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Belgium title for Dipika

Chennai: Dipika Pallikal won the girls under-13 title at the recently concluded Belgium junior Open. Dipika, seeded No. 1 in the European Squash Federation ranking, defeated local girl Toke Jan Weisemael 9-0, 9-6, 9-2 in the final.

In the semi-final Dipika defeated Maeba Fernandez of France 9-2, 9-4, 9-3.

This is Dipika's second European title this year. She will participate in the Scottish and British junior Opens next month, a Squash Rackets Federation of India release said on Monday.

Houllier sure Owen will stay

London: Liverpool boss Gerald Houllier is confident he can persuade star striker Michael Owen to stay on Merseyside, despite persistent rumours linking him with a move next summer. Owen has fuelled the speculation by stalling on signing a new contract at Liverpool and it was reported on Sunday that Real Madrid are planning a £ 25-million bid for the England striker, who has 18 months left on his current deal. But Houllier, who is attempting to reshape his Liverpool side as a more attacking outfit which will gift Owen more opportunity to express his predatory skills, insisted he would not sell even for twice that price.

Hong Kong to host

Hong Kong: Hong Kong has been officially chosen to host the fifth East Asian Games in 2009, a government official said on Monday. Hong Kong beat Taipei during a vote in neighbouring Macau, after Mongolia withdrew its bid to host the Games.

Annisa Wong, director of leisure and cultural services, said at a press conference that the authorities were ‘confident’ the sporting facilities would ‘fully’ meet the requirements set by the East Asian Games committee. She said the games were ‘a golden opportunity’ to lift the standards of local athletes.

Macau is to host the fourth East Asian Games in 2005, after Osaka staged the third in 2001.

Kenyans rule NY Marathon

New York: Kenyans again dominated the New York City Marathon on Sunday, Margaret Okayo breaking her own women’s course record by nearly two minutes while Martin Lel posted a more conservative win in the men’s race.

Okayo, 27 sizzled in 2:22.31 to shatter her 2001 time of 2:24:21. Lel, this year’s world half marathon champion, defeated his close friend and defending champion Rodgers Rop in 2:10:30, almost three minutes slower than the course record also set in 2001 by Ethiopian Jifar Tesfaye.

Okayo, who was overlooked as a pre-race contender, collected $ 100,000 for winning and another $ 60,000 for setting a record.

Gurpegi ban upheld

Madrid: Spain's sports council upheld a two-year ban on Athletic Bilbao midfielder Carlos Gurpegi on Monday after a positive test for nandrolone. Gurpegi, who has always denied taking any banned substance, tested positive for 19-norandrosterone, a metabolite of the banned steroid nandrolone, in the first match of the 2002-03 season.

The player was originally suspended on February 15, 2003, but the provisional ban was lifted in April following an appeal by the club. A month later, Spain's Football Federation handed him a two-year suspension, but Bilbao lodged another appeal that allowed Gurpegi to carry on playing.

Medallists honoured

Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh government on Monday honoured the state’s five medal winners at the Afro-Asian Games here. Gold medallists Sania Mirza (tennis), Gagan Narang (shooting), J. J. Shoba (heptathlon) besides V. Srinivasa Rao and P. Haritha, who won silver and bronze in weightlifting, respectively, were given cash awards worth Rs 33 lakh by chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.

n Cricket: Zimbabwe vs West Indies, first Test Day I live from 1.25 pm on ESPN n Golf: World Cup preview show, from 5.30 pm on STAR Sports n Soccer: Champions League, Manchester United vs Glasgow Rangers live from 1 am (Wednesday) on ESPN


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