Mercedes F1 driver MICHAEL SCHUMACHER "will retire from F1 at the end of the season," according to the DPA. The seven-time world champion announced his retirement prior to this weekend's Grand Prix of Japan in Suzuka. Schumacher ends all speculations about a possible move to another team (DPA, 10/4). The PA wrote that Schumacher's seat at Mercedes will be taken by McLaren's LEWIS HAMILTON in '13, and "with a dearth of other options available to him he has opted to quit the sport at the age of 43." Schumacher said, "I have decided to retire at the end of the season. I still feel I am capable of competing against the best but the time sometimes comes to say goodbye and this time it might be forever." He added: "I had been thinking about whether I had the necessary motivation to carry on but I do not want to do something I am not 100% committed to. Having made the decision I now feel a release." Schumacher, "his voice breaking with emotions," was flanked by Mercedes Team Principal ROSS BRAWN and Mercedes Motorsport Dir NORBERT HAUG as he made his announcement. Schumacher's first stint in F1, between '91-06 "saw him rewrite the sport's record books, winning seven world titles and 91 races." He will be best remembered for helping to revive Ferrari's fortunes after joining the "Prancing Horse" in '96 as part of the "Dream Team" along with Brawn, JEAN TODT, RORY BYRNE and PAOLO MARTINELLI, winning five straight titles between '00-04. Schumacher "retired at the end of '06, but was convinced to make a comeback with the Mercedes team" in '10 by close friend Brawn (PA, 10/4).
MOVING FORWARD: In London, Giles Richards reported Schumacher said of his future plans: "I have options, and you know some of the options, but we will decide when the time is there." Brawn, who described Schumacher as the "greatest racing driver of this century," had suggested to the BBC last week that "there may be a role for him at Mercedes." Brawn said, "We would like him to stay involved with Mercedes. There is a lot of things he can contribute -- perhaps on the racing car side but certainly on the road car side and I think that is something he would enjoy a great deal" (GUARDIAN, 10/4). The SID wrote that Schumacher's former Manager WILLI WEBER describes his decision to retire at the end of the season as "absolutely rational." Weber thinks that Schumacher "will stay connected to Mercedes." Weber said, "I guess he will take on the role of brand ambassador for Mercedes. However, he's an adrenaline junkie who needs his fixes" (SID, 10/4).
Former Australian professional tennis player and current coach DARREN CAHILL argued in a discussion with tennis writers that offering first-round losers more money at the Australian Open "would only promote mediocrity," according to Courtney Walsh of THE AUSTRALIAN. Cahill said, "Nobody is entitled. Everything is earned. I applaud the Aussie Open for stepping up and fully support the players' push for a larger share of revenue, but not for first-round exits." Cahill, who coached LLEYTON HEWITT early in his career and helped ANDRE AGASSI remain a force well into his 30s, said that a decrease in prize money "should be considered for first-round losers as a method of motivation." He said that too many players "turned up at slams when not fit enough to compete simply because they were guaranteed a reasonable earn." Cahill wrote on Twitter: "I'd be tempted to reduce 1st rd money & give major increases to 2nd & 3rd rounds, & beyond. Reward players for performance, similar to golf" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/5).
MAGIC JOHNSON, will attend Sunday's Barcelona vs. Real Madrid clash at the Nou Camp stadium (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 10/4). ... RAFAEL NADAL's Coach TONI NADAL revealed that Rafa will start training again in 15 days and could possibly play in the Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic (SPORT, 10/3). ... FIFA will "reach a decision on Friday" about midfielder PARK JONG-WOO, who held up a sign asserting Korea's sovereignty over the Dokdo islets after a 2-0 victory over Japan at this year's London Games (THE CHOSUNILBO, 10/4). ... European Athletics revealed that Olympic heptathlon champion JESSICA ENNIS has been named the women's European athlete of 2012 (REUTERS, 10/4). ... The 2013 World Athletics Championship organizers in Moscow have declined the services of sprinter USAIN BOLT, who was supposed to appear in its promotional video, after he asked for "too high a fee" (RT.com, 10/4). ... Olympic kit designer STELLA MCCARTNEY has "taken gold" after enjoying her label's most successful year since its '01 launch. Profits for her label soared 16% to £3.29M ($5.31M) on turnover up 19% to £21M ($33.9M) (London GUARDIAN, 10/3). ... England Manager ROY HODGSON has apologized to ManU defender RIO FERDINAND after it emerged he had told fellow passengers on the Tube that Ferdinand would not be selected for the England squad (London INDEPENDENT, 10/4).
READY TO SERVE: Former Hiroshima Carp Manager KOJI YAMAMOTO has accepted the job of managing Japan at next March's World Baseball Classic. An announcement is expected after the end of Japan's regular season on Oct. 10 (KYODO, 10/4). ... Hanwha Eagles pitcher PARK CHAN-HO said Wednesday that he is "thinking about retirement." Park said, "I feel there is a strong need for further development in the administration side of the sport, not in players’ performance" (KOREA TIMES, 10/4). ... Vodafone Warriors prop BEN MATULINO "joined club greats" JOE VAGANA, JERRY SEUSEU, RUBEN WIKI and STEVE PRICE when he became the fifth prop in the club's history to win the premier Lion Red NRL Player of the Year award. A multiple winner of the players' Player of the Day accolade, Matulino finished "well clear of the other nominees, hooker NATHAN FRIEND, rookie centre-back rower BEN HENRY, captain SIMON MANNERING and back rower FELETI MATEO" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 10/4).
NOT ABOUT THE MONEY: F1 driver LEWIS HAMILTON has "denied that his decision to switch teams from McLaren to Mercedes was for financial reasons." The British driver spoke for the first time since signing a three-year deal with Mercedes that starts next season. Hamilton said, "It was not about the offer. I had two offers on the table, which were very, very similar. Martin [McLaren Team Principal MARTIN WHITMARSH] asked me what more they could have done. I said: 'To be honest, Martin, it was about the new challenge and a step that I wanted to make'" (London GUARDIAN, 10/3).