He first stepped onto the Olympic mat as the first Papua New Guinean Judo athlete in the 2012 London Olympics and three years later, he is on another Olympic voyage, this time for Rio de Janeiro sadly this will also be his last for Team PNG.Currently ranked 122 in the world and competing in the 66kg division, Ovinou will be Team PNG’s lone Judo representative to Rio.He is currently in PNG on break and will head back to Japan next week for more intensive training until the lead up to the South American qualifier-Panama Open in Argentina in March which will see him through to Rio.Ovinou told the media yesterday evening during the Rio Olympic 100 Day launch at Ela Beach Hotel that training in Japan was tough for him but he stands tall and proud to represent PNG in a sport that is rare to Papua New Guineans and encourage other young people to master Judo and carry on the legacy of the sport.Ovinou also thanked his family, friends, relatives and of course the Olympic Committee for their continued support to see him through and urged Papua New Guineans for their support on game day.
Can the Roosters mount a charge for the finals?It might’ve been just their second win of 2016, but Roosters players are still confident of playing at the business end of the season. The Tricolours won just four of their first nine matches in 2015 before going on a 12-match unbeaten run to charge home and lift their third minor premiership in a row.While they’re in a slightly worse predicament this year, their skipper is hopeful Saturday night’s crushing win could be the impetus to send them on a similar winning run. “It’s one win and we know where we’re sitting on the ladder now,” Jake Friend said. “It was a good performance, but I think for us it’s got to be the standard now and we’ve got to keep moving forward.”Hopefully we can string a few on the trot to get us in a position to fight for that top eight spot at the back end of the season. The belief is definitely there between the boys.”Brock Lamb shines on debutRookie five-eighth Brock Lamb made the step up from Holden Cup to the NRL in what was a highly impressive first grade debut. The debutant made 24 of his 26 tackles, took the line on seven times and kicked for a whopping 389 metres in what was a tough initiation into life as a first grade footballer. “I thought he played really controlled and did really well considering when you look at the circumstances he played in,” Knights coach Nathan Brown said. “Obviously there will be some parts that he’ll look at and think he can do better, but as a whole he had Boyd Cordner coming at him and he handled him reasonably well. “I thought he kicked the ball reasonably well and he looked comfortable out there. He’ll only continue to improve as the team can only improve.”Roosters bring back their famed Bondi wallAfter starting the year as the worst defensive team in the NRL, the Roosters showed glimpses of why they have been the most frugal team over the past three years by shutting out the Knights for the first time in their head-to-head history.The Roosters only missed 17 tackles on Saturday night against a Newcastle side that wasn’t afraid to throw the ball around, and that was the most pleasing of the big win according to five-eighth Jackson Hastings. “We feel like our heartbeat is sort of coming back in defence. We sort of live and breathe it at this club,” Hastings said. “I think a lot of teams talk about it but we actually do pride ourselves on our defence and when it does all go to [sic] as they say, you can have that backbone in defence. It was good to have a couple of those leaders back that really helped with the chat out there.”Trent Robinson said the Knights had been difficult to contain and was proud of the way his side protected the line. “I thought they were really hard to tackle. They were coming at us, creating some momentum and we had to control that.” Returning troops provide the Roosters with much needed artilleryRoosters halfback Mitchell Pearce looked like he hadn’t missed a beat as he played a starring role in his first game back in the NRL in 2016. The Roosters No.7 ran for 122 metres, scored a try and was involved in two more in a performance that had the home crowd on its feet when he left the field close to full time. “I wasn’t surprised with how well he played,” Roosters coach Trent Robinson said after the game. “It’s a real credit to him on what he’s done and we’ve been lucky enough to see when he came back how well he was talking, how well he was clear with his training and physical and the way that he sees the game. “He’s been ready for at least a month to play. We had our conductor back and it allowed us to move around freely around him.”It was also a successful return for teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves who played his first NRL game since tearing his ACL in Round 24 last year.The Kiwis enforcer made 77 metres and produced 11 tackles in a 21-minute hit out that ticked all the boxes for his coach. “It’s a tough thing to come back from…probably the toughest an ACL. There are always those thoughts leading into your first game so it was good for him to get that run out of the way,” Robinson said.”We wanted to get him off the bench and get him back into the rhythm of the game and I thought he did his job really well.”Battered Knights looking forward to week offNewcastle coach Nathan Brown hinted his players would be in for a relaxing week ahead with the bulk of his squad either missing through injury or playing busted.With rep round looming, Brown said the Knights would be on very light duties, but admitted he wasn’t expecting the week off to ease the ever-growing casualty ward that includes Jarrod Mullen, Kade Snowden and Robbie Rochow. “We’ll have a little bit of training early in the week and then at the back end of the week they’ll need some time away,” Brown said. “We’re pretty much down to only 18 players so there are some blokes playing today that obviously have bodies that aren’t in the best state at the minute but we’ve only got 18 blokes left. “Even our 18th man probably wasn’t quite fit to play either so thankfully we didn’t have to introduce him. There are a few fair guys out there [who are busted] so a week off is timely. “I don’t suspect we’ll get anyone back over the next couple of weeks but at least the bodies that are playing will get a good rest which will be pleasing.”
Real Madrid ended a five-year wait to win La Liga on Sunday as Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema secured a 2-0 win at Malaga which clinched a 33rd league triumph.Barcelona fought back from two goals down to beat Eibar 4-2 but the result could not stop Real from lifting the trophy.Real finished the campaign on 93 points, three clear of last year’s champions Barca.Zinedine Zidane’s men only needed a draw to wrap up the title in their final game of the season and raced into the lead when Ronaldo latched onto a through ball from Isco to round Carlos Kameni. That goal ensured Real scored in every league game this season.Malaga had nothing to play for but made a fist of the game and it took a fine save from Keylor Navas to prevent former Barca player Sandro Ramirez levelling from a freekick later in the first half and the striker also came close from a header.Real also wasted chances to stretch their lead before Benzema bundled the ball in on the rebound in the 55th minute after Kameni had saved from Sergio Ramos following a corner.“Just as throughout the season we did it in the end with hard work and by fighting,” Zidane told reporters.“With the type of squad we have we only have to think about working, it’s been a very hard fought league win, difficult at some moments, but after 38 games there’s no better feeling than being at the top.”There was a brief moment of concern when Ronaldo needed treatment after falling awkwardly from a challenge but the Portuguese, who scored for the fifth time in three league games, was able to finish the game, easing Madrid’s anxieties before the Champions League final against Juventus on June 3.The result secured Real a sixth straight league win since going down 3-2 to Barca in April.Barca fell two goals behind in their final game of the season against Eibar as Japanese forward Takashi Inui scored either side of the break with two thumping finishes in off the crossbar although the Catalans fought back to win 4-2 with the help of a double from the league’s top scorer Lionel Messi.“The game was a demonstration of what the team has been like in the last few years. We never give up, although we couldn’t finish the year how we wanted to,” said Barca coach Luis Enrique.“We weren’t consistent enough throughout the season, especially in home games, and in the end we’ve paid for that.”The Catalans had missed a slew of chances before then and had a goal ruled out but they got a lucky break when Eibar defender David Junca inadvertently sent a loose ball into his own net after Neymar had hit the post.Luis Suarez knocked in the equaliser in the 73rd minute after Messi had missed a penalty although the Argentine compensated by converting a second spotkick in the 75th and then rounded off the scoring in injury time.Messi finished the season as top scorer in the league with 37 strikes, ahead of Suarez on 29 and Ronaldo on 25.Also on Sunday Atletico Madrid said farewell to their beloved Vicente Calderon stadium in the most fitting manner with a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao thanks to a double by homegrown hero Fernando Torres on Sunday before they move to a new ground.Atletico finished third with 78 points while Athletic missed out on sixth and a qualifying round spot in next season’s Europa League to Basque rivals Real Sociedad, who snatched a 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo with an added time leveller from striker Juanmi.Athletic are seventh but can still earn a place in the Europa League if Barcelona win the King’s Cup.
England finally got the pink ball to swing on the third night of the second Ashes Test on Monday but it still looked too little, too late and Australia will go into day four on 53 for four with a lead of 268 runs.Australia skipper Steve Smith elected not to enforce the follow-on after the tourists were dismissed for 227, a first-innings deficit of 215, and probably rued his decision as England attacked under the Adelaide Oval lights.James Anderson led the way with the wickets of Cameron Bancroft (four) and Usman Khawaja (20) while Chris Woakes removed David Warner with a delivery that moved off the seam and got an edge to fly to Joe Root in the slips.That the usually free-scoring Warner took 60 balls to eke out 14 runs was an indication of how tough the conditions were and captain could have followed vice-captain in the following over when Smith was given out lbw for a three-ball duck.For the third time in two days, however, Anderson was denied an lbw decision by the DRS system with tracking suggesting the ball had pitched fractionally outside leg.NO REPRIEVESmith only survived to make six runs, though, before he was given out lbw to Woakes and this time there was to be no reprieve from the technology.“We’ve pushed Australia back tonight,” Woakes said. “Australia are obviously still ahead in the game but it was important that we bowled well, showed some character and pushed them back.”Nightwatchman Nathan Lyon survived to the end of the day and will resume with Peter Handscomb. Both were three not out.“We know the night session is toughest to bat, as we saw tonight,” Starc said.“With a lead of 260 going into the day session, we’re in the drivers’ seat. There’s no reason why we can’t build a really big lead and then have England on the ropes in the night session.”Lyon had earlier taken 4-60 as he and the pace trio of Pat Cummins, Starc and Josh Hazlewood combined to humble England’s top order and build on the 442-8 declared the hosts accumulated in their first innings.England, 1-0 down in the five-match series after a 10-wicket defeat in Brisbane, had resumed on 29-1 only to lose James Vince for two in the second over.Desperate for a decent partnership to bolster the top order, expectations were high when Root came out to join Alastair Cook in the middle.Root made just nine before he got a thick edge to a Cummins delivery, however, and Cook departed for 37 prodding at a Lyon tweaker with Smith gobbling up the catch at first slip.Dawid Malan got a life when he successfully referred an lbw decision but made his exit for 19 when he got a bit of glove on another snorter from Cummins soon after England had reached the hundred mark.Woakes and debutant seamer Craig Overton (41 not out) put on 66 for the eighth wicket but once the former departed for 36, the writing was on the wall.Off-spinner Lyon had removed Moeen Ali for 25 with a brilliant leaping catch off his own bowling and Starc followed suit to remove Jonny Bairstow (21) and Woakes, making it three caught and bowleds in a row.
Alan Pardew became the second manager to leave bottom-of-the-table West Bromwich Albion this season when he departed on Monday after four months in charge at the English Premier League club.West Brom, beaten 2-1 at home by Burnley on Saturday, have lost their last eight league matches, leaving them seven points adrift at the bottom of the table and 10 short of safety with six matches to play.Pardew, appointed at the end of November with West Brom two points above the bottom three, was in charge for 21 matches in all competitions, managing three wins with only one of those in the league.“West Bromwich Albion and Alan Pardew have agreed to mutually part company following discussions between both parties,” the club said on their website, adding that assistant head coach John Carver would also be leaving.“The club would like to thank Alan and John for their efforts and wish them well in their future endeavours.”First-team coach Darren Moore will take over until further notice.Pardew, former manager of Reading, Charlton Athletic, West Ham United, Southampton, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace, replaced Tony Pulis after he was sacked.The 56-year-old, an FA Cup runner-up with West Ham in 2006 and Crystal Palace 10 years later, was the tenth managerial casualty of the Premier League season.West Brom, owned by Chinese investment group Yunyi Guokai (Shanghai) Sports Development Ltd, have had a turbulent season and also sacked chairman John Williams and chief executive Martin Goodman in February.Mark Jenkins became the club’s new chief executive, taking back the role he held until 2016.Also in February, West Brom players Jonny Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill apologised in a club statement after being questioned by police over the theft of a taxi in Barcelona, where the team were holding a warm-weather training camp.Pardew said they had broken a team curfew and he felt let down.
Aston Villa face Derby County in the Championship playoff final on Monday with both clubs desperate for a return to the Premier League in a game billed as the richest in world football with at least 170 million pounds ($216.19 million) on the line.Villa have been out of the top flight for three seasons while Derby have been stuck in the second tier of English football since relegation in 2008.A 10-match winning streak during the run-in propelled Dean Smith’s Villa side into the playoffs where they got past West Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion.“The key thing is momentum,” said former Brentford manager Smith, who took over from Steve Bruce at Villa Park in October.“I feel we have a lot of that going into it (the final), given our run towards the end of the season and our two dominant playoff games, We can take it into the final.”Derby produced a brilliant performance with a 4-2 win over Leeds United in their playoff second leg at Elland Road earning them a place at Wembley.Derby manager Frank Lampard, the former Chelsea and England midfielder who is in his first season as a manager, believes his team are well suited for the high-pressure encounter.“The ‘cup’ football feeling has been good for us. We’ve had to get results for a while now, going back to probably the QPR game (a 2-0 home win on April 22). We’ll need big game mentality on Monday,” he said.Lampard is up against his former club and international team mate John Terry, who is Smith’s assistant at Villa.PROUD HISTORIESThe two clubs have proud histories. Seven-times English champions Villa were European Cup winners in 1982, while Derby were twice English champions in the 1970s.Champions Norwich City and runners-up Sheffield United have already secured promotion to the top flight and the rewards for Villa and Derby of joining them are eye-watering.According to analysis from Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, promotion will bring an increase in revenue of at least 170 million pounds, rising to a minimum of 300 million if the playoff winners avoid relegation in their first season.The 170 million includes 95 million pounds in revenue from playing in the Premier League in 2019/20, mostly from broadcast and commercial revenue, and a total of 75 million in parachute payments in 2020/21 and 2021/22 if they go straight down.However, the 170 million rises to at least 300 million if they survive their first season in the top flight.
Romelu Lukaku scored on his debut as Inter Milan beat Lecce 4-0 in Antonio Conte’s first game in charge.Striker Lukaku, making his first appearance since a £74million move from Manchester United, helped Inter to a comfortable opening Serie A win at the San Siro.Marcelo Brozovic and Stefano Sensi put the hosts in complete control in the first half and Antonio Candreva completed the scoring with a long-range strike late on after Diego Farias was dismissed for the visitors.Brozovic brilliantly opened the scoring after 21 minutes when he curled into the top corner from 25 yards.Sensi doubled Inter’s lead three minutes later, skipping past two challenges and drilling into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.Lukaku added the third after an hour, firing in after Gabriel could only parry Lautaro Martinez’s shot from 18 yards.Substitute Farias was shown a straight red with 14 minutes left for a tackle from behind and Candreva added a fourth six minutes from time.
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is not concerned about his shortage of right-backs ahead of Sunday’s north London derby at Arsenal.Spurs are without Kyle Walker-Peters and Juan Foyth, while possible makeshift replacement Eric Dier is struggling with a hip injury and is a doubt for the Emirates clash.That leaves just Serge Aurier as the only recognised right-back but he has not featured since injuring himself playing for the Ivory Coast in the summer’s Africa Cup of Nations.Midfielder Moussa Sissoko is another possibility but – with Tanguy Ndombele’s injury – he is likely to be needed in the middle of the park.It highlights Pochettino’s decision not to strengthen his squad in that area following the sale of Kieran Trippier to Atletico Madrid, but the manager is not worried.“It’s not a worry, only an issue we need to fix – try to find another solution,” he said. “I am very optimistic that we will find the best way to perform. There’s no excuses.“Always when one option disappears there is another option that appears and we will play with 11 players, from the beginning, eh?”Dele Alli is unlikely to be be one of those 11 players but he could be on the bench after a recent hamstring injury.“Dele got injured in the Audi Cup and we need to assess him on Saturday,” Pochettino added. “Maybe he will be involved in the squad. It’s not certain. We need to assess.“He’s got one training session more. He’s doing well but still we need to assess him. I cannot say if he’s 50-50, 80-20, 20-80 – I don’t know. We need to see on Saturday and take the decision.”Spurs’ trip across north London comes at a time where Pochettino’s future has come under scrutiny after the 1-0 defeat to Newcastle last weekend.And the Argentinian thinks it is a good game for his side to try to bounce back in.“Always you need to win,” he said. “If you came from a not good result like we did, you need to win. If you came from a good result you need to win again.“The criticism in football comes when you don’t win. It’s not important what happened in the past, only what happens now, in the present.“We know well what this game means. I’m lucky to be involved in this type of game. I love to play this type of game and I am so excited and optimistic that we will perform in our best way.”