Culture

 

British Queen celebrates

Sport

 

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke has been appointed captain of Europe for the 2016 Ryder Cup against the United States, the European team announced on Wednesday.

"I am naturally extremely proud to be selected as European Ryder Cup captain for 2016," Clarke said in a statement on the European Ryder Cup team website.

"The Ryder Cup has been a massive part of my life and my career, so to have the chance to lead Europe next year is a huge honour."

Former British Open champion Clarke, 46, beat off competition from Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn to succeed Paul McGinley, who led Europe to a five-point victory over the USA at Gleneagles last September.

Clarke, who was the favourite for the role, played in five Ryder Cups and was vice-captain in 2010 and 2012.

He will now lead Europe's bid for a fourth successive victory at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minnesota on September 30-October 2 next year.

"I am lucky to have played and worked under some fantastic captains in my seven Ryder Cups to date and I look forward to the challenge of trying to follow in their footsteps and help Europe to a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup victory at Hazeltine next year," Clarke added.

McGinley joined predecessors Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie, European Tour chief executive George O'Grady and players' representative David Howell on a five-man selection panel that convened to appoint a new captain at Wentworth, south-west of London.

Montgomerie told Sky Sports News the decision to appoint Clarke had been "unanimous".

McGinley's relationship with Clarke was believed to have become strained after the latter reneged on a pledge not to challenge McGinley for the captaincy in 2014.

But after leading Europe to a 16.5-11.5 success at Gleneagles, McGinley said that he would not let his personal feelings colour his thoughts about who should succeed him.

 

 

 

England bagged early World Cup bragging rights by clawing back a 10-point deficit to claim a thrilling 21-16 victory over Wales in the opening match of the Six Nations on Friday.

Wales stormed out to a 10-0 lead in the opening nine minutes at an electric Millennium Stadium after a Rhys Webb try converted by Leigh Halfpenny, who also added a penalty.

But the visitors, missing a raft of first choices through injury, responded with tries from Bath backs Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph, George Ford kicking a conversion and three penalties, as Halfpenny added another and Dan Biggar a drop-goal for the home side.

"I just wanted to knock it over for the lads," said man of the match Ford.

"The performance -- especially by the pack -- was outstanding. We felt comfortable in the first half but had a bit of poor start."

Joseph said that England believe they have the strength and talent to take on any side in World Cup year.

"It's incredible. No greater feeling to come here to Wales and win, probably one of our greatest rivals," he told the BBC.

 

"But the boys dug deep and got the win we deserved. There's a lot of confidence in the side and we've got the belief we can attack and penetrate."

Wales captain Sam Warburton admitted his side fell off the pace after the interval.

"We're very disappointed, it's not the start we wanted. The second half we struggled to get momentum and it seemed like England were on top for large parts," he said.

The victory, coming after the 30-3 humiliation England suffered in the corresponding fixture two years ago, sets up the World Cup it hosts nicely, with the English drawn in the same tough pool as Wales, Australia and Fiji, with only two teams qualifying for the knock-out phase.

After a five-minute delay to the kick-off, Halfpenny booted a touchline penalty in the second minute after Jonny May infringed.

 

 

 

Japan's Kei Nishikori fought past a tough Australian challenge from Jordan Thompson to post a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4) opening win at the Kooyong Classic on Wednesday.

The defending champion at the eight-man tune-up for the Australian Open needed just over two hours to earn the victory.

US Open finalist Nishikori, ranked fifth in the world, was forced to work hard in swirling winds at Kooyong Club.

"Conditions made it tough to play," said the 25-year-old Nishikori.

"It was difficult for me to be aggressive. But I played a good tiebreak and I'm happy to win today."

 

 

 

 

Lazar Markovic scored the only goal as improving Liverpool provisionally closed to within four points of the Premier League's top four by winning 1-0 at Sunderland on Saturday.

At a gusty Stadium of Light, the 20-year-old Serbia winger's ninth-minute strike -- his first Premier League goal -- enabled Liverpool to extend their unbeaten run to five league games.

Gus Poyet's Sunderland, who had Liam Bridcutt sent off for two bookable offences, remain three points above the relegation zone with only one win from their last 11 games.

Having earlier seen a penalty appeal waved away after tumbling under a challenge from Wes Brown, Markovic put Liverpool ahead when he gathered a pass from Fabio Borini and prodded the ball between Costel Pantilimon's legs.

Markovic then hit the bar with a spectacular, improvised scissors kick as Liverpool dominated, while former Sunderland loanee Borini rounded Pantilimon, only to find the side-netting.

The visitors lost Steven Gerrard at half-time, with Dejan Lovren coming on, but their position was strengthened in the 49th minute when Bridcutt was shown a second yellow card for impeding Emre Can.

 

 

 

Villarreal registered their seventh consecutive win in all competitions to move above Sevilla on goal difference into fifth in La Liga thanks to a 3-0 victory over Deportivo la Coruna on Sunday.

Jonathan dos Santos got the hosts off to the perfect start when the on-loan Barcelona midfielder slammed home his first goal for the club.

Argentine striker Luciano Vietto then added to his fine debut season in Spain with two simple finishes five minutes apart midway through the second-half to make the game safe before the hosts ended with 10 men when substitute Tomas Pina was sent-off.

Marcelino's men shot themselves back into contention for a return to the Champions League by inflicting Atletico Madrid's first defeat at the Vicente Calderon for 19 months last weekend and were in no mood to lose any ground in the battle for the top four as they flew out of the blocks.

They were rewarded with the opening goal after just 10 minutes when Fabricio could only parry Denis Cheryshev's low effort into the path of Dos Santos who gratefully steered the ball into an empty net.

The Deportivo 'keeper redeemed himself with fine saves from Cheryshev, Vietto and Ikechukwu Uche to keep the visitors in the game at half-time.

But despite an improved start to the second period they were hit again on the counter-attack for the crucial second goal 22 minutes from time when Victor Ruiz squared for Vietto to tap home.

 

 

The temperament around the Arsenal camp was anything besides bubbly this weekend after an excruciating thrashing to Stoke.

However Gunners stars have brought some welcome light help to incidents by wearing a few Christmas jumpers for a decent cause.

 

 

 

Two-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said Monday he is determined to keep winning Formula One titles after his triumph in Abu Dhabi.

After a night of partying following Sunday's Grand Prix victory, the 29-year-old Briton said he would get immediately down to work improving the car for next season.

"We want to be able to go into next season and compete again and be as strong as possible.

"That's obviously going to be the goal and I have absolute faith in the team that we will come back very, very strong next year."

Hamilton's victory, after Mercedes teammate and season long rival Nico Rosberg made a poor start from pole position and then suffered mechanical problems on his way to finishing 14th, added a second title to the first won in 2008.

 

Mercedes dominated the season with a record 16 wins in 19 races – 11 to Hamilton and five to Rosberg – and produced speed and consistency that left their rivals stranded.

The team now appear poised to enjoy an era of supremacy like that of Germans Michael Schumacher, at Ferrari, and Sebastian Vettel, at Red Bull.

"The first title was an exceptional and an incredible feeling for me,” said Hamilton.

"That was achieving a life-long goal of getting to Formula One and winning the world championship. I don't know if I was in a place to really embrace it and absorb it in the way I can today.

"Being a part of this team is definitely a more satisfying feeling. Winning this championship with this team -- a young team that has worked so hard to get to where we are," he added.

"To be a part of that is something really very special.

"You see the atmosphere in the team, you see the guys at the factory and what's gone on with the partnership with Petronas and all the guys back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth putting the team together.

 

 

Norwegian prodigy Magnus Carlsen retained his title as World Chess Champion on Sunday, defeating rival Viswanathan Anand for the second year in a row.

The 23-year-old world number one beat India's Anand, title-holder of the championship from 2007 to 2013 when he was dethroned by Carlsen, in two of 11 games of the competition, with the others ending in draws.

"I am very happy," Carlsen was quoted as saying by Russian press agency TASS. "It was a very difficult match, much more difficult than last year."

"Anand is a very strong chess player, but he had practically no chance of winning."

Carlsen had been playing since November 8 against Anand, who is nearly 20 years his senior, in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The victory, secured with a difference of just two points, will mean one million euros ($1.2 million) in prize money for Carlsen just a week before his 24th birthday.

"Overall, throughout the match, Carlsen played better than I did," Anand was quoted as saying by TASS.

"I tried, but the risk didn't work out. Carlsen didn't make a mistake. I had nothing left to do but take risks."

Carlsen turned grandmaster at 13 and in 2010, aged only 19, became the youngest player in history to be ranked world number one. He won the Candidates Tournament in 2013 to earn the right to challenge Anand.

His breakthrough in chess came in 2004, when as a 13-year-old he defeated Russian former world champion Anatoly Karpov, forced Russian legend Garry Kasparov to a draw, and became a grandmaster.

Before Carlsen captured the championship crown in 2013, the last Westerner to hold the title was American legend Bobby Fischer who relinquished it in 1975.

Carlsen missed by a few weeks becoming the youngest world champion, a record set by his one-time coach Kasparov in 1985.

 

 

 

 

 

England landed in Sri Lanka yesterday.

It was drizzling. It much of the time rains in Colombo at this point of year. Seven one-day internationals are planned for this visit, considered to be critical if for England's group holding before the World Cup, yet the explanation behind the extreme number might likewise be joined with a suspicion that few may be deficient.

On entry, the squad of 15 just about to a man took to the exercise center, as is the path with the advanced cricketer. In the event that the occasional storm endures in the south-west when the true business begins, their holding may be carried out there – and without a doubt on an arrangement of machine amusements.

 

 

Map, tent, water, food: check. All needed to scale the snow-capped peak of Africa's highest mountain Kilimanjaro.

Bat, ball, stumps, pads: check. Also needed when you're hoping to break the world record for the highest game of cricket ever played.

Two teams are taking part in a gruelling eight-day trek up the vast extinct volcano, to play a full Twenty20 game in the ice-covered crater just below its rugged peak, at 5,785 metres (19,000 feet).

"Kilimanjaro is definitely not somewhere I thought I'd bowl a few overs, but the challenge thanks to the altitude is huge... bring it on!" English bowling legend Ashley Giles, one of the captains of the mixed professional and amateur teams, told AFP.

The eccentric dream, to hear the thwack of willow on leather over three miles (five kilometres) high, was thought up by expedition leader David Harper, a British hotel real estate consultant.

Harper said he planned the match in a bar after his wife told him the "only way he was ever likely to play cricket at the highest level would be if he played on the top of a mountain".

After a week of climbing that began Saturday, teams plan to reach the peak at dawn on Friday.

But they then must play a full game in the crater of the dormant volcano, laying down a plastic track for the wicket over the ash before playing in the thin, freezing air surrounded by vast blocks of ice.

 

South African icon Makhaya Ntini, the country's first black Test player, is also taking part in what he called an "massive, exciting challenge".

There will be half the level of oxygen than at sea level for the game, doubling energy needed for the match.

The teams are taking oxygen tanks for medical emergencies.

But while flurries of snow may be possible in the bitter cold, organiser Harper promises that at least "rain is unlikely to stop play".

Qualified umpires will ensure the charity game is played properly -- and is eligible to break the record.

 

The mainly English team also includes players from Australia, Canada, Kenya and South Africa.

"It is a incredible challenge," said Heather Knight, the other team captain, who back home is vice-captain of the English women's team.

The expedition of over 30 players and umpires -- and an AFP journalist -- are making the trek to the top, along with a Tanzanian support team of over a hundred, helping to carry the kit and food up to the top.

The current record for the world's highest game is 5,165 metres (16,945 feet), played in the Himalayas at Everest base camp in Nepal in 2009.

If successful, the game on Kilimanjaro will be over 600 metres higher.