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Background to Paula Radcliffe: Highs and Lows

Posted by elinord on November 7, 2008

 
 

 

Paula Radcliffe impressed us all with her win at this years New York Marathon.

 

Competing on one of the toughest marathon courses, her 3rd New York City title was a positive result after her set-back at the Beijing Olympics.

 

Since the win she has shown a new craving for the London 2012 Olympics, admitting, “I know the odds probably get less each time, but my whole philosophy is ‘keep trying, keep persevering and keep going back there’”.

 

Past it?

 

She will be 38 years-old when the London Olympics come around but refuses to accept that she is too old to compete for medals, “I do believe that I still have the chance to have another shot in 2012.”

 

Many have speculated that she has had her running hay-days. After all, she has achieved nearly 20 gold medals since she began her running career in 1992 and is planning to have her second child by 2011.

 

Mary Wittenberg, the race director for the New York marathonbelieves that Radcliffe is an asset to the sport, “Last year Paula’s win, after having Isla only 10 months before, had a ripple effect throughout New York City and beyond.”

 

However, there have been occasions where her turbulent career has led to doubt among her of her British fans.

 

The criticism she faced from the media, especially after she retired from a race at the 2004 Athens Olympics, took aback.

 

In an interview with the Independent she reflects back on the negative attention, “it helped me to toughen up and not to waste time and energy worrying about what critics think and say.”

 

Highs and Lows

 

Her determination has always been indisputable, with her significant victories in winning eight marathons over-shadowing her failures to medal in track events during the last decade.

 

However, her achievements at world-class level have been blighted by discouraging performances that have seen her miss out on medaling.

                                                                                                                                     

Radcliffe in Tears in Beijing. Courtesy of Daily Mail.co.uk

Radcliffe in Tears at Beijing. Courtesy of Daily Mail.co.uk

 

Pivotal Defeats

Missed out on an Olympic medal coming 4th in the 10000m at Sydney 2000

 

Failed to finish at Athens 2004

 

Failed to medal in Beijing 2008, 23rd place in 10,000m

In the past, photographs of the tear stained long-distance runner have emerged, capturing Radcliffe’s defeat, but the London 2012 Olympics can expect to forget them.

 

BBC commentator Brendan Foster agrees with Radcliffe, “I believe she could be Britain’s best hope for a gold medal in 2012.”

 

Foster realizes her last two Olympic performances were heartbreaking, but sees her lack of racing in athletic events as a bonus.

“She’s barely raced in the last three years and I think this could be a blessing in disguise.”

 

Proving them wrong

 

Radcliffe is determined to maintain her world-class status by focusing all her energies on preparation for 2012.

 

Ingrid Kristiansen, the former Norwegian record-breaking marathon runner warns of the dangers in ‘over-training’, advising “If she wants to win in London, I am afraid she cannot keep going with so much training for four more years without having a lot of injuries”.

 

Radcliffe has spent her life proving people wrong; this years New York marathon, in the world championships in Helsinki, in New York three years ago after the disaster of the Athens Olympics.

 

Hopefully 2012 will bring the success the MBE athlete craves.

Elinor D. Davies (elinor.d.davies@my.westminster.ac.uk)

 

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Radcliffe looks to London 2012

Posted by elinord on November 4, 2008

Paula Radcliffe has defended her title as this years New York Marathon winner.

Courtesy of the Telegraph.co.uk
Courtesy of the Telegraph.co.uk

She led the race from the start, ahead of Russian runner, Ludmilla Petrova and American Kara Goucher.

The thirty-four year old athlete ran the tough climbs of the marathon in two hours 23 minutes and 56 seconds and said “In its own right, to win New York is special to me, but given the year I’ve had, it makes it that bit more special to come, run well and feel good again.”

Plagued by Injury

Radcliffe’s success came after a year marred by injury, which prevented her from preparing properly for the Beijing Olympics.

She spoke to the BBC about her history of failure to complete races because of hindering injuries;

“It does make it frustrating because you think, ‘Why can I get it right all the time in New York and I can’t get it right there?’ But sometimes you have to take what life gives you.”

Big Plans for London

Radcliffe hinted to the Guardian about her plans to lower her marathon world record, “I definitely want to run faster” and commented on the perfect conditions “London is a fast course.”

Mother of one, Radcliffe has been forced to miss the London Marathon twice since 2005, including this year’s, so she hopes she can prepare for the race in the next six months.

According to David Bedford, the London Marathon race director, Radcliffe could have the potential to break another world record “I am always enthusiastic about having Paula run…I would be amazed if she could produce that type of performance again.”

There are still talks that she may be invited to the London Marathon in April, 2009, but no deal has been struck yet.

Hope

Her recent victory has renewed the runner’s hope of winning an Olympic gold medal in the Marathon event.

“I would just love the chance to be at an Olympics and to run as well as I’m capable of doing in a marathon. That’s all I ask – to go there in shape and do myself justice. Perhaps I’ll get the chance in 2012.”

History of Success

Having only ever run 10 marathons, eight of which she has won, Radcliffe has made a good comeback.

Her only failures have come in the last two Olympics.

Elinor D. Davies (elinor.d.davies@my.westminster.ac.uk)

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Background: the origins of The Stanford Twenty20

Posted by elinord on October 29, 2008


American Dream


 

Devised and backed by Texan billionaire, Sir Allen Stanford, the Antiguan Stanford Super Series aims to see cricket thrive in the West-Indies.


 

Sport’s Tony Hodson wrote “Fuelled by the desire to help West Indian cricket, establish the name of his business and, no doubt, make money, Stanford is set to be a permanent fixture.”


 

One-off


 

However, with the world experiencing economic crisis, the one-of multi-million match could not have come at a worse time.

 

Pietersen acknowledges this “It’s a very difficult time for a lot of people…if we win I don’t want the team to go over the top with celebrations.”


 

Nasser Hussain, the former England captain, supports Stanford’s Super Series, “If he’s giving money for the future development of the sport, great.”


 

Sir Allen Stanford


 

The 58 year-old creator of the Stanford Super Series says he finds test cricket “boring”.


 

“Test cricket is the foundation, that’s where cricket came from. But Twenty20 is the future – that’s where the money is.”


 

Sir Allen Stanford is an American, billionaire and cricket lover. It is hard to believe that such a person exists, yet he does not hesitate to hide his blatant business venture.


 

Although he has established a significant presence in golf, polo, tennis, and sailing, cricket has become his largest endeavor since building The Stanford Cricket Ground in Antigua.

Caribbean cricket


 

He first began ploughing money into cricket at the Stanford Twenty20 tournament in 2006, where he brought Caribbean island teams together, before turning his attention to international fixtures.


 

As money is no object for Stanford, the entrepreneur surprised no-one with the 20 million dollar sporting venture. However, to host it in Antigua was also a deliberate choice for him as he lives in the US Virgin Islands and is a citizen in both Antigua and Barbuda.


 

England cricket coach, Peter Moores, agrees that Stanford has good intentions “the nice thing about the Stanford game is all about Sir Allen Stanford’s concern for West Indies Cricket. The winners will get a huge reward, but West Indies cricket will profit too.”

Elinor D. Davies (elinor.d.davies@my.westminster.ac.uk)

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Twenty20 for 20 Million

Posted by elinord on October 29, 2008

Cricket has never had such a high price tag


 

With 20 million dollars as the prize money, The Stanford Challenge Twenty20 match between England and the specially selected Stanford Superstars X1 will see the winning team players earn one million dollars each.


 

On Sunday, 1st November, Antigua will host the historic ‘Stanford Twenty20 for 20’ one-off match where the ‘winner-takes-all’.


 

Already underway, the tournament is showcasing six matches involving four teams; England, Stanford Superstars, Middlesex and Trinidad and Tobago at the Stanford Cricket Ground.


 

The ‘richest cricket match of all time’


 

Over eight days England will be preparing for the most expensive game of their careers at the Stanford Super Series.


 

Already a rich player, England captain Kevin Pietersen told Sport “I know the money is big, but what I’m really interested in seeing is how the team performs when the pressure is on.”


 

For the majority of the England team the impending match is potentially life-changing, however Pietersen is not fazed, “I don’t care what motivates people, as long as they are motivated.”


 

Whether the team is driven by the prize money or not, this short West-Indian tournament has been embraced by the England team as a motivator for the India tour and the crucial Ashes series in summer.

Celebration as England dominate in the West indies. Courtesy of cricket.co.uk

Celebration as England dominate in the West indies. Courtesy of cricket.co.uk

 

The Latest


 

With the tournament underway, England’s days are numbered as their fight against Stanford Superstars begins for the 20 million dollar prize.


 

The match fixtures and results are as follows;

  • 25th, October Stanford Superstars v Trinidad and Tobago
    Superstars won by 22 runs
  • 26th ,October England v Middlesex
    England won by 12 runs
  • 27th, October Trinidad and Tobago v Middlesex
    Trinidad & Tobago won by five wickets
  • 28th, October England v Trinidad and Tobago
  • 30th, October Stanford Superstars v Middlesex
  • 1st, November Stanford Superstars v England

Elinor D. Davies (elinor.d.davies@my.westminster.ac.uk)

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Background: Murray’s Journey to Madrid

Posted by elinord on October 27, 2008

The right-handed, singles and doubles player ironically began his tennis career at the ripe age of 14 in Spain. It was at this time that he left Scotland and moved to Barcelona, training at the Sabchez Casal Academy because, as he mentions in his blog, “It was getting harder and harder to push myself at home, so it was the right move for me.”

Murray began winning titles from a young age. In 2004, 17 years old, he won the US Open Boys title, beating Sergiy Stakhovsky. That same year, he was recognized for being the BBC Young Sports Personality and was also called up to the Davis Cup Squad, training alongside Tim Henman.

Turning professional in 2005, Murray made his debut at the Davis Cup, becoming the youngest player to represent Great Britain. It was at this point, aged 18 that his career soared.

His achievements on the court have included;

2006
•    First ATP tour final versus Roger Federer in Bangkok.
•    Became the youngest British player in the top 100 since 1974.
•    First ATP tour title beating two Grand Slam Champions Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick in San Jose.
•    British number one for the first time.
•    Makes third round of Wimbledon in his first ever Grand Slam appearance, taking ex-finalist David Nalbandian to five sets.

2007
•    Made 4th round at Aussie Open.
•    Defended San Jose title.
•    Reaches career high No. 8 in ATP rankings despite missing four months for back and wrist injuries.
•    Led Great Britain back into 2008 Davis Cup World Group by winning both of his singles matches versus Croatia in playoff.
•    Captures third career ATP title in St Petersburg against Fernando Verdasco.
•    Finishes season with best indoor record on ATP tour.

2008
•    Captures fourth career ATP title in Doha.
•    Captures fifth career ATP title in Marseille.
•    Knocks Roger Federer out in first round of Dubai Championship, to move to a 2-1 record against the world No. 1.
•    Reaches 4th round at Wimbledon, after coming from 2 sets down against Richard Gasquet.
•    Lifts first Masters Series shield (Cincinnati) after defeating Novak Djokovic for second time in a week, 7-6 7-6.
•    Reaches first Grand Slam final, defeating Rafeal Nadal for the first time en route to loss versus Roger Federer.

At a career high of 4th in the world, this month’s success in Madrid has been a well- deserved conclusion to a relatively short career for Andy Murray.

His equal opponent of Gilles Simon on Sunday was only their third meeting. Their last Clay matches were in Rome, May 2007, where Simon was the victor and in Hamburg. May 2007, where Murray first defeated him. Both went into the game with a tie 1-1.

Elinor D. Davies (elinor.d.davies@my.westminster.ac.uk)

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Background to Jonny Wilkinson and Danny Cipriani

Posted by elinord on October 21, 2008

The Number 10 Shirt

The two England fly halves have revealed themselves as great sporting characters in fame and fortune. Now, since the prolonged injury of Wilkinson and swift recovery of Cipriani, a team change has emerged, ahead of the forthcoming autumn internationals, starting with the Pacific Islands on Saturday, 8th November.

Jonny Wilkinson:

Twelve weeks ago he suffered a terrible knee injury, where his knee cap was dislocated during his club, Newcastle Falcon’s 39-23 loss to Gloucester. It was his fourth game back after a six month recovery from a shoulder injury, which has just added to his never-ending tale of woe for the past five years;

* December 2003 A month after the World cup win, he damages his shoulder and is ruled out of the 2004 Six Nations.
* October 2004 Misses the autumn Tests with a haematoma after being named England captain.
* January 2005 Knee ligament damage costs him another Six nations campaign.
* July 2005 After returning in May to make the Lions tour to New Zealand, he injures his shoulder in the second Test.
* September 2005 An appendix operation, followed by groin trouble and a torn muscle, prevent him from returning to action until late in the 2005-06 season.
* September 2006 Misses autumn internationals with a knee injury.
* March 2007 After returning to England duty in the Six Nations he misses the last two games of the tournament with cramp.
* September 2007, Misses the first two games of the World Cup in France after a training injury.
* May 2008 More shoulder surgery, therefore misses England’s two-Test tour to New Zealand.
* September 2008, Dislocates knee and is almost certain to miss the 2009 Six Nations.

All these set backs to his general fitness and health have contributed to his obsessive commitment to preparation which, in the past, made him anxious before a match and drained the fun of the game from him. His reformed character, where he claims he can handle his current injury, as opposed to his old attitude of  “What about me? Danny has come in, what about me?”

The lack of competition that Cipriani poses for a relaxed Wilkinson shows, as he explains the focus he now has on getting back on the field “I was loving my rugby, I got an injury and I need to recover to get back to play more rugby.”

Others have urged Wilkinson to not change his confrontational style of play, despite his latest serious injury, including Steve Bates director of rugby at Newcastle “It wasn’t from a tackle, it was a run-of-the-mill situation”. This enforces Wilkinson’s view that his career is not at risk from the injury, but a set back for him and his team.

Danny Cipriani:

His increasing life under the spotlight has meant the young London Wasps fly half has had the added pressure to perform, not only in his game, but for the paparazzi. Although his rugby career has only just begun, his name is synonymous with glamorous, tabloid women and frequenting London haunts like any Premiership footballer. This has posed a problem for some of his team-mates as his media adviser,  the former editor of The Sun, Stuart Higgins articulates “There is interest in him, but we are trying to do that in a relevant manner, as a committed rugby player, and not as a personality who appears on the front cover of Heat or other glossy magazines.”

His early rugby successes and challenges came at the age of 17;

* Played fly-half for the U19 England side in the U19 world cup, but was unable to complete the tournament due to a head injury.
* Played in the London Wasps U21 and ‘A’ sides but in 2007 he became a more regular first team player.
* He just missed out on selection for the 2007 Rugby World Cup for England after spending the summer in their training camp.

* He was called up to the England squad for the 2008 Six Nations Championship. Many experts were calling for Cipriani to be picked at full-back to ease him into the international arena, a position he played successfully with London Wasps upon breaking into the first team. He had already been selected for the England Saxons and the training squad for the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
* His starting debut for England was due to be realised when he was picked at full-back for the game against Scotland on 8 March 2008. But axed from the squad two days before due to “inappropriate behaviour”, believed to relate to a late night visit to a London nightclub.
* He started against Ireland on 15th March 2008, which England won 33-10, replacing Jonny Wilkinson at fly-half.
* Named in the England Saxons squad on July 1st 2008 as part of his rehabilitation for the coming season.
* Return to the London Wasps 1st XV in a Premiership match against Bath on October 1st 2008. His recovery has been described as remarkable, given the severity of the injury, and due to the fact that his return is 6 weeks to 2 months ahead of schedule.

So, Cipriani’s now infamous incident involving Josh Lewsey has come as no surprise to onlookers and team-mates alike.

Old players have laughed about the tussle, where Lewsey floored Cipriani after being baited about missing a tackle, Stuart Barnes reports that they say there’s “nothing to it, it happened in my day, in fact it happened all the time.”  Obviously, a few bashing come with the territory, and rugby being a tough, contact sport attracts macho fights, even amongst team-mates.

Therefore, the hype he has attracted, possibly because he is aesthetically pleasing, makes Cipriani a key member of the England Saxons.

Elinor D. Davies (elinor.d.davies@my.westminster.ac.uk)

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Magic for Murray at Madrid Masters

Posted by elinord on October 21, 2008

British number one tennis player, Andy Murray won his 2nd Masters title in the Spanish final on Sunday. He beat Frenchman Gilles Simon with a 6-4 7-6 (8-6) victory in Madrid.

This was his third Association of Tennis Professionals, ATP, final where he’s met the world’s top three players;  Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

The 21 year-old is also the first British player to win two titles at Masters level, back-to-back.

After an intense week of matches, Murray narrowly conquered Simon, only by the grace of his serve, rallying his way to pick up Simon’s errors.

From the early stages of the indoor match, it was clear that Simon was exhausted. Although Murray struggled to keep up momentum, he maintained a good enough performance to secure the ATP title.

Since he won his first Masters Series title in Cincinnati in August, Murray has had many successes. His recent win against Roger Federer in the semi-finals showcased his brilliant serve.

Glory in Spain

Glory in Spain

The young Scotsman commented on his form at Saturday’s match “I served great and that was the key”, Federer, the world number two agreed, “From Andy’s side, I thought he served very well today”.

The short two hour semi- final match was a far cry from the battle between Murray and Simon. From the side of the court the two young finalists seemed weary, Murray admits this, “Both of us made a lot of mistakes but both of us were a little bit tired from yesterday, him probably more than me.”

Ranking number four in the world, Murray has had an impressive team carrying through each event. Alex Corretja, the former French Open finalist and world number two, has been a vital member of the Murray coaching team during the run-up to his Spanish triumph, “It was difficult to improve things in just a few days. Andy takes things very easy.

Elinor D. Davies (elinor.d.davies@my.westminster.ac.uk)

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Jonny v Danny: Who is the Perfect 10?

Posted by elinord on October 14, 2008

After a recent knee injury, England rugby star, Jonny Wilkinson is finally feeling the effects of his age. Only 29 however, the imminent arrival of the youthful Danny Cipriani, sees new competition for the number 10 spot on the England squad.

Wilkinson suffered a dislocation of the knee during a Newcastle Falcons match against Gloucester, abolishing all his hopes of a problem free season. This is clearly a great blow for the golden-boy of rugby as he has been plagued by injury for the last 5 years – missing countless international games.

So now, waiting in the wings is the 20 year-old Cipriani who has quickly recovered from an ankle injury and shown his ambition to be “England’s greatest fly half”, as Stephen Jones suggests in timesonline.co.uk/rugbyunion.

What is Wilkinson’s response to this reshuffle? The former England captain gave The Sunday Times his thoughts on Cipriani “He’s a good guy who wants to play at his best”. Definitely a promising comment from a player who has performed so well in the past. Yet watching Cipriani stride back into the England squad, while he limps out must be a great set back and Wilkinson goes onto agree, “things can be hugely frustrating and quite problematic if it’s all about you.”

Determined not to be defeated, Wilkinson sets a refreshing new image whilst he watches at the side-lines for the next 5 months. This should also be an encouraging example to Cipriani, who in recent months has had more play off the pitch. His spats with a fellow player during a London Wasps training session is a far cry from a sedate Wilkinson approach.

Recent comparisons between the two star players have revealed that Cipriani is much more comfortable with the attention from fans and the media, whereas Wilkinson admits he has purposefully shied away from cameras “I used to believe the camera guys were deliberately trying to separate me from the team.”  Embracing this celebrity status seems to come quite naturally for Cipriani; his recent links with famous women and high-profile parties suggest his confidence on the pitch is transcending into arrogance off the pitch. Stuart Higgins, Cipriani’s media adviser says “He wants to be the greatest fly half in the world and does not want to be a celebrity” which contradicts, “The way Danny is perceived could turn into a real problem in the dressing-room” from a source close to the Wasps.

Although Wilkinson avoids bust-ups with fellow team mates and the party circuit, he admits he’s handled fame awkwardly and only now has found a balance between his game and personal life. Cipriani has proved his game potential through donning the number 10 shirt; all he needs to realise now is that he must perform in next month’s international matches in order to deflect from his rising profile.

Elinor D. Davies (elinor.d.davies@my.westminster.ac.uk)

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