South Sudan eager to   join the big party

South Sudan, the world's newest country, hopes to send athletes to the London Olympics but is racing against time to secure membership of various sporting federations and the International Olympic Committee.

Declared independent last July, South Sudan also wants to send a wheelchair basketball team, made up of amputees injured in the conflict in the country, to the Paralympics, sports minister Cirino Hiteng Ofuho said.

"Right now we are discussing with the IOC to see if we can raise our flag in London. I believe there is enough time for us to be there, not only to raise our flag but to also have some athletes participate."

This year's Olympics start on July 27 and run until August 12 while the Paralympics take place from August 29 to September 9.  "We are focusing on the Paralympics where our disabled basketballers are every good. I really believe they can entertain the people in London," said Ofuho.  "We may also field some long distance runners. We have the right terrain to train our talent for this sport."

South Sudan, which broke away from Sudan after a referendum on independence last year, satisfies Olympic requirements because it is a member of the United Nations but it still needs approval from the IOC executive board.

Hooker’s plans run into rough weather

Olympic champion pole vaulter Steve Hooker is battling to work through "technical issues" and may miss next month's national trials and the remainder of Australia's athletics series.

Hooker, who crashed out of his World Championship defence in South Korea last year after failing to clear 5.50 metres, pulled out of Saturday's Perth Track classic in a bid to find form six months ahead of the London Olympics.

"He's just having technical issues," Athletics Australia's high performance manager Eric Hollingsworth said. "It can change overnight or it can take a month to work out.
"He just needs some breathing space to work out these things and get through it."
Hooker leapt 6.06M indoors in the 2009 season, the second highest ever behind retired world record holder Sergei Bubka, but battled through two injury-stricken years before rushing his preparations into a failed World Championships campaign at Daegu.

Hooker cleared only 5M at the Adelaide Track Classic at his first meeting since Daegu last month before being timed out of his event as he waited for strong winds to die down.

Hijab ban scuttles Muslim women’s aspirations

Muslim women are being driven away from soccer by FIFA's ban of the hijab, with more likely to follow if rulemakers fail to reverse the decision at a meeting next month, Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan has said.

While physical Olympic sports such as rugby and taekwondo allow Muslim women to wear the headscarf in competition, soccer, the world's most popular sport, remains against its use, citing safety concerns.

Last year the Iranian women's soccer team were prevented from playing their 2012 Olympic second round qualifying match against Jordan because they refused to remove their hijabs before kick-off. Iran had topped their group in the first round of Olympic qualifiers after going undefeated, however the Asian nation were given 3-0 defeats in their four second round matches because of their failure to comply with the rules, their dreams of competing in London abruptly ended.

Time up for Red Bulls’ Henry at Arsenal  

Thierry Henry, Arsenal's all-time leading scorer, will return to New York Red Bulls next week as his loan spell cannot be extended past the agreed date, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said.

Henry, 34, who originally played for Arsenal from 1999 until 2007, scoring a record 226 goals, re-joined the club on January 6 but will go back his Major League Soccer club next Thursday, the day after Arsenal play AC Milan in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16.