Tag: sport

All Ireland Senior Hurling Final

Sunday, 18 August, 2019

Kilkenny have won the trophy 36 times and Tipperary 27 times, and yet they keep coming back for more. Today’s installment of this classic between Tipperary and Kilkenny will be a physical affair with more emphasis on fitness and brawn rather than the fine arts of the game but the traditionalist will be pleased with that.

hurling

Cashman: Summing up the state of the game in the year 2000, the laureate critic of hurling, the great Cork hurling writer, Kevin Cashman, put it thus: “In Kilkenny they very notably think long and hard about the game of hurling sometimes to the extent of outsmarting themselves. In Cork we think long and hard, too, except that much of what we think is complacency or cliché; in Tipp it is self-delusion; in Clare paranoia; in Wexford nostalgia; and in Limerick grudgery.”

RESULT: Tipperary 3-25 – Kilkenny 0-20. It ended in a rout for Tipp and the fateful decision was taken by the referee, James Owens, just before half-time, when he red-carded Richie Hogan for an alleged high challenge on Tipperary’s Cathal Barrett. It was a critical moment that ended the game as a contest. Referees need to be very, very sure when showing a red card.


Socks on for Alpe d’Huez

Thursday, 19 July, 2018

This year’s Tour de France reaches the legendary Alpe d’Huez today. As Christian Prudhomme, le directeur du Tour, says: “A classic in the making that will come and complete the Alpine chapter of the 2018 edition. The 21 bends that lead to l’Alpe d’Huez will establish a provisional verdict. The final explanation will be preceded by an increasingly demanding upswing: Col de la Madeleine, Lacets de Montvernier and Col de la Croix de Fer.” Allez!

Le Tour de France


Time Trial in France

Wednesday, 11 July, 2018

When it comes to sport these days, all eyes are on Russia, where the World Cup is approaching its climax. For those who aren’t that into football, there’s always tennis and Wimbledon right now offers a more genteel alternative to the mania in Moscow. If neither small ball nor big ball satisfies, the Tour de France ticks the remaining boxes.

Today’s stage from to Lorient to Quimper glides past the citadel of Fort-Bloqué and through Pont-Aven, the city of the painters Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard. The focus will be on Ménez Quélerc’h, a famous climb in Breton cycling, and the last 35km includes the medieval village of Locronan and the challenging côte de la chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Lorette.

Couch-based Tour fans are treated daily to spectacular landscapes steeped in history but what’s usually missing from the picture is the pain of the participants. Finlay Pretsell, the award-winning Scottish filmmaker, places pain at the centre of his film, Time Trial, and his anti-hero is Scottish-born David Millar, a Tour stage winner, who was suspended for doping in 2004. If the World Cup is ecstasy and Wimbledon is elegance, the Tour de France is human, with all the heroic and horrible facets of humanity exposed. Time Trial is a valuable contribution to our understanding of sport.


The race for la lanterne rouge

Thursday, 20 July, 2017 0 Comments

La lanterne rouge is the French term for the competitor in last place in the Tour de France. Currently, the “honour” is held by Luke Rowe from Team Sky, which is quite astonishing as his teammate Chris Froome leads the field. Clearly, the media-savvy Sky wants to hoover up all the publicity, from start to finish, from top to tail.

The race for the lanterne rouge among the tour teams has come down to three: Team Dimension Data, Team Katusha Alpecin and Team FDJ. Of the three, Team Dimension Data is the most fascinating as its sponsor is working on transforming the Tour into a Big Data project. Actually, the proper name of the team is “Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, Africa’s first UCI World Tour Team racing to mobilise change in Africa, one bicycle at a time.” Qhubeka is a charity that gives bicycles to young people in Africa and, as we know, mobility is vital for the development of every society.

Today: Stage 18 from Briançon to Col d’Izoard. The ascent of this legendary Alp will be crucial to determining the winner of this year’s Tour.


Those robot slackers

Friday, 29 April, 2016 1 Comment

The state-run China Daily, which has the largest print circulation of any English-language newspaper in the People’s Republic, has come up with one of the great headlines from the front-lines of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: “Robots must do more than just playing sports.” They’re slacking already!

What’s intriguing is that the story, however, is that it contains nothing to support the demand asserted in the headline. “Premier Li Keqiang visited a town in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan province, on Monday, during which he played badminton with a robot,” is how it begins, and the final paragraph is a classic example of socialist-realist reporting:

“Early in 2011, Zhejiang University developed Wu and Kong, two special sporting droids, which could play table tennis with each other and with human players. In that sport, the robots need to recognize the ball more precisely than in playing badminton. Instead of a technological breakthrough, the droid that plays badminton in Chengdu can be better called a good, practical model that uses these technologies.”

For those interested in how robotics and artificial intelligence are viewed in Beijing, China Daily is required reading. It informs us that on Tuesday President Xi Jinping visited the Institute of Advanced Technology in University of Science and Technology of China in Heifei, and was greeted by a pair of human-like robots developed by the institute. “The two life-like robots named ‘Xiao Man’ and ‘Jia Jia’ interacted with Xi when he approached them during the inspection,” we learn. “‘Hello Mr. President. I am Xiao Man. We have been looking forward to your visit,'” Xiao Man said. “‘I’m very happy to see you, dear President, I wish you happiness every day,'” said Jia Jia, who has been dubbed ‘robot goddess’ for her good-looks.”

This is all to the good, but they must do more than just playing sports.

Jia Jia


Post of the Year

Monday, 21 December, 2015 0 Comments

On 10 November, BBC Sport reported: “Eleven-time Flat racing champion jockey Pat Eddery has died at the age of 63. Eddery, who rode more than 4,600 winners and won 14 British classics in a 36-year career, is regarded as one of the greatest jockeys of all time.”

The report went on to note: “Ireland-born Eddery, who retired in 2003 and was awarded an OBE in 2005, had been suffering from ill health.” That “ill health”, while a statement of fact, was also a term of discretion. Out of respect for the dead and, perhaps, for the sensitivities of an industry that has a special sponsorship culture, there was no further elaboration.

The world didn’t have to wait long for an explanation, however, and when it came it was especially moving because of its honesty. “Filled with grief this morning that my dad Pat Eddery is no longer here,” wrote Natasha Eddery, and she named the culprit: alcohol. She hadn’t seen her father in five years, she confessed in her Instagram post:

“…we stayed in touch and spoke on the phone, I never missed a birthday etc and not a day went by when I didn’t think about him. The last time I saw him face to face was when I brought him home from rehab and he drank straight away. I turned to him and said ‘dad if you choose to drink over health and family, I can’t be part of that life for you.’ Sadly his addiction was too strong and he couldn’t overcome it.”

Pat Eddery

Pat Eddery came from a country with a long history of alcohol abuse and it was not his fault that he couldn’t free himself from this destructive legacy. It was his good fortune to be part of a business that helped make him a winner; it was his misfortune that the same business fosters a fatal attraction. Natasha Eddery receives the Rainy Day Post of the Year award for declaring her love of her father and for naming the disease that destroyed him.

Tomorrow, here, the Object of the Year.


Gareth Edwards in the mall

Sunday, 15 September, 2013 0 Comments

In 2003, a poll of international rugby players conducted by Rugby World magazine declared Gareth Edwards the greatest player of all time. A year earlier, a life-size bronze statue of the outstanding Welsh scrum-half by the New Zealand sculptor Bonar Dunlop was unveiled in St Davids shopping mall in Cardiff. “He was a supreme athlete […]

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Alberto Salazar and the art of exhaustion

Tuesday, 7 August, 2012

On Saturday night in London, Mo Farah and Galen Rupp disrupted the African hegemony of long-distance running events by winning gold and sliver in the 10,000 metres race. How did they manage it? In essence, Farah moved to Oregon last year to train with Rupp under the guidance of Alberto Salazar. In the current issue […]

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