The London Olympics Day 15 – Another Super Saturday

Highlights and Results from Day 15 of the The London Olympics 2012

Who would believe that the second Saturday in the Athletics stadium could come close to the first? But close it came. It didn’t yield three Gold medals for the host country, like the first Saturday, but there was a remarkable second Gold for long distance man Mo Farah, a new world record for the 4 x 100M Relay and more entertaining antics from Usain Bolt and Mo Farah.

Things really kicked off with the first track event of the night, the Men’s 500 MetresMo Farah was a warm favourite and the hope for most of the 80,000 in the stands. But could he back up after the 10,000 metres and a heat for the 5,000? The man was on 20,000 metres of competitive running. The race started at a really slow pace and after a couple of laps Farah decided he needed to take the pace on himself. So he led from the front for a while. There were lots of lead changes with the Kenyans, Ethiopians and Bernard Lagat of the USA all trying to find the best position for the finish. With about 750 metres remaining Farah kicked very early for home. There was a lot of competition for the front spot over the last two laps, but coming into the home straight Farah opened his stride and no one was going to catch him. Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia was right behind Farah and Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa of Kenya beat Bernard Lagat to the Bronze.

The Women’s 800 Metres was next on the track. There was much talk of Caster Semenya, the South African who has mainly been in exile since her World Championship win 3 years ago and the allegations and questions of her gender that followed. Semenya spent most of the race at the back of the pack and the Russians led. She kicked with about 130 metres to go but had let the lead runners get too far away it seemed. But she did manage to catch and pass all but Mariya Savinova of Russia, who won GoldSemenya could certainly have won the Olympic title had she ran a smarter race.

The US team for the Women’s 4 x 400 metres Relay were firm favourites and led the race from beginning to end. They finished more than 3 seconds ahead of the Russians, who claimed silverJamaica beat off a strong challenge from Ukraine to win the Bronze. This was the fifth successive Gold for the Americanwomen in this Olympic event, the third Gold medal at these games for Allyson Felix and the second for Sanya Richards-Ross. Is that domination or what?

The Men’s 4 x 100 metres Relay set up another showdown between the big guns of Olympicsprinting, Jamaica and the USANesta Carter and Michael Frater gave Jamaica a good start, but they were marginally behind the USA when Yohan Blake took the baton. The Jamaican changeover was better than the Americans and Blake ran a great bend to catch them and takeover. When Bolttook the baton Ryan Bailey was pretty much level with him, but only at the start. Bolt exploded down the home straight, he showed no signs of slowing at the finish and even dipped for the line. It was all worthwhile; the Jamaicans had set a new world record by two-tenths of a second. Bolt and Blake led the celebrations, throwing their regular poses and shaking hands and hugging everyone around the track. There was a minor dispute with an official as Bolt wanted to keep the baton, but the official insisted it was returned. But this is not a games of bureaucracy and it was presented back to him before the night was over. Bolt mimicked Mo Farah’s hands on head celebration, as Farah had imitated Bolt’s celebrations with some sit ups after the 5,000 metres. They later posed together as the two stars of the night at this London Olympics.

That finished the events in the stadium. Many people are sad to see the London games come to an end and I am one of them. It has been nothing short of magnificent.

Events were finishing all around London. The Football (Soccer) had a surprising end at Wembleywith the favourites Brazil being beaten 2-1 by Mexico. The defending of the Brazilians was atrocious, giving away the ball carelessly in dangerous areas. The first time was only 30 seconds after the kick off and Mexico capitalised through Oribe Peralta, who put away his chance for the fastest ever goal in an Olympic final. Other Brazilian mistakes saw Mexico hit the bar and no one was really marking Peralta when he scored his second, heading in from a corner. The Brazilians scored on 90 minutes through Hulk and they had a few minutes of injury time left to equalise and take the game into extra time. But they hardly deserved to and justifiably Mexico took the Gold.

The USA convincingly beat France 86-50 in North Greenwich to take the Women’s Basketball GoldUS forward Candace Parker top scored with 21 points. Earlier Australia had beaten Russia83-74 to take the Bronze.

Germany retained the Olympic Men’s Hockey title with a 2-1 win over the Netherlands. It was a close finish but with two minutes remaining, Rabente scored the winner from close range. Australiaagain claimed Bronze beating Great Britain 3-1 in the play off.

In Boxing 5 titles were decided at the Excel arena. Great Britain’s Luke Campbell beat Irishman Joe Nevin in front of a rapturous home crowd to claim the Bantamweight (56Kg) Gold. But the most impressive celebrations of the night came from Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk after beating Clemente Russo of Italy for the Heavyweight (91Kg) Gold medal. Usyk wound up events with some Cossack dancing, which could have been mixed with some break dancing, it was hard to tell. But it was the only celebration in this Olympics I have seen that has come close to Usain Bolt’s.

There are several events that wind up on this final day of the London Olympics The Men’s Marathon should finish around 1:40PM. Men’s Basketball has the play off for Bronze between Argentina and RussiaSpain face the might of the USA Dream Team for the Gold. There are five medal deciding Boxing bouts. Mountain Bike Racing, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Handball, Modern Pentathlon, Volleyball, Water Polo and Wrestling all come to a conclusion today. So the Londongames will go out with a bang not whimper.

This will of course all be followed by the closing ceremony, surprises have been promised. If they dragged out Paul McCartney for the opening, I am expecting a full Beatles reunion for the closing.

We will be back tomorrow to wrap up this magnificent London Olympics.

The London Olympics Day 14 – Another Day Another World Record

Highlights and Results from Day 14 of The London Olympics 2012

Day 14 at the London Olympics saw another world record broken on the track. The US Women’s 4 x 100M Relay team knocked almost half a second off of the record for the event that had stood since 1985.

The US team of Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter got off to a fast start and Allyson Felix ran a great second leg, by the time Carmelita Jeter got the baton in her hand she had a healthy lead on their biggest rivals, JamaicaJeter finished beautifully and was even seen checking out the clock on her way to the finish line. It was the first time the USA had won this event since 1996. The Jamaican team, which included the Women’s 100M Gold and Bronzemedallists, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown, broke their national record, as did third placed European champions Ukraine.

The heats for the Men’s 4 x 100M Relay also provided lots of drama, with home team Great Britain finishing second behind the USA only to be disqualified for the final handover between Daniel Talbot and Adam Gemili. To be blunt the handover was a complete mess. It was not completed until they were outside the designated area, then Gemili ran into the next lane. That apart, Gemili ran a good leg. The USA had the fastest qualifying time for the final, but only one hundredth of a second ahead of Jamaica, who are yet to add the dual 100 and 200 metre champion Usain Bolt to their team.

The Men’s Pole Vault was won by Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie in a new Olympic record of 5.97 Metres. Australian hope and Beijing Gold medallist for the event, Steve Hooker, failed to register a jump and went out very early.

There was also a new Olympic record set in the Women’s Hammer Throw by Tatyana Lysenko of Russia, the Silver went to Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland and the Bronze to Betty Heidler of Germany. The event is still dominated by eastern Europeans, but Wenxiu Zhang of China came in fourth.

The Women’s 5000 Metres was a close run finish, with Meseret Defar of Ethiopia claming the Gold, ahead of Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot of Kenya, fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba scored BronzeBritish girls Joanne Pavey and Julia Bleasdale came in 7th and 8th, the first non-Africans.

The Women’s 1500 Metres saw an amazing one two from Turkey with Asli Cakir Alptekin and Gamze Bulut sprinting through the field in the home stretch to claim Goldand SilverMaryam Yusuf Jamal scored Bahrain’s first medal of these games in third place.

The final event of the evening was the Men’s 4 x 400M relay where the favourites, USA were surprisingly beaten by the Bahamas, who set a new national record. Trinidad and Tobago came in third only just ahead of Great Britain.

Boxing was semi finals night for the men and saw British boys Anthony Joshua, Fred Evans and Luke Campbell all qualify for finals to fight for Gold. On Saturday, bantamweight Luke Campbellfights Ireland‘s John Joe Nevin. On Sunday, welterweight Fred Evans faces Serik Sapiyev of Kazakhstan, before super-heavyweight Anthony Joshua meets reigning champion Roberto Cammarelle of Italy. However, middleweight Anthony Ogogo lost his semi-final to Brazil‘s Esquiva Falcao and had to settle for Bronze.

In Diving British hopeful and teen idol Tom Daleyqualified for the final, but only in 15th place, 78 points behind Chinese leader Bo QiuAustralia will be represented by Mathew Mitchum who finished 9th in the qualifier.

In Men’s Football (Soccer) the Bronze medal play off was won by South Korea who beat Japan 2-0 with goals from Arsenal striker Chuyoung Park and Jacheol Koo.

Great Britain claimed the Bronze medal in Women’s Hockey with a 3-1 win over New Zealand.

Sailors Mal Page and Mat Belcher scored another Sailing Gold for Australia in the 470 class. British crew Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell won the Silver.

Saturday night sees nothing but finals in the Olympic stadium, six of them, leaving only the Marathon to close out this fantastic Olympics on Sunday. Stay tuned, I’m even going to watch the closing ceremony this time.

The London Olympic Games Day 13 – The Stadium of Dreams

Results and Highlights from Day 13 at The London Olympic Games 2012

Another sensational night in the London Olympic stadium. This games just keeps on delivering. What more could we ask for? A World Record in the Men’s 800 Metres and Usain Bolt completing the double double by winning the 200 Metres.

David Rudisha of Kenya was the out and out favourite for the 800 Metres Gold medal. There was good reason for that. He led the final from start to finish and while the battle was going on for the minor placings Rudisha crossed the line well ahead of the chasing field in a new World Record. But the following field were not slouching either, every one of them ran a new personal best or created a new national record. The 800 metres at the London Olympics will be long remembered.

The semi-finals of the Women’s 4 x 100 relay followed. The Americans blitzed the first heat, even though they rested their star sprinters. The Jamaicans came in second in the second semi, marginally behind Ukraine. They had a dodgy changeover on the third leg and also have some speedsters to bring in for the final. The Gold will probably be fought out between the USA and Jamaica, but do not discount Ukraine or Trinidad and Tobago.

There was more success for Jamaica in the 200 Metres final. Usain Bolt got away fast and ran a great bend to go into the straight in front of the field. He of course increased his lead, only to do his traditional slow down at the line. Yohan Blake was once again right behind him and Warren Weircame in third for a Jamaican clean sweep of the medals. The strength of Jamaica in sprinting is astounding for a tiny island nation with a population of less than 3 million people.

Usain Bolt and his compatriots celebrated hard again. This time Bolt even turned the tables on the press photographers, borrowing a camera from one of them and taking their photograph, as well as more of the crowd and fellow medal winners. Apart from being the world’s greatest sprinter, he is also one its biggest showman, which is why the crowds flock to the stadium whenever he runs.

Three other athletics medals were decided on day 13. Christian Taylor of the USA won the Men’s Triple Jump and Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic won the Women’s JavelinAshton Eaton of the USA won the Decathlon, ahead of countryman Trey Hardee, but it is those track events that are worth bottling.

The Women’s Football (Soccer) competition was finalized with USA winning the Gold by beating Japan 2-1 Canada claimed the Bronze with a 1-0 win over France. By now we were getting a little tired of hearing the US anthem.

Great Britain claimed three more Gold medals on day 13. Jade Jones won the Women’s 57Kg category in Taekwondo and Charlotte Dujardin won the Individual DressageNicola Adams made history by winning the first ever Olympic Boxing medal for women, in the Flyweight division.

In Kayaking Australia‘s Men’s K4 1000m crew of Tate Smith, David Smith, Murray Stewart and Jake Clear won GoldAustralia’s 6th of these games which brought them into the top ten on the medal table.

But Aussie fortunes were not so good elsewhere with the Opals losing the Women’s Basketballsemi-final to the USA 86-73. They will now play Russia for the Bronze medal. The Men’s Hockeyteam the Kookaburras, bowed out their semi-final losing 4-2 to Germany. In Women’s Water Polo Australia won the Bronze medal beating Hungary in the play off. The USA won the Gold medal beating Spain 8-5 in the final.

The London Olympics Day 12 – Second Gold for Aussie Sailors

Highlights and Results from Day 12 of the The London Olympics 2012

Australian Sailors Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen won the Men’s 49er Gold on day 12 at the London Olympics. As we reported on Monday they only needed to finish their final race to pick up the Gold medal. New Zealand pair Peter Burling and Blair Tuke had the Silver sewn up in the same way. So at the end of the day Australia collected it’s 5th Gold of the London games and New Zealand its 100th ever Olympic medal.

The Australian Boomers Basketball team bowed out of the Olympics on day 12 after coming up against the USA Dream Team. The final score was 119-86 but the Boomers were within 3 points after half time. A scoring frenzy led by NBA superstar Kobe Bryant ensured that Team USA finished with a healthy margin. There was a nasty scuffle in the France v Spain match, but Spain finished 66-59 in front on the scoreboard, to progress to the semi-final.

In the Athletics stadium the biggest superstar of these games was ensuring a place in the 200 metresfinal and Usain Bolt remains on target for the Olympic double that he achieved in BeijingBolt won the second heat of the 200 metres with only the fourth fastest time of the semis. But like the semi final of the 100 metres, he was cruising at the end, leaving plenty to spare for the final. His great friend and Jamaican compatriot Yohan Blake once again had the fastest qualifying time, so another Jamaican one two looks to be on the cards.

Four medals were decided in the Athletics stadium on day 12. The Women’s Long Jump was won by Brittney Reece of the USA with a leap of 7.12 metres. Fellow American Janay Deloach picked up the Bronze. They were separated by Elena Sokolova of Russia.

The Women’s 400 metres Hurdles saw another Russian medal. Veteran Natalya Antyukh, at 31, clocked a personal best time to beat out Lashinda Demus of the USA and Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic.

The Women’s 200 metres was a battle of the sprinters, not only the traditional 100/200 metre competitors, but Sanya Richards-Ross the 400 metre Gold medallist was also well in the mix. But she could not match the starts of the 100 metre girls and finished fifth behind USA compatriot Allyson Felix100 metre champion Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Carmelita Jeter who collected the medals. Veronica Campbel-Brown of Jamaica came in 4th

The final medal race of the 12th evening was the Men’s 110 metres Hurdles where the USAachieved a Gold and Silver finish through Aries Merrit and Jason Richardson. Hansle Parchment of Jamaica won Bronze. British hope Lawrence Clarke achieved a creditable fourth and maybe can improve on that in Rio 2016.

The first five events of the Decathlon were completed with American Ashton Eaton leading the field on 5693 points. The 10 event battle of attrition took its toll, with British hopeful Daniel Awdeand former Olympic champion Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic both pulling out with injuries.

In Boxing British Light-Welter Weight Tom Stalker was beaten in his quarter final by Mongolian Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg. It was a contentious decision and Stalker’s camp lodged a failed appeal.

Belfast light-flyweight Paddy Barnes and Flyweight Michael Conlan both secured Boxing medals for Ireland.

The London Olympics Day 10 – Australia Wins Second Gold

Highlights and results from Day 10 of The London Olympics 2012

There have been some unkind jokes going around on the web, mostly from British and Kiwi fans. They go something along the lines of – Call any Aussie friends you may have and say: ‘You’ve just won Gold!’ When they ask which sport, say: ‘Sorry I meant you’ve just ONE Gold.’. Well day 10 at the London Olympics changed all that, well at least until they can come up with a joke for two. Tom Slingsby, of Gosford, raised the nation’s morale by winning a long awaited second Gold medal in the Laser class of single-hander dinghies at the Olympic Sailing. Now that may mean something to all of the sailor types out there, but to the rest of us it means Australia rocketed to 19th on the medal table.

To keep the jokesters at bay, Australia’s pairing of Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen have secured an unassailable lead in the 49er skiff class, they only have to finish Wednesday’s final event to pick up another Sailing Gold.

In the Athletics stadium five more medals were decided. The Women’s Pole Vault was the first event to start and the last to finish, in the evening session. Swirling winds in the stadium played havoc with all competitors, not to mention having to stop for track races and medal ceremonies. Australia’sAlana Boyd came in 11th with a vault of 4.30 metres. British hope Holly Bleasdale was equal 6th on 4.45. Jennifer Suhr of the USA and Yarisley Silva of Cuba both finished on 4.75 metres, Suhr was awarded the Gold on a count back. Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia won Bronze.

The Women’s Shot Put was a much shorter event; they even managed to get their medals awarded on day 10. But it takes more than a slight wind to affect a 4 kilogram (8.8 lb) ball. Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus won Gold with a 21.36 metre put. Valerie Adams of New Zealand won SilverEvgeniia Kolodko won another Bronze for Russia.

There were qualifiers and semi-finals of the Women’s 200 metres and 400 metres hurdles, but the first track final of the night was the Men’s 400M HurdlesBritish hope and Athletics team captain David (Dai) Green finished fourth behind Felix Sanchez of the Dominican RepublicMichael Tinsley of the USA and Javier Culson of Puerto RicoSanchezwent into some serious celebrations after winning the event, then burst into tears during the medal ceremony, before he even mounted the dais. He continued to sob uncontrollably after his medal was placed around his neck and his national anthem was played. Now this was a great comeback for Sanchez, having won the Gold in Athens in 2004 and failed to medal in Beijing and it’s nice to see commitment, but I am informed that Sanchez’s only connection to the Dominican Republic is that his parents are from there, he was born raised and trains in the USA.

The Women’s 3000 Metres Steeplechase is an event that has been dominated by the Kenyans and Ethiopians. But the tables were turned at the London OlympicsYuliya Zaripova of Russia led from start to finish, the Kenyans and Ethiopians challenged but were not able to pass her for any significant amount of time and she seemed to gain 5 metres on the field at every water jump. In the final straight she streaked away from the field and Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia beat off the other challengers for SilverSofia Assefa of Ethiopia claimed BronzeKenya’s first finisher was fourth.

The Men’s 400M final featured 19 year old Australian Steven Solomon, but he was not the youngest in the race. In fact the Gold and Silver were both won by teenagers. Kirani James of Grenada was pulling away at the end and finished over half a second in front of World junior champion, Luguelin Santos of the Dominican RepublicLalonde Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago claimed the Bronze.

So a good night in the stadium for Russia and the Dominican Republic, Day 11 will see the Women’s 100M Hurdles semi-finals and final, where all Australians will be hoping that Sally Pearson can break their duck on the track and bring home the Gold.

In Basketball, Australia narrowly beat Russia 82-80. Great Britain finished their campaign with a convincing 90-58 win over China and the US Dream Team did the same in the angry and high scoring 126-97 point win over ArgentinaBasketball now moves into the quarter final knockout rounds, where Australia face the mighty USA on Wednesday. The Australian Women’s team, the Opals, face China in their quarter final today.

The Boxing has also reached the gnarly quarter final rounds. All semi finalists are guaranteed a medal, as there is no fight off for the Bronze in BoxingBritish Middleweight (75Kg) Anthony Ogogo won his bout against German Stefan Hartel and countryman Anthony Joshua beat China’s Zhilei Zhang in the Super Heavyweight (91Kg) class.

The London Olympics Day 4 Michael Phelps Breaks the Record for Olympic Medals

The London Olympics Day 4 Results and Highlights

Although Michael Phelps may be past his 8 Gold medal haul of Beijing four years ago, he managed to put himself in the record books once again yesterday. He picked up two medals to take his Olympic hoard up to 19. More Olympic medals than any other athlete has ever won. Phelps was narrowly beaten in the Men’s 200M Butterfly. Looking for all the world like he had it won, his final stroke left him short of the wall and as he coasted in Chad le Clos of South Africa touched before him, taking the Gold, five hundredths of a second in front of PhelpsTakeshi Matsuda of Japanpicked up the Bronze, which is becoming a regular habit for Japanese swimmers at this Olympics.

An hour later Phelps was back in the pool with his team mates for the 4 x 200M Freestyle final. The Americans pretty much dominated the event from start to finish. Both the British and Australian teams featured in the medal positions for parts of the race, but by the time Phelps hit the water, in the anchor leg, there was little doubt who would take the Gold. Team USAfinished over three seconds ahead of second placed France, China came in third.

Love him or hate him, no one can deny Michael Phelps work ethic and self belief. He believes that anyone can do anything that they put their mind to and even his 19 medal total can be beaten. He even hopes to add more medals to his stash before he leaves London.

The American Women were not to be denied either, Allison Schmitt won the 200M Freestyle in a new Olympic record of 1:53.61 Camille Muffatt of France claimed Silver and Bronte Barratt of Australia the Bronze.

Australian golden girl of the pool, Stephanie Rice, looked like she would add to her Beijing medal haul for most of the 200M Individual Medley final. But she was beaten to the medals by Shiwen Yeof China, Alicia Coutts of Australia and Caitlin Leverenz of the USABritish girl Hannah Mileycame in 7th.

In the Basketball both Australia and Great Britain were in action and both slipped to defeats. Australia were beaten 82-70 by second favourites Spain, while Great Britain went down 67-62 to Brazil. The British looked competitive, but they were always playing catch up and missed a lot of seemingly straightforward shots that would have given them the win. Russia secured a resounding win over China 73-54

The Boxing competition is still in its early stages (round of 32) and the seeded fighters have not yet joined the contest. But there have been some very competitive bouts, especially in the lower weight divisions. Boxers from Thailand and Kazakhstan have put in some very commendable performances.

Equestrian has never really been my thing. Personally I think the horses should get the medals, they do all the running and jumping, the jockeys just steer and sit back for the ride. But the medals were decided in the 3 Day Event with Germany taking Gold in the team event, Great Britain, Silver and New Zealand, Bronze. The story is most newsworthy because Zara Phillips, the Queen’s Granddaughter, is a member of the British Team and the first member of the Royal Family to win an Olympic medal. Although her Father (a commoner) also won Silver in the same event in 1972 and 1988 and her Mother, Princess Anne, was also an Olympian in 1976 but did not feature in the medals. But she has enough Gold and Silver of her own.

Zara Phillips came in 8th in the individual competition, which was won by Michael Jung of GermanyAustralia’s highest finisher was Andrew Hoy at 13th competing in his seventh Olympic games at 53. It doesn’t say how old his horse is.

In Women’s Football, Great Britain faced Brazil and beat them 1-0. Stephanie Houghton scored the goal in the second minute of the match.

The Hokeyroos, Australia’s Women’s Hockey team beat Germany 3-1 recovering from their 1-0 loss to New Zealand in their first game. Great Britain had their second win beating South Korea 5-3

Great Britain and Australia faced each other in the Men’s Volleyball with the Australians winning 3 sets to nil.

In Water Polo the Australian Men made a comeback after their defeat to Italy beating Kazakhstan7-4 While Great Britain went down by a devastating 21-7 to Serbia.

Another busy day ahead in London awaits.

Farewell Joe Frazier

Former Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion Counted Out

News broke today of the passing of one of the all time great heavyweight boxing champions. Joe Frazier lost his battle with liver cancer at the age of 67.

Joe Frazier held the World Heavyweight Title in the early 1970′s which was really the golden era of heavyweight boxing. He fought all of the greats and not so greats of that time including, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Jimmy Ellis, Jerry Quarry and Joe Bugner to name a few.

In 37 pro bouts he won won 27 by a knockout and he was only defeated 4 times. Twice by Muhammad Ali and twice by George Foreman, who both towered over him and had a longer reach.

Frazier also won the Olympic Heavyweight Gold Medal in Tokyo as an amateur in 1964.

But he will mostly be remembered for his rivlary with Muhammad Ali. They fought three times with Frazier winning the first, to retain the world title, but Ali won the next two, including the famous Thriller in Manilla, which will always be remembered by fight fans.

Bye bye Lionel Rose

Well it’s been quite a week, former Australian World Bantamweight boxing champion, Lionel Rose has joined Sir Henry Cooper and Seve Ballesteros in that great ring in the sky. Rose passed away aged 62, at his home in Victoria after being ill for several months.

Lionel Rose made his way from very humble beginnings, He was the eldest of 9 children, born on an aboriginal settlement near Warragul in Victoria. He followed his father into boxing, who had been a success on the tent circuit. Lionel learned to box in a bush ring, marked out by fencing wire, strung between trees. He eventually moved to Melbourne where he lived and trained with legendary Australian Trainer Jack RennieRose won the Australian Bantamweight title in 1966 and the World Title in Tokyo two years later. This was at a time when aboriginal Australians were still not allowed to vote in some States.

On his return to Melbourne, after winning the title in Tokyo, a quarter of a million people lined the streets to welcome him back. He was a inspiration to both aboriginal and white Australians. He won 42 of his 53 professional bouts 12 of them by knockout.

Although desperately short of money, Rose was one of the first sportsmen in the world to speak out against the apartheid regime in South Africa, refusing a lucrative offer to fight in South Africa in 1970. He turned down the fight there as he would only have been allowed entry as an “honourary white”

During and after his boxing career Rose also found fame as a Country Singer. His song “I Thank You” was a nationwide hit.

Tributes have flowed for Lionel Rose from the boxing fraternity and beyond and there are calls for a State Funeral for him. RIP.

Goodbye Henry the great

Farewell to a Great British Boxing Champion

It was sad to read the passing of one of Great Britain‘s all time favourite sportsmen, Sir Henry Cooper, today. Henry was British, European and Commonwealth heavyweight boxing championform the late 1950′s to the early 70′s. He was famously the first fighter to knock down Muhammad Ali, who was still called Cassius Clay at the time.

Cooper and Clay fought in 1963 when, the now Ali, was 21 years old. Cooper knocked him down in the fourth round and Clay was saved from being counted out by the bell. He was so groggy in the corner that his coach, Angelo Dundee, cut his glove and gave him extra recuperation time while the glove was replaced. Clay came back to win the non-title fight, when Cooper had to retire because of face cuts. It was face cuts that sort of plagued his career. He also lost the rematch with Muhammad Ali when they fought again three years later. Cooper won 40 of his 55 professional fights, 27 of them by knock out, his left hook was a much feared weapon.

Sir Henry Cooper’s boxing career ended in 1971. His last fight was against a young up and coming Joe Bugner, a former Hungarian refugee. They fought a fairly even contest for 15 rounds and Cooper was expected to get the decision, but it was awarded to Bugner and the British public never really forgave him for spoiling the end of “Our ‘Enry“‘s career. Although Bugner went on to hold the British, European and Commonwealth titles himself and fought all of the major heavyweights of the 1970′s, including Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, he never achieved Cooper‘s level of popularity with the British public. Bugner emigrated to Australia in 1986 to become “Aussie Joe“.

Henry Cooper went on to become an extremely popular TV personality, after his boxing career ended. He commentated on boxing, appeared on numerous chat and panel shows and regularly appeared as a guest on comedy and variety shows. Impressionists had a field day imitating his “He’s a nice boy, yeah, yeah. He’s got a good right ‘and” from his boxing commentary and “Splash it all over” from his Brut 33 commercial campaign.

Muhammad Ali was said to be “at a loss for words” over the death of his friend and tributes have flowed in from numerous boxing and television personalities. Rest in peace Henry, you will never be replaced in the hearts of the British public.

Huge weekend in Sport

AFL and NRL Grand Finals.

Delhi 2010

What a weekend to launch Australian Sports Reviews. It will be a huge one, with both the AFL and NRL Grand Finals on the same weekend, thanks to the drawn AFL Grand Final last week.

Collingwood decisevly won the AFL Premiership, thanks to some inspired play of their own and a pretty much off day all around for St Kilda. Goalkicking was their main problem early on, kicking a mass of one pointers before eventually converting a goal in the second quarter. By that time theMagpies had a very healthy lead, which they maintained throughout. Finally finishing in front by 56 points at the siren.

On Sunday the Dragons take on the Roosters in the NRLGrand Final. The Dragons are firm favourites, but the Roosters have had a great run into the final playing some fine and very fast Rugby League. It’s been their games that I have enjoyed the most in this final series, so I have a foot in that camp. But it could go either way on the day.

The opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games takes place in Delhi on Sunday too. Australia have sent their biggest overseas team. We will be commenting on many of the sports and results, not just the Australian ones. Let us hope the whole event goes off peacefully with no problems.

Of course we can not forget the English Premier League marches on. Most fans, I am guessing, will have an eye on the top of the table clash between Chelsea and Arsenal on Sunday night in London. We will undoubtedly have a write up on that for you on Monday.

Too much football is barely enough

What a night for sport! I started with the Bledisloe Cup game from Sydney. A great competitive affair, with only one point separating the Wallabies and the All Blacks in the end. A really hard fought game from both sides. With New Zealand coming back from a 13 point deficit, on a night when Matt Giteau left his kicking boots in the sheds. If Australia had switched the kicking duties to Kurtley Beale earlier they probably could have had the result. But the All Blacks closed the match out to finish with a 100% record in a Tri-Nations season that they totally dominated. But there was a lot to like about this season’s Wallabies too. Kurtley Beale was a revelation at Full Back, despite my preference for James O’Connor in that position. They work well together and Robbie Deans deserves praise for putting them both in. That’s probably why he’s the coach and I’m the critic. There were many other great showings from key players like Pocock and the skipper Rocky Elsom and others too numerous to mention. If only they can keep up their starts and maintain that level throughout games, they will be a force to be reckoned with in 2011. There is one more Bledisloe Cupgame to come in Hong Kong, or Japan, or somewhere else where small Asian men play the game they play in heaven.

After that I tuned in to the live coverage of the Arsenal v Bolton game from the English Premier leagueArsenal took the lead after a lot of possession through a scrambled goal by Koscielny. The hero then turned villain after a strong comeback by Bolton. He miss-cleared into the path of a Bolton’s attacking Lee Chung-Yong and then 5 Arsenal defenders were unable to stop his cross getting to Elmander the only Bolton man in the box. But Arsenal dominated in the second half taking the lead again with a headed goal from Chamakh, who was later converted into the stands byCahill, he was sent off for his sins. Bolton saw out the remainder of the game with 10 men and conceded 2 more goals. An amazing finish by Alex Song from what looked like an impossible angle on the bye line. Carlos Vela rounded off the scoring with a nice finish after beating the offside trap, but Arsenal could have and probably should have had 2 or 3 more. With lots of Gunners going over in the box and some good saves from the Bolton keeper. So a 4-1 finish that leaves the Arsenal in second position in the Premier League 2 points and 4 goals ahead of Man Utd after 4 games.

My night was rounded off with an amazing game of Rugby League between the Tigers and the Roosters. It was played at a frantic pace with numerous disallowed tries. The Tigers led for almost all of the game, but the Roosters came back to within a point with only minutes remaining. Then amazingly Braith Anasta dropped a goal in the final minute and took us into 20 minutes of Golden Point time. Drop goals were pushed wide by both sides and the Roosters had two attempts charged down. Finally Shaun Kenny-Dowall scored a try in the left corner to give the Roosters the win, in a game no one deserved to lose.

The only code I missed tonight was the AFL where the finals game between the Sydney Swans and the Western Bulldogs was also a close fought affair, with the Bulldogs finishing in front by less than a single goal.

I was forced to resort to watching on the net for the Australia v New Zealand Rugby test and the Arsenal v Bolton match. As Channel 7 once again elected not to show the international in Perth until 1:30AM seven and half hours after it was played. And of course there is no coverage of theEnglish Premier League (widely acknowledged as the best Football league in the world) on free to air television in Australia.

On a more positive note Channel 9 are to be praised for their coverage of Rugby League, which was a joy to watch, despite the fact that it is aired in the wee small hours in Perth, where Rugby League, well both Rugby codes really, are considered a minority sports. One comical moment in the Channel 9 commentary deserves special mention. A Tigers try by Ellis was disallowed due to a fracas in the middle of the field. Peter Sterling complained that it didn’t interfere with the play; Paul Vautin said there was nothing in it. But as the replay rolled, Benji Marshall clearly belted Mitchell Pearcesquare on the jaw. It was a true case of the curse of the commentators.