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Naomi Osaka Crashes Out of the Tokyo Olympics

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Japanese star Naomi Osaka crashed out of the Olympics tennis competition on Tuesday after Flora Duffy delivered gold for Bermuda for the first time in the tiny island’s history.

Osaka, who lit the Olympic cauldron in last week’s opening ceremony, produced an error-strewn performance in losing 6-1, 6-4 to Marketa Vondrousova, ending her cherished dream of winning on home soil.

The 23-year-old — one of the faces of the Tokyo Games — had not played since May, when she walked out of the French Open saying media commitments were harming her mental health.

The second seed, who was broken five times in the match, will be bitterly disappointed at missing out on a chance of Olympic gold, especially as world number one Ashleigh Barty lost in the first round.

Triathlete Duffy won the first gold of the day in the women’s event, making Bermuda the smallest territory or nation in terms of population to win a gold medal at a Summer Games.

The 33-year-old timed 1hr 55min 36sec to come home more than a minute ahead of Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown, with American Katie Zaferes taking the bronze.

For Duffy it was a welcome reward after persistent injuries and a diagnosis of anaemia in 2013.

“I have achieved my dream of winning a gold medal, but also winning Bermuda’s first gold medal,” she said.

“It’s bigger than me and that’s a really cool moment. That was the longest kilometre of my life (the final one of the run).”

– Pool duel –

Elsewhere, swimming powerhouses Australia and the United States won one gold medal each in the morning pool session and are on three golds apiece.

Australian world-record holder Kaylee McKeown upstaged American arch-rival Regan Smith to claim the women’s 100m Olympic backstroke crown as Russia and Britain also won golds.

McKeown, who shattered Smith’s world record last month, flew through the water at the Tokyo Aquatic Center to touch in 57.47 seconds, a new Olympic record and only fractionally outside her own world best.

Smith had to settle for third behind Rio Olympic bronze medallist Kylie Masse of Canada.

McKeown, who lost her father last year to brain cancer, said: “It’s not necessarily what I’ve been through. Everyone has a journey of their own and it just so happens that mine’s been a really tough one.”

On a day of upsets, American women’s 100m breaststroke world-record holder and defending champion Lilly King was beaten, and teammate and 100m backstroke champion Ryan Murphy also tasted defeat.

King was stunned by 17-year-old compatriot Lydia Jacoby, who swam a scintillating final 50m to touch in 1:04.95 and edge her into bronze, with South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker taking silver.

Russian swimmers Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov took gold and silver in the 100m backstroke, pushing Murphy into third place.

Britain’s Tom Dean came back from two bouts of coronavirus to edge out team-mate Duncan Scott and win the 200m freestyle.

“I contracted Covid twice in the last 12 months,” he said. “It’s unheard of. When I was sitting in my flat in isolation, an Olympic gold seems a million miles off, but here we are.”

– Biles pressure –

Later, all eyes will be on US gymnastics star Simone Biles in the women’s team final as the 24-year-old four-time Olympic champion seeks to erase the memory of an uncharacteristically error-strewn qualifying competition.

Biles made mistakes on floor and vault on Sunday and the other Americans followed suit as they failed to post the top score of the day for the first time at a world championships or Olympics since 2010.

The US women came to Tokyo as firm favourites but Biles admitted to feeling the pressure in an Instagram post on Monday, saying “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times.”

With spectators banned from the gymnastics and most events at the Games to protect the Japanese public from coronavirus, Biles does not have a crowd to inspire her.

But it would be a huge shock if she failed to win a fifth gold to kick off her attempt to equal or surpass Soviet great Larisa Latynina’s record of nine gymnastics titles.

AFP

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Nigeria Edge Cape Verde in Qatar World Cup Qualifier

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The Super Eagles continued their 100 per cent record against Cape Verde in their second match of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday.

The Nigerian team won the game 2-1 after staging a comeback.

A 75th-minute own goal by Cape Verde earned Nigeria a 2-1 win in their qualifying clash in Mindelo on Tuesday, a result that stabilized the Super Eagles’ leadership of the pool as they await a home-and-away fixture against Central African Republic next month.

Dylan dos Santos steered the home team in front after 19 minutes of an intense back-and-forth by both sides, when he slipped behind the Eagles’ rearguard and slammed a rocket of a shot past goalkeeper Maduka Okoye.

The three-time African champions refused to be brow-beaten, and launched series of attacks, with Chidera Ejuke forcing the opposing goalkeeper to an acrobatic save in the 27th minute. Two minutes later, an alert Victor Osimhen would pull Nigeria level, stabbing home from close range after the goalkeeper punched following a defensive blunder.

In the 41st minute, the lively Ejuke again rattled the Cape Verde number one, before Osimhen came close to adding another one from a corner with a minute to recess.

Kelechi Iheanacho and six other UK-based players were absent when the Super Eagles played the Blue Sharks in Mindelo.

The players were forced out from the tie after the UK government insisted individuals who travel to “red zones” — which Cape Verde falls into — must quarantine for 10 days upon return.

Aside from the seven UK-based players, Serie A defender, Ola Aina, also did not travel with the squad to Mindelo, and returned to Italy instead.

In the second half, Ahmed Musa latched onto a centre by Osimhen as the Eagles pushed forward, but his tame shot was easily collected. Substitute Onyekuru was also guilty of putting too low a purchase on his shot in the 73rd minute as Nigeria streamed to the opposition area.

Two minutes later, in a spectacular backpass to his goalkeeper, Kenny Santos scored an own goal as the ball floated above the goaltender and landed in the net. The goal put Nigeria in front and eventually gave the Super Eagles the three points on the night.

Victory took the Eagles to maximum six points from two matches, three points ahead of second –placed Liberia, ahead of the Day 3 and 4 games scheduled for October.

 

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WC Qualifier: Nigeria to face Cape Verde without UK-based Stars

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The Super Eagles will tackle the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde this afternoon in Match Day 2 of Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier without the services of UK-based players.

The Super Eagles contingent landed on the island of Mindelo yesterday morning, after a four-hour flight from Lagos aboard a special Air Peace jet.

There were 21 players on board, following the departure of UK-based players, who returned to their base as a result of UK authorities COVID-19 protocols and guidelines that must be observed by anyone returning to Britain after visiting a country with COVID-19 red label, of which Cape Verde is one.

Today’s encounter, scheduled for the 5,000 –capacity Estádio Municipal Adérito Sena, affords a number of ambitious fresh legs not deployed in Friday’s 2-0 win over Liberia in Lagos to stake claims for permanent shirts in the Nigerian squad.

The absence of Olaoluwa Aina, William Ekong, and Leon Balogun probably means that Italy –based Tyronne Ebuehi, Chidozie Awaziem of FC Boavista in Portugal, and Spain–based Kenneth Omeruo will start against the Blue Sharks this evening.

The departures of two-goal hero Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi also open the door for perhaps Terem Moffi and Henry Onyekuru. But it is in the midfield that Coach Gernot Rohr would have to enlist entirely unaccustomed partners and charge them to deliver.

Oghenekaro Etebo, Wilfred Ndidi, and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo have all returned to the UK.

Coach Rohr may opt to deploy the versatile Abdullahi Shehu to the midfield as he has done a couple of times, most recently in Sierra Leone against the Leone Stars in a 2021 AFCON qualifier. Russia–based Chidera Ejuke, Italy–based former junior international Kingsley Michael, and new face Innocent Bonke from Sweden are available.

Captain Ahmed Musa will earn his 100th cap for Nigeria, 11 years after he won his first against Madagascar in Calabar if he takes any part in today’s encounter.

Three points will consolidate Nigeria’s leadership of Group C, confirmed after the victory over Liberia that followed the draw between Cape Verde and the Central African Republic in Douala. A win will guarantee Nigeria a minimum of three points ahead of any other team in the pool, even if Liberia’s Lone Star is victorious against Central African Republic in Monrovia.

A win will also brighten the path of the three–time African champions to the knockout final round, given that home-and-away fixture against the Central African Republic is what is on the plate in October.

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Conte breaks silence, says pre-deal with Arsenal not true

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Antonio Conte’s agent, Federico Pastorello has revealed that the coach has not agreed to a pre-deal with Arsenal FC.

There have been speculations that Conte is in line to replace Mikel Arteta at the Emirates after the later failed to win a single game this season in the Premier League.

The Gunners have also not recorded any goal in their defeats to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Although Conte is out of work since leaving Inter Milan, he is not close to returning to the dugout.

Transfer specialist, Fabrizio Romano, tweeted: “There’s absolutely NO pre agreement between Antonio Conte and Arsenal. Conte has no verbal/pre-agreement with any club and he’s free.

“Federico Pastorello – agent close to Conte since years – confirms to @Freddie_Paxton: “Rumours about Arsenal pre-deal are not true”.

There’s absolutely NO pre agreement between Antonio Conte and Arsenal. Conte has no verbal/pre agreement with any club and he’s free.

Federico Pastorello – agent close to Conte since years – confirms to @Freddie_Paxton: “Rumours about Arsenal pre-deal are not true”.

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 5, 2021

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