NBC monitors Korea tensions as it preps for Winter Games

By Liana B. Baker

SAN FRANCISCO U.S. broadcaster NBC is monitoring the security situation on the Korean Peninsula and so far does not expect to change its plans to send a more than 2,000-person workforce to the Winter Games in South Korea, NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel said in an interview on Thursday.

Tension has been high for months over North Korea's nuclear and missile development, and due to fears it will conduct a sixth nuclear test and more ballistic missile launches in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Cricket - De Grandhomme, Raval earn New Zealand central contracts

AUCKLAND New Zealand Cricket have awarded all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme and opening batsman Jeet Raval with central contracts for the next 12 months.

Batsman Neil Broom has also been offered a contract after he was recalled to the national side following a lengthy absence to replace Ross Taylor while he recovered from eye surgery.

Players on the list are guaranteed a retainer from NZC, with match payments on top. Each player is ranked according to the contribution they are expected to make over the next 12 months.

Jamaican Thompson to only race in 100m at Worlds

By Kayon and Raynor

KINGSTON Olympic sprint double champion Elaine Thompson will only run in the 100 metres at the World Championships in London this August after skipping the longer distance at Jamaica's national trials.

Thompson, a world silver medallist in the 200m at Beijing in 2015, has a wildcard entry in the 100m as the reigning Diamond League Trophy winner and cruised to 11.20 secs (wind -1.3 m/s) in the preliminary round on Thursday.

Golf - Spieth returns to form and grabs Connecticut lead

By Frank Pingue

Jordan Spieth put an emphatic end to his putting woes during an impressive Travelers Championship debut on Thursday, grabbing a one-shot lead after the first round in Cromwell, Connecticut.

World number three Rory McIlroy, who missed the cut at last week's U.S. Open after sitting out a month with a niggling rib problem, was among a group of 18 golfers four shots back in a share of 19th place.

Rangers sign Mexican pair, take summer signings to eight

Mexicans Carlos Pena and Eduardo Herrera have signed three-year deals at Rangers, bringing to eight the number of players to join the Scottish side this summer as manager Pedro Caixinha overhauls a squad that finished 36 points behind champions Celtic.

Financial details were not disclosed but reports in Mexico suggest Rangers paid a combined 4 million pounds to Guadalajara and Pumas for the pair.

Grand Tour teams to be reduced to eight riders from 2018

Teams will be reduced from nine riders to eight for next year's three Grand Tours while the 2018 Tour de France will start a week later to avoid clashing with the soccer World Cup.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) said in a statement on Thursday that its Professional Cycling Council (PCC) applied the change which would come into effect in 2018.

The 'Grand Tours' consist of the the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

Egypt forward Salah joins Liverpool

LONDON Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah has completed his move to Liverpool from AS Roma, the Premier league club said on Thursday.

British media reported that Liverpool paid 34 million euros (£30 million) to sign Salah, who is returning to the Premier League two and a half years after leaving Chelsea following an unproductive 12-month spell in which he scored two goals and started six Premier League games.

“I’m very excited to be here. I’m very happy," Salah told the Liverpool website.

Cricket Afghanistan celebrates 'big dream' coming true

KABUL Afghanistan celebrated its entry into test cricket on Thursday, saying it was a dream come true for the country which has suffered from years of violence and conflict.

The International Cricket Council voted in London to make Afghanistan, along with Ireland, full members of the organisation, allowing those countries to become part of the elite 12 nations who play test matches.

"I can’t express right now how excited I am," said Shir Agha Hamkar, Afghanistan cricket's team manager.

Azarenka's return cut short in Mallorca

Former world number one Victoria Azarenka's return from maternity leave was cut short by young Croatian Ana Konjuh at the Mallorca Open on Thursday.

The Belarusian, who saved match points in her first-round victory against Japan's Risa Ozaki, went down 6-1 6-3 to the seventh seed on the grasscourts at Santa Ponsa.

Konjuh, 19, dominated from the start and Azarenka had no answer to the depth and power of her opponent.

Football - Sanchez breaks Chile scoring record in Germany draw

KAZAN, Russia Alexis Sanchez became Chile's all-time leading scorer when he grabbed an early goal in their 1-1 draw against Germany at the Confederations Cup on Thursday.

Lars Stindl equalised for the world champions just before halftime although the game petered out in the second half as the high-octane Chileans appeared to run out of gas.