It’s been another busy week of sport and we have Basketball, Rugby League, MMA, and Athletics to get to but first some Football.
We couldn’t let this one go. German TV presenter Jessica Kastrop got whacked in the head from a, we assume accidental, ball from Stuttgart’s Khalid Boulahrouz while she was pitch-side.
Thrilling start to Turkey 2010
No sooner had I predicted Spain’s Basketball team would repeat the feats of their Football team than they did just that, just not in the way I expected. Spain lost its first game of the FIBA World Championship, matching the opening game embarrassment suffered by their Footballers in South Africa. This time it was France to the fore as they pulled off the shock of the opening day with a 72-66 victory in Izmir. France entered the game minus most of its big names, including Tony Parker, and were expected to suffer against Spain but a huge difference in bench scoring proved decisive. Argentina, the top ranked team in the world, did well to avoid a similar upset as they squeezed past Germany 78–74.
The USA opened its campaign with a comfortable 106-78 victory over Croatia. The game was effectively over by the break as the USA outscored Croatia 26-6 in the second quarter. It was a far from educational performance although there was one worrying area for the USA. Much as I had warned in my preview piece, the USA had trouble controlling the game inside. While this wasn’t an issue in deciding the result against Croatia, there are opponents on the USA’s schedule which could make them pay.
Rugby League’s Challenge Cup Final took place on Saturday with Warrington claiming a second successive title. The Wolves dominated throughout, playing an opportunistic game in attack with an ability to create scoring chances from anywhere on the field. Nowhere was this more evident than in Warrington’s third try where Ryan Atkins completed a thrilling return from a Leeds kick deep into Wolves’ territory to make it 14-0.
The second half began with the Rhinos looking poised for a comeback. Leeds pressed the Warrington line hard but the defending champions stayed calm in defence, removing gaps for Leeds to make a breakthrough. Once the siege lifted, the Wolves turned their minds towards icing the game and a fourth try as Ryan Briers hit a stinging kick into the corner which Chris Hicks grabbed and touched down. At 20-0 the game was essentially safe. Leeds hit back through Lee Smith but Hicks and Atkins each scored again to clinch it 30-6.
So long Strasburg
Baseball fans were dealt sad news this week when pitching phenomenon Stephen Strasburg was ruled out for the remainder of the season and likely most of 2011 as he must undergo the dreaded Tommy John elbow surgery. Strasburg’s was posting extraordinary numbers in his rookie season but the 22 year-old tore a ligament in his right elbow. His team, the Washington Nationals, had effectively made Strasburg the face of the franchise and he didn’t disappoint but this injury could prove devastating.
Tommy John surgery, named after the first pitcher to undergo the procedure, repairs an ulnar collateral ligament injury (UCL). Chances of complete recovery after the surgery are high, so Strasburg should be able to return to game with the same impact he had prior to tearing the ligament. The real damage will be in time lost. It takes over a year to recover from Tommy John surgery, meaning the only way Strasburg can expect to see action in 2011 is if the Nationals make the post-season. Without Strasburg on the roster, that isn’t going to happen.
The Usain Bolt of middle distance running
When Sebastian Coe set the 800 metres record in 1981 he likely didn’t envision his record standing 16 years until 1997, when Wilson Kipketer equalled it and then broke it twice. Given how long it took Kipketer to get the record, the Kenyan who ran for Denmark probably was less surprised that his new mark survived just under 13 years. It took 12 years and 363 days for a new mark to be set as Kenya’s David Rudisha set a new mark in Berlin.
Aside from unusually being the first Kenyan to hold the record, essentially because of Kipketer’s decision to run for Denmark, Rudisha is a fascinating prospect in the middle distance ranks. Much like Usain Bolt in sprinting, Rudisha has a clear otherworldly target in mind. He wants to be the first man to run under 1 minute 40 seconds, over a second faster than the new record he established last Sunday. Rudisha saw Berlin as his first “real attempt at the world record” and Kipketer has essentially given the 21 year-old his full endorsement. For all his confidence however, the Kenyan is aware there are more important affairs ahead and has stressed a need to add major championship titles before he can start talking about being the best in the world.
Election Photoshop candidate fails to win over the public
Last week this column wrote about Dorothy ‘Dot’ Davidson, the mayoral candidate in Bessemer, Alabama. Davidson photoshopped herself into a picture with Alabama’s head College Football coach Nick Saban. She was promptly rumbled by reporters but kept her campaign rolling until election day on Tuesday. Davidson polled fourth with 736 votes, a 13.6 percent share of the vote. This was not enough for her to make the final run-off, ending her attempt to become mayor on this occasion.
Edgar silences Penn while Couture makes light work of Lights Out
Sadly we never got to see if James Toney could take out Randy Couture with one punch because the Natural had no plans on giving him the chance to do so. The fight went to the mat almost immediately and viewers we subjected to three minutes of Couture working out which would be the best hold to submit James Toney. Lights Out is a legend in Boxing but he showed a total lack of nous in the octagon and resorted trying to absorb the punishment until the end of the round. It never looked like working and sure enough Couture forced the submission with plenty of time to spare in the opening round.
The main event was far more significant as Frankie Edgar proved he was no fluke against BJ Penn. Edgar dominated Penn in UFC 118, outclassing the former champion throughout the five rounds. Having come into the fight on the back of undeserved scepticism over his win in the first fight, Edgar made sure there was no doubt who was the better fight. After completely dominating the first three rounds, it was in rounds four and five that Edgar truly showed his class. When Penn finally found ways to force a take down in each of these rounds, Edgar responded well and managed to take the fight back the Hawaiian in both rounds. Edgar’s next defence of the UFC Lightweight Championship will likely be against Gray Maynard, who beat Kenny Florian earlier in the night.
Have a great Sunday.