Living hope

September 13, 2016

There’s the Olympics which get attention and Olympians who get the glory.

Then there’s the Paralympics which get less attention and Paralympians who are sometimes seen as lesser athletes than able-bodied ones.

*Robert Fulghum puts it better than I could:

The competitors at the Paralympics are people with no legs or arms who swim and row and cycle and run and jump. People who are blind and deaf and run races. People with Down Syndrome compete. There’s the guy who had no arms who won silver in archery, for god’s sake, and many of the participants have been torn apart in military combat and came back to compete with what was left of their bodies. . . 

The mantra of our times is that “we gotta have hope,” but the competitors at the Paralympics live hope. Hope is not an abstract ideal for them – it’s a reality created by courage and pain and determination and . . .

I am in awe of the determination, focus, hard work and sacrifice it takes to get to the top in any sport. Olympians or Paralympians – they’re all champions in my eyes.

* I encourage you to click on the link to read Fulghum’s post in full.


Olympic Venn diagram

August 22, 2016

Hat tip: Stats Chat


Gold for Adams

August 14, 2012

Valerie Adams has been awarded the shot put gold medal after Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who was initially awarded first place, failed a drugs test.

A win is a win and a gold is a gold. Adams was obviously disappointed by her second placing and it is wonderful that she has now successfully defended the first place she got in Beijing.

But it is unfortunate that this gold comes without the extra excitement and thrill which she would have experienced at the awards ceremony had she been declared the winner on the day.

And only Ostapchuk can explain why she risked drugs when the chances of being found out were so high.

New Zealand now finishes 15th on the medal table with six gold, two silver and five bronze.


99 and waiting

August 8, 2012

Manawatu cyclist Simon van Velthooven won a cycling bronze medal today.

That’s New Zealand’s 99th medal  and now we’re waiting for Nick Willis to run the 1500.

He won a silver medal in Beijing and there’s a lot of talk of him bettering that today.

Do such expectations weigh heavily on athletes, do they help to inspire them or do they ignore them and concentrate on the race in the knowledge they’ve trained and prepared to the best of their ability?

Willis came across as the ideal flag bearer at the opening ceremony, managing the difficult combination of both pride and modesty.

Now we wait in the knowledge he’ll do his best and dare we hope hope that he might do better?

UPDATE: No medal for Willis. In the post race interview he is obviously disappointed but still gracious.


All one when it suits

August 6, 2012

While browsing in the excellent Mary Ryan’s bookshop in Noosa last week I was amused to see three books by Lloyd Jones on the shelves devoted to Australian fiction.

When I mentioned this to the man serving me he said they didn’t have a section for New Zealand books and he thought Lloyd Jones was better with the Australian authors than in general fiction.

A conversation on the merits of our tendency to borrow the best from each other followed and how we were all one when it suits. We concluded that being close enough for some blurring of national boundaries was usually a good thing.

Often it is New Zealand which seeks to bask in Australia’s glory, but this week Australia is finding itself wanting to share some of ours.

This photo, borrowed from Facebook (thanks Andy) has Aus Zealand in ninth place in the medal tally in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

On the official medal table, we’re 14th and Australia is 24th.

However, when it comes to medals per capita, Stats NZ has us at number two for gold medals per 1,000,000 people, with Jamaica in first place; and second in total medals per 1,000,000 people.

However, Medals per Capita puts us at only 12th  for GDP per medal and 13th for golds per capita.

TV# has the story behind this website set up by  New Zealander Craig Nevill-Manning, who is an engineering director for Google  in New York.


7/10

August 4, 2012

7/10 in the Herald’s Olympics quiz.


Saturday’s smiles

July 28, 2012

Three young tourists were in a pub opposite the Olympics stadium, bemoaning the fact that none of them could afford a ticket.

All three were really keen to see the athletes from their own country compete.

They watched as the athletes entered through a special gate, each telling the guard their country and the event in which they were competing.

One of the tourists noticed a rubbish skip outside and grabbed a length of pipe.

He lifted it on to his shoulder, walked to the gate and told the guard “New Zealand, high jump.” The guard waved him through.

“That’s too easy!” the second traveller said. She looked around, picked up a manhole cover, and headed for the special gate. “Canada, discus,” she said to the guard, and in she walked.

“If they can do it, so can I” said the third backpacker, who was frantically looking around for a prop. All he could find was some barbed wire. He grabbed it, ran to the gate, and said, “Australia, fencing.”


Fagan father & son double win

July 27, 2012

Father and son wins at the Royal Welsh show have added another chapter to the Fagan shearing legend:

The New Zealand shearing legend David Fagan and his son Jack have scored a remarkable double on one of the biggest shearing stages in the world by winning the open and senior finals at the Royal Welsh Show.

Earlier this year Jeanette Maxwell of Federated Farmers called for shearing to be introduced to the Olympics.

Sir Brian Lochore seconded that:

Sir Brian, a Wairarapa farmer who contested in the first ever Golden Shears in Masterton in 1961, gave an almost “hero” status to today’s modern day international shearing guns in his speech at last night’s (Thursday March 1) Golden Shears World Championship dinner.

“Those competitors who are part of Golden Shears and now the World Championships are part of the World Cup of Shearing. Lets compare it to rugby. When New Zealand hosted the World Cup of rugby, we had the best players – the best prepared. Here in Masterton right now we have those same best players and the best prepared.”

Sir Brian said Golden Shears and the competitors who took part had champion quality.

“I absolutely support that shearing is no longer just a job. I do think that one day you will get it in the Olympics.”

Shearing is one of the most physically demanding occupations, it’s also a sport and those who take part are just as much athletes as those who compete in sports which are already included in the Olympics.


Shearing for Olympics?

January 19, 2012

If sport is defined as an athletic  activity requiring skill or physical prowess  and often of a competitive nature there is no doubt shearing fits.

The most memorable sporting commentary I’ve ever encountered in fiction was Witi Ihimaera’s account of a shearing competition in Bulibahsa and this report on this record -breaking attempt shows it also has spectator appeal:

A world shearing record which stood for 16 years was broken in front of a frenzied crowd of more than 150 packed into a King Country woolshed today.

Stecey Te Huia, of Te Kuiti, and Sam Welch, of Waikaretu, shore a combined tally of 1341 ewes in nine hours to beat by six the previous record of 1335 set by Southlanders Darin Forde and Wayne Ingram in 1996.

If it’s sport, then why not an Olympic one? 

Jeanette Maxwell of Federated Farmers said recordholders could strip more than 700 sheep in eight hours and likened the feat to running back-to-back marathons.

“Our World Championship teams are athletes who take it to another level. Surely, time has come to elevate shearing’s sporting status to the ultimate world stage.

“One way would be to make shearing a demonstration sport at a Commonwealth Games, if not the Olympics itself.”

A spokesman said the New Zealand Olympic Committee took the suggestion seriously and would be behind any attempt to include shearing.

I can see some obstacles, not least of which would be sourcing enough sheep in some of the   host countries and animal welfare issues.

But I disagree with Otago University sports marketing senior lecturer John Guthrie who said it could play up to stereotypes about New Zealand, whose sheep flock is about 10 times the human population.

The best way to counter stereotypes is with education and showcasing shearing at the Olympics would be a very good way to educate people about the skill and athleticism required to do it.

It could also help people trying to market wool to counter the misconception held by too many people that sheep have to be killed before the fibre is harvested.


February 8 in history

February 8, 2010

On February 8:

1575  Universiteit Leiden was founded, and given the motto “Praesidium Libertatis”.

1587  Mary, Queen of Scots was executed at suspicion of having been involved in the Babington Plot to murder her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England.

1612  Samuel Butler, English poet, was born.

1622 King James I disbanded the English Parliament.

1692 – A doctor in Salem Village suggeseds that two girls in the family of the village minister may be suffering from bewitchment, leading to the Salem witch trials.

1693  The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia was granted a charter by King William III and Queen Mary II.

1726 The Supreme Privy Council is established in Russia.

1807 Battle of Eylau – Napoleon defeated Russians under General Benigssen.

 Cavalry charge painted by Simon Fort.

1817  Juan Gregorio de las Heras crossed the Andes with an army to join San Martín and liberate Chile from Spain.

1828  Jules Verne, French author, was born.

1837 Richard Johnson became the first Vice President of the United States chosen by the United States Senate.

1849 New Roman Republic established.

1855  The Devil’s Footprints mysteriously appeared in southern Devon.

1856  Barbu Dimitrie Ştirbei abolished slavery in Wallachia.

1865 Delaware voters reject the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and vote to continue the practice of slavery.

1867 The Ausgleich results in the establishment of the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary.

 

1879 Sandford Fleming first proposed adoption of Universal Standard Time at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute.

1882 Thomas Selfridge, first person to die in an airplane crash, was born.

Thomas selfridge smoking pipe.jpg

1887 The Dawes Act authorised the President of the United States to survey Native American tribal land and divide it into individual allotments.

1900 British troops were defeated by Boers at Ladysmith.

1904 Battle of Port Arthur: A surprise torpedo attack by the Japanese at Port Arthur, China started the Russo-Japanese War.

Battle of Port Arthur crop2.jpg

1910 The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated by William D. Boyce.

1915  D.W. Griffith’s controversial film The Birth of a Nation premiered in Los Angeles.

1922 President Warren G. Harding introduced the first radio in the White House.

1924 The first state execution using gas in the United Stats took place in Nevada.

1931 James Dean, American actor, was born.

1931 All three people on board  a Dominion Airline DeSoutter were killed in a crash near Wairoa. This was the first fatal air service accident in New Zealand.

 First fatalities on a scheduled air service in NZ
 
1932  John Williams, American composer and conductor, was born.
 
1941  Nick Nolte, American actor, was born.
 
1948  Ron Tyson, American singer (The Temptations), was born.
 The Temptations in 1984. Pictured L-R: Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, (from top) Richard Street, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Ron Tyson

1952 Elizabeth II was proclaimed Queen of the UK.

Young lady wearing overalls and a cap kneels on the ground to change the front-left wheel of a military truck Elizabeth changes a wheel during WWII.

1955 John Grisham, American writer, was born.

1955  The Government of Sindh abolished the Jagirdari system in the province. One million acres (4000 km²) of land thus acquired was to be distributed among the landless peasants.

1960 Queen Elizabeth II issued an Order-in-Council, stating that she and her family would be known as the House of Windsor, and that her descendants would take the name “Mountbatten-Windsor“.

Badge of the House of Windsor.svg

1962 Charonne massacre: 9 trade unionists were killed by French police at the instigation of Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon, then chief of the Paris Prefecture of Police.

 

1963 Mohammad Azharuddin, Indian cricketer, was born.

1963 Travel, financial and commercial transactions by United States citizens to Cuba were made illegal by the John F. Kennedy administration.

1968  The Orangeburg massacre, a mass killing in Orangeburg, South Carolina of black students from South Carolina State University who were protesting racial segregation at the town’s only bowling alley.

1969 Allende meteorite fell near Pueblito de Allende, Chihuahua, Mexico.

AllendeMeteorite.jpg

1971 The NASDAQ stock market index debuted.

The image above is proposed for deletion. See files for deletion to help reach a consensus on what to do.

1974 The crew of the first American space station Skylab returned to Earth after 84 days in space.

1974 – Military coup in Upper Volta.

1978  Proceedings of the United States Senate were broadcast on radio for the first time.

1979 Denis Sassou-Nguesso became the President of the Republic of the Congo.

1983  The Melbourne dust storm hit.The result of the worst drought on record and a day of severe weather conditions, the 320m deep dust cloud enveloped the city, turning day to night.

1989 An Independent Air Boeing 707 crashed into Santa Maria mountain in Azores Islands killing 144.

1996 The U.S. Congress passes the Communications Decency Act.

1996 – The massive Internet collaboration “24 Hours in Cyberspace” took place.

1998 First female ice hockey game in Olympic history: Finland beat Sweden 6-0.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


July 31 in history

July 31, 2009

On July 31:

1856 Christchurch was chartered as a city.

1956 Jim Laker set a record by taking 19 wickets in a cricket Test against Australia at Old Trafford.

1976 John Walker won a gold medal at the Montreal Olympics.

Sourced from Wikipedia and NZ History Online.


Performance matters

August 26, 2008

New Zealand’s Olympic team was too big and athletes shouldn’t be using the games for experience, Associate Professor David Gerrard, a former selector, says.

Prof Gerrard, who attended his eighth Olympics in Beijing working with the Fina drug-testing commission, said New Zealand should “stick to its knitting” when targeting medals…

“We cannot afford to be all things to all people. We have to stick to our knitting and go with those sports which we have been good at. That means the rowing, the cycling, canoeing . . . The country had to accept it was never going to be good at everything…

“The team was too big. Performance is what it’s about, not just making up the numbers…

“This is the Olympic Games. This is where you have to perform at your absolute best.”

Performing at your absolute best in the ultimate sporting competition because achievement rather than participation is what matters – now there’s a radical thought.


Sunday social

August 17, 2008

Several blogs have Friday free-for-alls which has prompted me to have a Sunday social where you are welcome to talk about the week that was, the one that’s coming and/or the weekend you’re having.

I’m just about to fly home from Wellington where I’ve been for the National Party list ranking meeting – results will be announced later this morning.

We had dinner at a wonderful Italian cafe  last night. I’m a bit vague about it’s name and location – it might have been called Cafe Italiano and was in or near Cuba Street. I am in no doubt about its quality though – delicious pasta, wine, desert and terrific service from Italian waiters.

Super Saturday was indeed super – our best ever day  at the Olympics and the medal count is now two gold, a silver and a bronze.

This might help TV ratings because deeply shallow people like me take only a passing interest in the games until we start winning.

I fell asleep part way through the rugby and won’t divulge the score in case you missed the game to and want to watch it without knowing the result.

The six Australian climbers have been rescued from Mt Cook.


Nearly but not quite a bronze

August 13, 2008

Oh dear, Moss Burmester was second at the last turn but touched the end in fourth place in the 200m butterfly at the Olympics today.

But Mary Wilson  won gold in silly questions for asking, “What went wrong?”

When you do a personal best and break your own Commonwealth record in doing so, it’s not a matter of what went wrong. It’s just that sometimes in sport as in life your best isn’t good enough because other people are better.

And TVNZ, as Keeping Stock, points out didn’t even dive off the starting block because a switching failure meant most of the country couldn’t watch the race.


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