Monday, 24 August 2009

Sporting highlights

What a weekend. We beat the Aussies! We won the Ashes! It was very exciting, what with Ponting’s ovations, Hussey’s hundred, Flintoff’s throw, Strauss’s example, Broad’s bowling, Swann’s flights of fancy (much like mine) and the ‘raucous Sunday crowd’ complete with the return of the trumpet. I’m glad it’s back and we are all very happy.

The football season is off to a flying start – it’s stirring, scintillating, and sparkling stuff. Man Utd, Chelsea, and Arsenal have all come out guns blazing, and Burnley are proving that they will be no mere cannon fodder. Liverpool are doing their usual 'inspire you with hope one minute; crush you with despair the next' thing that they do. It really is the beautiful game.

I admit to cheering a Man Utd goal, but before I am stoned by Scousers, I hasten to add that it was scored by Owen, and even if he is in the wrong red, he's still my Little Michael.

The World Athletic Championships in Berlin is throwing up thrills and spills. The track events produced dropped batons, barged competitors, disqualifications and ‘gender verifications’. Jamaica won both the men’s and women’s 4 x 100m, Britain earned a silver medal in the men’s 4 x 400m – my favourite event to watch.

Usain Bolt is unquestionably the world’s fastest man, and Kenenisa Bekele is arguably the world’s finest athlete. By winning both the 10,000 and the 5,000m at the same event, the Ethiopian becomes the first person ever to do so.

British athlete Lisa Dobriskey was upgraded to silver in the 1,500m after a barging charge against the original winner. Polish hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk achieved a world record in this mad sport that involves twisting your back and gyrating your neck in a way that can’t be good for you, and then she twisted her ankle in a victory bounce.

Caster Semenya is grabbing headlines for all the wrong reasons. The South African athlete won the women’s 800m only for people to question whether she is indeed a woman. Apparently she is ‘far too strong, fast and masculine’ to be a woman, and doubts were raised when ‘she liked soccer and wore trousers to school’. Well, heaven help us all.

The IAAF have stated they will ‘verify’ her gender, which involves an endocrinologist, a gynaecologist, an expert on gender and a clinical psychologist. Results may take three to four months. I honestly didn’t know it was so complicated.

Resignations and columns of newspaper print surround this story, but it leaves an unsavoury taste. Is it out and out cheating; is it just sour grapes by those beaten; or is it that the media can’t cope with women in sport who don’t look like Anna Kournikova – no matter if they’ve got infinitely more talent; would they look good on a billboard advertising underwear?

There was also some rugby on – I know because the football and athletics programmes were cancelled while the rugby match was shown several times with warm-up and post-mortem debates. While I was watching it very attentively, I noticed a striking look-i-like-i: Matt Gitteau actually bears a strong resemblance to Heath Ledger.

I think it’s because they’ve both got slightly skewed faces with their features all pointing in opposite directions, not unattractively. It’s as though God said, ‘the good new is; I’m going to give you a face like an oil painting. The bad news is; it’s by Picasso’. Now who said He has no sense of humour.

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