BADMINTON - INTERNATIONAUX JUNIORS U19 : Trois médailles d’or pour Maurice

Lors des internationaux juniors U19 de badminton qui se sont tenus du 11 au 13 août au centre national à Rose-Hill, la sélection mauricienne s’est illustrée en récoltant trois médailles d’or, en simple hommes, double hommes et double mixte.
La première finale de la compétition a opposé les Mauriciens Alexandre Bongoût et Melvin Appiah. Le premier l'a emporté sur le score de 2-0 (21-16, 21-14) et permis à la sélection locale de s'offrir sa première médaille d’or du tournoi.
On a aussi assisté en double hommes à une finale 100% mauricienne avec les paires Melvin Appiah-Tejraj Pultoo et Alexandre Bongoût-Khabir Teeluck. Ce match s'est soldé au terme de trois sets, les deux équipes ne voulant pas lâcher le morceau. Le premier set a été remporté par Appiah-Pultoo 21-14. Cette même paire devait remporter la belle 21-13, après s'être inclinée au deuxième 15-21. Appiah devait ainsi prendre sa revanche sur Bongoût après sa finale perdue en simple hommes.
Le tandem composé des frère et sœur Appiah, Melvin et Vilina, était quant à lui aligné en finale du double mixte contre une autre paire mauricienne, Tejraj Pultoo-Sendila Mourat. La victoire est revenue à la fratrie Appiah 2-0 (21-18, 21-17).
Deux autres finales étaient à l’affiche dimanche dernier. En simple dames, l'Algérienne Halla Bouksani, qui était opposée à sa compatriote à Linda Mazri, l'a emporté 2-0 (21-14, 21-8). En double dames, ces mêmes Algériennes ont battu les Mauriciennes Vilina Appiah et Kritisha Mungrah 2-0 (21-14, 21-9).

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Serena Williams targets more Grand Slam success in 2018

Serena Williams is already targeting a return to competitive tennis, despite being eight months pregnant and a few weeks short of her 36th birthday.

The 23-time grand slam winner says she has no plans to retire and still harbours an ambition to overtake Margaret Court's record of 24 singles successes.

However, the American says she will not return to the tennis circuit just to make up the numbers, hinting she would quit the sport if unable to perform at the level she is used to.

She told Vogue magazine: "Obviously if I have a chance to go out there and catch up with Margaret, I am not going to pass that up.

"If anything, this pregnancy has given me a new power. It's hard to figure out what the end of your tennis career should look like.

"I used to think I'd want to retire when I have kids, but no. I'm definitely coming back.

But Williams, who collected her first slam title in New York a few weeks before her 18th birthday in 1999, admits she will not accept second best.

She added: "In this game you can go dark fast. If I lose, and I lose again, especially since I'm not 20 years old, I'll tell you this much: I won't win less. Either I win, or I don't play."

And her hunger for glory appears to be as strong as ever, saying she took issue with a comment made last year which suggests her success was mainly because of her powerful serve.

She added: "In the beginning, I didn't like it when they said that my sister (Venus) and I were power players.

"I thought, 'I don't hit as hard as a Monica Seles'. In Australia last year, I read that Maria Sharapova's backhand and forehand are as good or better than mine, and that the only reason I win is that my serve is bigger.

"I was like, 'wait a minute, please'. I place my serve. And what about my volleys? My speed? I'm the player who's hitting angles. I'm the player who moves you. I use my brain, and that's really why I win."

Neymar becomes goodwill ambassador for world's disabled

Neymar, fresh from his first win with Paris St. Germain and his world-record signing for the club, became a goodwill ambassador for Handicap International on Tuesday, pledging to work for millions who are "less visible" but deserve equality.

The Brazilian forward, whose 222 million-euro ($259.72 million) signing from Barcelona this month doubled the world- record transit fee, mounted a huge statue of a chair outside the U.N. in Geneva that symbolizes landmine victims.

He kicked a soccer ball to fans standing below and into the U.N. grounds. Surrounded by his parents, Neymar Santos Senior and Nadine Santos, he wore a black baseball cap and Handicap International black t-shirt with the inscription "Repair Lives".

"I would like to begin by thanking you all for what you do for the least visible in the world, so they become more visible.

I have to say that I am very pleased to be here and to be the new ambassador," the 25-year-old told a news briefing.

"I hope this will be a very successful partnership and that we will be able to help a large number of people," he said. "Millions want their rights, they want to be treated better. That's what we are here for and that is what our aim is."

Neymar, asked what work or field visits he planned, replied:

"Obviously the practical part of this partnership still has to be discussed. I know that my image is very powerful and can help."

The charity was founded in 1982 to assist 6,000 Cambodian refugees who had lost limbs and later co-founded the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) in 1992 which won the Nobel Peace Prize.

"What people may not realize is that beyond this exceptional sportsman, there is of course a conscience and a voice," said Manuel Patrouillard, managing director of Handicap International. "A voice which Neymar Jr. decided to put to the service of others, specifically for the most vulnerable, which our organization works for," he said.

(This version of the story has been corrected to change Monday to Tuesday in the first paragraph)

Real Madrid again show up serious cracks in Barcelona

The second leg of the Spanish Super Cup was only four minutes old when a smile stretched across Zinedine Zidane’s face. Real Madrid had just taken the lead, Marco Asensio’s wonderful 35-yard effort dipping past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen but Zidane did not leap into the air, clench his fists or scream; it was just that smile, appearing easily, almost gently, as if he was not just enjoying it – he had expected it. Already 1-0 on the night, it was 4-1 on aggregate and his team were on course to win the seventh title they have collected in only 18 months under him.

By the end, it was 2-0, 5-1 on aggregate, after Karim Benzema added a second past the half-hour. Madrid had the victory, the title and the promise of more, too. Past 1am they paraded the trophy and if the silverware was something to celebrate, the sense of security was another. Such a contrast to Barcelona, who stood and watched them collect it, well beaten. Maybe that had been expressed best in Zidane’s smile. The opening goal had the ingredients to be a surprise but did not feel like one, somehow.

The shot was superb, hit by a 21-year-old to open the scoring in a clasico. But, then, Asensio is a 21-year old-who had already scored a sensational goal at the Camp Nou last week; another debut strike for the player who had scored on his club debut, his league debut, his cup debut, and his Champions League debut. And in the Champions League final, too – his first on that stage but, on the evidence so far, not unlikely to be his last.

He departed to a deserved standing ovation with 15 minutes to go. His claim on a first-team place is strong, a clear threat to Gareth Bale. It is early, sure, but Asensio is a special talent and this team will take some stopping.

Here, Barcelona could not. It was not only that Madrid were on their way to victory over their greatest rivals; it was the way they were doing it; the way this early lead could not even be considered unexpected: Asensio had already provided a chance for Luka Modric after 75 seconds. Now he had given them the lead. Soon he was drawing roars from the Bernabeu for a neat backheel. There would be more.

Madrid were in control, the touch superb, comfortable when they had the ball and quick to recover it when they did not. There was no Bale, no Cristiano Ronaldo either – the former was on the bench, the latter suspended for five games after pushing the referee in the first leg – but it did not matter. Casemiro was on the bench, too, but in his place Mateo Kovacic was magnificent. The strength in depth reinforced, still, the conviction that the lead Madrid have over their rivals right now is profound.

Momentarily, Barcelona worked their way into the game, one neat run from Lionel Messi leaving him in front of Keylor Navas yet unable to pull the ball from his grasp. Yet this was Messi and little else. If he came deep, it was because he had to. He fought a losing battle alone. Barcelona looked like a side falling apart: slow, suffocated, disorganised and lacking belief, overrun and barely able to find their way out. Lacking an idea or an identity, too.

Off the pitch, crisis looms; results and performances such as this will only hasten its arrival. Madrid pushed them towards the precipice. Their reaction was timid and lasted barely 10 minutes. Marcelo and Asenio ran beyond them, Toni Kroos, Kovacic and Modric played, Benzema linked it all up and at the back Madrid were mostly untroubled, the full backs flying forward. There were chances, and moments to be enjoyed, the ball moved fast across the pitch, Barcelona’s players usually arriving late if they arrived at all.

Dani Carvajal nutmegged Luis Suarez, a moment later Modric flicked over Andre Gomes’s head. And in the midst of it all, the olés still ringing round, the home fans laughing at it all, enjoying the sense of humiliation they imagined their opponents felt, Marcelo found Benzema to score the second. It had started with Sergio Busquets again caught, the passing avenues that were this team’s lifeblood shut down. They departed to a standing ovation at half-time.

Barcelona made chances in the second period but the game was gone, the title even more so. Messi hit the bar; Suarez had one blocked, another saved and nodded wide at the far post. When Navas pushed away a Messi shot, he skidded in and stooped to head the bouncing ball against the near post. Then Samuel Umtiti had an effort blocked. All that came in quarter of an hour but it was Madrid’s fans who were enjoying this. They knew they would win; they had done since the fourth minute.

Barcelona general manager Segura says signings of Coutinho and Dembele 'close'

Barcelona general manager Pep Segura has said the signings of Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele are "close" after watching his side lose to arch-rivlas Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana final.Liverpool have remained adamant that Brazilian playmaker Coutinho - who has submitted a transfer request - will not be sold in this transfer window while Borussia Dortmund suspended Dembele after the forward failed to show for training amid links with Barcelona.

However, Segura expressed confidence deals for both players could be done before the transfer window closes.

"We are close to Coutinho and Dembele," he said on Catalan television station TV3. "We are discussing their deals but do not know when it will be done."

Asked if he expected them to sign, he added: "Yes, we expect it."

Reports in Spain on Wednesday suggested Barca had agreed a fee with Dortmund for French winger Dembele.

Barca are looking to replace Neymar following his shock world record transfer to Paris St Germain, and their need for reinforcements was apparent as they lost 2-0 to Madrid on Wednesday night, completing a 5-1 aggregate loss to the Spanish and European champions.

"We know we have to strengthen this team and that is what we are doing," Segura added. "We have to help the team".

Liverpool beats Hoffenheim 2-1 in Champions League playoff

Liverpool spoiled Hoffenheim's debut in European competition by winning 2-1 in the first leg of their Champions League playoff on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ time).

Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet had already saved a weak penalty from Andrej Kramaric by the time 18-year-old right back Trent Alexander-Arnold curled a kick over the wall and into the bottom right-hand corner from about 30 metres in the 35th minute.

Havard Nordtveit inadvertently deflected substitute James Milner's cross from the left high into his own net to put the five-time European champions 2-0 up in the 74th minute.

However, substitute Mark Uth gave Hoffenheim a glimmer of hope going into next week's second leg at Anfield when he chested down a long ball forward and drilled an angled shot into the corner in the 87th.Liverpool is looking to become the fifth English team to qualify for the group stage - joining Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Europa League winner Manchester United - and return to Europe's top competition for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

Hoffenheim is in unknown territory after reaching the Champions League playoffs courtesy of a fourth-place finish under Julian Nagelsmann, its 30-year-old coach. It was the highest-ever finish by the team from a village of around 4,000 people in southwest Germany.

In other first-leg results, CSKA Moscow benefited from an own goal in second-half injury time to beat Young Boys 1-0, Azerbaijani team Qarabag beat FC Copenhagen 1-0, and APOEL Nicosia won 2-0 at home to Slavia Prague. Sporting Lisbon and Steaua Bucharest drew 0-0.

Buffon joins Messi, Ronaldo on UEFA shortlist

Veteran Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has been named as one of three nominees for the 2016/17 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, European football’s governing body announced on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old Buffon was a key member of the Juventus side that reached last season’s Champions League final, but he missed out on a first winner’s medal as the Italians were beaten 4-1 by Ronaldo’s Real Madrid in Cardiff.

The shortlist was decided by the 80 coaches of the clubs that played in the Champions League and Europa League group stages, as well as 55 journalists.Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi has won the award twice, as has Portuguese forward Ronaldo.

Since its inception in 2011, unlike other similar individual awards, the UEFA accolade has not been totally dominated by Ronaldo and Messi.Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta won the honour in 2012, followed by French winger Franck Ribery a year later.

Real Madrid, who have lifted the European Cup in three of the past four seasons, had four players in the top 10, with Luka Modric fourth, Toni Kroos fifth and Sergio Ramos seventh.Argentinian forward Paulo Dybala (sixth) joined his Juve team-mate Buffon in being named, while Monaco’s rising teenage star Kylian Mbappe, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and former Manchester United forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic rounded out the top 10.

Luis Suarez, who scored 37 goals for Barcelona in all competitions last season, missed out, as did his former team-mate Neymar, who has since joined Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record 222-million-euro ($260.9m) move.

CYCLISME - TOUR DE LA RÉUNION 2017 : Christopher Lagane dans l’histoire

Christopher Lagane a remporté, hier au Barachois, le 71e Tour de La Réunion, succédant ainsi sur les tablettes à Patrick Piat, le dernier Mauricien à l'avoir remporté. Hier, au cours de la dernière étape, le Mauricien a franchi tranquillement la ligne d’arrivée, à la 28e place, à 27 secondes d’Olivier Boyer, vainqueur de l’étape en 1h33’49.
C’est accompagné de ses coéquipiers, Fidzerald Rabaye, Alexandre Mayer, Yannick Lincoln et son frère Grégory, que le coureur de 18 ans a pris le départ de l’ultime étape, celle qui le consacrerait tout en haut du Tour. Il lui aura fallu neuf étapes et une sacrée équipe à ses côtés — chacun avec une tâche prédéfinie — pour voir Christopher Lagane s’imposer dans un Tour où il n’a remporté aucune étape, se contentant de contrôler ses adversaires.
À l’arrivée, un chrono total de 18h53’01, 4’36 de mieux que Julien Souton, et 4’45 plus vite que Julien Amadori, candidat déclaré à la victoire. En prenant le maillot jaune depuis la troisième étape, Lagane a réalisé le coup que personne ne voyait venir. « Franchement, je ne réalise toujours pas ce qui m’arrive », nous disait-il mardi, alors qu’il venait de porter pour la première fois le maillot jaune d’un Tour.
Bâtissant son succès avec ses coéquipiers, le jeune Mauricien sera toujours aux avant-postes de la course. Son principal souci était de ne pas laisser trop de champ à ses adversaires. « Il faudra prendre les étapes les unes après les autres, comme elles viennent, essayer de maintenir l’avance en tête du classement et surveiller les favoris. Je sais que j’ai une bonne marge. Et ce serait bête de la perdre », disait-il encore.
Alors, vendredi, lorsque les escarmouches ont plu sur le leader, il n’a pas paniqué. « J’ai des coéquipiers solides. » Fidzerald Rabaye et Alexandre Mayer, en gros moteurs, ont joué les premiers rôles sur la partie plate de la course, alors que Yannick Lincoln et Grégory Lagane, son aîné, se chargeaient de la partie montagneuse.
En terminant septième de l’épreuve reine, il a réalisé le plus dur. Et dimanche matin, au contre-la-montre individuel, une deuxième place, à 29 secondes de Julien Souton, le maillot jaune pouvait célébrer sa victoire finale. Dans un commentaire au JIR, le lauréat du 71e Tour de La Réunion indique que « je venais ici pour faire le meilleur classement général possible. De là à imaginer que je gagnerais… »

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Usain Bolt leaves athletics behind with final warning to drug cheats

As Usain Bolt performed his final lap of honour, illuminated by thousands of flashbulbs and with the scent of fireworks hanging in the air, he paused at the start mark of both the 200m and 100m and crouched down, eyes beginning to moisten.

“I was saying goodbye to the fans and saying goodbye to my events also,” he said. “These are my two events that I have dominated for years. I was saying goodbye to everything. I almost cried. It was close but it didn’t come.”

The Jamaican had last been seen limping into the bowels of the London Stadium after his final race ended prematurely in injury and heartache. But he returned to be presented with a framed section of the track on which he won three of his eight Olympic titles at London 2012. The 30-year-old gladhanded with the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Seb Coe, president of athletics world governing body, the IAAF.

But he was feeling less kindly towards London 2017 organisers, suggesting a lengthy wait in the cold before the 4x100m relay on Saturday night may have contributed to what he confirmed was a pulled hamstring.

“It was unusual,” he said, “I knew that I had to warm up because I felt a little tight and my coach said: ‘Make sure stay as warm as possible in the call room. But they took us out to an area behind the billboard while two medal ceremonies happened and we waited for 10 or 15 minutes and it was kind of windy. I said: ‘Why did you guys bring us out?’ But we’re athletes, we just follow the rules.”

After being beaten to bronze in the 100m, won by Justin Gatlin, a week earlier it was a bitter blow. But Bolt insisted he had no regrets about continuing after winning three golds at Rio 2016.

“I don’t think one championship is going to change what I’ve done,” he said. “After losing the 100m someone said to me: ‘Usain, don’t worry Muhammad Ali lost his last fight also, so don’t be stressed about that.’ I’ve proven myself year in year out, throughout my whole career. My fans asked me to go on one more year and I did it for them.”

Last week Bolt bristled in a press conference when asked if the modest 100m times run worldwide this year were perhaps reflective of improved anti-doping mechanisms. He rolled his head back as if exasperated that anyone should have the temerity to pose the question and his dismissive reaction was criticised in some quarters. But on Sunday night he was unequivocal in his damnation of drugs cheats.

“I’ve always been strong on doping,” he said. “I feel like athletes should get life bans. If you go out of your way to cheat to be a better athlete I feel you should get life bans, that’s a fact. We hit rock bottom last year or the year before and now we’re on our way back up. Now we have to be strict on this to help the sport stay in a good place. I’ve proven to the world you can do it. You can be great without doping, that’s one of the things I want to preach to the younger kids.”

Being a mentor to youngsters, particularly in his native Jamaica, is something Bolt intends to occupy much of his time on in retirement. But first will come the nightclubs of London and Kingston.

“My bucket list right now is to have some fun,” he said, “to just go out and have a drink. I’ve had a stressful championships, so I want to spend some time with my family, too.”

Track and field has been Bolt’s life since his remarkable talent was first identified aged 10. No other job has been required, so inane interview questions are not something he has had to contend with. But when asked where he sees himself in 20 years his answer suggested he will not be actively clinging on to the spotlight. “Hopefully I’ll be married with three kids,” he said, “still in track and field and just watching sport grow. I said I won’t be one of those parents who force their kids to do the sport, but if they want to run I will tell and show them it’s a great sport.”

It was left to Lord Coe to ponder once more the quandary of what the sport will look like without Bolt and he decided that there will never be another. “What we are going to miss about Usain Bolt is not the three back-to-back Olympic Games or the clutch of world records or the medals,” he said. “It’s going to be because he has an opinion, he has a view, he fills a room. We have some really terrific talent that’s identified themselves at these championships, but that’s not the same as filling that void.”

Neymar gets off the mark for PSG

Neymar came up with the goal that was practically demanded on his Paris St Germain debut after a £200m world-record transfer that rocked football.

But when you can scare defenders so much that they’d rather plant the ball into their own net, or beautifully tee up your team-mates, scoring is almost a bonus.

The huge statement of intent from PSG in forking out for Neymar landed a bloody nose not only on Barcelona and La Liga. None of the so-called giants of world football will feel safe when PSG come calling now after such a game-changing investment.It is not immediately clear who are the biggest beneficiaries of the

stunning fee, in a package of £450m including wages of £1m-a-week – the club, the player, the PSG fans or Qatar in the build-up to their controversial World Cup finals in 2022.

Via their owners, the club desperate to win the Champions League as well as the Ligue 1 title back from Monaco seem at times inextricably linked to the oil-rich nation, not least through the sponsorship backing of vehicles such as the country’s Tourist Authority.

But French football is a sure-fire winner, with interest in the domestic competition set to surge. The howls from the Catalans showed full well this was a player they were not ready to lose. Neymar, the mother of all marquee signings, has a worldwide cachet that extends way beyond his native South America. It might even pay, despite the outrageous fee.

It hardly seems a year ago that Jose Mourinho was telling anyone who would listen that the £89m he had just splurged on Paul Pogba would soon be a footnote in financial history, and the bar was duly raised this summer in spectacular, some would say absurd and obscene, fashion.

PSG have pulled off a neat trick in France, managing to make billionaire-owned Monaco, last season’s champions with all the competitive advantages in taxation on salaries they have enjoyed in past years, look like the underdogs.

And last night, from around 15 miles out of Guingamp, fans sporting the red, white and black of the home team stood on the bridges waving flags and offering the illustrious visitors their own special welcome for Neymar.

The fees may go up and up, but some things never change. The Paris supporters were greeted in the traditional fashion by the Bretons, showing less than total respect for the hundreds of millions of pounds spent, and the wealth of stardust.

It seemed as if all 18,000 booked in at a stadium long since sold out arrived at the same moment, delivering pre-match chaos as security staff and police alike struggled to manage the mayhem of star-struck fans, cars, coaches and an army of media from around the world.

Brittany seemed an incongruous setting for Neymar to make his bow, after the great names of Santos and Barcelona.

They hadn’t seen a comic-book hero like this around these parts since the legendary – if fictional – Asterix, with the adventures of the moustachioed Gaul and his battles against the Romans set in the former Armorica.

Guingamp, a tiny town with a population of just 7000, some two and half times fewer than the ground holds, could fairly be described as a back-water. Not last night.

Some international wrangling meant no debut at the Parc des Princes in the City of Lights for the Brazilian superstar, with that honour falling to a region better known for campsites and crepes.

Around an hour before kick-off Neymar was as expected to be named in the No.10 shirt for a first start for PSG, the number having been kindly donated by team-mate Javier Pastore.

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