US and Iran find common ground in Olympic wrestling

Updated 19 February 2013

US and Iran find common ground in Olympic wrestling

TEHRAN: Arch foes Iran and the US have found some common ground in the fight to save wrestling as an Olympic sport.
US wrestling coach Zeke Jones on Tuesday called the sport an important “ambassador,” suggesting possible cooperation to fight a decision by the International Olympic Committee to drop wrestling from the 2020 Games.
“Wrestling has brought closer the people of Iran and the US,” Jones was quoted saying by the semiofficial Mehr news agency after arriving in Tehran with his team for an international tournament.
American wrestlers will compete in freestyle events later this week after the completion of Greco-Roman matches.
“I am sure the world will become united in support to wrestling and this will lead to change of the view of the OIC. It will keep wrestling in the Olympics,” said Jones.
On Monday, US wrestling officials formalized plans for a committee charged with pushing to restore Olympic wrestling — which was dropped earlier this month from the 2020 program by the IOC board. Wrestling now must compete against other sports for one open slot in the Games.
Iran also has said it is looking to join wrestling’s major powers to reverse the IOC decision. Last week, the Iranian wrestling federation and Olympic committee sent a protest letter to the IOC.
Iran sees wrestling as their national sport. Since 1948, it has actively participated international events of the sport and its wrestlers have collected many Olympics medals. Iran won three gold medals out of six overall in wrestling at the London Games, and the US took two gold medals out of four overall.
Washington cut ties with Iran after the US Embassy was stormed in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution — with 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days. Tensions are also high over the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program and Western sanctions that have upended Iran’s economy.
Iran’s state media had only limited reports on the arrival of the American wrestlers — a distinct contrast to the fanfare in 1998 to the first US wrestlers who competed in Iran since the Islamic Revolution.
US sports team make only infrequent appearances in Iran, but the two countries often compete together in international events.
The US has sent more than 30 athletes to Iran under a sports exchange program launched in 2007, and more than 75 Iranian athletes and coaches have visited the United States.


Spurs stunned by Antwerp, Milan cruise to victory

Updated 19 min 40 sec ago

Spurs stunned by Antwerp, Milan cruise to victory

  • The surprise win takes Antwerp to the top of the early Group J table after their opening 2-1 victory at Ludogorets

PARIS: Tottenham Hotspur slumped to a shock 1-0 Europa League defeat at Royal Antwerp on Thursday, while Serie A leaders AC Milan eased to victory over Sparta Prague.

Jose Mourinho’s Spurs failed to create a single chance of note in a lifeless display, with Gareth Bale, who rejoined the club on loan from Real Madrid in the close-season, lasting less than an hour before being substituted.

The surprise win takes Antwerp to the top of the early Group J table after their opening 2-1 victory at Ludogorets last week.

The Belgian outfit are playing in the main stage of a European competition for the first time since a UEFA Cup first-round loss to Newcastle United in 1994.

The hosts took the lead just before the half-hour mark, with Dieumerci Mbokani robbing makeshift Spurs center-back Ben Davies before feeding Israeli forward Lior Refaelov to drill a fierce shot into the corner.

Antwerp wasted a golden chance to double the lead in the 54th minute, as Congolese striker Mbokani contrived to fire the ball over an open net when only three yards from goal.

Mourinho threw on Harry Kane and Son Heung-min for Bale and Dele Alli in search of an equaliser, but again it was their opponents who should have scored when Norwegian wing-back Simen Jukleroed ran clean through on goal and blazed wildly over the bar.

Spurs dominated possession but never seriously threatened, and the Antwerp players were able to celebrate a famous triumph in an empty stadium.

Milan made it two wins from two in Group H with a 3-0 success over Sparta, despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing a first-half penalty.

Goals from Brahim Diaz, Rafael Leao and on-loan Manchester United wing-back Diogo Dalot saw Milan extend their unbeaten run to 24 matches in all competitions.

Stefano Pioli’s side sit two points clear of Lille at the top of the group, after the French outfit fought back from two goals down to grab a 2-2 home draw with Celtic.

Jamie Vardy netted a spot-kick as Leicester City made it back-to-back victories in Group G with a 2-1 win at AEK Athens, while Paco Alcacer scored a late double as Villarreal saw off Qarabag 3-1 in Group I.

 

Juve need to find a way to win without Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo’s status remains unclear going into this weekend’s Serie A games, which means Juventus may have to finally find a way to win without him.

Ronaldo has yet to be cleared to return after testing positive for the coronavirus more than two weeks ago, and his absence has been keenly felt by a young Juventus side which is going through a transition under new coach Andrea Pirlo.

The nine-time defending Serie A champion has drawn its last two league matches without Ronaldo — against last-place Crotone and Hellas Verona — and was outclassed by Barcelona in a 2-0 loss in the Champions League on Wednesday.

On paper, though, Juventus should still be able to beat newly promoted Spezia on Sunday even if Ronaldo can’t play. But the Bianconeri have only won 55% percent of their matches without Ronaldo since the Portuguese star joined from Real Madrid in 2018, and are in danger of slipping behind in the domestic title race.

The two recent draws has left it four points leader AC Milan, which tries to extend its unbeaten record when it travels to Udinese on Sunday.

Ronaldo is also struggling to watch from the sidelines as he remains in quarantine in his house in Turin.