Ashton Agar saves Australia

I’ve been keeping an eye on the first test of the Ashes whilst at work with the live score from the BBC.

My slight displeasure with the England first innings was put aside when England’s bowlers started to take the Aussie batsman apart and when their number 11 took to the crease I was sure that their first innings was close to and end. How wrong was I? I’d never even heard of Ashton Agar before this week, but I’m sure we are going to be hearing a lot more from him in the future.

A score of 98 off 101 balls is superb but for a debutant coming in at number 11 it is unbelievable!

Paralympic blade controversy

Oscar Pistorius has been dubbed the “the fastest man on no legs” and is an iconic figure within the world of “disabled sports” and is the face of the Paralympic 2012 Games.

When the much favoured Pistorius shockingly came second to the Brazilian Alan Oliveira in the final of the men’s T44 200m a furore was sparked.

Pistorius claimed that he was “not running a fair race” and that his rivals were artificially extending the length of their legs: “it’s very clear that the guys have got very long strides”.

But what had seemed like a reasonable if ironic claim given that there had been concerns raised about Pistorius competing in the Olympics 400m and whether his blades offered an unfair advantage over his able bodied rivals has been cast in a new light by two things.

Firstly is Ross Tucker’s scientific analysis of the race for The Guardian. The crux of the argument is that Oliveira who has indeed extended the length of his blades in recent months had done so to the extent that his stride length was now unfairly greater than that of Pistorius.

However according to Tucker’s analysis this is not at all the case and that Pistorius stride length is still greater at an average of 2.2 m to Oliveira’s 2m and taking 6 fewer strides than his Brazilian rival.

But of course racing is about much more than simply stride length and it is here that we hit a slippery slope that could undermine what the Paralympics is about. But before we go down that slope let’s look at the second moment from these games that casts Pistorius’s claim in a new light.

The second event was Jonnie Peacock’s victory in the men’s T44 100m in which Pistorius came fourth.

Peacock is missing only his right leg below the knee and consequently runs with a single blade in comparison to Oliveira and Pistorius who are missing both legs and run with twin blades. As such Peacock doesn’t have the scope to lengthen his blade as he needs to maintain balance with his left leg.

Oscar Pistorius was a pioneer and as with many other pioneers it is becoming clear that he is now getting overtaken by those who are following in his footsteps. This is partly to do with the improvements in sport technology but also to do with Pistorius’s fame and the associated interest in disabled sports. A greater number of people are recognising that their disabilities are not an obstacle to becoming great athletes.

London 2012 Olympic Games concludes

Seventeen days of amazing competition by the greatest athletes on the planet has come and gone book-ended by Danny Boyle’s brilliant and masterful opening ceremony and a madcap and semi-incoherent closing ceremony.

This has been in my opinion the greatest ever Olympic Games and I’m disappointed with the cynicism that I’d had in the run up to the games. But I got gripped by the Olympic fever felt in the country particularly as the Torch passed through Bath and was anticipating the start of the games from that moment on.

Amy and I regret that we didn’t get more involved and didn’t attempt to get tickets for any of the events. I only hope that the Games do return to Britain and it isn’t 64 years to wait between this and the next.

In spite of that through the excellent coverage by the BBC online I was able to watch and experience many memorable moments from these games.

Bradley Wiggins doing what the nation hoped he would and winning gold in the Cycling Time Trial and in the process becoming the greatest British Olympian surpassing Steve Redgrave’s medal haul.

Michael Phelps not dominating the swimming like he had in previous games even coming fourth in one race. Then suddenly his form came good and the greatest Olympian was back winning medals finishing off the games and his career on a high with four golds to take his overall tally to 22.

Andy Murray beating Roger Federer on Wimbledon’s Centre Court to win the Men’s Singles Gold medal having lost mere weeks before in the final of Wimbledon.

Mo Farrah’s 10 000 metre win capping off what was a truly Super Saturday for Team GB and winning the sixth gold medal of the day.

Experiencing the highs and lows with Victoria Pendleton in the velodrome. The terrible disappointment for the minor infraction in the Team Sprint which resulted in relegation, the magnificent win in the Keirin and then setting a new Olympic record of 10.724 seconds in the qualifiers of the individual sprint but losing in the final to Anna Meares, after being unjustly relegated again and earning a silver medal. A fantastic cyclist!

Ben Ainslie’s medal race in the Finn class. Having lagged behind Jonas Hogh-Christensen of Denmark for most of the regatta Ainslie had clawed back the deficit and just needed to beat the Dane. The race was already tense and then came the realisation that if Ainslie and Hogh-Christensen fell too many places behind Jonathan Lobert who was currently third overall he could beat both of them to the gold. Ainslie’s win meant that he’d equalled Sir Steve Redgrave’s record of winning medals in five consecutive Olympic games.

Usain Bolt defying the naysayers and successfully defending both his 100m and 200m Olympic titles and then paying homage to Mo Farrah by doing the Mo-bot as he crossed the line to break the World record and win another gold for Jamaica in the 4x100m relay.

David Rudisha’s World Record breaking 800m run was astonishing and his performance brought out the best in all the other runners each of whom raced a personal or season’s best time.

Then we returned to the pool to watch the conclusion of the diving competition with the Men’s 10m Platform. Could Tom Daley up his game for the final having squeezed through in both the qualifying round and the semi-final? There was little to worry about though as Tom performed six magnificent high scoring dives that put him in a position of a guaranteed medal the colour of which depending on whether the competion leaders David Boudia of the USA and Bo Qiu of China held their nerve and dived well. They did and so Tom won the bronze, a result that he and his full clothed British diving teammates were clearly elated about as they all leaped into the pool in celebration.

As well as the great successes there were disappointments and failures from South Korean fencer Shin Lam’s sit-in to a seven bike pile up on the BMX track.

All in all a truly awesome Olympic Games and I am now feeling down knowing that I won’t be able to settle in tonight to watch the latest highlights as I have for the past two weeks and a bit.

Great Britain’s Golden Saturday

Six gold and 1 silver medals made Saturday 4th August the most successful day in 104 years for Great Britain at the Olympic Games.

The medal haul started at Eton Dorney and the British rowers with the team of Alex Gregory, Peter Reed, Tom James and Andrew Triggs Hodge winning the gold in the Men’s Four.

This was followed by Katherine Copeland & Sophie Hosking very convincingly winning the Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls.

The media seems to be full of the day’s gold medal winners but I think Zac Purchase & Mark Hunter deserve recognition for a hard fought race to the line in the Men’s Lightweight Double Sculls and taking silver behind the great Danish pair.

The action then moved to the London Velodrome and the Women’s Team Pursuit. The British team of Dani King, Joanna Rowsell and Laura Trott added the third gold of the day, the fourth gold so far these games in the velodrome and set a new World Record in the process.

Then in the Olympic Stadium it was the turn of Great Britain’s athletes to add to the gold medal tally. After a fantastic first day Jessica Ennis was surely the favourite to win the Heptathlon but nothing is a given and she held her form to win the gold in emphatic style.

Greg Rutherford jumped very well though he never really looked happy with any of his jumps to win the Men’s Long Jump the first win in this event for Britain since 1964.

Then Mo Farah capped a historic day by winning the Men’s 10,000m in front of 80,000 jubilant spectators.

Britain has now won 29 medals overall, with Saturday’s six gold medals taking the team to a tally of 14 golds, 7 silvers and 8 bronzes so far at these Games.

Olympics 2012 – Super Saturday

Halfway through the London 2012 Olympic Games on what has been dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ due to the large number of events happening on this day.

Team GB are currently fourth in the medal table with 8 golds, 6 silver and 8 bronze medals so far and with many more sure to come.

The first might well come in the Women’s Triathalon which started a short time ago. There has been a little controversy with 20 year old Lucy Hall being chosen as the third member of the team despite not being amongst the best of British triatheletes. However nowadays British Olympians are very much a team rather than a bunch of individuals and decisions are made that are in the best interests of the team. Lucy Hall’s role here is to act as a ‘domestique’ and assist British number 1 Helen Jenkins in her task of winning the gold medal. A tactic that is now quite common in the British cycling team.

Talking of cyclcing despite the rule changes in the Track Cycling the British team are still dominating and will likely add a few more gold medals to the three that they already have won. Victoria Pendleton is surely the favourite now for the Women’s Sprint following her Keirin win, but she may be challenged by China’s Shuang Guo who is now an unexpected double silver medalist. However today’s cycling medal is likely to come from the Women’s Team Pursuit who qualified with ease and set a new World Record. Also competing today will be Jason Kenney already a gold medal winner in the Team Sprint he’ll be looking to set a great time in the qualifying round for the Individual Sprint.

On another track Jessica Ennis set the fastest time ever in the 100m Hurdles for a heptathlete, her time of 12.54 equaling that of USA’s Dawn Harper gold in the 100m hurdles individual event. With other good performances on the first day she is now on target for gold.

Andy Murray is in the Mixed Doubles quarter-final today and is in good form these Olympics having already guaranteed himself at least a silver medal by making tomorrow’s Men’s Singles Tennis final. Can Murray beat Roger Federer the man that beat him in this year’s Wimbledon final? He seems to think so.

Should prove to be a very exciting day of sport.

The Ashes: The first Test drawn

Unbelievably England have managed to hold off the Australian bowling attack and scrape a draw in the first Test from what was looking like dire circumstances.

It was looking extremely dicey once Collingwood’s wicket fell but Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar managed to survive 69 balls and save the Test.

It’s going to be a brilliant and interesting summer of cricket if this Test is anything to go by.

Teacher sacked for push-up punishment

How times have changed.

A British teacher has been suspended after making his pupils do push-ups as a punishment for arriving late to class.

The Derby Moor Community Sports College, where the unnamed teacher worked, said an investigation was underway and that its “priority is to ensure that students are happy to be in school.”

I’m sure push-ups are not an Ofsted approved punishment but it seems to me to be a fitting punishment at a Sports College.

Mr Crouch my sadistic PE teacher at school would make pupils do push-ups for the slightest infraction and loved every second of it.

Sachin Tendulkar sets new run record

BBC News reports that India’s Sachin Tendulkar has set a new record for the most runs scored by a batsman in Test cricket, overtaking the mark set by West Indies’ Brian Lara.

Tendulkar, 35, scored the 15 extra runs he needed to overtake Lara’s aggregate of 11,953 on day one of the second Test against Australia in Mohali.

Since regaining his form and ensuring his continued presence in the Test side there has been some inevitability that he would break Lara’s record. I and about half a billion people on the subcontinent congratulate him on this record breaking feat.

"The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey"

Just had a customer at the cinema who wished to buy tickets but had forgotten her membership card with which she could get a discount off the price. So I asked her name so that I could search the members database to find her, she replied “wily, spelt W-i-l-l-e-y.”

I thought interesting as that’s not how I’d pronounce that surname and it put me in mind of the apocryphal quote attributed to cricket commentator Brian Johnston in regards to the West Indian bowler Michael Holding.

“The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey.”

And through his Wikipedia entry I find the following YouTube video of what is regarded as the best bowled over of Test cricket ever.