Archive for the ‘New Sports’ Category

Shadow of Exclusion Still Hovers Over All Stars Concept

Image: www.abc.net.au

Another entertaining and high quality match between the Indigenous All Stars and the NRL All Stars is done. The indigenous side won a spirited battle 20-6. And while fans got to see some of the best players in the world fighting it out for four twenty minute quarters the spectre of racism still looms over the concept.

While many believe the All Stars concept is new, it has its origins in a time when racism was much more prevalent.

The first recognised rugby league match between teams selected according to race was in 1963. A team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders played against a team of white Australians at Barcauldine. Unashamedly known as ‘Blacks versus Whites’ games, the matches were played annually until 1984.

Since that first game Aboriginal sides have been competing against other racially selected teams. In 1973 a team of Aboriginal players was assembled for a match against Auckland club Te Atatu. Selecting only aboriginal players, the side competed in the Pacific Cup in 1990, 1992, and 1994.

After the close of the 1999 NRL regular season rugby league great Arthur Beetson assembled a side to play (and beat) the imposing Papua New Guinea Kumuls. Beetson went on to push for an Australia Day game against an Australian national team.

It took until 2008 for his dreams to be realised. As part of the official opening to the World Cup, on 26 October, a ‘Dreamtime Team’ was assembled to play a commemorative match against a New Zealand Maori side. The match was dubbed the ‘Welcome to the Country Match’.

In 2010 indigenous NRL player Preston Campbell sought to bring the concept back to life. Two sides were selected according to whether or not players were indigenous to the country in which they lived. The game was played prior to the regular NRL season.

Opinion is divided as to All Stars concept; its aims and relevancy.

Players are made available to respective sides according to each individual’s heritage. Whether or not a player is indigenous to their homeland seems to be a matter of conjecture. Backers say the concept improves the self-esteem and prospects of marginalised indigenous communities through a Reconciliation Action Plan.

The plan states, “Funds raised from the Harvey Norman All Stars match have provided over $7 million in funding to the 16 NRL Clubs for the purpose of delivering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific programs at the grassroots level.”

It further seeks to, ” reconnect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players with their heritage and cultural history,”

Opponents believe the concept creates another division in the national community, with ‘heritage’ taking the place of ‘race’.

There is no currently is no word for discriminating against a person according to their heritage. At last night’s game members of the audience waved countless aboriginal flags, though not one Australian (or non-indigenous) flag was to be seen.

Non-indigenous rugby league fans seem to largely ignore the game. Most are content to follow their favourite players (regardless of their heritage, race, or country of origin) during the regular season.

For many Australians the All Stars concept seems to drive a knife into attempts at reconciliation. Selecting teams according to a player’s heritage brings to the national consciousness the division between indigenous and non-indigenous elements of the Australian community. It encourages a separation (one of heritage rather than race) the indigenous community claim they are attempting to eradicate.

No Love Lost Between Mousasi and Lombard

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

MMA fighter Gegard Mousasi is a man of even temperament in a world of testosterone fueled rage. He rarely has a bad word to say about any of his opponents and is conspicuous through his avoidance of trash-talking. But when asked about his last PRIDE fight against Hector Lombard he bristles.

“I don’t think we’re friends.”

When prompted about the coolness between them Mousasi continues, “I don’t know. He still talks sh-t. I read some comments that he said.”

In 2011 Lombard hinted to the media that he was tricked into accepting a fight against Mousasi. He had only just signed his PRIDE contract when he was presented with a fight in a fortnight against an opponent described as young and inexperienced.

Mousasi was young, but he was battle hardened with 16 fights to his credit.

Lombard was quoted as saying, “Today, if that fight happens, I will finish him in the first round. I will even move up to 205 to get that fight if he doesn’t want to fight me at 185.”

Lombard must be hurting from that loss to Mousasi, because even late last year he was telling all and sundry he wanted to “beat Mousasi up.”

Mousasi (35-5-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) fights Dan Henderson (30-12 MMA, 7-6 UFC) tomorrow in the middleweight FOX 14 UFC co-main event.

Lombard (35-4-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) is climbing up the welterweight division. It would appear unlikely he and Mousasi will meet anytime soon.

Wanderlei Silva Blasts NSAC for Incompetence

Wanderlei Silva. Image: en.wikipedia.org

Retired MMA legend Wanderlei Silva has expressed his scorn for the Nevada State Athletic Commission for the farcical way it has handled the drug testing and licensing of fighters. His comments come in the wake of the Jon Jones debacle and the introduction of CM Punk into the UFC.

Jones failed a drug test prior to defending his light heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier recently. However, the NSAC was unable to do anything against the fighter because the test took place outside of competition time window.

“Are there laws or are there no laws?” Silva railed. “Sometimes there are laws and sometimes there are none? There are no proocols to be followed.

“You are lost – you don’t know what you are doing. This sport has to be regulated. The way it’s going can’t continue. This commission is a mess.”

“Instead of regulating it,” complained Silva, “you are damaging the sport.

Silva was himself issued with a lifetime ban earlier this year for allegedly evading a drug test. To this day Silva maintains his innocence claiming he didn’t understand who the English-speaking people with clipboards were and what they were doing in his gym (Silva speaks no English).

Silva has publicly supported Jones, who has since gone into rehab. “You will step out of this and use this as a lesson,” said Silva, “for many people have the same problem.”

Silva then took aim at the NSAC’s licensing of another WWE fighter joining the UFC ranks. Silva believes the licensing of CM Punk to be dangerous and risky.

“Did this guy ever compete? Did he ever get punched in the head? Did he ever compete in anything? No. Then it’s dangerous to put him inside the cage against a professional fighter..

“If he takes a blow to the head and dies, what will the commission say? Sorry?”

Silva is currently seeking a court review of the lifetime ban he was given by the NSAC.

Aussie BMX Star Looking for Gold in Rio

Image: www.sbs.com.au

Caroline Buchanan has her sights set on a gold medal at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio.

She already has two BMX world championships to her credit, but is hungry for more.

To help her get there she has enlisted the aid of two Olympic and sporting legends: Marathoner Rob de Castella and pole vaulter Steve Hooker.

Both men have been there and done it. Both men know what it takes to compete at the highest level. And both men now count themselves as mentors to the track powerhouse Buchanan.

At the top level the differences between athletes is often incredibly close – “Everyone who makes the Olympics,” said Deek, “looks a bit the same. But you want to know that every day you’ve achieved something that might make a difference, that will make you complete.”

And in a sport like BMX this is crucial. BMX is ruthless, hard, and fiercely competitive. The further back you are from being first at the first bend, the harder it will be for you to make up that difference. Moreover, the further back you are the more likely it is you will be involved in a crash, ruining your chances of even finishing.

Confidence, then, is every bit as important as power and skill.

“And confidence is what Buchanan has after two consecutive world championship wins. She now plans to ride out the remainder of the Australian season before leaving Australia to compete in the 2015 World Cup circuit in April.

Astrogirl Alex to be the First Aussie Female UFC Fighter

Alex Chambers. Image: www.news.com.au

Alex ‘Astrogirl’ chambers is set to become Australia’s first ever UFC women’s fighter when she steps into the Octagon against tough Irish brawler Aisling Daly on Saturday.

Chambers steps into the Palms Casino octagon, Las Vegas as the second bout on the TUF season 20 final card. Housemate and fellow Australian fighter Bec Rawlings fights in the fifth bout.

Both girls face tough opponents and both girls are confident of their chances to win.

It’s hard to imagine the journey Chambers has been on to get where she is today.

Probably nearing the end of her martial arts career, Chambers (36) is fighting in a division above her normal weight-class. She was, until a few years ago, studying a double degree in science and mechatronics engineering at Sydney University.

“Originally the plan was to be an engineer, working in robotics,” said the Manly girl. “But at the time I was also competing internationally in karate.

“I’d been doing that since eight and the higher I went, the less of a priority my studies became.

“I was still really interested in physics and astronomy, so I finished my degree. But by that sage I knew I wanted a career in Mixed Martial Arts.

“Studying robotics, I was always thinking of building fighting robots,’ laughs the girl dubbed ‘Astro Girl’.

“Fighting is physics and I was always thinking about testing the forces of punches and kicks.”

She’ll be testing plenty on Saturday night against Aisling Daly.

Good luck Alex!

Alex Chambers Karate. Image: www.gopixpic.com

Alex Chambers Karate. Image: www.gopixpic.com

Bec Rawlins Credits Gilbert Melendez for Improvements in her Style

Gilbert Melendez. Image: commons.wikimedia.org

TUF 20 housemate Aussie Bec ‘Rowdy’ Rawlings says she is ready to meet and defeat fellow housemate Heather Jo Clark when the two make their UFC debut on Saturday.

In Las Vegas ahead of her bout Rawlings praised her coach Gilbert Melendez, his staff and her teammates for having a positive influence on her MMA progress.

“Gilbert and the coaching staff were awesome for me. They get my style and my mentality leading into a fight,” said Rawlings.

“Just to be able to work on my weaker poins and capitalise on my stronger points, it was really great to wrk with them.

“I have definitely taken a lot from being able to train under them while I was in the house.”

“He definitely showed me some cool stuff – to avoid the wrestling. And he showed me me some really cool tactics with striking.

Rawlings (5-3 MMA) walks into the octagon over a close decision defeat to Tecia Trres.

“I feel I got ripped off in the third round,” said Rawlings.

“It was a good fight and a close fight. Shh’s more of a point scoring fighter whereas I’m the complete opposite: I’m looking to finish the fight. I want to finish my opponent so everyone knows I won.

It was definitely a game of tactics with Tecia, and I fell into her game. I fought a little bit emotionally and fell into her cat and mouse game.

“I’m quite disappointed in myself for that. I’ll never go into a fight with emotions ever again.”

Rawlings described clark as ‘durable’ and ‘well-rounded’ as a fighter.

“she’s not super excellent at any skill set, she’s just good at everything.

“I’ve seen her fight Felice (Herrig) in the house. And I got to train whth her once or twice until she injured herself, and she’s tough.

But Rawlings is 100 per cent confident of winning their UFC debut. “I’m well rounded, but I feel I’m better at everything that she does. I’m tougher, I’m quicker, and I’m faster.”

Extreme 40s Coming to Sydney Harbour

Next week Sydney Harbour plays host to the eighth leg of the worldwide tour of Extreme 40s racing series.

What’s that? You ask.

Extreme 40s is sailing’s answer to speedway racing – including the crashes!

The series began in 2005 after the sailing fraternity acknowledged their sport was out of touch with most people. For too long competitive sailing has been perceived as belonging to a few wealthy, exclusive, class-ridden snobs; with much of the racing taking place without any audience at all – far out at sea.

Other, more inclusive, sports were reaping the benefit of appealing to greater numbers. And so it was decided to create a sailing series for the masses.

Enter Extreme 40s: Lots of high speed boats (sometimes reaching speeds of 60 km/ hour), crammed into in a short, tight course for a stadium stting. The boats are basically a super modified version of the Tornado class with a crew of four. They compete in multiple races of 20 minutes duration.

As you can imagine, there’s plenty of aggro, plenty of speed, and plenty of crashes. And believe me, when these boats hit one another they do damage.

Recently, in Qingdo, China, the Red Bull series leader attempted a risk manoeuvre to slip in front of Alinghi. It didn’t work. The portside hull of Red Bull drove into Alinghi like a knife, pinning the two together. At the speed they were travelling, I was incredible no one was injured.

“The first thought was to go in front of them,” Hagara, skipper of Red Bull told reporters.

“Just at the last moment I called ‘we are going in the back. We chose a little bit too late,’ he shrugged. “All we could do was get the gys in the back of the boat and … yeah, hold on.

“It was a big bang. But that’s the thing with multi-hulls, they’re very hard to manoeuvre, and if you’re too late, you have no steering anymore. You go straight.”

Florian Stuns MMA World Agreeing with Nick Diaz

Kenny Florian. Image: en.wikipedia.org

Ex-UFC fighter, now commentator, Kenny Florian stunned the MMA world by agreeing with Nick Diaz’s statement calling Georges St-Pierre a coward.

Georges Rush St-Pierre. Image: en.wikipedia.org

Georges Rush St-Pierre. Image: en.wikipedia.org

Diaz said St-Pierre was scared to fight Anderson Silva: “he didn’t take the fight. He could barely say two things and he’d get the fight, just like that. But he didn’t want the fight.”

Diaz was responding to comments by St-Pierre stating that he (Diaz) had made a mistake in taking the fight against Silva. The fight will take place in Silva’s natural weight class rather than at a catch weight between the two.

Florian weighed into the war-of-words with: “Any champion or fighter always wants the odds to be in their favour. For him (Diaz) to go up in at 185 pounds and fight a guy like Anderson Silva who many consider the greatest of all time, well, I think it’s a smart decision by Geroges. Geroges wanted to fight more at a catchweight of 175 (pounds), maybe even 170 pounds, where it would be in his favour.

Nick Diaz. Image: it.wikipedia.org

Nick Diaz. Image: it.wikipedia.org

“So is GSP scared? Yes, and that’s also what made him one of the best champions of all time.”

Diaz and St-Pierre have had a long running dislike of one another. In the lead up to their March 2013 title fight St-Pierre was promising to ‘put a beating’ on Diaz such as he’d never had. The normally calm and professional champion was incensed at Diaz. For his part, Diaz had insinuated St-Pierre has used performance enhancing drugs. Their fight ended with St-Pierre dong as he promised – and putting a beating on Diaz such as he (nor anyone else) had ever seen.

Dana White Praises Aussie Fighters & Vows to Get UFC Legalized in All States

Dana White. Image: en.wikipedia.org

UFC boss Dana White has praised the efforts of Australians Jake Matthews and Robert Whittaker in their recent UFC 180 fights. Both men managed to end the nights of their highly rated opponents before the final bell.

When asked about Matthews White replied, “The kid is a stud.”

In an interview with the Las Vegas Telegraph White promised to not only get the UFC legalised in every Australian State, but hinted that Matthews may be the one to help him do it. Jake Matthews won a lot of fans with his demolition of Vagner Rocha. Matthews appeared the aggressor, had a plan, and had the guts and skill to put that plan into action..

But he didn’t have things all his own way. Rocha made his younger opponent earn the victory. In the second round, however, Matthews landed a stinging Superman punch which rattled Rocha. As Rocha scrambled to recover Matthews took his back and sunk in a rear-naked choke.

“Apart from Jake,” White’s interview continued, “the other fighter who really excites me is Robert Whittaker. I look at that ked and … oh, my God! How good did he look against Hester on your Sydney card?

“He was awesome in that fight. That was a very, very tough fight for him, but his hands — incredible!

“Those two guys are the future of the sport in Australia..”

Whittaker won Fight of the Night with a stunning TKO of Clint Hester in the second round. The UFC fans at Allphones Arena erupted.

Robert Whittaker. Image: mmafrenzy.com

Robert Whittaker. Image: mmafrenzy.com

Whittaker, a TUF: The Smashes winner had to move up to middleweight for his fight against Hester. It was the timing of his punches that frustrated his more experienced opponent – mixing up his shots to confuse him.

Both Australian fighters were humbled when told of Dana White’s praise.

“To have Dana mention me by name,: said Matthews, “it’s cool.

“I’m stoked at that … For a guy like him to have faith in me makes you want to push harder.”

Whittaker’s response was equally glowing: “Dana – he’s the boss. So hearing those types of words from him is a massive respect and such a huge confidence booster.

“For him to take notice of me like that is just unreal. It gives me so much confidence and I’ll fight any man he puts in front of me.

“Hopefully he’ll continue to take notice and like what I’m doing more and more.”

Tug-Of-War Making a Resurgence

Image: www.flickr.com

You might think tug-of-war is a past time suited to country fairs and youth programs, but you’d be wrong.

Tug-of-war, once an Olympic sport, is seeing a resurgence in popularity around the nation.

With eight team members on each end of the rope you might think this is the ultimate test in brute strength, but again you’d be wrong.

Graham Egan, coach of the Brisbane Bulldogs admitted there was a lot of gamesmanship in each contest: Signs of failing strength, a slight slack in the rope, the height of the rope and timing all play crucial parts in determining the outcome. And the coach is part of the team.

“The coach is watching not only his team, but also the opposition as well; he is trying to see if the other team is getting tired, to put in a good heave,” said Egan to Weekend Warrior Chris McMahon.

“When that happens, he is concentrating on making sure the team isn’t lifting the rope up, the rope needs to stay at a low height and keep body weight on the rope.

“Once you start raising the rope it will stop and you will start going the other way.

“If we think they are getting tired what we will do is give in the knees a little bit and the might take a couple of inches.

Image: www.flickr.com

Image: www.flickr.com

“They will start moving their feet and then we will answer with a big heave and hopefully take a meter or so.

“You just need to take little increments all the time.”

In the health conscious and socially fragmented society of today tug-of-war offers a great deal: Exercise, camaraderie, and the development of skills both as an individual and within a team.