Sport briefs

Agassi is dethroned
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at Key Biscayne

[BB] KEY BISCAYNE, Florida – Andre Agassi was dethroned after a three-year reign at Key Biscayne but Serena Williams finds her crown still fits perfectly even after an eight-month lay-off. Argentina’s Agustin Calleri hammered 47 winners in a 6-2, 7-6 (7-2), triumph against Agassi yesterday at the $8.65 million WTA and ATP Masters Series hardcourt event, ending the 33-year-old American’s 19-match and three-title run in Miami. “I wish somebody would tell me how he hit so well,” Agassi said. “I raised my standard to stay in there. I was lucky to win two games in the first set. The guy was just making me play great tennis and I wasn’t coming up with it.”

Two-time defending women’s champion Williams breezed into the semi-finals by routing 73rd- ranked fellow American Jill Craybas 6-0, 6-1. She faces Greece’s Eleni Daniilidou for a berth in Saturday’s title match.

Rusedski in clear

LONDON – Greg Rusedski will be able to resume his career after the governing body of men’s tennis chose not to appeal against its own tribunal’s decision to clear the Briton of failing a drugs test. “The main thing is that we agreed with Greg to move forward and help him back into the game and we felt it was the right decision at this time,” the ATP’s vice-president of corporate communications David Higdon said yesterday.

Noriega retires

SYDNEY – Wallaby prop Patricio Noriega yesterday announced his retirement from rugby union after an international career spanning 13 years and two countries. Noriega, 32, played 24 Tests for the Wallabies after moving to Australia with his young family from Argentina following the 1995 Rugby World Cup having played 25 Tests for the Pumas from his 1991 debut.

Aussies in the money

ORLANDO, Florida – Robert Allenby defeated women’s world No.1 Annika Sorenstam and Stuart Appleby fired a final day low 66 to help their team to victory in the most lucrative interclub golf match in history yesterday. The $2 million, two-day Tavistock Cup battle between Orlando, Florida’s exclusive residential golf course estates Isleworth and Lake Nona featured 10 of the world’s top 50 players. And it proved a worthwhile couple of days for Aussies Allenby, Appleby and Craig Parry, who live at Isleworth as their nine-man team triumphed 14.5 to 9.5 even without celebrated neighbour Tiger Woods. The winning team received $133,000 a player for turning out when they would probably have been practising anyway as the Masters looms next week.

Ronaldo on guard

ASUNCION – Brazilian striker Ronaldo says his team will have to be prepared to make sacrifices to keep intact their unique record of playing at every World Cup. “This is a really difficult competition,” said Ronaldo, who is playing in the South American World Cup qualifiers for the first time. “Our team has always had difficulty qualifying but we have to get over this – if we don’t, we won’t go to the World Cup,” he said yesterday, a day ahead of Brazil’s match against Paraguay. “All the games are difficult but we have to get over the other problems – the travelling, the tiredness, the lack of understanding on the field.”

Ronaldo played for Real Madrid at the weekend, arrived in Asuncion on Monday and will be back in Spain in time for the following weekend.

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Mariners face hard beginning

Mariners coach Hamish Ogilvie yesterday admitted the side’s preparation had not been brilliant because they could not afford to play practice matches against interstate sides.
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Ogilvie said the Cannons side, which boasts 20 players from last year’s premiership, would be hard to compete with, especially now that he would miss the services of midfielders Noel Leon and Justin Sherman, who have been named in Australia’s under-17 team to play Ireland in an international- rules series.

“It is a pleasant problem to have, though, especially when you consider that Billy Morrison (Collingwood) and Alex Gilmour (Richmond) would have been eligible to play Mariners this year as well,” Ogilvie said.

“Our preparation has been a bit tough. We have played the Northern Bombers and they beat us convincingly, but we did have our most experienced kids in the Devils, and then we beat Burnie and Lauderdale,” Ogilvie said.

“It is not an ideal preparation because we can’t fly in a team or go to Melbourne to play a practice game, and (Saturday’s game) will be a big shock for the guys who have never played TAC Cup.”

Ogilvie said he would look to Devils-listed 18-year-olds Jarrod Garth, Andrew Lee and Jesse Wells, who are part of the squad’s leadership group, to stand up during the Mariners’ four TAC Cup games, three challenge games, two SFL and NTFL clashes and three championship games this season.

“We have a lot of 16- and 17-year-olds, so I am keen to put them up and give them some experience – and I think if we do the hard yards now we will be better down the track,” he said.

“We haven’t set any goals in terms of wins or losses. We want to be competitive in the championships and it is about developing them.”

¤¤¤ THE 2004 MARINERS SQUAD – Leigh Harding (South Launceston), Leon Noel (Clarence), Kyle Chamberlain (Glenorchy), Sam Iles (Clarence), Matthew Wade (Lauderdale), Sam Carins (Launceston Grammar), Jade Hodge (New Norfolk), Andrew Lee (Burnie Dockers), Jason Rayner (Devonport), Nick Auksorius (Clarence), Dean Cornish (Kingston), Marcus Turner (Clarence), Zane Littlejohn, Sam Lonergan (Launceston), Nathan O’Donoghue (Launceston), Justin Sherman (Clarence), Todd Grima (South Launceston), Grant Birchall (Devonport), Jacob Stride (North Hobart), Clinton Page (South Launceston), Allan Bielski (Northern Bombers), Daniel Rattenbury (Clarence), Jason Howard (Burnie Dockers), Ryan Keeley (Ulverstone), Jesse Wells (Burnie Dockers), Ben Curley (Glenorchy), Todd Crane (George Town), Heath Neville (Clarence), Ben Fagan (Clarence), Jarrod Garth (Clarence), Brendon De Salis (Glenorchy), Nichols Buller (South Launceston), Hayden Scott (Launceston), Nicholas Butler (Penguin), Gareth Delaney (Brighton), Troy Murphy (South Launceston), Darren Crawford (Ulverstone), Callum Garvey (Glenorchy), Matthew O’Donoghue (Launceston).

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`I couldn’t feed myself, I couldn’t do anything’

PARTY TIME: David Denholm is back home at Latrobe – and walking – after a freak accident left him paralysed. Picture: PETER LORDA freakish beach accident in January left the Latrobe man paralysed, and he lay in Melbourne’s Austin Hospital contemplating a bleak future.
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But a lot of luck and bucketloads of perserverence enabled the 26-year- old to turn the tables on tragedy and regain the use of his body.

Now he can’t wait to hit the road again.

“When I am confident I won’t drop the bike, I will throw a leg over,” Mr Denholm said on Tuesday.

In the meantime, a party is being held on Saturday night to celebrate Mr Denholm’s wheelchair-free return home and he will be there with bells on.

“I certainly didn’t fancy life as a `head in a wheelchair’,” he said.

“My life stopped after the accident but now I have it back again.”

Mr Denholm still has a lot of work to do to regain his full mobility.

“I need to go to physio two times a week, but the more I do, the better I get,” he said from his loungeroom.

“If I sit on the couch all day, I won’t get any better.”

But just sitting on the couch unaided is no mean feat for a bloke who faced a life of total dependence on others.

“I couldn’t feed myself, I couldn’t do anything,” Mr Denholm said.

“When I started to recover, I actually felt a bit guilty looking at the other guys who would not get a second shot at life.

“You lose so much more than just your legs when you are paralysed. All your dignity stops at the front door.

“A lot of the blokes in Austin talked about giving up the use of their legs if they were given a chance to have control of their bladder and bowels again.”

Mr Denholm remembers the events of January 3 at Bakers Beach very clearly.

“I remember the sound of the crunch of my spine, and of floating in the water and not being able to get up,” he said.

“My whole life stopped in front of me.

“It is so good to be home, to be able to have a beer on the verandah and think about getting my life back to normal.”

Being able to move his little finger was the first sign Mr Denholm received that all might not be lost.

“I had sensations in my little finger, then my big toe. Every day, something came back,” he said.

“I still have some funny feelings – like things are numb – but I have my life back and I am home.”

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Compulsory tests yield convictions

Peter John Stone, of Lucaston in the State’s South, was jailed for 21 years yesterday after he pleaded guilty to the crime last month.
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It was the second conviction of a Tasmanian this month using a DNA offender database to link them to forensic evidence at the crime scene.

On March 12, George Town man Michael John Bennett was sentenced to jail for the abduction and sexual assault of a four- year-old girl in 1990. Bennett was charged with the attack last December when DNA found on her nightie was matched with DNA from a rape that he committed three months later.

Another high-profile case solved through DNA testing saw the conviction of taxi driver Gerald Wayne Hyland for the rape and manslaughter of Amanda Carter in 1980.

Legislation introduced in Tasmania in 2001 gives police the power to take forensic samples from convicted prisoners, those on parole and suspects.

In the past 20 months, more than 1500 matches have been made between crime scene samples and offender DNA profiles.

Tasmania Police Assistant Commissioner Luppo Prins said the DNA database of more than 6000 crime scene samples had helped improve the crime-solving rate immeasurably.

He said that 29 per cent of property crime and 91 per cent of crimes against the person were now solved.

“A lot of that has been the capacity to get forensic evidence samples from crime scenes,” Mr Prins said. “We’ve had quite a few old crimes that wouldn’t have been solved without the new technology.”

The testing also had a deterrent aspect that was very important in crime prevention.

“The biggest deterrent I know of is the likelihood of getting caught,” he said. “So it’s a crime prevention measure as well as a crime detection tool.”

Yet another aspect was that it could be used to establish innocence as well as prove guilt.

Mr Prins expects even better results as the Tasmanian database is hooked up to the other states for the exchange of DNA information.

DNA STATISTICS

For the financial year up until February 2004 –

Number of DNA matches: 578.

Number of suspects excluded through DNA profiling: 193. Number of samples from crime scenes: 4304.

Number of samples from suspects: 3598.

Number of samples from serious offenders (includes prisoners): 4491.

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Briefs

Australian climber dies
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[BB] TIMARU, New Zealand – An Australian climber died yesterday after falling more than 1000m while climbing New Zealand’s Aoraki-Mt Cook. The 22-year-old Canberra man was one of a party of two Australians, a Swede and a Briton, attempting to climb the east face of Aoraki-Mt Cook in New Zealand’s South Island.

The group were standing above Summit Rocks discussing their plans for the climb to the summit 300m above when the man either slipped.

Jackson case under way

LOS ANGELES – A 19-member grand jury convened for the first time yesterday to begin hearing evidence in the Michael Jackson child molestation case.

If at least 12 of the jurors vote to indict the controversial performer, Jackson will head to trial.

According to legal observers, the witness line-up for the grand jury hearings will include the now 24-year-old man who was at the centre of a similar case against Jackson in 1993, and former employees of the singer.

UN examines water issue

JEJU, South Korea – Environment ministers from around the globe focused on improving the world’s water resources and sanitation as they gathered yesterday for the second day of a United Nations summit.

About 1.1 billion people lacked access to safe drinking water, while another 2.4 billion lacked access to basic sanitation, the UN Environment Programme warned.

The discussions in Jeju will form a basis for talks next month in New York with the UN Commission on Sustainable Development

Annan blasts UN officials

UNITED NATIONS – In a stinging rebuke, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said senior United Nations staff ignored the security threats in Iraq before the August 19 bombing of its headquarters in Baghdad that killed 22 people. He fired one top official and demoted another.

Mr Annan chastised his deputy, Louise Frechette, who chaired a steering group on Iraq when the UN decided last May that UN staff could go back into the country after the US-led war.

NATO members top 26

WASHINGTON – NATO yesterday signed up seven new countries in Eastern Europe in a historic expansion that takes its military muscle to the Russian border, heightening concerns in Moscow.

The prime ministers of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia deposited “instruments of accession” to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s founding Washington treaty and brought the number of members to 26.

Ivory Coast toll mounts

ABIDJAN – At least 73 people have been killed in three days of violence in Ivory Coast’s main city, Abidjan, morgue officials said yesterday.

Morgue workers at two of Abidjan’s main university hospitals said 67 bodies with gunshot wounds had been taken there. Six more bodies, including those of two policemen, were taken to the Ivosep mortuary, officials said.

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