worn tyres fending off the Red Bull. 

It got close at times, but the Finn is no pushover and held on to second to repeat the two leading positions from 2012. Vettel had to be satisfied with third, annoyed with himself for damaging his front wing in the battle with Button, and must have pondered what might have been as Raikkonen immediately pulled off into the pit lane exit after crossing the line.

Webber had to do a late stop to switch to the soft tyres, and dropped back to a nonetheless excellent fourth after a strong run following his qualifying dramas.

Alonso clung on to fifth after a typically gritty race in a less than fully competitive Ferrari, and for the last 32 laps he had Grosjean within a second of him yet never yielded to the pressure. The Frenchman pulled off a terrific around-the-outside overtaking move on Massa at Turn 4, but later brushed Button’s McLaren in one of the top chicanes while following Vettel past it on the 24th lap. 

Later Grosjean received a drive-through penalty for gaining an advantage by running off the road while passing Massa, which ruined his chances of victory, and was also handed a 20-second post-race penalty for the incident with Button. However, as he held a 21.524 second advantage over the Briton at the flag, he retained his sixth place finish.

In one of McLaren’s strongest performances of the season Button held on for seventh ahead of Massa, with Sergio Perez in the other MP4-28 taking ninth as Pastor Maldonado’s 10th finally garnered a 2013 point for Williams.

Behind the FW35, Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg just held on for 11th after an earlier drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane, but he was only fractions ahead of the Toro Rossos of Jean-Eric Vergne, who had passed high-qualifying team mate Daniel Ricciardo with four laps to go.

Giedo van der Garde was a good 14th for Caterham, beating team mate Charles Pic, as Jules Bianchi headed Marussia team mate Max Chilton home in 16th.

Neither Force India made the finish; Adrian Sutil stopped after 19 laps with a hydraulic leak, and Paul di Resta stopped only a couple of laps from the finish. So did Rosberg, whose appalling afternoon ended with a fiery engine breakage in Turn 2 on the 65th lap. Valtteri Bottas’s Williams also wilted, as did Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber.

Ahead of the summer break Vettel still leads the drivers’ championship battle with 172 points as Raikkonen moves ahead of Alonso with 134 to 133. Hamilton is fourth with 124 to Webber’s 105. In the constructors’ stakes, Red Bull have 277 to Mercedes’ 208, Ferrari’s 194 and Lotus’s 183.

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From Russia with Love for Hoey

Michael Hoey romped to a four shot victory as he sealed a fifth European Tour title at the M2M Russian Open.

The Northern Irishman started the day with a four shot lead after a brilliant third round 65 at Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club.

A closing two under par 70 was enough to give Hoey a 16 under par total and four shot winning margin over France’s Alexandre Kaleka and England’s Matthew Nixon.

“I have absolutely loved the golf course this week,” said Hoey. “It is a great Nicklaus design and one of the best we will play on Tour for the whole year. The greens are just so pure and when you have surfaces like that to putt on then you can make a lot of putts.

“The putting was the key for me this week. I have been working hard on that a lot recently and the improvement is really showing because I making a lot of birdies. 

“That is the main difference at this level - you have to be able to make a lot of putts because the standard is so high these days that it usually comes down to who makes the most putts.

“It’s pretty amazing to think that I have won five European Tour titles. It is a great feeling to win and every time you do it you just want more and more. Hopefully I can get at least another one before the end of the season.

“It has given me a great boost. I am not the most consistent player in the world but when I get into these positions I usually do ok. But the next aim for me has to be to become a bit more consistent because that is the only way I will be able to get back among the best players in the world and stay there.”

The 34 year old - who had not finished better than 25th on The European Tour this season and missed seven of his last ten cuts coming into the event – began his final round with six consecutive pars but birdies at the seventh and eighth saw him advance to 16 under par and turn five clear.

His only dropped shot of the day came at the 12th, and last year’s winner Kaleka and Dane JB Hansen closed the gap to two before Hoey birdied the 17th, with both his nearest challengers dropping shots on the last.

“It was tough for me today because when you have a five shot lead your natural instinct is to defend the lead,” added Hoey. “I was trying to be more aggressive because that is usually the best form of defence but it is tough in the final round when you know you are so far ahead.

“Then there are always a couple of guys who are going to come out of the pack. It was Rikard [Karlberg], who I was playing with, on the front nine and then Alex really got close to me on the back nine.

“I did feel the pressure a bit today because I wasn’t swinging it as freely as I had done yesterday but I got the job done in the end. Making my first birdie of the day on the seventh was a bit of a turning point because I had burned a few edges before that and you start to wonder if it is going to be your day.”

Kaleka, who captured this title last year when it formed part of the Challenge Tour schedule, had five birdies before bogeying the 18th for a 68, while Nixon came home in 33 for a 69.

Hansen finished alone in fourth after dropping two shots on the 18th for a 68, with China’s Liang Wen-chong, France’s Gregory Havret and English pair James Morrison and Mark Foster a shot further back on ten under.

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Moyes Confident United About Signings

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Manchester United manager David Moyes is confident he will add to his squad this summer, but has yet to decide whether he will make a third bid for Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

United have had two bids rejected for the 26-year-old with Barcelona insistent he is not for sale.

"I couldn't tell you if there will be another bid [for Fabregas]," he said.

"I never at any time said I knew we would get him. We will take stock and consider what we are going to do next."

The Premier League champions have failed with two bids for the former Arsenal player, the latest of which is understood to be £30m, plus add-ons.

United's only summer signing has been Uruguayan right-back Guillermo Varela, but Moyes said: "I am quite confident we will add to the squad.

"But what we have here is a really good squad of players already. You mustn't forget about the quality that is already here at Manchester United."

Moyes also revealed that captain Nemanja Vidic will feature in a friendly at Crewe on Monday after recovering from a back problem that kept him out of the tour to Asia.

Wayne Rooney - who pulled out of the tour with a hamstring injury - will not be fit to feature at Gresty Road but should be fit to face Swedish side AIK Fotboll on 6 August.

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Liam Phillips Becomes BMX Champ

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Liam Phillips held off the challenges of New Zealand's Marc Willers and Germany's Luis Brethauer to become the BMX world champion.

The 24-year-old, eighth in the 2012 Olympics final, pipped Willers to the line, with Brethauer taking third.

The Somerset rider won all six races en route to the World Championships final.

"So many people to thank for their sheer perseverance and continued belief. You guys know who you are - thank you," tweeted Phillips. 

British Cycling Olympic BMX coach Grant White said: "It's phenomenal and he'd done the work.

"Once you've done the work you're prepared and you can sit there with a bit of confidence.

"He'd done the work to be successful and that's over a long period of time - that's not over the last few months, that's over the last couple of years. He knew he'd had a great preparation over the last 12 months and he delivered.

"It's a culmination of everything, we knew he was in the best shape of his life and came here and delivered. It's unbelievable, fantastic.

"This year he knows he's capable and he's got the package. He put it all together today."

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Lewis Hamilton Gets Hungary

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Lewis Hamilton gave Mercedes their seventh pole position of the season in Hungary on Saturday after a gripping shoot-out with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, team mate Nico Rosberg and Lotus’s Romain Grosjean - and didn’t even realise that he’d done it until he was completing his slow-down lap.

As the track temperature swung between a sweltering 47 and 49 degrees Celsius, Vettel set the initial Q3 pace with a lap of 1m 19.506s, with Hamilton closest to him on 1m 20.324s, but on their second runs the German only improved slightly, to 1m 19.426s, and that was not quite enough to dislodge Hamilton, who had taken his Mercedes round the Hungaroring in 1m 19.388s.

Behind them, Grosjean’s strong weekend form took him to third place with 1m 19.595s, just ahead of Rosberg on 1m 19.720s. Surprisingly, Fernando Alonso pushed his Ferrari ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus, the Spaniard’s 1m 19.791s just shading the Finn’s 1m 19.851s. Felipe Massa completed the quick runners with 1m 19.929s in the second Ferrari for seventh in the line-up.

Daniel Ricciardo again showed his raw qualifying speed with 1m 20.641s for Toro Rosso, while Sergio Perez lapped his McLaren in 1m 22.398s, the only Q3 runner on medium compound tyres. At the back Red Bull’s Mark Webber was hampered by an inoperative KERS and slow upshifts in his Red Bull, and did just one lap, so that he can start Sunday’s race on whatever tyres he and the team choose from his 10th-place grid slot.

Rosberg and Hamilton had led the way in Q2 as Vettel failed to better his first-run time of 1m 19.442s, and the track temperature spiked at 50 degrees Celsius before settling back to 45 after the first runs. 

A flurry of late improvements by Ricciardo, Webber (despite his RB9’s problems), Massa and Perez pushed Force India’s Adrian Sutil, Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Jenson Button out of Q3, the two Germans lapping respectively in 1m 20.569s and 1m 20.580s, the Englishman in 1m 20.777s. Perez had managed 1m 20.545s for the final top 10 slot, a good recovery after having to take repairs following his morning shunt.

The others who failed to go through were Jean-Eric Vergne with 1n 21.029s for Toro Rosso, and the Williams duo of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas on 1m 21.133s and 1m 21.219s.

As Rosberg and Hamilton also set the pace, Q1 had weeded out Esteban Gutierrez, who struggled to make up the time he’d lost by missing FP3 because of a problem that required his Sauber’s engine to be changed. The Mexican lapped in 1m 21.724s, a tenth slower than compatriot Perez who just made it through. 

Paul di Resta struggled yet again with his Force India’s set-up, and was a very disappointed 18th on 1m 22.043s, six-tenths off team mate Sutil. Behind them, the scrap between Caterham and Marussia was closer than ever. 

Charles Pic led it with 1m 23.007s for Caterham, from team mate Giedo van der Garde on 1m 23.333s, but Jules Bianchi was on their tail for Marussia with 1m 23.787s and his partner Max Chilton was only two-tenths of a second further back, with 1m 23.997s.

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Tigers Take Phillies in Detroit

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Miguel Cabrera figured he'd try to play after missing four games because of a hip problem.

In his first plate appearance back, he homered -- a feat so impressive teammate Max Scherzer found it downright amusing.

"I laugh every day," Scherzer said. "It can be a pitcher throwing his `out' pitch in the right location, and he'll hit it for a home run. It just doesn't surprise you, anything he does. He's obviously the best."

Cabrera's first-inning homer was the start of an early offensive outburst, and the Detroit Tigers went on to a 10-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night. Scherzer allowed only one hit in six innings to become baseball's first 15-game winner.

The Phillies lost their seventh in a row.

"That wasn't much fun," Philadelphia's Chase Utley said. "They came out with hot bats and we came out facing one of the best pitchers in baseball."

Scherzer (15-1) threw only 75 pitches -- he was one of several stars pulled early after the game got out of hand. Detroit scored five runs in the first and three in the second off Raul Valdes (1-1), who started because Cliff Lee was out with a stiff neck.

Cabrera's solo homer in the first was his 32nd of the year, and he later added two more RBIs to increase his season total to 99. Matt Tuiasosopo hit a three-run homer in the first.

The Tigers remain three games ahead of second-place Cleveland in the AL Central. The Phillies, meanwhile, are now 10 back of NL East-leading Atlanta.

Detroit outhit Philadelphia 15-2.

Valdes had been used exclusively as a reliever this year, and his first start since June 27, 2012, did not go well. He actually retired his first two batters before Cabrera -- back after missing some time while his left hip recovered -- went deep to put Detroit ahead 1-0.

"I'm feeling OK, so I was thinking, try to go out there and try to go and play," Cabrera said. "I don't want to do too much today -- wanted to make something happen. I tried to make sure I made contact with the ball."

Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta followed with consecutive singles -- Peralta's hit brought home another run -- and Tuiasosopo hit his seventh homer of the year, to the bushes beyond the wall in center field.

Cabrera added an RBI single in the second, and Martinez's two-run single made it 8-0.

Cabrera came out of the game in the fifth, and he wasn't the only one who didn't stick around for the full nine innings. Fielder and Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley were among the players pulled early.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he took Cabrera out as a precaution as the slugger works his way back from his injury. Scherzer was also allowed a bit of extra rest because of the big lead.

"It gives me a chance to regroup," said Scherzer, who celebrated his 29th birthday Saturday. "It was a 10-0 game, and there really wasn't much more to accomplish in the game tonight."

The only baserunner Scherzer allowed was Darin Ruf, whose second-inning double was nearly caught by Austin Jackson in center. Scherzer struck out seven, and the Detroit All-Star again got plenty of run support. Detroit has backed Scherzer with an MLB-best average of 7.64 runs.

"That's why I love being in Detroit," Scherzer said. "If you go out and pitch well, you have a good chance to win the ballgame. Obviously, I was able to pitch effectively tonight, and obviously, these guys came out chomping at the bit."
Cabrera hit an RBI groundout in the fourth. Valdes was finally pulled after allowing nine runs and 12 hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out three.

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