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Meeke celebrates maiden WRC victory


Meeke celebrates maiden WRC victory


The Champagne corks were popping for Kris Meeke over the weekend after the Northern Irishman celebrated his first FIA world rally championship victory.

Argentina was the fourth round of the season and the event certainly lived up to its fierce reputation.

The suspension-shattering, tyre-exploding stop caused many drivers and cars many problems.

Championship leader Sebastien Ogier faded out of contention early on after fuel supply problems.

With Ogier down and almost out the rocky roads opened up for the rest and Meeke took full advantage.

An excellent start to the gruelling four-day rally saw Meeke and his solid Citroen DS power to the top of the standings.

It was a lead he expertly held on to to celebrate his first win and a first victory for a British driver since his friend and mentor – the late Colin McRae in 2002.

Under-the-weather Citroen team-mate Mads Ostberg took second while Elfyn Evans enjoyed his first ever podium finish with third place.

Valverde caps off fine week in Ardennes

It’s one of the Five Monuments of the UCI World Tour, not to mention the oldest classic on the cycling calendar.

The Liege-Bastogne-Liege celebrated it’s 101st edition and offered one rider the chance to cap off a stellar week in the Ardennes.

Alejandro Valverde stood proudly on top of the podium as the Spaniard completed a dominant week with victory.

The Movistar rider, who has just turned 35, placed second at the Amstel Gold Race the weekend before and then claimed his third Flèche Wallonne title the following Wednesday.

He ended his Ardennes visit in style.

On the final ascent in Liege he superbly controlled a blistering late attack by Dani Moreno of the Katusha team.

He then timed his sprint to perfection to distance the elite of the peloton and claim victory.

With the win Valverde becomes the second man after Swiss Ferdi Kübler in the 1950s to twice win the double, La Flèche Wallonne and the liege-bastogne-liege.

Beach volleyball season smashes into action

You know that summer is close when we start talking about beach volleyball.

The 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball season officially got underway last week in China and it turned out to be an event for first-time winners.

Markus Böckermann and Lars Flüggen flew the German flag high and proud by winning the men’s Fuzhou Open title.

The pair celebrated their maiden victory on the tour and did so in fine fashion.

They won their first gold courtesy of a 2-0 final victory over former world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen from the Netherlands.

Jamie Lyn Broder and Kristina Valjas also enjoyed a first triumph.

Having shocked US veterans Kerri Walsh and April Ross in the semis the Canadians then beat Germany’s Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude 2-0 for gold.

The next stop on the tour is the Lucerne Open staring 12 May.

Talking to Vishy

Viswanathan Anand is a five-time World champion and national treasure in his native India.

He was taught to play chess by his mother at the age of six.

Some 40-years later he has beaten the best, become India’s very first grandmaster in 1988, and is widely considered as one of the game’s greatest.

He is now part of a small elite group of eight players to break 2800 elo on the rating list.

‘‘It’s a job its a profession, but it’s also something I enjoy very much. And I don’t think i have lost the idea that I had as a kid, that chess is something that fascinates you,’‘ said Anand whose nickname is Vishy.

Having won all there is to win Anand still sets himself goals, breaking the 2800 mark is one.

‘‘It will be nice to break the 2800 again, somehow I’m swinging, I come very close then I swing back then I come very close again for quite some time already. Just very close to 2800, then again I play some really ridiculous games and then I go back,’‘ he said.

As well as playing tournaments Anand spends his time encouraging others to play chess – a game he believes can have a positive influence on children.

Anand said: ‘‘We have a big ‘Chess in Schools’ programme called the ‘NIIT mind champions academy’ and so far we have given children in 17 000 schools the chance to play chess.

‘‘One of the most important things chess teaches you is the ‘Touch move rule’ the idea that decisions have consequences, so I think that is a healthy process for children to have and learn and it automatically trains your memory.

‘‘These are good mental exercise. I believe strongly that children who play chess will also do better in school.’‘

Sidecar thriller

It consists of three-wheeled bikes, speeds of up to 190 miles an hour and moveable aerodynamic and traction control devices called passengers.

On today’s “Inside sport” we look at the impressive world of sidecar racing and the FIM sidecar world championship.

You may be new to the sport but the sport is far from new.

It is one of the original FIM road racing championship classes and started in 1949.

Nowadays it’s as fast and furious as ever, certainly in the elite F1 category.

Sidecars raced in the world championship are all hub centre long monocoque carbon fiber framed machines with 1,000 cc four-cylinder four-stroke engines.

The grand prix style bikes are low-slung and can reach staggering speeds.

The sport relies on technology and teamwork.

In order to help the driver keep that tight line his passenger deftly leaps across the back of the bike, applying his weight to maintain balance and control traction of the bike.

All of this takes place just inches above the asphalt making it dangerous for the team but thrilling for all who watch it.

This year’s FIM sidecar world championship is underway and having already raced at Donington Park and Le Mans, resumes in June with the third round at Grobnik in Croatia.

And the winner is…

We end Sports United this week with a clip of some of the winners from the inaugural SportAccord/Euronews awards that took place last week in Sochi. (see clip above)

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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