Pyeongchang Winter Olympics competition begins with curling

Russia's Aleksandr Krushelnitckii practices ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (AP)
Updated 08 February 2018
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Pyeongchang Winter Olympics competition begins with curling

GANGNEUNG: South Korea’s Jang Hye-Ji launched 18 days of competition at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Thursday by sliding the first mixed doubles curling stone in Olympic history down the ice.
While the official opening ceremonies are not until Friday night, the first mixed doubles curling event in the Olympic Games began a day early to open 18 days of competition that will conclude with the February 25 closing cermonies.
Jang took the opportunity to make Olympic history in her opening round-robin match match alongside Lee Ki-Jeong against Finland’s Oona Kauste and Tomi Rantamaeki before about 2,500 spectators at Gangneung Curling Center.
Other opening round-robin matches sent Canada against Norway, China against reigning world champion Switzerland and the Olympic Athletes from Russia against the United States.
The Russians — the 2016 world champion husband-and-wife team of Aleksandr Krushelnitckii and Anastasia Bryzgalova — are competing under the Olympic flag after Russia was banned from the Games for major doping violations at the 2014 Sochi Games.
The OAR duo launched their medal quest against US siblings Matt and Becca Hamilton, inspiring a solitary “Russ-i-a” yell from the crowd after scoring two points in the second end.
After seven round-robin matches through Sunday, the top four teams will reach Monday’s semifinals with medal matches set for Tuesday.


Liverpool and Alan Kennedy look to rerun history against Real Madrid in Kiev

Updated 21 May 2018
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Liverpool and Alan Kennedy look to rerun history against Real Madrid in Kiev

LIVERPOOL: With eight minutes of the 1981 European Cup final remaining, Liverpool left-back Alan Kennedy made one of his trademark bursts forward, broke into the Real Madrid penalty area and drove home a left-footed finish to settle a tense, tactical battle.
Unlikely, unforgettable, he had the historic distinction of being the matchwinner in two finals, having also netted the decisive penalty in the shoot-out victory over AS Roma three years later.
“So proud,” reflected Kennedy. “It was a wonderful time to be a Liverpool player.”
On Saturday, the Reds meet Real again in Kiev to contest European club football’s most prized trophy.And the memories of that Paris triumph will never fade for the 63-year-old, nor will being part of a lauded Liverpool team.
“That was their mentality and Liverpool were rightly the top team in Europe,” Kennedy, who also lifted five League titles for the Reds during his eight-year stay at Anfield, said. “It was a great era, great times, but the be-all and end-all for any footballer, should be about winning trophies.”
Liverpool’s strength and focus was emphasized in that Parc des Princes showpiece. Before kick-off they had to cover up sponsor’s logos on their shirts to appease UEFA and TV broadcasters. They had concerns about the fitness of influential striker Kenny Dalglish and Kennedy himself after a broken wrist had sidelined him six weeks earlier.
“I think when you put obstacles in the way of that Liverpool team, the better they played,” he told Arab News. “We had issues with TV rights, about the state of the pitch, issues about the fitness of players, me included, but we went out to play the game and win.”
Formidable foes, Bob Paisley’s side dominated Europe in much the same way Zinedine Zidane’s side are doing at the moment. On Saturday they will seek to become the first side to win three European Cups on the bounce since Bayern Munich in 1976.
“Real Madrid are the champions and fantastic in the competition with their history,” said Kennedy. “You have to respect what they have done.
“Everyone expected Liverpool to be in contention for all the trophies too and that’s what we wanted, to push ourselves to as many finals. We wanted to win everything. Maybe we were a bit greedy, but we felt we could do it.
“I don’t think we were arrogant, although our play suggested we were good at what we did. We played a system that was attack all the time no matter if we were under the cosh or defending.
“It was a great team, everyone knew their jobs, we didn’t change for anyone. We were single-minded about winning. We had set the standards and were under pressure to win every game.”
As favorites, Real will be under similar pressure as they seek a 13th title. And Kennedy believes that his former club can claim a sixth European Cup and their first since the famous 2005 triumph over AC Milan in Istanbul when they came back from 3-0 down.
“I know it will be a great game, difficult to call,” he said.
“But I would be saying to the Liverpool players that you can win it, you are good enough to win it. Go out and play the same way you
have all season. If they do, I think they will win it.
“They may concede, but they should not change their style.”
And nor should they, as attack has been the best form of defense for Liverpool this season. In Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, there is a frontline blessed with pace, panache and potency.
Salah, rightly, has received accolades — including the PFA and Football Writers Player of the Year awards — after a stunning debut season following his £36.9 million ($49 million) arrival from Roma.
A landmark 42 goals — a record 32 in the Premier League — and ability to create chances have seen the Egyptian ranked alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
But, for Kennedy, there can be no comparison to Dalglish, arguably the greatest Kop king.
“Kenny was special, a different type of player, always on the shoulder of the defender,” he added. “Salah comes in from the wing and scores spectacular goals. Liverpool play to his strengths as he is forever getting into the box and the right position.
“For me, Kenny, over 10 seasons, was Liverpool’s top player at that time, fantastic, and it’s difficult to put them side by side. Salah’s been wonderful, but never had a season like this before.”
Madrid’s talisman Ronaldo has. Another 43 goals for the five-time Ballon D’Or winner shows he remains a force at 33.
“I’ve always had utmost admiration for Ronaldo,” said Kennedy. “He has this ability to score in finals and show how good he is. One chance, he takes it.
“But that’s been the same with Salah too. The goals he has scored, he seems to see what comes ahead. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top.”