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Lauda ´a giant´ of Formula One, says former rival Andretti

Niki Lauda was “a giant” of Formula One who will leave a lasting legacy, according to his former world championship rival Mario Andretti.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that three-time world champion Lauda had died at the age of 70.

Andretti, who won his sole drivers’ title in 1978, one year after the second of Austrian Lauda’s triumphs, paid an emotional tribute to one of F1’s greats.

“Niki, to me, was a giant of our sport and he continued to contribute with Mercedes,” Andretti told Omnisport.

“Anytime I was at a Formula One race he is one that I would want to go and talk to. The other thing I always appreciate about Niki is that he called it as it is, he had a good feeling for things and in so many ways the man contributed – when he said something, you’d better listen.

“He was a giant and a good friend, I’ll miss him terribly and everyone will. I knew that he was ill after his lung transplant and there was a period we didn’t hear about him, but it’s still an absolute shock when I heard that he’d passed.”

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Lauda is perhaps best known for surviving a horrific crash that saw his Ferrari burst into flames during the 1976 season, returning to the track after missing only two races following an incident that left him with permanent scars.

American Andretti added: “He was strong, he was always driving for a top team and the record he has as a driver speaks for itself. 

“The way he came back after his incredible accident to me was so admirable. I don’t know anyone that could have done that as quickly as he did and he showed a lot of passion for his driving. He is a man that I can guarantee is admired by everyone.

“Some competitors like himself, you’re thinking he comes back and you have to fight another one but he was so welcomed with open arms after the courage he had demonstrated to come back after those horrible injuries.

“I admired him forever because of that. To come back and win the world championship again, he was one of a kind.

“Niki never dwelled on the negatives, he didn’t want anybody to feel sorry for him [when he returned to F1]. He was there to drive and that is the sort of character he was.

“He didn’t want any pity or understanding, he was a no-nonsense kind of guy and that’s what everybody loved about him – I certainly did.”

Andretti feels Lauda’s legacy stretches beyond his driving ability.

“Legacy is important and he was a real absolute asset in terms of the safety aspect of Formula One,” he said.

“We all came together and tried to push for improvements on that side and especially after his incident he became a hardened supporter of improving the safety of the circuits and cars. That is something that the entire racing community has benefited from over the years.

“He will never be forgotten, only appreciated for so many things and nobody can disagree with that.”

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CSS, Budapest, Day 1: Seebohm, Australian brand of success

Fourth, third, fourth. 50m back, 100m back, 200m back. Emily Seebohm, from Australia, will swim in Budapest (HUN)

the same three backstroke events than in Guangzhou (CHN), during the first leg of the 2019 “FINA Champions Swim Series”. But in a final of only four swimmers, she is aiming higher in the Magyar capital. “My goal here? To race better than what I did in China, and I don’t think that should be too hard… I came from a very hard training camp with Chad (Le Clos) and Sarah (Sjostrom). It was a tough preparation – almost two weeks there, so Budapest is a kind of test to see where I stand at the moment”.

The 26-year-old Australian (she was born on June 5, 1992) is one of the stars in the Duna Arena with the best roll of honour. She has a career that spans already for over a decade and success was often there, both in the 100m and 200m back, but also helping Australia in getting the top places in the 4x100m medley relay. Her first Olympic gold came precisely in that team race, at the 2008 Beijing Games. She was just 16.

From that moment on, she went on winning four more Olympic medals (including a silver in the 100m back in London 2012), 14 awards at the FINA World Championships and 10 podium presences at FINA’s short course showcase. She is the reigning world champion (50m) in the 200m back, after touching first in 2017 also in this Duna Arena. Two years before, she makes the double, with victories in the 100m and 200m back in Kazan (RUS). Her latest success at this level was her bronze medal at the Hangzhou 2018 FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in the 200m back. Moreover, Seebohm is a strong supporter of the FINA Swimming World Cup, being a regular (and very successful) presence in the circuit.

With such a strong trajectory, she will of course be one of the female swimmers to watch at the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju (KOR). “Before Korea, I have the Australian Swim Trials for the Worlds in about four weeks, and then I will actually know if I am going to South Korea or not. Then we have a training camp, we go to Japan, and from then to Gwangju”.

Photo by Istvan Derencsenyi

Throughout her career, Seebohm has a basic principle: to look at things as they come, step by step. “Tokyo 2020? For me, it’s this now, I’m focused solely on this. Then, I’ll go home and focus only on the Trials. I am just enjoying Swimming, having fun and being relaxed. That’s how you get your best results!”

The Australian is totally in favour of mixing show and sport in a swimming meet. This being one of the pillars of the “Champions Swim Series”, Seebohm would even like to take this philosophy beyond what is being presently proposed. “If I had to change something? Maybe yes… I would invite each swimmer to do something fun for 30 seconds or so… If they have another passion outside swimming, they could show that. It could be a way to see the other side of the swimmers’ experience”, she suggests.

On a more sportive perspective, the backstroker is quite happy with the competition format of the newest FINA event. “I enjoy the idea that it’s only four people, a one-off race. I think the pressure is less, but it makes it for a more intimate competition. You are in the call room with just three other people, laughing, talking and then getting this very serious mindset for a 30-second race, or one minute. It’s nice, because then you can go home and have dinner with these people also. It’s definitively more friendly than Worlds and Olympics”, Seebohm admits. “It’s quite weird to see only four blocks in the pool. I have many and good memories from Budapest and none of them involves only four blocks. It’s fun, it’s new, it’s exciting it’s the kind of thing we all want to develop and improve on”, she concludes.

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NHL awards 2019: Brent Burns, Mark Giordano,

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, the reigning Norris Trophy winner, has been named as a finalist for the third straight year, the NHL announced Sunday.

Joining Hedman as finalists are Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks and Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames.

The James Norris Memorial Trophy, first awarded in 1954, is given annually to the defenseman voted to have demonstrated the greatest all-around ability at the position throughout the season.

Hedman once again lived up to those qualifications. The 28-year-old veteran led Tampa Bay defensemen in several categories, including goals (12), assists (42), points (54) and game-winning goals (four). He scored at least 10 goals for a sixth straight season and had an NHL career-high seven-game point streak (two goals, eight assists) in March. The Lightning defense led the NHL with a plus-98 goal differential.

Burns, 34, led all NHL defenseman in assists (67), points (83), game-winning goals (six) and shots on goal (300). He became the first defenseman in Sharks history to have at least 60 assists in a season and the second player at any position to hit the mark, joining forward Joe Thornton, who has done it seven times.

The 35-year-old Giordano finished second among defensemen in scoring with 74 points (17 goals, 57 assists), his NHL career high, and led all players with a plus-39 rating. The Flames captain helped the team finish first in the Western Conference (50-25-7) and second in the NHL with a plus-66 goal differential. He is seeking to become only the fourth player 35 or older to win the Norris Trophy.

The NHL will continue rolling out all of its award finalists every day over the next week, culminating with the Hart Trophy nominees on April 28. The winners will be announced June 19.

Here is the schedule for all of the announcements, along with previously announced nominees.

NHL awards finalists announcement dates and nominees

  • April 17: Selke Trophy (Patrice Bergeron, Ryan O’Reilly, Mark Stone)
  • April 18: Lady Byng Trophy (Ryan O’Reilly, Aleksander Barkov, Sean Monahan)
  • April 19: Masterson Trophy (Nick Foligno, Robin Lehner, Joe Thornton)
  • April 20: Vezina Trophy (Ben Bishop, Andrei Vailevskiy, Robin Lehner)
  • April 21: Norris Trophy (Brent Burns, Mark Giordano, Victor Hedman)
  • April 22: Mark Messier Leadership Award
  • April 23: King Clancy Memorial Trophy (Humanitarian Award)
  • April 24: Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award
  • April 25: Ted Lindsay Award (Most Outstanding Player as voted by the players)
  • April 26: Jack Adams Award (Top head coach)
  • April 27: Calder Trophy (Top rookie)
  • April 28: Hart Trophy (Most Valuable player to his team)
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Two Evenly Matches Teams Meet in La Liga

 

The final match of the weekend in La Liga is played on Monday night between Leganes and Levante at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque.

This is an intriguing game as the teams look very evenly matched if the league table is anything to go by this season.  Leganes begin the weekend in 12th place with 30 points from their twenty-five games played and Levante are one place below them, with the same number of points but a slightly worse goal difference.

Leganes picked up a point in their previous La Liga match, holding Valencia to a 1-1 draw at homeThat result means they have lost only one of their last five games, picking up two wins and two draws.  The wins have come over Real Betis at home and Rayo Vallecano away.

The hosts have been very good at home and trend show Leganes are undefeated in their last twelve home games in all competitions.  They have won six of those matches, including three of the last five.  Leganes have scored at least one goal in each of their last twelve home matches and have kept a clean sheet in three of the last five.

Under 2.5 goals have been scored in seven of their last nine home La Liga games.

Levante make the trip to Leganes having lost 2-1 at home to Real Madrid. They will feel very hard done by following the award of a controversial penalty towards the end of the game which proved to be the decisive moment.

That defeat means Levante have won only one of their last five games in La Liga, suffering three defeats and one draw.  The win came over Celta Vigo away from home but there have been defeats to Sevilla and Deportivo Alaves, in addition to the loss against Real Madrid.

Trends show Levante have won only two of their last eleven La Liga matches and have lost five of their last six away from home.  They have had problems defending and Levante have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last nine away league games.

Levante have also struggled to score goals and prior to the win at Celta Vigo, they went three games without scoring a single goal in away La Liga matches.

Looking ahead to the team news and Leganes are without the suspended Youssef En-Nesyri.  Alexander Szymanowski, Ezequiel Muñoz and Javier Avilés are back in training and could feature in the game.

Levante also have a man suspended and Rubén Rochina will miss out.  There are doubts over Coke and Tono and Sergio Postigo and Cheick Doukoure will not feature due to injury.

This is a game both teams will see as being winnable but they could end up playing out a stalemate, with under 2.5 goal scored to share the points.

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Klopp: I don´t mind facing Manchester City in Champions League

Jurgen Klopp says he does not mind being drawn against Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, though he expects Liverpool to be the underdogs.

The Reds will host the Premier League’s runaway leaders at Anfield on April 4 before the return leg at the Etihad Stadium six days later.

An all-Premier League tie will capture the imagination, with Liverpool the only team to have beaten City in the top flight this season.

“I’ve said it before and it’s still the truth,” Klopp told Liverpool’s website. “It’s always common in a draw that you’ll get your neighbour, more or less, but to be honest I don’t mind, really.

“It is exactly like it was before – we take what we’ve got. Now it’s Manchester City, let’s go.

“We’ve lost once and we’ve won once against them in the league, and I don’t think [beforehand] they thought the best draw they could have got is Liverpool. That’s a sign for us and how strong we can be.

“We are for sure not the favourites in this round, but in the last eight there are not a lot of favourites – maybe two of them, Bayern [Munich] and Barcelona – but thank God it’s football and nothing is decided.

“We have a few games to play until then, but I am really looking forward to it and we will give it everything.”

City arguably have an advantage having been given the second leg at home, but Klopp – whose six wins against Pep Guardiola are more than any other manager – denied playing at Anfield first is a negative for his side.

“In this case, it’s not too important. For us, it’s completely normal,” Klopp said. “We can get a result at home for sure, but it’s obviously a difficult game – but good news for both teams.

“It is like it should be in the last eight. It was clear we would face a strong team. Now we have Man City. The good thing is they are the team we know most about. It’s not too cool for England because now only one team can go to the semis. But we will try everything.

“We are already looking forward to [the first leg]. And it’s a nice, short trip for our supporters when we go to City. I know our away fans are fantastic, so that will be a great atmosphere as well. They are two really good games and a big challenge for both sides – but that’s like it should be.”

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Valverde: Coutinho dropped for the good of Barcelona

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde said Philippe Coutinho was benched for the good of the team following the LaLiga leader’s victory at Eibar.

Despite being ineligible for Tuesday’s Champions League showdown with Chelsea following his arrival from fellow last-16 participants Liverpool, Coutinho was dropped for Barca’s 2-0 win on Saturday.

Coutinho – a €160million signing last month – started the goalless draw against Getafe but made way for Andres Iniesta as goals from Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba saw Barca equal a club record of 31 games unbeaten in LaLiga.

Explaining his decision to drop Coutinho, Valverde told reporters: “I think it was best for my team to try to win.

“Last week Coutinho started, Iniesta didn’t, so this week Iniesta started.

“It’s true that on Tuesday we have another match but for me the most important thing was this match.

“On Tuesday, let’s see, I know Coutinho cannot play, but we will do something.”

After ending a run of back-to-back draws, Barca moved 10 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid, who are scheduled to host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.