Monthly Archives: August 2011

World Athletics Championship 2011: Key races to look out for.

Athletics is back on our screens again as the World Athletics Championship kicks off in Daegu, South Korea. The 13th edition of the track and field special is scheduled to take place from 27th August to 4th September in the environment-conscious Korean city. With 1945 athletic stars representing 206 countries, the event will be beamed live to over 200 countries.

Despite such extensive participation across several disciplines, some races stand out from the rest with athletics enthusiasts eagerly awaiting the certain drama that accompanies these showdown races. The four races below will likely offer the greatest entertainment in this bi-annual event.

Men’s 100m

The obvious attraction in any athletics meet, the 100m has taken special significance since the entry of Usain Bolt into the scene. Arguably the world’s most famous sportsman, the flamboyant Jamaican has taken the race and athletics as a whole by storm, obliterating opponents and records along the way. Still only 25 years of age, Bolt is looking to add to the 100m and 200m double from Berlin as he prepares for what he views as the most important event of his career, the London Olympics next summer. “I’m working my way up to the Olympic season, to being fit and ready then. London is the key,” Bolt said in a recent interview.

The hype that accompanied the build up to the championship has subsided over the last few weeks though, with the withdrawal of likely challengers to Bolt’s supremacy either through drug bans or injury. Jamaican Steve Mullings with the 3rd fastest time of the year (9.80 secs) and American Mike Rodgers at 4th with 9.85 have both been banned after failing doping tests. To complicate matters farther, the world’s fastest man in 2011, Jamaican Asafa Powell pulled out at the eleventh hour with a groin injury, joining Tyson Gay in the sidelines who was ruled out earlier due to a hip problem.

The withdrawals have left a clear path to victory for Bolt while also opening the door for some also rans to claim a podium place. Most notable of them is the 2005 world champion and former world record holder Justin Gatlin of the US. The former poster boy of sprint athletics is back from the cold after a four year absence following a doping ban. The 29 year old former Athens gold medalist will be battling it out with veteran Briton Dwain Chambers and Jamaican Michael Frater for the silver and bronze medals.

110m Hurdles Men

With the 100 m watered down due to several withdrawals, the 110m is now the highlight sprint event of the Daegu championships with the three fastest people ever in the event likely to meet up in the finals.

Former professional American football player David Oliver takes a personal best 12.89 seconds into the Daegu meet, posing a challenge to the two rivals who’ve dominated the event between them over the last few years. Dayron Robles Robles of Cuba is the 2008 Olympic champion and world record holder at 12.87 seconds. The 2004 Olympic and 2007 world champion Liu Xiang of China has run 12.88 seconds and is the previous world record holder.

This will be the first time that all three meet on the big stage and, barring a disaster in the heats, the final on Monday will be the main attraction of the championships. Oliver has a physical frame that enables him to knock hurdles out of his way with ease while Liu is a determined character with a terrific burst of pace in the last fifteen meters. Of the three, Cuban Robles is probably the most technically sound of the trio and with the world record, will have a psychological boost over his two challengers. The world record is definitely under threat in this technical sprint race.

Men’s 800m

Multiple world record holder and African champion David Rudisha comes into this championship as the clear favorite following his unstoppable form in the middle distance sprint race over the last year. With a world leading time of 1.42.61 secs, Rudisha has been dominant over the two laps ever since the sensational fete of breaking the long standing record of Dane Wilson Kipketer twice in the space of eight days in 2010.

Sudanese rival Abubakar Kaki will be his likely challenger with the two men taking their long standing rivalry from junior races into the world championship. The diminutive 2007 world champion and 2009 silver medalist Alfred Kirwa Yego will also be a force to contend with, with the three Africans likely to take the medals. Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia is also one to watch out for as his 2004 Olympic win showed his ability at the big stage.

Lacking a senior title at this event, the buccaneering Rudisha will see this as his best chance of claiming a maiden gold medal and if pushed, he will likely have a go at his own world record.

Women’s 200m

The 200 m women race promises to be an epic showdown with long term rivals Allyson Felix and Veronica Campbell Brown squaring it out once more at the world stage. Three time champion Felix has the edge over her rival Brown in the worlds but lost out to her in the Beijing Olympics. The race is sure to have added spice following the emergence of sprint sensation Carmelitta Jeter. Arguably the hottest sprinter this year, Jeter has shown tremendous pace over the 100m sprint and will give the two rivals something to ponder about.

Outlook for Kenya

Coming off the back of an impressive showing in Berlin 09, the Kenyan team will be looking to go one better than the third place finish last time out. The obvious medal hope for Kenya will be Rudisha in the 800m race. Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop will be looking to lead his compatriots Daniel Komen and world leader Silas Kiplagat to a clean medal sweep in the mile.

The 3000 m steeplechase is traditionally a Kenyan affair and no threat to this monopoly is expected from any quarters. Captain Richard Mateelong will lead world champion Ezekiel Kemboi and the fastest man this year Brimin Kipruto in an in-house chase for the gold. Kipruto goes into the race on the back of an impressive showing that saw him miss the world record by 0.01 secs in Monaco last month.

The marathon will miss the presence of fallen hero Samuel Wanjiru who died in mysterious circumstances earlier this year. In his absence, Abel Kirui will lead the Kenyan charge with Paris marathon champion Benjamin Kiptoo looking good over the 42km race.

On the women’s side, Vivian Cheruyiot is the favorite in the 5000 meters where she will face off with compatriot Linet Masai and Ethiopian Meseret Defar. With a strong kick, Vivian beat the fancied Ethiopian last time round in Berlin and will be looking to continue her good recent form while also trying her hand at the 10km race or the first time.

With new stars being born in every championship as old luminaries’ fall, the 2011 world championship promises to be an exciting event in the athletics calendar. David Rudisha, Carmelita Jeter and Brit Mo Farah are likely to be new world stars if they live up to their potential while the boastful Bolt will sure light up our screens. A mixture of newbies elbowing their ways to the finish line, tarnished stars attempting to re-ignite their careers, old rivalries being renewed and existing stars looking to assert their dominance, the championship will be one to remember in years to come.

As the Koreans would put it, you will rove the laces. Enjoy

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Categories: Sports

Twenty 20 and the future of cricket

The game of cricket is enjoying an upsurge in global interest after a lull in the last decade that was characterized by Australian domination and controversial occurrences mainly involving Pakistan. This is in no small part due to the mainstream adoption and runaway popularity of a shorter version of cricket otherwise referred to as Twenty20 cricket.

T20 cricket as it is sometimes called uses the traditional cricket rules. Both versions of the game have two teams and a single innings, but the difference here is that each team will only bat for a maximum of 20 overs instead of 50. The method of point accumulation is also similar to the earlier forms of cricket; a run is scored by the striking batsman hitting the ball with his bat, running to the opposite end of the pitch and touching the crease there without being dismissed. Hits that reach the boundary of the field are automatically awarded four runs if the ball touches the ground en route to the boundary or six runs if the ball clears the boundary on the full.

Comparison with other forms

What has made Twenty20 so popular is the limited nature of its play that characterizes its length. Unlike tradition cricket games, a Twenty20 game lasts about three hours generally; putting it in line with most other popular sporting events. This also makes it much easier for Twenty20 matches to be televised.

In most cases Twenty20 is definitely very close to standard cricket; surprisingly people have definitely seen a difference though. Many critics say Twenty20 is a much more exciting and athletic variety of cricket.

That a team has only 20 overs to score as many runs as possible minimizes the likelihood of a middle order batting collapse, a crucial factor behind the conservative nature of batting in a one day international or a test match. If anything the reverse is true whereby a team risks not scoring enough runs at the end of twenty overs if their batting is of a conservative nature. This gives the opposing team an easier target to aim for hence the care-free batting that sees a plethora of fours and sixes being scored.

Indian Premier League

The establishment of the Indian Premier League (IPL) was another watershed moment in the rise of Twenty20. Cricket fanaticism in the subcontinent borders on the obsessive. The huge following the game commands coupled with the favorable demographics of India provided a heady concoction that was tapped into by corporates and the result was the birth of the league. The short exciting nature of T20 meant locals could take cricket in their daily stride without having to forego a whole day to sit in the turnstile.

The Indian Premier League proved highly successful with sell-out crowds, high television revenues and subsequently, corporate investment that has the knock-on effect of providing lucrative player contracts. This has seen leading stars such as Jacques Kallis, Jayawardene, Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist et al join the league to supplement the Indian stars such as Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar. IPL became the first sporting event ever to be broadcast live on YouTube, an avant garde in sports broadcasting that saw the lead taken up by other competitive sports like football in the recently concluded Copa America tournament.

Future of the game

The rise of T20 has got sections of critics writing epitaphs on the demise of the conventional formats of test and one day cricket. However, the technical appeal of the longer version of the game, steeped in purist tradition will see put to this for the foreseeable future.

In Kenya, the game hasn’t got the kind of following witnessed during the heady heights of 2003 when Kenya got to the semifinal stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup. The local trend however suggests a slow adoption of a sport that eventually turns into a frenzy as witnessed by the rise in popularity of the English Football league in the early 2000’s.

The decline of standards in the local game following the zenith of 2003 should see us try our hand at the less technical, more athletic and infinitely exciting version of Twenty20 cricket. A precedent can be seen in rugby where Kenya flourishes in Sevens rugby while struggling to gain a foothold in the technical version that is Fifteen’s rugby. The impressive performance of the Kenya team in the 2010 Associates Twenty20 Series in Kenya might prove to be an early indicator of the local potential in store for T20. Of encouragement too is the launch by Cricket Kenya of a new regional franchise competition in Twenty20 cricket. The East African Cup that commences on 20 August 2011 and will feature six newly constituted teams from Kenya and Uganda is designed to improve the standard of domestic cricket in the region, develop more players capable of playing at international level and stimulate interest in the game throughout East Africa. This might just prove to be the boost of helium the game needs as to take it to soaring heights.

As we move to the future, cricket fans are left wondering which direction the game will take, with some seeing change as inevitable. With one day and especially test cricket struggling to attract spectators, it would be no great surprise if the popular Twenty20 version continues to push things in a different direction.

Categories: Sports | 4 Comments

2011-2012: Let’s make it 20

Nine months of football are with us again.With it comes excitement,sadness anxiety and the whole range of feelings that most fans experience as the new season is about to start. As a Manchester United fan I am excited at the way the team has completed the pre-season tour of America. While marketing the team, the tour was also a chance to brood in the youngsters and new signings while more importantly an opportunity for the players to get some match fitness. The highlights invloved beating the likes of MLS All Stars featuring the best of the American league 4-0, getting a small measure of revenge over Barcelona ,while we also bid farewell to the ginger prince Paul Scholes by annihilating the reborn New York Cosmos 6-0. The goal difference table read Scored 26 conceded just 3 though there isn’t much to read into pre-season.To top it off, we completed a comeback against bitter city rivals at the traditional curtain raiser to the season, the Community Shield.The show on Sunday at Wembley showed England that we won’t surrender our EPL crown so easily.

THE SEASON.

We begin the season at the Hawthorns against West Brom, a tricky fixture considering we luckily won there 2-1 last season.The big test for the month of August is Arsenal and Tottenham both at home on 22nd and 28th respectively.

September presents trips away to Bolton and Stoke, two fierce opponents who will surely give us tough tough games. The standout fixture of the month sees Chelsea visit the Theatre of Dreams on the 18th.

In October we welcome newboys Norwich to Old trafford in the first fxture. Our next two games are both derbies which will see us face our hated rivals Liverpool and Man City. The visit to Anfield will be of particular delight to the away fans as we rub in our newly acquired status as the topdogs of English football with 19 titles. The annual chance to put our ‘noisy neighbours’ in their place comes when City visit Old Trafford on the 23rd.The month ends with a tough return trip to Merseyside when we play away at Everton.

November is a simpler month with an away trip to Swansea sandwiched between home fixtures against Newcastle & Sunderland.

The bumper month of December sees us visit Astonvilla, QPR & Fulham as we welcome to the Theatre of dreams Wolves ,Wigan,and Blackburn.

January traditonally sees a surge from United and the opportunity presents itself with with an away trip to St.James Park to face Newcastle with home games against Bolton and Stoke. A pivotal away game against gunners awaits on 21st. The FA Cup also begins during this month.

February sees us take on Chelsea and Liverpool back to back on 4th and 11th respectively before we finish up with a trip to Norwich. With the return of the knock out stages of the Champions league coupled with such high profile fixtures, this will prove a pivotal month in the title race.

March sees the title race hot up with stern away tests in form of Tottenham, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Blackburn.Westbrom and Fulham visit Old Trafford complete the round of fixtures as we enter April.

Home comforts outnumber the away trips here with QPR, Astonvilla and Everton all visiting while away days await at Wigan before a possible title clash against Man city at Etihad stadium on the 29th.We wrap up the season in May with Swansea at home and Sunderland away.Believe we can make it 20.

United.

By Guest blogger,
Loso Blue

Categories: Sports, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Debut Blog

Self perception can seem quite skewed if you take for face value what other people’s  views of you are. With a shrug of the shoulder suggesting inherent self-doubt, the reaction to being encouraged to start a blog (based on my admittedly limited literary skill) has been that of someone having the masses blow smoke up my ass. I am no Lawrence Sanders but then again I have plenty of ‘informed’ opinion on an array of subjects that can be jotted down without coming across as inane rumblings. Expect blogs on society, football, travel, photography and alot else that will muster enough interest to get me off my procrastinating ass and in front of a screen. Feedback will be appreciated as I make my bow into blogosphere. Obrigado

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