Alysa Liu's remarkable rise: is 13 too young to be an elite athlete?

The figure skater is barely into her teens and is already the US champion. But some believe the mental and physical strain of elite sport should waitAlysa Liu covered her face and cried as the results were announced at the US ladies figure skating championship in Detroit, Michigan, last month. Her coach, Laura Lipetsky who has worked with her since she was five, hugged her.Liu had just won the national title at the age of 13, making her the youngest athlete to have done so, and with two triple axels no less. The weeks since have been a media frenzy. She appeared on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and profiles on her meteoric rise have been published across the world. But for all the attention Liu has received, she won’t be able to compete in Worlds. She’s too young. A 1997 International Skating Union rule requires athletes to be at least 15 by 1 July preceding the season to participate in senior-level international events. Continue reading...



Steve Clarke: Rangers will do 'everything possible' to eradicate abuse suffered by Kilmarnock boss

Rangers say they will do "everything possible" to eradicate the abuse aimed at Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke in their Scottish Cup tie at Ibrox.



Snobs are wrong about women’s Serie A. It’s tight at the top and I’m learning

A salary cap makes it hard for Italy to attract the world’s best but being at Juventus has shown me the standard is highIt’s been a great week for Juventus Women as we followed up a 2-0 win over our title rivals Milan on Sunday by reaching the last four of the Coppa Italia on Wednesday. That means we are one point clear of Fiorentina at the top and will face Milan, who are in their first season, in the two-leg semi-final.I have been particularly impressed with the parity and competition at the top of the Serie A women’s league. I have been aware of a bit of snobbery about the standard here from some players, agents and coaches I have spoken to. There seems to be an uncertainty about it. Continue reading...



Warren Gatland ensures Wales leave nothing to chance against England | Ben Ryan

The head coach’s inside knowledge means a greater insight into what to expect in the crucial Six Nations encounterWhen you have already coached the world-class talent in the team you are playing against at the weekend, it’s fair to say it won’t do you any harm. Information gleaned from reams of video or the brains of performance analysts will give you a pretty good picture. However, the experiences you have gone through and the intimate knowledge of the opposition’s key figures turns all that into 4K resolution.Warren Gatland will have felt his vision is particularly sharp this week. On Saturday, two great rivals go toe-to-toe in what is certainly the biggest matchup between the two since the pool game at the World Cup in 2015. The plan for Wales going into the 80 minutes in Cardiff will be as clear and concise as Warren Gatland has ever produced. From his time with the British and Irish Lions Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, Elliot Daly, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes and more will be known to Gatland way beyond any match analysis. He knows how they play, what makes them tick and what they are capable of. Continue reading...



Talking Horses: Rooneys return to Cheltenham plus Thursday's best bets

Owners reverse decision to snub Festival after discussions and reassurances from track officialsThe Rooney family are to enter horses for the Cheltenham Festival, it was announced by the racecourse on Thursday morning. Paul and Clare Rooney, who are among the most prolific owners in jump racing, made headlines last month when they instructed their trainers to make no further entries at the home of jump racing, because of concerns over injuries suffered by some of their runners at the track, but their fears have evidently been allayed.“They’ll have plenty of entries,” confirmed Jason Maguire, their racing manager. He mentioned I’m A Game Changer as one of their more likely contenders for the Festival’s handicaps. The Last Samuri and Kruzhlinin could represent the Rooneys in the Foxhunter Chase. Continue reading...



Cheltenham: Clare and Paul Rooney tell trainers to resume entering runners at course

Leading owners Paul and Clare Rooney want their horses to race again at Cheltenham after previous concerns over injury rates.



Chris Eubank Jr: ‘Nothing can match the feeling of having your hand raised after a fight’

Brighton super-middleweight has one last chance to show that he can live with a top operator on Saturday when he takes on James DeGale in a bout which will leave the loser with nowhere to go“This is the biggest and most important fight of my career,” Chris Eubank Jr says quietly, rocking gently on a plastic chair in a tiny office tucked away in his gym on Hove seafront. He nods intently as he considers his battle against James DeGale at the O2 in London on Saturday night. “It’s definitely the one where I have the most to lose. A loss would leave me in no man’s land. DeGale is in exactly the same position. We both cannot afford defeat. We’re both on the edge and someone’s going to fall.”I have asked just one opening question and Eubank has cut to the heart. He and DeGale are preparing for a bout which will surely leave the loser facing the end of his career. Of course this is boxing and so a controversial decision or a narrow defeat might persuade the defeated fighter that one last shot at redemption is possible. But both men recognise their future, and long-term reputations, could be decided this weekend. Continue reading...



Manchester City fan in ‘critical condition’ after alleged assault in Germany

• Supporter in hospital following attack after Schalke game• City staff have remained in Germany to offer supportManchester City have confirmed that a supporter is in “a critical condition in hospital” after an alleged assault following their Champions League victory over Schalke on Wednesday.A statement from the Premier League champions on Thursday revealed that members of the club’s staff are still in Germany to offer support to the injured fan’s family. Continue reading...



Gareth Anscombe preferred at fly half for Wales’s clash with England

• Dan Biggar among replacements named by Warren Gatland• Cory Hill replaces Adam Beard and Gareth Davies comes inGareth Anscombe has been preferred to the more experienced Dan Biggar and will start at fly-half for Wales against England at the Principality Stadium.Warren Gatland named a team for Saturday’s Six Nations Test showing only two changes from the side who beat France three weeks ago. Continue reading...



The best of Gordon Banks, Tony Romo's gold and Juve's Welshmen | Classic YouTube

This week’s round-up also features a Nascar crash, the World Club Challenge and parkour1) Farewell, then, Gordon Banks. Where else to start than The Save? Or, A Version Of The Save. Here he is keeping Denis Law out at Wembley in 1967, beating the looping deflection in style. The Pathe news report on 1966 is always worth a look, not least for some jaffas of saves by our man. No patriotic conviviality a few years later when he saved a penalty from Geoff Hurst in a broiling League Cup semi-final between Stoke and West Ham. Enjoy a compilation of his top stops, soundtracked by some delicious 1960s lounge jazz. Certainly more appropriate than Sabrina Vaz (us neither) to go with this clip of the last game Banks played before the car crash that effectively ended his career as a top-class goalkeeper, although as you can see in this Channel 4 interview, he declared the loss of his right eye “not too bad.” Finally … go on then, here it is.2) It’s the rugby league World Club Challenge this weekend, as Wigan take on the Sydney Roosters. Here’s the first official edition of the game, when Widnes turned over Canberra in 1989. And regard the time Wigan won it for the third time, a belter against Brisbane in 1994, featuring the British national anthem as played on a toy Stratocaster. The 2010 edition was a bit weird: Melbourne Storm won the game, beating Leeds Rhinos 18-10 (first half, and second here), only for them to be stripped of the title due to financial irregularities, but rather than give the crown to Leeds it was just…left in the ether. Continue reading...



The Breakdown | Wing commanders: why Six Nations speedsters are rolling back the years

Half the 32 tries scored in this year’s tournament have been scored by wide men as Jonny May and George North have emerged as key forcesInterviewing Maurice Richards, the Wales wing who scored four tries against England in 1969, was a warming return to days long gone when matches that were clotted with set pieces and punch-ups were invariably interrupted by moments of brilliance that endured in the memory.Richards kick-started the golden era for Wales when they won the triple crown 50 years ago, but left for rugby league six months later. Others at that time went on to become world renowned while Richards was breaking records at Salford, but the game has seen few more accomplished wings: he had everything and more. Continue reading...



García, Kuchar and Holmes: three golfers out of touch with reality | Ewan Murray

Spaniard’s petulance, Kuchar’s thrifty touch and Holmes’s slow play sit uneasily with the public but Tiger Woods offers hopeThe World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship is an unlikely saviour for the sport. At the first staging of this tournament, in 2017, players and caddies were affected by sickness to such an extent that an emergency ward by the 18th green would have been a valid addition. The impact on last year was inevitable; Rory McIlroy gave the event a miss despite a $10m prize pot, as again did Jason Day. The tournament seen by many as a beacon of light, having prised WGC status away from the Donald Trump-owned Doral site in Miami, was floundering. Related: Fifty seconds for a one-foot putt: Is slow play killing golf? Continue reading...



Hamed v Eubank, Nani mocks Rio, and Jossy's Giants cameos

This week’s roundup also features Wales v England memories, Sir Charles Barkley and Francis Benali1) On Saturday, James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr will finally settle their longstanding beef: who was made to look sillier by George Groves? On which point, Naseem Hamed delivered a brilliantly withering assessment of Eubank’s performance against Groves, so withering that it required a second stanza; perhaps he was avenging this absolute rinsing he suffered at the hands of Eubank Sr. And for old time’s sake here are Groves and Carl Froch showing how it’s done, and here’s the best of the Prince. Related: Anthony Joshua brushes off Jarrell Miller testosterone claims before fight Continue reading...



England v West Indies: Tourists recall Sam Billings & Dawid Malan for T20 series

England recall Sam Billings and Dawid Malan for the three-match Twenty20 series against the West Indies in March.



'Rugby's like a chessboard with 120kg pieces' - how virtual reality could transform training

Painstaking research, virtual reality and holding the tackle bags in training... an insight into how a top rugby analyst operates.



Why is Cleveland Indians' Trevor Bauer MLB's most hated man?

A climate skeptic and Twitter troll, the pitcher claims he’s only good at two things: ‘throwing baseballs and pissing people off’He may not be the most reviled man in US sports just yet, but Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer seems hell-bent on earning the title. The 28-year-old has been irritating opponents, fans and even his own teammates for years, which makes it all the more amusing that the most recent headlines he’s made have involved him complaining about his own well-deserved bad reputation.Few can quibble with Bauer’s production on the field: he’s an All-Star starting pitcher who went 12-2 last year for the Indians with a 2.21 ERA. He also likes to portray himself as an iconoclastic rebel, the last honest man. “I’m good at two things in this world,” he said in a recent Sports Illustrated profile, “throwing baseballs and pissing people off.” The story also goes into detail about his unconventional training methods, which include pumping electricity into his brain. Continue reading...



Pep Guardiola: Newport were chanting 'Who are you?' It was nice – video

Pep Guardiola praised his Manchester City players, in particular Phil Foden, as they beat Newport County 4-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.Newport had beaten both Leicester City and Middlesbrough on their way to the fifth round of the tournament, and contained the Premier League leaders well for significant spells of the game.  Continue reading...