Sum shocks Savinova to spoil Russian party

Savinova, the Olympic and defending world champion, was roared round the two laps of the Luzhniki stadium but Sum timed her late burst through the middle to perfection, knocking almost two seconds of her personal best with a time of one minute 57.

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38 seconds.

The Russian was second in 1:57.80 and American Brenda Martinez snatched third (1:57.91) from her compatriot and long-time race leader Alysia Johnson Montano who threw herself over the line before dissolving into tears.

“When I saw Asbel win, I told myself let’s also try,” the 24-year-old Sum told reporters.

“In the last 100 metres, I saw I was really moving while the others seemed to be stuck.

“When I took the start I didn’t know I was going to run like this or that I could be a winner. I was just hoping for a top five or maybe bronze,” added Sum, who is more at home over 1,500.

“I think I will stick to the 800 now.”

For once when ‘shhhh’ was played over the stadium’s PA it was needed as a full house prepared to cheer Savinova to more glory.

Montano, fastest in the semi-finals, pulled away from the start and led by 10 metres at the bell but was clearly tying up as the athletes rounded the home bend and had nothing left to give in the dash for the line.

It was left to Savinova and Sum to battle for the gold and with the finish closing in, the Kenyan trials winner powered past her rival and threw her arms into the air as she crossed the line.

Savinova conceded she had under-estimated the little-known Kenyan.

“I didn’t believe that Eunice Sum would be able to improve her PB by two seconds, it’s huge in our event,” the 27-year-old said.

“I just didn’t believe she would endure that finishing sprint.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Reed claims maiden PGA tour win in play-off

The 23-year-old PGA Tour rookie from Texas looked destined for defeat after slicing his drive almost out-of-bounds at the second extra hole, the par-four 10th at Sedgefield Country Club.

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But Reed’s ball stopped barely one yard in bounds and he took advantage of his lucky break by conjuring up a piece of magic with his second shot, threading a seven-iron that somehow avoided the trees and finished within seven feet of the hole.

“It was the best shot of my life, that’s for sure,” said Reed, whose caddie – and wife – Justine measured the shot at 167 yards.

“When I got the signal the ball was out of bounds my heart sank. I pulled my hat down and I was so frustrated and sad. If I didn’t close that out and win it I would have been heartbroken.”

But when Reed got word from other marshals that the ball was safe, his spirits soared.

“I felt I was back playing T-ball. The ball was so far above my feet that it almost felt like I was taking a baseball swing.

“The lie was fine. There was a little bit of dirt, a couple of pieces of grass, twigs, a couple of spiders, basically anything you’d find in a wilderness.

“The problem was the tree I had to go under. The tree trunk was right there and I had to hit the ball dead straight from a baseball lie. It’s hard for me to do that, because I play draws.

“I knew it was going to be do or die. I had to make a great golf swing and to pull it off meant everything.”

The vanquished Spieth was certainly impressed: “It was one of the best shots I’ve ever witnessed,” said Spieth. “I walked over to his ball (because) I wanted to see what he had to do and he didn’t have much.

“I didn’t think he could hit the ball that high and stop it from that lie.”

Spieth gave Reed a sporting thumbs-up, but it still wasn’t over, because Spieth had a sharply-breaking 10-foot birdie putt that shaved the right edge of the hole but didn’t drop.

That opened the door for Reed, who made no mistake with his birdie putt to capture his first tour victory, worth $954,000 and the Sam Snead Cup.

Reed’s heroics prevented Spieth from becoming the youngest two-time winner on tour in more than a century. Nevertheless, the 20-year-old, who won last month’s John Deere Classic, continued his emergence as one of the game’s rising stars.

The play-off was a rollercoaster of emotion for Spieth, who seemed destined for defeat at the first extra hole after pulling his drive into the woods.

He had no choice but to pitch his second shot back to the fairway and a poor third shot left him 26-feet above the hole, from where he defied the odds and sank the par putt.

Reed still had a chance to win with a seven-foot birdie attempt, but his putt was poor and the hole was halved, setting up even more drama at the next hole.

Earlier, Reed (66) and Spieth (65) finished regulation tied at 14-under-par 266. They both made tap-in pars at the 72nd hole to finish two strokes ahead of fellow Americans John Huh, who bogeyed the final two holes, and Brian Harman.

(Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Simon Evans in Miami)

All Blacks lose Cruden, Barrett, Romano to injury

All three players suffered their injuries during the 47-29 victory over the Wallabies in Sydney last weekend and while Romano’s adductor tear is the most serious injury, Cruden’s might hit the All Blacks the hardest.

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Cruden, starting in place of the injured Dan Carter, put in a man of the match performance in Sydney before leaving the pitch with what scans revealed was crucial ligament damage to his right knee, which will sideline him for two to six weeks.

Barrett came off the bench to replace Cruden but ended up straining a calf, although he should be fit for New Zealand’s third match of the championship against Argentina in Hamilton on September 7.

The uncapped Tom Taylor and 10-test back Colin Slade were added to the squad on Monday and will vie for the number 10 jersey.

Slade would be the sentimental choice, once New Zealand’s second-choice flyhalf after Carter but having suffered a raft of injuries since he was sidelined during the 2011 World Cup.

Hansen was cagey about who would be handed the coveted playmaker’s role, however.

“You’ll have to wait till Thursday for that,” he told New Zealand media on Tuesday, referring to the team’s announcement.

“They’ve fitted in lovely … It was pretty seamless,” he said of his backup flyhalves.

“They’ve got a lot to take in but Tuesdays for us are always about clarity, anyway … It’s more practising the things that we want to put in place so we can have a really high intensity training run on Thursday afternoon.”

The absence of the 15-cap lock Romano will be no small loss for the team either as they look to defend the title they won with six wins out of six last year.

Loose forwards Luke Whitelock and Brad Shields were called into the squad as cover for him and injured flanker Liam Messam on Monday.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing for Luke but he is a strong character and is already planning his rehab with our medical staff,” Hansen said.

“We hopefully will have Beauden ready to prepare for the Argentina test, while Aaron will start his knee rehabilitation later this week, which will give us a better indication of when he will be back playing.”

Victory for the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday would extend their hold on the Bledisloe Cup – the trophy contested every season between Australia and New Zealand – to an 11th year.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne, additional writing and editing by Nick Mulvenney.)

Selling Suarez to Arsenal ‘ludicrous’ – Liverpool owner

Arsenal have had two offers for the 26-year-old forward turned down and Henry made it clear that any further bids from the North London club, or elsewhere, would be similarly rebuffed.

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The American, whose reaction to Arsenal’s second bid was to tweet, “What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?”, said he was “unequivocal” that Suarez would not be leaving.

“We are not going to sell Luis,” Henry, who also owns Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox, told British newspapers.

“For all the top clubs it’s extremely important (not to sell to a rival) but especially for Liverpool because we’re not in Europe this year and have not been in the Champions League for a while.

“To sell to a rival for those positions, or one of them, would be ludicrous. Liverpool needs to be playing in Europe. It needs to be playing in the Champions League. That’s what Liverpool football club is about.”

Henry said offers from clubs outside the Premier League would not be considered because there was too little time before the end of the transfer window on September 2 for manager Brendan Rodgers to replace him.

“He won’t be sold even if a foreign club comes in because we do not have time to sign a suitable replacement,” Henry added.

“It’s a football reason. It’s not about finances. That’s why at this point, so late in the window, with everyone who’s already moved or isn’t moving, we can’t replace him. So for football reasons we can’t sell, and especially to Arsenal.”

“I think the issue has been resolved now. We have said ‘no’. Luis will be a Liverpool player on September 3.”

Suarez told Spanish sports daily Marca on Thursday that he wanted an “amicable agreement” to leave the club and thought a bid over 40 million pounds ($62.22 million) was enough to trigger a clause in his contract.

Arsenal’s bid was reported in the British media to be just one pound over that threshold.

As well as being Liverpool’s top scorer, Suarez has been involved in two major storms during his two and a half years at Anfield – his racist outburst at Manchester United’s Patrice Evra and his biting of Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.

The club backed him during both incidents, despite much criticism, and Henry said that the memory of that solidarity, particularly in the Evra incident, added to the disappointment of the Liverpool fans.

“If you look at the full context of what’s happened here it’s jarring to all our supporters,” he said.

“The club has stood by him so strongly at a time when you could question whether the club should have stood by him, but they did. I wouldn’t say we regret that.

“The manager and his team mates were solidly behind him. They were out on the field that day. So we felt they knew more about what occurred than we did, on the field.”

($1 = 0.6429 British pounds)

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Ian Ransom)

Freaks, geeks and Greeks

This year was no exception, with 120,000 people opting to be there AND be square.

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Across the pond, “Star Wars” fans were treated to their own nerdgasm when the British Supreme Court allowed prop-maker Andrew Ainsworth to continue creating replicas of stormtrooper helmets, despite protests from George Lucas.

Bollywood is enjoying a steady recovery following a cricket glut in India, but for me the week’s big story came from my family’s homeland.

Several years ago I interviewed Michael Cacoyannis, the director of the iconic 1964 film “Zorba the Greek”.

But when I heard about his death on Wednesday, many of his other works flooded my memory.

Melbourne’s 14th annual Antipodes Greek Film Festival had screened a trilogy of ancient Greek tragedies by Euripides that Cacoyannis adapted to the screen – Elektra (1962), The Trojan Women (1971) and Iphigenia (1977).

When I spoke to him over the phone from Athens, he told me they remained his proudest on-screen achievements. This coming from a man who’s most famous film won three Academy Awards.

Cacoyannis grew up in a house that overlooked an open-air cinema that screened silent movies. But his desire to become directly involved in filmmaking didn’t come until he moved to England to study law.

Ironically, the Second World War gave Cacoyannis a “path for freedom.” He began working for the BBC when it still produced Greek literary programs. It was here he met several artists who sparked his interest in film and theatre.

“Film is all about what finally gets across from the screen to the audience,” he said. “There are no set rules except sincerity, truth and avoiding boredom. It must leave a fresh impression which enriches the viewer’s life. Whether it’s a drama or a comedy, they take home something that is valuable emotionally.”

Returning to Greece, he directed what became some of the country’s first independent productions that attracted international attention. Euripides’ influence on Cacoyannis came in the early 1960s when he wanted to adapt Elektra to the screen.

“There were two versions,” he remembered. “I was waiting for Sophocles’ text, but by mistake they gave me the Euripides version. When I read it I was not only enthralled, but I found it very infusive and it was just made for the screen. I’ve often said if Euripides was alive today, he would be delighted with the cinema because it goes deep inside people’s characters.”

Elektra went on to receive two awards at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar. Two years later came Zorba the Greek – his most commercially successful film.

“(Alexis Zorbas) is like a storm brewing throughout our lives with its dangers and its benefits; approaching strangers and talking to them, his open and outrageous expressions,” he explained. “He’s unconventional, free and charming, but has many weaknesses and faults.”

Like Zorbas himself, Cacoyannis insisted on maintaining a sense of freedom in his work. Despite having many acquaintances in Hollywood, his efforts to avoid filmmaking in America persisted through years of lucrative offers.

“I resented the idea of belonging to an American stable of film directors; being told what to do and having my work controlled,” he said. “The reason my films were so successful was because of freedom. I was never a Hollywood film director. I could have become one much earlier, but I stuck to my way of working and I never wavered.”

In the 1970s he made the next two instalments of his Euripides trilogy – The Trojan Women, featuring Hollywood stars Vanessa Redgrave and Katharine Hepburn, and finally Iphigenia.

Cacoyannis prided himself on being an actor’s director, and always established a close relationship with his stars. But the fact that his works on stage and screen managed to transcend so many cultures – from theatres in New York, to Universities in Japan, to cinemas throughout Africa – remained his biggest accomplishment, both professionally and personally.

“My films, apart from their success, made me welcome in many countries and opened many doors,” he said. “They have a much wider appeal than I imagined, because they touch the very basics of human emotion.”