On the boil in swimming
There were no Kiwi Olympic medals in the open swimming events in London last year, so it’s great to have Lauren Boyle showing her class in the recent world championships. Three bronze medals in the 400m, 800m and 1500m is an excellent outcome. In the 1500m Boyle knocked an incredible 32 seconds off her pre-carnival best time. Great going!
She comes across as being a very humble sports star, saying I would like to be picked for the Commonwealth Games next year. Barring serious unforeseen developments, she must be first choice for the swimming team.
Swimming New Zealand has had its administrative problems in recent years, but now seems to be back on course with former Spanish CEO, Luis Villanueva, at the helm. Up against the world’s best in Barcelona, it was also encouraging to see Kiwi backstroker Gareth Kean make one final, and breaststroker Glenn Snyders two.
Tiger, tiger burning bright?
Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers of all time and is currently ranked number one. However, Woods has not added to his tally of 14 majors since the US Open in 2008. After the much publicised marriage break-up in 2009-2010, he took a while to regain his best form, but is now back. In the recent Bridgestone International he was a comfortable winner.
However he needs to nail the upcoming American PGA to demonstrate that he is still the best. In the recent British Open, Tiger was poised to come through in the last round, but lost out to longtime rival, the likeable Phil Mickleson. The latter is keen to win back to back majors and is feeling confident. I can taste some of my best golf coming out.
Not for the first time this year, the TAB has Woods as favourite with Mickelson and US Open winner, Aussie Adam Scott, sharing the next best odds.
Dealing with the sports druggies
The last month has seen a number of top sportsmen testing positive or admitting to drug taking: sprinters Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell, and the grossly overpaid New York Yankees baseballer Alex Rodriguez. Through his career, Rodiguez has earned more than $350 million in salary, not to mention millions more in endorsements. He is challenging the findings, however public opinion is not sympathetic: the New York Post recently featured a large picture of the cheat covered with the words JUST GO.
Aussie cyclist Stuart O’Grady recently admitted to blood doping during the infamous 1998 Tour de France. In that year a number of cyclists were thrown out for drugs, including the entire Festina team. You win Olympics, Paris-Roubaix and now all of that is going to be tainted by this action and I wish it could be changed but it can’t,” said O’Grady. He has been one of Australia’s greatest cyclists in the modern era and says that this EPO taking was a one off. This is hard to believe, given the culture of doping that existed in professional cycling through the 1990s and 2000s.
Finger on the Pulse
The Central Pulse had a very good year in the 2013 Trans-Tasman Netball competition. They had eight wins compared with none in their first season! If they had beaten the Mystics in a mid season game instead of losing by one goal, they would probably have made the semi-finals.
Robyn Broughton, who in earlier times took the Southern Sting to seven national titles, has done a great job as coach and will be back next year. Katrina Grant’s
also a key factor in this year’s success and has signed up for another season. With Irene van Dyk back in the team and fellow Silver Fern Joline Henry likely to be in the line-up, 2014 could be a vintage year for the one time cellar dwellers.
We need to talk about Ma’a
As he hones his barista skills in the capital, the nation ponders the enigma of Ma’a Nonu. One of the All Black stars in the French series, Ma went from hero to zero with his spear tackle of Tom Taylor in the Highlanders – Crusaders match in July.
No Super 15 franchise is looking keen to have Ma’a next season, however Wellington is his home town. Most Hurricanes fans would probably like to see a dream backline consisting of Perenara, Barrett, Nonu, Smith, Jane, Savea and Taylor. The bottom line however, would be a change in Nonu’s attitude. Former All Black great Jeff Wilson has commented that you can’t turn Ma’a into something he’s not, but acknowledges that both coach and player need to compromise.
Coach Mark Hammett, discarded Ma’a and some other All Blacks three years back because they didn’t fit into the new Hurricanes culture. Could there be a rapprochement? Hopefully any discussions will get off to a better start than Tom Scott’s cartoon take on the situation. Nonu is busy on the coffee cart and a headless customer sits down in front of him Thanks for dropping by the barista training Hammer. How about another go with the Canes? Whoops!
Apparently Ma’a has put the coffee tuition on hold: a good sign?