Archive for the ‘sports science’ Category

Steamroller Kennedy to Make Octagon Debut

Image from Kennedy’s Facebook page.

Steve Kennedy (22-6-0), of Perth, is the latest Australian to be seconded into the ranks of the UFC.

His call-up comes as he is asked to fill in for injured Sergio Moraes.

Kennedy will be fighting local boy Peter Sobotta (14-4-1) in the 77kg welterweight division in UFC Berlin.

The thought of fighting Sobotta in front of his home crowd doesn’t worry Kennedy. In fact, the man known as ‘Steamroller’ intends to make his debut impressively and ask questions of his much favoured opponent.

“I didn’t change (my training) specifically for peter. I trained with a few of the good southpaws (left handers) around (his Kickass Gym in Perth) just to switch over my brain.”

In an interview with Kennedy (originally from Watford, England) told of how “your brain needs to work a little differently when you fight southpaws. I’ve done plenty of camps for them. I am going to make it ugly and ask a real question of him – How bad he wants to win. And we’ll see if he can answer it.”

Kennedy has spent the week dieting to make weight for the bout. “We always struggle to make weight,” he said philosophically. But an opportunity to break into the UFC is not one Kennedy will relinquish without giving it his all.

Kennedy’s debut against Sobotta features on the main card (one of four such fights).

The headline will be the much anticipated title fight between incumbent UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Polish Joanna Jedrzejczyk (9-0-0) and season 21 TUF housemate American Jessica Penne (12-3-0).

Grujic Cut from UFC

With a click of a mouse button Vik Grujic realised he was unemployed,.

On June 2 Grujic got an email from Joe Silva (UFC matchmaker) saying he had been cut from the fighters’ roster.

Grujic was integral in pushing the Victorian government to overturn the ban on cage fighting. When the Labour government abolished the ban Grujic hoped for a spot on the UFC 193 card, to be run at Etihad Stadium on November 15.

All that is now gone.

Grujic says he feels “gutted,” but the cold, hard facts are that combat sport does not tolerate failure.

Fighters are a commodity – pure and simple. Their value increases with each win and decreases with each loss. Plus the physical damage they sustain with each defeat makes each subsequent bout even risker.

The organisation has a duty of care to fighters. This includes not over-matching them and not exposing them to potential long term health risks from accumulated damage sustained in the ring.

Still, that doesn’t make it any easier for a dropped fighter.

Grujic leaves the UFC with a 7-5-0 record, having lost his last two fights (two consecutive losses is usually all that is needed to be cut).

During his tenure with the organisation Grujik says he amassed less money than you might think. “I probably could have made more money by working at McDonald’s, to be quite honest (he laughed) … But my wife, Rita, believed in me.”

Despite losing his last two fights Grujic believes he is on the verge of success.

He has recently had surgery on his nose to clear his airways. Something, he says, that will improve his cardio.

“I’ve spent my entire fighting career basically not being able to breathe through my nose. That surgery is going to do wonders for my cardio and I hope to get back up and bounce back and hopefully get a fight in the next coup[le of months with one of the larger organisations overseas or, fingers crossed, the UFC has a change of heart – though that’s unlikely.

“I’ve been in talks with a management team over in the States. They’ve been helping me out and looking to find me a new home with another organisation. I’ve gotta weigh up what the options are for me next.

“It’s tough times at the moment, very tough.”

Grujic has had to sell much of his UFC memorabilia on ebay to pay his medical and training expenses.

Armstrong to Ride for Charity in This Year’s TDF

Brian Cookson image:

Head of cycling’s governing body, Brian Cookson, is outraged at Lance Armstrong’s decision to ride the Tour de France.

Not the actual race, of course.

Armstrong, with fellow cancer survivor, footballer Geoff Thomas, have signalled their intention to ride a few stages of this year’s Tour to raise money for a leukaemia foundation.

Cookson, however, says having Armstrong associated with the race he duped seven times would be ‘disrespectful’ to the sport.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour titles and lost $20 million after finally confessing to taking performance enhancing drugs.

The sport’s governing body has worked hard to try to limit the damage and stop questions being asked about its complicity in Armstrong’s deception. Armstrong did get away with it for SEVEN YEARS. And during this time competition road racing earned itself the dubious honour of being the most drug infected sport in the world.

Armstrong has hit back at Cookson saying his riding to raise money for charity is ‘the least of cycling’s problems’.

And surely Armstrong has a point?

What further damage can he do to the race – other than have people focus on how so many others were caught cheating while Armstrong himself was not?

If anything, Armstrong’s notoriety will boost attendance. Certainly his presence will raise money for a most worthwhile cause. And Armstrong being at the great race will, without doubt, serve as an object warning about the perils of taking performance enhancing drugs in competitive sport.

Cookson wants the whole Armstrong saga forgotten. He seems pretty desperate to do so. Many are wondering why.

Porsche Take Top Three Place in First Qualifying Round of Le Mans

Porsche has spreadeagled the field in this year’s qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hour event.

After the first qualifying session the German manufacturer provisionally holds the first three positions on the grid.

Neel Jani in the #18 919 Hybrid has set the fastest lap with a blistering 3 minutes 16.887 seconds.- the fastest ever around the current circuit.

“I was the first one in our car in qualifying,” said Jani. “Of course, we had to tick off the list the five mandatory night laps. My itnitial lap was good, but not perfect because it wasn’t entirely clear.

“That it was still the fastest lap of the day and a qualifying record is very pleasing.

“But I know this wasn’t the maximum. And we have to wait to see what happens in the other qualifying sessions.”

Tino Bernhard, car #17, was almost a second slower than his teammate, with Nick tankdy a further second and a half behind in car #19.

Bernhard’s co-driver, Aussie Mark Webber, predicted the times would continue to drop.

“Qualifying was the first time that we had run properly in the night with dry conditions. So all the drivers were able to get a feeling for the track and the cars.

“We didn’t push too much for qualifying, because here in Le Mans it is not so important to start from pole position. We focused on the race, because that’s what matters.”

Trailing the Porsches was Audi’s Loic Duvalin car #8, an R18 e-tron quattro.

Both Toyota entries were nearly seven seconds behind the pace-setters in seventh and eigth. Nissan’s team of three placed 12th, 21st and 31st after the first two-hour session.

Watmough fails to Fire for Eels

Eels Watmough:

Eels fans are rightly agitated after the club spent up big on Anthony Watmough.

Watmough has failed to deliver since leaving the Manly Sea Eagles. On Friday night he posted his worst game to date: Running for only 53 meters, missing five tackles, and playing only a little over half the match (44 minutes).

In fact, Watmough hasn’t made a line-break since joining the Eels.

This is a far-cry from the same time last year when ‘Choc’ was rampaging through the Maroons defensive line in the State of Origin series.

Watmough is claiming a series of injuries are hamstringing his ability to perform on the field.

Blues Watmough image:

Blues Watmough image:

But in a bizarre Catch-22 Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has no choice but to keep sending him out.

Because of the salary cap, and the big money spent on Watmough, Arthur has no one else to send on to replace him.

The best both of them can hope for is the round 15 bye which will give the second-rower a much needed break from competitive football.

Just how much the team physios and doctors can do in a fortnight remains to be seen. But as it stands now buying Watmough from the Sea Eagles hasn’t repaid the Parramatta club.

Blues Back from Injury as Maroons Lose Cronk

Cooper Cronk image:

Gallen, Morris, and Farah have been passed fit for the Blues Origin squad. This allows Llows coach Laurie Daley to field his first choice of players in every position.

The news for queensland, however, is not so good; with playmaker cooper cronk being ruled out with a low-grade tear to the meniscus in his right knee.

Cronk will undergo surgery for the tear and be sidelined for three to four weeks.

Maroons coach Mal Meninga says Cronk is desolate at missing the second Origin match, which was to be played in front of his home crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

“He is disappointed in the fact he is going to miss it,” said Coach Meninga. “He will work damn hard and he will be back for Game Three let’s hop.

“It’s a huge loss to us. In temrns of the way he manages the game and around the group. You know we are goig to miss him.”

And Mal Meninga isn’t overstating one bit. The Smith-Slater-Cronk combination has proved a success at all levels of football. These three grew up playing football together and occupy the most important positions on the field.

It’s no surprise that Queensland lost the two Origin matches without him last year, while winning when the combination was intact.

Cadel Evans Looking to Revitalise Australian Cycling

Cadel evans image:

Cadel Evans is trying to restructure cycling in Australia. He is aghast at the current lack of Aussies able to compete for titles in the grand tours.

Evans is the only Australian ever to win the coveted Gold Jersey at the Tour de France. He credits much of his ability to do this to the combination of mountain biking and road racing.

Evans believes that improving the links between these two sports well lead to improvements in the results of the next generation of Australian competitive cyclists.

“Cycling in Australia is not really favourable for bringing in the climbers. All of our racing is more suited to rouleurs and sprinters,” said Evans. “That’s why we have a lot of good time-trialists and sprinters, because of the type of racing at the grassroots level. Which is why I’m so grateful to the sport of mountain biking.”

Evans began his professional career in mountain biking. He won two cross country world cup gold medals before moving to competitive road cycling.

“Mountain biking is such an important part of cycling overall because it draws on a different type of physique.

“This physique that’s well suited to riding cross-country mountain bike races can also be very well suited to the physique you need to be a Tour de France contender. People need to realise this.

“We don’t have races at the junior level that are suited to these kinds of riders – with a physique like mine – and they can possibly be discouraged from a young age, from staying in the sport.

“If we have more facilities for mountain bikers we can help them develop more.”

NSW Blues Injury List Lessens

Laurie Daley image:

Paul Gallen, Brett Morris, and Robbie Farah are expected to be cleared from injury and available for Blues selection.

For Coach Laurie Daley their convalescence couldn’t have come a t a better time.

The Blues meet the Maroons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 17 for a must-win second Origin match. This is the first match to be held at the MCG since 1997, and ticket sales have been somewhat sluggish.

Daley has until 7:45am on Tuesday to name his squad and he is keenly awaiting the fitness reports of his most experienced players: Gallen, Morris and Farah.

Gallen was cleared to play for Cronulla yesterday against the Sydney City Roosters. Boyd Cordner is expected to be dropped to make way for the incumbent Captain. While winger Daniel Tupou is pegged to be relegated to make way for Morris.

Robbie Farah, however, is another story.

Farah braved the Origin I battle field, returning after receiving painkilling injections for a grade three AC shoulder joint injury in the first half. Since the game, Farah has spent every waking moment undergoing rehabilitation.

Despite the severity of the injury Farah remains confident of his chances to play..

But Coach Daley has said he wants all 17 of his squad ready to train on the day they are named.

Sharks hooker (and one of the biggest divers in the game) Michael Ennis is expected to replace Farah, should the vice-captain be unavailable through injury.

The Blues will go into camp the day the squad is named.

Taishan Dong Pulverizes Hapless Opponent

Dong with friends image:

Heavyweight boxing giant Taishan Dong has moved to 5-0, 3 KOs with a devastating knockout of his most recent opponent.

American Lance Gauch (5-9, 3 KOs) was poleaxed by Dong in California on Friday. Referee Ray Corona didn’t even bother with a count and waved Dong away.

The hapless American conceded more than 30 cm in height to his seven-foot opponent. He appeared to be on the back foot from the opening bell.

Dong sized up his opponent, pushing him backwards with dangerous combinations.

When the opportunity presented itself, Dong landed a right that put our Gauch’s lights.

Reports say Gauch was left for 10 minutes before being placed on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital.

Dong has had his fights carefully chosen by his Oscar De La Hoya ‘Golden Boy Promotions’ managers. The company bought him to America and are hoping to establish him as a serious heavyweight contender. Doing so will allow them to crack into the Chinese sporting market.

“Mr De La Hoya wanted to open the Chinese market,” said Dong to Fox Sports earlier this year,” because he believes in me. He knows I can become a champ.”

Dong has knocked out his first two opponents. His next two went the distance (four rounds).

“Nowadays I am more patient and can overcome any challenges that arise during the fight,” said Dong to Fox Sports. “I will give the best of myself. I will try to understand my opponent’s strategy from the beginning and therefore defeat him.

“My maximum potential has not been revealed yet. That is why I train hard, in order to become a world champion.”

Athletes Think Better Under Stress

Amy Williams Bobsled:

As if we needed another reason to envy gifted athletes – here is another:

A recent study commissioned by Dunlop Tyres in association with University College London (UCL) has found extreme athletes performed significantly better than average members of the public when subjected to physical and mental duress.

The parietal coretex (an area of the brain responsible for determining reaction speed) remained unimpaired when elite athletes were forced to complete tasks while under extreme stress. Not so for the rest of us.

UCL professor Vincent Walsh took five athletes – multiple Isle of Man TT winner John McGuiness, leading free climber Leo Houlding, racing car driver Sam Bird, wing-suit diver Alexander Polli, and Olympic bobsled gold medallist Amy Williams – and subjected them to a series of mental and physical pressures before engaging in timed visual tasks.

The athletes were worked to exhaustion before being challenged to identify a series of shapes and patterns.

Elite sportspeople, it was found, performed 82 per cent faster than average.

Motorcyclist McGuinness performed better under pressure than in the stress-free control study. While overall the athletes performed 10 per cnt better when under pressure.

In contrast, non-elite athletes saw their scores go down by 60 per cent.

The results are tunning.

John McGuiness:

John McGuiness:

They show that athletes can perform under intense distractions three times better than average members of the public.

Professor Walsh was still uncertain as to whether this ability was because of inborn neurological advantage or something developed through exposure to physical and mental stress through sport training.

Prof Walsh is adamant the skills can definitely be improved: “We might to be able to become a John or a Leo, but all these areas of the brain can make connections in later life, so we can enhance ourselves.”