Jude Bellingham has targeted a trophy treble on the pitch after picking up silverware at the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards in Madrid.

Bellingham won the World Breakthrough of the Year prize after a stunning start to life at Real Madrid.

The 20-year-old has scored 21 goals since his summer move from Borussia Dortmund, his latest effort being a stunning winner in Sunday’s El Clasico against Barcelona.

Bellingham now hopes to end the season with a LaLiga and Champions League double at Real before heading to Euro 2024 in Germany where England are among the favourites to win the trophy.

Asked what would mean success, Bellingham said: “I think just more trophies really.

“We’re still in with a chance of two with Madrid and obviously the Euros with England. So I think success would be all three.

“It’s been a bit of a crazy week, really. I’m so tired, to be honest. So excuse me if I look it.

“But I’m really proud to win this award and hopefully keep making more memories with Real Madrid and with England in the future.”

Novak Djokovic was named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for a record-equalling fifth time after winning the Australian Open, French Open and US Open to lead the way with 24 grand slam men’s singles titles.

“I am incredibly honoured to have won my fifth Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award,” said Djokovic.

“I think back to 2012, when I won it for the first time as a 24-year-old. I am very proud to be here 12 years later, reflecting on a year that brought me and my fans a lot of excitement and success.

“It was thrilling to return to Australia last January and win my 10th title. It is a tournament that is so dear to my heart and set me up for an incredible 12 months.

“I could not have achieved so much success without an incredible team behind me, and inspirational rivals who have always pushed me to be the best version of myself.”

Aitana Bonmati took to the stage twice to collect two awards – the first footballer to win the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year trophy, and also represent the Spain team which won the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

She said: “It is humbling to see the list of previous winners of this award.

“From Serena Williams to Simone Biles, Lindsey Vonn, Naomi Osaka and last year’s winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, they are all incredible athletes who have not only excelled in their chosen sports, but been incredible role models for younger generations of young women and girls.

“As the first women’s team to win the Laureus, we are proud of our status as pioneers and as a group we are as committed to equality and representation as we are to what we do on the football pitch.”

American gymnast Biles, a three-time winner of Sportswoman of the Year, won the World Comeback of the Year Award.

Biles collected four gold medals at the World Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, her first global event since leaving the Tokyo Olympics due to mental health issues and entering a near two-year break from the sport she had dominated.

Other award winners were Rafael Nadal (Sport for Good), Diede de Groot (World Sportsperson of the Year with a disability) and Arisa Trew (World Action Sportsperson of the Year).

:: The 25th Laureus World Sports Awards took place on Monday 22 April in Madrid, celebrating the leading names in sport from across the globe. To find out more, visit www.laureus.com.

Mark Selby has vowed to consider retirement after crashing out of the World Snooker Championship in a “pathetic” 10-6 defeat to qualifier Joe O’Connor.

The four-time former champion finished a dismal season by his own standards on a low note as he failed to claw back a 7-2 overnight deficit against the only debutant in this year’s draw.

Having first questioned his future after a Tour Championship defeat to Gary Wilson earlier this month, Selby admitted something will have to change if he is to continue on the tour next season.

Selby, who has reached a solitary ranking final this season, said: “I will take a long time to think about it over the summer. Away from snooker I’m happy, then when I come to snooker it’s the opposite. It was pathetic from start to finish.”

O’Connor, who grew up idolising Selby and cheered him to three of those previous successes, held his nerve as his opponent – aided by breaks of 112 and 91 – slowly reduced the deficit to 8-5 at the mid-session interval.

Selby threatened to move within two frames when he went 39 points up in the 15th but he left himself too much to do and O’Connor built on a nerveless red down the rail to complete the biggest win of his career.

It marked the first time since 2018 that Selby has lost in the first round, and prompted ‘The Jester from Leicester’ to concede he will not be able to continue without some serious help.

He told the BBC: “I’ll sit down with (my wife) Vicky and see what the options are.

“Obviously it will be a big decision but if I do carry on playing I need help, probably on the mental side of it a little bit more just to go out there and enjoy the game.

“That’s all I want to do, go out there and enjoy it and for me, it’s always sort of life or death; I’ve always been that kind of character, putting too much pressure on myself and trying too hard.”

Shaun Murphy avoided the same fate as he turned a 6-3 overnight advantage into a comfortable 10-5 win over China’s Lyu Haotian.

Murphy punished Lyu from 38 points behind to pinch the opening frame, and was never in danger of surrendering his advantage in the tie, which he eventually polished off with a break of 81.

The 2005 champion told the BBC: “It’s such a relief, it’s so rewarding and pleasing, I haven’t won a match here for a few seasons. I’m delighted to have got that win and (be) in the second round of the tournament.”

Triple world champion Mark Williams edged in front of last year’s surprise semi-finalist Si Jiahui in a high-quality opening session of their first round match.

Williams started the match with a brilliant 142 clearance but Si hit back, and the Welshman had to dig deep to win the final two frames of the session to establish a 5-4 lead ahead of Tuesday’s conclusion.

Stuart Bingham stormed into an impressive three-frame lead to give him a healthy advantage at the end of the first session, leading Gary Wilson 6-3.

Bingham started in tremendous fashion, falling just two points short of an opening-frame century break and he rattled off the next three before Wilson made his mark on the scoreboard.

Bingham responded with a 117 break to go 5-1 up and put daylight between himself and his opponent, who many expected to challenge for the title.

Staring down the barrel of an early exit, Wilson’s session-high 60 break came in the final frame but a missed black helped Bingham swoop and almost clear the table until he himself missed a routine black, which his opponent sunk to reduce the deficit to three.

Emile Cairess dedicated his stunning run at the London Marathon to his cousin, who was left in a coma after a car crash earlier this year.

Cairess finished third in the second fastest time by a British man in two hours, six minutes and 46 seconds.

The run should rubber-stamp his place Great Britain team for this summer’s Olympics.

But Cairess’ immediate thoughts were with his 22-year-old cousin, Oliver Burton, who is still in hospital but out of intensive care.

“He’s my little cousin, like a little brother to me, and a couple of months ago he was in a bad accident,” said Cairess, 26.

“He was in a coma for about a month and just came out of ICU a few days ago,

“It was so stressful, it was touch and go at some points but he’s made a fantastic recovery in the last couple of weeks.

“This morning I was really emotional. Hopefully I’ve made him proud today.”

Cairess did not even know he was third, behind winner Alexander Munyao of Kenya and 41-year-old Kenenisa Bekele, until about 200m from the finish line.

“I heard it over the tannoy,” he added. ” I passed about four people in the space of a minute around the 39km mark and I thought I’d already passed a few from the front group.

“I was like ‘there can’t be many more left so I must be in a decent position’ but I didn’t know, I could have been sixth or seventh. When I heard I was third it was a great feeling.”

Another Briton, Mahamed Mahamed, finished fourth, making it the first time two home runners have finished in the top four since Kevin Forster and Hugh Jones in 1988.

Mahamed was catching Cairess in the closing stages and although he could not quite overhaul his team-mate, he was still inside the Olympic qualifying time.

“Me and Mahamed have been racing since we were 13, so we’ve always been neck and neck,” said Cairess.

“We’ve always progressed together so it’s fantastic to see him doing so well. A lot of people drop out of the sport but we kept going and it’s paid off for us.”

Munyao managed to shake off veteran Ethopian Bekele, who was bidding for a first London Marathon win some 20 years after he took Olympic 10,000m gold, with around three miles to go.

“At 40km I thought I could win the race,” he said. “It’s the biggest win in my career because it is my first major marathon.

“There was a little fear because I know Bekele is a threat but I was confident over the last few kilometres.”

Before the start of the men’s race and the mass race, tributes were paid to last year’s winner Kelvin Kiptum, who died in a car accident in February.

Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir smashed the women’s-only world record to win a thrilling women’s race.

The Kenyan kicked for home as she turned on to The Mall and won in 2:16.16.

Four runners were in with a shout down the final straight and Ethiopia’s Tigst Assefa came in second, ahead of Joyciline Jepkosgel in third with Megertu Alemu fourth.

The previous world record for a women-only race was 2:17.01 by Mary Jepkosgei Keitany in London in 2017.

“I’m so happy for today’s victory,” said Jepchirchir. “I wasn’t expecting to run a world record. I thought there might be one – but I didn’t think it would be me.”

Marcel Hug won a record fourth-consecutive men’s wheelchair race, the Swiss ‘Silver Bullet’, 38, clocking 1:28.33.

Daniel Romanchuk of the United States was second with Britain’s David Weir third in his 25th consecutive London Marathon.

Weir, 44, said: “Keeping up with Marcel for 20 miles, it was one of the best races I’ve done on this course.

“Some of these guys are 10 or 20 years younger than me. But I promised myself I’d come back and get on the podium.”

The women’s wheelchair race was won by a distance by another Swiss, Catherine Debrunner.

Former British and Commonwealth champion Willie Limond has died at the age of 45, the St Andrew’s Sporting Club has announced.

Limond fell ill last week amid preparations for a fight.

A statement from the Scot’s boxing club read: “Everyone at St Andrew’s Sporting Club are shocked and deeply saddened at the loss of our friend, Willie Limond.

“Willie was not only a legend of the sport, but an infectious character who will be greatly missed by us all.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Jake, Drew, Macy and the rest of the Limond family at this time.”

Former opponent Curtis Woodhouse was among those to pay tribute to Limond.

Limond beat Woodhouse to retain his Commonwealth light-welterweight title at Glasgow’s Braehead Arena in 2014.

Woodhouse posted on X, formerly Twitter: “Absolutely devastated to hear the news of the passing of Willie Limond, a great fighter and a great man.

“We stayed in touch after our fight and always had a laugh together. Absolutely gutted. Rest In Peace champ.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan has called for the World Snooker Championship to be moved from the Crucible, naming Saudi Arabia and China as possible alternatives.

The Sheffield venue has hosted every edition of the tournament since 1977 but the seven-time champion believes the time has come for change.

The 48-year-old will seek to win a record eighth title when the championship begins on April 20, having recently competed in the Saudi capital Riyadh and the Chinese city of Yushan.

“I don’t like the Crucible,” he told the Sun. “I don’t think you can get in and out of it. I think definitely it’s a wise decision to take it away from Sheffield.

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“Still have a tournament there. Why not? But just not the world championship over 17 days. It’s a massive circus and you need a massive space to accommodate it.

“I think Saudi Arabia would be great. They’ve got the resources and would do it great. If you’re going to take it to China, you’d have to take it to Shanghai. Or another major city like Shenzhen or Guangzhou.

“It’d be done properly. Courtesy cars will be laid on. Food will be there. Hotels will be great. Everything would be paid for. Prize money would be astronomical.

“The snooker becomes secondary. What are the facilities like? What’s it like for the fans? What’s the access like? You don’t need a 10 out of 10 venue. But everything else has to be right.”

Football and cricket’s transgender inclusion policies are set to come under Government scrutiny at a meeting on Monday afternoon.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has convened a gathering of national sports governing bodies to discuss developments related to this hugely controversial topic.

The Football Association and the England and Wales Cricket Board’s policies are under review, but do currently permit transgender women to compete in female competitions subject to certain conditions.

Frazer told Sky News last month: “I think it’s very important that women are able to compete against women and there’s an inherent unfairness, that if you’re not biologically a woman, you have a competitive advantage.

“And I think a number of sports have looked at this very carefully and come to the decision that it’s not appropriate to have women competing against people who are not biologically women.

“We’ve seen that in rowing. We’ve seen that in swimming. And I would encourage other sporting bodies to look at that very carefully.”

Transgender women can play in adult female competitions governed by the FA provided their testosterone levels are within the natal female range for an appropriate period of time.

The ECB’s current transgender policy allows a trans woman to play in any female-only competition governed by the ECB and states that those individuals “should be accepted in the gender with which they identify”.  The same principle applies at professional and England pathway level, subject to the trans woman being given written clearance to participate.

The ECB also has a separate disparity policy which can be applied when safety concerns are raised around differences in strength, stamina and physique, for example.

The policy covers safety matters for all players regardless of gender, but where safety concerns arise as a result of a trans woman participating in a female-only competition in the recreational game, the practices, principles and procedures set out in the policy could be applied.

Transgender women were banned from female cricket at international level last year after a change in policy by the sport’s global governing body, the International Cricket Council.

It joined a number of other international federations, such as athletics, swimming and cycling, in stating that anyone who has been through any part of male puberty would no longer be eligible to play in international women’s cricket.

Following the ICC announcement, the ECB said in a statement: “We are currently consulting on our own transgender participation policy for the professional game in England and Wales and expect to reach a conclusion on this shortly.”

A recent BBC survey found more than 100 elite sportswomen were uncomfortable with transgender women competing in female categories in their sport.

A paper published last month in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports also said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was wrong on current evidence to say in its framework on transgender inclusion there could be no presumed advantage to transgender women.

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas is seeking to challenge World Aquatics rules introduced in 2022 which prohibit her from competing in the female category.

The rules are set to be challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) by Thomas’ legal team on the grounds that they are discriminatory and that such discrimination “cannot be justified as necessary, reasonable, or proportionate to achieve a legitimate sporting objective”.

Long-serving presenter Garry Richardson will step down from BBC Radio Four’s Today programme this autumn, the corporation has announced.

Richardson will present the sports news on the early morning programme for the final time on September 9, marking precisely 50 years since his first day as a junior researcher for the broadcaster in 1974.

He has been working on the Today programme since 1981, and was also the host of the agenda-setting Sportsweek programme on Sunday mornings on BBC Radio 5 Live for 20 years until its final edition in September 2019.

“I have had the most wonderful time working for the BBC alongside my heroes from sport and showbusiness,” Richardson said.

“I’ll still be broadcasting from time to time, the only difference will be I won’t be setting my alarm for 2.45am and that’s a lovely thought.”

The BBC’s director-general Tim Davie described Richardson as a “legendary presenter” and added: “So many of us have woken up to him bringing the latest sporting news for over four decades.

“He has brought wisdom, insight and a smile to every broadcast. On behalf of all of us, I’d like to thank Garry for everything he has done, fifty years at the BBC is an incredible milestone.”

The news about Richardson comes just two days after it was confirmed Jonathan Agnew would stand down as the corporation’s chief cricket correspondent at the end of the summer.

Agnew will continue to commentate on the BBC’s Test Match Special broadcasts for four more years.

Oxford coxswain Will Denegri refused to blame illness for why the favourites suffered a disappointing loss in the 169th edition of the men’s Boat Race.

Cambridge, whose women secured a seventh successive trophy, were seen as underdogs despite doing the double last season but took the honours on a sunny Easter weekend where the pleasant conditions were in contrast to the discovery, earlier this week, that high levels of E. coli had been found along the course.

E. coli can cause a range of serious infections and other side-effects and rowers were told ahead of the race not to enter the Thames.

As a result, neither winning crew elected to partake in the tradition of throwing their cox into the river, and while Oxford’s seven seat Leonard Jenkins had earlier revealed to the BBC that he and several crewmates had been plagued by what he branded an E. coli-related illness, his cox was more reluctant to directly blame the bacteria.

Denegri said: “This week we’ve had three people who have had to miss sessions because they’ve had stomach bugs, essentially. Whether that’s related to E. coli in the river I don’t know, but it’s certainly not helped our campaign, and it’s a poor excuse.

“It’s not an excuse, but it definitely hasn’t helped our preparation. We obviously had a bit of a messy start, not the start we wanted. We had a great warm-up, nothing went wrong in the warm-up, so maybe that was not something we were expecting.

“It felt like we never quite got on the rhythm we were hoping to go onto, but at the same time it wasn’t terrible. We were doing a decent job. Cambridge I think today were just a quicker group, and that’s hard to take.”

Earlier, Jenkins had told the BBC:  “It would have been ideal not to have had so much poo in the water. But that’s not to take away from Cambridge.”

Cambridge triumphed by three and a half boat lengths in a time of 18 minutes and 56 seconds.

They have now won five of the last six editions and had taken a substantial lead by the final push to the finish, Oxford’s only glimmer of hope coming when winning stroke Matt Edge had visibly been pushed to his limit.

The dark blue boat drew closer, but by then Cambridge had rallied behind their ailing team-mate and their earlier advantage proved too much for their rivals to overcome.

Denegri was more willing to acknowledge the role flooding at their Wallingford base played in Oxford’s preparation, which forced them on several occasions to make the trip to the much-further Caversham Lake.

He said: “It’s obviously affected us a lot, especially through February. Caversham Lake is an hour and 10 minutes’ drive from Oxford, so spending two and a half hours on the bus every day has definitely interrupted our training.”

Cambridge, who train at Ely, faced no such challenges nor, as chief coach Rob Baker later confirmed, did they have any illness concerns ahead of Saturday’s showdown.

Following guidance issued to competitors, Baker did insist Ed Bracey – who initially said he might be willing – did not get dunked in the Thames, arranging instead for a bucket of clean water to be dumped on his cox’s head.

Bracey said of the victory: “It was very noisy through the middle of the race and very quiet those last few minutes there, but we got it done. We got it over the line in the end.

“[The pollution news] didn’t really change the way we handled anything to be honest. The stuff we were being advised to do is what we normally do, so it was business as usual.”

Baker, who was not aware of the illness plaguing Oxford, agreed Cambridge’s flood-free Ely HQ – “the best place to train in the country” –  was an advantage, and confirmed Edge, who was attended to by medical staff,  needed some fuel and warmth after the race but thought his stroke would be “fine”.

Asked about the E. coli controversy that had marred an another otherwise brilliant weekend for Cambridge, he added: “It’s obviously not a great situation. We’d like cleaner waterways and not have such a risk for our athletes.”

Cambridge extended their dominant run in the Boat Race with victory in both the men’s and women’s showdowns.

The men claimed a fifth trophy in six years, while the women cruised to a seventh straight triumph.

Crews were blessed with sunny conditions, with temperatures reaching the mid-teens and just a light breeze blowing ahead of launch time for the women’s race at 2:46pm.

Those pleasant conditions were in contrast to the news earlier this week that high levels of E. coli, which can cause a range of serious infections and other side-effects, had been found along the championship course.

All crews were issued safety guidance on a range of preventative measures, from covering up scrapes with waterproof plasters to ensuring rowers avoided swallowing any water that splashed up from the Thames.

Oxford won both coin tosses but opted for different starting points, with the women choosing Middlesex on the Fulham/Chiswick side of the course and the men beginning their quest at Surrey station on the Putney/Barnes side.

Both dark blue Oxford boats were seen as favourites for the 78th women’s and 169th men’s races.

The latter, umpired by Matthew Pinsent – himself a two-time Boat Race champion with Oxford – saw Cambridge take an early lead before Oxford quickly drew level as the four-time Olympic champion dished out early warnings as the boats drew close.

Cambridge took a narrow lead, which saw them ahead by half a length and 1.52 seconds at Hammersmith Bridge, but settled into a smooth rhythm that left Oxford even further behind.

Oxford, with just one returning crew member from last year’s loss, had fallen behind by more than 10 seconds by the time the crews reached the Chiswick steps, but it was not completely smooth sailing for the eventual victors.

Stroke Matt Edge was clearly flailing, his oar only just dipping in the water, but Cambridge’s lead proved too big an ask for Oxford as Edge’s crew rallied around their tiring team-mate to claim another victory.

Annie Sharp is only half-joking when she predicts she will be the only rower as excited about starting the Boat Race in close proximity to the Thames’ new ‘super sewer’ as she is about the chance to snap a six-year winless stretch for Oxford’s women.

The 24-year-old’s enthusiasm for the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a £4.5 billion, 25km-long sewage structure which saw its final piece lifted into place this week, makes more sense when you learn that Sharp is a MSc water science, policy & management student at St Antony’s College.

Oxford last won the women’s Boat Race in 2016, the same year work began on the sewer, but might not be able to partake in the traditional celebratory dip should they win the 78th women’s edition this Saturday after high levels of E. coli were found along the Championship Course.

Speaking before the findings were announced, Sharp, who will occupy the six seat, told the PA news agency: “We are working with water and unfortunately against it sometimes with the flooding that we’ve had at Wallingford this year.

“I’m a massive water advocate, and (for) the energy that we can also get back from renewable energy.

“British Rowing released their environment and sustainability programme (this month), some of the athletes are leading programmes and pushing for athletes to be more involved.

“I think absolutely, as role models they are massive for people trying to learn how to row and progress, so them using that platform I think is super important. Ultimately we all need to do our bit, but you do need the top-down approaches that really lead those decisions.”

Rowers have been issued safety guidance, including tips around covering cuts with waterproof dressings, taking care not to swallow river water, wearing suitable footwear and cleaning all equipment thoroughly.

Tideway, the company building the super sewer, has now completed the full 25km, 7.2m-wide main tunnel, a 4.5km connection tunnel in south-east London, and a 1.1km tunnel in south-west London. 

It claims that, once fully opened in 2025, it should “almost completely” reduce “tens of millions of tonnes of storm sewage” that makes its way into the Thames annually.

British Rowing, meanwhile, launched a new sustainability policy on the same day Sharp and the 35 other athletes taking seats in the Blue Boats this Saturday were announced.

The national governing body cited the latest State of Our Rivers report from The Rivers Trust which revealed that not a single river in England or Northern Ireland was considered ‘in good overall health’. 

As part of its new initiative, a partnership with River Action, The Rivers Trust and Aquascope, British Rowing will be announcing a funding programme which will enable clubs – over 30 of which sit along the Boat Race course – to test their water, clean up litter and tackle the increasing problem of invasive species.

Olympian Imogen Grant, a two-time Boat Race winner with Cambridge who came up 0.01 seconds short of lightweight double skulls bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Games and will try again this summer in Paris, has long advocated for sustainability within her sport and beyond.

Grant, one of four athletes comprising British Rowing’s sustainability working group at Caversham, told PA: “We spend three or four hours out on the water every single day. I’ve been rowing for nine years now and I’ve seen the impact of the climate on the rivers during that time. There’s been more flooding, races are cancelled due to strong winds, bad weather, things that would have been unforeseeable a decade ago.

“Something like the climate crisis can feel so overwhelming, but rowers, we know water, we know wind, we know that space, so starting with change there is a really great way to empower people.

“We’re so well placed as sports people to do this. It’s what we do every day. We love to root for an underdog. We love to choose a goal and work towards it, and that’s exactly what we need to do with our rivers’ health.”

Frazer Clarke is ready to have the last laugh when he takes on Fabio Wardley for the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles on Sunday in what will be the biggest night of his professional career.

Olympic bronze medallist Clarke has been forced to bide his time for a shot at domestic rival Wardley after their prospective bout last year collapsed.

Clarke’s own team of 258 Management and promotion company Boxxer made the decision to withdraw the 32-year-old on the day of purse bids, which resulted in their fighter being at the centre of a social media storm.

After Clarke took criticism and ridicule from all directions “on the chin”, he regrouped to get the better of veteran Mariusz Wach on points last summer before he comprehensively dismantled Dave Allen in September to finally set up an eagerly-anticipated clash with Wardley at London’s O2 Arena on Easter Sunday.

“It wasn’t pleasant. Definitely wasn’t pleasant,” Clarke told the PA news agency about the purse bid episode.

“To go through that at that stage of my career, it felt unfair but I am a firm believer in dealing with things as they come to you.

“I just had to get on with it. I did that and didn’t really complain too much. I got a lot of stick from a lot of people but took it on the chin. Got on with things. I had a couple of bad weeks but after that I was fine and we moved on.”

Clarke (8-0, 6KOs) conceded facing 48-fight veteran Wach at York Hall months after he was in line to compete for the British title proved to be the “biggest anti-climax ever”, while even Allen failed to “get the juices flowing” for the Stoke-on-Trent boxer.

However, motivation will be no problem when the 32-year-old steps in with Wardley, 29, after several social media exchanges between the duo who have been on a collision course since the latter beat one of Clarke’s old Olympic programme team-mates.

“I was at the Nathan Gorman fight. I watched that with keen interest and the second he became British champion, I thought one day I will end up fighting him,” Clarke said.

“I would say a rivalry is the right word. I wouldn’t say it’s a grudge because I have got no issue with Fabio.

“We’ve had a bit of back and forth, but that’s just the nature of the beast. It is all part and parcel of the game.

“The rivalry is definitely there. I would say it is a competitive rivalry rather than anything else.”

A subplot to this domestic dust-up is the pair’s upbringing, with Clarke steeped in boxing tradition after he progressed through the British Olympic programme, while Wardley’s first venture into the sport was through white-collar fights.

Nevertheless, Clarke acknowledged he is the underdog against an opponent who has won all 17 of his professional fights, but is ready to lean on his amateur pedigree and silence the critics after a “brutal” fight camp.

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He added: “Physically, emotionally, it’s been hard, draining but I feel like I’m coming out the other end.

“As a professional, this is definitely by far the biggest night of my life and everything will go into this.

“I’m motivated, I’m up for it and I’m really enjoying this underdog mentality.

“Having people against me, having people expecting me to get flattened, it will be sweet to prove people wrong.”

Fallon Sherrock wrapped up a successful two days at the PDC Women’s Series in Wigan with victory in the Event Four final on Sunday.

Sherrock, already victorious in Event One on Saturday, overpowered Beau Greaves 5-1 to claim her second triumph of the weekend.

Mikuru Suzuki also tasted success at the Robin Park Tennis Centre as she beat Deta Hedman 5-4 in the Event Three final earlier in the day.

Sherrock’s win came after a repeat of the Event One final, but was won far more convincingly than Saturday’s last-leg decider.

She had also powered through the earlier rounds as she disposed of Kirsi Viinikainen and Desiree Geel 5-0 and 5-1 respectively.

Suzuki edged out Sherrock 5-4 in the semi-finals of Event Three before going to beat Hedman in a deciding leg.

Judd Trump defended his World Open crown with a comprehensive 10-4 victory over Ding Junhui to claim the 28th ranking title of his career and move level with fourth-placed Steve Davis on the all-time list.

Trump dominated a scrappy first session in Yushan with a string of half-century breaks to open up an ominous 7-2 lead over home favourite Ding, who was let down by his safety play.

A stunning break of 130 by Trump after the interval managed to light up the final before he closed out the match with another century to clinch his fifth ranking title of the season.

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A 6-2 semi-final win over Jackson Page had kept Trump on course to defend the tournament he won in 2019 with this year the first time it has been staged again following the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s Ding stood in Trump’s way and the opening frame set the tone for a cagey encounter.

Ding was left to rue a missed pink after a break of 39 with Trump able to eventually move one up after a succession of snookers from the duo.

Trump was not in full flow but an 88-break established a 3-0 lead before Ding responded with 59 to reduce the deficit before the mid-session interval.

World number two Trump upped his level in the second half of the first session and produced breaks of 59, 79 and 78 to take control despite the interruption of several mobile phones.

Hopes of a spectacular comeback were raised when Ding produced a sparking 106 break to close out the first session.

Trump had other ideas and replied with his own first century of the match after a stunning clearance of 130.

Another three-figure break followed after the Englishman showed off his full repertoire of shots, in between Ding’s 11th-frame 84, to move on the verge of victory.

Ding ensured another interval would occur when he edged a tight next frame, but Trump would not be denied.

An intriguing 14th frame eventually clinched more World Open success for Trump, although only after he missed the red on four occasions after a brilliant snooker by Ding.

Trump’s 58 break still had him in control and despite more fine safety play by Ding, a superb pink secured the frame and the final by a 10-4 score.

It represented the 28th ranking title of Trump’s career to draw him level with Davis, while only Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stephen Hendry and John Higgins have won more than the Bristol potter.

England manager Gareth Southgate joined other members of the sporting world in sending a message of support to the Princess of Wales following her cancer diagnosis.

Kate revealed she was undergoing treatment for the disease in an emotional video message shared on Friday evening.

“Clearly we’ve just heard about the Princess of Wales and we just wanted to send our thoughts and best wishes to her and all her family,” said Southgate, speaking ahead of Saturday’s friendly with Brazil.

“Remarkably dignified statement she gave and we have a close relationship with family so upset by the news but hope everything goes well for her.”

The Football Association, of which the Prince of Wales is president, earlier posted on X: “Our thoughts are with the Princess of Wales, the Prince of Wales and their family.

“We send our very best wishes to the Princess for a full recovery.”

Former tennis player Billie Jean King – who sat alongside the Princess at Wimbledon last year – and ex-England striker Gary Lineker were among the well wishers on social media.

“Sending our love, support, and best wishes for a full and complete recovery to Catherine, The Princess of Wales,” wrote King.

Match of the Day host Lineker, also using X, posted: “Awful news. Wishing The Princess of Wales a full recovery.”

Kate, 42, is patron of the Rugby Football Union and attended some of England’s matches at last year’s World Cup in France.

A message from England Rugby read: “Everyone at England Rugby is wishing our Patron HRH The Princess of Wales a full and speedy recovery.”

The International Olympic Committee is wrong, on current evidence, to say there can be no presumed advantage to transgender women competing in female categories, a new study states.

The IOC has been urged to review the framework for transgender inclusion it published in 2021 in a new paper published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.

Scientists say there is a mountain of evidence in existing studies highlighting the differences in physical performance between men and women but also “limited but existing evidence” that significant advantages remain even after a trans woman who has been through male puberty has undergone treatment to lower testosterone.

Alun Williams, Professor of Sport and Exercise Genomics at the Manchester Metropolitan University Institute of Sport and co-author of the paper, said: “The IOC’s framework says there is no ‘presumption of advantage’, but the data shows there is physical development that takes place during adolescence in males that gives clear athletic advantages.

“Male development during puberty results in large performance advantages in athletic sports, such as larger muscle mass, heart size, lung capacity, bones, strength, and circulating haemoglobin, which are integral to sports performance.

“It is this exposure to testosterone during adolescent development, not the level of testosterone present in adults, that underpins the difference between the male and female categories, and there is currently no evidence that testosterone suppression in transgender women can reverse male development and negate these advantages.”

The new research uses data to demonstrate the difference between male and female physiology, showing, for example, up to 50 per cent greater upper body muscle mass and 40 per cent greater lower body muscle mass in males, in addition to skeletal differences such as nine per cent greater height and 14 per cent greater shoulder width.

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas is seeking to challenge World Aquatics rules introduced in 2022 which prohibit her from competing in the female category.

The rules are set to be challenged at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) by Thomas’ legal team on the grounds that they are discriminatory and that such discrimination “cannot be justified as necessary, reasonable, or proportionate to achieve a legitimate sporting objective”.

Speaking generally rather than specifically on the Thomas case, Professor Williams said proportionality was always a difficult issue to interpret.

“To some, a proportionate response to even a one per cent retained advantage is ineligibility,” he said.

“Some people have asked, is there a meaningful advantage or meaningful difference that still exists (even after testosterone treatment)?”

Asked whether there was a meaningful advantage, Professor Williams replied: “That is what the evidence shows. Whatever the initial (performance) difference is, typically less than half of that difference seems to be removed (by the lowering of testosterone) in the scientific studies examined.

“At least half (the advantage) in most of the things that we’re talking about –  muscle mass and strength and endurance and so on – seems to remain.”

The IOC has been contacted for a response.

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