Turkey readying 2026 Winter Games bid

ISTANBUL - Turkey is readying a bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in its high-altitude northeastern city of Erzurum, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday. Erdogan said in a speech in Erzurum that Turkey was preparing the bid for the city to host the games jointly with its regional neighbours Erzincan and Kars. Erzurum, itself at an elevation of 1,900 metres, boasts arguably Turkey's finest skiing facilities and a ski jump hill at the resort of Palandoken just outside the city. It already hosted the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival (EYOF) this year. "Is Erzurum not worthy of hosting the Winter Olympics?" Erdogan said, quoted by Turkish media. "We made the first step," he added, referring to the EYOF. "With some small adjustments we can take this further.”–AFP

 China head coach to retire after 24 years

BEIJING - Li Yongbo, who led the Chinese national badminton team to gold medal victory at six Olympic games, will step down as head coach. Fans have been calling for Li's retirement since China's subpar performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where they won only two gold medals, the lowest number since 2000. "After serving so many years in the post, I feel tired...and I've realised it is time to step back and give the younger generation the opportunity to use their new thinking to lead the team," Tengxun Sport quoted Li as saying. He will be reassigned along with some other coaching staff to an advisory panel with the Chinese Olympic Committee, the report said. During his 24-year tenure, Li saw China secure its position as the sport's most successful country, winning 18 Olympic gold medals.–AFP

 Sheharyar Malik National Tennis

LAHORE - The Sheharyar Malik National Grassroots Tennis Championship will stroll in action today (Thursday) here at the PLTA Bagh-e-Jinnah tennis courts. The championship is being conducted by Punjab Lawn Tennis Association (PLTA) in memory Sheharyar Malik, son of PLTA secretary Rashid Malik. According to Rashid, the tournament will be participated by tennis players from across the country in various categories including seniors (35, 40, 50 and 60 plus), men’s singles, girls’ singles, men’s doubles, under-18, under-16, under-14, under-12 and under-10. The qualifying round matches will be played today (Thursday) while the main round will begin from April 14, and the same day, the concluding ceremony of the event will be held. Arif Qureshi will be chief referee of the tournament.–Staff Reporter

 Shamyl shines in Islamabad triumph

ISLAMABAD – Shamyl Hussain has excelled in Islamabad’s 2-run win over Abbottabad in the Catch ‘em’ Young U-13 Programme 2017 T20 match here at Bhutto Cricket Ground. Put into bat first, Islamabad scored 151-4 in the allotted overs with Shamyl Hussain thwarting unbeaten 75 while skipper Raja Hamza added 32. In reply, Abbottabad, despite having 117-run opening stand between Ch Shuja and Afaq, could score 149-2 in the allotted overs, thus lost by just 2 runs. Ch Shuja made 74 and Raja Afaq 44. In the second match, Fata thrashed Peshawar by 104 runs. Later on Wednesday, Fata beat Islamabad by 9 runs. Batting first, Fata scored 121-7 in allotted overs and in reply, Islamabad were bowled out for 112 in 19.4 overs. Shamyl was run out after scoring 36. Abdul rehman bagged 3-23 and M Zubair 2-20.–Staff Reporter