Cape cycling races to go ahead despite water crisis

Western Cape cycling races the Bestmed Tour of Good Hope and the Liberty Winelands Encounter will go ahead as planned despite the drought and water crisis which has struck the region.

The Tour of Good Hope takes place near Paarl from March 5 to 9, while the Liberty Winelands Encounter is scheduled for April 13 to 15.

ASG Events, which organises both races, has assured riders that the water crisis will not force any cancellations.

“These are boutique events with a maximum participant total of 500 riders and we are comfortable we can host them without impacting on the current scarce water resources in the Western Cape,” said ASG Events chief executive Wynand de Villiers.

“I would like to take this opportunity to ensure cyclists that they do not have to worry about whether the events will take place or that their quality will be compromised.

“We have been assured by the City of Drakenstein that guest houses, hotels, restaurants and other businesses will function as normal over the staging period of these events.”

However, De Villiers added that they encouraged entrants “to be very aware of the water crisis”, especially in regards to showers and bathing.

“We are sensitive to the current situation and we ask riders who are staying in guest houses and hotels to use water sparingly.”




Justin Gatlin to feature in South Africa’s Athletix Grand Prix Series

Reigning 100m World Champion Justin Gatlin will compete at the Athletix Grand Prix Series in South Africa next month.

Gatlin will take part in the men’s 150m race at Tuks Stadium on Thursday, 8 March in the second of the three series meetings.

The 35-year-old has never run a competitive 150m, making this a unique experience both for him and South African athletics fans.

“I have obviously done 150s in training, but have never raced over that distance before. It will be interesting to see how I do. It is also my first race of the season which adds to the excitement for me,” said Gatlin.

The American famously spoilt the retirement party of his great rival Usain Bolt last year when he raced to victory in the 100m finals at the Olympic Stadium in London.

He has also run no less than 55 sub 10-second times in the event, as well as seven sub 20-second times for the 200m.

“Having Justin Gatlin running in South Africa is a big coup for us,” said Aleck Skhosana, President of Athletics South Africa (ASA).

“We have such incredible depth in the sprints in South Africa. To have an athlete of Justin Gatlin’s calibre compete here against our athletes means that the world sees us as a major contender in the sprints.

“It also brings other great benefits as it inspires other aspiring sprinters and beyond. It also inspires coaches to produce the calibre of sprinters along the likes of Gatlin and Akani Simbine.”

USA's Justin Gatlin PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday August 13, 2012. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire


Ghanaian Quartey eyes Lane’s Commonwealth title

Ghanaian boxer Emmanuel Quartery is set to fight English fighter Ashley Lane for the Commonwealth super bantamweight title.

Quartey, who is the mandatory challenger, will face current Commonwealth super bantamweight champion Lane at the Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol, England on March 16.

Lane won the belt at the Play Arena, Swindon in September after defeating South African boxer Michael Ramabeletsa.

Speaking on Boxing Africa, Ash stated that he was ready to put on another big performance.

“I am so excited to be defending my title in my adopted home town of Bristol," he said.

"I have been pleading with Chris and Jamie (Sanigar) to bring the fight here and now it’s my time to prove to them that it was worth it.

"It will be a tough, tough fight but I will be razor sharp and that belt will be staying in Bristol.”

Quartey has an impressive record of 21 wins with only 2 defeats and has knocked out 19 of his opponents.

The Ghanaian, who has never boxed outside of Africa, will be looking for a chance to catapult himself into the rankings with a big win over Lane.




South Africa’s Klassen to fight Rakhimov for IBO title

South African boxer Malcolm Klassen will reportedly challenge Shavkatdzhon “Shavkat” Rakhimov for the IBO junior-lightweight title.

The 36-year-old experienced fighter, who is a former South African featherweight champion, has held the IBF, WBF and IBO junior-lightweight titles.

His opponent Rakhimov is only 23, but he has racked up a record 11-0. He won the vacant IBO belt on 9 September 2017 after defeating Mexican Emmanuel Lopez.

According to SuperSport.com, the two boxers will fight at the DIVS Arena in Ekatering, Russia on Saturday.

Two years ago, Klassen won the IBO belt after defeating Australian-based Filipino Jack Assis. However, he was stripped of the title on 5 May 2017 for not defending it.

In his most recent fight, Klassen lost a close points decision over 10 rounds against Mikhail Alexeev in Russia last year.

Rakhimov, who hails from Dushanbe, Tajikstan, won the WBA ASIA EAST super featherweight last year.




Virgil van Dijk expecting hostile reception at St Mary’s

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk says he is braced for a hostile reception when he returns to St Mary’s on Sunday evening.

The Premier League clash between Southampton and Liverpool will be van Dijk’s first against his old team since the Reds splashed out a world record 75 million pounds to prise the Dutchman away from the Saints in the January transfer window.

Van Dijk’s departure from Southampton was a somewhat acrimonious one, with the player having tried to force through a move before the start of the 2017/18 season.

The 26-year-old is well aware of the reception he is set to receive from Saints fans: "Maybe they can boo the whole game. You can't do anything about it," he explained.

"Obviously it'll be nice to see the players and the friends I have there but, for me, it is going to be about one thing only and that is to win the game."

Van Dijk has made a mixed start to life in a Liverpool shirt, but believes he is beginning to adapt to manager Jurgen Klopp’s methods.

"With the football we play, the pressing, the different options with players, it is totally different here," he added.


"So you need time to get used to everything but I am working on it every day together with the team.

"The most important thing is what happens at Melwood and what happens here with the people who care about the team... other people around, fans of other clubs, pundits, they can have their opinions, but it doesn't really bother me.

"I am talking with the manager and everyone who can help me out. I want to improve and get the maximum out of myself and that is what I am going to do."

Virgil van Dijk


Over 21 million fans tuned in to watch EFC on TV in South Africa alone last year

As of February 2018, outside of football, there is no other sport property broadcast in South Africa - event, league, series or organisation - that attracts more viewers than EFC.

The latest statistics received show that EFC out ranks even the most traditional popular South African sports like rugby and cricket, and when comparing EFC to the biggest international and local sporting properties, it sees them pale in comparison.

It is well publicised that MMA is the fastest growing sport globally, but nowhere is that more evident than in South Africa with EFC clocking record TV audience figures in 2017, the highest by far in the organisation’s eight-year history.

The 21 million plus viewers is just the TV audience in South Africa alone. EFC is also broadcast across Africa on Kwesé Sports, with many millions more fans watching the best MMA action across the continent. Plus EFC is broadcast on numerous TV networks globally, spanning over 120 countries, making EFC one of the most widely distributed African sport and entertainment properties around.

Comparing unique audience data of EFC to other traditionally popular sports broadcast on TV in South Africa in 2017, EFC:

· Pulls an audience over 17 times larger than all SuperRugby games

· Draws a larger TV audience than all Sunfoil Test Matches, domestic SA cricket, Momentum One Day Cup and RAM Slam T20 Challenge combined

· Gets over 4 times as many viewers as all the Currie Cup rugby games combined

· Attracted over 22 times more viewers than Wimbledon

Plus, EFC had by far the most TV viewers, even though all of the above sports had significantly more airtime on local TV.

“With exceptional TV partners in Africa being SABC Sport in South Africa and Kwesé Sports taking EFC into new markets across the continent, there really is no limit to the growth that EFC can still achieve” stated EFC President Cairo Howarth. “2017 was the best year in EFC's history and we look forward to an even bigger and better 2018!”




Africa could host the Olympic Games as early as 2032

Africa could finally host the Olympic Games for the first time from as early as 2032, according to International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach.

This comes in the wake of the IOC’s plan to take the Summer Youth Olympic Games to the continent in 2022.

"This Youth Olympic Games we hope can inspire one of the African countries to come up with a feasible candidature for 2032 or 2036," said Bach, speaking in Pyeongchang two days before the start of the Winter Olympics.

"But we have enough confidence in Africa that we said we do not want to wait so long, let's go in 2022 with the Youth Olympic Games (YOG)," added Bach, declining to name which African country he had in mind for the full Olympics.

In a separate statement about Africa for the YOG, Bach said that the IOC "will proactively approach a number of African (countries) to evaluate the feasibility of such a project".

The IOC hopes to elect a host city at the next IOC session, to be held in October 2018 in Buenos Aires.

Wayne Van Niekerk flag bearer for the South African team during the 2016 Rio Olympic  Games opening ceremony at the Maracana  Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 05 August 2016 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix


South Africans HB Kruger and Stuart Marais win stage four of TransCape MTB

South Africans HB Kruger and Stuart Marais narrowly edged out Norwegians Eirik Fiskvik and Thomas Engelsgjerd on Wednesday to win their fourth successive stage in the Liberty TransCape MTB.

The 106km leg from Riversdale to Swellendam saw Engelsgjerd, riding for Team Happysalmon, cross the line first, but the ASG-Ellsworth team of Kruger and Marais crossed the line together a second later to record a time of 4:09:58. The Norwegians’ time was 4:10:01 after Eirik Fiskvik finished behind the SA duo.

Marais and Kruger have extended their overall lead to 11 minutes, with Fiskvik and Engelsgjer leapfrogging the team of Antonin Marecaille and Julian Biefang (Chiru-Magura-Canyon) into second place.

Fiskvik acknowledged that the South Africans remained the strong favourites to win the race.

“They managed to get away from us at about the 70km mark where there was an uphill,” he said.

“But then, with about 10km to go, they were having technical problems due to the muddy conditions and we caught up with them.

“We rode with them to the finish and the aim was to try to beat them in the final sprint. Thomas crossed the line first, but unfortunately I just fell off a bit and they were able to get in-between us.”

He added, “They are definitely the strongest team, but we are very happy with being second overall at this stage.


“This is a long race so we just want to keep things as stable as possible. We now have second place and it’s impossible to say what will happen.”

Race Standings:



UCI Elite men

1 HB Kruger, Stuart Marais (ASG Ellsworth) 13:57:48

2 Eirik Fiskvik, Thomas Engelsgjerd (Team Happysalmon) 14:08:21

3 Antonin Marecaille, Julian Biefang (Chiru-Magura-Canyon) 14:14:37

4 Hanco Kachelhoffer, Pieter Seyffert (Ellsworth-ASG) 15:02:49

5 Grant Usher and Yuki Ikeda (Topeak-Ergon-Sprocket & Jack) 15:36:14



UCI Elite women

1 Janine Muller and Mari du Toit (Oakley4) 19:09:58



Men’s team

1 Arthur McDuling, Fanie Venter (Business Print Oldies) 15:28:14



Women’s team

1 Jeanette Treherne, Vivienne Turvey (Team T and T) 20:16:30



Mixed team

1 Catherine Williamson, Kristof de Neys (LawPack) 15:53:53



Solo men

1 Udo Mueller 15:07:57



Solo women

1 Jeanie de Villiers 18:03:10





Aubameyang-led Arsenal excites manager Arsene Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has expressed his excitement over the team’s new attack, led by January signings Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

The Gunners’ season hit a new low last midweek when they were beaten 3-1 at relegation-threatened Swansea City, with the result coming on the heels of Alexis Sanchez’s high-profile departure to rivals Manchester United.

But just a week later there is genuine optimism at the Emirates Stadium, with Arsenal fans left thrilled and excited by a 5-1 destruction of Everton on Saturday in which Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan produced superb performances.

"When you have new players it gives always a little positive swing, and it wakes everybody up as well, because there's suddenly competition so they have to live with that as well," said Wenger in the wake of the triumph over the Toffees.

"Overall, I think as well we have a game based on team spirit so that kind of acceptance is very important and when they show on a football field that they accept our game, they are even easier to integrate into the team.

"Your main target is just to get the players to enjoy the game they play, to share it with the fans, so when you have that positive experience it's great for you."

Wenger will hope his new-look attack makes another bold statement when Arsenal travel to Wembley Stadium this Saturday to face North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in an eagerly-anticipated derby.

Wenger


South Africa to participate in new World Cup athletics event

South Africa will be one of eight nations to participate in a new World Cup athletics event which will be staged in London on July 14-15.

Britain, the United States, Poland, China, Germany, France, Jamaica and South Africa will compete at the London Stadium, as confirmed by British Athletics earlier this week.

All track and field events up to and including the 1500m will take place, though only one man and woman from each national will take part in each event.

Each nation will be competing for a $2 million prize pot over two evening sessions of athletics under the lights.

"It's great to see such an exciting head-to-head event confirmed to be taking place in London this summer – the concept is one that will excite everyone in athletics and is sure to attract new fans to the sport," said Olympic and world 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe hailed the even as “innovative” and added, "We have eight lanes, eight top nations, eight teams and a host of world-class athletes lining up in each event to win the trophy and prize pot. This will be a fast-paced and exhilarating experience for athletes and fans."

The event will clash with both the football World Cup finals in Russia and the Wimbledon tennis championships, but is still expected to draw a large audience, both at the venue and in television numbers.

Caster Semenya


Chris Froome begins 2018 season at Ruta del Sol next week

Tour de France champions Chris Froome will begin his 2018 season at the Ruta del Sol later this month, despite having an investigation into his use of an asthma medication hanging over him.

The five-day race runs from February 14 to 18 in Andalusia, and Froome is set to be part of Team Sky’s line-up at the event.

It was revealed in December last year that the 32-year-old returned an ‘averse’ drug test for elevated levels of the asthma medication salbutamol during the Vuelta a Espana, which took place in September and was won by the British rider.

Salbutamol is permitted in certain doses, but the four-time Tour de France champion’s urine sample gave a reading of twice the allowed limit.

Team Sky said in December they were providing information to the UCI over the matter and confirmed in a statement on Monday that the process was ongoing.

"I'm confident that we will be able to get to the bottom of what has happened and I'm working hard with the team to do that," Froome said in the statement on the team's website.

"Obviously I understand that this situation has created a lot of uncertainty. I completely get why there has been so much interest and speculation.

"I hope that people will appreciate there are limits to what I can say while the process is still ongoing but no one is keener than me to move things forward as quickly as possible."

Team principal Dave Brailsford said: "We all recognise that these are difficult circumstances but it's important for all sides that this process is conducted fairly before a final conclusion is reached.

"It is a complex situation but we're working as hard as we can with Chris to resolve things as soon as possible."




Ghanaian boxer Awuku confident of defeating WBC champion Berchelt

Ghanaian boxer Maxwell Awuku is confident of defeating WBC super featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt when two clash on Saturday night at the Oasis Arena in Cancun, Mexico.

According to Boxing Scene, Awuku (44-3-1, 30 KOs) will be departing along with his team from his native Accra, Ghana, stopping in Paris and then take a direct flight to Cancun and arrive at 5:15 in the afternoon on Tuesday.

The Accra-born boxer will take on Berchelt, who is ranked the world's ninth best active pound for pound boxer by Boxrec and the Mexican won his belt after defeating Francisco Vargas in January 2017.

"The Mexicans believe that they will take me by surprise and I am not prepared, they have made a big mistake,” Awuku said on Boxing Scene.

“I will spoil the party before for their people, I will knock out their champion and then I will go to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Cancun.

Awuku has some power in his hands, with 44 wins that are filled up with 30 endings by knockout.

"I'm not just a puncher. I'm a natural and a quick counter-puncher. We Africans are brave, with a lot of professional shame,” Awuku continued.

“To fight for the title of the world and the WBC belt is a unique opportunity that will change my life and my family and I will not waste it.

“I want to thanks everyone who intervened for me to be in Mexico to fulfill a dream.”




SA captain Aiden Markram: Spin not a massive danger for us

South Africa’s stand-in ODI captain Aiden Markram says that playing spin is “not a massive danger” despite his team suffering a humiliating loss in the second of the six-match series.

The Proteas were skittled for a meagre 118 at Centurion on Sunday, with Indian spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav taking eight wickets between them. The tourists went on to win by nine wickets, with 30 overs to spare.

The spin twins also bowled superbly in the first ODI in Durban and appear to have the wood over South Africa’s batting line-up, especially with Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers both absent due to injury.

Markram, who has been given the tough task of captaincy at just 23 and with very little experience under his belt, is adamant South Africa can course correct and be more competitive in the remaining four matches.

"Obviously, the guys are very upset and disappointed," Markram said. "But the beauty of it is that everyone's disappointed in themselves, and not in others in the team.

“That's where the culture stands out, it stands strong. Each player will look to get better now going forward. It is a quick turnaround but it might fire the guys up going into the remaining four matches, which I think is a great thing for us."

On the issue of the struggle against spin, the skipper added, "Look, obviously they are two quality bowlers in their own right.

"I don't think we played them particularly well, and that's where our downfall was today. Having said that, you are never going to come across a bad attack in international cricket, and you're never going to come across a bad batting line-up in international cricket either.

“It's just one of those things. I don't think we played spin incredibly well, it's obviously something we need to work on, but it's not a massive danger for us, I don't think."

The third ODI will be played at Newlands in Cape Town on Wednesday, February 7.

Aiden Markram of South Africa bats during 2017 2nd Test Series cricket match between South Africa and Bangladesh at Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein on 06 October 2017@Aubrey Kgakatsi/BackpagePix


Proud Kok thanks Blitzboks for Dream Team spot

Werner Kok feels that his inclusion into the HSBC NZ Sevens Dream Team was a result of him enjoying his time on the field with his fellow Springbok Sevens team-mates, but insists that the Blitzboks staying ahead in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series remains top priority.

Kok impressed all weekend in Hamilton, with some strong runs, try assists and a number of telling defensive interventions and was deservedly named in the traditional Dream Team afterwards.

“I am very proud of my team mates as they make things like these possible,” said Kok.

“It came down to the team, they allow you the space out there. I decided to try and enjoy every moment on the pitch this weekend, and I did.”

Kok made the most tackles in Hamilton (27) and is leading the Blitzboks’ tackle count with 61 tackles this season. And although they will be losing players such as Kwagga Smith, Seabelo Senatla and Tim Agaba to Vodacom Super Rugby for now, he sees it as an opportunity, rather than a challenge.

“The next four weeks will be tough, some players are injured and we are losing some star players, so it will be a good challenge for our system and depth,” said Kok.

Kyle Brown, who was stand-in captain in Hamilton following the injury to Philip Snyman, also heaped praise on the Blitzboks, despite the defeat to Fiji in the final.

“The final in Hamilton was a fantastic game of sevens,” said Brown.

“We were right in it, but unfortunately we lost control of the game. Considering the tough week we had with injuries, we were still pleased with the outcome.

“We lost Philip and Ruhan (Nel) after Sydney, Kwagga rolled his ankle early in the week and then Muller (du Plessis) got injured shortly after his arrival in New Zealand. Branco du Preez only joined us at 01h00 on the morning of the tournament, and then Dylan Safe, Justin Geduld and Rosko Specman all got injured during the second day, which also did not help.”

Brown felt the team showed great courage though: “We have named these tours the ‘no excuses tours’, and this was a ‘no excuses weekend’.

“We had to dig really deep and I am proud on our effort. We will have to do so again come Las Vegas in a couple of weeks’ time. Eight points is a lead, but not one that we can bank on,” said Brown.

The team’s next assignment is the HSBC USA Sevens in Las Vegas from 2-4 April.

Werner Kok


Mercedes boss Toto Wolff weighs in on Force India battle

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff has given his opinion of the battle between Force India drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez.

The teammates had several on-track tangles last season, with Force India eventually imposing strict team orders to ensure they didn’t have any further calamities.

Wolff knows all too well the tension that arises from teammates battling each other, having witnessed it first-hand at the ‘Silver Arrows’ between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

"What bothers us are these intra-team rivalries that end with two damaged cars," Wolff told Motorsport.com.

"This applies not only to Esteban, but also to Checo [Perez]. As a team boss, I'm so annoyed by that."

However, Wolff expressed his admiration for Ocon, with the Mercedes protege making impressive strides through the 2017 season.

"Esteban performed very well this year against a very strong Sergio Perez," he added.

"Next year he has to take the next step and improve this performance. He is incredibly consistent, makes few mistakes and has great speed.

"Next year, he will have to develop further in this respect and outperform Perez."

Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff


Springbok Sevens edge ahead in World Series

The Springbok Sevens team strengthened their lead in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Hamilton on Sunday with yet another top two finish at the HSBC NZ Sevens.

The Blitzboks were beaten by Fiji in the final, but they now lead the World Series after four tournaments and are eight points clear of New Zealand in second place and fifteen ahead of Fiji in third.

The current World Series champions departed Cape Town three weeks ago in second place, but two consecutive Cup finals has edged them into the 2017/18 series lead, a good reflection on the consistency showed by the squad rocked by injuries over the last two weeks.

They lost their captain, Philip Snyman, and senior player, Ruhan Nel, to injury after the HSBC Sydney Sevens and then Dylan Sage after Day One of the inaugural Hamilton event due to concussion.

They also faced Fiji without the services of the injured Justin Geduld and Rosko Specman, and had to play the final with only ten fit players.

Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, was disappointed in the result of the final, but overall it was a good trip for the team and he is proud of their effort.

“That is sevens for you. We had an opportunity to score and did not, they countered and scored and then got the momentum. One or two moments like that and the game is gone,” the coach explained.

“It was a very good and gutsy performance by the team. We fought until the last minute, I cannot ask for more. We had a tough week, but the guys really stuck to their guns.”

Powell elaborated on their long-term strategy.

“We are also managing our players, as we have a big season in 2018. The decision not to risk Justin and Rosko in the final was because of the bigger picture. They need to be 100% come Las Vegas, as we are losing four players back to fifteens now. Same with Philip and Rohan, who is already doing recovery after being send back from Sydney.”

Powell is not complaining about extending their overall lead either. “If we won both finals we played on tour, that would have been ideal, but we increased our lead and that was important for us.”

Seabelo Senatla, who scored eight tries at the tournament, said the players are pleased with the weekend’s effort, despite the defeat in the final.

“It was tough with only ten players as our bench is important to bring new energy into the team, but we did well under the circumstances and I think we played better than was the case in last weekend’s final in Sydney.”

Senatla applauded the consistency in the effort of the team. “Of course you want to reach finals and win them, like we did last year in New Zealand and Australia, but reaching both finals showed some consistency in our effort and that is something that we are also looking to maintain.

Against Fiji, South Africa took an early lead when Kwagga Smith scored, but a Fiji try from the restart levelled scores. Tries by Kyle Brown and Branco du Preez gave South Africa a 17-5 lead at the break. In the second half though, it was all Fiji, who scored three unanswered tries to snatch the NZ Sevens title away from the Blitzboks.

South Africa reached the final by beating Australia 24-5 in the semifinal. Strong defence from the Blitzboks helped them to overturn the result against the Aussies, who beat them in last weekend’s Sydney final.

Cecil Afrika (2), Senatla and Smith scored against Australia, with Du Preez and Afrika adding conversions.

Earlier on Sunday, South Africa outplayed Scotland 22-0 in the Cup quarterfinals. Geduld contributed with two tries and a conversion and Senatla and Afrika dotted down once.

South Africa were again the most potent team on attack and topped the try-scoring stakes with 27 tries, with Seabelo Senatla bagging eight of those and Specman five. The Blitzboks again scored the most points at the tournament, as they did in Sydney.
Stats Facts:

•Cecil Afrika extended his Springbok Sevens record for overall points in a career to 1368

•Seabelo Senatla extended his Springbok Sevens record for tries scored in a career to 219

•Branco du Preez extended his Springbok Sevens record for conversions kicked to 350.

•Werner Kok was named into the tournament Dream Team.


The World Series standings after four tournaments are:

1. South Africa 77

2. New Zealand 69

3. Fiji 62

4. Australia 60

5. Argentina 48

Cecil Afrika