All new articles are now appearing in the new blog entitled 2012-13 and there will be no further updates here although all the older content from previous posts is still right here and has not been deleted.
We are now into day five of seventy. The Olympic torch touched down near Helston in Cornwall on Friday evening accompanied by Princess Anne, Lord Coe and David Beckham amongst others. On Saturday morning it started its way through much of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland (and to Dublin in Ireland for a day).
This afternoon it reached Swindon where Didier Drogba completed quite a week in his life which started with the equalising goal and winning penalty for Chelsea in the Champions League Final in Munich on Saturday. On Sunday he was in London on top of an open topped double decker bus as thousands of Chelsea fans poured onto the streets to see their victorious side joined with the cup itself for everybody to see. On Tuesday he announced that he would be leaving Chelsea after 8 years with the club and today stated it is his intention to not play against them and therefore will be applying his skills in pastures new probably far, far away. Today he had the honour of running a leg of the Olympic Torch relay through the streets of Swindon not because of his recent successes on the pitch - no. He was selected for all the charity work that he has been doing including setting up foundations for children back in his home country of the Ivory Coast. That last sentence needs to be made perfectly clear before anybody gets the wrong idea and thinks this is just more glory-hunting.
When I first heard the statistics behind this event I could not quite work it out. 8,000 miles over 70 days - it is only 850 miles from Lands End to John O'Groats!
I know they are not by a long way going the quickest way from these two opposite peaks and the route is going here, there and everywhere across the country but to manage to cover 8,000 miles is the equivalent of going from Lands End to John O'Groats back and forth 9 and a half times.
But then another calculation hit me and made me realise that perhaps they really are travelling this far. 8,000 miles divided by 70 days equals approximately 114 miles a day - suddenly it is sounding that in fact the figures are correct - it just seems incredible. The other thing that I did not realise was (maybe I am alone in this, maybe I am not) that I thought that all of this distance would be run by one of the 8,000 runners. That is far from the truth as we are already seeing from the video being relayed online from the BBC live stream of the relay. The convoy is swiftly moving to its next point with a bunch of police motorcyclists clearing the route ahead before the convoy again stops at the edge of the next village, town or city where they are once again are greeted by large crowds and the next relay runner. If the 8,000 miles was being covered by these 8,000 runners then they would all be covering one mile each of the course. I have already seen runners covering very small distances as our torch bearers are a complete variety of different ages and physical condition. Today in Swindon for example there was a guy with only one leg that bravely carried the torch and I have also seen people in wheelchairs etc.
There were some people that thought that people would soon get bored of this relay. Far from it - in fact if anything the crowds appear to be getting larger and larger as we go from town to town.
To be fair though, the torch landed in Britain just as the weather finally broke its extended winter through spring and we are finally get a taste of summer to go along with the early days before the main event of the Olympics.
I am finding the coverage on the BBC live stream strangely appealing. There is no commentary, all there is audio of the cheering crowds and the noise of the vehicle engines as they fly between places along England's roads. There have already been times where I have seen places that I have recognised or even thought I have drove down that road!
The interactive map can be zoomed in and a street by street map is also available so you can see precisely how the near they are going to you. I have noticed the timetable in the mornings has been difficult to keep to but they have made it up after the lunch break. If you are waiting and wondering where they have got to the web site has just introduced an Android App so that people can monitor the torch as they stand and wait for it. It is also due to appear as an Apple App in the next day or two.
There is just something I find very appealing in watching the live stream. Especially with the sun shining and the time of the year that it is right now we are seeing England in much of its beautiful glory. Seeing hundreds of school children lined up alongside the road too will provide many a moment when those kids look back in years to come and remember where they were when they saw the torch go by.
The BBC live stream for the Olympic Torch relay is linked to right here.
After defeat in this years World Snooker Championships, Steven Hendry announced his retirement from the game. On the opening day of this years finals tournament he made a 147 maximum break against Stuart Bingham - his third at the Crucible Theatre and his 11th in total. In the second round he knocked out defending champion and fellow Scot John Higgins but it was after his heavy quarter-final defeat to Stephen Maguire that he made his announcement revealing that he had become dissatisfied with the standard of his overall play in recent years and the difficulty he had trying to balance the competitive aspects of the sport with his commercial and personal commitments.
Hendry won his first world title at the age of 1990 at the age of 21. He would win the title a further five times all throughout the 90's. In all he won 72 professional titles and this year was his 27th consecutive year in qualifying for the Crucible. Of his six world titles, four of the finals were contested against the same opponent - Jimmy White.
White is probably the greatest player to never win the title and has in all lost six finals of which five were in consecutive years. "The Whirlwind" - now 50 years old was often compared to Alex "Hurricane" Higgins for his fast style of play and their lifestyles were also in many ways quite similar. If Higgins had been the big draw in the 70's and early 80's for his erratic yet brilliant shots then it would be White that would take over that mantle.
Hendry and White were two very different characters away from the limelight but this was also mirrored to an extent in the game that they both played at the highest level. In this video the two of them get back together for a chat about some of their greatest matches.
Eric Moussambani Malonga - or better known to the world at large as "Eric the Eel". Eric became famous through the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 in the 100 metres freestyle event. A wildcard system had been invented to allow developing countries a better chance of having athletes compete in some of the events and this also allowed athletes to divert from the minimum (or maximum) requirements for entry.
Eric had only taken up swimming "competitively" eight months prior to the games and had never even seen a 50 metre Olympic length pool before having practiced in a pool at a hotel only 20 metres in length. With the other two competitors in his heat false starting and being disqualified he swam alone and described the last 15 metres as "very difficult". His finishing time (yes - he did finish!) was 1 minute and 52.72 seconds - more than double of the eventual gold medal winner - in fact his time was even slower than the 200 metres winner!
Eric (from Equatorial Guinea) did not give up swimming after this and in fact managed to get his time down to under a minute. Four years later he was only denied a second attempt in the Olympics due to a visa screw-up.
Here is an incident that happened last weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina which see drag racer Matt Hagan in a car that just simply blows up as he reaches top speed - seconds later Hagan just walks away - amazing!
Great prank made better as the victim is also a prankster too.
No - the video is not missing - its down here!
(Video above contains strong language)
How many times have we seen this or similar incidents when two boxers confront one another, seemingly hate one another, even want to "kill" one another and then they get in the ring, slug it out and after the match all we here are comments of respect for their opponent and even upon occasion a handshake and even a hug.
What happened in Germany over the weekend was different to the norm in more ways than one. First of all the two boxers in question were not actually fighting one another - the actual boxing fight was between Vitali Klitschko and Dereck Chisora. The fight at this press conference was between Chisora and David Haye. Secondly, there was actual physical violence during this incident rather than the usual staged handbags at twelve paces like we usually see when the fighters use every tactic that they can to see the fight.
Click here for a full transcript of what was actually said during the above video.
You also have top British promoter Frank Warren openly saying he was disgusted by the events and could not even defend his own man in Chisora for what happened. Champion Vladimir Klitschko, (in his brothers corner for the fight) has also come out and said that the two fighters have damaged the reputation of boxing and that the two offenders need to be punished.
At the weigh-in for the actual fight Chisora spat in Klitschko's face and that was of course just the start of the nasty events surrounding this weekend. For Chisora to actually say that he wanted to hunt down and shoot Haye - is it a surprise that the German police ended up arresting him? There have even been suggesting that the boxing authorities may ban Chisora for life.
I believe that Frank Warren had set this press conference up for the purpose of putting the wheels into motion for a Chisora versus Haye actual boxing match with the winner to face Klitschko. All seemed to be going to plan and it would also go some way to explaining Haye's prescence. Then Chisora decided to go off script so to speak and confront Haye right there and then. Who used a bottle as a weapon is still unproven but what we can see is that Haye's trainer Adam Booth appears to be at least one of the victims.
I heard a radio debate this morning which started off with this drama and ended up with a full on "boxing should be banned" stance from some of the guests and callers on the show. Poor old boxing promoter and trainer Frank Maloney (who was a guest on the phone) just did not know what had hit him. Maloney amongst all the ranting voices around him did manage to say that neither Haye or Chisora were fit enough to tie Muhammad Ali's boots but defended the art of boxing and its professionalism to the hilt. There was even one comment made suggesting that boxing is only legal because most of government is made up of men and not women.
You know what? I am going to finish this post right now because I do not want to even go where this debate went.
Below is a short video that came from the Jonathan Ross show. In it, Ross runs down a list (and this is no joke) of items that no spectator is allowed to take into the Olympic stadium. It is quite the list and you may need to listen to what Ross is telling us two or three times to fully grasp what is on it.
No food and no drink is not really a surprise but do expect vendors to be allowed to park their pitches right outside the stadium leading many of us to believe that because they are there, that they have been commissioned by the Olympic bosses and paid top dollar for the pitch (which they probably have done) to sell their products and allow you then to take them inside the stadium - wrong! The same kind of thing goes on at Wembley Stadium and probably many other places and has done for some time.
I know we are talking London in the middle of summer here and the weather might not be brilliant. But, you never know because when this country does heat up we can get some very warm temperatures and really long, sunny days. So if that is the case then the need for food and especially drink will become even more paramount whilst spending hopefully several hours inside the stadium watching so many great events. This of course is where the next part of the hit really happens as the chances are that the price of food and drink sold within the stadium is going to be double - if not treble what you would normally pay. Make sure that you have plenty of money in your pocket (don't forget the list which included no coins so there won't be any small change) and don't bother putting it in a wallet - these people are going to legally steal it from you anyway.
I am also curious to know what is meant by "large photographic equipment". With mobile technology meaning so many phones now have cameras as standard it would be a logistical disaster if it included these. I doubt that it does but there will be many people asking the same question as what is deemed by the word "large"?
So as we draw closer to this summer, this is another step towards the realisation of what to expect. For me personally, I am quite happy to stand on a road somewhere and just watch the marathon runners or bike riders go flying by and then I can say that I was there. But in my opinion, if you are going to go to one of the major events - be prepared and get as much information and knowledge as you can before going to avoid confusion, aggravation, frustration and disappointment.
I stayed up and was glad that I did to see an absolutely fascinating tactical battle played out until the last second of this years Super Bowl. There have been many of these matches in the past that have been easy victories for one team or the other and when the old Gatorade ice-filled barrel is coming out with still a few minutes to go on the clock - you know that it is already game over. In this game there was no sign of that as nobody could be sure whether the Giants or the Patriots were going to win this one until time had actually ran out.
The simplest explanation that I can give for what happened in the last few minutes was that the Patriots were leading by two points but the Giants had the ball and had gradually moved the ball up the field to well within field goal distance. The plan for the Giants was to score with literally the last move of the game giving the Patriots no time at all to retake possession. So the Patriots had two choices - let them do this and take possession with literally no time on the clock left or alternatively let them score a touchdown giving them more time to get the ball into the other end zone.
The Giants had also realised this and with virtually a free touchdown being gifted to them with a minute to go, Bradshaw tried not to score but was too fast for his good, lost his balance and landed up in the end zone and scoring rather than resuming play at the one yard line. It was the touchdown that the Giants really did not want at that stage as the Patriots now still had a minute left on the clock - fortunately for the Giants and with one final "Hail Mary" play right at the end they held on to win 21-17.
I have an admission to make - I watch wrestling.
I use the term "admission" because I know that there are many people out there who loathe it. I am talking about TV wrestling and not the type that is featured at the Olympics for example - that is a proper sport.
A few years ago the WWF (World Wrestling Federation) was forced to change its name after a dispute with another WWF (the World Wide Fund for the conservation of nature - in short).
Since then it has been known as the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and the owner Vince McMahon does not even like the stars of the show to refer to themselves as "wrestlers" any more. The word "entertainment" is the key issue here as the action that happens is acknowledged as so instead of being an actual sport as such.
Many kids around the world love it and that is why the stars of the show repeatedly have messages for them - "Don't try this at home" being the main one. Wheras the kids can watch and believe its real, its the adults that watch and believe what they are seeing is real that is much more of a concern. I personally find much more of the behind the scenes stuff more interesting than the actual show and if you are one of those adults that do believe in all these crazy fights I strongly suggest that the next time you visit you tube you should search for shoot interviews of some on the key names in the industry. I have seen many that reveal real viewpoints regarding putting other wrestlers over and the reality of which colleagues they do and do not like.
I watch "Raw" on Monday nights and even though I usually fast forward through much of the show, the reason why I watch is lets say the same reason why many people watch soaps on TV. I want to see what stories they are coming out with next, which wrestlers will turn "heel" (the bad guys) or turn "face" (the good guys). What the WWE do really well is tremendous entries into the arena for stars that have been off air for a while. It is like going to a big rock concert and waiting for the main act to appear and with wrestling you can sometimes sense the same level of expectation in the arena when this happens. Some of the chat is done well but sometimes it is awful too - I guess there are some that just have a more natural gift for using the microphone than others.
The WWF/WWE has had some competition over the years from other organizations. In the late 90's the WCW was on a real roll and had many ex-WWF stars within its ranks including Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Macho Man Randy Savage - three of the biggest stars of the 80's with the WWE. Turning Hogan into a heel proved to be a master stroke and he became a key member in forming the NWO (New World Order) that proved to be a ratings smash for WCW.
McMahon though saw through the threat and as WCW diminished he in fact ended up buying the company. Since then the only other threat of sorts has come from TNA a lot more recently but despite the fact that once again stars such as Hogan and Flair plus many other big names from the past are with TNA, they are not even close in the ratings war right now. I find the most confusing thing about TNA is that if you miss it for just a couple of weeks and tune in again you just don't know where you are as there seems to be a constant changing of faces and heels that is happening way too quickly and kids probably do not know who to cheer any more.
This weekend sees the 25th anniversary of the "Royal Rumble" - my personal favourite event on the wrestling calender. Wrestlers are numbered 1-30 and the match starts with the two wrestlers that have drawn the numbers 1 and 2. Every two minutes (this fluctuates yearly) the next numbered wrestler enters the ring. Elimination is only achieved when a wrestler has gone over the top rope and his feet have touched the floor. The winner of the event gets to headline "Wrestlemania" when they go up against the current champion.
Don't ask for an opinion as to which wrestler will win this year as it all depends on what the script writers have got up their sleeves. From what I know of this years entrants there are probably 9 or 10 that could win it, another 20 to 15 that are there to make up the numbers. The others are the most interesting ones and we could see some big surprises appearing at the sound of the buzzer as stars reappear that have been absent from the ring for a while.
I have often thought what would be the ultimate royal rumble match? If we could take thirty of the best wrestlers from the last 25 years and have them all at their prime which ones would be included? We have to have an even mix of faces and heels and some wrestlers have excelled in both rolls. But after careful consideration and try and get the balance about right these are the names that I came up with. (I have only included wrestlers that are still alive today).
Heels - Kane, Hogan, Flair, Kevin Nash, Scot Hall, Kurt Angle, Brock Lessnar, Batiista, Chris Jerico, Edge, Ted DiBiase, Scott Steiner, Sid Vicious, Mr Perfect, Randy Orton
Faces - John Cena, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, Triple H, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Big Show, CM Punk, Ultimate Warrior, Jeff Hardy, Goldberg, Sting, Ray Misterio, Roddy Piper