By any measure, Winx is streets ahead

For almost four years Winx has been unbeatable. She has set new marks for group 1 victories and a winning streak that has the majority believing another Apollo Stakes success is a formality at Randwick on Saturday.

The numbers slide off the tongue with ease: 29 straight wins, 22 at group 1 level, more than $22 million in stakes. They are all records, as is her four Cox Plates – the most recent achieved at her last start back in October.

In a class of her own: Winx starts her farewell campaign at Randwick on SaturdayCredit:AAP

When Winx steps onto a racecourse the world is watching these days. There aren’t many horses that win 10 races, let alone 20 or 30 races, in total. She has won 33, the majority against the best horses in Australia.

With that comes a following and a profile only a champion achieves.

She has became the flagbearer of the sport in its biggest stable. Winx will be the reason why there are more than 15,000 heading to Randwick on Saturday.

But to give a baseline on her success, Waller, who has dominated racing for the past decade, has only had a dozen horses win 10 or more   races in their careers. If Winx wins the Apollo, she will double the next best, Catkins, which won 16 times.

In terms of prizemoney, Winx has won more than five times that of any Waller’s runner.  The next best is dual Doncaster winner Scared Falls. Winx  has won $7 million more than the next-highest earner, the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Redzel.

Waller is always looking for signs that Winx has had enough  but  can’t find that, so she starts a farewell campaign.

“We’ve only got one thing to worry about and that’s Winx being her same dominant self,” Waller said. “She’s rated the best horse in the latest Longines awards and, if she maintains that for the next few runs, she won’t have any problems.

“The closer we get to raceday, the better I feel because there’s no change. She’s still working extremely well, and her body language is telling us she’s enjoying what she’s doing and that’s all we have to worry about.”

Winx's jockey, Hugh Bowman, admits that the shorter course of 1400m is a tough challenge for her.

“The first-up race I always look to as a stepping stone for the rest of her preparation,” Bowman said. “There is that slight element of wondering how she’s going to go when she does get under the race conditions, but all the signs she’s shown us are that she’s ready to go.

"The 1400m is her most vulnerable distance.  It’s the only distance that you feel at some point of the race she at her top already. That's a small feeling I get.

"But then you look at the end of the races, after she's been off the bit at the 600m mark, the rest of the field are pancaked at the 100m and she is just hopping into third and fourth gear at the line."

Most wins for Chris Waller







Most Prizemoney for Chris Waller

WINX $22,854,920

SACRED FALLS $4,400,300


PREFERMENT $3,432,730

BOBAN $2,729,850

ROYAL DESCENT $2,679,780

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Lethbridge boxers put in final training session before Canada Winter Games

Josh Peck and Kyle Oliver have been working hard for the past few months, aiming to be at their peak physical condition this weekend.

The teens have been training in advance of the Canada Winter Games, spending 20 hours a week at Lethbridge Boxing Club.

“Instead of going three rounds with a coach or four rounds with pads, we’ve been doing upwards of five and six,” Peck said.

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Their coach said they’ve been pushing their training to the limit so both boxers will have a chance of outlasting multiple opponents to have a shot at the gold medal.

“The boys are ready to go. They’re fit and ready to fight,” Rick Duff said.

Neither Peck nor Oliver have been to the Canada Winter Games before, but are excited to take on the county’s top young talent.

“I think I’ve made a lot of improvements and I’m still making improvements. And I think I’ve made enough improvements to go and win the gold,” Oliver said.

Duff knows how instrumental these games can be for a young boxer.

He won gold at the Canada Winter Games before he represented Canada at the 1984 Summer Olympics.

“This tournament is one of the best tournaments for youth boxers,” Duff said. “It’s a stepping stone to being a senior boxer, where you can actually get on Team Canada and travel the world.”

It’s a sentiment the boys are echoing.

“It’s a stepping stone, I guess, and it’s something that I really want to do well in and move on to bigger and better things,” Oliver said.

There are 10 Lethbridge athletes across four different sports heading to the games, which kick off Friday and run until March 3 in Red Deer.

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Michael ‘Venom’ Page vs Paul Daley: Examining the roots of the Bellator MMA rivalry

Perhaps the Michael ‘Venom’ Page and Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley rivalry stems from the deep-rooted issue that neither can achieve what the other already has, writes James Dielhenn.

The warring welterweights exist at opposite ends of the spectrum, representing different generations of their sport but they seem to possess insecurities when comparing themselves to each other. They collide on Sunday morning at 3am, live on Sky Sports, in the biggest MMA fight of all time between two Brits.

No matter the result, Daley will never attract Page’s mainstream popularity and Page will likely never be as revered by the hardcore fan-base as Daley is. This uncomfortable truth has provoked them into battle.

Attention mixed martial arts fans! 🥋

Sky Sports will be the only place in the UK and Ireland to watch the US, London and Dublin shows of the Bellator MMA 2019 tour, starting later this month.

How to watch Bellator MMA on Sky Sports

Daley has been fighting nine years longer than Page, even though he is just four years older at 35. His debut in 2003 came at a time when few people even knew what MMA was. Sixteen long, gruelling years have elapsed, enough time for most careers to begin and to brutally end, but Daley is still plugging away.

He belongs to a previous era, in truth, but due to sheer grittiness he remains in major headline occasions, 58 fights and counting. That is a frankly absurd quantity of professional MMA fights for anybody, of any level.

Daley has beaten British MMA pioneer Mark Weir, latterly Jorge Masvidal who is now going through his own rejuvenation. He has recently knocked out Lorenz Larkin. There have been 16 defeats across a roller-coaster career (including to Nick Diaz, Tyron Woodley and Rory MacDonald) and one unceremonious departure from the UFC after throwing a punch at Josh Koscheck after the bell.

The former soldier in the Household Cavalry has won, lost, scrapped and persevered away from the public eye for the majority of a career that, when it ends, will be remembered fondly among the most significant of fighters from these shores. Daley is a brawler and there has been nothing pretty about his ups-and-downs.

He is the exact opposite to ‘Venom’ Page, the man he will fight this weekend to settle a long-standing grudge.

The perception of Page, who outside the cage is usually in sunglasses and inside the cage utilises a unique flashiness, is that he is a pretty boy who has enjoyed the fruits of a protected career. He is unbeaten with 13 wins but the critics say he has never been truly tested.

“He is a talented guy. Overrated? Yes,” Daley said. “Fooled a lot of people? Yes. Likes his social media? Yes. The fights that he’s fought? He has done well against that level of opposition.”

Page told Sky Sports this week: “A lot of his jealously comes from a belief that I have been given too much respect in too short a time. He has been in the sport for longer than me, and feels like he doesn’t get the respect that he deserves.

“His animosity comes from a hatred that my name is mentioned alongside his. He feels like he should be more respected.”

I can feel it taking over again #venom #MVPTV #bellatorgrandprix @bellatormma @shootfightersofficial @paradigmsm @myproteinuk @myproteinus @MVPAppareal @hdacademies @kenningwellutdfc Shoutout to @steveraydesign for the sick edit and @lenzphotos for the amazing photo

A post shared by Michael Page (@michaelvenompage) on

Page’s career has been brief in comparison but includes viral clips of sensational spinning kicks and a flying knee knockout followed by a Pokemon Go celebration. He craves the spotlight and believes Daley’s quiet work-rate has backfired.

“If he could do things over, I feel he would make changes – small things like his social media, his self-promotion,” Page said. “He has done things very late, and taken things for granted. Only now he sees someone who has promoted themselves and he realises what he should have. I think he regrets not doing things in the correct way.”

The angst between them has led to both fighters claiming ignorance towards each other’s careers (“I have never focused on anybody else,” said Page) but it seems frankly unlikely that two prominent competitors in the same weight division from the same country did not immediately identify each other as a future rival. There has long been a tetchiness between Page and Daley.

There was a bust-up between them in the crowd nearly two years ago moments after Daley had lost a fight. There have since been call-outs on the microphone. The inception of the World Grand Prix tournament made a fight inevitable, and now it has arrived.

The victor will advance in the tourney and in their career, but Page and Daley – cut from different cloths – can never win what the other man already has.

Sky Sports will be the only place in the UK and Ireland to watch the US, London and Dublin shows of the Bellator MMA 2019 tour, starting next Saturday night when Michael Page fights Paul Daley.

Sky Sports fight dates announced:

  • Bellator 216: MVP vs. Daley – Saturday Feb. 16, 2019 – Mohegan Sun Casino – Uncasville, CT, USA
  • Bellator 217: Gallagher vs. Graham – Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 – 3Arena – Dublin
  • Bellator 218: Sanchez vs. Grimshaw – Friday, March 22 – WinStar World Casino & Resort – Thackerville, OK, USA
  • Bellator 219: Koreshkov vs. Larkin – Friday, March 29 – Pechanga Resort Casino – Temecula, CA, USA
  • Bellator 220: MacDonald vs. Fitch – Saturday, April 27 – SAP Center – San Jose, CA, USA

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Suarez hits hat-trick, Barcelona sets club record

‘It was a tough night. Our tactics worked well in the third minute but then we woke up the beast,’ Girona coach said.

    Barcelona forwards Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez combined to devastating effect to hammer Girona 6-1 on Saturday as they went 10 points clear at the top of La Liga and set a club record of 32 games unbeaten in the league.

    Visiting striker Portu gave Girona a surprise lead in the third minute of their first league game at the Nou Camp.

    However, Suarez quickly levelled down the other end, while two goals from Messi and another from the Uruguayan saw Barca march into a 4-1 lead at halftime.

    Barca’s record signing Coutinho had set up Suarez’s second goal and then struck for the first time in La Liga with a spectacular long-distance shot from well outside of the area in the 66th minute. Suarez completed a hat-trick in the 76th, tapping in a cut-back from Ousmane Dembele.

    Earlier on Saturday, Real Madrid’s ‘BBC’ strikeforce hit back with a vengeance when Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema all scored in a 4-0 win at home to Alaves, a fifth successive win in all competitions for Zinedine Zidane’s side.

    Barca lead the standings on 65 points, 10 clear of Atletico Madrid who visit Sevilla on Sunday and 14 up from champions Real.

    Ernesto Valverde’s side also surpassed the club’s longest run without a defeat in the league, which had stood since April 2011 when Pep Guardiola was in charge of the Catalans.

    Valverde has favoured a 4-4-2 formation for most of the season but after his side had struggled to a 1-1 draw at Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday the coach opted for an ultra-attacking 4-3-3 against Girona, with Dembele often joining the South American trio to create a ruthless four-man attack.

    “It was a resounding victory. We were very good and we were able to find a lot of space, in the end it was a question of time,” said Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets.

    “It was a tough night. Our tactics worked well in the third minute but then we woke up the beast,” added Girona coach Pablo Machin.

    “We were nervous from the start and they were very sharp. Messi is always the one who makes the difference and he was especially good tonight.”

    Clever backheel

    Ronaldo put Real ahead on the stroke of halftime, taking advantage of a clever backheel from Benzema and before celebrating the goal he pointed to his maligned French team mate, who had been subjected to plenty of criticism from the home fans in recent weeks.

    Benzema was also the catalyst for Real’s second goal which came under a minute into the second half, with the striker winning the ball back in midfield and tearing towards goal, slipping it into Bale’s path for the Wales international to slot it inside the near post.

    Ronaldo struck Real’s third goal of the day and his 299th in La Liga in the 61st minute, meeting a cutback from in-form winger Lucas Vazquez first time and sending it under the reach of former Real goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco.

    Ronaldo then surrendered the opportunity to score a hat-trick by offering Benzema penalty-taking duties after Bale was brought down, and the Frenchman made no mistake, converting from the spot in the 89th minute.

    “I’m very happy with Ronaldo’s gesture,” Real coach Zinedine Zidane said.

    “This is a team game and it was a wonderful gesture. Karim played very well and he deserved to score as he contributed so much in our build-up play.”

    The Listening Post

    Madrid vs Barcelona: Covering Catalonia’s referendum

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    'I'll be Muslim too': Fans embrace Liverpool's Mo Salah

    New chant roars from the stadiums as Egypt-born Liverpool FC football player stuns by scoring 30 goals in a season.

      Liverpool Football Club fans have embraced Mohamed Salah, an Egyptian player, with a new chant that celebrates the 25-year-old forward’s faith.

      “Mo Sa-la-la-la-lah, Mo Sa-la-la-la-lah, if he’s good enough for you, he’s good enough for me, if he scores another few, then I’ll be Muslim too,” fans have been filmed chanting from the stadiums to the pubs as they watch Salah’s footwork at play.

      The rhyme continues: “He’s sitting in the mosque, that’s where I want to be.”

      Saleh, who also plays for Egypt’s national team, is quickly becoming a darling of the English football community.

      In 2017, he was named the BBC’s African Footballer of the Year. 

      On Wednesday, he became the thirteenth player in Liverpool FC’s 125-year history to score his 30th goal in a season in a match against Porto, prompting some to compare Salah with Argentina’s footballing legend, Lionel Messi.

      Luis Suarez, who plays for FC Barcelona, was the last player to achieve 30 goals in a season, in April 2014.

      The chant for Salah, nicknamed the Egyptian King, is being seen by some as a feat against endemic racism in English football. 

      In a report on February 7, Kick It Out – an organisation working to end discrimination in football – said the number of incidents of discrimination at the midway point of the 2017-2018 season had risen.

      The organisation received more than 300 reports relating to 282 incidents of discriminatory abuse by the end of 2017, covering the professional game, grassroots football and social media. This marked an increase of 59 percent from the same period last season, when there were 177 incidents.

      ‘Mo Salah is going to stop Islamophobia’

      Several people on social media welcomed the Liverpool FC fans’ chorus. 

      “Mo Salah doing more to end the clash of civilisations than anyone else in the world,” joked satirist Karl Sharro. 

      User @Femi_SB said: “Mo Salah is gonna stop Islamophobia.”

      “I’m not a Liverpool fan but you must believe Football builds bridges with this Red chant for Mo Salah,” wrote Gbolahan Obisesan, a writer and director. 

      Sam Egerton, a rugby player for Old Elthamians, wrote on Twitter: “Loving this Mo Salah chant. [Love] for Muslims should be amplified.”

      Several people joked, as the song does, that they were considering converting to Islam on account of Salah’s talent.

      “Mo Salah is so good I’m considering turning Muslim #TheEgyptianKing” joked @bairdy_10. 

      “I think I’m about 10 Mo Salah goals away from becoming Muslim,” wrote @OSMLFC.

      “Mo Salah has turned me in to a devout Muslim catch me outside the mosque if you’re looking for me,” said @bradleymaguire_.


      Scoring big: The global world of football

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      MLB’s DL change shows how misguided society’s concerns are

      I’d surrender but I don’t know where to report.

      Years ago, government tried to cure us of the habit of referencing the disabled as “handicapped,” as in handicapped parking and handicapped entrances. Fine. “Handicapped” seemed cold, insensitive. So the new word for the disabled became “disabled.” Reasonable, functional, clear.

      Now, MLB, so people-sensitive as to approve an ESPN Sunday night game in Colorado this April 7, has determined that disabled, as in “disabled list,” will be replaced with “injured.”

      Thus, those unable to play are not disabled. Two different things. Nurse!

      But to again quote Maynard G. Krebs — the G stood for Walter — “What an age we live in.”

      We spend more time, thought and energy working on the silly and relatively insignificant to the neglect of the things that leave us conspicuously lower.

      This MLB “injured list” decree brought to mind a local radio show I was invited on, not knowing that the host planned to jump me, not that it mattered. His position was that I’m an alarmist about the “changes” in sports that seem designed to desensitize the young, encourage them to act like remorseless creeps.

      He claimed that kids are no different now than when we were kids or when our fathers were kids, thus I should find better things to whine about.

      So if things are no different, I asked, did the NYC public middle and high schools when he was a kid have security guards and electronic scanners for weapons at the entrances? He said, “No.”

      “Well, they do now.”

      Having just shamelessly quoted myself, we arrive at that incomplete sentence or thought that serves to rationalize diminished standards: “Well, the game has changed.”

      Last week, following the death of Frank Robinson, the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy transcribed a story told him by Robinson’s Orioles’ teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Jim Palmer:

      “One night in Fenway, he hit a shot off the wall that he thought was going out. He jogged out of the box. But the ball didn’t go out. Yaz [Carl Yastrzemski] played it for a single. We won the game, so it didn’t really matter, but it mattered to Frank.

      “When [manager] Earl Weaver got to his office after the game, there was a note and a couple of $100 bills. The note read, ‘I embarrassed the ballclub. I embarrassed myself. It will never happen again.’ ”

      Running to first base is now optional, even rationalized as acceptable. And with commissioner Rob Manfred’s full public approval, MLB last year launched a campaign to encourage kids to have “fun” playing baseball by performing acts of obnoxious and risky immodesty, including bat-flipping prior to expectant home runs.

      Last week, Bob Friend, a great pitcher on mostly bad Pirates’ teams, died. Curt Block, a longtime media specialist who worked for NBC, sent this:

      “I never met Bob Friend. Only spoke to him. Once.

      “In 1964 I was a rookie sportswriter at UPI. I was assigned to write the late ‘National League Roundup.’ It was supposed to include quotes from a star of the games.

      “Friend threw an outstanding game. He was the guy I needed. I called the Pirates’ clubhouse and was told that he’d return my call. It was probably 10-10:30 p.m. Then it was midnight. Then 1 a.m.

      “Around 1:30 somebody yelled from across the room: ‘Call on three!’

      “It was Bob Friend. He’d forgotten. He remembered when he was driving home. He pulled over to call from a pay phone.

      “He was embarrassed. I was grateful. I never forgot Bob Friend.”

      A lot has changed a lot.

      Suddenly, Tirico is Mr. Hockey?

      Everywhere TV networks remain eager to reinvent the flat tire.

      NBC has announced that Mike Tirico will call an NHL game “For the First Time In His 30-Year Career.” He’ll do play-by-play on NBCSN’s Feb 20 Chicago-Detroit game.

      How nice. But why? NBC has competent hockey play-by-players. No offense to Tirico, buy why risk the telecast to someone who has never called a game? Bucket list? How many extra viewers will such an idea draw? Why draw attention from the game for a network novelty act?

      If it’s designed to promote Tirico as the new No. 1 face and voice of NBC Sports, why not have him enter attached to a hang glider? That way he has a chance of crashing before rather the game than during it.

      The last thing NBC should do for or to Tirico is push him on us so ceaselessly that the scheme becomes a see-through boomerang.
      But that’s what TV does.

      Hockey isn’t always easy to watch on TV, given the small size of the puck and its rascally temperament to suddenly vanish, yet NBC tries to do whatever it can to further limit that view. It has returned to wasting screen space and distracting viewers by adding a digital clock timing the shifts of individual players — another worthless application of technology.

      But come to think of it, in my 46-year career, I’ve never played third base for the San Diego Padres.

      The @backaftathis Twitter site continues to serve a fresh smorgasbord of Mike Francesa delights.

      This week, again, so many to choose from. But we’ll go with this one from the world’s most eminent expert on football in applying his expertise to a dissenting, thus interrupted, caller:

      “Tom Brady took over a team that was already winning.”

      In 2001, when Brady became New England’s starting QB, the Pats were 0-2. The previous year, his rookie season, the Pats were 5-11.

      But Sitting Bull just fabricates facts to fit his falsehoods. He’s paid a lot to lie. Good work if you can get it.

      It’s time to call (over)charging foul on Dolan & Co.

      Aren’t the Jim Dolan Knicks, again, committing consumer fraud?

      Can The Garden successfully argue that, in charging millions of dollars for season tickets and cable TV fees, it has done its best to produce a commensurate product in the form of even a somewhat competitive team?

      Exhibit A for the prosecution: The systemic devaluation of Enes Kanter, a valuable player.

      Even those who buy sour milk are entitled to their money back.

      There are times when police parlance sounds like Mike Mayock explaining a 2-yard plunge. For example, “Suspect traveling at a high rate of speed” sure sounds like “speeding” to me. Then there’s, “Drug deal gone bad.”

      This week’s arrest of Notre Dame WR Javon McKinley for allegedly punching two campus policemen concluded with this official assessment:

      McKinley allegedly punched both officers, “in a rude, insolent or angry manner.”

      Seems he was arrested for an IA — impolite assault.

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      AAF wanted Colin Kaepernick, but $20M price tag was too high

      Someone wanted Colin Kaepernick to play football again — but his price was too high.

      The new Alliance of American Football reached out to the former 49ers quarterback, according to The Athletic.

      AAF co-founder Bill Polian told The Athletic that CEO Charlie Ebersol reached out to Kaepernick, but nothing came of it.

      “I don’t know what transpired, but he’s obviously not playing,” Polian said.

      According to the Associated Press, Kaepernick wanted $20 million or more to consider playing with the league, which opened with its first set of games last weekend with the likes of former Jets Christian Hackenberg and John Wolford, and former Toledo standout Logan Woodside owning starting QB jobs.

      Kaepernick does fit the description of an Alliance player — one looking to entice NFL teams — though his contract demands are astronomically higher than the league norm.

      Players earn $225,000 over three years in the Alliance. They are free beginning in May to pursue NFL careers, but should they not land a job there, they are obligated to return to the AAF.

      Kaepernick helped start a wave of protests about social and racial injustice in 2016 by kneeling during the national anthem at games while with the 49ers. He has not played the past two seasons and has a lawsuit against the NFL for collusion to keep him out of the league.

      The AAF also gauged the interest of Tim Tebow, Polian said. Tebow, who is at spring training with the Mets, declined. Orlando Apollos’ coach Steve Spurrier told Pro Football Talk this week that Tebow’s decision to stick with baseball made sense.

      “No, and I don’t blame Tim,” Spurrier said. “Tim’s got a chance to go to Major League Baseball. I think Tim’s probably headed in the baseball direction. I don’t blame him. If I were in his situation, I’d probably do the same thing.”

      — with AP

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      IAAF says no plans to class Caster as male

      LONDON • The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has emphatically rejected a report that it wants the women’s Olympic 800m champion, Caster Semenya, to be classified as a biological male when her landmark case is heard next week.

      Track and field’s governing body told The Guardian that it was not classifying any athletes with differences in sexual development (DSDs) as male, “accepted their legal sex without question” and would allow all of them to continue to compete in the female category.

      However, it wants the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), to rule that DSD athletes such as Semenya, who was reportedly born with testes, must have their testosterone reduced to female levels before they compete internationally in order to ensure fairness with other women.

      Explaining its position, the IAAF said: “If a DSD athlete has testes and male levels of testosterone, they get the same increases in bone and muscle size and strength and increases in haemoglobin that a male gets when they go through puberty, which is what gives men such a performance advantage over women.

      “Therefore, to preserve fair competition in the female category, it is necessary to require DSD athletes to reduce their testosterone down to female levels before they compete at international level.”

      The IAAF’s lawyer, Jonathan Taylor, told The Guardian that the initial story was a mischaracterisation of its case. “The IAAF has not said that DSD athletes should be classified as male,” he said.

      “That is what Caster Semenya’s lawyers say our case is, because they think that will help them before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but that is not our case.”

      Semenya has been unbeatable over the distance ever since the CAS decided to change the rules in 2015 to allow inter-sex athletes to compete without taking testosterone-suppressing medication.


      If a DSD athlete has testes and male levels of testosterone, they get the same increases in bone and muscle size and strength and increases in haemoglobin that a male gets when they go through puberty, which is what gives men such a performance advantage over women.

      THE IAAF, on why it feels inter-sex athletes like Caster Semenya should be required to reduce their testosterone levels before competing internationally

      However, last year the IAAF produced scientific evidence that suggested testosterone makes a big difference in events ranging from 400m to a mile.

      That evidence has since been called into question, while Semenya’s supporters also believe that asking her to take such medication infringes on her rights.

      Last year, the United Nations’ human rights special procedures body urged the IAAF to drop the regulations, claiming they contravene international human rights.

      Some women athletes also feel they are at a massive disadvantage racing against DSDs.

      The 2016 Olympic 800m final was won by Semenya while the silver and bronze medallists, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, have also faced questions about their testosterone levels.

      Earlier that year, Britain’s Lynsey Sharp, who finished sixth in the final, said: “Everyone can see that it’s two separate races so there is nothing I can do.”

      If the CAS rules in favour of the IAAF, Semenya and other DSD athletes will have to reduce and keep their testosterone levels to no greater than 5nmol/L for six months prior to competing internationally in events ranging from 400m to a mile.


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      Manchester United’s $35 million decision to sack Jose Mourinho

      Sacking Jose Mourinho as manager cost Manchester United £19.6 million ($A35.4 million), the EPL club have announced in their annual financial figures.

      The Portuguese was sacked in December and since then United have won 10 of 12 matches and returned to the top four of the Premier League under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

      Significant: The full cost of Manchester United’s decision to sack Jose Mourinho has been revealed.Credit:PA

      In their financial figures, reported to the New York Stock Exchange, United revealed the extent of the payment to Mourinho and his assistants after their contracts were ended.

      Mourinho won the Europa League and League Cup in his three-and-a-half years with United and had signed a new deal until 2020, with the option of an extra year.

      But after United's worst start to a season for 28 years and discontent simmering behind the scenes and in public, the club chose to end Mourinho's reign and install their former striker Solskjaer, on a caretaker basis, to the end of the season.

      United said their revenue for the second quarter of the financial year was a record £208.5 million ($A377 million), up about 18 per cent on the previous year, Bloomberg reported.

      Annual revenue is forecast to be between £615 million and £630 million , United said.


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      Netball Super League sides must field two U-21 players

      The Under-21 players are set for a prominent role in the M1 Netball Super League (NSL) this year.

      In its latest bid to boost youth development in clubs, Netball Singapore (NS) has made it mandatory for all six teams to feature two U-21 players for at least two quarters in every game.

      NS is also putting its money where its mouth is. Every club – except the Mission Mannas, who are an NS selection team – will get $2,000 per youth player, up to two players under the Elite Club Scheme.

      The NSL, which begins tomorrow at Our Tampines Hub, will involve champions Blaze Dolphins, Sneakers Stingrays, Magic Marlins, Swifts Barracudas, Llabten Narwhals and Mission Mannas.

      Said NS chief executive officer Cyrus Medora: “We used to put the youth players in one team for the NSL but we didn’t really see them improving and they didn’t get to learn from their seniors.

      “When we put them in each club, they were left on the bench and didn’t get to play big matches.

      “With this new arrangement, the experienced seniors will be pushing them and they can improve themselves. If they play in the same team, there’s no one to push them.”


      Amount NSL clubs (except Mission Mannas) will get for each U-21 players, up to two players, fielded this season

      The change, he explained, will push clubs to scout for young players “instead of waiting for them”.

      He added: “This way, they also get renewal and with new players, they get stronger.

      “All the clubs agreed to do it.”

      Stingrays coach Goh Seck Tuck said that clubs and players will benefit overall.

      He said: “If it works well, in the next three years, most teams will have 60 per cent young players.

      “This indirectly revamps the whole game as the youngsters get to come out on court earlier and clubs get renewal.”

      Huang Po Chin, coach of new NSL side Narwhals who have four youth players this year, highlighted the guidance role of senior players.

      “It’s a great opportunity (for the seniors) to impart knowledge and skills to the younger ones. Their role is to bring their experience to the game and learn to adapt to the youth players.

      “They will be able to lead the juniors from training all the way to the competition. It will be great for them to show their leadership.”

      While she admitted that coaches will have more to do now, she is focused on the positives.

      “Usually it’s about playing your best combination but because of this (programme), coaches must strategise. You must think about how the youth players will fit in and tweak accordingly. So the coaches also grow. This programme is positive for all involved.”

      National U-21 player Yew Shu Ning, who is making her debut with Dolphins, said it would be a beneficial experience although she was initially nervous when playing alongside veterans like former Singapore captain Micky Lin.

      Said the 20-year-old: “The seniors are very willing to teach and I’ve learnt a lot through our training sessions. Micky will teach me what to do on court, like if I encounter a tall shooter.

      “If I have queries, I will ask and they will give me opinions based on their experiences.”

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