The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports


Wimbledon winners to receive £1.1 million

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 04:51 AM PDT

WIMBLEDON, England (AP): The singles champions at Wimbledon this year will each receive £1.1 million ($1.8 million), a 10 percent increase from last year.

The All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie announced Tuesday the total prize fund for the 125th championships is going up by 6.4 percent to £14.6 million ($23.8 million).

Because the British pound has strengthened since last year, the increase is even larger when counted in dollars.

"Leading international sports events, such as Wimbledon, are all about the quality of the players on show," All England Club chairman Philip Brook said. "It is important that we offer prize money which suitably rewards the players both for the box office appeal they bring to the event and for their supreme performances on court."

Last year, prize money for the singles champions broke the £1 million mark for the first time.

Ritchie said the All England Club has been asking the British government to relax tax rules to make the tournament more attractive to competitors.

Athletes visiting Britain for team sports such as football are not taxed on earnings and endorsements for their time in the country but individuals are.

Ritchie said the All England Club had also spoken with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who is also making presentation to government for the change.

"If Lionel Messi comes here for a Champions League final, he does not get taxed, but Roger Federer does," Ritchie said. "We don't believe it is an impediment to Wimbledon in terms of people coming here.

But it is on their radar screen, let's put it that way.

"It's the same with golf. There are certain international golfers who don't come and play here, as I understand it, for that reason."

Ritchie said tournament organizers had not heard from Serena Williams over whether she intends to defend her singles title.

Williams hasn't played competitively since winning the tournament last year because of complications following a foot injury.

The 2011 Wimbledon tournament will also feature a new 2,000-seat No. 3 court featuring the same Hawk-Eye technology used on the other show courts.

With a new No. 4 court also open for the first time, the total number of courts will be back up to the traditional 19 following several years of redevelopment.

Ground capacity will increase this year from 37,500 spectators to 38,500.

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Marathon great Grete Waitz dies at 57 (Updated)

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 04:46 AM PDT

OSLO, Norway (AP): Grete Waitz, a Norwegian runner who won nine New York City Marathons and the silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, died Tuesday after a six-year battle with cancer. She was 57.

Helle Aanesen, the manager of the Active Against Cancer Foundation in Norway, said Waitz died early Tuesday at the Ulleval University Hospital in Oslo.

A former Oslo schoolteacher, Waitz won her first New York City Marathon in 1978, setting a world best in 2 hours, 32 minutes, 30 seconds in her first attempt at running the distance. She went on to win eight more times, with her last victory coming in 1988.

She won the London Marathon twice, in 1983 and '86, and earned five titles at the world cross-country championships from 1978-81 and 1983.

Waitz also won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1983 world championships in Helsinki, Finland. A year later, she took second behind Joan Benoit in the first women's Olympic marathon.

Waitz competed at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics in the 1,500 meters, but missed the 1980 Moscow Games because of the American-led boycott.

"Grete is in my eyes one of the greatest Norwegian athletes of all time," Norwegian Athletics Federation president Svein Arne Hansen said. "Not only through her performances in the sport, but also as a role model for women in sports."

In a Twitter posting, marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe remembered Waitz as "an amazing champion and more amazing person."

Aanesen said a private funeral ceremony is planned for next week, according to Waitz's wishes.

Waitz is survived by her husband Jack Waitz and her two brothers, Jan and Arild.

Waitz had never run a marathon when she started the New York City race in October 1978. Her husband had talked her into trying, but after about 30 kilometers (18 miles) she regretted it.

"I was hurting. I was mad. I was angry. I told Jack: 'Never again," Waitz recalled in 2008.

She broke the world record three more times: In New York in 1979 and '80 and in London in '83.

Waitz started undergoing cancer treatment in 2005 but rarely discussed her condition in public.

"That's not my personality," she said in November 2005. "I've always been a private person. ... I'll do that when I cross the finish line and win this race."

At the time she was optimistic she could conquer the disease.

"I'm crossing my fingers," she said. "I will beat it."

Like Waitz, Aanesen declined to specify which type of cancer she had.

"She didn't wish to put too much focus on herself and her disease, but hoped she could contribute in some way to help others," said Aanesen, who got to know Waitz through her work with the foundation.

"She was a fantastic and immensely successful sports practitioner and also a role model and pioneer in women's sports," Aanesen said. "She showed that women too can run longer distances than 1,000 meters."

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