Sports Digest


A round-up of today's other stories in brief

Sports bodies get grant for equipment

The Government has approved a €2.6 million grant scheme to help 22 national sports bodies buy new equipment, aimed at boosting participation and improve performance. The funding has been awarded to a range of national governing bodies, some of the main recipients being the Athletics Association of Ireland (€350,000), the Football Association of Ireland (€220,000), the GAA (€220,000), the Irish Rugby Football Union (€257,517), the Irish Sailing Association (€400,000), and Swim Ireland (€249,586).

The new equipment will include items as diverse as a mobile Olympic Handball arena, scrum machines, a “cricket factory” where you can try out cricket for fun, and martial arts arenas. It also includes a grant of €160,228 to the Irish Wheelchair Association Sport to provide new equipment for sports like basketball, athletics, hand cycling and rugby, boccia, table tennis and archery. – IAN O’RIORDAN

Great Heavens gets Arc chance

John Gosden’s Irish Oaks winner Great Heavens has been supplemented for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday.

Not sighted since her brilliant display at the Curragh in July, the Lady Rothschild-owned filly was expected to line up in the Qipco British Champions Fillies’ And Mares’ Stakes at Ascot on October 20th.

However, with stable companion Nathaniel a significant withdrawal earlier in the week after suffering a setback, Rothschild and Gosden have decided to add Great Heavens to the field for Europe’s premier middle-distance prize.

Great Heavens is a full-sister to Nathaniel, but has yet to reach the same kind of heights at this stage. The Clarehaven trainer has hailed the owners for stumping up €100,000 to add her to the Longchamp showpiece.

Gosden said: “It wasn’t a straightforward decision but she’s working nicely and is in good order.”

Schumacher (43) decides to call it a day once again

Michael Schumacher (43) yesterday announced his retirement from Formula One for the second time after failing to rekindle his old Ferrari magic in a disappointing comeback with Mercedes. The team had already announced last week the seven-times world champion, winner of a record 91 races in a career that started in 1991, would be replaced by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton for the start of the 2013 campaign.

Schumacher told reporters, packed into the confined space of the tented Mercedes hospitality at the Suzuka circuit ahead of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, that his decision came as a relief.

“I have decided to retire by the end of the year, although I am still able and capable to compete with the best drivers that are around,” he declared, reading from a statement. “But at some point, it is good to say goodbye. And that is what I am doing here . . . and it might this time even be forever,” he smiled.

Butler hoping Prince's all-weather form continues

Trainer Gerard Butler is hoping Prince Alzain can continue to show his liking for the Polytrack when he lines-up for the Diamond Stakes at Dundalk this evening. The three-year-old has won three on the all-weather at Wolverhampton and was a creditable third when stepped up to Group Two company for the Anatolia Trophy in Turkey last time out.

Light Heavy is likely to have his last run of the year in the Group Three heat, according to trainer Jim Bolger. The three-year-old colt, who began his season with a victory at Leopardstown in March, was fourth to Snow Fairy in the Irish Champion Stakes back at the Dublin track four weeks ago.

Sri Lanka reach final after beating Pakistan by 16 runs

Skipper Mahela Jayawardene led Sri Lanka to their second World Twenty20 final following the hosts’ 16-run victory over Pakistan in the first semi-final at the Premadasa Stadium yesterday.

Opting to bat first, Jayawardene (42) added 63 runs with Tillakaratne Dilshan (35) but Sri Lanka could not capitalise on the strong start on a sluggish track and posted 139 for four wickets against the 2009 champions.

Jayawardene then returned to marshal his bowlers, who restricted Pakistan to 123 for seven to earn a place in Sunday’s final against either Australia or West Indies. Rangana Herath justified his return to the side claiming three for 25, including two off successive deliveries, while Ajantha Mendis (2-27) and Angelo Mathews (2-27) shared four wickets between them.

Captain Mohammad Hafeez (42) top-scored for his team after being dropped twice.

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