Iran’s Hadadi hints at Olympics withdrawal after fresh injury
A twisted ankle could force Ehsan Hadadi to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics, the Iranian discus thrower confirmed.
The London 2012 silver medalist suffered the injury during the Iranian Clubs Athletics Championships in Tehran on Sunday.
Despite the injury, Hadadi managed to win the silver with a blow-par 57.47m throw, following Hossein Rasouli who finished on 58.46m.
With 10 days to go before the athletics event gets underway in the Japanese capital, the sprained ankle leaves Hadadi’s fourth participation at the Games hanging in the balance.
The Iranian is yet to fully recover from a spinal disc problem, which saw him cut short his preparations in the United States in June and fly back to Iran for treatment.
Speaking to Varzesh3 after Sunday’s competition, Hadadi said, “I will have to leave for Tokyo on Sunday, but I have to wait and see what happens until then.”
The Iranian added, “A fourth participation at the Olympics will be a historic occasion for the Iranian sport, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to push for that at all costs.”
“I’m looking to take part at the Olympics in my best form as a bad performance would harm my reputation,” said the 2011 world bronze medalist and four-time Asian Games gold winner.
The Olympics would be Hadadi’s first international event since the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Qatar, where he finished seventh with 65.16m.
Should he withdraw from the Games, he will be the third Iranian to be ruled of the event, following injured weightlifter Parisa Jahanfekrian and Bahman Asgari, who will miss the karate competitions due to a failed doping test.
Persepolis, Sepahan resuming league title race after cup setback
Persepolis and Sepahan will be looking to put the Hazfi Cup disappointment behind them when they resume their Persian Gulf Pro League campaigns today.
Yahya Golmohammadi’s Persepolis will play away to bottom-side Mashinsazi in Tabriz, while Sepahan visit Padideh in Mashhad.
The top two in the league, and the only realistic hopefuls for the title, were knocked out of the Iranian domestic cup last Thursday.
The Tehran-based Reds suffered a shootout defeat against arch-rivals Esteghlal after a goalless stalemate at the Azadi Stadium.
Sepahan was beaten by Foolad Khuzestan in similar fashion, having played to a 1-1 draw by the end of extra time in Ahvaz.
Persepolis will hope to maintain their two-point lead on top but Mashinsazi, despite being relegated, have proved to be tough opponents in recent weeks, falling to 1-0 defeats against Sepahan and Foolad either side of a 3-0 victory over Mes Rafsanjan.
Moharram Navidkia’s Sepahan, meanwhile, can’t afford to fall further behind in the title race, as there will be only two rounds of matches remaining after today’s fixtures.
Padideh, whose run of three consecutive wins came to end with a 1-0 loss to Nassaji Mazandaran last time out, will put in a last-ditch effort for a top-four finish and a possible spot in next season’s AFC Champions League.
Sepahan were stunned at home by today’s opponents in the reverse fixture, when Padideh came out victorious by a 3-1 scoreline in January.
Battle in bottom
The race at the other end of the table will be even tighter as four teams will be looking to avoid joining Mashinsazi in next year’s second-tier league.
In a decisive battle between strugglers, Zob Ahan – three points above the relegation zone – will host Nassaji, who are three points clear of Zob Ahan.
Mahmoud Fekri, who was sacked by Esteghlal in mid-season, will have his own motivations when his Naft Masjed Soleyman – one point behind Nassaji – square off against the Tehran-based Blues at the Azadi Stadium.
Saipa – second from bottom – will play away to Golgohar Sirjan, who are still in contention with a top-four finish.
Elsewhere, Aluminium Arak will host Tractor, with San’at Naft Abadan and Mes Rafsanjan going head-to-head in Abadan.
Paykan and Foolad will also meet in Tehran.
All matches will kick off on 21:15 local time (1645 GMT).
Pogacar claims vintage Tour de France title
Tadej Pogacar became the youngest rider to win back-to-back Tour de France titles on Sunday after some vintage racing drew comparisons with cycling’s greatest.
The 22-year-old Slovenian, who won the Tour on his debut last year, hammered his rivals in the Alps with a long-range attack on stage eight, reminiscent of the event in the 1980s, and stayed in control for the rest of the race, Reuters reported.
He beat Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard by a massive five minutes 20 seconds as Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz took third place, 7:03 off the pace as his Ineos Grenadiers team failed to spark once again.
“I’m gonna speak from the heart,” said Pogacar on the final podium.
“Thank you to everybody who came along during the three weeks. It was amazing to be riding along the route.”
Pogacar finished Sunday’s 21st and final stage safe in the bunch as Belgian Wout van Aert prevailed in the sprint to beat compatriot Jasper Philipsen and Briton Mark Cavendish who were second and third, respectively.
Pogacar watched from the inside of the bunch, raising his arms as he crossed the line.
“I see him as the new Cannibal,” said five-time Tour champion Eddy Merckx, who earned that nickname due to his insatiable appetite for victory and won his first Tour in 1969 at the age of 23.
“He is extremely strong. I see him winning several editions of the Tour in the years to come. If nothing happens to him, he can certainly win the Tour de France more than five times.”
While Pogacar says he doesn’t like comparisons, the UAE Emirates rider threw caution to the wind when he attacked in the Col de Romme on the eighth stage, in a move similar to those of Merckx or fellow five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault.
Pogacar won two mountain stages in the Pyrenees and an individual time trial – a testament to his all-round qualities – with his only sign of weakness coming in week two on Mont Ventoux.
He finishes the Tour with the white jersey for the best Under-25 rider in the race and with the polka-dot jersey for the mountains classification, just like last year.
The green jersey went to Cavendish after the Briton took his tally of career stage wins to a record-equalling 34, with four victories in this year’s race although he was denied the 35th by Van Aert on Sunday.
It marked a spectacular comeback for the Manxman, who was returning to the Tour for the first time since 2018 after years of poor results and mental health problems.
Cavendish was perfectly set up in the sprints by his Deceuninck-Quick Step team mates as the Belgian outfit claimed five wins in this year’s edition.
After losing the first mass sprint of the race, Cavendish was untouchable, avoiding the multiple crashes that marred this year’s Tour and sent his potential main rival, Caleb Ewan, home after the third stage.
Those crashes also ended the hopes of last year’s runner-up Primoz Roglic, who abandoned before the eighth stage, while the chances of Ineos Greanadiers’ co-leaders Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart were also ruined when they hit the deck early in the race.
The last days were marked by a potential doping scandal as a French prosecutor in Marseille opened an investigation into the Bahrain Victorious team after the outfit’s accommodation and vehicles were searched by police on Wednesday.
Bahrain Victorious said they were cooperating with the investigation.
They won three stages this year with Belgian Dylan Teuns’ solo raid in the mountains, while Slovenian Matej Mohoric took two victories from the breakaway.
F1 condemns online racist abuse of Hamilton after British GP victory
Mercedes, Formula One and its governing body, the FIA, issued a joint statement condemning the online racist abuse aimed at Lewis Hamilton following Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
Hamilton, 36, was targeted following his crash with rival Max Verstappen on the opening lap of Sunday’s British Grand Prix, the Guardian reproted.
The seven-time world champion delivered a superb comeback drive to record his eighth win on home soil at Silverstone, while Verstappen was taken to hospital following the 190mph shunt which registered at 51G.
The statement read: “During, and after, yesterday’s British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was subjected to multiple instances of racist abuse on social media following an in-race collision.
“Formula One, The FIA and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms. These people have no place in our sport and we urge that those responsible should be held accountable for their actions.
“Formula One, the FIA, the drivers and the teams are working to build a more diverse and inclusive sport, and such unacceptable instances of online abuse must be highlighted and eliminated.”
Hamilton and Verstappen, the only two drivers in the hunt for the title, had gone wheel to wheel across the opening lap at Silverstone. They touched as Hamilton attempted to pass up the inside of the fast Copse corner, leading to the Dutchman’s crash.
Hamilton went on to win despite receiving a 10-second penalty for having been adjudged to have caused the collision but there was anger from the Red Bull team and Verstappen after the race.
The Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, said: “Lewis is a seven-times world champion and that was an amateur’s mistake and a desperate mistake. We were very lucky someone wasn’t seriously injured.”
Verstappen, who was taken to hospital but given the all-clear, said: “Very disappointed with being taken out like this,” he wrote. “The penalty given does not help us and doesn’t do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track. Watching the celebrations while still in hospital is disrespectful and unsportsmanlike behaviour but we move on.”
The official Instagram account of the Asian Football Confederation praised the skills of Iranian female footballer Zahra Qanbari.