Professor SID WATKINS, the F1 doctor who tended to AYRTON SENNA after his fatal crash at Imola in '94 and who saved the lives of countless others through his work on safety, "has died at the age of 84," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. Watkins was brought in to the sport by F1 CEO BERNIE ECCLESTONE in '78, shortly before the death of Swedish great RONNIE PETERSON at Monza in September of that year. The Briton worked closely with former Int'l Automobile Federation (FIA) head MAX MOSLEY to improve track and car safety, stepping down as medical officer only in '04 but continuing to play a role at the governing body as first president of its foundation. In his book "Life at the Limit: Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One" Watkins wrote of Senna's final days and how distraught the Brazilian was at [ROLAND] RATZENBERGER's death in qualifying. Advising Senna not to race, he added: "In fact, why don't you give it up altogether? What else do you need to do? You have been world champion three times, you are obviously the quickest driver. Give it up and let's go fishing." As word spread around F1 of his death late on Wednesday, confirmed by a source close to the family, "tributes poured in from drivers and all whose lives were touched by the wise-cracking neurosurgeon with a love of cigars and whisky." They included Brazilian RUBENS BARRICHELLO, who suffered a huge crash on the same San Marino Grand Prix weekend that claimed the lives of Senna and Austrian Ratzenberger. Barrichello said on Twitter to 1.7 million followers, "It was Sid Watkins that saved my life in Imola 94. great guy to be with, always happy...tks for everything u have done for us drivers. RIP." Senna remains the last driver fatality in a F1 race and "much of the credit for the survival of others can be laid at the door of Watkins," known simply as "Prof" by paddock regulars and "Sid" by closer friends. McLaren Chair and former team Principal RON DENNIS, whose cars took Senna to all of his titles said in a statement, "Today the world of motor racing lost one of it's true greats. No he wasn't a driver. No he wasn't an engineer. No, he wasn't a designer. He was a doctor and it's probably fair to say that he did more than anyone, over many years, to make Formula One as safe as it is today" (REUTERS, 9/13).
'A SAD DAY': The London DAILY MAIL wrote that F1's current medical delegate GARY HARTSTEIN, who learned his trade for seven years under Watkins' wing, said: "For a long time I wanted to call him every time I had to make a decision. Then I just started thinking 'what would he do in this situation? And finally, for better or for worse, I realised I was doing just what he'd do (but probably not as well). When I told him this a few years ago, he smiled and said "Of course old boy! You've had a bloody great teacher!" FIA President JEAN TODT said, "This is a truly sad day for the FIA family and the entire motor sport community. Sid was loved and respected in equal measure by all those who knew and worked with him. We will always be grateful for the safety legacy that he has left our sport." FIA Institute President GERARD SAILLANT added: "Sid was a true gentleman of our sport and always a pleasure to work with" (DAILY MAIL, 9/13).
A former physiotherapist "has been given the task of replacing CHARLES VAN COMMENEE" and ensuring that Team GB build on the golden memories of MO FARAH and JESSICA ENNIS at Rio in four years’ time, according to Doug Gratton of the LONDON TIMES. NEIL BLACK, who worked with both of Britain’s iconic Gold Medal-winners in the build-up to the London Olympics, "has been appointed to the position of U.K. Athletics performance director" after the resignation this week of Van Commenee, the head coach. Van Commenee said, "If I were ever CEO of a national athletics federation or even Olympic Association, Neil Black is the first guy I would call and try to hire" (LONDON TIMES, 9/13). The London GUARDIAN wrote that UKA "has not had anyone in that post since '08," when DAVE COLLINS left, with the responsibility since then shared jointly between Van Commenee and CEO NIELS DE VOS. Black, "a pivotal figure in the success of British athletics for 20 years," will oversee the next Olympic cycle to the 2016 Games in Rio and the 2017 World Championships in London. Black said, "It is an honour to be given the chance to lead the Olympic and Paralympic task force and be asked to lead colleagues with whom I have worked hand in glove for the last four years." Black's first main duty "will be the appointment of a new Olympic head coach" to replace Van Commenee, who will assist in the process (GUARDIAN, 9/13).
BBC Sport Head of Marketing and Communications LOUISA FYANS is set to join Pitch, a London-based communications consultancy. Fyans has been at the BBC since '00 and led its London 2012 marketing efforts. Fyans will take up her new position as a director at the end of the year (Pitch). ... Brasileiro club Vasco VP JOSE HAMILTON MANDARINO is resigning from his position. Mandarino sent a letter to club President ROBERTO DINAMITE "letting him know of his decision" (LANCENET.com.br, 9/13).
MANAGERS: Brasileiro club Vasco has hired MARCELO OLIVEIRA as the new head coach of the team. Oliveira agreed to a contract through Dec. '13 and will replace CRISTOVAO BORGES who resigned earlier this week (GLOBOESPORTE, 9/12). ... The German Field Hockey Federation "will not extend its contract with women's national team Coach MICHAEL BEHRMANN," which expires at the end of the year. A successor has not yet been announced (SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG, 9/13). ... Serbian football club Vojvodina Novi Sad has sacked Coach ZLATOMIR ZAGORCIC "because the team eked out three successive 1-0 wins with drab performances." Officials appointed former striker NEBOJSA VIGNJEVIC to fill the role. Club President MIODRAG PANTELIC said, "We have analyzed our performances during the international break and felt that we should have played better football against the three lesser rivals we beat by the skin of our teeth" (REUTERS, 9/13).
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Former Scottish Premier League Celtic Head Coach GORDON STRACHAN has little hope for the club when it goes up against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions league group stage. Strachan said, "How to beat Barcelona? Well, you visit a church or chapel, whatever your preference is, and just pray" (AS, 9/12). ... Japan national women's football team player NORIO SASAKI, who guided Japan to victory at the 2011 Women's World Cup final and the Silver Medal at the London Games, could be staying on as Nadeshiko coach. Japan Football Association Chief of Women's Football EIJI UEDA revealed that "the charismatic 54-year-old is the only candidate" with whom the association is currently negotiating (KYODO, 9/13). ... China's double Olympic Gold Medalist SUN YANG "is proving so popular that swimming organizers have been forced to enforce tough media restrictions" at the National University Games in Tianjin (CHINA DAILY, 9/13). ... The International Cricket Council announced two new inductees to the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame: West Indies batsman BRIAN LARA and England's ENID BAKEWELL. Bakewell is the third women to be inducted (ICC). ... Great Britain's "most successful Olympian" CHRIS HOY, has been announced as the first official ambassador of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The cyclist's new role will see him appear in "high-profile promotional campaigns and lend his support to the organizing committee." Hoy said, "Following an incredible Olympics in London, I'm proud to lend my support to the next great sporting event on home soil" (Scotland DAILY RECORD, 9/13). ... The British Boxing Board of Control confirmed RICKY HATTON will be granted a new boxing license "providing he successfully completes all parts of a medical." The former two-weight world champion, who turns 34 next month, retired three years ago but is set to "relaunch his career at a press conference in Manchester on Friday" (London DAILY MAIL, 9/13).
THE MAN ABOVE ALL MEN: ManU has "applied for planning permission" to put a statue of ALEX FERGUSON and revealed where it will stand at Old Trafford. The three-meter tall bronze statue "will go on a canopy to be built outside the North Stand – now the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand." Last year, the club revealed that they had commissioned PHILIP JACKSON, "an award-winning fellow Scot," to make the tribute (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 9/13). ... Liverpool handed a contract to 16-year-old Turkish midfielder EMIN ALTUNAY. Altunay won Futbol Prensi, a TV reality show in his home country for "youngsters between the ages of 14 and 16 to demonstrate their talent." The youngster who played against a selected squad of Liverpool youth players during the show, "is now being given his chance with the Merseyside giants" (DAILY MAIL, 9/13).
The Guardian's Mike Selvey: "Meanwhile, I'm wondering whether or not to buy Deccan Chargers. Change for a tenner anyone?"
Hindustan Times' Madhavan Narayanan: "New iPhone has its Lightning charger that makes other chargers obsolete. Deccan Chargers were already in trouble. This must make it worse"
BBC presenter Gary Lineker: "Spooky! Only been in Nandos in Wimbledon for 5 minutes and 4 people have already tweeted that we're here. #slightlyunnerving"
The Northern Echo's Scott Wilson: "Really cannot believe tomorrow's Daily Telegraph does not have a single word about Hillsborough on the front page. Staggering misjudgement."
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