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Anita in Pal’s new venture

New Delhi: Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to conquer Mount Everest, will lead a ten-member women’s team to Mount Island Peak, Nepal, to commemorate the birth centenary of JRD Tata, as well as 20 years of the first ascent to the tallest peak in the world by Indian women.

The team, which leaves for Kathmandu on Tuesday, has a Calcutta member in veteran climber Anita Sarkar. The others are: Vasumati Sreenivasan, Chetana Sahoo, Chaula Jagirdar, Premlata Agarwal, L. Annapurna, Seema Tolia, Sushma Bissa and G. Anita Devi.

Bachendri said the decision to field an all-woman team was taken “since women have lesser opportunities when it comes to adventure”.

France beat England to win Grand Slam

Paris: France won the Grand Slam on Saturday by beating world champions England 24-21 in a heart-stopping finish to the Six Nations tournament.

France, thrashed by England in the World Cup semi-final last year, were superior in all areas in the first half at the Stade de France and led 21-3 at the break. This was France’s fourth Grand Slam in eight years.

England finished third in the tournament behind Ireland who beat them at Twickenham this month.

In Dublin, Ireland won the Triple Crown for the first time in 19 years and only the seventh time in their history when they beat a spirited Scotland 37-16.

Vieira for Anelka

Paris: Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira wants former club and international teammate Nicolas Anelka to be brought back into the France squad less than three months before they defend their title at the Euro 2004 finals.

“I’ve always said he was a great striker. I’m a fan of his. I’ve known him a long time and think he would feel good with us,” Vieira said in an interview with Le Parisien on Saturday. “He realised he made mistakes. It must have been hard for him to apologise but he did it It proves he regrets what he said.”

Manchester City’s Anelka, who has had spells at Arsenal, Real Madrid and Paris St Germain, issued a public apology to France coach Jacques Santini 12 days ago for snubbing a late call-up for a friendly against Yugoslavia in November 2002.

Blanc job bid turned down

Marseille: Former France international defender Laurent Blanc has been turned down for a coach’s job with Olympique Marseille next season. Marseille president Christophe Bouchet said on Saturday he had rejected Blanc’s bid to be offered a role similar to that of coaches in the English Premier League.

Blanc apparently wanted to be fully in charge of the sports direction and to sit on the bench, sidelining coach Jose Anigo.

Peirsol shatters own 200m mark

East Meadow (New York): Aaron Peirsol shattered his own world record in the short-course 200m backstroke at the US National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships Saturday.

Peirsol clocked 1:50.64 seconds, more than half a second under the previous record of 1:51.17 he set in 2002.

Kwan a perfect 6

Dortmund: Michelle Kwan failed in her quest for a sixth crown but should still go down in history as the last figure skater to earn a 6.0 at the world championships. The American’s six perfect marks for presentation from a superb long programme were good enough only for bronze but marked the end of an era for a sport facing an uncertain future.

The 6.0 marking scale, a symbol for the glamorous discipline for decades, should be buried at the International Skating Union’s (ISU) next congress in June in favour of a less subjective cumulative points system.

Sport on Screen

Cricket: India vs Pakistan, first Test Day II live from 10.30 am on TEN Sports
Diving: Fina Grand Prix
, 2004 from 2 pm on STAR Sports
Soccer: Premier League
, Arsenal vs Manchester United from 8.30 pm on ESPN

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