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Olympics: Disqualified Nigerian Athletes Protest in Tokyo

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Frustrated Nigerian athletes took to the streets of Tokyo on Friday to display their displeasure to the world following their disqualification from the Olympics taking place in the Japanese capital city.

Due to no fault of theirs, the 10 athletes were ruled out of participating in the track and field event because they did not undergo enough out-of-competition doping tests before the Games.

The Athletics Integrity Unit of World Athletics mandates high-risk countries (which Nigeria is classed under due to lax doping controls) to test their athletes at least three times in the months leading to major competitions.

However, the divided Athletics Federation of Nigeria did not perform its duties and of the 20 athletes across the world barred by the AIU for non-compliance, 10 were Nigerians.

The 10 affected athletes include Favour Ofili, Ruth Usoro, Rosemary Chukwuma, Knowledge Omovoh, Chidi Okezie, Chioma Onyekwere and Yinka Ajayi.

The disqualified 10 are part of the 23 Team Nigeria athletes taken to the Games, and they staged a peaceful protest in Tokyo on Friday, the opening day of track and field events.

The athletes, decked in their Team Nigeria tracksuits, carried placards on which they expressed their grievances.

Their placards had hand-written inscriptions such as ‘All we wanted to do was compete’, ‘Why should we suffer because of someone else’s negligence, and ‘We’re not just alternates but potential medallists’, apparently referring to the sports ministry’s suggestion that the disqualified athletes were dispensable.

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Basketball: Australia Defeat Nigeria 108-69 in Exhibition Game

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Australia trounced Nigeria 108-69 to win their third game in a row at the Las Vegas exhibition series on Wednesday as both teams continue their preparation for the Olympics.

The loss is Mike Brown’s first since taking over as coach of D’Tigers in 2020.

The efficient Aussies displayed grit and technical prowess as they swept D’Tigers apart in the first quarter taking a 13-point lead to end 26-13. The third ranked nation in the world continued their dominance in the second quarter ending with a comfortable 20-point lead – 49-29.

The Australians opened a 38-point lead to end the quarter 84-46, then clocking the 100-point mark to win by 39 points ending the game 108-69.

The Australians made it three wins in a row with Chris Gouding scoring 21 points, three rebounds and four steals. He hit 100 per cent accuracy from the three-point line making all seven attempts.

Josh Okogie and Obi Emegano led D’Tigers in scoring with 10 points a piece while Jahlil Okafor had seven points and five rebounds and Ike Iroegbu also scored seven points in a game they will want to forget in a hurry.

Nigeria have had an impressive run during the exhibition series beating powerhouses USA and Argentina before suffering their first loss.

D’Tigers will face the Boomers in their first game at the Olympics on July 25 and will be hoping to get a better return.

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Italy Win Euro 2020, Deny England First Trophy in 55 Years

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Italy have beaten England on penalties to win the Euro 2020, denying the Three Lions their first major trophy in 55 years.

The Italians defeated England 3-2 on penalties in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final as Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed in the shoot-out following a 1-1 draw after extra time at Wembley.

Luke Shaw scored for England inside two minutes, the fastest ever goal in a European Championship final, but Leonardo Bonucci bundled in an equaliser at a corner midway through the second half.

Needing to score to keep England alive in the shoot-out, Saka’s spot-kick was saved by Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma as the Azzurri won the tournament for the second time.

AFP

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England Beat Denmark to Reach Euro 2020 Final

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England fed off the energy of a passionate Wembley crowd to beat Denmark 2-1 in the Euro 2020 semi-finals on Wednesday and now stand just 90 minutes away from ending their 55-year trophy drought.

Gareth Southgate’s men will face Italy on Sunday infused with belief they can win a first major international tournament since the 1966 World Cup.

For Euro 92 champions Denmark, defeat spells the end of a fairytale run to the last four after the trauma of witnessing star man Christian Eriksen collapse in their first match.

England emerged on a cool evening at Wembley after the crowd of almost 65,000 had whipped themselves into a frenzy with rousing renditions of “Sweet Caroline” and “Football’s Coming Home”.

But Denmark ripped up the home script on the half-hour when Mikkel Damsgaard punished Luke Shaw for a foul on Andreas Christensen, smashing a free-kick past the despairing dive of Jordan Pickford.

That was the first goal England had conceded in the entire tournament.

The crowd went flat but England were level within 10 minutes when Simon Kjaer could only bundle the ball into his own net after a searching cross from Bukayo Saka.

Neither side could find a goal in the second period despite intense pressure from the home side as normal time drew to a close.

The volume in the stadium increased in extra time as England put Denmark under intense pressure and they finally got their reward when Raheem Sterling was fouled in the box by Joakim Maehle.

Harry Kane’s penalty was saved by Kasper Schmeichel but he converted the rebound to give England the advantage and they held Denmark at bay to seal the win.

The final whistle sparked scenes of delirium in the stands and on the pitch as the players partied with the crowd.

“It was a top performance — we had to dig in deep after the first goal we conceded in the tournament, and we regrouped well and showed a good team spirit to come back and win the game,” Sterling told ITV.

Despite the celebrations at Wembley, Sterling insisted the focus would almost immediately shift to the final against Italy.

“It’s another step in the right direction,” he added. “But once we’re back in the dressing room it’s over and we’ve got to focus on the weekend now. It’s step-by-step and that’s all we can do.”

The match was attended by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who tweeted: “Tonight @England played their hearts out. What a fantastic performance from Gareth Southgate’s squad. Now to the final. Let’s bring it home.”

England have suffered semi-final heartbreak at major tournaments four times since becoming world champions in 1966 and those agonising defeats have been etched in the psyche of English football.

But Southgate has overseen the emergence of a vibrant young team unconcerned by the trials and tribulations of their failed predecessors in the national shirt and they are now through to their first European Championship final.

Denmark were fuelled by a sense of destiny and desire after Eriksen had to be resuscitated on the pitch in their tournament opener against Finland.

They went into their final group game without a point but, with Eriksen on the mend, Kasper Hjulmand’s team embarked on a three-match winning run that took them to a first semi-final in 29 years.

Italy, who failed even to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, lie in wait for England at Wembley this weekend.

Roberto Mancini’s men beat Spain 4-2 on penalties at Wembley after a gripping 1-1 draw on Tuesday.

Federico Chiesa gave Italy the lead with half an hour to go only for Spain substitute Alvaro Morata to equalise with 10 minutes left.

Both sides missed their first two kicks of the shoot-out. Gianluigi Donnarumma saved Morata’s effort, with Jorginho converting Italy’s winner.

AFP

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