Category Archives: Sport

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Van der Vaart’s ex Sylvie Meis kisses boyfriend Bart on first holiday together in Miami

Category : Football , Sport

RAFAEL VAN DER VAART’S ex-wife looked loved-up as she kissed boyfriend Bart while on holiday in Miami.
Sylvie Meis showed the former Tottenham star what he is missing as she strutted along the beach in a skimpy white bikini.
The Dutch TV personality looked in high spirits during her trip to beachSplash News
The 40-year-old proudly locked lips and held hands with her new beau as they lapped up the sunshine in America.
And the smitten couple were spotted climbing all over each other as they paddled in the sea.
Sylvie showed off her stunning figure as she topped up her tan while wearing a bikini and sunglasses.
She has amassed one million followers on Instagram and she regularly uploads pictures with her new partner.
The Dutch TV personality showed off her stunning figure at the beachThe Mega Agency
The 40-year-old was voted Holland’s “Sexiest Female” in 2003The Mega Agency
The pair were all over each other as they lapped up the sunshineSplash News
The couple looked happy as they splashed about in the sea togetherThe Mega Agency
According to his Instagram page, brown-haired Bart Wilemsen is a film producer from Holland.
Sylvie has been dating the 29-year-old following her split from Spanish businessman Manuel Campos Guallar.
The Dutch TV personality was married to Van der Vaart for eight years before their split in 2013 and they have a son and daughter together.
Their relationship broke down when she had a three-month affair with an aeroplane pilot.

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The 40-year-old stunned in a skimpy white bikiniSplash News
The couple climbed all over each other as they enjoyed a dip in the seaThe Mega Agency
Van der Vaart’s ex-wife showed him what he’s missingSplash News

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#Miami #pic by @michaelgoldenbaum
A post shared by Sylvie Meis (@sylviemeis) on Dec 29, 2018 at 5:40am PST

View this post on Instagram

Werbung/Ad Meet me under the mistletoe #santababy @sylviedesigns #sbysylviedesigns for @karstadt_warenhaus #lingerie excl in selected Karstadt department stores or online www.karstadt.de link in bio @serenagoldenbaum @floor_o_clock @meis_enterprise more lingerie inspiration in my stories
A post shared by Sylvie Meis (@sylviemeis) on Dec 12, 2018 at 5:49am PST

Van der Vaart has also moved on and he is now dating professional handball player Estavana Polman.
After playing for Hamburg, Madrid, Spurs and Real Betis, he moved to Denmark because he wanted to be closer to his current girlfriend.
The pair were married for five years before their split in 2013AFP

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Happy birthday to my great love @estavana #familyfirst #crazygirl #fun #realpeople #truelove
A post shared by Rafael van der Vaart (@rafaelvdvaart) on Aug 5, 2018 at 1:25am PDT

The former Holland international is now dating Estavana PolmanEPA

 
 
 

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Man Utd vs Newcastle likely line-ups: Rashford and Sanchez set to miss out with Lukaku recalled

Category : Football , Sport

MANCHESTER UNITED are expected to start without Marcus Rashford and Alexis Sanchez against Newcastle tonight.
Romelu Lukaku looks set to be named in Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s line-up for the first time following his brief appearance against Bournemouth.

Rashford, 21, remains a doubt after a suspected groin injury forced him off the field during Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Cherries. 
The 21-year-old, who was scored two goals in three games under Solskjaer, was replaced by Lukaku in the 70th minute.
Lukaku, 25, missed wins over Cardiff and Huddersfield, but bounced back and scored United’s fourth goal at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer has ordered the 25-year-old to get fit and claimed that he will not use him as a target man in his team.
Romelu Lukaku has scored seven goals for United this seasonPA:Empics Sport
Sanchez, 30, is expected to feature, but he could start the match on the sidelines following a hamstring injury.
The former Arsenal ace, who has scored just one goal this season, has been training with the squad this week.
Eric Bailly will miss the match at St James’ Park as he will serve the first of a three-match suspension following his red card on Sunday.
Defenders Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo are absent through injury, which will leave Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones in the heart of defence.

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Marcus Rashford is a doubt after he was hauled off against the CherriesPA:Empics Sport
Diogo Dalot could return at full-back after he was dropped for the win over Bournemouth.
Paul Pogba found himself stuck on the sidelines at times under Jose Mourinho, but the Frenchman is set to start after he scored twice against Bournemouth.
Anthony Martial is expected to be in the starting XI despite being told off by the new boss for returning late from a Christmas break.
Alexis Sanchez has been back at training this weekGetty – Contributor

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Chelsea sign Christian Pulisic for £58m from Borussia Dortmund in huge Liverpool snub

Category : Football , Sport

CHELSEA have completed the signing of Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for £58 million.
The American, who had been linked to Liverpool, will be loaned back to the Bundesliga side until the end of the season.
Christian Pulisic attracted interest from a number of Premier League clubsGetty Images – Getty
The winger, 20, is club’s third most-expensive signing in history and he will join the Blues in the summer.
BVB announced the news on social media and Pulisic released a heartfelt statement to the fans, his team-mates and the bosses at Dortmund.
It read: “It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I will be entering my final months at (y)our world-famous club.
“It feels like only yesterday that I arrived in Dortmund as a raw, excited, very nervous but exceptionally proud 16-year-old from a small American town called Hershey.

Christian Pulisic has scored one goal and made two assists this seasonGetty – Contributor
“I had no idea what lay ahead but I soon discovered that as a young Schwarzgelben, I would be in the best possible hands.
“I would not be where I am today without the club and their belief in giving young players a chance.
“It’s been an honour and a dream to pull on the black-and-yellow in front of the Sudtribune.
“Many, many memorable moments stand out – to have experienced all of them before my 20th birthday still feels, at times, like a dream.

Liebe Borussen () pic.twitter.com/nAKgF1sHdI
— Christian Pulisic (@cpulisic_10) January 2, 2019

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Chelsea’s 10 most expensive signings

Kepa Arrizabalaga, Athletic Bilbao – £71m
Alvaro Morata, Real Madrid – £60m
Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund – £58m
Jorginho, Napoli – £57m
Fernando Torres, Liverpool – £50m
Tiemoue Bakayako, Monaco – £40m
Danny Drinkwater, Leicester – £35m
David Luiz, PSG – £34m
Michy Batshuayi, Marseille – £33m
N’Golo Kante, Leicester – £32m

“I would like to thank all those coaches who I have played under and who have gave me these opportunities.
“And to my amazing team-mates throughout the years, you took me in as a young boy, shared your experience with me, helped to me develop and grow into a professional footballer.
“For this I sincerely thank you.
“To our unbelievable fans: It’s been a privilege to stand with you on the Sudtribune and to experience how you support your heroes.
“I feel honoured to have been able to make the trip from being supporter, to bring supported.
“You have taken me in as one of your own. Thank you.”
Christian Pulisic was wanted by Liverpool and ArsenalAP:Associated Press
The 20-year-old thanked the chiefs at Dortmund and vowed to commit himself to the club completely for the rest of the season.
He added: “In the summer of 2019, I move on to Chelsea and to a new competition, the English Premier League.
“It’s a privilege to have signed for such a legendary club and I look forward to working hard towards being a contributor to their team of world class players.
“Look forward to working with Maurizio Sarri and his technical team.”
And Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said: “We are delighted to have signed one of Europe’s most sought-after young players.
“Christian has shown his quality during a fantastic spell in Germany and at just 20, we believe he has the potential to become an important Chelsea players for many years to come.
The winger has already played for the United States 23 timesGetty Images – Getty
“We look forward to welcoming him to Stamford Bridge in the summer and wish him and Dortmund every success for the remainder of the season.”
Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said: “It was always Christian’s dream to play in the Premier League.
“That certainly has to do with his American background and as a result we were unable to extend his contract.
“Against this background, we have decided to accept an extremely lucrative bid by Chelsea, given the low contract maturity.
“Christian Pulisic is a character perfect player.
“I am sure that in the coming months he will do everything in his power to bring his quality to the team and to achieve his sporting goals with his team-mates at Borussia Dortmund.”
Christian Pulis has been with Dortmund since 2015Getty – Contributor
Pulisic looked set to sign for rivals Liverpool, but the German club did not accept Jurgen Klopp’s £45m offer.
It is also understood that Arsenal made an approach for the winger, but the club’s proposal of £35m was not enough.
And his move to Chelsea was ‘accidentally’ confirmed by former USA striker Eddie Johnson last week.
Pulisic has already made 100 appearances for the German club since breaking into the first-team in 2016.
He has scored one goal and made two assists in 11 appearances for Lucien Favre’s side this season.
Last season he scored four goals in 32 matches after he scored three times in his opening campaign.
Some Chelsea fans are worried that Christian Pulisic’s arrival will allow Eden Hazard to leavePA:Press Association
Pulisic started his career in the seventh tier of English football before he joined the Bundesliga club in 2015.
But Chelsea fans are now concerned that Eden Hazard will be free to join Madrid now that they have Pulisic.
Christian Pulisic has fallen out of favour at BVB following Jadon Sancho’s impressive spellPA:Press Association

 
 
 

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Andy Murray loses in Brisbane while Rafael Nadal is injury doubt for Australian Open

Category : Sport , Tennis

ANDY MURRAY and Rafael Nadal are both OUT of the Brisbane International – but it’s worrying news for the Spaniard ahead of the Australian Open.
The British tennis star lost 7-5 6-2 to Russian world No16 Daniil Medvedev in the second round.
Andy Murray is out of the Brisbane International in just the second roundAFP
Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the Australian Open through injuryEPA
This was his comeback event on the road to recovery from injury and there were encouraging signs that his body is holding up to the rigours of top-level tennis. Of course, Murray has to accept losing to the type of players he was beating regularly during his pomp.
The world No240 – who fought back tears after beating James Duckworth yesterday – underwent hip surgery in Australia last January and played only six tournaments in 2018, the last in September.

Yet shortly before Murray exited the Brisbane event, Nadal announced he was withdrawing from the first ATP event of the 2019 season as an injury precaution.
Nadal, 32, said: “I did an MRI and it shows a small staring (sic) on my left thigh. I tried to play, I wanted to play, but recommendations from the doctors (were otherwise).
Andy Murray showed no sign of health issues as he lost to world No16 Daniil MedvedevAP:Associated Press
Andy Murray is consoled by Russian Daniil Medvedev after his defeatGetty Images – Getty
Rafael Nadal announced he was withdrawing from the first ATP event of the 2019 season as an injury precautionAP:Associated Press
“It’s a small thing that can become a much bigger…when you compete the intensity on the muscle it can get worse.
“I feel better than I did four days ago. It’s a risk to damage my body for one month if I play here.
“So I don’t play here and I probably secure that I’m going to be 100 per cent for Melbourne. Everybody’s telling me that it’s not a good idea to increase the possibility to convert the strain into a bigger problem.”
The French Open champion says doctors told him there was a risk to further his injury if he did not it rest before the Aussie Open kicks-off in Melbourne on Monday January 14.

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Lucky loser Taro Daniel will replace him in the second round against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
The 17-time grand slam champion was due to play in his first ATP tournament match since pulling out of the US Open semi-final in September with an ongoing knee complaint.

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Gary Anderson almost stung by an Ally Pally wasp in his second-round win

Category : Sport

GARY ANDERSON avoided two stings as he sent the Ironman buzzing out of the Ally Pally exit door.
The Scot was so focused in the first set against Northern Ireland’s Kevin Burness that he didn’t even notice a docile wasp had landed on his left shoulder.
Gary Anderson was almost stung by a wasp in his win at Ally Pally on Friday nightLawrence Lustig
Gary Anderson came through unscathed, both on the oche and with the waspLawrence Lustig
The referee pointed out the pest to the Flying Scotsman before calmly flicking it away.
Thankfully for Anderson there was no sting in the tale and no shock departure from the William Hill PDC World Darts Championship.
Anderson, 47, showed his sharpness as he won 3-1 in the second round, and he said: “The ref said ‘you have a wasp on you’. I didn’t believe him and walked away. He knocked it off and then stamped on it. The wasp is now dead.
“If it had stung me, it might have geed me up. That wasp has been kicking around for ages. It has stung players before.
“At 1-0 set up, I was doing alright. But he then played well. It was a struggle after that. I pinched it at the end.

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Gary Anderson eased past Kevin Burness at Ally PallyGetty Images – Getty
“I escaped with that one. Given my doubles, there’s a lot of work to do from now on.”
The North London darts mecca has had its fair share of marauding wasps over the years with Adrian Lewis once getting stung on his non-throwing hand.
In the afternoon session, No.28 seed Jamie Lewis also had a close encounter with a wasp, taking evasive action while throwing in the fifth leg of the third set.
The Welshman, who beat Kiwi Cody Harris 3-2, said: “It tried attacking me but didn’t sting me. It was just buzzing around.”

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England footie hardman Stuart Pearce off to North Korea on holidays and assures the country ‘he’s not an MI5 spy’

Category : Football , Sport

FOOTIE tough nut Stuart Pearce has revealed he is going to North Korea on holiday.
Pearce, 56, nicknamed Psycho for his tough tackling as a defender, will visit the country run by despot Kim Jong-un in the New Year.
PA:Press Association The player, nicknamed ‘Psycho’, assured North Koreans he won’t be spying on behalf of MI5 during his trip[/caption]
The ex-England and Nottingham Forest star said: “I don’t know what I’ll see there, just whatever they allow me to see. Maybe the demilitarised zone on the border with South Korea.”
Pearce was speaking to Alan Brazil on his talkSPORT breakfast show yesterday.
The radio host asked Pearce if he would be spying for MI5 on his trip and played the James Bond theme tune.
But Pearce said: “If anyone from North Korea is listening, I will not be spying on anyone while I’m there.” North Korea is opening up to tourists and about 6,000 Westerners visit the secretive totalitarian state each year.

AP:Associated Press Pearce will visit the country ruled by leader, Kim Jong-Un next year[/caption]

But Pearce can still expect strict rules. Visits are conducted via guided tours, while interaction with locals and photography is restricted by “state assistants”.

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Pearce follows in the footsteps of US basketball legend Dennis Rodman, 51, who palled up with Kim during a 2013 visit.

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BBC Sports Personality awards : Moliwood reunited at SPOTY… but Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood are sticking to separate beds

Category : Golf , Sport

MOLIWOOD will be reunited at Sunday’s BBC Sports Personality awards – but they will stick to separate beds even if Francesco Molinari wins one of the top prizes.
Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood were famously pictured in bed together after their starring roles in Europe’s crushing Ryder Cup victory over the Americans.
Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari WILL NOT end up in bed together this weekendPA:Press Association

They became the first European duo to win all four matches together, and Open champion Molinari made it a fabulous five by winning his singles against Phil Mickelson.
That has made the Italian hotshot a popular choice to complete a glittering year by topping the foreign sports star category.
But if that happens he will settle for a brief hug from close pal Fleetwood.
Molinari grinned: “We won’t be sharing a bed whatever happens- because our wives will be there!”
Molinari and Fleetwood were famously pictured in bed together after their starring roles in Europe’s crushing Ryder Cup victoryRyder Cup
The duo will be reunited at the BBC Sports Personality awards on SundayHandout
The Open winner teamed up with a new partner yesterday as he and England’s Georgia Hall – the Women’s British Open champion – showed off their trophies.
But Molinari quickly returned to the subject of his historic alliance with Southport star Fleetwood.

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He said: “The Ryder Cup was just an incredible experience. Tommy and I have been friends for years – his wife, Clare, used to be my agent and she gets on very well with my wife.
“And I think Tommy and I are more alike than people think. We have a similar sense of humour, and we have fun when we are together. That was a big part of making the Ryder Cup so successful for us.

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“Tommy and I always wanted to play together and we kept getting more confidence from winning matches.
“Our first game was really important because we were behind at first and turned it around to prevent a USA whitewash in the first session. That gave us, and maybe the rest of the team, the confidence to keep going through the week.”
Winning the BBC award would be even more special to Molinari as he now calls England home after living in London for the last ten years.
He added: “it would be great recognition after living here so long. Tommy and some of the other guys will be there as we’ve been nominated for the team award as well, so it us going to be a fun evening.
“This season has already been beyond my dreams. Like Thomas Bjorn said, it has been a lifetime’s achievement crammed into one glorious summer.”

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Saido Berahino insists his mission in poverty-stricken Burundi changed his life

Category : Football , Sport

SAIDO BERAHINO has shed more than a few tears on his mission to turn heartbreak into hope in his native Burundi.
The Stoke City striker admits he let himself down more than once when he was at West Brom.
Getty Images – Getty Saido Berahino says his work for Burundi has changed his life and put him back on the right track[/caption]
But his desire to make a difference in the poverty-stricken African country has helped get him back on the straight and narrow.
Berahino’s work in one of the world’s poorest nations has been a life-changing experience.
And it has become the 25-year-old’s driving force since he was given Fifa clearance in the summer to play for the war-torn country he fled as a ten-year-old.
He told SunSport: “I’m so far away from where I was two years ago.
Getty Images – Getty Berahino was a troublemaker at West Brom, having been convicted for drink-driving and speeding in November 2014[/caption]
“It is well documented that it became difficult for me at West Brom. I had a lot of issues, a lot of pressure at the time and, I’m not going to lie, there were times I let myself go and didn’t handle things the right way.
“But now I am in a different place and I am so glad I have come through the other side.”
Berahino made his Burundi debut in September scoring against Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Gabon in a 1-1 draw.
Playing for England was once his dream and he gained a total of 47 caps from Under-16 to U-21 level.
Getty Images – Getty The striker played for England youth teams on levels starting from under-16 through to under-21[/caption]
That dream took a battering during that infamous 913-day goal drought that finally ended this season with a header against Huddersfield.
But now he is proud to represent the team nicknamed the Swallows in the War.
He said: “I’d always wanted to help my country and I made a massive step by going back to play for them.
“I’ve always tried to do things back home because the Burundi people are my people — I came here to England and I got lucky.
Berahino was cleared by Fifa to switch to the Burundi national team in August 2018

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“God gave me a better life and now I am in a situation where I can help a lot of people and that’s what I’m trying to do.
“Me and my mum always tried to do something — she has been travelling twice, three times a year to Burundi to help the unfortunate ones that will never get the opportunity I got.
“Now I go back myself because I am playing for my country. Every time I do, there is a lot of work with homeless kids, I provide them with food.
“There are patients in hospitals that never pay for their bills and because of that they are kept there as prisoners.
Berahino debuted for Burundi on September 8 against Gabon, scoring an equaliser and securing a point for his side in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers
“They are kept there until they can find a way of somehow getting the money.
“This is a massive thing. A lot of people suffer like that, not only in Burundi but in other parts of Africa. Others are left to pass away at night because they don’t have the money to pay for their treatment to save them.
“So I try to get my mum to visit these places and try to pay for them or I visit them myself.
“Next summer I am planning to spend my holiday there, helping people.”
Reuters Former Potters boss Paul Lambert dropped Berahino earlier this year for ill-discipline and forced to play for Stoke U23 team[/caption]

Berahino was brought up by mum Liliane to be a Christian, yet he still ran up a long rap sheet.
Before moving to Stoke almost two years ago, the striker had been convicted of drink-driving on the M6 after being caught doing 110mph.
A playing ban followed a failed drugs test, although he says his drink was spiked at a party and he threatened to go on strike when West Brom rejected a series of bids from Tottenham.
There was also an apology from him to the club in 2014 after he was pictured inhaling “hippy crack” in his Range Rover.
Reuters Berahino has scored two goals for Stoke in the Championship this season[/caption]
Even in April of this year, former Potters boss Paul Lambert dumped him in the U-23’s for ill-discipline. But it is a whole different Berahino now.
He added: “I don’t want to be seen as someone showing the world that I am doing anything special. That is not what this is about.
“The whole point is about me knowing deep inside that I am changing someone’s life, maybe saving someone’s life.
“It is so troubling to know that people are suffering, that they are dying or are hungry for the want of only a little money.
Reuters Berahino opening the scoring for Stoke against Huddersfield in the Carabao Cup in August[/caption]
“But seeing all the suffering and problems for myself is one of the things that has given me a wake-up call in my life. It has humbled me massively.
“There have been tears — you see poor people in horrible situations.
“Sometimes it is a kid who’s mum has passed away, dad has passed away and there is no one to look after them.
“All this is what has given me the drive, now, to grab this opportunity I still have with Stoke as much as I can.”

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Hull KR star Shaun Lunt on sepsis: ‘The pain was excruciating… I didn’t think I’d play again’

Category : Rugby League , Sport

SHAUN LUNT is counting his blessings after surviving a potentially fatal illness.
The Hull KR hooker was ruled out of last season’s battle for survival on the field after initially being told he was suffering from meningitis.
Shaun Lunt has opened up to SunSport about his life-threatening battlePA:Press Association
However, it later became clear he had potentially fatal sepsis, with the blood poisoning brought on by an infected abscess on his spine.
He suspects he defied the worsening illness to travel to France and face Toulouse Olympique in September, even though he started showing symptoms of being seriously ill.
Lunt, 31, revealed: “I think I played my last game with the infection as I had a fever leading up to the Toulouse game. But I felt better, so I played there on the Saturday and came back on the Sunday, took the kids to school on Monday, went home and was shaking uncontrollably.
“That was it then. I felt a crack in my neck when I played Leeds, which is where everything must have come from but was told by a couple of places that it was a stiff neck.
The Hull KR hooker was ruled out of last season’s battle for survival on the field after initially being told he was suffering from meningitisGetty Images
It was later discovered he had potentially fatal sepsis, with the blood poisoning brought on by an infected abscess on his spineCRAIG BROUGH
“I played Halifax when I wasn’t feeling great, too. Then I went to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield and they initially said I had meningitis because of the symptoms. I thought only young kids got meningitis. But I never actually had meningitis, the sepsis was giving out all the signs of it. Weirdly, when I went to hospital, for the first two days I felt great but that was the antibiotics and everything they were giving me.
“As I was coming off them, I remember waking up at 4am in excruciating pain — I thought I was done with rugby league. It was a really scary time. I didn’t realise I had it until one of the nurses told me when I was at home. We didn’t know what it was. My memory and everything is blurry, it was crazy. You can’t really explain it.”

FALSE ALARM Raymond Smith’s teeth fall out as he celebrates winning a set at World Darts Championship

After treatment in hospital, plus another six weeks of antibiotics, Lunt is finally turning his thoughts to playing for Hull KR again.
Before then, though, wife Grace and children Noah and Jude can expect plenty of apologies.

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Lunt said: “I’m finally feeling something like my old self. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m a different person to what I was. Now I’ve got a bit of energy back and I don’t mind being around people.
“I just wanted to shut the door and not be around anyone. My family had to deal with it. I’ve been apologising to my missus for all the times I was grumpy and really short with the kids. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever been through. It was so hard, especially for the others around me, they were the ones who were actually going through it.
“Now I go in to the club once a week to see the medical staff and the players but I may resume training after Christmas. I don’t know when I’ll be ready to play again. This isn’t like a normal injury where you get a timetable of recovery — but patience isn’t my strongest point!
“All rugby players do it and they just crack on, especially given the Qualifiers we were in at the time and I didn’t want to go through relegation again. I’ve learned my lesson: Stop playing through little injuries!”

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Van Gerwen expects to be crowned darts king months after being honoured by Dutch royalty

Category : Darts , Sport

MICHAEL VAN GERWEN expects to be crowned the King of Darts – months after being honoured by the King of Holland.
In May, the two-time world darts champion was awarded the prestigious Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau medal.
Michael Van Gerwen expects to be crowned King of Darts just months after being honoured by the King of HollandLawrence Lustig
It was presented to Van Gerwen by his local Major on behalf of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands – and he is the youngest person to become a Dutch Knight.
Van Gerwen, 29, said: “It’s a nice thing to have this accolade. I’m a proud Dutchman and I’m honoured because it’s been a huge journey.
“It’s combined with the work I do for charity as well as my darts. I’m very privileged to have the knighthood now – I’m the youngest Dutch guy ever. In Holland, a Knighthood is somewhere inbetween the MBE and OBE in the UK.
“It’s good for darts in general and my team. I hope I can continue my success for the next 5-10 years.”
The two-time world darts champion was awarded the prestigious Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau medalGetty
van Gerwen poses with the Sid Waddell trophy after his victory in the PDC World Championship darts final last yearAFP
It has been an incredible journey for MVG, with two world titles on the mantelpiece before the age of 30.
Mighty Mike lost in a semi-final epic against rookie Rob Cross 12 months ago, a defeat he describes as a “disaster” having squandered five match darts to progress to a dream final against Phil Taylor.

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It’s fair to say the world no.1 has not been in such scintillating, dominant form leading up to this year’s event at Ally Pally.
He has only won three of the 10 TV PDC majors this year – compared to six in 2017, eight in 2016 and six in 2015.

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There are some who feel his tag of invincibility has gone completely, especially since he was shocked by Daryl Gurney in the final of the Players Championship in Minehead.
But Van Gerwen agrees completely with the bookmakers who, at 11-8, make him the leading contender to lift the Sid Waddell trophy on New Years’ Day.
Van Gerwen plays the winner of the first-round tie between Alan Tabern and Australian Raymond Smith tonight and he said: “Am I the man to beat? Of course. Otherwise they wouldn’t make me the favourite for the tournament – it’s as simple as that.

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“They know what I’m capable of and what I can do. They know what kind of danger I can be. People expect a lot from me. If you are the tallest tree, you catch most of the wind. There is less expectation on other players, so when they win a tournament, it’s said they are having a great year. I’ve still won twice as much as any other player this year.
“Of course, it hasn’t been all of the big ones, I didn’t win as many TV tournaments this year, but it’s still more than anyone else. What other people say is up to them. I know what I can do.
“It would be phenomenal for me to win a third world title. I’m trying to get prepared and I hope I don’t make any mistakes.”

Schedule of Play – Saturday December 15

Afternoon Session (12.30pm start)
Richard North v Robert Marijanovic (First round)
Mickey Mansell v Jim Long (First round)
Josh Payne v Jeff Smith (First round)
Max Hopp v Noppert/Lam (Second round)
Evening Session (7pm start)
Toni Alcinas v Craig Ross (First round)
Ryan Searle v Stephen Burton (First round)
Keegan Brown v Karel Sedlacek (First round)
Michael van Gerwen v Tabern/Ray Smith (Second round)
First Round – Best of five sets (no tie-break)
Second Round – Best of five sets

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