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MAIL & GUARDIAN: Sport

Gatlin firm favourite for 100m

Olympic champion Justin Gatlin goes into this weekend's 100m at the world championships in Helsinki as firm favourite after the withdrawal of injured world record holder Asafa Powell. The 23-year-old American said he was disappointed by the absence of his Jamaican rival, who has been beset by groin injuries since setting his record 9,77second time in Athens in June.

Blow to Bafana before World Cup qualifier

Faced with the imposing task of playing one of the most important games in South African soccer history -- the World Cup qualifier in Burkina Faso early in September -- Bafana Bafana on Wednesday were hit by the news that the South African Football Association is struggling to secure a critical warm-up fixture for the national team's ''shadow'' World Cup line-up on August 17.

Liverpool face climb to the top of the league

Champions of Europe, but only the second-best team in Liverpool. With their Champions League final triumph over AC Milan now history, Liverpool face the reality that they still have a long way to go to catch Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United in the Premier League race.

Helsinki braces for hooligans, not terrorists

Security in Helsinki is being tightened to never-before seen levels ahead of the World Athletics Championships starting on Saturday, but police say they are more worried about hooligans and thugs than about terrorism. Athletes from more than 200 countries will participate in the games set to take place amid record security levels.

Man U look for something to be optimistic about

Two years without a league championship. Not a single trophy last season. A contentious American takeover and a turbulent preseason. The aura surrounding Manchester United isn't what it used to be. Alex Ferguson's team finished in third place last season -- 18 points behind Jose Mourinho's Chelsea.

New challenges for the queen of pole vault

Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva is the undisputed queen of women's pole vault and this season became the first female to go over five metres. The 23-year-old from Volgograd has set her targets even higher and now plans on jumping 5,50m.

Os back in the mix for All Blacks clash

The Springbok management breathed a collective sigh of relief as veteran loosehead prop Os du Randt passed a fitness test and was included in the Bok starting line-up announced by coach Jake White on Wednesday for their Tri-Nations rugby match against the All Blacks at Newlands on Saturday.

Du Randt injury spoils Springbok Test plans

World Cup-winning loosehead prop Os du Randt could miss the Springboks' crunch Vodacom Tri-Nations Test against New Zealand this weekend after picking up a knock during a training session at Bishops College on Tuesday afternoon. Du Randt was struck down during a move early in the session on Tuesday.

PSL kicks off with Ajax aperitif

Food of gluttonous proportions was served to all and sundry at this week's function to launch the 2005/06 Premier Soccer League (PSL), but the soccer programme itself starts with something more in line of an aperitif when Ajax Cape Town entertain Jomo Cosmos at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on Wednesday night.

Big letdown for the Big Easy

There were signs from the start that this might be a year Ernie Els would like to forget. He stood on the 18th tee at Kapalua in Hawaii with a great chance to win the first tournament of the year. But his tee shot caromed off a cart path next to a fairway 70 yards wide and sailed out of bounds. Now his season has ended in far more peculiar fashion.

Celtic out of Champions League despite victory

Celtic crashed out of European competition for the season, but Tuesday's 4-0 win at home to Slovakian champions Artmedia Bratislava restored some pride. Goals from Alan Thompson, John Hartson, Stephen McManus and Craig Beattie almost allowed the Glasgow giants to overturn their 5-0 defeat from the first leg.

How much is too much soccer?

It's the never-ending season. Summer used to mean a three-month break in European soccer. Now the hiatus is down to a few weeks. League seasons already have resumed in France and Scotland, the German season starts on Friday and the English Premier League begins on August 13.

Cosafa Cup boost for Bafana coach

When you are the Bafana Bafana coach, you have no option but to be grateful for small mercies. However, even the news on Monday that Stuart Baxter will be able to select players from Kaizer Chiefs, Bloemfontein Celtic, Moroka Swallows and Supersport United for next week's Cosafa Cup semifinal still had a backlash.

Who are the real Sundowns?

They may have proved their worth as Telkom Charity Cup champions for a second successive year by winning Saturday's final in front of a 70 000 crowd at the FNB Stadium while fielding basically different teams for the games against Black Leopards and Bloemfontein Celtic. Now the intriguing question is: Who are the real Sundowns?

Boks ‘really had to fight for the win’

Springbok coach Jake White admitted that his team played poorly against the Wallabies at Loftus Stadium on Saturday, but was nonetheless delighted with the 22-16 win. It was just the start the defending champions sought to their Vodacom Tri-Nations defence, but far greater obstacles await them in Cape Town next weekend.

Singh sets Buick Open record

Vijay Singh quickly turned a showdown between the world's top two golfers into a rout at the Buick Open on Saturday. Singh matched the tournament record of seven under on the front nine and closed with a 63 for a tournament 54-hole record of 22-under 194.

Another world swimming record tumbles

Ian Crocker avenged his Athens Olympic defeat in the 100m butterfly with a world-record-setting victory over fellow American Michael Phelps on Saturday at the 11th World Swimming Championships. South African Roland Schoeman continued to display blistering form as he posted the second-fastest 50m freestyle time to date to capture that crown.

Sundowns barely retain Charity Cup

Star-studded Mamelodi Sundowns retained the Telkom Charity Cup at an emotionally charged FNB Stadium on Saturday night by the skin of their teeth -- but only after a goalkeeper named Postnett failed to deliver for Bloemfontein Celtic in the unfamiliar role of penalty-taker.

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