Sports Shorts

‘Glitz and glamour of the Crucible felt lightyears away’

News and reactions from the world of sport, including a Juve crisis and North Korea’s Olympic decision

1

Snooker 

Hendry beats White in qualifier that was ‘short on quality’ 

Snooker fans, pundits and the players themselves were left underwhelmed by the clash between two of the sport’s biggest rivals on Monday night. In the first round of qualifying for this year’s World Championship, Stephen Hendry progressed with a 6-3 win over Jimmy White - but it was hardly a classic. 

Seven-time world champion Hendry, who had beaten White in four Crucible finals in the 1990s, admitted that “I don’t think I will have frightened anyone with that performance”. And following his “frustrating and demoralising” defeat, White is now likely to lose his place on the tour next season, the BBC reports. 

This encounter between the rivals was “nothing like the epic Crucible showdowns these two put on for crowds at their peak”, said The Guardian. The match was “short on quality” and the “glitz and glamour of the Crucible felt lightyears away, both in terms of the backdrop and the snooker both men produced”.

Hendry will face China’s Xu Si in the second qualifying round on Wednesday.

2

Football 

Entire Juventus squad and backroom staff now ‘on trial’

A crisis is brewing at Italian football giants Juventus - both on and off the pitch. The reigning champions currently sit fourth in Serie A and are at risk of failing to qualify for the lucrative Champions League next season. 

Should the unthinkable happen, cash-strapped Juve will consider a “huge top-to-bottom overhaul” which could see star player Cristiano Ronaldo, manager Andrea Pirlo and several other key figures depart if their financial situation worsens, The Sun reports. 

Juve are ready to tear up their squad and backroom staff with “everyone now on trial”, says the Daily Mail. And players such as Ronaldo, Aaron Ramsey, Paulo Dybala and Matthijs de Ligt could be sold in the summer. 

3

Golf

Spieth aims to take ‘next step’ at the Masters 

Jordan Spieth will go into this week’s Masters tournament having ended his four-year winless run at the Texas Open on Sunday. The American golfer, a three-time major champion, won the Masters in 2015 and hopes his new-found form continues at Augusta National. 

“It’s pretty awesome when I look back and think there’s a next level I’ve been at that I’m still searching for right now,” he said. “It’s about refocusing here and taking the next step.”

Spieth has an excellent record at Augusta, the BBC says. The 27-year-old was joint second on his debut in 2014 and followed his 2015 victory by again finishing joint runner-up in 2016. He also finished third in 2018.

4

Olympic Games

North Korean athletes won’t compete in Tokyo over Covid fears

North Korea’s sports ministry has said the country will not be sending athletes to the Olympic Games in Tokyo because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Following a meeting held by North Korea’s Olympic committee, the ministry said on its website that it wants to protect athletes from the “global health crisis”, The Guardian reports. With the Olympics just months away, it is the first country to withdraw from the Tokyo games because of coronavirus fears. 

5

Horse racing 

150-1 shot Freewheelin Dylan wins the Irish National 

Freewheelin Dylan caused a huge shock in the Irish Grand National after the 150-1 shot took the victory at Fairyhouse Racecourse on Monday. The “astonishing tale” saw the Dermot McLoughlin-trained horse becoming the biggest-priced winner in the race’s history, Racing Post reports. 

“This is the best day of my life by far - I cannot believe it,” said jockey Ricky Doyle. “It’s my first ride in the National and I was delighted just to be riding him. Because of the way he jumps, I couldn’t wait for the race.”

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