Olympic links: 28 February, 2013

2024 Summer Olympics

Cricket is set to bid for inclusion in the 2024 Games. (Don’t confuse this with the race to be included in the 2020 Games, which is the one involving wrestling, squash, wushu, climbing et al, and the one to be resolved this year.)

Athletics

Yesterday, we observed that hurdles Olympic champion Sally Pearson had lost sponsors despite her London 2012 victory. Now, Australian hurdling colleague Melissa Breen wonders: “What hope do the rest of us have?”

Harry Aikines-Aryeetey still exists and still wants to make his mark, despite missing London 2012 and playing no part in a 100m contest which featured a man he’d once beaten in Yohan Blake. “It was just so devastating missing out on the London Olympics. But it’s made me as hungry as ever. I’m angry. I’m forgotten.”

Biathlon

I was drawn to this photo on the blog of US biathlete Sara Studebaker:

US biathletes warming down

If I can make one recommendation to you this week, it’s to find the blog of a random Olympic hopeful – preferably from a country other than yours – and have a read. Sara’s was mine for the week. I’ll try to unearth one for you each week. It’d be great if you did the same and posted the link at the bottom of this entry. Think about it, by the time the Games rolled around we’d practically know everyone… sort of…

Boxing

PA’s preview of the World Series contest between British Lionhearts and Ukraine on Friday – the Ukraine team boasts two Olympic champions. The Brits are already safely in the quarter-finals, where they’ll face Mexico in March.

Katie Taylor on the cancellation of this year’s women’s European Championships: “To be told by a journalist that they were cancelled, I felt hard done by. I’d been training for the European Championships these past few months.”

Taylor also says she’d love to fight Britain’s Natasha Jonas again. The two met at London 2012 with Taylor winning before going on to take the Olympic title.

Cycling

It’s time to get literal about cleaning up cycling. Can the peloton please stop littering the countryside during races?

A broken neck and ACL trouble hasn’t stopped him: South Africa’s Sifiso Nhlapo is back for the 2013 BMX season. Essentially this is a press release but he caught my eye as an interesting character (and successful, as the 2010 world silver medallist).

His Twitter feed led me to this video, introducing his MTN-Qhubeka team for 2013. As an African outfit they’re trying to establish themselves as something different to the norm, with a higher purpose to get more African kids into cycling. It’s worth a watch. MTN Qhubeka are the first-ever African team to reach UCI Professional Continental level.

Equestrian

Showjumping’s Hong Kong Masters, one of the richest events in equestrian sport with a purse of $1m/£660,000, begins tonight. It’ll feature London 2012 gold medallist Ben Maher. The logistics for the event involved flying 64 horses on the same plane from Belgium – apparently (and admittedly, not surprisingly) the largest number of horses ever to land in Hong Kong in one go.

Fencing

In case you were in any doubt as to the capabilities of Photoshop in the right pair of hands… (via Nick Zaccardi, who may as well get a daily byline on these links). The athlete is Mariel Zagunis, America’s 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion in women’s sabre.

Mariel Zagunis - natural shot on left, "gold" version on right
Fencing Woman, the unlikely villain in early drafts of the Iron Man 4 script. More of “digital artist” Michael Oswald’s work is here.
Handball

Fact for the day: handball is the most widely played sport in Brazil’s schools. Rio 2016’s official site is publishing a series of pieces exploring handball in Brazil and elsewhere. In the first one, national women’s team star Alexandra Nascimento talks about the honour of being named 2012’s world player of the year.

Hockey (field)

England Hockey has promoted Bobby Crutchley from assistant coach to head up the men’s team for Rio 2016, concluding a round of appointments in which the governing body obstinately refused to appoint any external candidates: Danny Kerry left the women’s team to become performance director, with Jason Lee moving sideways from the men’s setup to coach the women in Kerry’s place.

It’s OK – turns out not every British hockey player has retired since London 2012. Here’s a BBC London video with Kate Walsh and Georgie Twigg, examining how far the sport’s developed in recent years. The written article highlights that Walsh and co have had to return to other day jobs after the Games, as the bulk of their funding for Rio – despite winning a bronze medal in London – isn’t yet available to keep them full-time in hockey.

London 2012

At an auction near Birmingham, dozens of London 2012 leftovers are snapped up – seven truckloads of tat, except it’s Olympic tat and therefore receives an immediate upgrade to “keepsake”.

Oscar Pistorius

Was Pistorius popping pig-testicle pills? The tablets discovered by police have been identified by the Blade Runner’s representatives as Testis compositum. They say it’s a herbal remedy used “in aid of muscle recovery”. The internet says it’s “a sexual enhancer with pig testicles, pig heart and pig embryo among its ingredients”. Importantly, it’s not a banned substance according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Rowing

I didn’t initially spot, last week, that the rules have been changed and restarts at the Olympics – like the one employed by Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter, en-route to silver at London 2012 – have been scrapped.

And here’s the GB team for the first World Cup of 2013.

Rugby sevens

The draw for the World Cup Sevens pools takes place at 10am UK time today. The competition takes place in Moscow this June, involving 24 men’s and 16 women’s teams.

Sailing

This interview with Ben Ainslie is refreshing in that, coming from a Greek newspaper, some of the questions are a little different.

Q: What would you say the London Olympics has done for Britain?

A: Without overusing a certain word we have all heard a huge amount over the last few years, ultimately it is all about legacy. It was amazing to see an event bond the country in a way we haven’t witnessed for many years. There was a true buzz of patriotism and a feeling that we were making history. Everyone involved in London 2012 should be hugely proud of what was achieved.

Short-track

Don’t call him Ahn Hyun-Soo – call him Viktor. A Korean-born short-track star, who swapped nationalities (and names) to compete for Russia at Sochi 2014, has defended his decision after a year or so in his new national colours.

“Money was not the main factor in my decision, I wouldn’t do it just for the money. I’ve had some tough times mentally [in the Korean team]; maybe there was some jealousy in the team. In fact it was my father who searched the internet for a possible destination. I could have moved to America but ended up here. Please, don’t get me wrong – I have no regrets.”

Ski jump

Just in case you thought world champions were immune to everyday crises, here’s 18-year-old women’s ski jump gold medallist Sarah Hendrickson.

Snowboard

Full video of Billy Morgan’s backside triple cork 1440, a move never nailed by a Brit till last weekend. The reaction in the video tells its own story, but Morgan adds below that “basically a year’s anticipation” went into pulling this off. Note the video was edited by GB team-mate Ben Kilner.

Sochi 2014

Various Olympic broadcasters, the BBC and CBC included, are in Russia having their usual tour of the facilities with just under a year left to finalise plans.

Meanwhile, organisers have announced that the media will get free wi-fi in all venues and hotels during the Games. (Which is a first.)

Swimming

Last week, we linked to an article in which the Australian media contrasted the US swimming team’s bubbly, bright young things at London 2012 with their own sedative-quaffing, late-night-pranking good-for-nothings.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the swimming coverage emanating from those two nations even now, nine months on.

Today in the States, Missy Franklin produces a Q&A session full of optimism, inspiration and proud memories of London 2012: “The Olympic Games were unbelievable. Team USA was a very close team and we had so much fun together. We worked so hard but I enjoyed every minute of it. Our ‘Call Me, Maybe’ video was an absolute bonding experience for all of us. I smiled throughout the camps and the entire time in London! The experience was perfect.”

The video in question, in case you missed it, is immediately below (or click here). Meanwhile in Australia, swimming legend Dawn Fraser wants life bans for some of last year’s pranksters. Yikes. “They should be punished severely because they are setting a bad example for the younger generation for our country. They wouldn’t inspire me if I was a youngster coming up in the sport of swimming.”

Coincidentally, Fraser has just been named the number-one Australian sportswoman of all time. Track cyclist Anna Meares is in at nine, ahead of Cathy Freeman in 10th.

Wrestling

Bored of squabbling over its Olympic place, wrestling has moved on and is now hoping to bring about world peace. Reuters says US and Iranian nuclear negotiators have spent time chatting about the wrestling World Cup between the two nations.

Non-Olympic

I’ve been trying to learn a little chess while volunteering up here in the Northwest Territories, but have yet to conquer this move.

An adorable letter received by a Yosemite park ranger from a young visitor.