Monday 30 November 2015

Hamburg Olympics Nein Danke

Residents of the German city of Hamburg have voted against hosting the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Hamburg was one of five cities left in the running, alongside Rome, Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles.

But 51.6% of residents of the city voted no in a referendum on Sunday. The No camp argued that money earmarked for the Olympics could be better spent.

German Olympics officials had picked Hamburg as their preferred candidate city ahead of Berlin.

Germany has not hosted the Games since 1972 in Munich. Voters there turned down the chance to host the 2022 Winter Olympics two years ago.

Almost two-thirds of voters in nearby Kiel, where sailing events would have been held, backed the Olympic proposal in Sunday's referendum. But turnout in the relatively small city of Kiel was under 32%, while 651,000 voters in Hamburg took part - half of the electorate.

Hamburg's mayor Olaf Scholz was disappointed with the result: "That's a decision that we didn't want, but it's clear."

The remaining cities vying for the chance to stage the 2024 Games include Budapest, Paris, Los Angeles and Rome.

Critics of the Hamburg plan said it was wasteful, at a cost of €11.2bn ($11.9bn; £7.9bn).

Hamburg's city authorities had promised €1.2bn for the event, but the lion's share would have been contributed by the national government.

Florian Kasiske from the No campaign NOlympia said people could see that the money could be better spent. He saw a change in mood in Hamburg, suggesting that the vote was linked to the large numbers of migrants and refugees arriving in the city.

"It's really about city politics. Many people are just arriving in this city and have to sleep in tents - and there has to be money for that," he said.

Stefan Kretzschmar with his silver handball medal at the Athens 2004 OlympicsImage copyrightGetty Images

The result was a setback for German sport. The chairman head of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), Michael Vesper, said it was clear that "now it'll be impossible to hold the Olympics in Germany for decades".

He believed that the recent Paris attacks as well as the migrant crisis had played a part in the no vote. And he said that the continuing corruption scandal involving Fifa and the doping row in world athletics had also been key factors.

Others feared the negative effects on German sport. Olympic handball medallist Stefan Kretzschmar tweeted that "the gateway to the Olympic (sports)world has been closed forever. This No doesn't deserve any medals".

A spokesman for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that "a great opportunity for the city, the country and sport in Germany is lost".

"The city also misses the investment of the IOC of about $1.7bn to the success of the Games, which compares to the €1.2bn Hamburg wanted to invest," he added.

"Now there will be a strong competition with four excellent candidate cities. With these strong competitors we all can look forward to [an] exciting Olympic Games 2024, whoever the winner will be."

In July, the city of Boston decided to withdraw from the race to be host for 2024 amid a lack of public support.

The winning city will be selected in September 2017.

Neville Stands in at Valencia

Valencia’s coach, Nuno Espírito Santo, has resigned after Sunday’s 1-0 defeat by Sevilla left them ninth in La Liga. A Sergio Escudero goal was enough to see off Valencia at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in a match in which the visitors had both João Cancelo and Javi Fuego sent off.

Nuno, a former goalkeeper, was appointed at Mestalla in July 2014 to replace Juan Antonio Pizzi and guided the club to fourth place last season and Champions League qualification.

But with Valencia on the brink of elimination in the group stage and struggling in the league, Nuno revealed that he had told the owner, Peter Lim, that he intended to resign before Sunday’s game.

“Before the game I spoke with the president, with the owner, Peter Lim, and we have spoken after the game. We are all in agreement that the situation is not good. We all want to do the best for the club,” he said.

“It’s for that reason that I have taken the decision to leave the club. It’s been an honour to coach the club. I want to thank all the players I have worked with, Peter Lim and the fans.”

Reports in Spain suggested that Phil Neville, who has been working as an assistant to Nuno, will be asked to take training this week, with Frank Rijkaard and Michael Laudrup among the early contenders to succeed him.

Russian Agency Not Being Disbanded

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency will not be disbanded despite the scandal surrounding the systematic doping of Russian athletes, the country’s sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, said on Monday.

Rusada was heavily criticised in the independent commission report put together by Dick Pound on behalf of World Anti-Doping Agency earlier this month and was suspended after being declared “non-compliant with immediate effect” at a Wada meeting in Colorado.

The scandal has led to all Russian athletes being banned indefinitely by IAAF, a decision Russia decided last week to accept alongside the promise to cooperate with inspectors who will oversee changes to its drug-testing system. However, Mutko has insisted that it’s own testing authority will not be shut down.

“No doubt, Rusada will remain as an organisation,” he is quoted as saying by the Russian news agency, Tass. “We have started working [jointly with Wada].”

Denver Deflate Brady's Patriots

Tom Brady lost yet another one of his trusted targets and this time he also lost a game.

CJ Anderson scored on a 48-yard run with 12:32 left in overtime, powering the Denver Broncos past the New England Patriots 30-24 on a snowy Sunday night.

Watching from the cozy indoors at field level was Peyton Manning as Brock Osweiler and the Broncos (10-2) overcame a 21-7 fourth-quarter deficit and handed the Patriots (11-1) their first loss since 2014. “It didn’t look good at times,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said, “but we figured out a way to get it done.”

Now, the Carolina Panthers (11-0) are the NFL’s only remaining unbeaten team.

Osweiler threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Bubba Caldwell with 1:09 left in regulation to put the Broncos up 24-21. But Brady, playing without injured star tight end Rob Gronkowski, needed just five plays to drive the Patriots 51 yards and into range for Stephen Gostkowski’s 47-yard field goal that tied it at the end of regulation.

New England won the coin toss and elected to receive, but thanks to a sack by Von Miller, Denver forced a three-and-out. Then, on third-and-one from the New England 48, Anderson raced around the left sideline and into the north end zone.

Gronkowski injured his right knee with 2:49 left in regulation and was carted off. There was no immediate word on his status.

Anderson rushed for 113 yards and two TDs on 15 carries. Overall, the Broncos ran for 179 yards, particularly impressive given their two-touchdown deficit for much of the first half and their 21-7 hole they found themselves in after Brady threw a 63-yard scoring pass to Brandon Bolden on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Patriots managed just 39 yards on 16 carries, however.

Osweiler improved to 2-0 since taking over for Manning. He completed 23 of 42 passes for 270 yards with one TD and one interception. Brady also was 23 of 42 for 280 yards with three TDs and no interceptions. Both were sacked three times.

Brady’s three TD tosses put him in a tie with Dan Marino for third on the career list. But with Manning sitting this one out in a walking cast on his left foot, the greatest quarterback rivalry was put on hold — perhaps forever. Instead of a 17th meeting between the QB greats, it was Brady versus Osweiler, which doesn’t have the same Hall of Fame ring to it.

It still had plenty of panache.

Demaryius Thomas, who didn’t catch any of the first 11 balls thrown his way, hauled in a 36-yard pass to midfield just before the 2-minute warning and Osweiler hit Emmanuel Sanders for 39 yards to the 8 before finding Caldwell in the end zone to give Denver its first lead of the night.

Things looked bleak after Bolden’s TD made it 21-7 and New England’s defense forced a punt. But Chris Harper muffed the punt and Shaq Barrett recovered for Denver at the Patriots 36. That led to Anderson’s 15-yard TD run.

The Broncos again drove downfield and reached the New England three, but they settled for Brandon McManus’s 21-yard field goal with 6:08 left to make it 21-17.

Both teams went three-and-out and the Patriots were moving downfield when Gronkowski got hurt. He was carted off with 2:49 left after injuring his right knee on an incompletion when safety Darian Stewart sliced across his body and hit his right knee — a clean hit.

Star pass rusher DeMarcus Ware missed the game with a bad back and Denver lost two more members of the league’s top-ranked defense on one play in the first quarter. Pro Bowl safety TJ Ward and nose tackle Sylvester Williams suffered ankle injuries on New England’s first run when LaGarrette Blount managed two yards. Ward and Williams were in walking boots after the game. Neither returned, nor did right guard Louis Vasquez (groin), who went out in the second quarter.

Without receivers Julian Edelman (foot), Danny Amendola (knee) and Aaron Dobson, who went on injured reserve last week with an ankle injury, Brady relied on his big tight ends.

He hit Gronkowski from 23 yards out and Scott Chandler from 9 yards for a 14-0 lead. Gronkowski, who was held to two harmless catches against Buffalo last week, was single covered and easily scored when safety Darian Stewart went for the swipe instead of the tackle. Chandler sped past Miller in coverage and scored easily when safety David Bruton Jr was slow to slide over.

Gronkowski’s TD followed a 25-yard punt that gave Brady’s banged-up team great field position at the Denver 47, and Chandler’s came after Chandler Jones’ interception at the Denver 15.

Denver cut the deficit to 14-7 at the half on Ronnie Hillman’s 19-yard TD run with 2:07 left in the second quarter. It came one play after linebacker Dont’a Hightower hobbled off with a knee injury.

“After Ronnie’s first touchdown, he came to me and said, ‘Now, you’re going to grind it out and get all the glory,’” Anderson said.

Kobe Bryant to Call NBA Time

Kobe Bryant has announced he will call time on one of the greatest careers in NBA history when he retires at the end of the season.

The 17-time All Star announced the news on the Players Tribune website. “I’m ready to let [basketball] go,” he wrote.

Bryant, 37, is having the worst season of his 20 year career and clearly feels enough is enough. He has also struggled with injuries over the last five seasons and his LA Lakers currently have the worst record (2-13) in the Western Conference. Bryant himself ranks bottom of the league for field goal and three-point percentage among qualified players this season.

“I can’t love [basketball] obsessively for much longer,” Bryant wrote. “This season is all I have left to give. My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind but my body knows it’s time to say goodbye. And that’s OK. I’m ready to let you go.”

The NBA commissioner, David Silver, paid tribute to Bryant’s contribution to the league. “With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game,” Silver said. “Whether competing in the finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game. I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

Before Sunday’s announcement, Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade had spoken with sympathy about Bryant’s current struggles. “It’s tough to see one of the absolute greatest competitors go through this,” Miami guard Dwyane Wade told AP. “You can put a team around a guy to help a guy, especially late in his career. They’re just not in position right now to do that. He’s won five championships, so no one feels bad for him from that standpoint. But from a standpoint of seeing one of this era’s greatest players go out in a rebuilding process, it’s tough.”

Bryant’s final season will earn him good money though – he will be paid $25m, more than any other player in the league. Few would say he does not deserve the money he has earned on the court though. He led the Lakers to five NBA titles and is third on the league’s all-time scorers list behind Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Karl Malone.

The Lakers coach, Byron Scott, said he believes Bryant has something to offer his team. “I think he still loves this game,” Scott told reporters on Sunday. “He still has a passion for it. He’s still a competitive young man.”

Sunday 29 November 2015

Bale and Ronaldo Eibar Winners

Gareth Bale's header and Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty eased the pressure on manager Rafael Benitez as Real Madrid earned an unspectacular win at Eibar.

Bale glanced in a Luca Modric cross just before half-time to claim his third goal of the season.

Ronaldo then scored his 16th after Lucas Vazquez was tripped late on.

Real avoided a third successive league defeat for the first time since the end of the 2008-09 season to move six points behind leaders Barcelona.

Benitez had received the backing of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez following his side's 4-0 defeat by Barcelona in last weekend's Clasico.

But the position of the former Liverpool manager would have been placed under further scrutiny had Real failed to beat the smallest club in La Liga and lost more ground in the title race.

Seventh-placed Eibar had lost only twice in the league this season and held their own for long periods.

But despite fielding a makeshift defence missing the injured Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Marcelo, Real's lead was rarely threatened once Bale broke the deadlock before the interval.

Ronaldo missed good chances either side of the break when he had just goalkeeper Asier Riesgo to beat.

But he ended his frustration from the spot eight minutes from time after Dani Garcia brought down substitute Vazquez, as Real secured the result Benitez badly needed.

Siddle Runs Secure Australia Win

Peter Siddle struck the winning runs under the Adelaide Oval floodlights to seal a series-winning victory against New Zealand after Australia had all but collapsed late on day three of the third and final Test.

With his side deduced to 185-7 in pursuit of a victory target of 187 and having to overcome the emotion of his grandmother’s death during the course of the game, Siddle pushed two runs past point and his injured batting partner Mitchell Starc hobbled up and down the pitch with a broken foot to complete the three-wicket win. Batsman Shaun Marsh had earlier fallen just short of a half-century but his 49 anchored important stands with Adam Voges and his younger brother Mitchell in cricket’s inaugural day-night Test.

Australia wrapped up the series 2-0, ending New Zealand’s run of seven consecutive series without loss, dating back to 2013. Fired by a five-wicket haul by swing specialist Trent Boult, New Zealand mowed through the top order to leave the hosts 115-4 shortly after the dinner-break. Their bowlers returned to capture late wickets and turn what should have been a procession into a cliff-hanger.

The 187-run target ultimately proved too little to defend and Siddle’s inelegant shot to seal the win sparked a thunderous roar from the crowd of 33,923. Paceman and man-of-the-match Josh Hazlewood was vital for Australia, capturing a career-best 6-70 in the absence of injured spearhead Mitchell Starc to limit New Zealand to 208 in the third innings.

Boult dismissed Voges for 28 straight after the dinner-break but all-rounder Mitchell Marsh joined his older brother at the crease and compiled a brisk 28 to push Australia within 26 runs of their target. Mitchell Marsh bashed a six over the head of spin-bowling all-rounder Mitch Santner but was out swiping at the next delivery, the skied top-edge well-caught by a scrambling Kane Williamson.

The final runs trickled rather than gushed and Shaun Marsh grew jumpy as victory and his 50 approached. His tentative push at Boult ended in the safe hands of Ross Taylor in the slips leaving Australia 11 runs short of their total. Wicketkeeper Peter Nevill then fell for 10 to leave Australia two runs short of the victory with three wickets in hand.

The match was won earlier in the day, however, when Hazlewood took three wickets to restrict New Zealand to 92 runs on top of their overnight total of 116-5. Hazlewood struck with the ninth ball of the day to remove wicketkeeper BJ Watling for seven and had Mark Craig nick behind for 15. He later wrapped up New Zealand’s innings by bowling Boult for five, with Mitchell Marsh capturing 3-59.

Miles to Remain LSU Coach - ESPN

Les Miles will remain as coach at LSU, athletic director Joe Alleva said Saturday night, ending a week of intense speculation that he would not return.

A source involved in the talks told ESPN's Joe Schad that the decision to retain Miles was not made until the third quarter of Saturday night's 19-7 victory over Texas A&M.

The silence from LSU's administration this week about Miles' job status spoke volumes, but not as loudly as the support Tigers fans showed on Saturday. It's been a strange week in Baton Rouge.

"Obviously there's been quite a bit of speculation in the past few days about the future of our football coach and our football program," Alleva said. "I made it very clear that my policy is to wait till the end of the season, and obviously it's the end of the regular season.

"The season's complete, and I want to make it very clear and positive that Les Miles is our football coach and he will continue to be our football coach. I'm looking forward to working with Coach Miles as he leads this team to a bowl game and another great recruiting class."

After the victory over the Aggies, Tigers players lifted Miles on their shoulders and carried him down the field toward the student section as the crowd chanted "Keep Les Miles! Keep Les Miles!''

The coach said he was initially told he would remain at LSU following the game, first by school president F. King Alexander, and then by Alleva.

Decision-makers at the school, the source told Schad, felt that the media had swayed the public and that a decision to remove Miles would have been perceived as mean-spirited because he had become a sympathetic figure.

In addition, the source said the university felt it would have been difficult to ask for funds from the state in the future since a buyout of Miles' contract would have been paid by private donations.

"I am proud to be associated with a great institution, my colleagues, my coaches, my players and the president and athletic director," Miles said. "It's a joy. It's nice for them to come say to me, 'Hey, the job you've been doing, you can still do it.' I like that."

Miles' job status had been in question for more than a week, and speculation had intensified after the program's first three-game losing streak since 1999.

A source told Schad on Friday that LSU leadership was "heavily in favor" of a change but that a final decision had not been made and that Miles had not been formally informed he would not return. Another source said Miles was "very likely" to be let go soon.