Game on!

SportLatest sports news, reviews and interviews

News in brief
All-Africa Games
Fifty years after its birth, the All-Africa Games are coming ‘home’ to Congo from 4-19 September. It was Brazzaville that staged the inaugural Games in 1965, when 30 countries and 2500 athletes took part.

Twenty-two sports and 54 countries will be represented this time, including two additional disability sports in athletics and swimming, and the event has certainly grown. In Mozambique four years ago, for instance, just under 5000 athletes took part.

This will be the eleventh Games. They have overcome a difficult start. The Mali edition was cancelled due to a military coup in 1969 and several other of the early events suffered similar problems. Now they form a major part of the African sporting calendar. To date, 48 nations have won at least a single medal in the All-Africa Games, with Egypt topping the table. In the inaugural games Kenya finished third, winning eight gold medals, and they are hoping to do even better this time.

Kenya are aiming to make it six in a row when the Berlin Marathon is staged in Germany on 27 September. Kenyans have dominated the race in recent years, producing the last five winners of the men’s race. Dennis Kimetto famously won in 2014, breaking the world record in the process, and is hoping to retain his title.

It’s a big month for running in Kenya. Highlights include: the Jaramongi Oginga Odinga Memorial 10km Road Race, Bondo, on 5 September; the UAP Ndakaini Half Marathon, Thika, on 12 September; and the Mombasa International Marathon on 27 September.

One-to-one with Xavi Hernandez
Spanish legend Xavi Hernandez (pictured above), who spent 20 glorious years at Barcelona winning every possible trophy, recently stunned football when he announced he would be leaving the Nou Camp and signing for Qatari side Al Sadd. The 35-year-old midfielder is now preparing for a new challenge and being hailed as the greatest ever signing for Qatari football. We caught up with him to find out what was behind the move.

Why did you decide to leave Barcelona? What do you expect from your time in Qatar?
”In football there is always a time to go and mine is now. It’s been emotional but I am also very attracted to a new adventure in Qatar. It’s a different world with many challenges. I’m certainly not going there for a holiday.”

What does it feel like to be the biggest name ever to sign for Al Sadd?
”I am very, very proud to be part of Al Sadd Football Club. I hope I will be able to lift all titles with this very important club and continue with my achievements. There’s no doubt it’s an amazing project and all the Qatari people are working to achieve great results.
“I would also like to learn a new culture of football and I hope that I will be able to learn so many things not only about football but also about Arab culture.”

What a great way to end you Barca career – with victory over Juventus in the Champions League Final!
“For me this was a very special match because it was my goodbye after many years in Barcelona, which has been my life and my home. My dream was to play and win the Champions League for the supporters one last time before I left. And it came true. Now I have to think of new challenges ahead.”

What’s on in September…
6-13 CYCLING – Tour of Britain

6  FORMULA 1 – Italian Grand Prix

7-12 WRESTLING – World Championships, Las Vegas

13 ATHLETICS – Great North Run, England

15-20 TRIATHLON – World Championships, Chicago

16-20 SLALOM CANOEING – World Championships, Lee Valley, London

16-23 TAEKWONDO  – World Championship, Chelyabinsk, Russia

18-20 TENNIS – Davis Cup semi-finals

18-20 GOLF – Solheim Cup, Germany

18/9-31/10 RUGBY – Rugby World Cup, UK

19-27 CYCLING  –  Road World Championships, Richmond, USA

20 MARATHON  –  Cape Town Marathon, SA

20 FORMULA 1  –  Singapore Grand Prix

27 FORMULA 1  – Japanese Grand Prix

27 MARATHON  – Berlin Marathon

Buy of the month
Gilbert 2015 Rugby World Cup Official Ball
Inspired by watching the Rugby World Cup in the UK this month? Well, you’re going to need a ball to follow in your heroes’ footsteps! In that case it has to be the official hand-stitched, pre-kicked Gilbert match ball which features ‘multi-matrix 3D grip’. If you’re quick enough there is a limited edition boxed option which includes a printed number on the ball and a certificate. It costs £99.99 in the UK.