OCBC Cycle 2016 cap up from 7,000 to 8,000

Early registration for annual OCBC cycling event opens; cap increased to 8,000 riders

ALL SMILES: Sport Singapore CEO Lim Teck Yin (left) and OCBC Bank Group CEO Samuel Tsien (right) with six-hour challenge contestant Donald Macdonald from the OCBC team.

Early registration for the eighth edition of the nation's largest cycling event, OCBC Cycle 2016, opened yesterday on the sidelines of the launch event at Orchard Gateway.

OCBC Bank have been long-time supporters of cycling in Singapore and their group chief executive officer, Samuel Tsien, said the event on Oct 1 is one of their strategies to promote a sport that everybody can afford to participate in.

Said Tsien: "From a country and community's perspective, you do not need a lot of gear to cycle.

"It's a healthy event and we think of it as mass population participation."

The OCBC Cycle 2016 will be capped at 8,000 participants, up from 7,000 last year.

Citing participants' safety as a priority, Tsien said: "We do not want the number of participants to be too large, so as to ensure their safety and to allow them to have an even better experience.

"Safety will always come first and we will make sure to have that in mind every step of the way."

Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin said they were happy to work with OCBC for such events as it "gives everyone an opportunity to write his own story and it also tells a story".

He added: "People who are cycling for a charitable cause, to bond with their families or beat their personal best.

"These stories are important stories that showcase the Singapore spirit."

At yesterday's launch - where those who registered received various discounts and merchandise - Alan Grant, a rider from Specialized Mavericks, broke the Singapore record for the "Longest Distance Covered on a Stationary Bike in Six Hours (Men/Women)", covering 217.2km.

He achieved the feat in the first session yesterday, with a second to follow from 6pm till midnight yesterday.

Beside the Mavericks, OCBC Bank, New Moon and the Geylang Cycling team took part in the six-hour challenge, with the four teams also involved in the 24-hour challenge.

The latter challenge began at noon yesterday and will finish at the same time today with teams bidding to chalk up the highest mileage on a stationary bike within a 24-hour time frame.

The OCBC Cycle event on Oct 1 will start at the Sports Hub and finish at the National Stadium.

Donald MacDonald, 43, who is part of the OCBC team, is looking forward to the experience.

"Finishing in the National Stadium is a tremendous experience that most people will not get to experience otherwise," said the veteran cyclist.

OCBC CYCLE 2016

RACES: The Sportive Ride (42km), The Straits Times Ride (23km), Mighty Savers Kids Rides (family and children), OCBC Cycle Speedway South-east Asian and Club Championships (Competitive).

PRICING: Registration fees range from $85-$107 for the Sportive Ride, $45-$67 for the Straits Times Ride and $23-$86 for the Might Savers Kids Rides.

REGISTRATION: Online registration starts on Monday at 10am. Visit www.ocbccycle.com for more information. Early registration at the Orchard Gateway booth ends at noon today.

Donald rolls back the years

Former world No. 1 Luke Donald
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Geylang fight back for another draw

Winless run extends to five games, but Geylang coach Hasrin is happy enough

COOL FINISH: Stanely Ng (in green and white) scores Geylang International's first goal against Home United. 


GEYLANG INT'L 2

(Stanely Ng 24, Amy Recha 46)

HOME UNITED 2

(Ken Ilso 14, Al-Qaasimy Rahman-og 38)

They went behind twice last night, but showed great resolve in fighting back to end their Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League clash with Home United with a 2-2 draw at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Geylang coach Hasrin Jailani thought a draw was a fair result.

The result means the Eagles have now drawn four and lost one of their last five games, and speaking after the game, Hasrin said: "I think a point for us, after looking at our first-half performance, is good enough. We came back strong in the second-half but we could not put away our chances.

"Although I'm pleased with today's result, we can't always draw because it's not good for us in the long run.

"If we want to be among the best teams in the S.League, we need to win."

In a game of two halves, Home dominated the first 45 minutes, displaying free-flowing football as they stretched the Eagles.

The Protectors' sustained pressure paid off in the 14th minute.

A moment of individual brilliance from Khairul Nizam near the penalty box was followed up by a neat lay-off to Shamil Sharif, who whipped in a delicious cross which was met well by Ken Ilso, who powered home his header off the crossbar.

But the lead lasted only 10 minutes as Home's defensive frailties returned.

BOTCHED CLEARANCE

A botched clearance in the Home penalty box fell kindly to Stanely Ng, who made no mistake from three metres out.

The equaliser jolted Home and Philippe Aw's men pushed forward again.

They were rewarded for their adventurous play with a goal in the 38th minute.

After a nice passage of play, Nizam rose high to meet Sirina Camara's perfectly weighted cross, and his effort was turned into goal via an unfortunate deflection by Al-Qaasimy Rahman.

The second half was nothing like the first as Geylang showed great intensity.

Moments after the restart, they equalised via Amy Recha.

With his back to goal, the 23-year-old did well to control a cross by Safirul Sulaiman, and after an instinctive turn, fired home to restore parity.

From that point on, both teams threw caution to the wind as they went in search of the winner.

Geylang came close in the 80th minute when substitute Sahil Suhaimi did brilliantly to race past three defenders before firing at goal. But he was denied by Abdil Qayyim's last-ditch block.

A better chance fell to Nizam, who was put through on goal by an inch-perfect pass from substitute Aqhari Abdullah. But, with only the goalkeeper to beat, the Singapore international scuffed his shot.

Speaking after the match, Home coach Aw said: "What's important for the boys is they learn from their mistakes and improve for future games.

"We are a very young team and we need to give them time and they will come of good for sure.

"If you look at our performance today, it was good but a few defensive mistakes cost us the three points.

"We will keep plugging away and hopefully our fortunes will change."

GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL: Syazwan Buhari, Fareetz Hameed, Shariff Samat (Yuki Ichikawa 46), Daniel Bennett, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Isa Halim, Stanely Ng (Sahil Suhaimi 79), Carlos Delgado, Safirul Sulaiman, Gabriel Quak, Amy Recha 


HOME UNITED: Hyrulnizam Jumaat, Jumaat Jantan, Sharin Shaberin (Zulfahmi Arifin 72), Abdil Qaiyyim, Sirina Camara, Ambroise Begue, Azhar Sairudin (Aqhari Abdullah 76), Shamil Sharif, Syahiran Miswan, Khairul Nizam (Amir Zahid 87), Ken Ilso

TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: AMY RECHA (Geylang International)

OTHER RESULT:

  • Brunei 
DPMM 3 Balestier Khalsa 1

Big names out but the biggest, Lin Dan, still in

Japan teenager Yamaguchi books spot in women's semi-finals; China's ace stays strong in men's singles

UNHAPPY: Carolina Marin was clearly frustrated as her bid to win the women's singles came to an end at the hands of Japan's Akane Yamaguchi (above).
UNHAPPY: Carolina Marin (above) was clearly frustrated as her bid to win the women's singles came to an end at the hands of Japan's Akane Yamaguchi.
STAYS STRONG: China's Lin Dan (above)secures a spot in the semi-finals.

It has been billed as the tournament's most glamorous edition of recent years, but last night, the 2016 OUE Singapore Open lost some of its star power as both the men's and women's world No. 1s were eliminated in the quarter-finals.

Just over four hours after Chen Long, the top seed in the men's singles, crashed out, Spain's Carolina Marin suffered a same fate at the Singapore Indoor Stadium as her bid to win the women's singles came to an end at the hands of Japan's 18-year-old prodigy, Akane Yamaguchi.

Nonetheless, in what will be a huge relief to the fans, the biggest name in the draw - China's two-time Olympic gold medallist Lin Dan - will be around for the weekend after beating Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto 21-18, 21-14 to book his spot in today's semi-finals.

Sugiarto did put up a strong challenge, but Lin never lost his composure to advance.

The same cannot be said for Marin, who took to Court 1 just before him.

Despite getting off to a strong start, she was left visibly frustrated as Yamaguchi proved equal to everything that was thrown at her en-route to a 13-21, 21-18, 21-18 victory.

Her frustration was clear from her matter-of-fact answers after the match, as she looked to finish her media obligations quickly and head straight back to the dressing room.

"Of course, I'm very much disappointed right now as I would have liked to win," said the two-time reigning world champion.

"The match was going well in the first game but then she (Yamaguchi) started playing better than me at the net.

"Now I will have to prepare by playing some more tournaments (in preparation for) the Olympic Games."

Yamaguchi was equally uncomfortable facing the media after her triumph but for completely different reasons.

Appearing even more precocious than her 18 years as she nervously waited for questions to be translated, the world No. 10, said: "Actually, I wasn't really concerned about being behind on the scoreboard.

"All I was thinking about was trying to catch up point by point.

"This win does give me confidence but now I have to step up even more... I want to be playing against these top players in semi-finals and even finals, not just in the quarter-finals.

"Ratchanon was the champion last week and the week before and I'm heading into the clash as the challenger, so I'll just focus on winning as many points as possible."

Yamaguchi will face former world champion Ratchanok Intanon in the semi-final, and the Thai is in fine form after back-to-back victories at the India Open and Malaysia Open in the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, Lin will be hoping to show the same resolve as he did against Sugiarto when he takes on another Indonesian opponent in Sony Dwi Kuncoro today.

The 32-year-old said: "I felt I played better as the match wore on.

"The important thing was that I didn't allow myself to get frustrated or feel like the match was getting out of my control.

"He (Kuncoro) played really well in his match today (Friday) but I hope I will do well against him."

HK's world No. 14 Angus Ng ousts world No.1 Chen Hong

No 'third-time lucky' for Chen Long as Ng takes his place in semi-finals

BRILLIANT: Angus Ng stuns China's world No. 1 male shuttler Chen Long (above) with his aggressive play.
BRILLIANT: Angus Ng (above) stuns China's world No. 1 male shuttler Chen Long with his aggressive play. 



There did not appear to be any cause for panic for Chen Long when he went a set down in his quarter-final against Angus Ng at the Singapore Indoor Stadium yesterday.

China's world No. 1 male shuttler had come from behind to win in his previous two matches at the OUE Singapore Open and few expected it to be different.

This time, however, there was to be no such revival as Hong Kong's Ng produced a brilliant display of badminton to defeat the top seed 21-14, 21-18 in just 39 minutes, setting up a last-four meeting in the men's singles with South Korea's Son Wan Ho today.

Ng never looked fazed against the Chinese star and made a statement right from the start, leaving Chen stunned as his aggressive play helped him race to a 6-0 lead in the opening game.

He never looked back and duly wrapped up the opening set with little fuss.

Just when one of Chen's comebacks looked on the cards when he cruised ahead 9-2 in the second game, his opponent shifted through the gears to win 19 of the next 28 points to record a stunning victory, one that the 21-year-old ranks as even better than his win over two-time Olympic gold medallist Lin Dan last November.

"I guess you could say so," he replied with a grin, when asked by The New Paper if it was his best win thus far in his young career.

"It's not often you get to chance to play, and beat, the world No. 1 in a Superseries tournament, so this match is indeed my best result up till now."

SHOCK DEFEAT

Despite the shock defeat, Chen was surprisingly upbeat as he paid credit to his opponent.

"It is a bit of a shame, especially when I was up 14-7 in the second game and let him come back to claim a 17-14 lead," said the two-time world champion.

"Perhaps it was due to me feeling like I had already wrapped up the second game so I didn't play with the same intensity, but I thought he played well.

"He did really well in the first game but maybe, in the second game, it (the defeat) was my own doing.

"But I think overall I did alright… I'm not really too disappointed not to win the tournament, even though I definitely arrived here with that ambition."

Instead, it is Hong Kong's world No. 14 Ng who has a chance to win the prestigious title, although the youngster is determined not to get ahead of himself.

He said: "I'm still a long way from winning. I just have to relax and take it one game at a time and hope to do my best.

"Of course, we are also still vying for Olympic qualification, so winning this match has given me even more confidence to achieve that.

"To have beaten such a strong opponent in my career is a great experience."


YESTERDAY'S COMPLETED 
QUARTER-FINALS RESULTS

MEN'S SINGLES:

  • Angus Ng (Hkg) bt Chen Long (Chn) 21-14 21-18
  • Son Wan Ho (Kor) bt Tian Houwei (Chn) 11-21 21-15 21-19
  • Sony Dwi Kuncoro (Ina) bt Wang Zhengming (Chn) 24-22 12-21 21-16
  • Lin Dan (Chn) bt Tommy Sugiarto 21-18 21-14

WOMEN'S SINGLES:

  • Sun Yu (Chn) bt Sung Ji Hyun (Kor) 21-15 19-21 21-19
  • He Bingjiao (Chn) bt Zhang Beiwen (USA) 21-16 21-15
  • Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) bt Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (Tha) 21-12 21-18
  • Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) bt Carolina Marin (Spa) 13-21 21-18 21-18

MEN'S DOUBLES:

  • Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda (Jpn) bt Chai Biao/Hong Wei (Chn) 21-15 21-8
  • Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (Chn) bt Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan (Ina) 21-11 21-11
  • Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong (Kor) bt Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi (Ina) 21-17 21-16
  • Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan (Chn) bt Gideon Markus Fernaldi/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo 21-15 21-19

WOMEN'S DOUBLES:

  • Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) bt Shizuka Matsuo/Mami Naito (Jpn) 21-15 21-11
  • Nitya Krishinda Maheswari/Greysia Polii (Ina) bt Chen Qingfen/Jia Yifan (Chn) 21-19 20-22 21-12
  • Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan (Kor) bt Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao (Jpn) 21-12 8-21 21-19
  • Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei (Chn) bt Della Destiara Haris/ Rosyita Eka Putri Sari (Ina) 18-21 21-16 21-12

MIXED DOUBLES:

  • Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (Ina) bt Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock (Eng) 21-15 21-15
  • Xu Chen/Ma Jin (Chn) bt Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto (Ina) 21-17 21-18
  • Wang Yilyu/Chen Qingchen (Chn) bt Kenta Kazuno/Ayane Kurihara (Jpn) 20-22 21-7 21-14
  • Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na (Kor) bt Liu Yuchen/Tang Jinhua (Chn) 21-13 12-21 24-22

Singapore in Japan's top rugby flight?

SRU chief Low says Singapore could play in Japan's top flight in future

World Rugby president Bernard Lapasset

Japan's stunning 34-32 win over two-time winners South Africa at last year's Rugby World Cup was hailed by many as a sign of the progress Asia was making in the sport.

But the Cherry Blossoms (17th) are the only Asian side currently among the top 20 nations in World Rugby's rankings.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Rugby Business Conference at Novotel Clarke Quay yesterday, Asia Rugby chief Koji Tokumasu said the only way for other countries in the region to bridge the gap with the world's elite nations is to play regularly in high-level tournaments.

"Realistically speaking, the reason Japan were able to beat South Africa was because we have regular domestic tournaments," he said.

"If (Singapore, world No. 33) wants to become an elite union, you need a (strong) domestic tournament or regular international tournaments to test yourself.

"For example, Japan has the Top League. In the future, maybe Singapore could join the Top League (to have) regular tournaments... If you cannot make it in your country, you can think of contesting in tournaments with your neighbours.

"You have to try aim to play with the better teams. Otherwise you can never get better."

Tokumasu added that, in the meantime, tournaments like the South-east Asia 7s taking place this weekend as an accompaniment to the elite-level HSBC World 7s Series at the National Stadium, was a "great idea" to help drive participation in smaller rugby nations.

Historically, the Top League has never featured a foreign team, but Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) president Low Teo Ping says the Republic could be the first.

The SRU has a close relationship with the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU).

Last October, the JRFU's Sunwolves outfit pipped the Singapore-based Asia-Pacific Dragons to become the first Asian franchise to play in the prestigious Super Rugby competition.

But the two national bodies agreed the Sunwolves would play three "home" games at the National Stadium in Singapore.

"We may break that (no foreign team in the Top League direction)," Low told The New Paper yesterday.

"We are co-hosting the Sunwolves here in Singapore, so there ought to be some reciprocity. The door is not fully closed (on the possibility)."

On the sidelines of the conference yesterday, outgoing World Rugby president Bernard Lapasset also said the growth of the sport and stature of national teams in Asia are key to the organisation's vision of making rugby one of the world's leading sports.

GREAT STRIDES

"Asia is the most important region for us in the world," said the 68-year-old, who will step down next month to spearhead France's bid to host the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

"The population in Asia is very young and we have to deliver a good message (for rugby) and a choice... We want rugby to be one of the (big) sports for the next century."

Lapasset expressed confidence that Asian nations can make great strides in international rugby in the coming years.

"I'm sure they will be coming (up) soon," he said.

"Because when we offered the strategy for the new 7s in Singapore, we offered a new place for development in this part of Asia.

"I'm sure new coaches will be coming from Europe, from the Southern Hemisphere... (These) people will be involved in the process to (make rugby in the region more) professional.

"Because the quality is not just in the quality of the game itself. It's in the preparation of the player to become professional.

"It's not the case at the moment in Singapore and some other countries, but you will be coming soon.

"It was the way in different parts of the world before. It's now time to do the job in Asia."

Tags: Rugby

Haas blast

American slams Formula 1 teams for questioning rookie team's achievement

CREDITABLE: Haas driver Romain Grosjean finished sixth in the season-opening race in Australia and fifth in the last race in Bahrain.
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