Stephen Hendry: ‘I hate the word yips, it trivialises it. It was much more than that’ | Donald McRae

The seven-times world champion on his duels with Davis, Higgins, White and O’Sullivan and how his famed mental strength disintegrated leaving him no choice but to quit“It was a mixture of embarrassment, anger, frustration, sadness, everything,” Stephen Hendry says as he remembers how his dominance of snooker unravelled into, in his mind, a shambling wreck of a game. When the end came, in the quarter-finals of the 2012 world championships, Hendry was so besieged by psychological demons “there was nothing positive left”.Hendry’s favourite sportsmen are Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher, Nick Faldo and AP McCoy and he was once as imperious as they had been. He holds the record for the most world titles, with all seven being won in the 1990s, and he was world No 1 for eight successive seasons. But the great champions feel it most when vulnerability takes over. Continue reading...



Blackpool FC, a Kyrgyzstan money-laundering conviction and a non-takeover

Valeri Belokon thought he had the go-ahead to take over Blackpool from Owen Oyston but a court hearing in Kyrgyzstan – which he says ignored natural justice – has the club in limboWhen the Latvian bank mogul Valeri Belokon won his landmark high court case against the Blackpool owner, Owen Oyston, last November, it seemed finally to deliver the means of ending Oyston’s long, toxic tenure at Bloomfield Road. Yet nearly a year on Oyston remains in charge despite the ruling that he “illegitimately stripped” the club of £26.77m after its one jackpot season in the Premier League, and must pay that huge sum to Belokon, plus the Latvian’s original £4.5m investment and costs.Belokon can seize and sell any Oyston assets to realise that £34m total but the club is out of his reach. He is prevented by the EFL’s owners and directors “fit and proper person” test, which bars people who have a criminal conviction involving dishonesty. Obscure as it appears, Belokon does have one, for money laundering, in the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, following a court hearing there last year in his absence. Continue reading...



Football transfer rumours: Neymar dreaming of Messi reunion at Barça?

Today’s fluff needs something to rely onNeymar is sad and bored and lonely in Paris and is dreaming of a return to Barcelona, says Mundo Deportivo. “Paris is a great city,” it notes, “but its climate is not that of Barcelona, nor is the Parc des Princes the Camp Nou or the Seine the Mediterranean.” The Brazilian continues to shower his former teammates, whom he left so willingly in 2017, with messages concerning a move back to Spain. “Neymar longs for his old club and his old teammates, especially Lionel Messi, as well as his old life in Barcelona and the greatness of his old club,” it writes. These feelings have never been reciprocated, with many at Barcelona still scarred by the betrayal they saw in the Brazilian’s departure. “However, lately this perception has changed,” Mundo Deportivo continues, “and the return of the Brazilian is already being considered as a plausible possibility.”That’s as may be. But several members of the Barcelona team, including Gerard Piqué, Lionel Messi and Samuel Umtiti, appear to think priorities should lie elsewhere and are campaigning for the club to buy Paul Pogba, says the Daily Mail. “Manager Ernesto Valverde is also keen,” it reports. So with the manager, their greatest player and a host of other dressing-room regulars all behind the move, and the club coffers assumed to be bulging with booty, it looks as if the move is bound to happen – except the Mail also reports that profits are down to a meagre £10m, and not everyone is in favour of the deal happening anyway. “Barcelona scouts are split,” it says, “with some believing the club’s slick passing game requires midfielders who take fewer risks on the ball and have greater positional sense.” Continue reading...



Scottish cyclist smashes round-the world record

Jenny Graham arrives in Berlin after cycling 18,000 miles across four continents in 124 days A British adventurer has become the fastest woman to cycle around the world. Jenny Graham circumnavigated the globe in 124 days, knocking nearly three weeks off the previous record.The 38-year-old from Inverness arrived at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Thursday. She managed the feat in 20 days fewer than the 144 it took Italy’s Paola Gianotti in 2014. Continue reading...



European Open: Kyle Edmund thrashes Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Antwerp

British number one Kyle Edmund thrashes Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-0 6-2 to reach the European Open quarter-finals.



Youth Olympics: Russia score bizarre own goal in futsal gold-medal match

Russia's Danil Karpuik scores a bizarre own goal in the early stages of the Youth Olympics men's futsal gold-medal match.



Online aggression skews debate over suspended West Ham youth coach | Jacob Steinberg

Disreputable or an individual’s right? Battle lines on social media have sent the temperature soaring regarding the actions of West Ham’s Mark PhillipsWhen Kick It Out contacted West Ham about the youth coach who went on the Democratic Football Lads Alliance march through central London last Saturday, football’s anti‑discrimination organisation was not trying to stir the pot. Its aim was not to land Mark Phillips in hot water. It had an obligation to act after receiving an anonymous report about Phillips appearing to align himself with an organisation accused of Islamophobia and of having links with far-right groups.Yet the temperature inevitably rose on Twitter as soon as the Guardian broke the story about Phillips on Tuesday morning. For people who see nothing wrong with the Democratic Football Lads Alliance, a group condemned by anti-racist campaigners, it was a case of political correctness gone mad. Because it had acted on an anonymous complaint against the coach of West Ham’s Under-18s, Kick It Out was accused of being snowflakes who wanted to shut down free speech and, even more bizarrely, of being the real fascists. Continue reading...



Watch: Fan costs Houston Astros by blocking 'amazing leap' from Red Sox player

Watch the moment a fan costs the Houston Astros a two-run home run by interfering with play and stopping Boston Red Sox fielder Mookie Betts from catching the ball.



Two police officers could face charges over Taser death of ex-footballer Atkinson

Ex-Aston Villa striker Dalian Atkinson died in August 2016 after being Tasered by police.



Hart has nothing to prove on Man City return - Dyche

Joe Hart "has nothing to prove" when he returns to Manchester City as an opponent for the first time on Saturday, says Burnley boss Sean Dyche.



Nadal and Djokovic need to break silence over Saudi exhibition | Kevin Mitchell

The two players appear to have remained deaf to growing clamour over seeming endorsement of Saudi Arabia amid outrage over disappearance of Jamal KhashoggiRafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, men of conscience and integrity, continue to risk their good name by accepting an invitation to play in a meaningless exhibition in Saudi Arabia, a regime under critical scrutiny for the disappearance of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.The kidnap-and-murder story has led news bulletins around the world – alongside Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the conflict that has contributed to the famine engulfing Yemen – yet efforts this week by the Guardian to elicit a response from either player over playing in Jeddah on 22 December have proved fruitless. Continue reading...



Unai Emery urges Aaron Ramsey to keep focus despite contract position

• Midfielder set to leave at end of season or in January• ‘Individual things are not for now,’ Arsenal manager saysUnai Emery has challenged Aaron Ramsey to keep his performances up while his contract runs down. The midfielder, whose deal expires in the summer with negotiations frozen, is keen to see out the season at Arsenal rather than leave in January, and Emery’s only concern is that Ramsey’s performances and motivation stay on track.“I want his performance to be like another player,” the manager said. “At the last match he started on the bench, played 35 minutes. For Monday against Leicester if he starts in first XI or the bench his focus must be to help us in the match, the same as any player.” Continue reading...



Fifty years on: Bob Beamon smashes long jump world record at Mexico Olympics

Lynn Davies looks back 50 years ago today, when Bob Beamon smashed the long jump world record at the Mexico Olympics.



Kaneria admits spot-fixing after six years of denials

Former Pakistan leg spinner Danish Kaneria admits to spot-fixing while at Essex, ending six years of denial.