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Bielsa says future on the line after Leeds defeat

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Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa has accepted responsibility for his team’s failure to qualify for the Championship (second-tier) playoff final, saying their 4-2 defeat by Derby County on Wednesday has raised doubts about his future as head coach.

Leeds let a 1-0 first-leg semi-final lead slip at home against Frank Lampard’s Derby and lost 4-3 on aggregate over the two legs to end their hopes of Premier League promotion.

Bielsa, whose contract runs until the end of the 2019-20 season, was coy about his future when asked if he would stay at the club.

“There have been mistakes and that leads to doubts about the head coach,” the 63-year-old Argentine told reporters. “It’s not convenient to talk about this point right now.

“You know about this process. If the club offers me the possibility to carry on, I will listen to their proposal.”

Leeds’ last Premier League stint ended in 2004 and the West Yorkshire club were on course for automatic promotion this season before running out of steam in the final months of the campaign.

Bielsa’s side were top of the Championship standings in February, but lost six of their last 13 games and finished third behind Norwich City and Sheffield United, which consigned them to the playoff battle for the final promotion spot.

“If you have the resources to reach something and you don’t reach it, if you face the difficulties you have to face and you have the possibility to reach the goal and you don’t reach it, we have to assume the worst possibility,” Bielsa added.

“I couldn’t find a solution… and it’s my job to find solutions. There was a loss of control. As managers, we should provide a solution, giving strong structures, but we had 20 minutes of disorder.”

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Derby face Aston Villa in the playoff final at Wembley on May 27.

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Fun runner Thuo’s 2:59 marathon challenge to benefit vulnerable families

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By ELIAS MAKORI

David Thuo has achieved what most of Kenya’s elite runners haven’t: Running all but one of the World Marathon Majors (WMM) races.

With six big city marathons making up the circuit, Thuo, has completed five — in Boston, New York, London, Chicago and Berlin.

The Wilson Airport-based aircraft engineer was to complete his collection of WMM medals in Tokyo last March, but the race in Japan’s capital was called off as the coronavirus reared its ugly head.

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He still has Tokyo in his cross hairs, a befitting celebration of 20 years of fun running and fitness by the engineer.

On Monday, Thuo will take on a different challenge: To run the marathon in under three hours.
Never mind that his personal best over the 42-kilometre distance is already a sub-three hour time (2:38 in last year’s Berlin Marathon), the 43-year-old father of three’s challenge will have the extra drive of raising funds for charity.

Benefit over 20 families

Dubbed the “Kahara Madaraka Day Sub-3 Challenge Attempt,” Thuo’s initiative might not be as grand as Eliud Kipchoge’s Ineos 1:59 Challenge, but it will benefit over 20 vulnerable families.

“We have run many times for charities abroad, and I thought it would be important for us to direct this energy to helping out in Kenya to help families that have, for instance, been unable to pay rent due to the coronavirus pandemic,” the much-travelled Thuo explained on Sunday as he prepared for today’s challenge.

Raising resources

“Some friends and family members have pledged Sh500 per kilometre for each of the 42.2 kilometres if I run the tough route in under three hours, and half of that amount if I miss the mark,” he adds.

“Others have pledged Sh500 for each kilometre run under four minutes, but only if I hit the sub-three mark.”

Already, Thuo, who trains with his wife Ann, has raised rent for a few families up to next month.

Monday’s challenge, to be run at Ngong, is aimed at raising resources to help the over 20 families in need under the “Adopt a family initiative.”

“This initiative is headed by a committee made up of runners but welcomes all well-wishers to support,” he appeals.

“Identify needy cases around you, share with committee for evaluation…”

The challenge will start at 6am at Kahara, Ngong, which Thuo describes as “a beautiful, undulating and tough training route which is the Nairobi equivalent of Iten and Kaptagat and has produced many world record holders.”

He prefers the area also because it’s not too populates and enhances social distancing.

“Running a marathon under three hours is a great achievement for any recreational runner, and the few who have achieved this feat have done so at altitudes near sea level,” he explains.

Thuo’s challenge will be streamed live from 6am on his Fitness with David page, with further details on how to contribute to the cause found on www.davidthuo.com.

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Footballer makes protest by taking a knee in Bundesliga

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By AFP

BERLIN

Marcus Thuram joined an array of sporting personalities in protesting racism in the United States when he took a knee after scoring for Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

Thuram’s gesture echoed past protests by National Football League players in the US in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The issue has surged back into the headlines following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Thuram’s gesture was the second protest in the Bundesliga this weekend.

The 22-year-old French striker continued his recent hot form with two goals as Borussia Moenchengladbach beat visiting Union Berlin 4-1.

Because of social distancing rules, goal celebrations were muted but after Thuram headed his team’s second goal just before half time he took the opportunity to make a solitary statement, kneeling and bowing his head.

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At half time, his club tweeted a photo with the caption: “No explanation needed.”

After the game, Gladbach coach Marco Rose said Thuram had his backing.

“Marcus has made the point. He has set an example against racism that we all support,” Rose said.

Thuram, whose father, French World Cup winner Lilian runs the Education against Racism foundation in Paris, was the latest show of solidarity with the current protests sweeping the United States.

In the Bundesliga on Saturday, Schalke’s US midfielder Weston McKennie wore an armband against Werder Bremen bearing the words “Justice for George”.

“To be able to use my platform to bring attention to a problem that has been going on to long feels good!!!” he tweeted.

On Saturday, in the United States, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said there “remains an urgent need for action” as violent protests rocked the country.

“The protesters’ reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel,” Goodell said. “As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league.”

Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown returned to his native Georgia to lead a peaceful protest match in Atlanta

“I drove 15 hours to get to Georgia, my community,” Brown said. “Being a celebrity, being an NBA player, don’t exclude me from no conversations at all. First and foremost, I’m a black man and I’m a member of this community.”

NBA star LeBron James was among those who contrasted pictures of police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck with the kneeling protests of former NFL star Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

Kaepernick, who was ostracized by the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem in protest against racial injustice, has launched a fund to pay for legal representation for protesters who need it.

Serena Williams tweeted a video by Nike, which also sponsors Kaepernick, picking out the line: “Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America.”

Two-time Grand Slam tennis champion Naomi Osaka posted pictures of protests from Minneapolis on her Instagram account.

“Just because it isn’t happening to you doesn’t mean it isn’t happening at all,” wrote Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and whose father is Haitian.

“To be able to use my platform to bring attention to a problem that has been going on too long feels good!!!” the 22-year-old tweeted.

On Instagram, rising US tennis star Coco Gauff, a 16-year-old African American, showed the faces of black Americans who died in recent years at the hands of authorities or white fellow citizens.

“Am I next?” Gauff asked.

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Man City star’s Sh39 million worth watches stolen

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By AFP

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LONDON

Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez had three luxury watches worth more than Sh39 million (£300,000, $370,000) stolen when thieves raided his penthouse apartment, according to British media reports on Sunday.

More than £50,000 in cash along with Cartier bracelets and rare football shirts worth up to £150,000 were also taken from the Algeria international.

The watches were reported to be a £230,000 Richard Mille timepiece, a £40,000 Rolex Daytona and a £35,000 Rolex Day Date.

Mahrez, 29, was said to not have been at home when the offenders used a key fob to access his apartment and three others in the Manchester city centre block on April 24.

The Sun quoted a letter sent to residents which read: “Four apartments were accessed without authority using a fob which had general access throughout the building.

“The fob in question is now in our possession, has been fully deactivated and cannot be used again.”

The robbery continued an alarming sequence of Premier League stars being targeted by thieves.

Earlier this month, Tottenham and England midfielder Dele Alli spoke of the “horrible experience” of being punched by armed raiders who stole watches and jewellery from his London home.

Alli was ordered to hand over valuables to the raiders during the early hours attack as he played pool with his brother and his model girlfriend Ruby Mae.

The two knife-wielding masked intruders then fled from his home in leafy Hadley Wood.

In March, the family of Alli’s Tottenham team-mate Jan Vertonghen was robbed at knife point while he was away on Champions League duty.

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