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Living legends and young pretenders: Olympians expected to shine in Tokyo

Sport | The Guardian

Dominant figures in their chosen sports will aim for more glory in Japan while new events will help to create fresh global stars

Biles is more than an athlete. She is one of the Olympic movement’s brightest stars of all time: a role model away from her sport and, inside the arena, a gymnast who consistently pushes the boundaries of what seems humanly possible. Following her four gold medals at Rio, she is aiming to become the first female gymnast in more than 50 years to win consecutive all-around Olympic titles.

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July 23rd 2021, 4:38 pm

Simone Biles’ desire to innovate is frustrated by her own insular sport | Tumaini Carayol

Sport | The Guardian

The WTC’s refusal to properly reward new skills is in danger of creating a world where gymnastic routines are tediously similar

In the final fleeting month before the Olympics two of the best gymnasts in the world showed for the first time similar uneven bar skills of the highest difficulty only days apart. Both Sanne Wevers and Nina Derwael performed slightly different variants of the iconic Nabieva release, in which the gymnasts launch themselves above and beyond the high bar with their legs straight before executing a half turn in the air and then catching it on the other side.

But high difficulty often comes at a cost. Derwael flexed her feet and arched her hips to clear the bar, then “cheated” on her half-turn. Wevers’ variation was more difficult but her bent legs splayed out in all directions above the high bar. This is all a normal sight. As gymnasts push their limits with the toughest skills, legs cross, chests fall low on landings, twists are not fully completed and the judges mark every deduction down.

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July 23rd 2021, 4:09 pm

Jake Lintott reviving English left-arm wrist-spin after half a century | Jonathan Liew

Sport | The Guardian

Unorthodox style delayed success, but opportunities from T20 and Hundred mean Lintott’s life is poised to change

Three years ago, England were in a pickle. Wary of the threat of Kuldeep Yadav in the upcoming Test series against India, they wanted to call up a left-arm wrist-spinner from the county game who could replicate Kuldeep’s unusual style in the nets. The problem: there weren’t any. In fact, left-arm wrist-spinners are so rare in English cricket that it has been more than half a century – since the days of Johnny Wardle and Donald Carr – since this country produced one of any repute. That is, until now.

Three years ago, Jake Lintott was being released by Gloucestershire and wondering if his last chance as a professional cricketer had come and gone. Making it as a spinner in county cricket is hard enough, but try being a 25-year-old unorthodox spinner bowling a style not seen in this country since Harold Wilson was in Downing Street. With a steady job coaching cricket at Queen’s College in Taunton, few could have blamed Lintott for giving up on his dream.

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July 23rd 2021, 4:09 pm

The Olympics are here, for better or worse: time to get on with the show | Barney Ronay

Sport | The Guardian

The opening ceremony had a mournful quality but the ‘Cursed Olympics’ may provide us with many moments of illumination

Unloved, uncertain, but somehow oddly unstoppable. Tokyo 2020 is finally at the door, a little weathered and wild, a year out of whack, skinny hand rapping at the knocker. It turns out this really is going to happen after all.

The Olympics has claimed to be many things down the decades, most often a beacon of hope, cauldron of joy, saucerful of love and all the rest of it. As the opening ceremony at the Tokyo National Stadium began to wind down at around 11pm local time, Thomas Bach could be heard making a series of similar generic claims about the Games as a force for peace, tolerance and freedom, a speech he will no doubt repeat with a sense of furious reforming zeal at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

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July 23rd 2021, 4:09 pm

US fencer Alen Hadzic kept apart from team in Tokyo after sexual misconduct claims

Sport | The Guardian

One day before the Tokyo Olympic Games were slated to officially begin, fencer Alen Hadzic, Team USA’s men’s épée alternate, lost his appeal to move into the Olympic Village, according to a report from USA Today.

Hadzic qualified for the Tokyo Games in May. Shortly thereafter, three women accused him of sexual impropriety in incidents that occurred from 2013 to 2015. Hadzic’s attorney, Michael Palma, told the New York Times the fencer has never committed sexual assault or been charged with rape or with any civil or criminal complaint involving sexual impropriety. He did confirm that Hadzic was suspended from Columbia University for the 2013-14 school year after an investigation involving sexual consent.

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July 23rd 2021, 4:09 pm

Jadon Sancho, the 'generational' player who could be a bargain for Manchester United | Jamie Jackson

Sport | The Guardian

Forward should enhance the team and the glamour factor but more signings are needed to make United champions again

Jadon Sancho is a £73m signing who may go down as a steal as his Manchester United career unfolds. Even before the former Borussia Dortmund forward pulls on the United shirt, his price appears akin to a Black Friday buy.

For £8m more than a centre‑back, Rúben Dias, cost Manchester City, Ole Gunnar Solskjær acquires a 21-year-old who joins Mason Greenwood as a “generational” footballer who can light up the attack for a decade. If Sancho is integral to a 21st title for United, it will cast the fee as more apt with a decimal point between its digits.

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July 23rd 2021, 4:09 pm

Former head of referees at Haitian FA banned for life by Fifa over sexual abuse

Sport | The Guardian

Fifa’s ethics committee has issued a lifetime ban to the Haitian Football Federation’s (FHF’s) former head of referees Rosnick Grant, after finding him guilty of committing acts of sexual harassment and abuse.

Grant, who had his original provisional 90-day suspension extended in May, was also found to have abused his position and coerced young referees “to prevent the reporting of such sexual abuse”, according to a statement from the ethics committee’s independent adjudicatory chamber on Friday.

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July 23rd 2021, 12:54 pm

Erasmus to continue water-carrying role as ‘mindgame’ talk dismissed

Sport | The Guardian

South Africa have confirmed their director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, will continue to act as a water carrier on Saturday in the first Test against the British & Irish Lions, before dismissing Warren Gatland’s “mindgames” following his claim that the tourists had already dented the Springboks’ egos.

Gatland drew attention to Erasmus’s role given it allows him to enter the pitch and pass messages directly to players – but the Springboks have insisted the 2019 World Cup-winning head coach is only carrying water.

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July 23rd 2021, 12:54 pm

Carlos and Smith say IOC still not fully committed to athletes’ freedom to protest

Sport | The Guardian

On 2 July, the International Olympic Committee announced changes to Rule 50, which prohibited athletes from protesting at Olympic sites. It loosened some regulations, allowing competitors in Tokyo freer expression during interviews, press conferences and in mixed zones. But now, a group of more than 150 athletes, professors, members of sports organizations and human rights and social justice experts from around the world has written an open letter calling for further action.

“We recognize the changes made to athlete expression at the Tokyo Games,” the letter reads. It continues: “While we appreciate the strides the IOC/IPC made in promoting athlete expression, we do not believe the changes made reflect a commitment to freedom of expression as a fundamental human right nor to racial and social justice in global sport.”

Related: ‘A fundamental right’: Dina Asher-Smith urges Games to allow podium protests

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July 23rd 2021, 12:54 pm

Gold medals are illusory, world-class public facilities should be the goal | Barney Ronay

Sport | The Guardian

Watering the soil of cultural participation would leave a greater legacy than any number of British Olympic champions

There was a memorable moment at the emotional zenith of the London Olympics, back in that strange time when it seemed so vitally important the home Games was a success, so deeply shocking that George Michael played “new material” – oh, that new material – at the closing ceremony, and when Boris Johnson was just a…. Well, actually that’s pretty much the same.

I don’t like to make Super Saturday too much about me, but it was also the moment I broke the record for witnessing British gold medals in a single day. There is no hard proof that my (yes, my) tally of six in 10 hours adds up to a British gold-witnessing record. But no one else seemed to be at all three things so I’m sticking to it, don’t email me.

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July 23rd 2021, 12:54 pm

Bullish Lions plan to force Springboks on to back foot in opening showdown

Sport | The Guardian

Warren Gatland’s men believe they can cause South Africa plenty of problems in Saturday’s Cape Town curtain-raiser

For a British & Irish Lions side seeking encouragement before their series with South Africa, there are worse starting places than the Cape of Good Hope. Defeating the world champions on their own turf will be some achievement but if the 2021 Lions cannot be optimistic on the eve of the first Test, there would have been no point in them flying south.

As they attempt to stitch together their latest technicolour dreamcoat from four separate nations, is it an omen that the last triumphant Lions series in South Africa, in 1997, also kicked off in Cape Town? The Springboks, furthermore, have not managed a Test victory in the Mother City for seven years. Among those to have tasted separate success here have been England and Ireland, both of whom edged games their hosts were expecting to win.

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July 23rd 2021, 12:54 pm

Cleveland’s baseball team will be called Guardians after racism accusations

Sport | The Guardian

Known as the Indians since 1915, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will be called Guardians.

The ballclub announced the name change Friday with a video on Twitter narrated by actor Tom Hanks, ending months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names considered racist.

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July 23rd 2021, 11:10 am

Top players likely to switch allegiance to compete in Rugby League World Cup

Sport | The Guardian

The prospect of some of Australia’s and New Zealand’s best players switching allegiance to play for other nations if this year’s World Cup goes ahead is “highly likely” according to the chief executive of the Australian players’ union.

The Australian Rugby League Commission and New Zealand Rugby League are adamant they will not be sending squads to compete in the tournament in England later this year due to player welfare concerns regarding Covid-19, with World Cup organisers spending the weekend in dialogue with government officials trying to determine whether or not to proceed without them, or whether to postpone the event for 12 months.

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July 23rd 2021, 11:10 am

Adam Peaty’s second Olympic gold as close to an inevitability as sport gets

Sport | The Guardian

If he stays fit, Peaty will be racing himself in the men’s 100m breaststroke, for which he holds the 17 fastest times in history

Forget death and taxes, in Tokyo it’s queues, health questionnaires, and the men’s 100m breaststroke. There aren’t supposed to be any certainties in sport, but Adam Peaty’s chances of winning a second gold in the event here in Tokyo feels as close to inevitable as you can get. His dominance is unprecedented. He’s won it at the last three World Championships, as well as the Rio Olympics, has broken the world record five times in five years, and swum the 17 fastest times in history, four of them this spring and summer. There isn’t another man in the field who has got within a second of his personal best.

Related: Adam Peaty: ‘It’s a fight in the pool. That’s when I feel I’m a god’

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July 23rd 2021, 11:10 am

Team GB shifts Olympic focus from superpower to more human approach | Sean Ingle

Sport | The Guardian

The relentless drive for more medals has been replaced by a more human message in Tokyo: it is a welcome change

At the Hokusai Museum, a short ride from where the British athletes are staying in the Olympic village, there is a giant image of the Japanese artist’s most famous work: the Great Wave off Kanagawa. Higher and higher the great wave rises, until it stands taller than Mount Fuji itself. But then, inevitably its tremendous power and energy starts to flatten, then fall.

That picture may yet serve as an analogy for Team GB’s Olympic momentum here in Tokyo. Since finishing 36th in the medal table in Atlanta in 1996, behind Ireland and North Korea, it has ridden an enormous wave, from Sydney to Athens, London to Rio, from no-hopers to world-beaters. But, after winning 67 medals and finishing second in 2016, UK Sport is now targeting between 45-70 medals and a top-five finish in Tokyo.

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July 23rd 2021, 11:10 am

Talking Horses: Adayar and rain could derail Love’s bid for Ascot supremacy

Sport | The Guardian

The Derby winner and softer ground threaten Love’s chances of glory in King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes

The strong chance of heavy rain ahead of the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday adds an extra dash of uncertainty to what was already a fascinating renewal of Ascot’s midsummer showpiece.

Some forecasts suggest as much as 10mm by mid-afternoon, which would not be ideal for Love, the overnight favourite, in her attempt to complete a Group One five-timer. Wonderful Tonight, on the other hand, would be a serious contender were the going to end up on the soft side of good.

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July 23rd 2021, 11:10 am

New York Jets coach Greg Knapp dies after being struck by car in California

Sport | The Guardian

New York Jets assistant coach Greg Knapp died on Thursday of injuries suffered when he was struck by a car while riding a bicycle near his home in California. He was 58.

“Greg Knapp (aka Knapper) was called back home to Heaven, where he will be reunited with his Dad,” his family said in a statement. His family added that Knapp never regained consciousness after being hit by a car in the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday. He was surrounded by wife Charlotte, daughters Jordan, Natalie and Camille, his mother and brother when he died.

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July 23rd 2021, 8:51 am

Jadon Sancho seals £73m Manchester United move from Dortmund

Sport | The Guardian

Jadon Sancho has completed his transfer to Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund for an initial £73m. The 21-year-old winger has signed a five-year contract with an option of a further year.

The former Manchester City player has sealed the move less than a fortnight after he was among three England players to miss a penalty in the Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy. Sancho underwent his medical once the tournament had been completed, the framework of the deal having been agreed at the end of May and confirmed by the clubs at the start of June.

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July 23rd 2021, 8:38 am

South Africa is close to breaking point and cannot truly embrace this Lions series | Craig Ray

Sport | The Guardian

Rugby has been pushed to the margins of national consciousness as the pandemic has increased poverty and civil unrest in an already deeply troubled nation

As the Springboks and the British & Irish Lions close in on the first Test of what was supposed to be an epic 2021 series, most of South Africa has been distracted during the build-up. Rugby – and participating in or enjoying any form of sport, arts and culture – has felt frivolous and irrelevant over the past month.

People have died in their hundreds amid a tsunami-like third Covid wave that hit Gauteng – the province where Johannesburg and Tshwane are located. More lives altered for ever, more pain, more suffering, more children without parents in a country where single mothers, or unemployed grandmothers, are struggling to feed them.

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July 23rd 2021, 8:38 am

Team GB’s Keira Walsh: ‘I work a lot with psychologists and that helps me’ | Suzanne Wrack

Sport | The Guardian

Defensive midfielder on dealing with criticism, why she is enjoying Hege Riise’s management and the hotel ‘corridor club’ in Japan

After the World Cup in 2019, Manchester City’s Keira Walsh was hit so hard by the criticism she faced that she thought about stepping away from football.

In France Walsh did not look like the player who had become so integral to City’s midfield and defensive strategy until the semi-final against USA, where she played her best game of the tournament, with England’s underdog status perhaps lifting the pressure.

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July 23rd 2021, 8:38 am

‘Anything can happen in sailing’: Burnet sets golden goal in Tokyo

Sport | The Guardian

Anna Burnet and John Gimson will compete in the mixed Nacra in Tokyo with confidence in their ability to add to Team GB’s enviable record in the sport

We shall never know, more’s the pity, what advice Sir Peter Blake would have given his niece as she prepared for an Olympic debut. What is at least certain is that Anna Burnet cherishes her family connection with Sir Peter, a famed New Zealand yachtsman who was shot dead at the mouth of the Amazon by pirates aged 53. Burnet was just nine at the time. She depicts a “very famous sailor” with a hint of understatement; Blake was a world record holder and twice America’s Cup winner.

“I think of him a lot, he has always been an inspiration,” Burnet says of her uncle. “And the rest of my family, they are all really into their sailing so everyone has been so supportive. It would be amazing to win a medal for them; they are already so happy that we are involved in an Olympics but to bring something back would just be incredible for all of them.”

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July 23rd 2021, 7:36 am

Tottenham give Son new four-year deal and maintain Kane is not for sale

Sport | The Guardian

Tottenham have given a new four-year contract to Son Heung-min and maintain they have no plans to sell Harry Kane.

Son has signed a deal that is due to extend his stay at Spurs to 10 years. The 29-year-old, who joined from Bayer Leverkusen in 2015, has scored 107 goals in 280 games and formed a lethal partnership with Kane.

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July 23rd 2021, 7:24 am

BOA resigned to 14-day quarantine for Team GB athletes despite negative tests

Sport | The Guardian

The British Olympic Association is resigned to the fact that six Team GB athletes will spend 14 days in enforced quarantine after failing in its attempts to spring them out.

Hugh Robertson, the BOA chair, said they had been working “on an hourly basis” to help the athletes in Yokohama, as well as four staff members who were also pinged as close contacts of a passenger with Covid on their flight to Japan. However Robertson conceded they were now “right up against it”. All the athletes and staff members involved have tested negative for the virus.

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July 23rd 2021, 7:24 am

Chelsea open WSL title defence at Arsenal as part of tough start for both

Sport | The Guardian

Chelsea will begin the defence of their Women’s Super League title at Arsenal as part of a tough start to the 2021-22 season for both clubs.

Chelsea go to Manchester United in their third match, after playing at home to Everton, and Arsenal host Manchester City in their third game. They travel to Reading in between.

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July 23rd 2021, 5:36 am

‘Pictures left me feeling overwhelmed’: Rashford speaks of support as new mural unveiled

Sport | The Guardian

Work on community football clubhouse in Manchester will link to archive of messages left on his portrait in nearby Withington

Marcus Rashford has spoken of how a Manchester mural and its “outpouring of support really lifted” him at one of his “lowest points”, as a new tribute was painted on the wall of a community football clubhouse reading: “Hope Beats Hate”.

The new mural in south Manchester links to a digitised archive of the messages left on the one showing the footballer’s face a couple of miles away in Withington.

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July 23rd 2021, 5:36 am

Tokyo 2020 – all your key Olympic questions answered

Sport | The Guardian

Medals out of recycled phones, sewage-stopping sand and virtual clapping in the shadow of Covid-19 add up to a very different Olympic Games

The greatest impact of Covid on the Games, other than the fact it is being held a year late, will be the absence of spectators. Venues won’t be silent, however, with “an immersive sound system” playing “sound created from previous Olympic Games” – which means that vocal ticket holders from many events at London 2012 will, in a manner of speaking, get to attend a second Olympics – while those watching at home will be able to “clap virtually” using an app.

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July 23rd 2021, 4:36 am

Seonaid McIntosh: the British shooter with first gold of Games in her sights

Sport | The Guardian

The 25-year-old McIntosh, the most successful ever female British rifle shooter, is targeting gold in the 10m air rifle

By the time the final member of Japan’s Olympic team has entered the stadium at the tail-end of Friday’s opening procession, Seonaid McIntosh – pronounced “show-ner” – will have set her alarm for a 5am start to catch the first bus from the Village on Saturday morning, in the hope of returning as the first gold medal winner of the Tokyo Games.

McIntosh, 25, is the most successful ever female British rifle shooter and will compete in both the 10m air rifle – which starts at 8am local time on Saturday – and the 50m rifle three positions (kneeling, prone and standing) the following weekend, the event in which she became the first British woman to win a gold medal at the annual world championships in 2019.

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July 23rd 2021, 4:23 am

Putting limits on the swoosh mob limits wider change for the better | Ben Ryan

Sport | The Guardian

At these tech-driven Tokyo Olympics, innovation is – as it has been for decades – a source of disquiet, but beating the odds is part of the Games’ mystique

In 1964, the Tokyo Olympics were dubbed the “Technology Games”. Up in the skies, satellites were used to televise all the action live for the first time. Computers abounded and spectators and TV viewers had never had it so good.

Down at the events, we also saw changes. In the pool, there was now touchpad technology that meant we no longer relied on a judge’s eye to award a medal. It was still being fine-tuned but it was here to stay. In the pole vault we saw the introduction of fibreglass poles to replace the metal ones courtesy of some nifty work by Nasa engineers and, with that, the world record tumbled. On the track, it was the last Olympics to be run on cinder. Tartan tracks would follow and at Mexico 1968 Jim Hines won in 9.95 seconds – a world record that would last for 15 years.

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July 23rd 2021, 3:36 am

Magnus Carlsen advances at chess World Cup but seeds fall to new talents

Sport | The Guardian

The world No 1 was the sole survivor from the top four seeds in Sochi as emerging teenage players demonstrated their skills

The $1.9m (£1.38m), 206-player World Cup at Sochi has so far proved a graveyard for the top 10 grandmasters, while a bevy of teenage talents have seized the opportunity to enhance their growing reputations.

After three rounds and with the original hopefuls whittled down to 32, the global elite’s representation has been culled and decimated. Round four started on Thursday, with five teenagers still in the hunt and a quarter of the field aged under 22, but only one of the top four seeds still going. However, the established order still has a serious chance. Ten of the 32 are Russians, led by the experienced Alexander Grischuk, seeded seven, and Sergey Karjakin, seeded 10.

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July 23rd 2021, 3:36 am

Johnson-Thompson hangs on to hope despite injury-plagued road to Tokyo

Sport | The Guardian

The 28-year-old was a starry-eyed teenager at London 2012 but arrives for the Games in Tokyo after a series of highs and lows

When the announcer called out Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s name in front of an 80,000-strong crowd at the London 2012 Olympics, the starry-eyed teenager mouthed “wow” as cheers erupted around her.

Then, the heptathlete was the apprentice to Jess Ennis-Hill, who went on to take gold while the 19-year-old Liverpudlian came 13th. But nine years later, as she approaches the possibility of competing in her third Olympics in Tokyo, KJT – as she is widely known – is wide-eyed no longer. The 28-year-old has been through dizzying highs, winning the world heptathlon title in 2019 and smashing Ennis-Hill’s British record, and more than her fair share of lows.

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July 23rd 2021, 3:36 am

Tokyo Olympic Games 2020: build-up to the opening ceremony – live!

Sport | The Guardian

If you aren’t already familiar with the super feature writing of Don McRae, it’s never too late to start. One of his recent big interviews was with Adam Peaty, the British reigning Olympics 100m breaststroke gold medallist, who opens up on his anger with dopers, aims in Tokyo and becoming a father.

Related: Adam Peaty: ‘It’s a fight in the pool. That’s when I feel I’m a god’

On Friday the Australian Olympic Committee confirmed that cyclist Rohan Dennis will skip tomorrow’s road race to focus on his preferred discipline, the individual time trial, next week. Dennis is a gold medal prospect in the race against the clock. He is a two-time world champion, although over the past year has been eclipsed by Italian rival Filippo Ganna, who won the iconic rainbow jersey in 2020.

Dennis has mixed memories from past Olympics – he claimed silver on the track as a member of the team pursuit squad in London, but a mechanical problem dashed his medal hopes in the time trial in Rio. Dennis’ withdrawal from the road race, although expected, will leave Australia with a small squad of just Richie Porte, Lucas Hamilton and Luke Durbridge in the challenging climb around Mount Fuji.

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July 23rd 2021, 2:39 am

Michael Vaughan says England players may not make Ashes tour if families are barred

Sport | The Guardian

Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has warned that the upcoming Ashes series in Australia could descend into farce if the families of England players are not allowed into the country.

With the visiting team facing a gruelling months-long schedule likely to be subject to a host of pandemic-related restrictions, Vaughan said some players may choose not to make the trip if they cannot see their loved ones for such a long time.

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July 22nd 2021, 9:37 pm

‘A fundamental right’: Dina Asher-Smith urges Games to allow podium protests

Sport | The Guardian

Dina Asher-Smith has evoked the spirit of Tommie Smith’s and John Carlos’s black power salute as she insisted it would be a mistake for Games organisers to sanction any athlete protesting against racism at the Tokyo Olympics.

In words every bit as powerful as the 47 strides she will take at the Olympic Stadium while sprinting towards a 100m gold medal next week, Asher-Smith said she backed athletes taking a knee – before hinting that the International Olympic Committee would struggle to stop people also taking a stand on the podium.

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July 22nd 2021, 7:51 pm

Australia v West Indies ODI called off due to Covid scare moments before first ball bowled

Sport | The Guardian

Australia’s second one-day international against the West Indies in the Caribbean has been postponed in bizarre and dramatic circumstances before a ball could be bowled after one of the host’s backroom staff tested positive for Covid-19.

The teams had been named, the captains had tossed up and Australia were ready to bat at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on Thursday when a halt was suddenly called to proceedings moments before the first ball was due to be bowled.

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July 22nd 2021, 7:51 pm

Sam Billings leads Oval Invincibles to opening win over Manchester Originals

Sport | The Guardian

The tension rose as the man in green holding the ball ran towards the man in black holding the long wooden stick. With a serious look on his face, the man in green jumped in the air and hurled the ball at the man with the stick, standing in front of three thinner sticks, and another man in green wearing funny big gloves. The man with the stick tried to hit the ball, but it was a well-directed yorker on fifth stump that he could only dig out to long-on, and …

Related: The Hundred: not cricket as we know it, but nothing for sceptics to fear

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July 22nd 2021, 7:51 pm

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: complete event schedule and live scores

Sport | The Guardian

Browse day-by-day listings of every event at the Olympics, or filter by the sports that interest you most

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July 22nd 2021, 3:49 pm

Tokyo waits and the world watches as IOC gambles on the Games again

Sport | The Guardian

Massacres, doping and overspending have marred Games over the years and this time it is Covid that hangs overs Tokyo 2020

As it is now, so it has always been. Eighteen months after the first modern Olympic Games, at Athens in 1896, the entire organising committee resigned en masse because they thought the job was impossible. The country was, in the phrase of the prime minister, Charilaos Trikoupis, “regretfully bankrupt”. He told the fledgling International Olympic Committee that the economic situation meant there was no way the Games could go ahead. The IOC’s founder, Pierre de Coubertin, heard but didn’t listen. Instead he got to work, wheedling, cajoling, politicking, pushing ahead regardless.

“To those who followed closely the preliminaries, it appeared certain that the Games would be a disastrous failure,” wrote the British competitor George Robertson, who took part in the discus. “This was not the case.” Coubertin won the support, and financial backing, of the Greek royal family. And Trikoupis lost a general election in 1895, to a rival who had publicly backed the Games.

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July 22nd 2021, 3:49 pm

Welcome to the women’s Olympics, where GB’s brightest stars are female | Alexandra Topping

Sport | The Guardian

From Laura Kenny to Dina Asher-Smith and Sky Brown, the profile of female British Olympians could have a wider impact

When Team GB’s chef de mission released the list of athletes travelling to Tokyo to represent their country this summer, one statement stood out.

Announcing that – for the first time in its 125-year history – Team GB would be taking more women than men to a summer Olympic Games, Mark England declared that “2021 is truly the year of the female Olympian”.

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July 22nd 2021, 3:49 pm

Geraint Thomas ready for final chance to lay Olympic road race ghost

Sport | The Guardian

Geraint Thomas has left skin and Lycra behind on the tarmac in many exotic parts of the world, but the Welshman’s crash with 10 kilometres remaining in the Rio Olympic Games road race five years ago, when in a potentially medal-winning position, is one that left a particularly bitter taste in the mouth. On Saturday, when the cycling opens in Tokyo, the 2018 Tour de France winner has what will probably be his last chance to lay the ghost.

“I don’t lose sleep about it now, but it was there for the taking, it was a great opportunity,” Thomas recalled on Thursday. He ended up 11th, with Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet winning gold. “As [the former Team GB psychiatrist] Steve Peters kept telling me, life is unfair, you don’t get what you deserve. It was super frustrating and I’d like to put it right on Saturday.”

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July 22nd 2021, 3:49 pm

Gatland fury after South African Marius Jonker appointed Lions Test series TMO

Sport | The Guardian

Warren Gatland has been left furious before the British & Irish Lions’ first Test against the Springboks on Saturday after being told the South African Marius Jonker has been appointed as the Television Match Official for the series.

Gatland is said to be raging there was no neutral alternative available for such a high-profile event after the original TMO – New Zealand’s Brendon Pickerill – withdrew due to pandemic-related travel disruption. The Lions are also understood to be astonished they were informed only on Wednesday about the appointment.

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July 22nd 2021, 3:49 pm

The Hundred men’s opener: Oval Invincibles v Manchester Originals – live!

Sport | The Guardian

60 balls: Originals 69-5 (Brathwaite 6, Harrison 0) Sowter dropped short and gave Munro a simple cut, which seemed like manna from heaven for the poor old Originals – but then came the wicket. Some of the credit goes to Tom Curran for that exemplary first five.

Holed out to long-off! And he was supposed to be the anchor.

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July 22nd 2021, 3:49 pm

Team GB frustrated with Olympic chiefs as Tokyo 10 struggle in isolation

Sport | The Guardian

Team GB officials are increasingly exasperated with the refusal of Tokyo 2020 authorities to say when the 10 British athletes and staff who have been forced to self-isolate at these Olympics for nearly a week can be released.

It comes as the steeplechaser Zak Seddon admitted he was struggling mentally after spending the past six days in his room at the UK Athletics camp in Yokohama, being allowed out only to train.

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July 22nd 2021, 12:30 pm

Emile Smith Rowe commits future to Arsenal by signing new contract

Sport | The Guardian

Arsenal have tied down Emile Smith Rowe to a new five-year contract in a major pre-season boost for Mikel Arteta’s side.

Smith Rowe, who burst on to the first-team scene last season and became one of the top performers for a largely inconsistent side, has also been given the No 10 shirt in a further show of confidence in the 20-year-old attacking midfielder’s ability.

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July 22nd 2021, 12:30 pm

Australia’s and New Zealand’s World Cup myopia threatens crisis for rugby league | Aaron Bower

Sport | The Guardian

Decision to pull out reflects administrators’ shortsighted prioritisation of the NRL but hope could lie in a revolt by players

For anyone with even a brief knowledge of rugby league’s recent history, the only surprise about the announcement that Australia and New Zealand have backed out of this autumn’s World Cup is that none of this is even a surprise any more.

Rugby league is a sport that makes constitutional crisis its modus operandi, and the long-held belief at the Rugby Football League that their counterparts in the southern hemisphere hold the international game in utter contempt became a brazen reality when confirmation came that the Kangaroos and Kiwis would not be travelling to these shores.

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July 22nd 2021, 12:30 pm

Andy Murray would rank Tokyo 2020 medal as ‘best achievement’ of career

Sport | The Guardian

As Andy Murray prepares to compete in the fourth Olympic games of his life, he says that winning a medal at the Tokyo Olympics would rank as one of the best achievements of his career given his torrid struggles with injuries. He believes that he is still capable of doing so.

Although the men’s draw contains only 22 top 50 players and also 22 players outside of the top 100 after a flurry of withdrawals, luck has not been on the 2012 and 2016 champion’s side and he faces an extremely tough pair of first-round matches against top seeds.

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July 22nd 2021, 12:30 pm

Pieter‑Steph du Toit: ‘I grew up with a sense of destiny – I feel responsibility carrying this name’

Sport | The Guardian

The South Africa forward and reigning world player of the year almost lost a leg 17 months ago but is back for a Lions series he considers as big as a World Cup final

Pieter Stephanus du Toit VIII fills the air with a high-pitched wail. He’s hungry. It’s past breakfast time and he’s run out of patience. He doesn’t care that his father, Pieter Stephanus du Toit VII, has just begun an interview with the Guardian over the phone. He isn’t concerned that the man holding him is World Rugby’s player of the year for 2019, a World Cup winner, and one of the most important members of the Springbok squad for the British & Irish Lions series in South Africa. All he’s interested in is the grumble in his stomach.

“He’s the boss,” the elder Du Toit jokes from his family farm in the small town of Riebeek-Kasteel about 50 miles north-east of Cape Town as we speak for the first time a few weeks before the Lions series. “He definitely keeps me grounded.”

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July 22nd 2021, 12:30 pm

English football needs independent regulator, says chair of fan-led review

Sport | The Guardian

The prospect of a government legislating to impose an independent regulator on England’s most popular and successful sport has moved closer than ever after it was recommended by Tracey Crouch, chair of the government’s “fan-led review” into the game’s governance difficulties.

A former Conservative sports minister, Crouch made the recommendation in a letter to the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, setting out preliminary findings after taking evidence from many supporter groups, the leagues, many clubs and others including German supporter groups. She committed to her “expert panel” doing further work before producing more recommendations on some of football’s structural challenges, most prominently the huge financial divide between the Premier League and the rest.

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July 22nd 2021, 12:30 pm

Pandemic and flagging support to make Tokyo Olympics opener a show like no other | Justin McCurry

Sport | The Guardian

A ceremony devoid of fans and low on athletes will set the tone for a Games mired in coronavirus uncertainty

When a national leader as conservative as Shinzo Abe was persuaded to emerge from a giant pipe in Rio dressed as the world’s most famous plumber, it felt like Tokyo had already hatched plans to put on an Olympic show like no other when its chance came four years later.

The coronavirus not only forced the summer Olympics’ fallow season to be extended by 12 months; it has guaranteed that nothing as whimsical as a cosplaying politician will be making a reappearance at the official start of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

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July 22nd 2021, 12:30 pm

The first Tokyo Olympics, pre-season fighting and Liam Livingstone | Classic YouTube

Sport | The Guardian

This week’s roundup also features the most spectacular knockout ever, 20 minutes of Maradona and plenty more

1) The Olympics have both already started and start again on Friday. This is the second time Tokyo has hosted the event, the first being in 1964. Here’s the official film of those Games; here’s an explanation of its global and cultural impact; here are its top 10 moments; here’s Lynn “The Leap” Davies winning long-jump gold; here’s Ann Packer taking 800m gold; here’s Mary Rand winning gold, silver and bronze in the long jump, pentathlon and relay, here’s a feature on her, and here she is returning to her hometown of Wells; and here’s the BBC’s theme tune.

2) It was a hard few hours, but football is finally back after its summer break with a succession of thrilling pre-season friendlies. As such, here’s Eric Cantona getting sent-off playing for Manchester United against Rangers in the summer of 1994; a pre-season ruckus between Newcastle Jets and Wellington Phoenix from 2011; and David Batty taking it to Sampdoria, Roberto Mancini in particular, in 1992.

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July 22nd 2021, 6:49 am

Tokyo 2020 U-turn allows social media teams to show athletes taking the knee

Sport | The Guardian

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organisers have performed a U-turn over their stance to stop their social media teams from posting pictures of athletes taking the knee at these Olympic Games.

The decision comes after the Guardian revealed they had issued a diktat against showing such images just hours before Team GB’s women’s first football match against Chile on Wednesday.

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July 22nd 2021, 6:49 am

London 2012 lit my Olympic dream – now I want a boxing medal for real | Caroline Dubois

Sport | The Guardian

I was blown away by the action nine years ago and now I’m in Tokyo ready to fight for Team GB – it’s been quite a journey

Eleven years ago, when I was just a little girl with a big dream, I had to call myself Colin and pretend to be a boy so that I could step inside a boxing ring. I was nine and girls were not allowed to box at the famous Repton Boys Club in east London. All these years later I am so happy that the girl who called herself Colin, and tried to disguise her real identity, has arrived in Tokyo to fight for Team GB in the Olympic Games. It’s been quite a journey.

My big brother Daniel boxed at the Repton and I copied everything he did. I fell in love with boxing and I convinced our dad he should also take me to the gym. He understood because boxing runs in our blood. One of our ancestors, Sylvia Dubois, was an African-American slave who won her freedom as a bare-knuckle fighter in the 18th century.

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July 22nd 2021, 6:49 am

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Guinea team pull out on eve of Games – live!

Sport | The Guardian

No sooner over than away again. Argentina and Australia, who make up Group C with Egypt and Spain - they drew 0-0 earlier – have just kicked off at the Sapporo Dome.

Sanoussy Bantama Sow, the sports minister, blamed a “resurgence of Covid-19 variants”, but there are also reports of financial issues that mean the government cannot afford to send its five athletes – wrestler Fatoumata Yarie Camara, judoka Mamadou Samba Bah, swimmers Fatoumata Lamarana Toure and Mamadou Tahirou Bah and sprinter Aissata Deen Conte. Ach.

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July 22nd 2021, 6:49 am

Australia and New Zealand labelled ‘selfish’ after pulling out of Rugby League World Cup

Sport | The Guardian

The chairman of the Rugby Football League has labelled Australia and New Zealand’s governing bodies “selfish, parochial and cowardly” following their decision to withdraw their national sides from this year’s World Cup, a move that has left competition organisers reeling and trying to decide whether the event can and will proceed without them.

World Cup organisers were given just four minutes notice of the statement from the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) and New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) on Thursday confirming they would not be participating this year. Both governing bodies cite player welfare and safety concerns relating to Covid-19 as their reason for pulling out.

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July 22nd 2021, 6:49 am

Mohamed Sbihi to make history as Team GB’s first Muslim Olympic flagbearer

Sport | The Guardian

The gold medal-winning rower Mohamed Sbihi will make history on Friday after being announced as the first Muslim to carry the British flag at an Olympic opening ceremony. He will be joined by another gold medallist, the sailor Hannah Mills, a campaigner for clean oceans and the eradication of single use plastic in sport.

It is the first time that two competitors will be able to carry the flag after the IOC announced last year that each national Olympic committee could nominate one female and one male athlete as flag bearers.

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July 22nd 2021, 6:49 am

The Hundred: not cricket as we know it, but nothing for sceptics to fear

Sport | The Guardian

There was nothing millennial about the commentators’ clothes but the cricket at the Oval – and the TV coverage – was not bad

Emma Lamb probably spoke for all of us. She, along with fellow batter Lizelle Lee, had walked out to open for Manchester Originals, and had clearly not expected the Olympics-worthy eruption of fireworks around the Oval. The camera caught her staring open-mouthed at the pink, green and white explosions, and stayed on her as her lips formed the syllables: “What ... the ... sh ...?” The commentators did not offer a translation: this was family entertainment, after all.

Related: Oval Invincibles edge Manchester Originals in thrilling Hundred opener

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July 22nd 2021, 6:49 am

How capturing the small details at Tokyo 64 created a masterpiece | Andy Bull

Sport | The Guardian

The greatest Olympic film was made by not chasing the glory shot. Tokyo 2020 documentary makers should do the same

The official film of the ’64 Olympics opens with a match cut; it jumps from the blazing white sun to a wrecking ball demolishing a bomb-ruined block of Tokyo city. Walls fall, dust rises. The ’64 Olympics cost $2.8bn, which made them the most expensive in history. They came on a wave of poured concrete, 100km of new super highways, a new sewage system, two new subway lines, a new monorail to the refurbished airport, a new Shinkansen line to Osaka. The Games were, sports historian David Goldblatt wrote, “both an instrument and symbol” of Japan’s rapid economic development and its post-war rehabilitation.

Related: No entry: symbolism in Fukushima as Olympics begin in empty stadium

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July 21st 2021, 9:31 pm

Damning DCMS report on head injuries in sport seen as ‘turning point’

Sport | The Guardian

Campaign groups have welcomed the publication of a damning new parliamentary report into the management of brain injuries in sport.

The report, based on a four-month inquiry by the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport, calls for “urgent action by the government to address a long-term failure to reduce the risk of brain injuries in sport”. It is strongly critical of both the Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association for “failing to fight hard enough or publicly enough to address the issue of concussion” and recommends an urgent overhaul of concussion management across all grassroots and elite sport in the UK.

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July 21st 2021, 9:31 pm

Keely Hodgkinson: ‘Is it ridiculous for me to win a medal? I don’t think so’

Sport | The Guardian

Team GB’s teenage 800m star on her Tokyo hopes, how she became deaf in one ear, tattoos and why she wants a Ford Mustang

“Is it stupidly ridiculous for me to win an Olympic medal?” asks Keely Hodgkinson, smiling as she allows the question to marinate. “I don’t think so.” And then, with a fearlessness that has become her trademark, Britain’s brightest teenage track star explains why. “I’ve proven myself this year. When I go into a race I want to win regardless of who’s in it. And anything can happen in championship racing.”

Hodgkinson knows it will be tough to emulate Kelly Holmes, the last middle distance athlete to win an 800m Olympic medal for Britain in 2004. Then again, it has been a staggering year already. She started in 2021 not even on lottery funding. But in March, just four days after she turned 19, she produced a performance of poise and power to become the youngest British winner of a European indoor title for more than 50 years. It was so impressive that Christian Malcolm, the head coach of UK Athletics, immediately tipped her to be at the vanguard of a new wave of British track and field stars.

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July 21st 2021, 9:31 pm

Oval Invincibles edge Manchester Originals in thrilling Hundred opener

Sport | The Guardian

On a soupy midsummer evening in south London the Hundred was finally born, a troubled three-year gestation period making way for a positive explosion of sound and light as Oval Invincibles felled Manchester Originals in an electric start to proceedings.

English cricket looked to make a statement by launching its controversial new offering with a women’s game. To the delight of over 7,000 spectators in the Oval who lapped up the entertainment – and doubtless the relief of the under-fire organisers – the international stars on show very much met the brief.

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July 21st 2021, 9:31 pm

Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones: ‘To be sitting here now is very, very special’

Sport | The Guardian

His comeback from injury will make Saturday’s first Test against South Africa all the more emotional for the 35-year-old

For two days even Lazarus thought it was all over. As he lay at home, nursing his painful left shoulder and trying not to think about the planeload of excited British & Irish Lions players heading for South Africa without him, there was no comforting Alun Wyn Jones. “For those two days that was my tour done. I was almost on the sofa at home before the guys had even got to the airport. That was a tough one.”

It came as a complete surprise when, on the Tuesday after dislocating his shoulder against Japan at Murrayfield, he was advised that all might not be lost. “I was told there was a chance – it was bordering on the surreal. Sometimes all you need is a chance. It was about being proactive and starting the recovery and that’s what I did.”

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July 21st 2021, 1:58 pm

Tokyo 2020 social media teams banned from showing athletes taking the knee

Sport | The Guardian

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organisers have banned their social media teams from posting pictures of athletes taking the knee at these Olympic Games, the Guardian can reveal.

An insider said the message was delivered from on high on Tuesday evening Tokyo time, with a specific reference to Team GB’s women’s first football match against Chile, just hours before it kicked off in Sapporo on Wednesday.

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July 21st 2021, 1:30 pm

The Hundred women’s opener: Oval Invincibles v Manchester Originals – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Sorry about the wait there, the BBC forgot to tell us who was in the Manchester Originals squad.

Lizelle Lee, Emma Lamb, Georgie Boyce, Harmanpreet Kaur, Mignon du Preez, Sophie Ecclestone, Kate Cross (c), Cordelia Griffith, Ellie Threlkeld (wk), Laura Jackson, Alex Hartley

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July 21st 2021, 1:30 pm

The scary thing about Giannis’ first NBA title? At 26 he is only getting better

Sport | The Guardian

In the era of the much-maligned superteam, the Greek star has the extraordinary skills to show a hometown hero can still win the game’s biggest prizes

Laughing and smiling and dancing and hugging and I love you mans and chest bumps and tears and roars to the sky and arms raised in triumph, the Milwaukee Bucks, powered by the excellence of Giannis Antetokounmpo are NBA champions.

On a night where no other Buck was able to score more than 17 points, Giannis produced a masterpiece against the Phoenix Suns. Fifty points. Fourteen rebounds. Five (!) blocks. Seventeen-of-19 from the line. Hellacious defense. Violent attacks to the rim. He was everywhere and did everything for his team. As close-out performances go, it ranks among the finest in NBA finals history.

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July 21st 2021, 1:30 pm

Credit to bold Gatland for picking a Lions side on form not reputation | Robert Kitson

Sport | The Guardian

For South Africa’s analysts it will feel like doing battle with an army of unknown warriors for Saturday’s first Test

The secret of top-level selection is to heighten the sense of pre-game anticipation. If the team sheet can not only energise your own players but also make the opposition feel faintly uneasy, so much the better. Warren Gatland has ticked both those boxes; now we must wait and see whether it will trick the Boks.

South Africa will certainly be scanning Gatland’s selection warily. Not since Jason Robinson skipped thrillingly around Australia’s Chris Latham at the Gabba exactly 20 years ago has a Lions side looked better equipped to make a more proactive start to a series. Gatland has been bold – eye-catchingly so in some cases – and has put together a team that looks specifically primed to take the game to their hosts.

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July 21st 2021, 9:30 am

Ollie Robinson makes swift return to England’s Test squad to face India

Sport | The Guardian

Ollie Robinson has made an immediate return to England’s Test squad for the series against India following the Twitter storm that marred his debut at Lord’s.

The 27-year-old’s impressive seven-wicket first outing against New Zealand last month was overshadowed by the emergence of racist and sexist social media posts from his past, prompting his removal for the second Test while a disciplinary process was begun.

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July 21st 2021, 9:30 am

Osaka’s tough core can help her shine under the spotlight at home Olympics | Tumaini Carayol

Sport | The Guardian

The face of Tokyo 2020 has had a turbulent year so far but has a habit of dropping into big events and producing her best

Back in the spring of 2019, Naomi Osaka was coming off consecutive grand slam titles and digesting her newfound presence as a leading name in world sport when the subject shifted to the seemingly imminent 2020 Olympics. In order to represent Japan there, the then 21 year-old Osaka would have to attempt to gain full Japanese citizenship after her 22nd birthday.

The decision, which received prominent attention, was widely framed as a difficult choice between being American or Japanese, speculation that soon reached her in a press conference at the Miami Open. Despite recent discourse, Osaka rarely exhibits her frustration in front of the media. This time, however, it was clear: “I made comments about it already so if you want to read those comments …” she responded curtly. “I’m kind of over repeating myself all the time, so … I mean, I’m not trying to be rude.”

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July 21st 2021, 9:30 am

Sweden come back to haunt USWNT again in shock Olympic thrashing

Sport | The Guardian

Stina Blackstenius scored a pair of goals and Sweden once again stunned the United States at the Olympics with a 3-0 victory on Wednesday.

The Americans, ranked No 1 in the world and the favorites to win gold in Tokyo, were on a 44-match unbeaten streak heading into the match. But Sweden have often been a nemesis for the Americans in recent years. The Swedes beat the Americans on penalties in the quarter-finals at the Rio Games in 2016, the earliest US Olympic exit ever for the women’s team.

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July 21st 2021, 7:47 am

Australia v New Zealand: Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 women’s football – live!

Sport | The Guardian

8 mins Foord wins a footrace with Catherine Bott to continue Australia’s aggressive start. NZ have settled somewhat after a nervous start, but Raso is quick, and she’s in the box before you’ve had time to blink. Simon attempts to head a high ball but Green wins the foul and NZ the free kick.

6 mins Simon thumps it wide to left wing-back Catley, who inexplicably sends the ball skyward and out. Long-time Ferns keeper Erin Nayler gets it away but it’s soon right back with her. A second crack evades Hassett and gifts Australia the throw-in slightly inside their own half.

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July 21st 2021, 7:47 am

Jessie Knight among British athletes forced to self isolate in Tokyo

Sport | The Guardian

The 400m hurdler Jessie Knight has revealed she is one of the six British track and field athletes forced to self isolate after coming into close contact with a passenger on her flight to Tokyo.

The 27-year-old told the Guardian she had initially panicked when approached by an official on Sunday, as she thought she was about to be told she had Covid. That would have ruined her Olympic dreams completely, but she has since repeatedly tested negative and will be on the start line on Saturday week.

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July 21st 2021, 7:47 am

Fears rise over Super League season as more games forced off by Covid

Sport | The Guardian

Both of last weekend’s Challenge Cup finalists have been forced to postpone their Super League fixtures this weekend as Covid-19 outbreaks continue to wreak havoc on rugby league.

Four days after St Helens beat Castleford Tigers at Wembley both finalists have been forced to stand down from their respective fixtures against Hull Kingston Rovers and Catalans Dragons after seven or more of their 25 highest-paid players were required to isolate due to either a positive Covid test or being identified as a close contact of a positive case.

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July 21st 2021, 7:47 am

Freak out! Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 50 power Milwaukee Bucks to first NBA title since 1971

Sport | The Guardian

Giannis Antetokounmpo ended one of the greatest NBA finals ever with 50 points and a championship Milwaukee waited 50 years to win again.

Related: NBA finals 2021 Game 6: Phoenix Suns 89-105 Milwaukee Bucks – as it happened

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July 21st 2021, 6:32 am

Alun Wyn Jones to captain Lions in first Test after remarkable recovery

Sport | The Guardian

Alun Wyn Jones will complete a stunning recovery and captain the British & Irish Lions in Saturday’s first Test against South Africa – just four weeks since dislocating his shoulder – after Warren Gatland named his side to face the Springboks.

Favouring form over reputation and eyeing a fast start, Gatland has also picked Ali Price at scrum-half, Luke Cowan-Dickie at hooker, Tom Curry at openside flanker and Jack Conan at No 8, with nine of the XV winning their first Lions caps. Stuart Hogg and Duhan van der Merwe also start, while the eye-catching omissions include Conor Murray – who was named tour captain when Jones was initially struck down by injury – and the England captain Owen Farrell. They both provide cover from the bench.

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July 21st 2021, 6:32 am

Team GB chief expects Olympic success but warns of a bumpy ride

Sport | The Guardian

The head of Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics has warned everyone back home to buckle up for a bumpy ride – but has insisted that Britain will come out the other end by celebrating a successful campaign.

Only 30 British athletes are considering attending Friday’s opening ceremony, with many worried about venturing outside of the Village to avoid coming into contact with other countries.

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July 21st 2021, 6:32 am

Ellen White’s double leads Team GB to opening Olympics win over Chile

Sport | The Guardian

Team GB started their campaign at Tokyo 2020 with a 2-0 victory over Chile that brought glimpses of brilliance

After the clasp of teammates around Ellen White peeled away following her close-range strike against Chile that brought Team GB’s first goal in 3,277 days, the forward looked down and held her hands to her face in her familiar glasses celebration. It was muted; a world away from the exuberant uplifting celebration that became a staple of England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals in 2019.

Yet despite the lack of spectators, the Covid concern gripping the Olympic Village and the stunted preparations, the return of competitive international women’s football still felt joyous, with White’s double and a solid Team GB performance providing cause for optimism for their fans, some of whom will have been watching at home over breakfast.

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July 21st 2021, 6:32 am

Australia to host Olympics again after Brisbane confirmed for 2032 Games

Sport | The Guardian

The Olympics will return to Australia for a third time with Brisbane formally awarded hosting rights for the 2032 Games after a vote of International Olympic Committee member nations in Tokyo.

Wednesday’s decision was a foregone conclusion given Brisbane was the only bid city still in the running and it was firmly endorsed by the IOC.

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July 21st 2021, 6:32 am

Arsenal’s pre-season plans in chaos after US tour falls victim to Covid

Sport | The Guardian

Arsenal have reportedly cancelled their pre-season tour to the US after a small number of positive Covid-19 cases at the club.

They were set to travel this week to participate in the Florida Cup alongside Everton, Serie A champions Internazionale and the Colombian club Millonarios. The individuals who tested positive are asymptomatic and isolating at home.

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July 21st 2021, 6:32 am

No entry: symbolism in Fukushima as Olympics begin in empty stadium

Sport | The Guardian

Silence and sadness greets a softball match meant to signal the recovery of a city devastated by earthquake and tsunami in 2011

After a year’s delay and months of rancour … finally, some Olympic sport. Few will remember the details of Yukiko Ueno’s opening pitch to Michelle Cox in Japan’s softball match against Australia in Fukushima on Wednesday morning. But her delivery, witnessed by the organising committee president, Seiko Hashimoto, signalled that the most bizarre Games of modern times really are happening.

Depending on how deep the world’s reserves of optimism run, the first action of the 2020 Games, could mark a turning point for the troubled Olympics or, more likely, bring only ephemeral relief from the viral cloud that hangs over the host city, Tokyo.

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July 21st 2021, 6:32 am

Team GB women’s football team kick off Olympics going for gold

Sport | The Guardian

Hege Riise has said her Team GB women’s football squad can “absolutely” win gold at the Olympics and have all the ingredients for success.

“The chemistry within the players is excellent,” said the former Olympic champion Riise, who won gold with Norway at the Sydney Games in 2000. “If we can enjoy it and not feel the pressure we will be good.”

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July 20th 2021, 6:01 pm

Panorama’s shocking tale raises urgent questions for racing

Sport | The Guardian

The revelations in Monday’s BBC documentary demand urgent action from horseracing authorities in Britain and Ireland

In a 24-race career for Nicky Henderson between May 2014 and April 2019, Vyta Du Roc won seven races including the Grade Two Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot, two Grade Twos over hurdles and a handicap chase at Cheltenham’s New Year’s Day meeting in 2018. In all, he banked nearly £180,000 in prize money for his owners, Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.

Related: Thousands of ex-racehorses being sent to abattoirs, BBC investigation claims

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July 20th 2021, 6:01 pm

ECB sweats on Hundred catching fire but did it really have to be this way?

Sport | The Guardian

England’s answer to the Big Bash begins on Wednesday but doubling down on the county game was the braver option

For three long years running up until the very first ball is bowled at 6.30pm on Wednesday, the organisers of the Hundred have been desperately trying to stamp out fires. The question now is whether the biggest change to English cricket in modern times catches alight.

Over the next 32 days there is a new eight-team, seven-city tournament in town, backed by an unprecedented marketing budget for domestic cricket and two heavyweight broadcasters in Sky and the BBC. It is looking to engage a brand new audience, while at the same time winning over existing supporters who dislike the concept and, more broadly, what it does to the sport they love. In short, a fair old challenge.

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July 20th 2021, 6:01 pm

Lions boosted by decision to stage all three South Africa Tests in Cape Town

Sport | The Guardian

The British & Irish Lions have been given a major boost following confirmation that all three Test matches against South Africa will now be played at sea level. The plan had been for the second and third Tests to be played in Johannesburg, but Covid-19 fears have now prompted the entire series to be switched to Cape Town Stadium.

Related: The Breakdown: If at first the Lions don’t succeed, that’s basically it for the series

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July 20th 2021, 6:01 pm

Chris Jordan hits winning runs as England clinch thrilling Pakistan series

Sport | The Guardian

England ended their white-ball summer with yet another series success after clinching a thrilling T20 decider against Pakistan by three wickets.

Eoin Morgan’s team are seen as among the favourites for the World Cup later this year and it is their ability to come through in pressure moments like this that has earned them that reputation.

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July 20th 2021, 6:01 pm

Tokyo 2020 on a knife edge as rumours spread as quickly as Covid

Sport | The Guardian

Sensationalist headlines and the constant fear of a phone ping have added to Games jitters and clouded sporting anticipation

In Tinderbox Tokyo, on the eve of the first sporting action of these troubled Olympics, everyone appears to have the jitters. Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, admits to sleepless nights. Athletes and journalists increasingly fear their Games could end with a ping on their phone and a 14-day spell in quarantine. And when Toshiro Muto, head of the Tokyo organising committee, was asked on Tuesday whether the Games could yet be cancelled, his vague reply became interpreted as a hint the Olympics could yet be in peril at the 11th hour.

Such headlines did not merely jump the gun. They also pole‑vaulted spectacularly clear of the cavalry.

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July 20th 2021, 6:01 pm

Cake and Call of Duty: Reece Prescod on the challenges of lockdown | Sean Ingle

Sport | The Guardian

British sprinter on his training nearly being derailed by food, cake and Call of Duty, training in the US and Team GB’s 100m chances

With an honesty every bit as breathtaking as his blistering speed, the most talented male sprinter in Britain is explaining how fast food, cake, and epic Call of Duty sessions nearly derailed his Olympic dream. “Deliveroo is the problem,” admits Reece Prescod and then, suddenly, it all starts to tumble out: how he turned up a stone overweight at the British trials three weeks ago, how it became an epiphany, and why he believes redemption in the form of a shock 100m medal in Tokyo is not out of reach.

Related: ‘Weird and unfair’: Usain Bolt criticises advances in spike technology

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July 20th 2021, 6:01 pm

‘If not now, when?’ Alistair Brownlee says Tokyo 2020 should go ahead

Sport | The Guardian

Alistair Brownlee has backed the International Olympic Committee’s decision to proceed with the rescheduled Games amid the Covid-19 pandemic, saying a stripped-back Games will be better than none at all.

Tokyo 2020 begins on Friday to an unprecedented backdrop with the host city currently in a state of emergency, meaning fans are barred from the majority of venues and athletes must respect a strict code of conduct. It means much of the traditional Olympic experience will be severely diluted but Brownlee, a gold medallist in the triathlon at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, believes cancelling the event would have been far less palatable to competitors.

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July 20th 2021, 1:44 pm

Meet Alice Capsey, the 16-year-old schoolgirl hoping to star in the Hundred

Sport | The Guardian

Oval Invincibles’ head coach Jonathan Batty had to ring her mum to get permission for the teenager to play, but don’t expect the young Surrey star to be overawed

Sixteen-year-old Alice Capsey’s call-up to play for Oval Invincibles in the Hundred was unusual, to say the least. “Because of my age our head coach, Jonathan Batty, had to phone my mum first and get her permission. Then he was finally allowed to ring me!” she recalls. Her reaction? “I was lost for words. I wasn’t expecting it.”

That was Christmas 2020: four months after the first edition of English cricket’s brand-new all-singing, all-dancing competition, the Hundred, was supposed to have been played. Covid put paid to that.

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July 20th 2021, 1:44 pm

Anthony Joshua to make title defence against Oleksandr Usyk in London

Sport | The Guardian

Anthony Joshua will defend his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles against former undisputed world cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hosts a boxing event for the first time on 25 September.

Joshua had seemed on course for a blockbuster all-British showdown against Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia in August but the bout was scuppered when a United States arbitrator ordered the WBC champion to take on Deontay Wilder again.

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July 20th 2021, 1:44 pm

England v Pakistan: third and deciding T20 international – live!

Sport | The Guardian

Out come England, through the (entirely pointless) shoots of flame, shortly followed by Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

I believe it is raining in London. Look at this sky and weep. David Lloyd predicts that the pitch will have good pace, good carry and plenty of cracks so it might spin, might slow, in the second half of the match.

Pakistan fans have arrived at @lancscricket in style #ENGvPAK pic.twitter.com/Dml1UdcCqF

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July 20th 2021, 1:44 pm

Barcelona in desperate push to offload players and keep Lionel Messi

Sport | The Guardian

Messi is still a free agent and Barça will only be able to announce his deal once the club clear some of their debt

Lionel Messi is unemployed. Don’t worry: he will still be at Barcelona next season, or he should be, and he will certainly be OK. The question now may be: will they? And if he plays at the Camp Nou, if they are able to cut costs and raise the funds that they desperately need to balance the books and allow him to re-sign and begin an 18th season at the club where now more than ever he is their everything, if they can somehow, somewhere find over €100m and fast, who will play alongside him?

A year after he tried to walk away, Barcelona insist that they are no longer concerned about Messi leaving. Last week, with pressure building and sponsors expressing uncertainty, they let it be known that they had reached an agreement on a deal that would keep him there until he is 39, new president Joan Laporta’s key electoral promise finally fulfilled. Except that it is not quite, not yet. The agreement has not been made official and nothing has been signed, for one simple reason: it can’t be.

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July 20th 2021, 11:32 am

Baseball and softball prepare to pitch in at Olympics after 13-year absence

Sport | The Guardian

Hosts are among the favourites in baseball while the US hope to belatedly atone for their 2008 final shock in softball

Baseball, which was formally added as a medal sport in 1992, and softball, which joined it four years later, became the first sports in seven decades to be eliminated from the Olympic programme following the 2008 Beijing Games. The surprise vote by an International Olympic Committee that is typically broken toward expansion has been generally attributed to Major League Baseball’s refusal to pause its summer-long season and allow the sport’s best players to participate, while softball’s removal was widely interpreted – at least in American circles – as a punishment for Team USA’s dominance.

Related: Nigeria spring historic upset of USA men’s basketball in Olympic tune-up

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July 20th 2021, 11:32 am

The Breakdown | If at first the Lions don’t succeed, that’s basically it for the series

Sport | The Guardian

Just once since 1900 have the Lions triumphed after losing the opener – and South Africa don’t lose on successive weekends

You could write the definitive book on life and rugby based on the opening Tests of a British & Irish Lions series alone. It would cover every emotion from unthinkable glory to ashen-faced regret but one consistent thread would bind the narrative. The Lions team that contrives to lose the first Test will probably have at least four years in which to lament what might have been.

Just once since 1900 has a Lions side won a series having lost the opening rubber. That was back in 1989 in Australia when Finlay Calder’s team came back from the metaphorical dead with a little unscheduled help from David Campese and Greg Martin. In South Africa there continues to be no precedent of any description. If at first the Lions don’t succeed, that’s basically it.

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July 20th 2021, 11:32 am

Max Whitlock: ‘You’ve got 60 seconds and it’s done – you don’t get a second chance’

Sport | The Guardian

Britain’s double Olympic champion is dominant on the pommel horse where his mental strength and risk-taking set him apart

The last time Max Whitlock competed in a major final with a medal on the line, disaster nearly struck. Whitlock started his routine on the pommel horse final at the 2019 world championships as he always does, lifting himself up to handstand on one handle. But as he reached its apex he lost his balance and his hand moved up the horse. It was a clear error on the most unforgiving apparatus, the type that could scupper a routine.

Related: Baseball and softball prepare to pitch in at Olympics after 13-year absence

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July 20th 2021, 11:32 am

David Squires on … the sorry state of Swindon Town

Sport | The Guardian

Our cartoonist tries to get his head around the situation at his beloved League Two club, who are stuck in limbo with no manager

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July 20th 2021, 11:32 am

The Hundred: a team-by-team guide to the men’s competition

Sport | The Guardian

From Moeen’s Phoenix to Bairstow’s Welsh Fire, here are the teams and players to look out for in the inaugural tournament

Coach Daniel Vettori Captain Moeen Ali

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July 20th 2021, 11:32 am

Bikinis, briefs and beach handball: why female athletes should wear whatever they want

Sport | The Guardian

Long jumper Olivia Breen has been told by an English Championships official that her sprint briefs are too short – and she is not the only one fighting to wear her preferred kit

Name: Sprint briefs.

Age: They have been around for years, but the latest styles are new for summer 2021.

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July 20th 2021, 11:32 am

Weightlifter Cyrille Tchatchet: from despair to an Olympic dream | John Goodbody

Sport | The Guardian

An intervention from Samaritans was the start of a new life for Tchatchet who is in the International Refugee Team in Tokyo

The weightlifter Cyrille Tchatchet stood on the edge of a cliff in Sussex contemplating whether to take his own life. Having left the Athletes’ Village at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, he feared for his safety if he were to return to his native Cameroon. Tchatchet had been forced to live rough in Brighton for two months, sleeping under a bridge, surviving on handouts and becoming increasingly depressed.

“I was in a new country,” he says. “I knew nobody. I felt ashamed. You feel suicidal all the time because you think you are just useless.” Fortunately he saw a notice, advertising the Samaritans, on the wire fence separating the grass from the steep drop. Tchatchet called the helpline, was persuaded not to jump and shortly afterwards two police cars arrived to take him to safety.

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July 20th 2021, 6:45 am

Tokyo Olympics: fears athletes could face hottest Games on record

Sport | The Guardian

Beach volleyball players have already found sand too hot for their feet during practice

As if the coronavirus was not enough to contend with, Olympic athletes who have arrived ahead of the start of the Tokyo Games on Friday now find themselves at the sharp end of a Japanese summer.

The heat and humidity that descends on the Japanese capital after the rainy season has been a concern since it won the bid to host the Games in 2013.

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July 20th 2021, 6:45 am

England’s famous win over Australia: the most consequential match of all | Matthew Engel

Sport | The Guardian

The 1981 Ashes win at Headingley, inspired by an Ian Botham innings 40 years ago today, reverberated through the decades

I was there, you know. On the world’s most famous cricket ground on the day of England’s most famous Test win. In the old Lord’s press box next to the pavilion. True, the win in question was not actually at Lord’s: it was 200 miles away at Headingley. But we remember the most dramatic events through the prism of where we were when we heard the news.

Related: Cricket writers unite to salute ‘the finest of all’, John Woodcock

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July 20th 2021, 6:45 am

The Spin | The Hundred is here: everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask

Sport | The Guardian

Ten-ball overs, white cards for bowlers and coaching time-outs are all part of the controversial competition’s first edition

Welcome to English cricket’s anxiety dream. The Hundred is here, the tournament upon which hangs the game’s reputation, its financial future – some say its very existence. Even those who’ve had the screaming abdabs about this endeavour from the start have found themselves sucked into its dramatic eddy, even to the point of buying tickets.

Given it is a tournament that has been talked (or, more accurately, complained) about for two years, it is remarkable that we still don’t know quite what to expect. The Covid-inspired withdrawal of various overseas signings – including the Australian stars Aaron Finch, Alyssa Healy, Glenn Maxwell and Meg Lanning – has rendered the draft night pizzazz of 2019 (remember 2019?) somewhat irrelevant.

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July 20th 2021, 6:45 am

‘Weird and unfair’: Usain Bolt criticises advances in spike technology

Sport | The Guardian

Usain Bolt said that advances in spike technology that could help wipe out his world records are laughable and that the new shoes also give an unfair advantage over any athletes not wearing them.

After athletes ripped through the record books in distance running with carbon-plated, thick-soled shoes, the technology has now moved into sprint spikes, where – although there is less time in a race for the advantage to make an impact – it is still enough to make a difference.

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July 20th 2021, 6:45 am
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