Sunday 17 December 2017

Sailing: Espey strikes gold for Olympic ticket

After four days of racing at the Laser World Championships in Germany, Irish sailor James Espey from Ballyholme YC in Belfast Lough achieved Olympic qualification when he made the gold fleet.

In abating winds two races were sailed and Australia's Tom Slingsby extended his lead to nine points with another win. Espey scored 7, (29), 3, 20, 18, 17, 22, 19 to make the gold fleet and lies in 30th position overall.

Espey is the fourth Irish qualifier, with the other three teams Annalise Murphy (Laser Radial), Peter O'Leary and David Burrows (Star) and Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern (49er) qualifying at the World Championships in Perth, Australia in December 2011.

Meanwhile at the Star Worlds in Hyeres, France, O'Leary and Burrows are in third place after three days, while in Zadar, Croatia, Seaton and McGovern are in 50th in the 49er World Championships.

tennis

Former World No 1 Serena Williams marked her first European appearance of the season with victory on the Madrid Open's striking blue clay courts yesterday.

Holder Petra Kvitova also started well as the third seed defeated New Zealander Marina Erakovic 6-2 6-3.

Towering Czech Kvitova beat Victoria Azarenka in the final last year before going on to win the Wimbledon title.

Williams, who reached the third round the last time she played in Madrid in 2010, powered past last week's Budapest Grand Prix runner-up Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-3 6-1.

The ninth seed delivered some powerful serves, hitting 14 aces to set up a meeting with another Russian, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, in the next round.

ATHLETICS

DESPITE challenging conditions, record times were set by both the men's and women's winners in yesterday's 31st Belfast City Marathon.

Kenya's Jacob Chesire, who set a new courses record of 2:14.56 last year, was the pre-race favourite but he could only manage third and it was Ethiopia's Urga Negewo -- who won in Belfast in 2010 -- who set a new course record of 2:13.41 ahead of David Kipserem and Chesire.

Veteran Kenyan Olympian Alice Chelangat (35) won the women's race in another record time of 2:39.02, which was almost 12 minutes outside her personal best of 2:27.29.

SOCCER

FIRST DIVISION Limerick FC struck an injury-time winner to claim the Munster Senior Cup 1-0 at the expense of Premier side Cork City at Jackman Park yesterday, WRITES BERNARD O'NEILL.

Cork-born David O'Leary dispensed with the need for extra-time when he side-footed home a 92nd-minute Rory Gaffney cross on Shannonside.

Limerick 'keeper Dave Ryan denied Stephen Kenny and Andy O'Carroll in the second half of a lively encounter at the Lower Carey's Road venue.

Irish Independent

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