Matti Nykänen, the Flying Finn who fell so far, so fast | Andy Bull

16-02-2019 The ski-jumper, who won five Olympic medals, had an otherworldly talent but not the sense, or support, he needed to cope with the fame it won himMatti Nykänen used to fly so far, so fast that it felt as if he would never come down. When the Finn broke the world ski jump record for the fifth, and final, time at Planica in 1985 he was moving so quickly that the cameraman struggled to track him through the air.Watching the footage you wonder if he might disappear into the yonder off the far side of the screen. In those days, the mid-1980s, Nykänen was the best ski jumper in the world and almost unbeatable. The records were the least of it. He won five world titles, five Olympic medals, including three golds in one Games, and four World Cups. Continue reading...

Étienne Capoue’s strike for Watford leaves QPR to rue missed chances

16-02-2019 Queens Park Rangers had to wait for this moment. Their previous appearance in the FA Cup fifth round had come at Wimbledon in 1997 and it is doubtful whether any club has since endured a more dismal record in the competition. The London club had won only four ties – each of them in the third round – before this season.Rangers promised to fight and they made light of a run of five consecutive Championship defeats that has sucked them down to 18th in the table to give their Premier League opponents a scare. Continue reading...

Hamilton would be world champion in a Mercedes or a Ferrari - Palmer column

16-02-2019 In his latest column, former Renault driver Jolyon Palmer looks at the brilliance of five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

The Spin | Sheer pace is sheer bliss though fast bowlers often blow hot and cold

16-02-2019 Mark Wood’s Sunday spell in St Lucia was a refreshing reminder of how pace bowling turns a slow game into a fast oneThere are certain words that are crying out to have “sheer” in front of them. Sheer bliss. Sheer lunacy. Sheer pace.In cricket, sheer pace is sheer bliss, as long as it’s on your side. In St Lucia on Sunday evening England, who had been blown away in the first two Tests by a resurgent West Indies attack, finally produced a riposte. Mark Wood came on after 20 overs, when the game is inclined to nod off, and suddenly every delivery carried an electric charge. Bowling to Shai Hope, Wood beat the bat outside off stump with his first ball, and his second, and his third. The fourth was a bouncer, which Hope wisely ducked. The little box on the screen that clocks the bowler’s speed showed 145kph, or 90mph. A stiff breeze was helping, but then Wood, so often kept off the field by a dodgy ankle, deserved a fair wind. Continue reading...

Sri Lanka v England: Pick your England team for first Test

16-02-2019 Who do you think should be in the England side for the first Test against Sri Lanka? Choose your XI and share it with your friends.

Valencia and Denis Cheryshev deal Celtic harrowing Europa League defeat

16-02-2019 Valencia’s passage to the last 16 of the Europa League already seems secure. On a bruising night for Brendan Rodgers and Celtic, the Spanish side cantered towards a victory which should render next week at the Mestalla a formality.That Valencia have superior resource to Celtic is hardly breaking news. Nonetheless, a team normally so ebullient at home were curiously flat and error-ridden. Long before full time it had become a question of how many Valencia were of a mind to score. They settled for two, which barring an unforeseen collapse will prove sufficient. Continue reading...

The Fiver | Unfit to face inferior players who have hardly run a lap since Christmas

16-02-2019 Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now!Buoyed, cheered and generally heartened by the sight of Tottenham Hotspur piling some Big Cup hurt on German league leaders Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night, Arsenal fans can look forward to some fun of their own when their team goes toe to toe with the works team of a tractor factory in Belarus tonight in Euro Vase. Bate Borisov are the opposition in the first knockout round and while most of their players are unknown outside their native country, there will at least be one recognisable face among the ranks. Continue reading...

Dyed beards and lucky stones: Crazy Gang lives on at AFC Wimbledon | Barry Glendenning

16-02-2019 The successors to the 1988 FA Cup-winning side have revealed the unusual practices they hope will help them beat MillwallWhile his teammate Scott Wagstaff sits in the home dressing room at Kingsmeadow getting his bushy ginger beard dyed bright blue and yellow, the AFC Wimbledon midfielder Anthony Wordsworth is in the President’s Lounge telling reporters about his lucky stones. The original FA Cup-winning Crazy Gang may have been uprooted and moved to Milton Keynes many moons ago, but at the fan-owned phoenix club which replaced it there is still an apparent undercurrent of madness.Quiet and unassuming, Wordsworth is anything but deranged, although at one point he teetered on the brink. As a Southend player, he suffered the trauma of losing his beloved older brother, Steven, to a heart attack, a bereavement that led to a slump in form and eventually left him without a club. Picked up by Wimbledon, he is looking forward to an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Millwall on Saturday following his side’s demolition of West Ham. Continue reading...

FA People's Cup: Romance FC - the female five-a-side football collective

16-02-2019 Meet Romance FC - the collective of creative women from East London who are playing in this year's FA People's Cup.

Chris Smalling says Manchester United are once again a team to be feared

16-02-2019 • Defender says team playing their best since Alex Ferguson era• United away to Chelsea in FA Cup on MondayChris Smalling can draw on his own challenging childhood when talking to the pupils of Salford City Academy. He is there as the new patron of Football Beyond Borders, a charity that hopes to provide stability and hope for disadvantaged youngsters. Smalling’s glittering career shows how difficult beginnings can be overcome. The 29-year-old lost his father as a child and was raised on a council estate, the family requiring social security. Related: Kylian Mbappé’s teleportation device leaves Manchester United floundering | Barney Ronay Continue reading...

The Breakdown | Bold England are contenders for World Cup but don’t write off Ireland

16-02-2019 Eddie Jones’s positive selection and tactics in Dublin showed his side have hunger and desire, while Joe Schmidt’s team have overcome adversity beforeEddie Jones has been around long enough to appreciate that destiny lies at the end of a road blighted with potholes and misleading signposts. After his greatest triumph on Saturday he was gracious in victory, 11 months after he had been booed by some home supporters at Twickenham after Ireland had secured the Grand Slam there.“They are a top team,” he said of Ireland, the world’s form country in 2018 who had been systematically taken apart by England. And they are. Just as England found last year after two years of barely uninterrupted success under Jones, nothing feeds the appetite of an ambitious team like a setback. Continue reading...

Flamengo pay tribute to 10 teenage players who died in training ground fire

16-02-2019 Flamengo players and fans are joined by Fluminense to pay tribute to the 10 teenage players who died in a training ground fire.

'Rugby's like a chessboard with 120kg pieces' - how virtual reality could transform training

16-02-2019 Painstaking research, virtual reality and holding the tackle bags in training... an insight into how a top rugby analyst operates.

Winx: Australian mare wins 30th straight race in track record time at Randwick

16-02-2019 Australian racehorse Winx makes history as she extends her own record of consecutive wins with a 30th straight victory.

FA Cup: Newport hoping to pull off biggest FA Cup shock of all time

16-02-2019 Newport County manager Mike Flynn tells Football Focus reporter Mark Clemmit that his side hope to pull off the "biggest FA Cup shock" of all time when they take on Man City.

The best of Gordon Banks, Tony Romo's gold and Juve's Welshmen | Classic YouTube

16-02-2019 This week’s round-up also features a Nascar crash, the World Club Challenge and parkour1) Farewell, then, Gordon Banks. Where else to start than The Save? Or, A Version Of The Save. Here he is keeping Denis Law out at Wembley in 1967, beating the looping deflection in style. The Pathe news report on 1966 is always worth a look, not least for some jaffas of saves by our man. No patriotic conviviality a few years later when he saved a penalty from Geoff Hurst in a broiling League Cup semi-final between Stoke and West Ham. Enjoy a compilation of his top stops, soundtracked by some delicious 1960s lounge jazz. Certainly more appropriate than Sabrina Vaz (us neither) to go with this clip of the last game Banks played before the car crash that effectively ended his career as a top-class goalkeeper, although as you can see in this Channel 4 interview, he declared the loss of his right eye “not too bad.” Finally … go on then, here it is.2) It’s the rugby league World Club Challenge this weekend, as Wigan take on the Sydney Roosters. Here’s the first official edition of the game, when Widnes turned over Canberra in 1989. And regard the time Wigan won it for the third time, a belter against Brisbane in 1994, featuring the British national anthem as played on a toy Stratocaster. The 2010 edition was a bit weird: Melbourne Storm won the game, beating Leeds Rhinos 18-10 (first half, and second here), only for them to be stripped of the title due to financial irregularities, but rather than give the crown to Leeds it was just…left in the ether. Continue reading...