Saturday 21 October 2017

Swimming: McMahon eyeing Euro final spot

SYCERIKA McMahon will today bid to make her second final at the European Long Course Championships in Debrecen, Hungary.

The 17-year-old, who has already qualified for the 100m breaststroke at the Olympic Games, goes in the 50m breaststroke decider along with Fiona Doyle.

Tomorrow, McMahon and Doyle will team up with Melanie Nocher and Bethany Carson in the 4x100m medley in an attempt to qualify a relay team for London.

McMahon was the fastest of the Irish women in the 200m freestyle heats when she clocked 2:02.17 to finish 19th overall, a fraction away from the semi-finals. Nocher touched in 2:03.21 and Carson in 2:03.63.

Karl Burdis missed out on the Olympics in the 100m backstroke despite a brave effort in the first half of the 200m backstroke. His split time of 56.56 was a couple of seconds outside the Olympic qualification mark.

Meanwhile, two-time Olympian Andrew Bree has his last chance of making it to London when he competes in the 200m breaststroke at the Speedo Challenge in California tomorrow.

CRICKET

A defiant seventh-wicket stand between Marlon Samuels and captain Darren Sammy dragged the West Indies back from the brink on day one of the second Test against England.

Sammy's decision to bat first at Trent Bridge looked to have backfired when a top-order collapse left them 136-6, but no further wickets fell for the rest of the day as Samuels (107 not out) scored a third Test century and Sammy made an attacking 88 not out.

The unbroken 168-run partnership left the tourists on 304-6 at the close and in a promising position.

CYCLING

Former mountain biker Ryder Hesjedal took a big step towards becoming Canada's first winner of a Grand Tour when he cut Giro d'Italia leader Joaquim Rodriguez's overall advantage to 17 seconds yesterday.

Grimacing with pain as he pulled free of his rivals on the final 7.7km ascent of Alpe di Pampeago, Hesjedal (31) finished 19 seconds down on lone winner Ronan Kreuziger of the Czech Republic with Rodriguez third, at 32 seconds.

While Kreuziger took his first Giro stage win by attacking on the fourth of five classified climbs, Hesjedal's late attack, 1.5kms from the finish, was enough to go clear of all the other big contenders and score a major psychological blow on his rivals.

Italian Michele Scarponi's lone pursuit of the Canadian allowed him to leapfrog double Giro winner Ivan Basso into third place, one minute 39 seconds back.

GOLF

Teenage sensation Leona Maguire defends her Irish Open stroke-play title at The Island this weekend.

This will be the last major competitive appearance for the 16-year-old Slieve Russell star before she tees it up for Great Britain and Ireland in the Curtis Cup match at Nairn next month.

Last year Maguire completed a wire-to-wire victory at Elm Park from fellow international Stephanie Meadow, who is missing this time because of college commitments in the States.

Leona's twin sister Lisa, bitterly disappointed to be named only as reserve for the Curtis Cup, is expected to show up strongly in a 72-strong field that also includes Carlow's pair of internationals Karen Delaney and Aedin Murphy.

Competitors play 36 holes today and then the top 40 go forward to the final round tomorrow.

TENNIS

Six-times champion Rafa Nadal has been handed a smooth-looking path to the French Open final, avoiding the half of the draw featuring world No 1 Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who are seeded to meet in the semis.

The Spaniard, who was back to his awe-inspiring best on clay in Rome earlier this month after an unfortunate slip-up on the Madrid blue surface, could face Andy Murray in the semis.

Djokovic, looking to become the first man in 43 years to hold all four Grand Slam titles concurrently, faces a tricky fourth-round tie against Spain's Fernando Verdasco, while local favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the fifth seed, could be waiting in the quarters.

In the women's draw, second seed Maria Sharapova and fifth-seeded Serena Williams could meet in the quarters. Defending champion Li Na, seeded seventh, is in the same half of the draw.

Irish Independent

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