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Patriots jolted by Chiefs, 49ers down Saints

New England receiver NKeal Harry is denied a touchdown after wrongly being ruled out of bounds in the Patriots loss to the Chiefs. (Photo: AFP)Tom Brady and the New England Patriots slid to a second straight defeat on Sunday, falling 23-16 to the Kansas City Chiefs in a game marred by a series of officiating blunders.The reigning Super Bowl champions launched a spirited fightback after trailing 23-7 in the third quarter but lost crucial momentum after multiple calls went against them at Foxborough.The most glaring officiating error occurred early in the fourth quarter when NKeal Harry was wrongly adjudged to have been forced out of bounds as he dived into the corner for a touchdown.Replays clearly showed Harry was in-bounds and the Patriots should have been awarded a touchdown -- but with coach Bill Belichick already out of challenges, the call was allowed to stand.With the drive eventually ending in a Patriots field goal, the hosts turned around 23-16 instead of potentially cutting the Chiefs lead to 23-20 with most of the fourth quarter remaining.The officiating crew had also blown an earlier call, mistakenly whistling the play dead after failing to spot a Travis Kelce fumble, denying the Patriots a potential defensive touchdown.The Patriots -- who had been booed off the field at halftime after trailing 20-7 -- had one last attempt for a game-tying score, but Bradys pass to Julian Edelman in the endzone was batted away by Bashaud Breeland.Patriots coach Belichick refused to be drawn on the officiating performance following the loss.Asked what officials had said after disallowing Harrys touchdown, Belichick replied: "Youll have to talk to them about that. Im not going to speak for them.""I was proud of the way our guys competed tonight," he added. "They battled for 60 minutes. It wasnt always perfect, and theres certainly things we could have done better. But we were competitive right the way down to ...

Hot Water: Pressure to move Tokyo Olympics open-water venue

In this Aug. 15, 2019, file photo, athletes dive into the water at the start line during a womens triathlon test event at Odaiba Marine Park, a venue for marathon swimming and triathlon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, in Tokyo. (Photo: AP)The IOC moved next year’s Tokyo Olympic marathons and race walks out of the Japanese capital to avoid the stifling heat and humidity.Now some swimmers and an 11,000-member coaching body are asking that something similar should be done with the distance-swimming venue in Tokyo Bay.Known as the “Odaiba Marine Park,” the water temperatures there were near danger levels in test events this summer for open-water swimming and triathlon. E. coli levels also plague the urban venue, and athletes have complained about the odors coming from the small inlet.“Here’s the reality,” Catherine Kase, who coaches open water for the United States Olympic team, said in an email to the Associated Press. “If a marathoner faints or passes out, they may get a few bumps and bruises. If the same thing happens to an open-water swimmer, the result could be lethal.”Tokyo’s heat again is the main problem.Water temperatures in the venue this summer were very warm, climbing one day to 30.5 Celsius (86.9 Fahrenheit). That’s barely under the limit of 31C (87.8F) set by swimming’s world governing body FINA. The temperatures were consistently in the 29C-30C (84F-86F) range.FINA rules specify that the race will be shortened or canceled if temperatures go over the limit.FINA rules read: “All open-water swims’ alternative plans should be made in case environmental factors make the swim unsafe forcing it to be canceled or curtailed.”Kase added. “We would like to push for a viable back-up plan. The straightforward answer is that we are not comfortable with the Odaiba venue.”Kase noted that US swimmers are advised against participating if temperatures exceed 29.45C (85F). She also said US swimmers can still choose to swim “and will likely feel pressure to do so” at big eve...

Messi’s hometown offers emotional trip to his childhood

A boy pops a wheelie as he rides his bicycle past a mural featuring Lionel Messi in La Bajada, Rosario, Argentina. Soccer wasnt always Messis favorite activity. When he was a child in the modest neighborhood of La Bajada in his hometown, he spent his time bicycling with friends, building forts out of branches and stones, playing hide and seek — and occasionally stealing lemons from a neighbor to make juice. (Photo: AP)Soccer wasn’t always Lionel Messi’s favorite activity.When he was a child in the modest neighborhood of La Bajada in his Argentine hometown of Rosario, he spent his time bicycling with friends, building forts out of branches and stones, playing hide and seek — and occasionally stealing lemons from a neighbor to make juice.Those stories and others are the focus of a new tour being offered by Rosario to celebrate their 32-year-old hometown hero, an international sports superstar who just won an unprecedented sixth Golden Ball as world soccer’s player of the year.The tour put together by Rosario’s city hall is free of charge and available in an app translated into several languages, guiding fans through 10 stops.Few houses are higher than two stories in La Bajada, a middle-class neighborhood in the city that is 186 miles (300 kilometers) northwest of Buenos Aires.Halfway down Israel street stands a gray house, closed off by shut curtains and protected by railings. There is no sign outside indicating it was Messi’s home, and no one lives there now, though it still belongs to his family.The neighbors aren’t so shy about the Messi connection, however. Colorful paintings dedicated to the soccer star stand in front of houses and there are sidewalks colored in the blue and white of Argentina’s national team with Messi’s jersey number, 10, painted in black.Messi’s neighbors and friends are often willing to share stories with visitors.“Leo was normal and ordinary like other people here,” Diego Vallejos, one of Messi’s childhood friends, told The Associa...

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Solskjaer demands life ban for 'monkey chant' spectator

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer demanded a life ban from all soccer grounds for the spectator who allegedly aimed racist monkey chants at his teams Brazilian midfielder Fred on Saturday.File photo: VCGUniteds 2-1 Premier League derby win over neighbors and defending champions Manchester City was overshadowed by a series of ugly incidents at the Etihad.Solskjaer said both Fred and teammate Jesse Lingard had been "affected" by the alleged abuse. However, the Norwegian insisted it is the individual concerned rather than City as a club who should bear the brunt of any sanctions."Why dont we educate him instead? Its not Citys fault, its his. Nothing to do with Man City as a football club," said the United boss."Hes been caught on camera and he should never be allowed into a football ground again, its unacceptable."City pledged to take a zero tolerance approach against supporters found to have subjected United players to racist abuse.Fred was hit by objects thrown from the crowd as he prepared to take a corner in the second half while footage on social media appeared to show a City fan mimicking a monkey at the Brazilian."Manchester City FC are aware of a video circulating on social media which appears to show a supporter making racial gestures during the second half of the match against Manchester United this evening," City said in a statement."Officials from the club are working with Greater Manchester Police [GMP] in order to help them identify any individuals concerned and assist with their enquiries."The club are also working with GMP regarding an instance of objects being thrown onto the field of play. The club operates a zero tolerance policy regarding discrimination of any kind, and anyone found guilty of racial abuse will be banned from the club for life."The incident comes after Englands Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria in October was twice halted ...

China's Ding Junhui wins snooker UK Championship

Ding Junhui beat Stephen Maguire of Scotland 10-6 to win the UK Championship on Sunday, 10 years after the Chinese star last lifted the prestigious trophy.Ding Junhui of China wins the snooker UK Championship in York, UK, December 8, 2019. (Photos: VCG)World number 16 Ding joined an elite group of players to win the event three times after his previous triumphs in 2005 and 2009.Maguire is two places higher than Ding in the world rankings, but the Scot fell short of winning the UK title for a second time after his triumph in 2004, despite making three centuries in the final.Ding Junhui of China aims a ball during the snooker UK Championship final in York, UK, December 8, 2019.Ding, who made consecutive centuries as he cruised into a 4-0 lead in the afternoon, led 8-4 in the evening session before Maguire made successive scores of 103 and 124 to pull it back to 8-6.Ding last won a ranking event in 2017 but held his nerve to go 9-6 up with a break of 131 before completing his victory to a standing ovation with his fourth ton of the final.The 32-year-old secured his fourth major title and 14th ranking trophy to pocket a winners check of 200,000 British pounds (263,000 U.S. dollars).Scot Stephen Maguire contemplates his set during the snooker UK Championship final in York, UK, December 8, 2019.Ding, who will move up to ninth in the world, said: "This is very special. It has been two years and I have done nothing but I have played very well this week... I worried about not doing well and asked myself can I win again?""But this week I played so well and when I beat Ronnie OSullivan on the way to the final I started to believe that I could lift the trophy again.""My family gives me support and takes the pressure. I want to do my best for my daughter so that when she grows up she thinks she has the best daddy."

China win two golds at ISU Short Track Speed Skating Shanghai

Fan Kexin wins the womens 500m final in 42.714 seconds in Shanghai, Dec 8, 2019. (Photo:Xinhua)SHANGHAI -- Hosts China bounced back after a dismal first competition day and won two gold medals on Sunday at the ISU Short Track Speed Skating Shanghai.Despite being ousted from three relays and an injured Wu Dajing, the Chinese team delivered good performances on Sunday as Fan Kexin and Han Tianyu claimed a gold medal each. China collected two gold, two silver and two bronze in the World Cup Shanghai."I didnt expect much here," said Wang Meng, head coach of the Chinese team. "Its the fourth leg of the World Cup series. We won two gold in the first leg, three in the second, one in the third.""To me, it is just a World Cup. Its not an Olympic Games; Its not a World Championships," said the former four-time Olympic short track speed skating champion. "Our aim is the World Championships next year."Fan Kexin won Chinas first gold in Shanghai. Fan, runner-up in the womens 1000m at Sochi Games 2014, won the womens 500m final in 42.714 seconds, leaving Dutch Yara van Kerkhof to second place with 42.902. Qu Chunyu of China came third in 43.015."I am so excited," said Fan. "It is my first gold medal at the World Cup in four years. I just kept going ahead in the final."In the mens 1000m final, Han Tianyu took the lead with three laps to go and held the advantage until the end. He finished in 1:28.351. Hungarys Shaoang Liu and South Korean Park Ji Won took second and third respectively.Chinas Olympic champion Wu Dajing, who injured his waist on Saturdays 500m final, entered the 500m (2) quarters on Sunday but failed to make the semis.Hungarys Shaolin Liu won his second 500m title in Shanghai with 40.722. South Koreas Lee June Seo came second in 40.904, while Stevan Dubios of Canada ranked third in 41.289.The womens 1000m final was dominated by Nethe...

Interview: Go all out for Olympic glory in Tokyo 2020: Ding Xia

BEIJING, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Ding Xia, the regular setter of Chinas womens volleyball team, has tipped China as one of the favorite teams to clinch the title at Tokyo 2020 and vowed to do everything to achieve that goal.(Photo: VCG)After a series of impressive performances in big events since 2016, especially lifting the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Womens World Cup trophy with 11 straight victories, it is no doubt that China is seen as top contenders for the Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.Ding, however, cautioned that the defending Olympic champions would be regarded as a target for other teams."I feel that in 2020, many teams will focus on China, after all, we are the defending champions and the World Cup holders as well. We should keep a low profile and beat the opponents at all costs," said Ding.But Ding didnt play down Chinas prospect in next year. "We are still a strong squad as a whole, including a complete coached team."In September, China lifted its second consecutive FIVB World Cup and the 10th World title in history. Ding was named the best setter of the tournament, but she modestly said that the individual award was a surprise to her."I just think I had a normal performance in that tournament and still have room for improvement. Maybe I did a good job in passing, but I didnt continue my condition in the last three games, and I was benched in some games, so my personal statistics may not be outstanding.""Now that I won the award, I will consider it as recognition," the 29-year-old Ding added.Compared with her first trip to the World Cup in 2015, Ding has established her status as the regular setter in recent years.Ding admitted that she felt less pressure when playing as a substitute but now she has to shoulder more responsibility."At the beginning of my national team career, I didnt feel too much pressure, the coaching staff just required me to play at my normal level, but from the World...

Former world No.1 Wozniacki to retire after Australian Open

(Photo: VCG)Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki announced on Friday that she will retire from tennis after next months Australian Open.The 29-year-old Dane won her only Grand Slam singles title in Melbourne last year."Ive accomplished everything I could ever dream of on the court," she said in an Instagram post.

Meet the BWF Player of the Year Awards nominees from China

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) revealed the Player of the Year Awards nominees on Thursday. The prestigious awards aim at recognizing the achievements of badminton players and pairs in six categories, including two in Para badminton.Chinas Zheng Siwei (L) and Huang Yaqiong compete in the China Open badminton mixed double final in Fuzhou, southeast Chinas Fujian Province, November 10, 2019. (Photo: VCG)The nominees were selected by the BWF Awards Commission based on their performances throughout the year, including several extraordinary shuttlers from China.The list includes Chinas world No.1 mixed doubles pair Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong as well as world No.1 womens doubles pair Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan.Zheng and Huang returned as nominees for Male Player of the Year and Female Player of the Year respectively for the second year in a row, following their steady performance in 2019 with six titles overall including at the BWF World Championships.Huang was joined by teammates Chen and Jia, who recently retained the top world ranking and won five titles over the course of the year. Chinese Taipeis Tai Tzu-ying was also included.Chinas Qu Zimo and Liu Yutong were nominated as Male and Female Para Badminton Players of the Year, respectively.The winners will be announced at the opening ceremony and gala dinner of the upcoming BWF World Tour Finals in Guangzhou, south Chinas Guangdong Province.Heres the full list of nominees:Male Player of the YearKento Momota (Mens Singles, Japan)Highlight: Winner – TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019; 10 titles overallMarcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (Mens Doubles, Indonesia)Highlight: Eight titles on HSBC BWF World Tour 2019Zheng Siwei (Mixed Doubles, China)Highlight: Winner – TOTAL BWF World Championships 2018; six titles overallMohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan (Mens Doubles, Indonesia)Highlight: Winner – TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019; three titles ...

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