O'Connor makes history in Beijing's World Cup event
SPORTS DIGEST:CIAN O’CONNOR, winner of the individual bronze at the London Olympics, yesterday became the first non-Chinese competitor to land Beijing’s World Cup competition.
Over 40 international riders took part in the class but, due to quarantine restrictions, had to partner China-based horses. On board the Dutch Warmblood mare Wavanta, O’Connor recorded the only double clear to beat the hosts’ Ciren Bianba into second, with Edwin Smits finishing third for The Netherlands.
O’Connor, who has been in China for the last week, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to win this major event in China and perhaps contribute to the very encouraging relationship which is emerging between China and Ireland.
“The talent, enthusiasm and love for the horse was evident to see in the Chinese riders,” continued the Meath-based rider.
The venue for the World Cup competition was the Beijing International Equestrian Club where the equestrian director is Galway native Austin Melia.
– MARGIE McLOONE
Hamilton insists he moved for challenge
Motor SportLewis Hamilton has denied his decision to switch teams from McLaren to Mercedes was for financial reasons. The British driver, speaking for the first time since signing a three-year deal with Mercedes that starts next season, said he felt the split with McLaren was amicable and did not rule out a possible return at some point.
Speaking in Tokyo, ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, Hamilton revealed his choice to leave the team was no easy task: “It was hard. Really, really hard. It was very, very stressful . . . once I made the decision I was so much more relaxed.”
The question of whether McLaren were not willing to match Mercedes in salary terms, widely assumed to be a central bone of contention, was rejected by Hamilton, who asserted that money was not a factor.
“It was not about the offer,” he said. “I had two offers on the table which were very, very similar. Martin [Whitmarsh] asked me what more they could have done. I said: ‘To be honest, Martin, it was about the new challenge and a step that I wanted to make’.”
Devlin’s 64 leaves him in top spot
GolfA magnificent eight-under-par 64 rocketed Chris Devlin to the top of the leaderboard on day two of European Tour qualifying at Frilford Heath in Oxfordshire yesterday.
The highlight of Ballymena-born Devlin’s stunning round was two eagles in the space of three holes, on 14 and 16, while five more birdies took him to seven under for the tournament after an opening 73.
Rúaidhrí McGee couldn’t build on a promising first-round 70, carding a two-over 74, but he did finish in style with a hat-trick of birdies to stay comfortably in a qualifying position. Compatriot John-Daniel Guiney registered a 72 but has a lot of work to do just to make the cut at the end of today.