By Roger Childs
Linda Villumsen: world class cyclist
For the fifth time in succession, Danish born Linda Villumsen has been in the medals for the world championships time trial. This year it was second over the flat, fast 22km course in Florence. Villumsen was pleased with the result. Ellen [van Dijk] has been the best rider all year, and I was closer to her today than I have been in the other races.
In Saturday’s road race, Villumsen came a meritorious sixth against the world’s best. The 28 year old was suffering from a heavy cold and sore throat, and had no expectations of doing well on the demanding 140km course which comprised 55km from Montecatini Terme, then 5 circuits of the punishing Fiesole circuit which had two two tough climbs.
“I couldn’t wish for anything better. I started today not knowing because I have not felt good. So just making it through today was a bit of a victory for me.
“I found the first longer climb was not too bad but the second shorter climb took it out of my legs every time. Every single time I had to work hard on the way down to catch back up.”
Football Ferns topple Brazil
“We’ve been knocking on the door of a result like this for some time and we certainly deserved the win today..” Coach Tony Readings
No New Zealand soccer team at any level has beaten Brazil, that is until now. In the four nations Valais Cup in Switzerland, the 19th ranked New Zealand women’s team beat the South American side 1-o. The Brazilians are ranked 4th in the world and were well beaten on the day. Amber Hearn missed a penalty early on, but made no mistake with a header in the 66th minute.
The result put the Ferns into the tournament final against China which they duly won 4-0. This is the first trophy the football team has won outside the Oceania area, and their form augurs well in the build up for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero.
America’s Cup postscript
(Cartoon “Look Edna – we’re foiling!” by Evans in Straight Furrow)
Tough to lose the last eight races and miss on the bid to win the Auld Mug. It was a tragedy that the first race on Friday September 20 was called off when the time ran out with Team NZ about a mile ahead.
So why did the Oracle team do so well on the run to the finish?
- They mastered their push button foiling device which meant that out of the turns they could generate speed Team NZ, who were foiling manually, couldn’t match.
- British tactician Sir Charles Benedict Ainslie played a key role.
- The wily Sir Russell Coutts, CEO for Oracle was also influential.
- Once they got on to the winning streak, confidence built.
New Zealand can take a lot of credit for Oracle’s success, as there weren’t a lot of Americans around, apart from billionaire Larry Ellison footing the bill and paying his star-studded international team megabucks. New Zealanders largely built the boat, laid on crucial expertise with the modifications mid contest, provided a number of crew members and oversaw the operation of the team.
Should we have another go and put in millions in seeding money? Opinion is divided and obviously many people will say there are better things to spend taxpayers money on.
(See further analysis in Bianca on the America’s Cup.)
Silver Ferns have a bad night
The Silver Ferns drew first blood in the Constellation Cup netball, but the Diamonds hate being beaten. The Aussies came out firing in test two and deservedly won. The Kiwis were often sloppy in mid court, were bustled into making mistakes and gave away far too many turnovers. Maria Tutaia was badly out of form with her shooting and netted only 66%; probably a personal worst for her. The five match series now switches across the Tasman and the games in Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra in early October will be hard for the Silver Ferns, who currently hold the Constellation Cup, to win.
Lydia Ko: best in the world?
Lydia Ko is the world’s number one woman golfer, if you count performance over the last 52 weeks. This is absolutely extraordinary for the 16 year old Kiwi amateur. Her recent win in the Canadian Open in Edmonton and second place in the rain-shortened Evian Championship in France have pushed her up the rankings to 5th, if the last two years are counted. At Evian, rain washed out the first day and Ko was pipped by just 2 strokes in the final round by Norwegian Suzanne Petterson.
Great climax to the ITU World Triathlon season
There was exciting racing in the final ITU World Triathlon event for 2013. In the women’s event Welsh born Non Stanford had to serve a 15 second penalty for not throwing her wetsuit in the bin, but still won comfortably. Aileen Reid from Ireland had her first podium placing coming in second and evergreen Australian Emma Moffatt was third.
The men’s race had a sensational finish with Javier Gomez and Jonathan Brownlee battling right to the end. However the Spaniard was too strong in the final sprint and won by just 1 second! Sad to see the best male triathlete of all time, Alistair Brownlee, having to limp through the run with an ankle injury: a brave effort. Spaniard Mario Mola, who had the fastest run on the day, was third in both the race and the overall ranking for the season.
Next year the ITU World Triathlon Series kicks off in Auckland on 5-6 April. 2013 has been a forgettable year for New Zealand’s best triathletes and only Andrea Hewitt with fifth placing, made it into the top ten rankings. However the demanding Auckland course with its hilly bike course may get the Kiwis off to a good start in the new season.