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Max Dal Santo – the Hard Road to Glasgow

Australian weightlifter Max Dal Santo has walked a rocky road to the Glasgow Commonwealth games. The soft-spoken Adelaide giant is competing in the men’s 94 – 105 kilogram division. He aims to lift a staggering 340 kilograms between the two required events of snatch and the clean and jerk.

But it very nearly never happened.

Max became interested in weightlifting at high school.. A thin, somewhat shy boy grew more confident as his strength increased. This laid the platform for a love of the sport and served as an introduction to competition.

He was soon offered a three-month scholarship with South Australia’s junior team. He attended a number of competitions and continued to improve.

But in 2010 Max suffered a misfortune when attempting to qualify for the Commonwealth games. It was just one of those things – a bad day when he least needed or expected it.

Max Dal Santo. Photo: www.zimbio.com

Max Dal Santo. Photo: www.zimbio.com

Max was so disgusted with his performance he walked away from the sport. His work as an Adelaide Primary School teacher is about as far away from competitive weightlifting as one can conceivably get. And it is this distance, Max believes, that allowed him to recover from the burnout and disappointment of the Comm Games trials.

One can only imagine the torment he endured watching the 2010 Games on television; knowing it should have been him lifting under the bright lights and soaking in the Games village atmosphere in Delhi.

Max didn’t use it as motivation (the way most stories such as this go). Rather he looked at his ten years of training and asked himself which he would prefer to do: Give it another attempt or walk away?

Max’s personal best lifts are 148 kg for the snatch and 179 kg for the clean and jerk. This gives him a competition total of 327 kilograms. He has been training diligently since setting these PB marks and believes he will lift for 340 kg when it counts the most – in Glasgow.

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: www.new.com.au

Michael Matthews. Photo: www.new.com.au

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.

UFC and FOX Drop Sonnen After Second Failed Drug Test

One of the most colourful and popular fighters in UFC has been forced into retirement. Chael Sonnen has been dropped from the UFC and FOX Sports organisations as news of his second failed drug test became public.

In late May, prior to UFC 175, Sonnen was randomly drug tested by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. He had been scheduled to fight Brazilian brawler Wanderlai Silva; but Silva forfeited the match when he skipped his own pre-fight drug test.

Sonnen’s test came back positive. He later admitted taking anastrozole – a non-steroidal aromatase-inhibiting drug, used to treat breast cancer – and clomiphene – used to treat female

Chael Sonnen dropped for failing second drug test.  Photo: www.evolutinary.org

Chael Sonnen dropped for failing second drug test.
Photo: www.evolutinary.org

infertility. Sonnen said he was using these substances to allow his body to withdraw from doctor-prescribed testosterone.

Chael Sonnen first came to the attention of the Nevada State Athletic Commission because of his use of Doctor-prescribed testosterone. He had been approved its use because of sub-natural levels of the hormone. But the NSCA later banned even this use of testosterone.

Sonnen announced his retirement on June 11, after failing his first drug test, in May. He made the announcement live on UFC Tonight, the flagship FOX Sports 1 MMA program.

On June 17 the NSCA somewhat belatedly issued Sonnen with a temporary suspension.

On Saturday it was announced that Sonnen had failed a second test earlier in June and that two otherl banned substances had also been detected in his system.

Upon this disclosure of the second failed test the UFC and FOX released the fighter/commentator from his respective contracts.

Audis too Strong for the Field in this Year’s 24 hour Le Mans

An early deluge saw competitors piling up across the track as the 24 hour Le Mans race roared into life.

At the front Stepahne Sarrazin was determinedly holding off all comers in his Toyota. He paced himself magnificently, always driving within his limits. When the track began to dry he began taking risks and managed to hand the lead over to his partner driver Kazuki Nakajima.

Porsche

Porsche

After nine hours Andre Lotterer pushed into second place behind the slick Toyota team. From this point on Audi began eating into the one lap lead held by Toyota.

Twelve hours in and the battle was well and truly joined. Stephane Sarrazin is leading the Audis of Lotterer and Kristensen. The Audis are making huge gains, being able to run their tyres for four sessions as against the Toyota’s three.

But a shock ran through the Audi garage as their leader developed technical problems. Wurz’s Toyota, in second and battling off the other two Audis, claws back at the lead.

For the next few hours the garages of both Audi and Toyota are busy with impromptu stops and a chain of irritating mechanical problems. The lead changes hands between the manufacturers and the mechanics are tested again and again.

With less than three hours remaining the leading Audi of Kristensen dies in Mulsanne Straight. Kristensen fights to keep his car moving and limps into the pits. In an incredible display of teamwork and technical skill the Audi mechanics replace the car’s turbo charger in a mere 17 minutes. But this this is still enough time to give Timo Bernard the lead in his Porsche.

Lotterer screeches out of the pits and storms after him. Bernhard reacts and pushes his Porsche to the limit.

But as the laps go by the Audi proves itself the quicker car and Bernhard’s Porsche is reeled in.

With less than 90 minutes to go the Porsche 919 is pushed too hard and loses power. With their main rival gone the Audi race team of Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer cross the finish line ahead of all rivals. In total the three men clocked up an astounding 5165.39 kilometres.

Gold Coast Marathon Set to Explode

Organisers of the Gold Coast Marathon are ecstatic at securing the two joint record-holders of the event. Yuki Kawauchi and Nicholas Manza have both signed on to decide, once and for all, who owns this event.2012 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon

Kenyan born Manza ran the 42.2 kilometre event in 2 hours 10 minutes, 1 second in 2011 making it the fastest time ever for the flat, fast course. Then, last year, Japan’s Kawauchi flashed across the finish line in first place with exactly the same time.

Both men are injury free, training well, and determined to finish ahead of the other.

Manza has run 2:06.34 in other events and feels he can demolish 2:10 on the 5th of July.Yuki 1 Kawauchi says he is feeling in career best form and believes he will set a new course record.

Both are wily, experienced marathon racers and will know the course well. Both will be forming tactics to run the race according to their strengths. Both men will be in peak condition for this IAAF gold label race.

But Gold Coast Marathon chief executive Cam Hart has warned this isn’t a two man race. “With the depth of our elite field this year,” he told the Gold Coast Bulletin, “we’re sure both Manza and Kawauchi will be pushed from the start line to the finish.”

Mr. Hart believes the course record is a dead man walking.

This is exactly the type of race Australian marathoners need in the lead up to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Wiggins in Doubt for Tour de France 2014

Bradley Wiggins

Bradley Wiggins

 The cycling word is reeling after 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins announced that ‘as it stands now’ he won’t be making himself available for the Tour squad. Relations between himself and team mate (Tour de France 2013 winner) Chris Froome are continuing to plumb bitter depths.

Tensions have been simmering between the two since the 2012 Tour, when Froome apparently disobeyed team orders by continuing an attack to the detriment of Wiggins.

In his recent autobiography, The Climb, Froome said of Wiggins, “We rode around him and his moods like he was a traffic island.”

Since being left out of the Criterium du Dauphine on Sunday (the main warm-up for the Tour) Wiggins has countered with accusations that Froome is calling shots on team selection.

Team Sky chief David Brailsford rejects this, “We knew from last year that my job was to build a team around Chris Froome because he’s the rider most likely to win this year’s Tour de France … Despite the impression that might have been created, the team is not yet finalised … Riders can offer an opinion but they don’t select the team and they never will.”

Sharapova Claims French Open

Sharapova Wins French Open

MariaRussian tennis ace Maria Sharapova claimed her second Frnch Open by annihilating Romanian fourth seed Simona Haep 6-4, 7-7(5), 6-4.

Halep came into the Grand Final a favourite after not dropping a set throughout the tournament. However she had no answer to Sharapova’s thunderbolt forehands; with the Romanian was forced to watch Sharapova’s cross court shots rocket by, time and again, just out of reach.

The first set was a spirited fight with the two women treating the Roland Garros crowd to superb tennis. Halep got out to an early two set lead. Sharpaova clawed back to make it two all.

The crowd were chanting ‘Simona, Simona’ as it seemed Halep would find some answer to Sharapova’s forehand. The two battled to 4-4 in the first set with Sharapova fending off two break points.

But it wasn’t to be.

Sharapova’s dominance wore Halep down. And while she won the hearts of tennis fans aroundSimona the world for her never-say-die fighting spirit, there was little Halep could do to hold back the tide of ferocious forehands that pounded her court from all angles.

In the third set Sharapova broke Halep to love and fell to her knees in celebration.

Halep too was very emotional after the game, “Its’ my first grand slam page, emotionally it’s difficult. I hope there will be many more, but this one will be special for me all my life. Congrat’s Maria, you’re a great champion.”

World Records Tumble at 2014 Raw Challenge

More than 40,000 spectators watched as the Australian Championships & Pacific Invitational ushered in a slew of new powerlifting world records.

Photo www.theblaze.com

Photo www.theblaze.com

American Ray Williams overcame a trembling start and a first round missed attempt to add an incredible 10 kilograms to the old 400 kilogram world squat record. Many believed the previous record, set by Blaine Sumner two years ago, would never be broken. By adding another 10 kilograms Williams did not just break the record – he showed he is in a lifting class of his own.

Williams followed his world record squat with an impressive 240 kilogram bench press and a massive 320 kilogram deadlift for a new Total World Record of 970 kilograms.

Narau born Jeza Uepa was closest to Williams’ with a respectable total lift of 930 kilograms. Lifting prior to Williams he attempted what would have been a short-lived record squat of 401 kilograms – but was unsuccessful.

Australian Florian Loock set an national bench press record of 220.5 kg in the 105 kg weight class. Stephen Pritchard, down from the 120 kg Super Heavyweight class, squatted 315 kg and totaled 835 kg. While junior, Cameron McKenzie set a World Junior Record Deadlift of 340 kg on his way to accumulating an event total 813 kgs.

Elizabeth Craven entered into world contention with a total lift of 350.5 kg in the women’s 52 kg class.

The women’s divisions treated lifting fans to some enthralling battles: Chleo Van Wyk strung together some nail biting lifts to amass a total of 458 kg. Jessica Gilbert finished her lifts in the 84 kg division with a very noteworthy 456.5 kg. While the diminutive Kelli Clarke impressed everyone with lifts totaling 408.5 kg in the 66 kg class.

Williams the One to Beat in French Open

Maria Sharapova and Li Na both have a healthy respect for Serena Williams as they go into the French Open. Both tennis stars consider Williams the one to beat after her almost complete domination of the title last year in Paris.

Serena WilliamsWilliams has had, at best, a patchy 2014. She has won titles in Brisbane and Miami, but was bundled out of the Australian Open and succumbed to a succession of injuries.

However, she goes into the French Open as favourite on the back of a power-pack performance in Rome last week where she dropped just one set throughout the tournament.

Sharapova concedes she has a big hill to climb. Williams has a long run of wins against Sharapova. Sharapova is hoping the French crowd will get behind her. “It’s tough to handle the pressure because you know that if you do bad you know they are going to be tough with you; but on the other hand, you ned to charm them because they are pretty tough to charm.” But when yu have them in your pocket they are just behind you 100% and they can give you wings.”

Williams, by contrast thrives on the pressure, “… as Billie Jean King tells me,” she told reporters, “pressure is a privilege.”

Women’s Golf – LPGA Classic

The LPGA Classic in New Jersey is hotting up with the first round now in the books. American Jennifer Johnson stunned the gallery at the Stockton Seaview Golf Club when she matched the course record with a nine-under, 62, to snatch the lead from Japan’s Haru Nomura, 63 and Christina Kim, on 64.

Jennifer JohnsonAustralian golfer Sarah Kemp shot a respectable four-under 67 to sit five shots off the lead. While Lindsay Wright posted a 68 and Karrie Webb (last year’s champion) finished with 69.

Koreans Inbee Park (the current world number one) and Na Yeon Choi sit four shots off the pace on 66.

Johnson credits who great first round to being able to deal with the nerves she felt at the 17th. “… that’s when I was eight-under and I was trying to beat my 63,” she told reporters. “So then, I started getting a little nervous because my goal was to get to 10-under, but I only got to nine. But when you shoot something you’ve never shot before, nerves are going to happen.”

Second placed Nomura was pleased with her performance, “All in all, my putting was on, my shot was really good … everything was perfect today.”

The current leader, Jennifer Johnson finished the day with 10 birdies – five in a row between the 9th and 13th holes, and one bogey.