Monthly Archives: April 2019

Powell tries new regime to win elusive gold

The sprinter who held the 100m world record between 2005 and 2008 before compatriot Usain Bolt lowered it to 9.


58 seconds believes he can rediscover his form and improve his personal best of 9.72.

“Anything is possible. Justin Gatlin surprised me last year… he ran his personal best times of (9.77 & 19.68) at age 32,” said Powell, who ended 2014 as the fastest Jamaican with 9.87 seconds after serving a six-month drug suspension for using the banned stimulant Oxilofrine.

“I think I’m capable of doing a lot more than most of the sprinters out there… My best is yet to come, so it’s just to be patient,” said Powell who is eying gold at this year’s world championships in Beijing.

“I feel a lot stronger, I’m a lot more focussed and I think I’m smarter now, so I know what it takes to do it. It’s just to put myself out there and do what I’m supposed to do,” added the man who has run a world-record 84 times under 10 seconds. Powell’s brother Donovan, a 100m quarter-finalist at the 1997 world championships, is backing his 32-year-old sibling to add gold to his two bronze medals from 2007 and 2009.

“Nothing is impossible, 32 is the year you really get to put everything together,” he told Reuters.

“We are doing different things… He’s really working hard to achieve the 9.72 he ran a few years ago and I personally think if he keeps focussed and remains healthy, he can do it,” he said.

The fifth fastest man in history is set to run three 60m indoors before bidding for the elusive 100m world title.

“The main focus is the trials first because that is like a world championships by itself and then the world championships in China,” said Powell, in reference to the glut of Jamaican sprinters with sub-10 credentials. They include Bolt, Yohan Blake, Nesta Carter, Kemar Bailey-Cole and Nickel Ashmeade.

“I’m just trying to stay healthy, put in all the hard work and make sure that I stay focussed and just win the gold (in Beijing),” Powell added.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Smug Saints smile as United rue fortunes

Having been pick-pocketed at home by Manchester United just five weeks ago, Southampton repaid the favour with a Premier League stealth job at Old Trafford on Sunday.


Dusan Tadic secured Saints’ first league win at United for 27 years, but it was Southampton’s granite defence which neutered Louis van Gaal’s expensive strike-force.

Sure enough, while Van Gaal simmered, his Southampton counterpart and fellow Dutchman Ronald Koeman beamed.

The sense of poetic justice, and of satisfaction, was palpable as the Saints returned to the south coast.

“Remember the first game at home – that gave us the luck to win this game,” Koeman said. “That game was the inspiration.”

Back in December, Robin van Persie scored twice in a match Southampton had bossed, to steal the points.

Skipper Jose Fonte sang a similar tune to Koeman.

“At home against them we dominated and we should have won and we didn’t,” he told the Saints website.

“At Old Trafford we were clever and we did the job.”

The win nudged Southampton above United into third spot in the league with 39 points from their opening 21 matches, 10 behind leaders Chelsea.

United slipped a spot to fourth after their first defeat in 12 games. They have 37 points.

Sitting in third, Southampton strike an incongruous pose. In the last 13 seasons, only Bolton Wanderers of the so-called smaller teams have been perched so high after 21 matches.

Bolton aside, those top three spots have been occupied by just six heavyweight clubs at this stage of the season since 2002-03 — Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Islamic State group ‘active in Afghan’

Afghan officials have confirmed for the first time that the extremist Islamic State group is active in the south, recruiting fighters, flying black flags and, according to some sources, even battling Taliban militants.


The sources, including an Afghan general and a provincial governor, said a man identified as Mullah Abdul Rauf was actively recruiting fighters for the group, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.

General Mahmood Khan, the deputy commander of the army’s 215 Corps, said that within the past week residents of a number of districts in the southern Helmand province have said Rauf’s representatives are fanning out across the province to recruit people.

“A number of tribal leaders, jihadi commanders and some ulema (religious council members) and other people have contacted me to tell me that Mullah Rauf had contacted them and invited them to join him,” Khan said.

But he said the Taliban, which is active across Helmand and controls some districts, have warned people not to contact Rauf.

Rauf was a corps commander during the Taliban’s 1996-2001 rule of Afghanistan, according to Amir Mohammad Akundzada, the governor of Nimroz province neighbouring Helmand, who said he is related to Rauf but has not seen him for almost 20 years.

Both Khan and Akundzada said Rauf was arrested after the fall of the Taliban in the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and was detained for years at Guantanamo Bay.

“People are saying that he has raised black flags and even has tried to bring down white Taliban flags in some areas,” said Saifullah Sanginwal, a tribal leader in Sangin district.

Some parts of Helmand have seen fierce fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces since US troops pulled out more than six months ago.

A video released online Saturday purports to show militants from both Afghanistan and Pakistan pledging support to IS.

Libya kidnappings ‘claimed by jihadists’

The Islamic State group’s branch in Libya has claimed the abduction of 21 Christians, a monitor has reported, as Egypt confirmed that 20 of its citizens were being held in the country.


“Urgent. Soldiers of the Islamic State captured 21 Christian crusaders,” the jihadists said in a statement picked up by the SITE Intelligence Group on Monday.

Three pictures showing several men were published alongside the terse statement, which did not specify when the men were abducted and did not reveal their nationality.

A spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry confirmed to AFP in Cairo that 20 Egyptians had been abducted in two separate incidents in neighbouring Libya. He did not say when they were kidnapped.

Badr Abdel Atti did not specify their religious affiliation but said seven Egyptians and 13 others abducted separately in Libya “are still being detained” by their captors.

The IS statement follows conflicting reports on the fates of two groups of Egyptian Coptic Christians reportedly abducted in recent weeks.

A source close to the Libyan government said on January 3 that Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia had kidnapped the 20 men in the city of Sirte over several days.

Two days later a tribal source said 13 of the men had been released and had in fact been detained by people smugglers but the information was never confirmed.

The IS statement, which does not list any demands for the release of the men, said they had been taken “in various areas of Tripoli Province” – referring to a former administrative region that includes Sirte.

The coastal city of Sirte is in the hands of Islamist militias including Ansar al-Sharia, which the UN last month added to its terror list over links to Al-Qaeda and for running IS training camps.

‘Muslim Birmingham’ remark draws mockery

A Fox News commentator’s remark about the British city of Birmingham being “totally Muslim” has been widely mocked on Twitter, while Prime Minister David Cameron called the expert a “complete idiot”.


Security analyst Steven Emerson said on Sunday that “non-Muslims just simply don’t go in” to the city, during a discussion of multiculturalism in Britain after last week’s Paris attacks.

“When I heard this, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fool’s Day. This guy is clearly a complete idiot,” Cameron told ITV News on Monday.

“What he should do is look at Birmingham and see what a fantastic example it is of bringing people together of different faiths, different backgrounds,” he said.

Emerson later apologised, saying it was a “beautiful city” and announcing that he would make a donation to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

According to the latest census data from 2011, 21.8 per cent of the city’s one million residents are Muslim – one of the highest proportions in Britain.

Bemused Britons – including locals known as “Brummies” – meanwhile mocked Emerson.

Under the hashtag #foxnewsfacts, user @chris_wilde tweeted a picture of a convoy of jihadists waving black Islamic State group flags with the quip: “Heavy traffic reported in Birmingham today”.

The 1980s Birmingham band Duran Duran have been forced to change their name to Quran Quran, joked @msalimkassam, while @petermoore said of the city’s landmark telecom tower: “Birmingham City Mosque is among the tallest and most sacred in all Islam”.

Another published a picture of Queen Elizabeth II in a kerchief reading: “In the UK, the Queen must wear a headscarf by law when she visits Birmingham.”

A third referred to Britain’s unpredictable climate, joking that Muslims were in fact controlling it: “In some places it’s Sunni, but mainly Shi’ite”.