Archive for the ‘Endurance Sports’ Category

Australian Rowing Gets Nasty Surprise at Lucerne

Australian rowing crews have been given a nasty surprise with a less than shining performance at the final regatta of the 2014 Rowing World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The Australian team managed a mere three silver medals in an event dominated by New Zealand and English crews. Ahead of the Commonwealth Games this poor performance will have Australian coaches deliberating over last minute changes.

Rowing World Cup in Lucerne. Photo:

Rowing World Cup in Lucerne. Photo:

New Zealand won the series with 141 points. Victories from Olympic sculler Mahe Drysdale and world scull champions Erich Murray and Hamish Bond set the Kiwis up for a strong performance. Emma Twigg continued her ascendency, overpowering Australian Kim Crow in a hard fought and thrilling race. Such crucial wins sent shockwaves through the Australian squad – especially with the Commonwealth Games so soon to begin.

Australia finished the series with 125 points on the back of second places to Crow, and the crews of Alice McNamara – Ella Flecker and James McRae – Sascha Belongoff.

Great Britain edged out the Aussies for second place in the series with 126 points. However, it must be noted the Great Britain team did not compete in all of this year’s regattas – sitting out the first round in March.

Australia’s men’s and women’s eights finished last in the finals. A disappointment keenly felt as much by them as by all Australian rowing fans.

Waylan Law Two Fights Away from National Title Shot

Despite his hit-and-miss record of 8 wins, 6 losses light-weight boxer Waylon Law has his eyes set on a national title.

To get his shot he must overcome two highly regarded opponents:

Waylan Law. Photo:

Waylan Law. Photo:

On July 26 he fights the Tom Ford in Caboolture on the Queensland Sunshine Coast. Ford boasts a 7 wins, 2 losses, 2 draws record and will be a stern challenge for the young hopeful.

On August 29 Law has a rematch with Nathaniel May in Perth, Western Australia.

Their first meeting produced a brutal, high-tempo six round brawl that thrilled spectators. Law hung on for a gritty win and in doing so delivered May his first boxing defeat.

May is, no doubt, looking to even the score. But with a potential shot at the National Title Law must walk through him.

Attention for the rematch is high. Both have a lot to gain should they win. Their August 29 return to the ring is a fight between two well-matched, determined opponents.

Lead up to Calcio Fiorentino Final

Calcio Fiorentino. Photo

Calcio Fiorentino. Photo

As the bruises fade from this year’s Calcio Fiorentino and the match between the Santa Maria Novella/Rossi (the Reds) and Santo Spirito/Bianchi (the Whites) is talked about and dissected, we at Outrageous Sports lament the sad state of football in Australia.

What am I talking about?

Calcio Fiorentino (also known as ‘historic football’ or the ‘Florentine kick game’) has just been decided in the Pizzza Santa Croce in Florence. The game is played over three matches between teams from each quarter of the city. The teams are Santa Croce/Azzurri (the Blues), Santa Maria Novella/Rossi (the Reds), Santo Spirito/Bianchi (the Whites) and San Giovanni/Verdi (the Greens). The three matches take place in the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence in the third week of June, with the final having just been fought out on the 24th of June.

Reds vs Blues in Calcio Fiorentino. Photo:

Reds vs Blues in Calcio Fiorentino. Photo:

And when I say ‘fought out’ I mean it.

Matches take place within a 50 minute time period on a field twice as long as it is wide. The field is divided into two identical squares with a goal net along each end.

Each team is comprised of 27 hardy souls with no substitutions are allowed. A Pallaio throws the ball towards the centre line, a canon is fired, and the contest begins. Players on either side try ‘by any means necessary’ to shoot the ball into their opponent’s goal. Tactics like head-butting, punching, elbowing and choking are all part of the game. Sucker punches and having more than one opponent attacking another are frowned upon and now attract immediate expulsion. With each goal the teams swap sides, the Pallaio throws the ball along the centre line and the brutality begins again.

The 27 players are divided into 4 goalkeepers, 3 fullbacks, 5 halfbacks, and 15 forwards. Each team’s Captain and Standard Bearer sit in a tent, in the centre of their goal net, and do not take part in the carnage. However they may organise strategies and step in to separate players should the fighting get out of hand.

Calcio Fiorentino. Photo"

Calcio Fiorentino. Photo”

The game is controlled by a referee, six linesmen, a Judge Commissioner, and Master of the Field. Players are not permitted pads, mitts, mouth pieces or any type modern body protection equipment.

This is the Great Grandpappy of football. It is football for men. The players of Calcio Fiorentino are amongst the fittest, most highly trained fighters on earth. There is nothing else even remotely like it. All other codes of football are but prissy, weak, pale reflections.

Rousey Steps in to Save UFC Again, But at what Price?

UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey destroyed her opponent Alexis Davis in a mere 16 seconds to defend her bantam weight title for the fourth consecutive time. What makes this even more incredible is that this was Rousey’s third fight in six months.

Rousey was asked to fight on short notice after the headline fighters were cancelled. She has already done this on several occasions; virtually saving the UFC with her star power and willingness to fight at the last moment.

For Joe Rogan, then, to ask Rousey about fighting in the upcoming UFC 176 is the worst form of usury. Rogan, of all people, must know that a 16 second fight takes just as much preparation as a full five-rounder. So to ask her about fighting again on August 2 is virtually disrespectful.

Rousey defeats Davis in 16 seconds. Photo:

Rousey defeats Davis in 16 seconds. Photo:

And by all accounts the wear and tear is adding up. Rousey admitted that a cyst beneath her right knuckle was ripped open from the overhand that sent Davis reeling and signalled the beginning of the end for the plucky opponent. Rousey didn’t want Davis to recover and so kept up a flurry of blows with no regard to her damaged hand. After the fight she required 9 stitches to close the tear.

On top of this Rousey said in a post-fight interview that she will be undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in the coming days. She expects this to keep her out for four weeks.

But the UFC appears to be more concerned with using Rousey for a quick buck rather than nurturing her for the long haul.

It would be in everyone’s interests for the UFC to give a year off. First, the great champion herself would get some much needed (and deserved) time for rest and recuperation. Second, it would give the women’s welterweight division time to produce a worthy opponent.

While Rousey’s opponents thus far have all been skilful, highly trained athletes, none of them have even come close to pushing the champion. Rousey’s judo and devastating arm bar have proved the difference on many occasions. But even without these weapons of mass destruction Rousey appears untouchable. She out-muscles, out-scores and out-lasts every contender even without her signature skills.

MMA fans adore Rousey’s dominance in the ring. The UFC adore Rousey’s willingness to save their hide when a main card falls through. Female fighters adore Rousey for legitimising and cementing a respected place for women in combat sports. Why then is Rousey being used by the UFC with such wanton disregard for her well-being?

Rousey is one of the top three drawcards in the UFC stable. Having her fight too often will only shorten her career. And with her third feature length movie in pre-production it seems obvious the UFC will miss Rousey more than Rousey will miss the UFC.

Michael Matthews out of Tour de France

In an instant Michael Matthews had his dream of riding the Tour de France ripped from him. After being so thrilled with his selection to the Orica GreenEdge team to ride the Tour de France, Michael Matthews lost it all in one training accident.

The 23 year-old from Canberra fell heavily on a raining ride only days away from fulfilling his dream. He suffered serious cuts and abrasions along his left arm and leg and required six stitches to his hand. Team doctors felt it would be in neither Michael’s nor the team’s interests to allow him to compete.

Michael Matthews. Photo:

Michael Matthews. Photo:

A shattered Michael Matthews had no choice but to accept their decision.

Matthews departure opens the way for Canadian flyer, and team mate, Christian Meier. Witin hours of the doctor’s assessment Meier recievded his call up and was on an aeroplane from Vancouver to England.” It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said a still clearly reeling Meier, “it has been a little bit of a whirlwind 24 hours.”

Meier felt awful for his teammate Matthews, but is seizing his chance to ride the great race nonetheless. “It’s every bike rider’s dream to do the Tour de France one day and it’s unbelievable that it is happening.”

Matthew’s departure is the latest in a series of upsets to the preparation of the Orica GreenEdge team. The latest being the loss of Daryl Impey last week. Impey failed a doping test and was instantly dropped. Impey made history last year when he became the African to wear the Tour’s leader’s yellow jersey.

Michael Matthews to Contest his First Tour de France

Aussie cyclist Michael Matthews is under no illusions he is in for a rough time competing in his first Tour de France.

Michael Matthews. Photo:

Michael Matthews. Photo:

Orica-GreenEDGE has seclected the 23 year-old Canberra rider in their starting line because of his phenomenal form in several lead up races. Matthews has had to give his all just to make the team and is well aware more – much more – will be demanded of him in the actual race.

“It’s every cyclist’s dream to ride the Tour de France,” he told reporters, “and once you work so hard to get selected, you’ve really got to step it up to another level to be able to do something in the race. Everyone is there with 110 per cent their best form and there are 200 guys wanting to make a difference in the race. So making the team is the first step, the second step is doing something in the race.”

On Saturday more than 200 cyclists will set off from the U.K. start point. They will begin one of the most gruelling endurance events on the sporting calendar. Matthews is cautiously optimistic about his call up to the team. He has ridden the Dauphine, Vuelta, and this year the Giro (all world class stage races). But he is aware of the extra demand and intensity of the Tour de France.

Since completing the Giro d’ Italia Matthews has done three weeks of altitude training in Slovenia. He has worked very closely with his coach, Brian Stephens, to bring himself to the pinnacle of his cycling form. Apart from altitude training Matthews has put in endless kilometres of motor pacing in an effort to improve his high-end average speed.

Understanding what racing in the Tour de France means to him, Matthews’ partner and family are flying out from Australia to wish him well.

All of Australia with you well Michael.

Alysia Montano Runs in U.S. Track Championship at 34 Weeks Pregnant

It’s almost like running a one person relay.

Alysia Montano at U.S. Track championships. Photo

Alysia Montano at U.S. Track championships. Photo

Five-time national champion Alysia Montano has compete in the U.S. 800 meter track championship while 34 weeks pregnant. Montano wanted to keep running through her pregnancy and found that her pace had slowed so little she qualified for the U.S. championships. She consulted her physicians her not only gave her the green light to compete, but actually encouraged her to do so.. The latest research into maternity exercise leaves no doubt as to the benefits of exercise throughout a woman’s pregnancy. Montao was overjoyed!

The 28 year former University of California track champion ran the race with the goal of not being lapped. She needn’t have worried. Though not as competitive as he has been Montano ran the 800 meters in the very respectable time of 2 minutes 32.13 seconds. Granted this was 25 seconds slower than her 1:57.34 in Monaco, but still faster than most people ever run in their lives (this writer included). Montano started the race with in a relaxed pace, she dropped off the leading pack but ran fluidly for the entire distance. She maintained a constant, comfortable effort throughout.

Spectators were duly appreciative, rising to their feet and applauding as Montano crossed the finish line. In an interview after the race Montano glowed, feeling rightly pleased with her run.

Jones Aura and Eye-Gouging?

Questions have been raised about the legitimacy of Jon Jones’ fighting style. Former UFC fighter, now commentator, Bas Rutten believes the aura of invincibility emerging around Jon Jones may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If ‘the Jones factor’ is enough to intimidate referees into letting things like the occasional eye-poke go then Jones has an unfair advantage and increased chance to win. This then only increases his aura – which then increases his intimidation factor, which further increases his chances to win and so and so on.

Bas Rutten points to the recent fight against Glover Teixerira. Jones was twice warned about eye-pokes by the referee, but not penalised. The video clearly shows he continued striking with an open palm. It also shows Jones pushing his hands in Teixerira’s face during several clinches. It can only be surmised he didn’t retract his fingers then.

Teixerira’s face was bloodied up around the eyes. Both eyes swelled to slits as the fight progressed.

Photo: Tommy Gilligan USA-TODAY Sports

Photo: Tommy Gilligan USA-TODAY Sports

Jones took a barrage of criticism for the eye-pokes after the April 26 fight at Maryland’s Baltimore Arena. But UFC President Dana White was quick to defend him. “Jones poked him in the eye twice, and then the referee warned him about it, and he never did it again. They’re (MMA press) making it sound like he was targeting his eyes and sticking his fingers in his eyes the entire fight and nobody did anything about it,” said White to MMAjunkie.

In essence White believes the reaction was a gross overreaction and detracts from the performance of a great champion.

Would any other fighter be shown the same latitude for eye-gouges?

Entrants Being Decided for Crossfit 2014 Games

Athletes are getting to the pointy end of the season with the Crossfit Games to be held on 25th of July. Thousands of men and women have been whittled down to 50 males and 50 female competitors. The Open three-day event will decide who among them is the fittest on earth.

The Crossfit Games identify the true fitness of its competitors by incorporating a wide range of exercises all based on functional movements. The Crossfit mantra is to ‘move large loads, over long distances, quickly.’

Crossfit Games - Photo:

Crossfit Games – Photo:

To this end, competitions are almost exclusively interval events; that is – different exercises tax different body parts in different ways. So, for instance, athletes may be required to perform a certain number of overhead squats (holding a weighted barbell at full extension above their heads while squatting) before moving onto a series of rope climbs. The main muscles used for the first exercise are the assistor muscles used for the second. This allows a constant aerobic demand to be put on the cardiovascular system while making a maximum demand of the anaerobic system of different muscles in turn.

For anyone who has never been to a Crossfit event I have this recommendation – GO! Or at least watch a stream of the event from the Crossfit website.

Even if you do not exercise yourself, these events are the most absorbing sporting spectacles today. And this is because the events are designed to push each and every athlete to their absolute edge.

Rather than competing against each other each athlete is, in effect, competing against themselves. So spectators are treated to the human element of sport – the determination required to persist, the desire to go beyond anything they thought they could do. Because no matter how well trained an athlete is there will be some point at which they break. Crossfit is designed to get its participants to that point.