Short Sport, March 7, 2013

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 March, 2013, 3:42am


Badminton champ Li crumples at first hurdle

Defending champion Li Xuerui suffered a stunning defeat yesterday when she lost in the first round of the All-England Open. Li, widely regarded as badminton's outstanding woman player after her triumph at the London Olympic Games seven months ago, went down 21-18, 21-18 to Bae Yeon-ju, the world No 13 from South Korea. The Chinese player did not blame either the wind drift or having to face such a high-quality opponent in the first round for her defeat. "It was personal performance issues, too many mistakes, nothing else," she said. AFP


Race against time for Swann to be Ashes fit

England off-spinner Graeme Swann faces a race against time to be fit for this year's Ashes double-header after injury forced him out of the cricket test series against New Zealand in Dunedin yesterday. Swann was a surprise omission from the tourists' side to face the Black Caps in the opening test, with officials later confirming that a longstanding problem with his right elbow had flared up and would need surgery. "[He] clearly couldn't get through the five days," England captain Alastair Cook said. On the pitch, there was no action as rain washed out play on the opening day. AFP


Puck hits Staal in Rangers' victory

New York Rangers defenceman Marc Staal was struck near the eye by a deflected shot in a frightening moment in the third period of the Rangers' 4-2 NHL victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Staal departed the contest at 5:45 of the third after a slapshot by the Flyers' Kimmo Timonen was deflected by Jakub Voracek. The puck struck Staal, who plays without a visor, near his right eye. He crumpled to the ice bleeding profusely before he was led to the locker room. "It's a tough, tough one," said Rangers right wing Rick Nash - who scored the go-ahead goal and the insurance goal in the third period. "We're hoping the best for him," said Nash, although the team had no update on Staal's injury after the game. AFP


All Black Carter denies move to Japan club

All Blacks star flyhalf Dan Carter yesterday denied speculation he had signed a deal to play Japanese club rugby, but did not rule out the prospect of a foray into the big-money league. The 31-year-old, one of the highest-profile players in world rugby, is under contract with New Zealand until 2015, but has a clause allowing him to take a sabbatical built into the agreement. Carter dismissed suggestions he had already signed with a Japanese club, but conceded his management had tested potential interest in both Europe and Japan. "[They] are just throwing it out there, and talking to a few clubs and players," he said after training with his Super 15 club, the Canterbury Crusaders. He added: "I am nowhere near signing any deal or getting closer to deciding what I am going to do or whether I take my sabbatical. I am still not any closer to making a decision." AFP