Colombian wins Giro d’Italia 2014

By Daniel Laming posted 1st June 2014 8:29PM in Sports

The Colombian Nairo Quintana became the first Colombian to win the Giro d’Italia. This result after three weeks of racing starting off in Belfast, was no surprise for the bookmakers, as he started off as favourite, with the defending champion Vincenzo Nibali not involved in the tournament. However, one can argue it would have made little difference, with the Colombians dominating the race and its results, as Nairo’s teammates, Rigoberto Uran ending up second,, whilst Julian Arredondo taking the mountains classification.

Colombian riders have always been in contention as they have trained and gained their experience in Europe. Followers of these races maybe familiar with the likes of Sergio Henao from the Sky Team and Uran from the Omega Pharma-Quick Step Team.

The race was not without controversy, as there were calls for the technical manager from RCS Sport (the firm in charge of organising the Giro) to resign. There was strong sentiment that Nairo Quintana should not have gained an advantage from the situation, and the incident was on the verge of being the main focus.

But no one could take ways from Nairo’s glory as he proved once and for all who was the strongest athlete of the race, as in Stage 19 he excelled during the 26.8 km individual time trial. Here is achieved a 1min 26 second gain over Uran, and retained his 3 min 7 second lead as he finished the penultimate stage of the race.

After the race, the Colombian was jubilant and  already thinking of the next triumph to come. He was quoted as saying that his ‘next goal will be to win the Tour de France one day’. Bookmakers will definitely have the rider in their sights, as Nairo already finished second in that race the first time he entered in 2013!

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Could you win a match for £134 million?

By Daniel Laming posted 25th May 2014 7:45PM in Football, Sports

The scene is set and it’s the Championship play-off final between QPR and Derby County. The loser of this match will fall back in line to try again for promotion next season, the winner promoted to the English Premier League and cushioned by the promise of a minimum £134 million payout. But with 10-men on the field and the game running out of time, what would you do to make sure you seized that winning position?

Well certainly against the run of play and perhaps the most unjustified person to score a goal of this magnitude considering their sub-par performances, it was Bobby Zamora who managed to find the net in the 89th minute of the match. The scoreline far from reflects the true game and when QPR went down to 10-men midway through the 2nd half courtesy of Gary O’Neil, the bets were all going Derby’s way. Perhaps the only true way to show just how one-sided the match is to say that Derby had 5:1 the number of shots on target and a substantial 68% of the possession, oh, and the man-of-the-match was Rob Green (the goalie) for what can only be described as a super-human performance.

Perhaps the ultimate injustice was to the Derby captain Keogh, whose slip led to the goal and McClaren to lament what was arguably a rather difficult pill to swallow having finished in 3rd place and been condemned back to the Championship. Even Redknapp admitted that the goal was against the run of play and that his side spent most of the game pinned in their half, defending for their careers. McClaren later noted in a BBC interview, “I’ve lost some games in my career but that is the cruelest.” “For somebody to make mistakes — we don’t blame anybody,” which undoubtedly will do little to comfort Keogh, but was a rather fitting comment for a manager who has done so well with a team that looked certain to return to the EPL.

Whilst we wish QPR all the best for their upcoming Premier League Season and subsequent windfall, our condolences do go out to Derby who were truly the better team on the night.

 

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Down but Not out – Arsenal Comeback to win FA Cup

By Daniel Laming posted 18th May 2014 4:32PM in Football, Sports

In what can only be described as a thrilling match, Arsenal fought back from the jaws of defeat to beat Hull City 3-2 and clinch themselves a long-awaited Trophy – the FA Cup!

What many had imagined would be a walk in the park for the Gunners turned out to be an epic fight back against a determined Tigers team that just refused to give up. After Chester put Arsenal 1-0 down in just 4 minutes, Davies goal at 8 minutes played seemed to knock the wind out of them and at 2-0 down, Arsenal looked to by lying down and accepting their fate (an almost deja-vu moment to City last year). Perhaps the greatest piece of luck was Gibbs clearance off the line moments later when Hull threatened to make it 3-0 and end the match before the 15-minute mark!

Credit must be paid however to Cazorla who curled an expertly taken free-kick beyond the attempted parry of McGregor and into the back of the net at 22 minutes and his fist pump in the air towards the Arsenal bench could surely be seen as a sign of relief as much as determination. What then ensued was a rather rampant display not too dissimilar to what we have already seen this season, with Arsenal spending the next 30 minutes of play reverting to their earlier shakiness and producing nothing noteworthy, and it wasn’t until after the hour-mark when Koscielny and then Sanogo came close that Arsenal seemed to take the incentive and push harder against a now shaky Hull team. It took until the 71st minute for Koscielny to atone for his previous miss and pull them back level and the rest of the game played out with Hull defending phenomenally against a pressing Arsenal squad that suddenly looked like they had remembered they were favourites.

Perhaps the end of the match, in extra-time, was something of a bad omen for the Tigers or maybe just a stroke of luck for an Arsenal side that has probably forgotten what a Trophy looks like, but in the 109th minute, with Hull players near-dead on their feet, Ramsey managed to poke home the winner and leave no time for Hull to make a comeback.

We had good football, bad football, lazy football and frantic football, but whatever you want to call it – Wenger doesn’t seem like he could care. Arsenal have ended their trophy-drought and are the current FA Cup Champions.

 

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Highlights of 2013/14 English Premier League

By Daniel Laming posted 12th May 2014 10:02PM in Football, Sports

The English Premier League has always provided excitement, great joy and sorrow together with moments that will never be forgotten; and the 2013/14 season was no exception. Some of the highs would be Manchester City winning the title in great style, with Manuel Pellegrini adding a sense of class and dignity to whole affair.  Another great success was the appointment of Roberto Martinez as Everton Manager. There were quite a few pundits who quickly jumped on the band wagon of dismissing the quality of Roberto, but how did he prove them wrong and then some! One can only be amazed at the transformation of Everton this season and how much they have improved as a team and their attacking flair with huge belief and purpose. There is no doubt there is definitely more to come next year from Everton and Martinez.

Memorable times will have to include Liverpool’s performance under Brendan Rodgers and how close they came to snatching the title away from Manchester City. This was emotional roller coaster for any Liverpool fan, with their team scoring more than 100 league goals, managing an impressive unbeaten run, Luis Suarez in full flight and having the title in one hand, only for them to see it all slip away in the end, having come so close after 24 years and the disappointment of Steven Gerard wasting the best chance of he’ll ever have of getting his hands on the Premier League trophy.

But the greatest fall from grace has got to be Manchester United. After the shock resignation of Sir Alex Ferguson and the immediate appointment of David Moyes, to then see the blind faith and support that was given to the new manager, only to see him break all the wrong records and almost bring the club to its knees. The list of disappointments is probably too long, but what stands out is only getting five points from a possible 24 against the Premier League top four (Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal), the virtual overnight transformation of a title winning squad to a bunch of misfits, the broken record of him blurting out the same phrases after every loss (and they were many) and missing out on the Champions League for the first time in 18 years after finishing 7th in the Premier League.

There were also the usual never ending news of managers being sacked, which just reflects the huge financial pressure and importance of winning to stay in the Premier League. We can’t forget the likes of Tony Pulis pulling miracle at Palace or Alan Pardew head butting Hull City’s David Meyler.

But with all the excitement of this season gone, we always have next year to look forward to. The summer should see untold money being thrown about for players, with the like of Manchester United reportedly having more than 150 million to spend! Liverpool will no doubt want to strengthen, as will Chelsea and Arsenal. The league is getting increasingly competitive, and I for one can’t wait to experience it all over again.

 

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Seven Times Lucky for Aguilar

By Daniel Laming posted 4th May 2014 3:32PM in Golf

Having played in the tournament since its’ inception in 2008, it was only fitting that Felipe Aguilar got the win with a truly impressive 22 under par. His final round has actually set the record for this year by 3 strokes with a 62 (10 under par) finish and was all the more impressive since he had to comeback with a remarkable 4-shot final round.

However, things weren’t looking to great after his 3rd round. Having started with an impressive 7 under par on his first round and followed up with a reasonable 5 under par in the second round, a double bogey on hole 13 left him chasing the pack, finishing the round equal to the par. It was his 4th round as said before that set him apart from the others however. With 8 birdies and an eagle on the final hole, Aguilar was truly magnificent to watch and pulled ahead of Hansen and Lipsky to edge the tournament.

Felipe has now become the oldest player to win this tournament, taking over from Thongchai Jaidee in 2009 and has earned himself a place in the 2015 Volvo Golf Championship. He could also find himself inside the top 130 of the Official World Golfing Rankings having been an outsider at 209th recently.

With the Volvo China Open having just played out last week and the Madeira Island Open taking place in Portugal next week, we look forward to what will surely be a thrilling month for Golf and a big step forward in the Race to Dubai

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Chelsea end Liverpool’s winning run

By Daniel Laming posted 27th April 2014 5:06PM in Football, Sports

Chelsea came to Anfield and ended Liverpool’s eleven game winning run with a 0-2 final score line. Jose Mourinho’s team has yet again managed to blow the title race wide open again, as The Blues not only contained Brendan Rodgers’ men, but had a near perfect tactical performance to put them within two points of the top of the table.

The London side took the lead on the stroke of half time courtesy of Demba Ba and a rare slip up by Steven Gerard. The second goal inevitably came on the counter attack, as Liverpool pressed for an equaliser. Jose Mourinho once again showed his tactical genius by over crowding the midfield and slowing down the pace of the game, which made sure Liverpool could not at their usual fast tempo and led to their players and fans being totally frustrated.

The home team did have a lot of the possession, but could not break through a well organised Chelsea defence. Even with the likes of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge on the day brought no joy. Steven Gerard did try several long range shots, and the home supporters would have loved for one of them to find the net, as the Liverpool team found it increasingly difficult to get into their opponent’s 18 yard box.

One thing is for certain, this is the English Premier League at its finest. For the neutrals and fans alike, this is nail biting stuff. Manchester City will now be able to join Liverpool at the top of the table, if City can win their game in hand. Chelsea and Jose Mourinho will be waiting be pounce on any of those two if they are any further slip ups, and it now means the pressure is on all three to not lose any points!

 

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Lewis Hamilton wins China GP

By Daniel Laming posted 20th April 2014 9:13AM in Moto GP, Sports

Lewis Hamilton wins the Chinese Grand Prix, which makes it his third successive win, a first in his F1 career. The Mercedes team once again dominated, with second place going to Hamilton’s team mate Nico Rosberg, as he won the battle against Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who then finished third. Red Bull picked up the rest of the points, with Daniel Ricciardo in fourth and his team mate Sebastian Vettel in fifth.

Hamilton’s win was done in style, as he made distance between him and the field of the field in the early part of the race, and then just had to manage his lead, tyres and fuel consumption to win the GP. This means that the young English man reduces the lead held by Nico Rosberg to four points, as the two Mercedes drivers do battle in the Drivers Championship. Lewis will be hoping that his winning run can continue, so that he can make up for retiring in the Australian GP, and start focusing on breaking some personal bests and Formula One records.

The race was as always, exciting and filled with tension, with all drivers battling for position and points. Ferrari and Red Bull showed why Formula One racing is one of the best racing in the world. Even with all the titles firmly with Mercedes, it does not dampening their competitive spirit and that desire to always win.

Force India is another team that has been improving, while Mercedes gets the headlines. Sergio Perez has been a joy to watch and one can only hope that his team grows in confidence and claims more success.

Supporters can now look forward to the Spanish Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton favourite to extend his consecutive wins and dominate yet again.

 

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McFadden wins London Marathon

By Daniel Laming posted 13th April 2014 11:02PM in Sports

The Virgin Money London Marathon was won by the American Tatyana McFadden, in impressive fashion as she set a new course record. Tatyana throughly enjoyed the occasion as it was also her second successive win at the London event, and proved to herself as her supporters that she is a deserving champion, as she had a busy year with the Winter Paralympic Games where she won silver in the 1km Cross Country Sprint in Sochi.

The athlete was concerned that she would not be able to give the London Marathon her best, especially with other participants preparing for the event in Australia whilst she was in a Sochi competing. However, her talent, determination and stamina was just too good for the rest of the field, with her finishing the marathon in 1:45:12, close to a full minute faster than last year. This course time meant that she finished the race more than a minute and half in front of her nearest rival!

The London race was not that easy, with 2010 winner, Wakako Tsuchida and Manuela Schar putting up a fight early on in the course. But as the half way stage passed by, McFadden began to tear away from these two and increase her lead with every mile.

Tatyana has made quite a name for herself as the person to look up to and a role model to all athletes. She has managed to reign supreme in all all major races in 2013 winning all four in Boston London, Chicago and New York, in addition to claiming no less than 6 gold medals at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon.

The 24 year old now travels to US to focus on the Boston Marathon, and she will be a strong favourite to build on her success in London and dominate yet again!

 

 

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Sri Lanka win World Twenty20

By Daniel Laming posted 6th April 2014 7:02PM in Cricket, Sports

Sri Lanka earned a well deserved six wicket win over the favourites India to claim the World  Twenty20 title in Mirpur. The win marked the end of dreadful run of four defeats for Sri Lanka in global finals (World Cup Finals of 2007 and 2011, World T20 Finals of 2009 and 2012) and made sure that India did not manage to become the first team to capture all three limited over titles.

India with a near perfect performance all the way to the finals were expected to win finals. However, on the day, their batting performance was disappointing to say the least. Rohit Sharma drove to extra cover and ended the second wicket partnership. Yuvraj Singh was another one of India’s top batsmen that lost their way on the day. One must admit the entire Indian team under performed, but one must also give credit to the Sri Lankan bowlers.

Nuwan Kulasekara, Angelo Mathews and Gangana Herath all got a wicket each. The Sri Lankan bowling stats show the true discipline of their five bowlers, as not one of them gave away more than 29 runs from four overs. At the end of the innings, India’s batsmen were contained and only managed 130-4, and that was even with Kohli’s 77 runs.

Sri Lanka came into to bat and had to hod their nerve, as India took wickets throughout the innings to keep their hopes alive. At one point, Sri Lanka were struggling on 78-4, but Perera took on the Indian bowlers and subdued them with two sixes in consecutive overs. Sangakkara also finished off strongly and made a half century as a fitting score to retire from International Twenty20 cricket.

This finals was truly spectacular, with two teams showing what Twenty20 is all about. It was indeed a fitting end to a very exciting tournament, with both players and spectators alike enjoying every bit of the cricket.

 

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Liverpool at the top of the EPL Table

By Daniel Laming posted 30th March 2014 6:29PM in Football, Sports

Liverpool made a bold statement of intent for the English Premier League title as they annihilated Tottenham Hotspurs 4-0 at Anfield. A Spurs own goal in the 2nd minute of play by Younes Kaboul put off the visitors from the start, and Luis Suarez then made it 2-0 in the 25th minute as a result of a defensive blunder by Michael Dawson. Goals by Coutinho and Henderson in these second half completed the despair for Spurs and Tim Sherwood.

The win places Liverpool at the top of English Premier League, two points in front of Chelsea and four ahead of Manchester City, although one would have to note that City has two games in hand.  However, Brendan Rodgers and Steven Gerard will know the title is a very real possibility. If Liverpool win their last six games, it will guarantee the Premier League trophy goes back to Anfield. Liverpool fans will be hoping for their team to remain focused to bring back the league title for the first time since 1990.

Tim Sherwood will be disappointed with his team, but has already admitted that they have ‘a problem against the top four’. The manager’s attitude is to face up to the fact that his team must improve against the best of the Premier League in order to compete for the Premier League. However, Sherwood does face problems with regards to his position and long term role at the club, so only time will tell whether he will be the man to lift the North London club.

It is a completely different outlook for Brendan Rodgers who looks set to remain at Liverpool after his, some would say, surprising success, at Anfield. He will be hoping that history can repeat itself, as 50 years ago, on the 30th March 1964, Liverpool beat Tottenham 3-1 at Anfield to go top of the league and The Reds went on to win the league.

 

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