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Monthly Archives: August 2010

YESTERDAY (30 August) a piece of footballing history faded out of living memory with the death of the last surviving player from the very first World Cup in 1930.

Francisco Varallo passed away at the grand old age of 100 in La Plata, Argentina – the capital city of the province of Buenos Aires and the place of his birth.

Francisco Varallo

He was nicknamed ‘Canoncito’ or ‘Little Canon’ for his power shots, and with said powerful shot scored 181 goals for his club Boca Juniors. This record was only broken this year by Martin Palermo.

As an Argentina international he played 16 matches and scored seven goals. His only World Cup finals goal came in his country’s 6-3 win over Mexico. Varallo played in the very first World Cup Final against arch rivals and host nation Uruguay.

His side lost the match 2-4, and he said that the loss made him angry a full 80 years after the event.

But he did enjoy winning four Argentina league titles. One with Gimnasia de La Plata in 1929, and three with Boca Juniors in: 1931, 1934 and 1935. Varallo also won the 1937 South American Championship with Argentina in 1937.

He retired from football in 1940 at the age of 30, still feeling the effects of a bad knee injury which saw him miss virtually the whole of the 1938 season.

Varallo later became a coach in the lower divisions in Argentina, and in 1994 became only the second player to be awarded the FIFA Order of Merit.

A sad day for World Cup enthusiasts the world over.

R.I.P.

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REMEMBER last week when I reported on Kenya’s David Rudisha, 21, setting a new World Record for the Men’s 800m with a time of 1:41.09 in Berlin? Well he only went and ran an even faster time yesterday (29 Augustus) in Rieti (Italy)!

The new World Record – pending ratification by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) – is now a time of 1:41.01.

There can be no doubt about it now; Rudisha will go under 1:41. It is just a matter of time.

David Rudisha - The Fastest Man over half a Mile.

MARK WEBBER secured Red Bull’s 12th pole position in 13 races this season with a lap of 1:45.778 (148.114 mph) in Q3. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton will start the race alongside Webber, having set a time just 0.085 seconds slower. Renault’s Robert Kubica will start the race from third place on the grid.

The rest of the top ten from fourth to tenth are: Vettel (Red Bull), Button (McLaren), Massa (Ferrari), Barrichello – who is celebrating his 300th Grand Prix – (Williams), Sutil (Force India), Hülkenberg (Williams) and Alonso (Ferrari).

Q1 saw rain effect almost all of the drivers as they all went out on track early in order to get a fast lap on the board in the dry. Vitaly Petrov crashed his Renault without setting a time and will start last, and Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa (both Sauber) also crashed and will start 17th and 22nd respectively.

This meant that the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen and the Virgin of Timo Glock made it into Q2, a great result for both teams, but after qualifying Virgin wouldn’t be smiling at all.

Many drivers have either been given grid penalties or carried them over from the last race, creating a rather unusual grid. Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) has been dropped three places to 16th for blocking Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), who in turn has been bumped five places to 14th for having his gearbox changed. Timo Glock was also given a five-place grid drop for blocking Sakon Yamamoto (HRT) and will start 20th. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) will start from 21st place after being handed a ten-place grid penalty for his move against Barrichello in Hungary. This all means is that Kovalainen will start the race from 13th on the grid!

Now, if we have a totally dry race I believe that Lewis Hamilton will win this race. The McLaren has better straight-line speed than the Red Bull, and if Hamilton can get a tow from Webber on the run down to Eau Rouge and on the Kemmel Straight, you can bet that he will try to pass Webber going into Les Combes. However, if it rains the race is literally anybodies to win.

DAVID RUDISHA of Kenya broke the men’s 800m World Record last night (22 August) at an IAAF World Challenge meeting in Berlin.

David Rudisha

The 21 year-olds’ time of 1:41.09 bettered the previous record by just 0.02 seconds. The World Record had been held for two days shy of 13 years by Kenyan born Danish athlete Wilson Kipketer. It was Kipketer who took the World Record away from Lord Sebastian Coe in 1997, only to go faster still just 11 day later.

Rudisha took only 48.65sec to reach 400m (with the help of a pacesetter) and maintained his pace with a second lap of 52.44sec. After his record breaking run he told the BBC World Service: “I feel great but I am also dreaming of becoming the first to run under 1:41.

His form hasn’t come out of the blue either. Although he could only manage to reach the Semi-Finals in last year’s World Championship in Berlin, he won the recent African Championships and set a time of 1:41.51 in Heusden, Belgium, in July. This was the closest anybody had come to the now old WR.  

I really do hope he does go under 1:41 (and that I see it). It’s been one of the main milestones in athletics that just hasn’t been reached yet, like a 9m Long Jump on the men’s side and a 2.10m High Jump for the women.

FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, has said that he is considering scrapping draws in the group stages of future World Cups. Under these new proposals, all group matches that end in a draw after 90 minutes will go straight to penalties, assuring a winner in every match.

Now I’m not Blatter’s biggest fan, but I’m going to have to side with him on this one. During the World Cup in South Africa we saw the fear of losing outweighing the will to win. Managers would quite happily settle for a draw in their opening or last group game if that is all that was needed.

In the 48 group matches in South Africa there were 14 draws (29% of matches). Of these 14 draws there were: six 0-0s, six 1-1s and two 2-2s.

2006 saw just 11 group games ending all square, 2002 had 14 draws (but Uruguay came from 0-3 down to draw 3-3 with Senegal) and 1998 saw 16 draws. Just think, with penalties at the end of these matches some teams that didn’t advance form their groups may have done so with the extra points.

FIFA do already use a similar no draws rule in the Beach Soccer World Cup. If a group game ends with the scores the same after the full-time whistle both teams play a period of extra-time, and if the scores are still tied they play a sudden-death penalty shoot-out. The winner is awarded two points instead of three and everybody except the losing team goes home happy.

This wouldn’t be first time that FIFA have played about the group stages in the World Cup. There most recognisable piece of tinkering came in Switzerland ’54. Each group consisted of four teams – two seeded and two non-seeded. But the two seeds didn’t play each other and neither did the two non-seeds, meaning each country only played two group games instead of the normal three. Also, any of these games ending level after 90 minutes were followed by 30 minutes of extra-time. Only then if the scores remained level did each side take away a point. This actually happened in the England vs. Belgium game in the 1954 World Cup. The score at the end of normal time was 3-3, and the match ended 4-4.

As I’ve said earlier, I’m all for the idea of penalties at the end of a drawn group match because the fans don’t want to watch a dull 0-0 – Brazil vs. Portugal for example, and because the law of averages states that England will win on penalties again eventually.

But what I am not a fan of is Blatter’s plan of bringing back the awful ‘Golden Goal’. This rule states that the first goal in extra-time wins the match for the scoring team. But could you imagine the outcry if the ‘Golden Goal’ rule had been used in the 1966 Final? Geoff Hurst’s crossbar goal would have won the World Cup, and we never would have heard those immortal words from commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme: “And here comes Hurst. He’s got… some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over. It is now! It’s four!

We also would have not witnessed what has been dubbed: ‘The Game of the Century’. This was a 1970 World Cup Semi-Final between Italy and West Germany at the Azteca Stadium (Mexico City) in front of a crowd of 102,444 people. Italy took the lead after just eight minutes, and West Germany equalized in injury-time at the end of the second half. West Germany then took the lead in the 94th minute and the win if the match had the ‘Golden Goal’ rule. But Italy scored on 98 and 104 minutes to take a 3-2 lead, only for West Germany to score in the 110th minute to make it 3-3. But Italy scored just a minute later whilst the TV cameras still showed replays of West Germany’s third goal. Italy won the ‘Game of the Century’ 4-3 after extra-time.

So, to sum up. It’s a ‘yes’ for no more draws in the group stages, but a ‘no’ for the return of the ‘Golden Goal’.

 

 

England

2

vs.

1

Hungary

Steven GERRARD 69’ 73’

MotM = Steven GERRARD (ENG)

Phil JAGIELKA 62og’

International Friendly

Ref = Stéphane LANNOY (FRA)

Wembley Stadium

ENGLAND was on the verge of yet another agonising defeat to Hungary at Wembley last night.

It was Hungary who were the first non-British team to beat England at Wembley (3-6 in 1953), and they also inflicted England’s biggest ever defeat (1-7 in Budapest, 1954). In fact the Magical Magyars were at one point the strongest international football team in history, with an Elo score of 2,166 points on 30 June 1954.

But the Hungary players of today are (with respect) nowhere near as good as their legendary compatriots were. So as you can imagine, England fans were expecting to see some of the wrongs righted from the 1950s and this summer’s awful World Cup campaign.

The first twenty minutes didn’t look bad at all. But after that I sat back in my chair (I was on the edge of it) and my smile turned into a concerned frown. Yes we were playing well, but we still had a big ‘0’ next to us. This was probably the reason why the team was booed off at half-time.

Things didn’t pick up at the start of the second half either, and just after the hour mark the unthinkable happened: Hungary scored. Well when I say Hungary scored, what I mean is the ball deflected of off Phil Jagielka and was cleared off the line, but the French linesman gave the goal.

IF FOOTBALL WALKED OUT OF THE DARK AGES AND JOINED: RUGBY, CRICKET AND TENNIS BY BRINGING IN VIDEO REPLAYS AND OR A REFERAL SYSTEM, THAT GOAL WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN GIVEN!

Wembley Stadium erupted with boos. It couldn’t happen again surly? A goal going against us like that as well as England not beating a team we should destroy, and losing to Hungary.

But Captain Steven Gerrard made sure that this wouldn’t be the case. With 69 minutes in the clock he smashed the ball into the back of the Hungarian net from 20-yards out to level the scores. Just four minutes later, Gerrard beat four Hungarian players in their penalty box and drilled the ball home to put England in the lead.

Steven Gerrard: England’s saviour.

Hungary could have made to 2-2 in the last few minutes, but England keeper Joe Hart bravely stood up to the ball to secure England’s victory.

All in all, I’ve seen England play better than this, and although we won let’s not get carried away just yet. There is much to improve on before the start of the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Some scores from elsewhere

Angola 0 – 2 Uruguay

Austria 0 – 1 Switzerland

Denmark 2 – 2 Germany

Mexico 1 – 1 Spain

Montenegro 2 – 0 Northern Ireland

Norway 2 – 1 France

Republic of Ireland 0 – 1 Argentina

South Africa 1 – 0 Ghana

Sweden 3 – 0 Scotland

Ukraine 1 – 1 Netherlands

U.S.A. 0 – 2 Brazil

Wales 5 – 1 Luxembourg

THE first ever Korean Grand Prix is due to be held over the weekend of the 22-23-24 October this year at the brand new Korean International Circuit.

Some people have voiced concerns about the track not being built or ready to hold the GP in time. But organisers have said that they are confident the race will go ahead.

However, if I was a Formula 1 driver I wouldn’t fancy going to South Korea at all. Not because the track may or may not be up to scratch, but because of the ever increasing likeliness of there being a full scale military conflict between the South and it’s paranoid twin: North Korea.

Ever since the South accused the North of sinking one of its submarines in March – which killed 46 South Korean sailors – relations between Seoul and Pyongyang have gotten nasty.

South Korea has been conducting anti-submarine exercises with the United States, much to North Korea’s annoyance. On Monday (9 August) Seoul claimed that the North fried more than 100 rounds of artillery into the Sea of Japan near the border.

Personally, I’m terrified of what North Korea might be planning next. They would like nothing better than to start up the Korean War again. They would probably lose, but the rest of the world doesn’t know if they have an ace card up their sleeves in the form of a powerful nuclear weapon.

What if, when the F1 circus descends on South Korea for its biggest single sporting event since the 2002 World Cup, North Korea decides to fire whatever it may have at the circuit? It doesn’t even bear thinking about.

What would you do if you were a driver? Would you go to South Korea for a major international sporting event (which is new to the country) when it is on the verge of war with its neighbour and twin? Or would you try and get a drive for HRT and pray that they decide not to use you for the race?

Is it me or does it look as if Webber has stolen Vettel’s Red Bull?

MARK WEBBER of Red Bull won this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix (1 August) which was held at the Hungaroring near Budapest. With this victory (his forth of the season), Webber now leads the drivers’ championship and Red Bull the constructors’ championship as F1 goes on its summer holiday. I’m also on my summer holiday, which is why this post is so late.

The Australian won the 70 lap event in a time of 1:41:05.571; an average speed of 113.094 mph. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished the race in second place, with Webber’s Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel close behind him in third. Vettel set the fastest lap of the race with a lap of 1:22.362 (118.890 mph).

Vettel started the race from pole with Webber alongside him, but as the lights went green Alonso took Webber’s second place and challenged Vettel for the lead. The German just did enough to keep the Spaniard behind him. Elsewhere, Russian driver Vitaly Petrov (Renault) took fifth place from Lewis Hamilton (McLaren). Defending World Champion Jenson Button (McLaren) who started 11th had a poor start and found himself down in 15th place.

Hamilton took fifth place back from Petrov on the second lap. The Renault driver struggled to get traction out of turns one and two, meaning that the 2008 World Champion and twice Hungarian GP winner Hamilton could pass him around the outside of turn three.

By lap ten Vettel’s lead over Alonso was just over 8.5 seconds. Nothing looked like stopping Vettel in the race, but fate had other ideas.

On lap 15 Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi lost a part of his front wing in turn 11. No marshal could safely run onto the track and pick it up, so race control had no choice but to deploy the Safety Car.

Practically the entire field poured into the pits on lap 16 to do their pit stop. Then chaos took over F1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) lost his right-rear wheel as he drove down the pit lane causing him to retire from the race. The wheel sped through the pit lane and then took to the air, striking a Williams mechanic. Said mechanic was unhurt save for a couple of bruises. Seconds later the Renault lollipop man released Robert Kubica straight into the path of Force India’s Adrian Sutil who was just about to make his stop. Sutil was forced to retire from the race and Kubica was given a ten second stop-go penalty. I didn’t know you could still get those. Kubica had to retire later in the race because of the damage his car received during the crash with Sutil. Because of their pit lane antics, both Renault and Mercedes were fined $50,000.

F1 thanks its lucky star yet again.

The SC came into the pits at the end of lap 17. Mark Webber – who didn’t stop – was now in the lead with Vettel in second. But Vettel was hanging well back from Webber near the end of the lap as he tried to hold up Alonso.

Meanwhile, on lap 24 Lewis Hamilton was forced out of the race when his transmission kicked the bucket. This duck in Hungary for Hamilton would dramatically affect both championships at the end of the race.

One lap later Vettel was declared to be under investigation for violating Article 40.9 of the regulations. The young German had failed to keep within ten car lengths of the car in front of him during the SC period. He was soon afterwards hit with a drive-through penalty, and at the end of lap 31 a visibly angry Vettel served his punishment. He rejoined the race in third behind Alonso, and with victory out of reach he tried his upmost to catch and pass Alonso for second for the rest of the race. He caught Alonso, but couldn’t pass him.

Webber pitted at the end of lap 42 and rejoined the race still in the lead. He kept going in the lead until the end of the race to add his sixth winners’ trophy to his cabinet.

But the biggest talking point of the race came just before the end, and once against proved that Michael Schumacher is not the greatest driver in the history of the sport.

Rubens Barrichello (Williams) didn’t pit during the SC either, and waited until the closing laps of the race to make his stop. He came out in 11th place, just out of the points scoring positions. In tenth place and then scoring one point was his old Ferrari team-mate, Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)…and he was in the Brazilian’s sight.

The world watched on the edge of its seat. Despite being team-mates for years at Ferrari they were never allowed to race each other. But now they could. And they were racing each other. Barrichello tried to pass Schumacher but to no avail. It seemed as if Schumacher was closing the door just a little bit too late. But the world knows that that’s how Schumacher used to race. But what the world didn’t see coming came just a few laps from the end.

Schumacher exited the final corner poorly, allowing Barrichello to pull right up behind the Mercedes. Rubens went up Schumacher’s inside and was pulling alongside his former team-mate. Schumacher then pulled right, trying to pin Barrichello against the concrete pit wall. With just millimetres to spear, Barrichello took the place from Schumacher. He was later heard screaming over his radio that Schumacher should be black flagged.

If this makes you cringe...

I’d hate to think what seeing this does to you.

Former driver and race steward Derek Warwick later said that if the race had more laps left to run, Schumacher would have been disqualified. Triple World Champions Sir Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda both publically condemned Schumacher for his actions, and he has been given a ten-place grid drop for the next race in Belgium.

Personally, I say he should have been banned from the Belgium GP (29 August). If Barrichello had panicked, or Schumacher had squeezed him a tiny bit more, we would have witnessed a massive accident (both cars were doing over 175 mph at the very least) and possibly even a death.

Barrichello told the BBC after the race that this had been the most dangerous moment in his Grand Prix career, which is by far the longest in history. I wouldn’t be surprised if he saw a picture of his wife and two young boys flash across his eyes.

PS:  Congratulations to Vitaly Petrov, Nico Hülkenberg (Williams) and Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber) for finishing: fifth, sixth and seventh respectively. These are there best results of the season.

We must now wait until the end of the month for one the races on calendar. The Belgian Grand Prix from the legendary Spa-Francorchamps.

DRIVERS’ STANDINGS (12/19 GPs)

Pos

Driver

Constructor(s)

Points

1

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

161

2

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

157

3

Sebastian VETEL (GER)

Red Bull

151

4

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

147

5

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

141

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

97

7

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

94

8

Robert KUBICA (POL)

Renault

89

9

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

38

10

Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India

35

 

CONSTRUCTORS’ STANDINGS (12/19 GPs)

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

1

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

312

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

304

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

238

4

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

132

5

RENAULT (FRA)

Renault

106

6

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

47

7

WILLIAMS (ENG)

Cosworth

40

8

SAUBER (SUI)

Ferrari

23

9

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

10

Yet to Score

LOTUS (MAL), HRT (ESP), VIRGIN (ENG)

Cosworth (All)

0

LAST week (27 July – 1 August), Barcelona held the European Athletics Championships in the old Olympic stadium from 1992. Great Britain had some good times there as Linford Christie won the blue-ribbon event (men’s 100m) and Sally Gunnell took gold in the women’s 400m Hurdles.

But 2010 gave Team GB even more fond memories.

Great Britain took away 19 medals from Barcelona – out best ever haul at a European Championships.

Below is a table showing you each and every one of our: six gold, seven silver and six bronze medals.

MEDAL

ATHLETE

EVENT

TIME/DISTANCE/HIGHT/POINTS

 GOLD

Mo Farah

Men’s 5,000m

13m31.18s

Men’s 10,000m

28m24.99s

Andy Turner

Men’s 110m Hurdles

13.28s SB

David Greene

Men’s 400m Hurdles

48.12s EL

Phillips Idowu

Men’s Triple Jump

17.81m PB

Jessica Ennis

Heptathlon

6,823pts CR, WL, PB

 SILVER

Mark Lewis-Francis

Men’s 100m

10.18s

Christian Malcolm

Men’s 200m

20.38s SB

Michael Bingham

Men’s 400m

45.23s

Michael Rimmer

Men’s 800m

1m47.17s

Chris Thompson

Men’s 10,000m

28m27.33s

Rhys Williams

Men’s 400m Hurdles

48.96s PB

Great Britain

Men’s 4x400m Relay

3m02.25s

 BRONZE

Martyn Rooney

Men’s 400m

45.23s

Martyn Bernard

Men’s High Jump

2.29m

Chris Tomlinson

Men’s Long Jump

8.23m SB

Jenny Meadows

Women’s 800m

1m59.39s

Perri Shakes-Drayton

Women’s 400m Hurdles

54.18s PB

Great Britain

Women’s 4x400m Relay

3m24.32s

Mo Farah became the first-ever British man to win the European 10,000m Championship and only the fifth man ever to complete the long-distance double of the 5,000m and 10,000m.

Mo Farah

Dwain Chambers could only manage fifth place in the men’s 100m Final, with Mark Lewis-Francis finishing in a surprising second place. Lewis-Francis was later scorned by BBC pundit (and all-time Athletics great) Michael Johnson for telling his critics to shush instead of celebrating the silver medal. ML-F was also responsible for the baton mix up which cost Great Britain a place in the men’s 4x100m Relay Final.

Jessica Ennis took another step towards being crowned Olympic Champion in London in less than two years time. The reigning World Champion saw off the reigning Olympic Champion, Ukraine’s Nataliya Dobrynska in what was a gripping two days of competition.

Away from GB now; France’s young Christophe Lemaitre took gold in the men’s: 100m, 200m and 4x100m Relay to take the title of ‘Fastest Man Europe’. Lemaitre hit the headlines before the championships even started when he became the first white man ever to run under ten seconds for the 100m in Valence. However, his time of 9.98s is a massive 0.4s off of Usain Bolt’s World Record of 9.58s, but then again Bolt is unique.

Christophe Lemaitre

MEDALS TABLE

Rank

Nation

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

1

Russia

10

6

8

24

2

France

8

6

4

18

3

Great Britain

6

7

6

19

4

Germany

4

6

6

16

5

Turkey

3

1

0

4

6

Spain (Hosts)

2

3

3

8

7

Ukraine

2

3

1

6

8

Poland

2

2

5

9

9

Belarus

2

1

1

4

10

Croatia

2

0

0

2

BTW: Did you see the mascot for these championships? Barni is his name and he had a lot to live up to after the exploits of Berlino the Bear from last year’s World Championship. But I think he did a pretty good job of keeping everybody smiling. Wenlock, take note.

Barni (r.) with friend Berlino (l.).

Lastly, the next stop for these championships is Helsinki, which hosted the 1983 and 2005 World Championships and the 1952 Olympic Games. But the championships will take place in a two year cycle from now on and not a four year cycle. The Helsinki championships are due to take place just three weeks before the start of the London Olympics! The European Athletics Association (EAA) has dropped the ball on that one.

Thank you Barcelona for putting on a great week of Athletics, and I just could not not add this song.