Polish Speedway: PGE Ekstraliga playoff round-up…


Twice world speedway champion Tai Woffinden managed 13 paid 14 points as Sparta Wrocław took a slim lead into the second leg of their Polish Ekstraliga playoff semi final with Stal Gorzów on Sunday (September 3).

Sparta triumphed 47-43 at Stadion Olimpjski with Woffinden dropping just one point from five rides as he continues his fantastic form that saw him claw his way into the Speedway Grand Prix title race.

Woffinden’s world title rival and Sparta teammate Maciej Janowski and World U21 Championship leader Maksym Drabik tallied 10 points apiece for the hosts. Czech star Vaclav Milik added eight, paid nine.

Current world no.3 Bartosz Zmarzlik starred for the visitors with 11 points and Martin Vaculik managed 10 paid 11, giving their side a great chance to book their place in the final on home shale at the Edward Jancarz Stadium.

Meanwhile, Zielona Gora have work to do to overcome Unia Lesznon after losing 50-40 in the other semi final.

Patryk Dudek managed 14 points, while fellow countrymen Jarosław Hampel and Piotr Protasiewicz scored 11 and seven, paid 10 respectively. World Championship leader Jason Doyle scored a straight seven points.

Grzegorz Zengota top scored for the Bulls with 10 paid 11. Janusz Kolodziej managed 10 points and Piotr Pawlicki picked up nine paid 11. Russian star Emil Sayfutdinov scored seven paid eight, but SGP reserve Peter Kildemand struggled to only two points.

Both deciding legs will take place next Sunday (10 September).


NFL: Patriots’ Edelman done for the season after tearing ACL…


New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman will play no further part in his team’s season after tearing the ACL in his right knee.

Edelman was hurt during his team’s preseason win over the Detroit Lions and an MRI scan revealed the problem.

The League champions then confirmed that the player would miss the 2017 season.

Edelman went down on a non-contact play on his third catch of the opening drive and limped off the field. He was then carted to the locker room and did not return.

Superbowl LI hero Julian Edelman will miss the 2017 season through injury

The 32-year-old has been Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s most reliable target for years, earning more than nine targets per game over the last four NFL seasons. He has also averaged more than 11 yards per catch over the past five years.

Edelman is also coming off a career-high 1,106 yards from last season and has signed a two year, $11million contracted with $7million guaranteed before this offseason.

While the injury may hurt the Patriots, it won’t derail the train like a sidelined Brady or even Rob Gronkowski would and the nature of play that the team’s attacking players possess should facilitate an easy transition from Edelman to a player such as Danny Amendola.

For sure, Edelman’s absence will change how the Patriots attack the campaign and opposing defensive teams, but as long as Brady is at centre, the dream of another Superbowl win should not be dismissed.


International Football: England striker Wayne Rooney calls time on international career…


England’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney has announced his retirement from international football.

The Everton striker was asked by England manager Gareth Southgate to be part of the squad for next month’s World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia, but turned down the offer.

Speaking about his decision, the 31-year-old said: ‘Everytime I was selected was a real privilege but I believe now is the time to bow out.’

He scored 53 times in 119 internationals for the Three Lions.

Rooney’s England career…

Rooney’s England career statistics, courtesy of Opta

Rooney made his England debut in a 3-1 defeat to Australia at Upton Park in February 2003.

His debut at a major tournament came as an 18-year-old at Euro 2004, with his last international appearance being last November’s 3-0 victory over Scotland at Wembley, where he was named as captain.

Wayne Rooney in action for England against Scotland at Wembley

This summer saw him rejoin his boyhood club Everton and his international retirement comes days after scoring his 200th Premier League goal in a 1-1 draw with Manchester City.

Southgate is due to name his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Malta (September 1) and Slovakia (September 4) on Thursday.

Rooney’s statement in full…
Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 20.10.27

Tributes to a legend…
A number of tributes poured in once the news broke of Rooney’s retirement, not only from current club Everton, but former employers Manchester United and host of England stars past and present, including BT Sport pundit Michael Owen and BBC’s Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker.

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 20.14.27Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 20.14.36Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 20.14.56

Burghley 2017: Reigning champion Christopher Burton will not defend title…

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 19.33.48

Reigning Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials champion Christopher Burton will not be attempting to defend his title after being withdrawn from years event, which takes place between August 31 and September 3.

Nobilis 18, who was ridden to victory by the Australian last year, has only been seen in competition twice after winning the famous four-star event last autumn. The first event was at Farley Hall Horse Trials in Berkshire in June, where the pair jumped a slow double clear in the open intermediate class. The second was the CICO3* at Aachen, where the pair jumped a speedy double clear for an eventual sixth placed finish.

The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials 03 09 2016
No Burghley title defence for Christopher Burton and Nobilis 18

Burton, who competed as part of the bronze medal-winning Australian team at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and finished in fifth place individually, led last year’s competition throughout but cut it fine, needing all four of his fences in hand in the showjumping phase to finish on 49.4 penalties, ahead of New Zealand’s pairing of Andrew Nicholson and Nereo (53.20).

Burton was unavailable for comment on the horse’s withdrawal.

Another high profile pairing to be withdrawn in the build up to the prestigious event is France’s Maxime Livio and his mount Qalao Des Mers, who would have been a real contender for this year’s title on the back of his recent form at four-star level.

Pau winners Maxime Livio and Qalao Des Mers will not contest Burghley this year

Notable results for the 13-year-old Selle Francais include a second place at Rolex Kentucky this spring, a win in the four-star event at Pau last October and another second place – this time in the four-star event at Luhmulen in June 2016.

Other notable entries this year…
The withdrawls of Burton and Livio now mean that there are 73 remaining combinations entered for this year’s Burghley, including 2015 winner Michael Jung and his horse La Biosthetique-Sam FBW.

New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson will again take to the Burghley track. His possible rides this year include Badminton winner Nereo as well as Teseo and Qwanza, although one horse will likely be withdrawn prior to the event.

Notable British entries for the 2017 event include European team gold medalist Tina Cook with Star Witness and Calvino, and her team-mate Oliver Townend who has Samuel Thomas II, Ballaghmor Class and Cooley SRS entered, although it is likely that the latter horse will be withdrawn as he competed at the European Championships in Strzegom last week.


Strzegom 2017: Great Britain clinch team gold, individual bronze at European Eventing Championships…


Great Britain won their first European Eventing Championships team gold since 2009 in Strzegom, Poland on Sunday (August 20).

The team, made up of Oliver Townend, Tina Cook, Rosalind Canter and Nicola Wilson, scored 113.9 total penalties to take the title. Germany finished in second place with 123.0 penalties, while Sweden took bronze with a team score of 148.4.

Germany had been in the gold medal position after the culmination of the dressage phase on Friday, but an impressive performance across the country by Great Britain saw them lead going into the showjumping phase.

Wilson, Cook and Canter all went clear in Sunday’s final phase to secure the first European gold medal for Great Britain since the 2009 championships in Fontainebleau, France.

Final podium (l-r): Germany, Great Britain and Sweden

Britain also secured an individual bronze medal through Wilson and her horse Bulana. German riders Ingrid Klimke and Michael Jung took gold and silver respectively.

Cook finished fourth individually, with Canter in fifth and individual rider Gemma Tattersall down in eighth place. Oliver Townend withdrew his mount Cooley SRS before the showjumping phase after it was reported that the horse suffered ‘a minor injury’.

Strzegom 2017 19 08 2017
GB rider Oliver Townend withdrew his mount Cooley SRS before the final horse inspection

The win also meant a great start for new performance coach Chris Bartle after the Yorkshireman left his role with Team Germany, where he masterminded Olympic, World and European gold medal successes, earlier this year.

Individual positions (after showjumping)..
1 Ingrid Klimke (GER) (Horseware Hale Bob OLD) 30.30,
2 Michael Jung (GER) (FischerRocana FST) 32.80,
3 Nicola Wilson (GB) (Bulana) 35.50,
4 Kristina Cook (GB) (Billy The Red) 38.20,
Ros Canter (GB) (Allstar B) 40.20,
Kai Ruder (GER) (Colani Sunrise) 40.30,
Sarah Ennis (IRE) (Horseware Stellor Rebound) 43.40,
Gemma Tattersall (GB) (Quicklook V) 44.70,
Sara Algotsson Ostholt (SWE) (Reality 39) 47.0,
10 Thibaut Vallette (FRA) (Qing du Briot ENE HN) 57.70

Overall team standings (after showjumping)…
 Great Britain 113.90
2 Germany 123.0
3 Sweden 148.40
4 Italy 211.80
5 Ireland 269.20
6 Belgium 286.30
7 Spain 290.10
Switzerland 324,10
9 Poland 408.80
10 Belarus 425.50

Premier League: Liverpool reject a third bid for Philippe Coutinho…


Philippe Coutinho will have to wait a little longer for a move away from Merseyside.

Liverpool have rejected a third bid from Barcelona for the Brazillian attacking midfielder. The fee was believed to be in the region of £114m.

Staying put…for now: Liverpool have rejected another bid for midfielder Philippe Coutinho

Just last week, the Reds rejected a £90m bid for Coutinho from the Spanish giants, leading the 25-year-old to submit a transfer request.

The La Liga side have moved for the Brazillian after selling star player and Coutinho’s fellow countryman Neymar to Paris St Germain for a world record fee of £200m.

Barca are eyeing Coutinho as a replacement for Neymar, who joined PSG for £200m this summer

Coutinho has missed the opening two games of the season for Liverpool with a back injury and the club has repeatedly stressed that his isn’t for sale. He is also set to miss the home match with Crystal Palace on Saturday (August 19).

However, Barca have previously said that they are close to signing him.

Coutinho had signed a new five-year deal at Anfield in January and it didn’t include a release clause.

Equestrian: David Somerset, 11th Duke of Beaufort, dies…

David Somerset 11th Duke Of Beaufort David Robert Somerset 11th Duke Of Beaufort (born 23 February 1928) Known As David Somerset Until 1984 Is A British Peer. He Is The Son Of Henry Robert Somers Fitzroy De Vere Somerset And Bettine Violet Malcolm An
David Somerset, the 11th Duke of Beaufort, who has died at the age of 89

David Somerset, the 11th Duke of Beaufort, died peacefully at his home at Badminton yesterday (August 16). He was 89.

The duke, who inherited the title from his cousin in 1984, played a significant part in both eventing and hunting.

He was an excellent horseman, finishing second at the Badminton Horse Trials – the event founded by the 10th Duke in 1949 and held in the grounds ever since – in 1959 when riding Countryman III. He was also a keen hunting man.

As such, he joined the mastership of the family pack of hounds, the Duke of Beaufort’s, in 1974 and continued to be joint master until his death.

He leaves behind his second wife Miranda Morley who, as Miranda Beaufort, has competed to a high level in dressage, and four children. He married Morley in 2000 following the death of his first wife Lady caroline Thynne, who helped him to restore and maintain both the estate, Badminton House and its gardens.

Speedway: Panthers end 10-year wait for silverware with 4TT victory…

Peterborough Panthers are the 2017 SGB Championship Fours champions

The Peterborough ‘T Balfe Construction’ Panthers defied their underdog status to pick up their first piece of silverware in 10 years on Sunday (August 6).

Already without the in-form Jack Holder due to commitments in Poland and the injured Bradley Wilson-Dean, the patched-up Panthers produced a superb performance to take SGB Championship Fours victory in a meeting which featured all 10 of the league’s teams.

Lining up against Sheffield, Redcar and Ipswich in the 12-heat final, the Panthers stormed to an emphatic success in front of a bumper East of England Arena crowd.

Team captain Ulrich Ostergaard and the impressive Chris Harris reeled off a hat-trick of heat wins a piece as the Panthers piled up 28 points in total to win the meeting.

They sealed victory with just two races to spare as Paul Starke triumphed in Heat 10, ahead of Ipswich captain Danny King. Late call up Simon Lambert also delivered a fine contribution with five points as the hosts starred around their home circuit.

Redcar finished in a creditable second place on 18 points, 10 behind the victorious Panthers, while Sheffield took third on 16. Ipswich, a team that many would have predicted as favourites to win, brought up the rear with just 10 points, having advanced to the final after dominating the second semi-final. Redcar took second place in the group to also advance to the showpiece final.

In the first semi-final, Peterborough followed Sheffield through but then took centre stage with a brilliant performance to secure a first trophy as a team in 10 years.

The last honour for the Panthers came in 2007 when lifting the Elite Shield after an unforgettable Elite League title win in 2006.

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Panthers last won a major trophy in 2006 after capturing the Elite League title. They then won the Elite Shield a year later.

The ‘home’ side made steady progress at the semi-final stage, with the first success of the afternoon arriving in heat two when Harris stormed to victory in a time of 58.6 seconds – a new SGB Championship-level track record.

He also managed a win in heat six as Panthers went level with Sheffield at the top of the group standings, before hitting the front in the meeting courtesy of a winning ride by Ostergaard in heat number eight – their penultimate outing.

Panthers then went into the closing heat of their semi as one of four teams still chasing an all-important spot in the final and a third place from Starke ensured they secured second place behind the Tigers as Workington, Edinburgh and Scunthorpe missed out.

Any pre-tournament inklings that they may not win were soon quashed as the Panthers quickly emerged as title contenders in the final. Harris provided the perfect start in the opening race before Ostergaard produced a superb ride to win heat three ahead of Redcar’s Ben Barker.

A sizzling streak of four wins in five races then turned a fiercely competitive event into one-way traffic.

First up was Harris, producing another fine ride in heat six. He charged from last to first, before Ostergaard delivered a masterful ride of his own in heat eight, finding his way past Ipswich skipper Danny King and Redcar rider Jason Garrity.

Harris then completed his maximum in heat number nine with another supreme charge that put the Panthers on the brink of glory.

Chris Harris produced a flawless performance as his Peterborough side lifted the SGB Championship Fours title at the East of England Arena on Sunday

That left Starke only needing to finish in front of Redcar man Jonas B Andersen to seal victory. He did just that, taking the wide line to glory while Andersen toiled at the back.

With the win already in the bag, the Panthers refused to ease off. Ostergaard emerged victorious from another terrfic tussle with Garrity in heat 11 to ensure he finished the final with maximum points, before Lambert’s second place in the final race of the afternoon showed strength in depth for the ‘home’ side, culminating in a fantastic afternoon for the team that many had seemingly written off.

SGB Championship Fours result
Semi Final 1…

Sheffield Tigers 16 (Josh Grajczonek 5, Kyle Howarth 4, Tod Kurtz 4, Josh Bates 3)
Peterborough Panthers 14 (Chris Harris 6, Ulrich Ostergaard 5, Paul Starke 2, Simon Lambert 1)
Workington Comets 11 (Thomas Jorgensen 5, Mason Campton 4, Ty Proctor 1, Craig Cook 1)
Scunthorpe Scorpions 10 (Jake Allen 5, Lewis Kerr 3, Josh Auty 2, Michael Palm Toft 0, Ryan Douglas 0)
Edinburgh Monarchs 9 (Erik Riss 5, Ricky Wells 2, Theo Pijper 1, Josh Pickering 1, Max Clegg 0)

Semi Final 2…
Ipswich Witches 18 (Rory Schlein 6, Justin Sedgmen 5, Cameron Heeps 4, Danny King 3)
Redcar Bears 13 (Charles Wright 5, Ben Barker 3, Jonas B Andersen 3, Jason Garrity 1, Ellis Perks 1)
Newcastle Diamonds 12 (Steve Worrall 6, Stuart Robson 3, Ludvig Lindgren 3, Ashley Morris 0)
Glasgow Tigers 9 (Richard Lawson 3, Aaron Summers 3, Nike Lunna 3, Dan Bewley 0)
Berwick Bandits 8 (Kevin Doolan 5, David Howe 2, Jye Etheridge 1, Dany Gappmaier 0, Luke Ruddick 0)

SGB Championship Fours Final…
Peterborough Panthers 28 (Chris Harris 9, Ulrich Ostergaard 9, Simon Lambert 5, Paul Starke 5)
Redcar Bears 18 (Charles Wright 7, Jason Garrity 6, Ben Barker 3, Jonas B Andersen 2)
Sheffield Tigers 16 (Kyle Howarth 6, Josh Grajczonek 5, Todd Kurtz 3, Josh Bates 2)
Ipswich Witches 10 (Danny King 6, Rory Schlein 2, Cameron Heeps 1, Justin Sedgmen 1)

London 2017: Bolt denied fairytale ending as Gatlin takes 100m title…


Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt has been denied a fairytale ending to his glittering athletics career at the World Athletics Championship in London.

Team USA’s Justin Gatlin stormed ahead of the field to snatch world 100m gold from Bolt, who could only manage bronze in his final individual race. Gatlin’s teammate Christian Coleman made a USA one-two.

Gatlin, who has twice been banned for doping offences, came through the field almost unnoticed in lane seven in a time of 9.92 seconds – two hundredths of a second faster than compatriot Coleman who clocked a time of 9.94.

Despite question over fitness and form, Bolt had still been favourite to secure the 20th global gold of his career.

Greatest of all time: But Usain Bolt could only manage bronze in his final individual 100m race

2015 was supposed to be Gatlin’s year, when the American went to the World Championships in Beijing on the back of a 28-race unbeaten run.

Bolt produced a miracle to beat him that night in the Bird’s Nest, but he couldn’t provide the perfect ending to such a stellar career in the stadium where he won his Olympic 100m title in 2012.

His doping past making his a cartoon villian in his sport, double Olympic champion at the Athens games in 2004 Gatlin had been booed every time he took to his blocks in these championships.

He avoided a life ban after a second positive test in 2006 after co-operating with the authorities, instead accepting an eight year suspension that was then reduced to four on appeal.

That left him free to return to the track and he was to have his revenge, standing tall and putting a finger to his lips as the win stunned the crowd inside the London Stadium to initial silence.

However, this was a deserved victory – a last hurrah for a man that many athletes and fans within the sport wished no longer had the chance to compete.

Disliked by the fans but Justin Gatlin is the new world 100m champion

A disastrous start for Bolt meant he was chasing the field right from the start. He has never previously lost a 100m final in a World Championships with the only blemish on his otherwise impeccable record being the false start in Daegu in 2011.

Despite the 21-year-old Coleman holding him off, Gatlin powered through in the last 15 metres as the great champion was left powerless.

From a British perspective, 21-year-old Reece Prescod was seventh in his first major championship final. However, this night will be remembered as much for the one who failed to win as the one who did.

The action continues tomorrow.

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