Max Verstappen is keen to ensure his focus does not drift from the task at hand as the events of the British Grand Prix continue to hang over the Formula One title race.

Verstappen still leads the way in 2021 but saw his advantage cut to eight points at Silverstone after a first-lap crash.

The Red Bull superstar was involved in an incident with rival Lewis Hamilton, who remained on the track, served a 10-second penalty and won the race.

Verstappen fumed at a perceived lenient punishment at the time and Red Bull have since pursued a review.

The driver is happy to now leave that up to his team, though, as attention turns to Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

"I don't have much to say on all the media hype [around the crash] and, to be honest, I am not interested in getting involved in any of that," Verstappen said this week.

"I know what happened at Silverstone as I was in the car and obviously I feel a certain way about how my race ended, but now I'm just focusing on making sure we are the best we can be on track so we can stay ahead in the championship.

"The team can take care of the official side of things and anything that needs looking into after the crash, but my job is the same as always – to be the best I can and try to win on Sunday."

Verstappen described himself as "a little bruised" but "feeling good" heading to Hungary.

The Dutchman added he "enjoys Hungary as a track", yet this is an event Hamilton has dominated, having won six of the past nine races in Hungary, including the most recent three in a row.

Indeed, as Verstappen waits on his first victory at the Hungarian GP, a ninth for Hamilton would take him past Michael Schumacher for the outright most ever at a single circuit.

LAST TIME OUT

The 2021 British Grand Prix will not be forgotten about in a hurry.

Verstappen won the inaugural sprint race in qualifying and then, very briefly, looked on course to do the same on the Sunday.

He protected his advantage from pole only as far as Copse Corner on the first lap before a clip from Hamilton took out the Red Bull's tyre.

A 40-minute red flag stoppage followed as the two teams offered contrasting views on the incident, described by Christian Horner as "dirty driving".

Hamilton was able to resume with only the 10-second penalty and was still in contention in fourth after serving his punishment.

The defending champion reeled in Lando Norris, benefited from a switch with team-mate Valtteri Bottas and then finally caught Charles Leclerc.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN HUNGARY

A response, of course! As he has made clear, Verstappen was not enamoured by events last time out and will be determined to hit back.

The opportunity to show off his Red Bull's pace is likely to appeal far more than another dogfight, though. Silverstone offered evidence of how that can go wrong for Verstappen.

Until heading to the United Kingdom, he had been in scintillating form, blowing Mercedes away with three wins on the bounce.

There is intrigue behind the two leading men, too, with Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr finally starting to show again they are capable of mixing it with Norris, Bottas and Sergio Perez.

TOP FIVE OPTA STATS

Closing in – After five races without a win, Hamilton's victory last time out was his 99th in F1. Just as he was the first to a century of pole positions, 100 wins would break new ground.

Briton's breakthrough – It would be fitting if Hamilton did reach that milestone in Hungary, where he claimed his first Mercedes triumph back in 2013. That was his only Silver Arrows success prior to the hybrid era.

Pole pursuit – Hamilton will hope for a better Saturday to improve his chances of victory. Mercedes have not claimed pole in their past six races, their second-worst such stretch of the hybrid era.

Ferrari frustration – Mercedes' issues pale in comparison to Ferrari's. Leclerc was denied by Hamilton's fightback at Silverstone and the Scuderia will be 34 without a win if they fail again this weekend. That would tie their second-worst streak ever.

Streaky McLarens – Norris' run of earning points in 15 successive grands prix is the best run in McLaren's history. Meanwhile, team-mate Ricciardo has finished 26 straight races, the eighth-longest sequence ever in F1.

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS 

Drivers 

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 185
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 177
3. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 113
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 108
5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 104

Constructors 

1. Red Bull – 289
2. Mercedes – 285
3. McLaren – 163
4. Ferrari – 148
5. AlphaTauri – 49

"It's time to start looking like Team USA." That was the approach after a shock opening Olympics loss, Damian Lillard said, and the Games favourites delivered on Wednesday.

France had upset the United States in their first game, following up a 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup quarter-final triumph against the same opponents.

It was a defeat that will ensure doubts remain about Team USA's title aspirations for some time, but they at least got back to winning ways against modest opponents in Iran.

Lillard led the way in Wednesday's stand-out game, scoring 21 points in a dominant 120-66 success.

"I think after our loss to France we had two days between games and everybody just wanted to get back out there and get right," the Portland Trail Blazers guard said. "After that loss, we came together."

Lillard added of the Iran game: "I think we came out with a lot more urgency. Our energy was higher, we played at a faster pace. We were more aggressive, and we played like ourselves.

"We didn't come out here and think that it was just going to happen; we made it happen, and that's the way that we've got to play if we want to be successful in these Olympics."

'WE DON'T NEED HEROES'

Lillard's game-high tally – consisting entirely of seven three-pointers – was still significantly down on the 28.8 he averaged in the 2020-21 NBA regular season.

But that is exactly what coach Gregg Popovich wants from his team, knowing Devin Booker (16 points on Wednesday, 25.6 in the NBA), Jayson Tatum (14, 26.4), Zach LaVine (13, 27.4), Kevin Durant (10, 26.9) and Khris Middleton (10, 20.4) cannot all be the main men.

"Each of these guys scores 20 or 25 or 30 for their teams, and their teams depend on that every night," Popovich said. "We can't play like that, and so we don't.

"They appreciate each other and they know what their team-mates can do. They understand that good basketball is sharing the basketball.

"Everybody's, in a sense, kind of a role player now. We don't need heroes."

FRANCE TAKE TOP SPOT

Les Bleus built on their victory over Team USA and will now top Pool A ahead of the American side thanks to a 97-77 defeat of the Czech Republic.

France trailed 28-22 through the first quarter but turned the game around with a dominant second, settled 29-12 in their favour.

As against the United States, Evan Fournier topped the scoring charts, weighing in with 21 points on 62 per cent shooting.

BOOMERS BIGS WIN BATTLE

Australia also have two wins from two after edging Italy 86-83 on Wednesday, led by the frontcourt contributions of Jock Landale and Aron Baynes.

Landale led the Boomers with 18 points, but the pair crucially also finished with seven rebounds and a block apiece. Between them, they accounted for nine of the team's 16 vital offensive rebounds – Nick Kay added another four from the bench.

"Our bigs were huge today," said Utah Jazz wing Joe Ingles. "The rebounds, tip-outs – they got us a ton of extra possessions."

Elsewhere in Pool B, Nigeria's pre-tournament optimism might have given way after a second straight defeat that gives them a mountain to climb.

D'Tigers beat Team USA and Argentina in exhibitions but lost to Australia and then, on Wednesday, Germany – a 99-92 reverse despite 33 points from Jordan Nwora, fresh from playing a fringe role in the Milwaukee Bucks' run to the NBA title, including one minute and three points in the Finals.

Memphis Depay is confident he can form a balanced front three with Lionel Messi and fellow new signing Sergio Aguero at Barcelona.

Netherlands attacker Depay joined Barca as a free agent when his Lyon contract expired on July 1 and scored a penalty on his debut in Saturday's 3-1 friendly win over Girona.

The 27-year-old got his career back on track at Lyon following a disappointing spell with Manchester United, scoring 76 goals in 178 appearance for the Ligue 1 side.

Depay played mainly as a centre-forward in the French top flight last season and scored 20 goals – only Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe (27) netted more.

He also showed his ability to create for others by laying on 12 assists and creating 94 chances, which were more than any other player managed in Ligue 1 in 2020-21.

And the PSV academy product believes he is capable of playing with ex-Manchester City striker Aguero and Messi, who is expected to sign a new deal to remain at Camp Nou.

"We are all attackers, but we are all different in my opinion," Depay told Sport. "I have different abilities and strengths than Aguero, for example, or any other player.

"I think the three of us are compatible and different. But we will see how everything goes.

"It would be amazing to play with Messi and I hope that is possible. He has a number of qualities that the team needs and it's important to build everything around that.

"There is a lot of talent here. It would be great to play alongside him and win titles."

 

Depay previously played under Barca head coach Ronald Koeman for the Netherlands national side and is glad to have reunited with his compatriot in Catalonia.

"He has had a great impact on me," Depay said. "He changed the Netherlands team and counted on me, giving me confidence. 

"Now he is counting on me for this adventure, so he has undoubtedly been an important figure in my career.

"I know him and how he trains, so it's easier for me to adapt. I know what he expects of me after working together for a long time.

"Even with him on the bench it will obviously not be easy, but without him it would have been different."

Depay has been labelled a "rebellious" figure during his career to date but, citing comparisons to former Barca player Luis Suarez, is not fazed by that tag.

"I think 'rebellious' is often used as a negative, but sometimes you can use it as a good thing," he said. 

"Sometimes if you are rebellious on the field it can give you something extra and help you win the game. 

"For example, Luis Suarez has won many games and scored many goals without being the nicest and sweetest person in the world. 

"Maybe because of my appearance people may think that I am a rebellious boy. When you meet me, you see that I am a normal guy, like any other person. 

"Maybe I'm a little different because of the way I express myself, how I make music. I may be more misunderstood for that. 

"But boy, I don't mind being called a rebel. People have a feeling about me that may either be very good or they may not like. 

"The truth is that everyone is free to create their own opinion, their image."

Robert Lewandowski will definitely not leave Bayern Munich in the next two years, according to the German champions' president Herbert Hainer.

The prolific striker was crowned Germany’s Footballer of the Year for 2021 last week after scoring 41 Bundesliga goals to break Gerd Muller's long-standing single-season record.

His 48 goals in all competitions were the most scored by any player in Europe's top five league in 2020-21, followed by Kylian Mbappe (42) and Erling Haaland (41).

Lewandowski has netted 294 goals in 329 appearances overall for Bayern since joining from domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014, including 203 in 219 league games.

But the 32-year-old has been linked with a move away from the Allianz Arena this transfer window, with Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City all reportedly interested in striking a deal.

However, new boss Julian Nagelsmann recently said he is not bothered by the speculation and president Hainer has reiterated Lewandowski is going nowhere while under contract until 2023.

"Firstly, in my opinion, Lewandowski is the best striker in the world. We are so happy that we have him in our team," he told Goal.

"He still has two more years on his contract. He will definitely play those with Bayern Munch. I said it already a few weeks ago – I could imagine him staying with us for even longer. 

"He will honour his contract. He will definitely play the next two seasons here at Bayern Munich."

 

Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland has previously been touted as a possible replacement for Lewandowski, but Bayern are not currently in the market for a new striker.

"As I said, Robert will definitely be here for the next two seasons with Bayern. Then we will look for a successor," Hainer said.

Joshua Kimmich is another valuable Bayern player who has two years to run on his existing deal, while Manchester United-linked Leon Goretzka is set to become a free agent at the end of 2021-22.

Both players returned to training this week after being given an extended break following their Euro 2020 exertions and talks over fresh terms will soon commence.

"As you know, they went on holiday after the European Championship," Hainer said. "They were back yesterday in the training sessions.

"Now we have time to talk to them. And hopefully, within the next week, we will find agreements with them."

Bayern play their third friendly of pre-season on Wednesday with a home match against fellow Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach.

Nagelsmann's men then face Napoli before beginning their 2021-22 campaign with a DFB-Pokal tie against lower-league opposition Bremer SV on August 6.

"Trust the Process", but for how long?

That mantra – after tanking out and starting from the bottom eight years ago – has become synonymous with the team's culture and identity since former 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie started a drastic rebuild of Philadelphia's roster and psyche in 2013.

The long-term vision, in pursuit of a first NBA championship since 1983, has delivered All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, however the 76ers have not progressed beyond the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Doc Rivers was brought in to replace Brett Brown and deliver the long-awaited title, yet the same old issues and questions remain after the top-seeded 76ers were sensationally eliminated by the fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the second round.

While Embiid narrowly missed out on the MVP award, Philadelphia's latest failure has only amplified pressure on shot-shy Simmons amid growing speculation over his future at Wells Fargo Center following a forgettable playoff campaign.

With president of basketball operations Daryl Morey tasked with turning the contenders into champions, will he blow it all up or run it back in 2021-22

Embiid excels but there's more to come from Philly's unofficial MVP

His own harshest critic, Embiid sets the bar high, demanding the absolute best from himself and the 76ers in pursuit of a coveted championship. A cornerstone of the franchise, the 27-year-old soared to new heights in 2020-21, leading Philly to their first Eastern Conference title since 2000-01.

A knee injury proved costly in the MVP race; he finished second to Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic. If he had featured in another 10-15 games, Embiid may have become the first 76ers player since Allen Iverson 20 years ago to be crowned Most Valuable Player. Accolade or not, there was no denying Embiid's impact on his team and the league last season.

Embiid's improvement was evident as he went from averaging 23.0 points per game in 2019-20 to 28.5 this time around. His +5.5 increase ranks sixth all-time among All-Star centers for largest increase in points per game from one season to the next, only behind Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain (+12.0 with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1962), Jokic (+6.5 in 2021), David Robinson (+6.4 with the San Antonio Spurs in 1994), Los Angeles Lakers great Shaquille O'Neal (+5.9 with the Orlando Magic in 1994) and Patrick Ewing (+5.9 with the New York Knicks in 1990).

Embiid posted impressive numbers for field-goal percentage (51.3), three-point percentage (37.7 which increased to 39.0 in the playoffs) and free-throw percentage (85.9), as well averaging 10.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists (which improved to 3.4 in the postseason).

Only scoring leader Stephen Curry (32.0), Bradley Beal (31.3) and Damian Lillard (28.8) – all guards – averaged more points per game than Embiid.

 

The heart and soul of this Philly team, it is clear when Embiid steps onto the court. In 2020-21, the 76ers held a 45-17 win-loss record with their big man involved but that 72.6 winning percentage dropped to 50.0 without him as they slumped to 11-11.

Philadelphia regressed in almost every single category in Embiid's absence – points per game (115.4 to 110.2), field-goal percentage (48.6 to 46.1), three-point percentage (38.7 to 34.9), assists per game (24.3 to 22.7), blocks per game (6.3 to 6.0) and fast-break points (15.6 to 13.4). At the other end of the floor, rival teams benefited as their points per game (107.6 to 109.8), field-goal percentage (44.7 to 46.9), three-point percentage (36.7), rebounds per game (42.8 to 43.3) and points in the paint (45.4 to 47.9) all rose.

His exploits earned a fourth All-Star selection, with Embiid now eligible to sign a four-year, supermax extension after being selected to the All-NBA Second Team. While there has long been question marks over his health and fitness, his form merits a monster pay rise.

Worryingly for the rest of the league, Embiid is not a player who rests on his laurels. The Cameroonian is determined to deliver a title to the city of Brotherly Love.

"Losing, obviously, it's gonna take a toll on me, and it does and it's doing it, but it’s also on me," said Embiid after Philly's playoff exit. "I gotta be better. I gotta take another step when it comes to taking care of my body and my game as a whole, because I still feel like I have a lot of untapped potential that people haven't really seen."

How do you solve a problem like Ben Simmons?

"I love being in Philly. I love this organisation," Simmons said after he was subjected to boos by Philly fans after their Game 7 loss to the Hawks. "The fans are great, great people. I had a bad series. I expect that. It's Philly."

Former number one pick Simmons, however, may not have a choice on the matter amid intensifying trade talk.

The 24-year-old had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star.

Fresh off elimination, Rivers was asked if he thought Simmons could be a guard on a championship team, and he told reporters post-game: "I don't know the answer to that right now."

Since then, Rivers has said he wants the player to remain as the 76ers have a plan for the Australian star, who will skip the Olympic Games in Tokyo to focus on his skillset.

But after four seasons in the league, there has been no improvement from three-time All-Star Simmons in one fundamental area – shooting.

An elite defender and creator, debate around Simmons centres on his offence or lack thereof, with the 76ers handicapped by his unwillingness to shoot.

 

Simmons' field-goal percentage has regressed, dropping from 58.0 in 2019-20 to 55.7 this season – he only managed worse in his 2017-18 rookie campaign (54.5).

He averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It is the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

Simmons' unwillingness to shoot – he passed on a wide-open dunk during the closing stages against the Hawks, instead passing to Matisse Thybulle – who was fouled and made just one of the two free throws, irked Embiid.

"I'll be honest," Embiid said after the game. "I thought the turning point was when we - I don't know how to say it - but I thought the turning point was just we had an open shot and we made one free throw.

"We didn't get a good possession on the other end and Trae [Young] came back and he made a three and then from there down four, it's on me. I turned the ball over and tried to make something happen from the perimeter. But I thought that was the turning point."

Having reportedly considered the idea of using Simmons as part of a deal to prise James Harden from the Houston Rockets in January before the former MVP eventually joined the Brooklyn Nets, Morey has a decision to make with the 76ers in the win-now window.

Doc's Game 7 woes continue

Is Rivers the man to complete the process for the 76ers?

A proven winner with Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics, Rivers landed on his feet following his exit from the Los Angeles Clippers, named All-Star coach after guiding the 76ers to a 49-23 record atop the east, ahead of the star-studded Nets and Milwaukee Bucks.

With Doc on the sidelines, Embiid vaulted himself to within a whisker of the MVP as the 76ers clinched the easiest path to the Conference Finals. After a humiliating series sweep to the Celtics in the opening round inside the bubble at Walt Disney World Resort the previous year, things looked on the up for Philly.

 

However, it was an all too familiar story for Rivers. His team collapsed.

Rivers suffered a fourth consecutive Game 7 defeat to tie the longest streak ever by an NBA head coach, after former Sacramento Kings and Rockets coach Rick Adelman also lost four in a row from 2002 to 2009.

The 76ers blew an 18-point lead in Game 4 against the Hawks before surrendering a 26-point advantage at home to Atlanta in Game 5. That came after Doc's Clippers somehow squandered a 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets in 2020.

"Listen, this team last year got swept in the first round. We had a chance to go to the Eastern finals. I'm not gonna make this into a negative year,” Rivers said.

Rivers has 29 losses with a chance to clinch a playoff series – the most defeats by a coach in NBA history. His 34.1 win percentage is the worst ever among coaches with 20-plus games.

The 59-year-old is under the microscope on the back of this latest failure, having not progressed past the second round of the playoffs since the 2012 postseason in Boston.

Verdict: Revolution

Morey and general manager Elton Brand have their work cut out this offseason, with Simmons' future at the top of the list.

Despite a horrendous playoff series, there is still plenty of value around Simmons. A host of teams are already reportedly circling, and there is a general consensus that it is time for player and franchise to go their separate ways.

Simmons could do with a change of scenery and the 76ers could use a legitimate shooter/scorer. Now it is up to Morey to weave his magic and supplement Embiid's MVP-calibre ability. Damian Lillard, perhaps? What about Bradley Beal?

Then there is Philadelphia's bench and depth. The 76ers ranked 13th in the NBA for points per game from their reserves (37.3). It remains to be seen whether the likes for Furkan Korkmaz will still be around come tip-off in 2021-22, so boosting the team's bench and three-point shooting is paramount if Philly are to get beyond the second round and complete the process.

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard has requested a trade, saying he does not feel "valued or respected" by the team.

Two-time Pro Bowler Howard reported to training camp on Tuesday but is unhappy that his contract has not been reworked.

The 28-year-old is just two years into the five-year, $75million extension that he signed in 2019. 

At the time that made him the highest-paid NFL corner but he is due a salary of $12m this year, $2m less than his fellow Miami corner Byron Jones.

Jones was signed in a big free agent deal last year, agreeing terms on a five-year, $82.5m pact to lure him from the Dallas Cowboys.

Howard does not feel the difference is fair after his recent performances which included a fine 2020 season.

Last year he was named a first-team All-Pro after recording 10 interceptions for the improving Dolphins, who finished 10-6 for their joint-best record since they last won the AFC East in 2008.

While Howard is not seeking a new deal, he has requested changes to the existing contract that he says have not been agreed by Miami.

"I don't feel valued, or respected, by the Dolphins," Howard, who has recently changed agents, said in a statement. 

"I've played on that deal for two seasons and didn't complain, but everyone knows I completely outperformed that deal.

"I'm one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and the tape backs up that claim. Yet, I'm the second highest paid cornerback on my own team, and it's not even close.

"We wanted to work things out with the Dolphins and brought solutions to the table – like guaranteeing more money – that we felt were win-wins for both sides.

"But the Dolphins refused everything we proposed.

"Just like they can take a business-first approach, so can I. That's why I want to make it clear I'm not happy and have requested a trade.

"Until that trade happens I am just here so I don't get fined, and will handle myself like professionals do."

Howard has spent his whole career with Miami since being drafted in the second round back in 2016.

He was a second-team All Pro in 2018, which was a year where – like in 2020 – he led the NFL in interceptions and made the Pro Bowl.

A memorable season

With 10 interceptions and 20 passes defended, Howard recorded two career highs in those headline statistics.

Per Stats Perform advanced data, Howard's adjusted open percentage – which measures how frequently an opponent got open against a defender's coverage, adjusted for position – was 25.19, almost a full percentage point better than that of Jones (26.16) in 2020.

When it comes to burns – when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted regardless of whether the pass is catchable – Howard also had a significant edge in burn yards per target.

Though Howard was not exactly impressive in that category either, giving up an average of 11.12 while playing on the outside, that number is likely more reflective of how often the Dolphins left him in single coverage.

Indeed, Howard's average depth of target of 14.5 yards speaks to the frequency with which he was given the task of staying in tight coverage with a receiver downfield.

The Dolphins are not flush with cap room but, in a year where the team will be expected to make a year-three leap under head coach Brian Flores, Howard was expected to be key.

With a league-leading 18 interceptions over the past three seasons, Howard is a playmaker the Dolphins need on the field and motivated if they are to challenge in the AFC, so the team's response will be closely watched.

Primoz Roglic eased to an emphatic time trial victory to clinch gold at the Tokyo Olympics, claiming Slovenia's first gold medal in any cycling discipline.

Roglic was pipped to the post in the 2020 Tour de France, when compatriot Tadej Pogacar stole a march on him in the final time trial.

The Jumbo-Visma rider's attempts to wrest the title away from Pogacar proved fruitless this year, as he suffered a huge crash early on in the race and was eventually forced to abandon.

He did not make the podium in Saturday's road race, Pogacar taking that honour for Slovenia, but Roglic hit back with a supreme display on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old finished the 44.2km course in a time of 55:04, more than a minute ahead of his nearest rival, Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands.

Roglic was never out of the top two. He led by 0.04 seconds after 15km, yet had dragged that lead out to 42.34 seconds at the 37km time check.

Rohan Dennis got the bronze, becoming the second Australian to win a medal in both road and track cycling, after Kathy Watt in 1992.

Dumoulin, a Jumbo-Visma team-mate of Roglic, became the first Dutchman to win two Olympic medals on the road, following his time trial silver in Rio.

Pre-event favourite Wout van Aert of Belgium was unable to keep the pace and finished down in sixth, while world TT champion Filippo Ganna had to settle for fifth.

TWO UP FOR SLOVENIA

Pogacar decided not to push himself for Wednesday's event, making Roglic Slovenia's hope, and he certainly delivered with what was a brilliant display of power.

Roglic's gold was Slovenia's first in cycling and the European nation's second at these Games, following Benjamin Savsek's success in the men's canoe slalom on Monday, equalling their best tally at a Games, which came in Sydney 21 years ago.

Dumoulin's silver, meanwhile, brought up the Netherlands' seventh medal of Wednesday. It has equalled their most successful single day (August 11, 1928) at a Games.

Team GB's two-time gold medallist Geraint Thomas finished 12th, capping a frustrating week after he crashed out of the road race.

"It was tough," the Welshman told BBC Sport. "I tried to start at a pace that we thought would be there or thereabouts for a medal. Then I heard I was 50 seconds down on Roglic which wasn't great for morale.

"It's been a super hard five weeks and it just seems to be one thing after the next. I just need to stay positive and try to keep going."

VAN VLEUTEN GETS GOLD, VAN DER BREGGEN GOES OUT ON A HIGH

Two of Dumoulin's countrywomen contributed to the Netherlands' medal count on Wednesday, with Annemiek van Vleuten finally claiming gold.

The 38-year-old thought she had won the road race on Saturday, but was mistaken. However, there was no such error on this occasion, as she won by over a minute on the 22.1km course.

She is the third-oldest woman to win an Olympic gold for the Netherlands, after dressage rider Anky van Grunsven (aged 40 years, 230 days) and rower Marit van Eupen (38y, 326d), with that duo winning in Beijing in 2008.

After her silver medal on Saturday, Van Vleuten is the sixth female cyclist to claim a podium place in the road race and the individual time trial at the Games.

Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten finally has an Olympic gold medal after obliterating the field in the time trial.

She won by nearly a minute over the 22.1km course, with Switzerland's Marlen Reusser in silver and Van Vleuten's team-mate Anna van der Breggen claiming the bronze.

Marlen Reusser of Switzerland finished second, while Anna van der Breggen boosted the Netherlands' count with a bronze – her third Olympic medal.

A surprised Van der Breggen was initially disappointed with her effort, but it was enough to ensure the Netherlands claimed multiple medals in a cycling event at the Games for the first time.

"There's not so much of a story. The time trial did not feel so good. It was not my best time trial. I thought it was nothing, and in the end it was a bronze medal, so I'm really happy to have a medal," she said.

The medal caps off a stellar career for Van der Breggen, who is retiring at the end of the season.

"A bronze medal is a great way to finish this all. It's my third Olympic medal and that makes me proud," she added. "I can look back on many great races and on a great career."

Netherlands' Annemiek van Vleuten finally ended her hunt for an Olympic gold as the 38-year-old triumphed in the women's time trial on Wednesday.

Van Vleuten's confusion in the road race made headlines over the weekend as she celebrated when crossing the line in second place, thinking she had won.

However, it was Anna Kiesenhofer – who is currently without a professional team – who triumphed, having forged a breakaway with 40 kilometres remaining; Van Vleuten failing to realise the Austrian had finished well ahead.

Yet Van Vleuten, who looked set to win gold in Rio only to crash out on the final approach, finally clinched the top prize, and despite her veteran status, she is determined to push for more.

"I think it will sink in tonight maybe, not at the moment," said Van Vleuten, who became the second Dutch cyclist to win the individual time trial at the Games, after Leontien van Moorsel in 2000 and 2004.

"My story started in Rio but the story has not ended yet, because I will not stop. But this is really beautiful. It makes it extra beautiful... extra beautiful."

She also insisted she never lost faith in her ability, despite her troubles.

"I knew after the road race that I was in really good shape, and no one believed. They were talking about different stuff but not about my performance, but in my heart I knew that my preparation had been optimal and that I was in really good shape here," Van Vleuten added.

"If you know that you're really close to the gold sometimes you tend to think only about the mistakes you can make on this quite technical course, about the corners, about if it starts to rain or it's slippery, or that you make a mistake.

"But I was in a good flow today and I was not thinking about mistakes. I was turning it around, like, 'Where can I gain time?'"

Van Vleuten, at the age of 38 years and 293 days, is the third-oldest women to win Olympic gold for the Netherlands.

She finished ahead of Marlen Reusser and compatriot Anna van der Breggen, who equalled Van Moorsel as the Dutch cyclist with the most Olympic medals (three).

Los Angeles Dodgers' star Cody Bellinger produced an unbelievable error gifting the San Francisco Giants a decisive run in their 2-1 victory in the MLB on Tuesday.

With scores locked at 1-1 after the sides traded runs in the fifth and sixth innings, Bellinger inexplicably threw several feet over third baseman Justin Turner, allowing Buster Posey in for the go-ahead run.

Bellinger is normally at center field but was moved to first base to ease the stress on his sore hamstring, but that came back to bite the Dodgers.

At the bottom of the eighth, Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen had walked Posey and Mike Yastrzemski, before Darin Ruf grounded to second baseman Max Muncy who threw to Bellinger for an out.

But then the first baseman opted to send the ball to third to try out Posey, only to deliver a costly wayward throw.

"I don’t know how I would have thrown it that high. It was a horrible throw," Bellinger said. "I’ll go back and watch it on video and see what happened on that play.”

 

Home runs for Ohtani and Tatis

Shohei Ohtani's Los Angeles Angels may have lost 12-3 to the Colorado Rockies at home but he provided a highlight with a two-run home run in the fifth inning with his side 10-0 down.

The homer registered 110.4 mph exit velocity and a projected distance of 463 feet. It was also Ohtani's league-high 36th home run this season.

Fernando Tatis Jr also homered, bringing up his 31st of the season, with a two-run shot in the San Diego Padres' 7-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics. The Padres were trailing 3-0 at the time.

Eloy Jimenez creamed a decisive three-run homer which travelled 459 feet to lift the Chicago White Sox to a 5-3 triumph over the Kansas City Royals.

Bryce Harper hit a rare inside-the-park home run as the Philadelphia Phillies lost 6-4 to the Washington Nationals.

Joey Votto was feeling it as he hit two home runs as the Cincinnati Reds won 7-4 over the Chicago Cubs.

 

Diamondbacks downed by struggling Rangers

The Texas Rangers ended their 10-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, who continue to struggle. The Diamondbacks allowed all five runs in the fourth inning and slump to a 31-71 record, having only won 12 games on the road from 53, which is the best worst away record in the majors.

 

Riley's six-RBI game

Austin Riley hit a grand slam and a two-run home run as the Atlanta Braves won 12-5 over the New York Mets. The third baseman moved up to 19 homers for the season, recording his second-ever career grand slam, totalling six RBI for the game.

Tuesday's results

Washington Nationals 6-4 Philadelphia Phillies
Milwaukee Brewers 9-0 Pittsburgh Pirates
Miami Marlins 7-3 Baltimore Orioles
Atlanta Braves 12-5 New York Mets
New York Yankees 4-3 Tampa Bay Rays
St Louis Cardinals 4-2 Cleveland Indians
Texas Rangers 5-4 Arizona Diamondbacks
Cincinnati Reds 7-4 Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox 5-3 Kansas City Royals
Detroit Tigers 6-5 Minnesota Twins
Colorado Rockies 12-3 Los Angeles Angels
San Francisco Giants 2-1 Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres 7-4 Oakland Athletics
Houston Astros 8-6 Seattle Mariners

 

Dodgers at Giants

Two of the best meet on Wednesday when the San Francisco Giants (63-37), leaders in the National League, host reigning world champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers (61-41).

Katie Ledecky called on a source of inspiration close to home as she ended her wait for a gold at the Tokyo Games with victory in the women's 1500m freestyle final.

Ledecky, who Olympic great Micheal Phelps hailed as "the best female swimmer that we have ever seen", had endured a frustrating start to the Games, failing to defend the 200 metre and 400m free golds which she won at Rio 2016.

Australia's Ariarne Titmus has instead enjoyed the breakthrough to stardom this time around, but Ledecky finally struck gold in Tokyo as she powered to glory in the maiden women's 1500m event.

It took her total of Olympic golds to six – the 24-year-old becoming the fourth female swimmer to reach that mark, after compatriots Jenny Thompson (eight) and Amy van Dyken (six), and Germany's Kristin Otto (six).

Ledecky, who clocked in at 15:37.34, is also just the fourth American woman to claim six golds, after Thompson, Van Dyken and Allyson Felix.

Erica Sullivan clinched silver to seal a one-two for Team USA, and Ledekcy revealed her thought process following a disappointing fifth-place finish in the 200m race.

"After the 200, I knew I had to turn the page very quickly and in the warm-down pool I was just thinking of my family," said Ledecky, who has now won gold medals at three different Games, following success in London, at the age of 15, and Rio.

"Each stroke I was thinking of my grandparents. They're the toughest four people I know and that's what helped me get through that.

“It means a lot. People maybe feel bad that I'm not winning everything, but I want people to be more concerned about other things in the world. People are truly suffering. I'm just proud to bring home a gold medal to Team USA.”

Sullivan's silver handed the USA's first one-two finish in a women's swimming race since Sydney 2000, when Brooke Bennett and Diana Munz wrapped up the top prizes in the 400m freestyle.

“I'm so happy to go one-two with Erica," Ledecky added. "It is the first women's 1500m (freestyle in Olympic history) so I couldn’t have a better outcome than that. I’m so, so happy."

Sarah Kohler completed the podium to become the first German swimmer to win an Olympic medal since 2008.

One of the enduring images of Tokyo 2020 will be the sight of Dean Boxall's exuberant celebrations after Ariane Titmus won an epic women's 400 metres freestyle race.

It was the sheer joy and exuberance on the face of the rock-star looking coach as he wildly revelled in the momentous achievement of his pupil, who had just toppled the great Katie Ledecky in the most sensational fashion.

"I can't help it. I bleed with my athletes. When they leave the pool deck with me – whether I'm having a chat with them for an hour if it has to be – but when they leave, they have to start the recovery process and go home. They switch off. I don't. I go home and dream for them. I go home and try and find a way for them to get better," Boxall explained after he had gone viral on social media.

Titmus herself saw the funny side.

"That's just the way Dean is," she said. "He's very passionate about what he does – he really becomes quite animated.

"This is just as much for him as it is for me. He has sacrificed a lot in his family life, his kids and his wife, for his job. He puts 100 per cent into being a swimming coach. I would not be here without him."

But it was something else Boxall said that really went furthest to explaining his emotional display.

"I've been with her for five years. Having a dream together. Katie was so far in front of us that in the beginning when I started to coach her I couldn't even have this conversation," he said.

"When Arnie came to me she was a 4.12 [in the 400m]. At that stage Katie went 3.56. That's 16 seconds. We just started chipping away, we started to believe."

From a dream, to belief, to the reality of being an Olympic champion.

On Wednesday, Titmus would confirm her status as a breakout star of Tokyo 2020 with another victory in the 200m free filled with fight, desire and a never-say-die attitude.

Billed as Titmus versus Ledecky II, there was a sense of deja vu about Litmus' performance but another battle with her equally brilliant rival – now a six-time gold medallist over three Games after winning the first ever Olympics women's 1500m race – failed to transpire as the American could only finish fifth.

Instead it was Hong Kong's Siobhan Haughey who brought the very best out of Titmus. It took a huge effort down the final 50m to break the Olympics record in a time of 1:53.50.

At the medal ceremony there were tears and a warm embrace with Boxall, the emotion spilling out of this cool customer after becoming just the third Australian, along with Shane Gould and Ian Thorpe, to complete a 200 and 400m free double at a single Olympics.

"I feel like I'm pretty good at containing my emotion I knew that's something I had to do after the 400 because the 200 was right after," Titmus told a news conference after doubling up.

"Now that I haven't got a swim tonight I think I kind of let it out a bit, seeing him [Boxall] and seeing him emotional makes me emotional because this is a great partnership, this isn't just me winning, this is him winning so I think that's why I got so emotional."

For the uninitiated, this week is not the first time Titmus has triumphed over Ledecky, the 20-year-old from Tasmania having taken out the gold at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju.

But Ledecky, who had won the 200 and 400m free at Rio in 2016, had been contending at that meet with a stomach virus and prior to this week it was far from certain where the golds were headed.

Titmus has emphatically answered the question, though, and it is her personable qualities that have made her resonate this week.

So too have the ferocity, tenacity and sheer awesome speed of her performances.

The Aquatics Centre, as Titmus herself adhered to when addressing the media, provides about as close to a normal experience as you're likely to find at Tokyo 2020. While there are still swathes of empty seats in this 15,000 capacity venue, there are areas designated to team-mates and coaches – all cheering, chanting and applauding to create at least some semblance of an Olympics atmosphere. 

But it is Litmus' displays that have brought true electricity, not only to the pool but for the Games at large.

Two more chances at gold lie in wait in the 800m (where Ledecky, a gifted long-distance swimmer, is favourite) and the 4x200m freestyle relay.

Regardless of what happens in those races, a new star has been born.

Alex Ovechkin’s pursuit of the NHL’s all-time record for goals scored will continue with the only franchise he has ever played for after the Washington Capitals re-signed their captain to a five-year, $47.5 million contract on Tuesday.

Ovechkin, drafted first overall by the Capitals in 2004, is the franchise leader in games played (1,197), goals (730) and points (1,320) since making his NHL debut in 2005-06. He led the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup championship in 2018.

Ovechkin’s $124 million, 13-year contract was set to expire before NHL free agency officially begins on Wednesday.

''Alex is the face of our franchise and is committed to this organisation and this city,'' Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. '

"'Alex embodies what our franchise is all about, and we're thrilled that he will continue his career in the Caps uniform for the next five years.''

Ovechkin’s 730 career goals rank sixth all-time behind Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801), Jaromir Jagr (766), Brett Hull (741) and Marcel Dionne (731).

Now signed through the 2025-26 season, Ovechkin – who turns 36 in September – would have to average nearly 33 goals per season during the life of his new contract to surpass Gretzky

Manchester United have improved to the extent they are ready to win trophies, according to star playmaker Bruno Fernandes.

The Red Devils finished runners-up in the Premier League last season, recording consecutive top-four finishes for the first time since 2013, but suffered shoot-out heartbreak against Villarreal in the Europa League final.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has strengthened the team ahead of the new season, securing the services of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund and agreeing a deal for the transfer of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid.

With upgrades in two areas of need, Fernandes, who scored 18 times and provided 12 assists in the league last term, is excited by the threat United could pose next season.

"Obviously I think, as always, we have a chance to win whatever we want, or wherever we try to win, because I think last season unluckily for us we don't get to win any trophies," said Fernandes, who led the Premier League by creating 95 chances in 2020-21.

"We get to the final of Europa League but unluckily we don't win. But, still, with the transfers or without the transfers, Manchester United will always be a tough opponent, we will try to win every competition we are included in."

Fernandes netted 28 times for United in all competitions, the best return by a midfielder for a Premier League club in a single campaign, surpassing Frank Lampard's 27 for Chelsea in 2009-10.

If the United star needs more help from his team-mates, he expects it will follow in the coming campaign.

"I'm proud of what we have done because of course we want to win trophies and we know we have the chance, and we have the capacity to win trophies," he added.

"But I see an improvement on the team, on the mentality of the team, on the quality of the team.

"And I think the team will improve more this season and we are going up, better and better, day by day, and now this is a new season, a new chance to win something and to do something different."

Manchester United have confirmed they have reached an agreement in principle with Real Madrid for defender Raphael Varane.

With only 12 months remaining on his Madrid contract, Varane has been allowed to join the Red Devils.

United are reported to be paying a fee of £42.7million (€50m) to secure the transfer, which is subject to a medical and terms being finalised with the player.

Having recently brought in Jadon Sancho, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is poised to add one of the world's best defenders as United outspend their major European rivals ahead of the new season.

Varane is expected to sign a four-year deal and Solskjaer, who has cited defensive frailties as a problem throughout his tenure, fills yet another key position.

Having moved to Madrid in 2011 from Lens, Varane has a wealth of experience, winning three LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns as he has racked up over 350 appearances in the Spanish capital.

In the absence of Sergio Ramos for much of last season, Varane impressed again.

The centre-back ranked second among Madrid defenders in terms of both duels won (110) and interceptions (36) in LaLiga.

It was Varane's aerial presence that really shone through at the back and his 73 successful aerial duels were more than double the tallies of his defensive colleagues.

Indeed, out of all defenders in LaLiga to contest 20 or more aerial duels, Varane's success rate of 76 per cent was the best during the 2020-21 campaign.

That ability in the air will boost a United side lacking in that sense last term, despite Harry Maguire's expertise. Excluding penalties, only Leeds United (15) conceded more Premier League goals from set-pieces than United's 14.

 

Varane's vast experience even beyond his Madrid exploits should aid Solskjaer's side, too.

The defender has played 79 times for France, winning the World Cup in 2018 before playing in all four games at Euro 2020 on the way to Les Bleus' shock last-16 exit.

Varane was the only France defender who saw action and was not dribbled past by an opponent at the Euros, showing his talent on the ground as well as in the air.

With pace to get out of trouble, Varane appears an excellent foil for Maguire as United look to improve on last campaign's second-placed Premier League finish.

United finished 12 points behind rivals and champions Manchester City and will hope to have both Sancho and Varane available when they start their quest to bridge that gap against Leeds at Old Trafford on August 14.

Manchester United have confirmed they have reached an agreement in principle with Real Madrid for defender Raphael Varane.

With only 12 months remaining on his Madrid contract, Varane has been allowed to join the Red Devils.

United are reported to be paying a fee of £42.7million (€50m) to secure the transfer, which is subject to a medical and to player terms being finalised.

 

 

 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.