Category Archives: sport

IAAF Worlds: The Hero

The IAAF World Championships has just taken place, and ten days of track and field athletics came to an end on Sunday evening, with the medal ceremonies including the relay medals which brought Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s tally to six.

There was a farewell to Mo Farah, who retires from the track in Birmingham next week, and who gained a Gold for the 5k and a Silver for the 10k at the Worlds; and a final farewell to Usain Bolt, who retires from sprinting and athletics generally after dominating the short distances for a decade: the Worlds were not that kind to him, though, with a Bronze for his 100m and cramp stopping Jamaica finishing the 3 x 100m relay on Saturday night.

But, the star of the show for me has been this little chap:

hero 1

This is Hero the Hedgehog, created as part of a Blue Peter competition, and made into a personality by the team at Curiosity360.  Who is inside the costume we may never know, but s/he proved to be an expert gymnast, acrobat, clown, and comedian, as well as having a subversive side to their personality which caused amusing mayhem throughout the week.

Hero’s interventions included using the steeplechase water jump as a spot to watch the pole vault from a pink flamingo inflatable, ending an Irish Guards fanfare with a tambourine flourish, tumbling down the concrete steps, riding a bike, making sandcastles in the long jump pit, hanging out his washing between the high jump poles, and on the final night, entering the stadium from up high on a zip wire and finishing his performance (as that it was it was) with a dive into the steeplechase water after tormenting a couple of officials by spraying one with water and knocking the hat off another.

Here are links to my videos from that final night.  First, the well-earned medal ceremony for the Best Mascot ever, and the ‘Anthem of Hero the Hedgehog’ plus a montage of his highlights; then his final dive.  Enjoy, and Hero, we hope to see you again very soon.

https://www.youtube.com/DrSRoZbvSIo

https://www.youtube.com/xTgLdQj2TUw

https://www.youtube.com/ftH3Tsl0Wyc

 

 

 


The Oval Twenty20 cricket, 5th July 2013

On Friday 5th July my husband decided to take us to watch an evening’s cricket, Middlesex v Surrey, at the Oval.

Twenty20 is a fairly new version of the game – faster than a test match and comprising 20 overs a side with a total duration of around three hours.  This makes it appeal to an audience who want to watch cricket in one short burst – in this case, on a pleasant summer evening.

Did I say ‘watch’?  There’s the rub, as our friends of the theatre would say.  Twenty20, as we quickly discovered, was designed on Friday nights for those who 1/ have no interest in watching the game, despite having paid for a ticket and 2/ drinking as much as possible in as short a time as possible.

So we were not only frustrated by not being able to properly watch the game because of people standing up blocking our view, being more interested in people making snakes of their plastic glasses and/or doing Mexican waves, but also, by the time it came to the last over, feeling as if we were in the middle of a rugby scrum at the pub where people were actually throwing full glasses of beer around.

At which point we left.

My husband, being a long-time cricket fan and visitor to the Oval for over thirty years, was understandably miffed at not being able to enjoy an evening of the game he loves, and wrote to the powers-that-be at Surrey to request, politely, that they consider assigning an area of the ground (as they do at Twickenham international sevens rugby) where you can watch the cricket if you wish and drink sociably without getting totally legless.  He pointed out that he has never left a cricket game early before, and that both he and I felt uncomfortable with the drunks who probably couldn’t tell the difference between a bowler and a batsman.

The Oval has not even had the courtesy to reply.  And sadly, we will not be supporting them again by going to a Twenty20 match.


Sports review: Women’s handball EHF Euro qualifiers

A visit to the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre last night to watch Great Britain’s ladies play Montenegro in the handball qualifiers. Currently Montenegro are one of the top teams in the world, while Great Britain have started to climb the rankings in preparation for the London 2012 Olympics.

Handball is a very important sport in Europe, but less so in the UK – however in the last few years a young team have grown together and produced new athletes to watch such as Holly Lam-Moores, Louise Jukes, Lyn Byl, Sarah Hargreaves (a talented goalkeeper), and Britt Goodwin (perhaps best known prior to handball as the winner of the Norwegian Big Brother). Although Montenegro easily won last night, especially dominating the second half with players like Sara Vukcevic and Katarina Bulatovic, and a strong goalkeeping performance from Mirjana Milenkovic.

Handball is a quick and dynamic contact sport, with seven players on each side and two referees. Players can be swapped during the game, and fouls are punished by two-minute timeouts. The basic rules include no more than one bounce of the ball before passing, and having to score goals from within a defined section of the court with both feet off the ground.

As Olympic host nation, Great Britain have a free pass into the competition for both the women’s and men’s teams – however, the opportunity to become a team to reckon with looks likely to be grabbed with both hands, and with talented players like these on side, a quarter-final place looks a distinct possibility. For more on handball and GB’s journey, visit http://www.britishhandball.com.


Sport review: FINA Diving World Cup

Yesterday’s Olympic test event, at the Aquatics Centre, was the FINA Diving World Cup, which acted partly as a qualifying event for Olympic selection.  The events in last night’s programme were the Men’s 10 metre Platform and the Women’s 3 metre Synchronised Springboard.

I found the first event by far the most interesting, purely because of the courage and skill it must take to dive and perform from such a great height (and because we had medal hopes which were realised when Peter Waterfield achieved bronze). China’s Qiu Bo was a worthy gold medalist though and will probably prove hard to beat in this summer’s Games.

The judging system is very complex and depends on the number and quality of the dive, as well as the degree of difficulty.  To me, a dive is a dive and for spectators the sheer speed of the drop means that you need the slow-motion replays to see the quality and execution of the dives, twists and somersaults.  An explanation of how the scoring works (although it is included, in part, in the programme), would have been very welcome.

The springboard event does not have the same draw of the platform – and the synchronised part of it gets a little dull after watching one or two rounds.  Perhaps the women’s event does not have the same cachet, or the fact that we were clearly not going to achieve one of the first three places meant that crowd interest flagged; in any case it was very much the first event which got the cheering up within the Centre.


Sport review: UCI Track Cycling World Cup

This year the World Cup is staged in London’s new Olympic Park, at the Velodrome, as a test event for the main fortnight later in 2012.  The Velodrome (once you reach it, as it is a lengthy trip through security and then – as the site is not yet finished – on buses to the venue itself) is impressive, a large, bright space with a track of Siberian pine, a vast auditorium with underseat heating and good sightlines – but variable WiFi provision – and a variety of food and drink stands, a small Olympic shop, and a decent number of toilets.

It was my first track cycling event and although some of the races were hard to follow, there were decent enough scoreboards and a constant commentary.  There were Team GB world records and appearances from names which would seem to be household words for those who are sport afficiandos.  There was the added bonus of a twitter hashtag which allowed related messages to be posted on the big screens during the lengthy points race in particular.

Although I wouldn’t call myself a fan of this particular sport you can certainly appreciate the skill and preparation that goes into these races from the athlete’s perspective; it is also good to see so many younger names coming up, as well as the veterans who will be taking their final bows at the 2012 Olympics.


Olympic test event: Gymnastics (Artistic), O2 Arena

The O2 Arena will be known as the North Greenwich Arena for the duration of the London 2012 Olympics this summer, and so it was announced as the venue for the ‘London Prepares’ test event last night, Artistic Gymnastics – men’s horizonal bar, parallel bars, and vault, and women’s floor and balance beam.

For me, although I can see there is likely to be interest in the show and dance components of the women’s musical floor routines, and their skill in balancing on the narrow beam, I found the men’s event much more enthralling in terms of physical prowess and skill.  It takes tremendous strength especially of the upper body to do the bar exercises which are almost ‘poetry in motion’.  All that, and Great Britain won bronze in the Vault and gold in the Horizonal Bar events, too.

£8.50 for a plate of fish and chips and a Coca-Cola, free programmes, and unreserved seating which put us very close to the action in what will be the £200+ seats for the event proper in July.


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