Wednesday 30 September 2015

Olympic Legends - Dave Wottle

Known as much for his omnipresent golf hat as his strong finishing kick, Dave Wottle used the 1972 Olympics to gain national celebrity while still a student at Bowling Green. 

Born on August 7, 1950 in Canton, Wottle won a state title at Lincoln High School, then burst onto the local and national track scene at Bowling Green in 1970, finishing second in the mile at the NCAA Track and Field Championships. While injuries kept him out of the 1971 season, Wottle had a career year in 1972, just in time for the Olympics in Munich, Germany. 

After winning the 1500m title at the NCAA Championships, Wottle also won the 800m race at the AAU Championships. Then, on July 1, 1972 at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, Wottle ran the 800 meters in 1:44.3, tying the World Record, and breaking the six-year old American record in the process. The next two months were ones that would change anyone's life. On July 15, he got married, and about six weeks later was in Munich for the Olympic Games

The Games started with their usual fanfare, and Wottle had everyone's attention as he took to the track for the 800m race. He started slowly, falling behind the pack, momentarily changing his goal from winning the race to simply saving face. Determined, Wottle caught up to the pack, and changed his goals for the race again. 

"When I passed the first Kenyan (one of the front-runners), I quickly reassessed my goals and decided to go for a silver medal," he wrote on the Rhodes College website, where he currently serves as Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. 

With another Kenyan and a Russian ahead of him, the "guy in the hat" put on a kick that pushed him to Olympic gold. He crossed the finish line three-hundredths of a second ahead of Russian Yewgeniy Arzhanov, and not much more than a tenth of a second ahead of Kenyan Mike Boit, who took the bronze. With one medal secured, Wottle was preparing for the 1500m race, when the Olympic spirit was shattered. 

On September 5, just six days into the games, eight Arab commandos raided the athlete's village in Munich, killing two Israeli athletes and taking nine others hostage. The next morning, all nine hostages were killed in a shootout between the terrorists and police at the German airport. 

"We were fairly close by," Wottle remembered. "I roomed with Frank Shorter. Our housing facility was only about 100 yards away from the residence hall where the incident occurred. We heard a loud noise, which happened to be the first burst of gunfire, when they first captured the Israeli athletes. But you know it's like one of those sounds you always hear in the middle of the night, a car backfiring or something, like a loud burst - you recognize it, but you don't think much of it." (From 

After a day of mourning, and a memorial service at the main Olympic stadium, the Games continued. Wottle, however, was eliminated from competition in the semifinals of the 1500 meters, and would not have a chance at another medal. 

He would return to BG for the 1973 track season, and again was a force at the NCAA Championships. Not in the 800 meters in which he held the world record (until May 27 of that year, when fellow American Rich Wolhuter would eclipse his mark by three-tenths of a second), but in the mile, where he closed out his collegiate career with another first place finish. 

All told in his collegiate career, he would win the two NCAA outdoor titles, scoring in another, win three NCAA indoor events, and scored in an AAU outdoor event in addition to his win in the 800m in the 1972 AAU Championships. In the Mid-American Conference, he won six titles in track, one in cross country, and also won an All-Ohio cross country meet and scoring in an NCAA cross country meet. By the time he left Bowling Green, he had set 13 Ohio college records. 

Inducted into the Ohio Track Hall of Fame in 1974, and the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1982 (incidentally, five years after his famous hat was "inducted"), Wottle coached track and cross country at Walsh and Bethany colleges for six years, and is currently employed at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Olympic Quotes - Chris Brasher

"There is something in the Olympics, indefinable, springing from the soul, that must be preserved." 

Chris Brasher

Legends - Haile Gebrselassie

With two Olympic gold medals in the 10,000m, Haile Gebrselassie is renowned as one of the greatest long-distance runners of all time.

Born in the province of Arsi in Central Ethiopia, Gebrselassie ran throughout his youth and at only 16, he began to show signs of being a promising athlete.

With no formal training, the runner entered the Addis Ababa marathon, finishing in 2:42.

It was in 1992 that he became known on the international scene, as he won the 5,000m and 10,000m at the Junior World Championships in Seoul.

At the Stuttgart World Championships in 1993, the emerging running sensation won the 10,000m and grabbed second in the 5,000m.

His first world record, 12:56.96, came in the 5,000m in 1994, in Hengelo, Holland.

In 1995, he went on to break the world record in 10k, with a time of 26:43.53 in a race also in Hengelo, Holland.

The following years were when the medals really started to flow, with his first Olympic gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games. He won the 10,000m in an Olympic record time of 27:07.34.

His second Olympic achievement came at the next Games in Sydney in 2000 and secured his position on top of the podium once more with a stunning performance in the 10,000m with a time of 27:18.20.

It was at these Games that he became the third man in history to successfully defend an Olympic 10,000m title, after Lasse Virén and Emil Zátopek.

However, his success came to a halt when he missed out on a medal in the 10,000m event at the Athens Games in 2004. It was from then on that the famous athlete quit the track and switched to the marathon.

He went undefeated in all of his road races in 2005, before going on to beat the world half marathon record in 2006.

Yet it seemed the Olympic Games were a distant memory for Gebrselassie as he also did not compete in Beijing in 2008, due to the high air pollution levels.

The Ethiopian however  did not manage to gain a berth on his country's Olympic marathon team for the London Olympics last year.

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All Blacks Will Change in Bus

The All Blacks will use their team bus to change out of their training gear during the Rugby World Cup, an inconvenience the New Zealand superstars must endure to give sponsors their cut of the sport’s most recognised brand.

Under the rules of the four-yearly tournament, which kicks off Friday in London, the logos of team sponsors can only be seen at training and mustn't be visible anywhere else associated with the cup, such as in hotels or at matches.

With players filmed arriving at and leaving training venues, changing on the bus will maximise exposure for companies like insurer American International Group, which sponsors the champion All Blacks.

The New Zealand men’s rugby union team, whose uniform is all black, claims to be the most successful national sports side in history. Its brand value has almost doubled to NZ$197 million (€109 million) since winning the last World Cup in 2011, according to London-based consultancy Brand Finance.

That growth is set to continue, with rugby union now played in 120 nations globally and a form of the sport to be reinstated at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

“The All Blacks brand represents success, pride, determination and strong heritage - all characteristics a sponsor would like to associate with,” said Bryn Anderson, Brand Finance’s chief operating officer.

“Rugby’s growing profile globally will see its commercial value swell and represents a significant growth opportunity.”

The All Blacks have been top of World Rugby’s rankings since November 2009 and have won 76 per cent of their Test matches, or games against other national sides, since the first one in 1903.

They are bookmakers’ favourite to win this year’s World Cup, even though their previous two titles were achieved on home soil.

The team’s black uniform featuring a silver fern logo dates back to the 1890s, creating a history of unity and success that has attracted international sponsors from Adidas to Bulgari.

“We’ve got ambitions to sell more licensed products and be a better-known brand,” Steve Tew, chief executive officer of New Zealand Rugby, said.

“It’s only going to work as long as you keep performing.”

Adidas, a major sponsor since 1999, has designed a jersey and black boots for the World Cup campaign.

Bulgari has begun marketing mens fragrances using All Blacks players in its print advertising, and perfume bottles decorated with Maori-inspired designs. Fonterra Co-operative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, began offering milk this month in black containers carrying the silver fern as a special World Cup promotion.

The 43-day tournament will be the most-watched sports event this year, with 2.3 million tickets available and an estimated television audience of 772 million households, according to World Rugby, the sport’s international governing body.

AIG’s agreement, which includes carrying the insurer’s logo on the front of the playing jersey, is worth NZ$80 million, media reported when the sponsorship was announced. Both Mr Tew and Mr Glantz declined to comment on the value of the partnership.

Sponsors’ demands have increased as the game goes global and compromises have had to be reached for the World Cup, where the tournament’s backers are given priority.

This year, the All Blacks arrived in London nine days before their first Cup game, allowing players to attend commercial events for AIG and Adidas before their match preparation started.

And, for the first time, sponsors’ logos will be seen on training fields.

“The moment we leave our training venue, we go back into the Rugby World Cup bubble,” said Mr Tew. “So the boys will be getting changed on the bus, literally.”

Corona Gets Roar Chance

Brisbane Roar’s pre-season from hell is getting back on track following confirmation experienced Spanish midfielder Corona has joined the club on a two-year deal.

To prevent another Brisbane Roar the A-League needs better due diligence Shaun Mooney

Corona, whose full name is Miguel Angel Garcia Perez-Roldan, will wear the No7 jersey for the three-time A-League champions and his pedigree suggests he will be an excellent addition to new coach John Aloisi’s squad.

The Roar’s off-season has been marred by financial problems and legal battles involving their embattled owners, the Bakrie Group, but the recruitment of such a decorated player suggests the worst may have passed for Brisbane.

Corona, 34, has played for Spanish side Almeria since 2006 and was the club’s captain up until his recent departure, amassing 312 appearances in all competitions.

All up, Corona has played 10 seasons in Spain’s top flight, La Liga, and also previously represented his country at age international level.

“The way Miguel plays on the ball, he’s technically very good and he will be able to start the plays for us,” Aloisi said. “He’s got all the qualities that we are looking for in that position to play the style of football we want to play.”

Corona is a versatile midfielder who can cover multiple engine room roles, but comes in as a replacement for the departed Luke Brattan.

The fringe Socceroo is reportedly poised to sign for Manchester City and then immediately go out on loan, and while Brattan’s loss was a bitter one for the Roar, the capture of Corona promises to allay any disappointment.

“The attacking, possession-based style of the Roar suits my game,” Corona said. “This style and the positive approach to football by John Aloisi is what drew me to the club. Now I can’t wait to get onto the field and show what I can do.”

Lewandowski Fires Another Five

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Robert Lewandowski continued his remarkable scoring run with a hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing of Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday to end the Croats’ 45-game unbeaten run and put Bayern Munich in firm control of Champions League Group F.

In an explosive first half in which Bayern were 4-0 up inside half an hour, the Poland striker, who has scored 10 goals in their past three matches, including five in nine minutes against Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, struck twice in seven minutes.

“He is having an amazing run and an unbelievable week behind him,” the Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said. “A striker like Lewandowski doesn’t need any prodding. He could be even more dangerous than last season.”

Douglas Costa put the hosts ahead with a fine low shot after 13 minutes and Mario Götze added his second of the campaign before Poland captain Lewandowski chipped the goalkeeper Eduardo in the 55th minute for his third goal as Bayern moved to a maximum six points from two matches.

“I want to congratulate my players for tonight,” the Bayern coach, Pep Guardiola, said. “They had a top performance. With [wingers] Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman our game is much better. Robert and Thomas Müller have much more space in the middle.

“Now we are off to the Oktoberfest and then we will start thinking about Borussia Dortmund on the weekend,” he added, referring to their top-of-the-Bundesliga clash.

Dinamo, unbeaten in 45 games in all competitions before playing in Munich, and winners at Arsenal in their opening group game, were mere observers as they witnessed Bayern’s awe-inspiring display of speed, skill and strength.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Wallabies Lose Skelton and Palu

Australia have suffered a double injury blow at the World Cup, with the No 8 Wycliff Palu and lock Will Skelton ruled out of the tournament days before their crunch match against England.

Skelton came off the field clutching his arm early in the second half in the Wallabies’ 11-try win over Uruguay on Sunday, while Palu had suffered a “problematic” hamstring injury, coach Michael Cheika said after that match.

The lock Sam Carter will replace Skelton in the Wallabies squad, but Palu will not be replaced by another flanker, with Cheika instead opting for another hooker in James Hanson.

Hanson, who will reinforce captain Stephen Moore and fellow hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, was to fly out from Australia on Monday.

The Australia coach Michael Cheika told Australian Rugby: “Very few players have the opportunity to play for the Wallabies, let alone at a Rugby World Cup, so from that perspective I’m really gutted for them. From a team perspective, they both play important roles in the side and it is disappointing that we need to replace players in our squad.”

Australia have won both their pool matches against Fiji and Uruguay comfortably and face their first major test on Saturday against an England side stinging from their last-gasp loss against Wales.

Palu’s injury could mean the end of the 33-year-old’s international career, with the No8 set to play in Europe after the World Cup and become ineligible for a recall.

Palu started against Uruguay but may have struggled to make the matchday 23 against England.

Cheika played two specialist openside flankers in David Pocock and Michael Hooper in his back row with success against Fiji, with Pocock taking the No8 shirt. Ben McCalman can also play as a specialist No8 if required.

Skelton, who started against Uruguay and was a replacement against Fiji, may be harder to replace, however, with his ball-carrying ability and imposing physique offering the Wallabies another weapon in attack.

However, of the two replacements Cheika said: “Both James and Sam have been part of the team at various stages this season and I am confident they will be able to step up and grasp the opportunity they have been given.”

F! Faces Possible EU Probe

Formula One faces a possible investigation by the European Union after both Force India and Sauber lodged official complaints into how the sport is governed.

The two teams are unhappy with how prize money is distributed and believe it to be skewed in favour of the sport’s most-established teams. Both are also reportedly unhappy not to be included in the rule-making F1 strategy group which consists of Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams, as well as Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive of the Formula One Group, and the FIA president Jean Todt.

A team statement released by Force India on Tuesday morning read: “SaharaForce India is one of two teams to have registered a complaint with the European Union questioning the governance of Formula One and showing that the system of dividing revenues and determining how Formula One’s rules are set is both unfair and unlawful.

“Due to the ongoing legal discussions, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Force India are fifth in the constructors’ standings with 77 points while Sauberare eighth with 26 points. Both have out-scored McLaren this season.

If the European Union take on the case it could change how the sport is governed and the distribution of prize money.