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French title for Kanetkar

New Delhi: India’s Nikhil Kanetkar won his maiden international title when he defeated Andreas Wolk of Germany to lift the Toulouse Open badminton tournament at Cahors in southern France. Kanetkar thrashed the German 15-9, 15-11 in just 29 minutes to lift the grade A title on Sunday, according to information received here on Wednesday.

The south paw, who had not lived up to his potential at the international stage till now, had an easy outing in the final after a tiring semi-final against Canada’s Andrew Dabekawhich the Indian won 10-15, 15-9, 17-14.

However, the other Indian entrant, Chetan Anand, bowed out in the second round of the tournament, losing to local boy Ervin Kehlhoffner 11-15, 15-4, 14-17.

Brazil stay atop

Paris: World champions Brazil, despite being held to a draw by Peru in the latest round of World Cup qualifiers, still top the latest Fifa world rankings, with France, Spain and Argentina trailing in their wake. Defeats in Euro 2004 play-offs and friendly internationals see Holland down to sixth, England to 8th, Germany to 9th and Italy to 11th.

Top 10 rankings: 1. Brazil 852 pts 2. France 826 3. Spain 785 4. Argentina 750 5. Mexico 742 6. Holland 740 7. Turkey 739 8. England 738 9. Germany 736 10. Czech Republic.

Dismal show by Indians

New Delhi: India’s lacklustre performance in the world weightlifting championships in Vancouver continued with Pratima Kumari and Sunaina failing in the women’s 63-kg category.

While Pratima finished 12th, lifting a total of 210 kgs (95 kgs in snatch and 115 in clean and jerk), Sunaina ended in 18th place with a total lift of 202.5 kgs (90+112.5), according to information received here on Wednesday.

The gold in the event went to Ukraine’s Natalia Skakun who cleared 248 kgs (110+138).

Leeds medio gets bail

Leeds: Leeds United midfielder Jody Morris was bailed by magistrates on Wednesday after being charged with raping a 20-year-old woman.

The 24-year-old former Chelsea player appeared at Leeds Magistrates Court alongside Kristofer Dickie, 26. They are both charged with raping a woman in Leeds on October 6.

Police in London are believed to be still investigating separate claims by a 17-year-old that she was gang raped in a hotel in September by a group of men she claimed were Premiership footballers.

Williams denial

Munich: BMW-Williams sporting director Mario Theissen claims the Formula One team will not rush into appointing a replacement for Juan Pablo Montoya and quashed talk that the Colombian driver would leave for McLaren Mercedes before 2005.

Montoya, 28, shocked BMW-Williams by announcing his decision to defect to McLaren Mercedes but although the team are shocked by the announcement they are refusing to press the panic button. “We will take our time,” explained Theissen. There will be a queue of drivers wanting to join us.”

Hadji’s yes to pay cut

Berlin: Aston Villa’s Moroccan midfielder Mustapha Hadji is willing to take a pay cut to end his misery at Villa Park under manager David O’Leary.

The 32-year-old completes the final day of his trial at Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin on Wednesday and is hopeful of winning a move to the German capital even if it means reducing his salary. “It is just nice to be playing again,” Hadji told the Beliner Morgenpost. “I would like to join Hertha.”

Sport on Screen

Soccer, Uefa Champions League highlights from 3.30pm on ESPN
Cricket classics, Australia versus India from 10.30pm on STAR Sports
Tennis, Masters Cup 2003 from 11pm on STAR Sports


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