Rob's Blog

Entries Tagged as 'Major Events'

25 Years Ago in Sport

December 7th, 2015 · No Comments · Major Events, Sport

We have previously looked back at 50 years ago in sport. As the year is coming to an end, it is time to look back at sport just 25 years ago – 1990 – long enough for the sporting scenery to have a different look, but still alive in many of our memories.

It was a year many records tumbled and many legends were made. But this can overshadow the fact that 1990 was a year where major changes in sports were made. It was the year where at a Yankee Stadium rally, Nelson Mandela donned a NY Yankee baseball cap and proclaimed “I am a Yankee!”

Also in this year Buster Douglas defeated Mike Tyson by a knockout in round 10 to win the world’s unified Heavyweight title, in what many consider boxing’s biggest upset ever. He then later agreed to defend his title against Evander Holyfield for $24 million where he was dethroned by Holyfield in a third-round knockout in Las Vegas.

Poster from the FIFA World Cup in 1990

Poster from the FIFA World Cup in 1990

West Germany beat Argentina 1-0 for football’s 14th World Cup in Italy in 1990. The US open tennis championships crowned their youngest ever champion when 19 year old Pete Sampras who was ranked No. 81 only a year before beat Andre Agassi to win the title.

Nick Faldo won the golf masters (his second win) and went on to win the British Open and became the second man since Tom Watson in 1982 to achieve this feat.

Jari Kurri set a record for scoring in a Stanley Cup Finals game, registering three goals and two assists in game 2 against the Boston Bruins, on the way to victory for the Edmonton Oilers, winning their fifth Stanley Cup in seven years.

1990 was a year where many future legends of the game were born. Players like German world cup winner Toni Kroos (football/soccer) who scored a hat trick against Brazil in the semifinal of the 2014 soccer world cup. Former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki (tennis) was also born in 1990. The woman who has taken world cricket by storm, Australian Ellyse Perry was also born in 1990. Other notable people born were Mario Balotelli (football/soccer), John Tavares (ice hockey), and Tao Li (swimming).

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The Future of Rugby?

October 14th, 2015 · No Comments · Major Events, Rugby Union, Technology

The 2015 Rugby World Cup which is currently in progress has embraced technology with the use of the Hawk-Eye system to help the referee adjudicate decisions, as well as assist with player safety by identifying possible concussion instances and behind play incidents (see more about technology in sports).

Is this a step towards the possible futuristic rugby player? The team at bwin in their Alternative Guide to the 2015 Rugby World Cup came up with the following possible innovations that we may or may not see in Rugby World Cup competitions of the future. Some food for thought.

Some of these technologies are used in the tests discussed in The Future of Fitness Testing.

Rugby players of the future
Rugby players of the future
Rugby players of the future
Rugby players of the future
Rugby players of the future
Rugby players of the future
Rugby players of the future
Rugby players of the future
Rugby players of the future


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50 Years Ago in Sport

July 24th, 2015 · 2 Comments · Major Events, Sport

50 years ago the sporting scenery was very different. Some well-known athletes were making their mark, but were not the celebrities that athletes are today. There were many legends in the making while others were reaching the twilight of their career.

It was a year where the famous “phantom punch” was dealt by Muhammad Ali who retained the world heavyweight title he had won as Cassius Clay. The rematch against Sonny Liston in May never went beyond the first round and Liston was knocked-out by a phantom punch that nobody saw in one minute and 44 seconds.

Purdue vs. SMU Program Cover (1965)

Purdue vs. SMU Program Cover (1965)

Also Jack Nicklaus shot a Masters record 271 (17 under par) to win the Golf Masters by nine strokes, his second win at that time. In other golf news, Gary Player became the third man after Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen to win the four major championships when he triumphed in the US Open at Bellerive, Missouri.

West Ham became the second British club to win a European Trophy when they beat Bayern Munich, 2 – 0 at Wembley in the European Cup-Winners Cup whereas Liverpool won the FA Cup for the first time defeating Leeds United 2-1.

Also in 1965 the Amateur Swimming Union of Australia stunned the nation with its decision to ban Olympic champion and 1964 Australian of the Year Dawn Fraser from all amateur competition for ten years.

In cricket, Australian opener Doug Walters made his maiden Test ton in his first Test appearance, and went on to make 155 runs. Baseballer Willie Mays hit over 50 home runs in 1965, repeating what he had done 10 years earlier. Marking the start of an era for the New York Jets, they signed quarterback Joe Namath. The US ABC TV network paid an unprecedented $32 million for a four-year contract with the NCAA to broadcast football games on Saturday afternoons.

In major events, the All-Africa Games, otherwise known as the “African Olympics” was first held in Congo.

1965 was the year where many great sport personalities were born

1965 was also a year where great athletes like Craig Biggio, considered being one of the best all-around position players in MLB club history was born.  Mario Lemieux, a former NHL superstar acknowledged to be one of the greatest players of all time was also one of the most notable athletes to be born in 1965. Also cricketers Steve Waugh,  Sanjay Manjrekar and Maninder Singh were born in this year. Other notable athletes born in 1965 include Lennox Lewis (Boxing), Rubén Sierra (Baseball), Scottie Pippen (basketball), Matt Biondi (Swimming).

The Freddie Mills death saga and other notable deaths

The world light heavyweight champion from 1948 to 1950 Freddie Mills’ death saga is known to all in the boxing fraternity.  Freddie Mills died from gunshot wounds in mysterious circumstances in Soho, London. It was officially described as suicide but others attempted to give Mills’ death a more sinister ring and suggested he was the victim of a gangland ‘hit’.  English cricketer of South African origin Wally Hammond and College basketball legend Wayne Estes also died in the year 1965. Other notable deaths included that of Earl Webb (baseball), Tich Freeman (cricket), and Almos Alonzo Stagg (football).

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The Olympics and the Seasons

January 9th, 2015 · No Comments · Olympic Games

On Topend Sports there is a list of Olympic Games Firsts, which inspired a reader, Hank Wisniewski of Austin, Texas, U.S.A., to send me a personal message with some very interesting information I just had to share with you.

He pointed out that the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be the first to take place entirely in winter (to be held from 5 Aug 2016 to 21 Aug 2016).  A wintertime Summer Olympics is only ever going to be held in the southern hemisphere. The two other southern hemisphere Olympic Games, in Melbourne and Sydney, were held in spring and summer (local time). The 2000 Summer Games in Sydney was held completely during spring (15 September 2000 to 1 October 2000), and the Melbourne Summer Olympics were held over spring and summer (22 Nov 1956 to 8 Dec 1956).

Hank went on with more details about the timing of both the Winter and Summer Olympics.

Here is the rest of his message …

I thought it might be interesting to point out which Summer Olympics took place farthest from the equator and which Winter Olympics were closest to the equator, but after I started organizing the data I realized that since the Olympics have been held at various times of the year, the fact that the sun’s position covers almost 47 degrees of latitude from solstice to solstice makes those other facts irrelevant.  However, following my original thought, I found a web page that calculates the sun’s latitude for any day of the year, and for each Olympics I subtracted from the city’s latitude the sun’s latitude on the date directly between the opening and closing ceremonies.  To my surprise, when I sorted my list according to those angles, there was no overlap between Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics, even though the difference between the lowest sun peak in a Summer Olympics and the highest sun peak in a Winter Olympics is only 3.7 degrees!

The top five Summer Olympics held when and where the sun’s latitude was farthest from the host city’s latitude are…

  1. 1964, Tokyo, Japan (46.0°)
  2. 1972, Munich, West Germany (40.8°)
  3. 1952, Helsinki, Finland (40.8°)
  4. 1988, Seoul, South Korea (39.0°)
  5. 1912, Stockholm, Sweden (37.7°)

The top five Winter Olympics held when and where the sun’s latitude was/will be closest to the host city’s latitude are…

  1. 1960, Squaw Valley, United States (49.7°)
  2. 2018, PyeongChang, South Korea (50.0°)
  3. 1998, Nagano, Japan (50.3°)
  4. 2002, Salt Lake City, United States (53.7°)
  5. 1980, Lake Placid, United States (56.6°)

Winter Olympic Games cauldron in Vancouver, Canada

The Winter Olympic Games cauldron in Vancouver, Canada

While I’m at it, here are the extremes:

The Top Five Summer Olympics When & Where the Sun’s Latitude Was/Will Be Closest to the Host City’s Latitude:

  1. 1996, Atlanta, United States (14.6°)
  2. 1956, Melbourne, Australia (15.8°)
  3. 1984, Los Angeles, United States (16.9°)
  4. 1932, Los Angeles, United States (17.5°)
  5. 2020, Tokyo, Japan (17.8°)

The Top Five Winter Olympics When & Where the Sun’s Latitude Was Farthest from the Host City’s Latitude:

  1. 1994, Lillehammer, Norway (73.1°)
  2. 1952, Oslo, Norway (71.9°)
  3. 1956, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy (64.3°)
  4. 1964, Innsbruck, Austria (64.2°)
  5. 1924, Chamonix, France (64.0°)

By the way, the first Olympics to be held within the tropics were the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will be the second time!

Hank has also provided me with the time zones for every Winter and Summer Olympics.

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Rio Olympic Games Mascot Announced

December 1st, 2014 · No Comments · Olympic Games

The Olympic Games mascot for Rio 2016 has recently been announced, a yet unnamed yellow creature. It is supposed to represent all the animals of Brazil. (There is another one, for the Paralympics, which represents all the plants of Brazil). I can definitely see a cat and monkey in there, though I’m not sure what other animals it incorporates. Blue hands, green tail?

Unlike in recent times, the public was not consulted to choose the mascot, which is a good thing as the general population are not the experts in marketing, and the aim of creating a mascot is clearly stated as being to make lots of money on merchandise! The general population still do have a say – they can help pick the names. There is a shortlist of three choices, Oba and Eba; Tiba Tuque and Esquindim; and Vinicius and Tom. My vote is for Oba and Eda. I have no idea of the meanings of each of the names, Oba and Eda just sound the coolest.

rio olympic mascot
my selfie with the Rio Olympic Games mascot

On the official Rio website, you can go and make your own selfie with the mascot (like I did), and also cast your vote for the mascot names.

I’m glad there is just one mascot for the Olympic Games, as it was for London. When I saw that there were five mascots for Beijing in 2004, all I could think of was that they had trouble picking the best one to use. Sydney also struggled to make a decision and had three mascots. Using a single mascot that represents an animal from the host country is what has been traditionally used. You can see our list of previous Olympic Games mascots.

What do you think of the mascot?

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Creative World Cup Team Nicknames

May 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · FIFA World Cup, Football (Soccer)

Looking through the list of Team Nicknames of the teams of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, I have to question the imagination of many of the people who have come up with the names. There is a group of teams that basically don’t have a nickname, they just have a variation of the term ‘the national team‘ in their respective language (e.g. Germany, Iran, Switzerland). Equally uninspiring, many nicknames are derived from national colors – such as the Blues (France), the Reds (Chile), Orange (Netherlands) and the Tri-Colors (Ecuador, Mexico). At least some add a bit of spice to the color name game, such as the Red Fury (Spain), Red Devils (Belgium), and the Black Stars (Ghana).

soccer stadium

Not all the names are so bland. If you could create a nickname, wouldn’t you want one that would strike fear in the opposition, like the Dragons from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, and my all-time favorite The Pirate Ship (Greece)? There are also Super Eagles (Nigeria) and Elephants (Ivory Coast) to contend with. But there is nothing as fearful as my team’s nickname – the Socceroos! Unfortunately, a fearsome team nickname does not necessarily equate to success, as the tournament favourites are commonly known as the Little Canaries (Brazil). Whaoo scary!

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Unusual Ways To Carry The Olympic Games Torch

July 29th, 2013 · No Comments · Olympic Games

Each Olympic Games torch relay begins with a torch being lit by the sun’s rays at the ancient site of Olympia, after which it is passed by torch from person to person all the way to the Olympic stadium in the host city. The torch relay tradition started in 1936 and this is one of the few times where just runners have carried it all of the way (it also happened in 1948 and 1980).

torch-beijing

Recent Olympic torch relays have been a competition to see which host can have the most bizarre transport method. I have come up with a  large list of alternative transport types for the torch. Some of the more unusual transportation types include space ships and along a zip wire. In 1976 the flame was sent by radio signal between Greece and Canada and in 2000 it went underwater at the Great Barrier Reef. For the Sochi Olympic Games, the Russians are taking it into space again. It will be interesting to see where else it goes, and also what the Rio organisers can come up with. Any suggestions?

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Review of the Dirtiest Race in History

March 25th, 2013 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Sports Medicine, Track & Field

Book: The Dirtiest Race in HistoryThe title of this book (The Dirtiest Race in History, By Richard Moore) refers to the 1988 Olympic Games 100 m sprint final (see a video of the race). This was perhaps the most thrilling sprint in Olympic history, but within 48 hours the gold medalist Ben Johnson had tested positive for anabolic steroids and the scandal and stories had begun. However, the full story did not begin with this race, but many years earlier.

The book follows the development of the two main combatants, Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson, from when they started sprinting; building a deep rivalry between them that fascinated the athletics world, culminating in the infamous race referred to in the title. The author Richard Moore was able to interview Johnson who gave some interesting insights into that period, but unfortunately Lewis was not available.

In the concluding pages of this book, we are given details of each of the competitors in this infamous race. It may be no surprise that ultimately most of them were tainted by drugs at some point in their career, possibly this is the message the book is trying to make. This may be the story about Ben and Carl, but it also defines the period in athletics history where drug use was widespread, and the fledgling anti-doping program had only started the game of catch-up.

More Info

  • The Dirtiest Race in History by Richard Moore.
  • Inside Track: My Professional Life in Amateur Track and Field, by Carl Lewis and Jeffrey Marx.
  • Speed Trap: The Inside Story of Ben Johnson and the Biggest Scandal in Olympic History, by Charlie Francis and Jeff Coplan.

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Oscar Pistorius the Anti-Hero

February 15th, 2013 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Track & Field

It is with no surprise that we hear the news that another sporting hero has fallen foul of the law. Although the full details are yet to emerge, it seems like the 2012 Olympian and multiple-Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, also known as the ‘Blade Runner’, may have murdered his girlfriend.  

I posted about him recently, saying he was not the first disabled athlete to compete at the Olympics. Not only that, but now he may also not be the first sporting hero to cross to the dark side. Is Oscar Pistorius our next anti-hero?  

bad buy in sport

I have compiled just a shortlist of athletes who have done something bad, labeling them anti-heroes (my title). I don’t think there are more bad people in sports, probably the opposite. There may be a higher level of arrogance in some sports stars, but generally being the focus of public attention keeps them on the straight and narrow.

When one slips up, it is big news, as it is now with Pistorius.

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The Need to Modernize Modern Pentathlon

February 14th, 2013 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Sport

Modern pentathlon is not the most popular of world sports, but maybe the International Olympic Committee can see that it has potential. The sport, which was created for the Olympics, was highlighted by many as the one to be dropped from the Olympic program, but was saved for now when wrestling was dropped from the core sports list.

Despite being modern by name, the sport based on the skills of the ideal cavalry soldier is not currently relevant to many people. It has been trying to modernize itself, looking at changing the event so it can be completed in a single day and all at the same venue, making it more spectator friendly.

fencing competition

The concept of the sport is great, the challenge to find the ultimate all-round-athlete – competing in the very different disciplines of shooting, fencing, swimming, equestrian and running. Let’s get it on prime time TV, add some dancing girls and loud music, and they could be onto a winner.

[update: modern pentathlon has been updated, and the competition is now held over just one day, a much more exciting concept]

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