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Around the world in three days

American billionaire Steve Fossett, 60, has become the first person to fly solo non-stop around the world. Taking off in Kansas in Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer aircraft, Fossett needed just 67 hours to cover 23,000 miles – the equivalent of circumnavigating the Tropic of Cancer – sometimes cruising at speeds of up to 400mph at 47,000ft. The intrepid adventurer also smashed the fastest around the world flight record which had been set by the experimental American “voyager” plane at 216 hours in 1986, and must now rank alongside Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh as one of the greatest aviators ever. Fossett holds 65 personal world records and has also swam the English Channel.

Ryder joy

Ian Woosnam has been confirmed as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain for the 2006 event at the K Club in Ireland. The appointment represents the pinnacle of the 47-year-old Welsh golfer’s career, which started in the 70s. Woosnam’s popularity among his fellow professions made the vote of the Players’ Tournament Committee a formality. Nick Faldo was handed the consolation prize of already being named as Woosnam’s successor for 2008, when the tournament will be held at Valhalla, Kentucky.


This year’s Rally of Portugal will he held in the Algarve between March 31 and April 2 and will cover 240km, between Faro, Tavira, São Brás de Alportel, Loulé, Silves, Ourique and Almodôvar. The race will feature four world champions namely Carlos Sainz, Colin McRae, Didier Avriol and John Kankkunen, among others.

Racing certainties

With the Cheltenham festival only a week away, news concerning the principal contestants dominate the headlines. Ireland’s main Gold Cup hope, Kicking King will miss the showcase event, but both the favourite, Best Mate, and second favourite Kingscliff will take their places. Best Mate is attempting to take the chasing crown for a fourth time, one more than the immortal Arkle and one less than the unforgettable Golden Miller. In the Triumph Hurdle, Akilak is the 6-1 favourite but, in what is traditionally a very open race, the best news concerns Nicky Henderson’s Etendard Indian, who has been backed down from 40 to 14-1 after his racecourse debut.

Double fault

Davis Cup holders, Spain, successful against the WA only three months ago, were eliminated by Slovakia in the first round of the 2005 competition. Losing both single rubbers, Rafael Nadal and Alberto Costa then proceeded to house the doubles 6-7, 4-6, 6-7 to Karol Beck and Michal Mertinak. Lindsay Davenport beat Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 to take the Dubai Open and cement her World No.1 ranking.