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IWF World Cup: Ecuador's Dajomes Barrera tops women's 81kg

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Phuket (Thailand), April 9 (IANS) Ecuadorian weightlifter Neisi Patricia Dajomes Barrera clinched the title in the women’s 81kg category at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Cup here on Tuesday.

Dajomes Barrera lifted 123kg in the snatch and 146kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 269kg, winning golds for the snatch and total, reports Xinhua.

The Ecuadorian won the women’s 76kg gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics before moving up to the 81kg category, as the 76kg division will not feature at this summer’s Paris Olympic Games.

Eileen Cikamatana of Australia won gold in the clean and jerk with 149kg. China’s Wang Zhouyu lifted 120kg in the snatch and 147kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 267kg to win silvers in all three categories.

The IWF World Cup in Phuket runs until April 11 and serves as a qualifying event for Paris 2024.

–IANS

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Flick wants to repeat successful Bayern times at Barcelona

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Berlin, May 30 (IANS) August 14, 2020, remains etched in the history of Catalan football. That evening, Bayern Munich dismantled Barcelona 8-2 in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, a traumatic experience for FC Barcelona.

Fast forward four years, the man who led Bayern to that victory, Hansi Flick, has signed a contract with the Spanish giants, valid until 2026. The 59-year-old addressed Barcelona fans in Catalan on the club’s social media channels, asking for their support. “Culers, that’s our moment. Forza Barca,” said the former German national coach, succeeding Barca icon Xavi.

In 2020, Flick reached the pinnacle of his coaching career, winning six titles with Bayern, a feat only matched by Pep Guardiola with Barcelona in 2009. Flick’s tenure at Bayern, although brief at 18 months, was highly successful, yielding seven titles, including the Champions League and two national championships, reports Xinhua.

Flick’s coaching highlights also include winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup as Joachim Loew’s assistant, where he significantly influenced the German team’s success. However, his time as Germany’s head coach from 2021 to 2023 was tumultuous, marked by a group-stage exit at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, leading to his dismissal – the first in the national team’s history.

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Flick earned a reputation as a player-catcher, maintaining close relationships with his players and fostering a strong team spirit despite internal club disagreements. In 2020, he was named Europe’s Coach of the Year.

Flick becomes the third German to coach Barcelona, following Hennes Weisweiler (1975/76) and Udo Lattek (1981-1983). Despite not speaking Spanish, Flick, a four-time German champion as a player, will rely on a translator’s support.

At Barcelona, Flick will reunite with familiar faces such as goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, German national team captain Ilkay Gundogan, and former Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski.

Flick expressed optimism, “The club’s game approach and mine fit perfectly together. We talk about pressing and attacking football. I won several titles with Bayern, and I want to continue that with Barca.”

Aside from a brief stint as assistant coach at RB Salzburg in Austria, this is Flick’s first job abroad. “I am hungry for success,” he said, expressing pride in coaching a club like Barcelona, “as I feel everyone’s passion for this special club.”

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Expectations are high, with the goal of returning to national and international glory despite the club’s reported financial challenges. Flick is also expected to integrate talents developed in Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy.

–IANS

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French Open: Iga Swiatek saves match point to beat Naomi Osaka

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Paris, May 30 (IANS) World No.1 Iga Swiatek came back from 0-3 down to save a match point at 5-3 in the decider before overcoming Naomi Osaka and pulling off a great escape into the third round at the French Open here on Wednesday.

In a clash between two four-time Grand Slam winners, Swiatek, the top seed, pulled things back to 5-5 and ultimately prevailed 7-6(1), 1-6, 7-5 under the roof on Court Philippe Chatrier.

While raindrops were pelted the stadium roof, and disrupted the schedule on the outer courts, Swiatek of Poland faced some tough questions from former World No.1 Osaka, a two-time winner at both the Australian and US Open, in this early second-round test.

Though she was playing her least favourite surface and is just five months into her comeback following the birth of daughter Skai, Osaka pushed Swiatek, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, to the absolute limit.

In a tense and thrilling match that had the look and feel of a championship final, Osaka was her vintage self. Despite being ranked No.134 in the latest WTA rankings, the Japanese star played like it was 2019, the year she won her first Grand Slam in Australia, achieved the World No.1 ranking and also won the WTA Tour Finals.

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However, in the end, Swiatek tapped into her energy reserves and fought back bravely to emerge victorious.

This was Swiatek’s 16th consecutive win at Roland Garros, the most since Justine Henin won 24 straight between 2005-10. This was also Swiatek’s 14th straight win this year.

Osaka actually won more points, had 17 more winners and more service breaks — but Swiatek was better when it mattered.

After splitting the first two sets, Osaka faced three break points in her opening service game — and saved them all. She then broke Swiatek with a backhand crosscourt winner to go 2-0 up. In Osaka’s second service game, she saved five more break points, before Swiatek’s forehand return found the net.

Now Osaka led 3-0 and went on to serve for the match at 5-3.

But at 30-all, she smashed a forehand into the net followed by a backhand that flew long. On Swiatek’s second break point, Osaka hit what looked like a makeable backhand just long and the match was back on serve.

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In the end, Osaka just could not close the deal. There were some tired-looking forehands and, with Osaka serving at 5-all, a double fault that gave Swiatek a pivotal 6-5 advantage.

Leading 30-15, Swiatek hit a screaming backhand crosscourt winner to go up 40-15. One more errant backhand from Osaka gave her the match.

Gauff ousts Zidansek

No.3 seed Coco Gauff edged former Roland Garros semifinalist Tamara Zidansek 6-3, 6-4 to move through to the third round. The American needed 1 hour and 31 minutes to edge the Slovenian, once ranked World No.22 but a qualifier in Paris this year, and bounced back to ease to victory after trailing 3-1 in the first set.

Gauff double-faulted twice in the opening game of the match en route to losing serve. But those were her only double faults of the first set. The World No.3 also trailed 2-1 in the second set after Zidansek broke back and held after losing the opening game — and also saw a 4-2 lead evaporate to 4-4. But after a break to 15, her third of the match, Gauff held her serve from 15-30 down and sailed safely into the Round of 32.

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–IANS

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French Open: Alcaraz passes tough de Jong test to advance as rainy disrupts schedule

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Paris, May 30 (IANS) With Wednesday’s schedule at the French Open disrupted by incessant rain, Spanish third seed Carlos Alcaraz overcame a stern test from Dutch qualifier Jesper de Jong to reach the third round.

With matches possible only on the two show courts — Court Philippe Chatrier and Court Suzanne Lenglen that are covered by a roof, Alcaraz won one of the three men’s singles matches that could be played on Wednesday.

But it was a difficult outing as the former World No.1 was taken to four sets and eventually prevailed 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 to reach the third round.

The Spaniard, a former US Open and Wimbledon winner, started well but dropped his level in the third set and trailed by a break in the fourth. However, with the situation starting to get serious, the 21-year-old Alcaraz regained concentration and rediscovered his consistency to overcome De Jong.

The No. 3 player in the PIF ATP Rankings is competing for the first time since Madrid after he missed Rome due to an arm injury. Alcaraz blitzed J.J. Wolf for the loss of just four games in his opening match in Paris but showed signs of rustiness against de Jong in the pair’s first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting.

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The 23-year-old de Jong troubled Alcaraz with his consistent depth but tired in the closing stages of the match, having entered off the back of a four-hour, five-set win against Jack Draper in the first round.

Alcaraz hit 35 winners but committed 47 unforced errors under the roof on Court Philippe Chatrier. He eventually sealed victory after three hours and eight minutes when de Jong struck a forehand into the net. The 20-year-old will hope to improve when he plays Sebastian Korda or Soonwoo Kwon in the third round.

Alcaraz is chasing his third major, having won the US Open in 2022 and Wimbledon in 2023. His best result at the clay-court Slam came in 2023 when he fell to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.

Outer-court play at Roland Garros has been washed out for the rest of Wednesday as persistent rain continues to pour down on Paris. All of Wednesday’s outer-court second-round matches, both in progress and scheduled, have been postponed to Thursday at the earliest.

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–IANS

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Olympic pole vault champion Braz to miss Paris Games after failing dope test

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Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), May 29 (IANS) Olympic pole vault champion Thiago Braz will miss the Paris Olympic Games after breaching anti-doping regulations, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has announced.

The 30-year-old Brazilian was provisionally suspended last July after he was found to have traces of the performance-enhancing drug ostarine glucuronide in his urine following a routine test, the AIU said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the AIU said Braz had violated world athletics doping rules related to “metabolites or markers”, reports Xinhua.

It issued him with a 16-month suspension, backdated to the start of the provisional ban, meaning he will only be free to compete again in November.

The Paris 2024 Olympics will be held from July 26 to August 11.

Braz argued that he had inadvertently consumed the substance through sports supplements given to him by his nutritionist.

Ostarine is used to enhance muscle growth and athletic performance.

Braz won gold at the Rio Games in 2016 and took bronze in Tokyo five years later. He also claimed the silver medal at the World Indoor Championships in 2022 and holds the indoor and outdoor Brazilian pole vault records.

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–IANS

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IOC reacts sharply as IBA says it will award prize money to Olympic medallists

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Lausanne (Switzerland), May 29 (IANS) The International Boxing Association (IBA) on Wednesday announced that it will award prize money to pugilists who will win medals in the upcoming Paris Olympic Games, the move getting a sharp reaction from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IBA, which is supported by Russian state-owned gas corporation Gazprom and has been thrown out of the Olympics by the IOC and its recognition withdrawn alleging lack of transparency in its funding, said it would follow the example of World Athletics, the global governing body of track and field competitions, in awarding prize money to medal winners in Paris.

While World Athletics announced that it will pay $50,000 to gold medallists, but nothing to the minor medallists at this year’s Paris Olympic Games, the IBA went a step further and said it will pay bonuses to gold, silver and bronze medallists from a total budget of $3.1 million.

Reacting to the IBA announcement, the IOC said it was “unclear where the money is coming from”.

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“This total lack of financial transparency was exactly one of the reasons why the IOC withdrew its recognition of the IBA. The IBA was not prepared to transparently explain the sources of its financing or to explain its full financial dependency, at the time, on a single state-owned company, Gazprom,” the IOC said in a statement released by Christian Klaue, its Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Director.

The IBA is not involved in conducting boxing competitions in Tokyo and will not be allowed to do so in Paris either.

“Due to the suspension and the subsequent withdrawal of recognition by the IOC in 2023, the IBA had no involvement in either the qualification for or the organisation of the boxing tournament of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and is not involved for Paris 2024, either. The qualifications and the Olympic tournaments were and are being organised by boxing units set up by the IOC, to protect the athletes, the National Boxing Federations and their respective National Olympic Committees (NOCs),” the IOC statement said.

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The IOC once again reiterated that boxing was not part of the sports programme for the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 2028 and said the sport can be back on the roster only if it is organised by a “credible, well-governed International Federation”.

It also said that if any national federations follow the IBA, its boxers will not be able to participate in the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

“It is therefore already clear that any boxer whose National Federation adheres to the IBA will not be able to participate in the Olympic Games LA28. The respective NOC will have to exclude such a National Boxing Federation from its membership,” said the IOC statement.

The IBA is currently fighting a case against IOC in the International Court of Arbitration (CAS), the decision of which will make things clear for the next Olympic Games.

–IANS

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