Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Learning from champions

PIC via Get Up Stand Up Paddle mag

Interesting interview with Brazilian SUP'er Nicole Pacelli in this month's Red Bulletin.

Just 22 now, she won the first Women's Stand Up World Tour last year. Great insight into what makes a champion, especially when asked about the pressure of competing with that title hanging around her neck: 

"Imagine, every stop of the tour now, the announcer goes: “And now, the world champion, Nicole Pacelli!” so everybody wants to see whether this world-champion girl really is the real deal. At the first stop of this season in Hawaii, my photo was on the championship’s poster, so I said to myself, “OK, it’s time to bring it.” But then I go into the water and I feel calm. That’s one of my qualities, I feel calm, lay low and do what I have to do. I thought the pressure was going to be an issue this year, but so far it hasn’t affected me. If I started to overthink what I have to do in the water, thinking about how many seconds are left in a heat and such, I probably couldn’t do it anymore."

British sprinter Jodie Williams tells The Guardian she's never run a mile

PIC Photograph: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

This is the woman who won 151 races in a row during a five-year winning streak, and that was before she won Commonwealth Games bronze this year. 

We know sprinters focus on high intensity, short distances but it was a bit of a shock all the same to read this: "Oh dear, the furthest I've ever run is about a mile – no joke. I don't think I've ever run further than a mile, and even that probably took me about half an hour. I can't run long distances."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Irish fighter Kelly Creegan wins against Thai fighter Phaa Sang from Nakonpathom; Saturday in Thailand.

(Round 4 only in video)
PIC: Josh Lewis

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why are we attacking sport in Ireland?

There are parts of the world where sports stars can get away crimes as serious as rape because they're seen as above the law. There may be only a few examples but enough to make anyone wary of eulogising athletes just because they're fit and healthy. 

Unfortunately in Ireland over the last few weeks there's  been a tendency to do the exact opposite. I posted a few weeks ago about an ambush interview on a (male, sorry) MMA fighter, and this weekend women's rugby got turned over. 

Once again a journalist was invited into a world she knows nothing about, given a tour of how something functions and spat all over it. As with the other interview I don't feel as angry as some online commentators but I do feel saddened. Again. 

The article included the classic reassurance that female rugby-players wear make-up and like boys. A string of juvenile jokes about where your hand goes in the scrum got the article going downhill, and it just kept on going. 

There were some positive moments. I really like the coaches' comments about the different ways men and women learn. I know some people were mortally offended by that, but I've often heard boxing coaches make similar observations. 

He said: 'Women are far easier to train. More inquisitive, curious and faster learners, whereas the guys take on ingrained habits.' 

Railway Union RFC, the club which hosted the journalist, had this to say on their Facebook - after they'd posted  a photo of the page: 

"Our first posting was done by one individual this morning. Whilst they may have had some concerns about the overall tone of the article, they tried to put a positive spin on it when first posting.

There were some positives in there in that rugby is for all body shapes and sizes, she references how much fun it actually was, it mentions how women are easier coach and learn quicker, and it tells a positive story about women's rugby being embraced and valued by the whole club.

We tried to dismiss the less flattering pieces as being 'risqué and stereotypes' and went to focus on the positives.

Obviously this was an error and it became apparent that our players and members - both male and female - were quite offended by the article. Our Committee reviewed the article and decided to provide a Club statement on the background to it and our disappointment of the missed opportunity for a positive article.

No conspiracy, no agenda, just a amateur club with hardworking volunteers trying to do their best to provide and promote rugby for all."

I'm not posting a link to the piece here. I see the paper has since had another female journalist write a riposte to the first piece. Total click-bait. But I couldn't let it pass - sports stars should be held to account for mistakes, for crimes and for being general idiots when it arises. 

But picking on them to get a rise out of listeners or readers? It's just not cricket.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

Ireland 17 New Zealand 14. 

Very proud and delighted to post the Irish women's rugby team beat the Black Ferns yesterday at the World Cup. It's the Kiwi team's first WC loss since 1991. 

PIC via Breaking News.ie

PIC Getty Pictures

PIC via Independent News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ireland starts the Women's Rugby World Cup

Determination ... PIC Irish Rugby

The Women's Rugby World Cup starts today in France, with my home team Ireland taking on America this afternoon.
I was excited to see some great stories in the newspapers this morning. This one by Gavin Cummiskey is my favourite, closes with some stirring sports-style lines. Writing about the two longest-serving players Fiona Coughlan and Lynn Cantwell he says:

"Here also begins the final campaign for the Thelma and Louise of Irish rugby (although Cantwell has postponed her retirement).

Already they have inspired a generation of female rugby players. Here represents the last stand for the first group to have achieved such hero status.

So begins a daunting task but they’ve never known it any other way.

Sevens can wait

Indeed it can. You can follow the matches here with full results updated daily.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What do you think about charity races?

Lindsey Gibbons, Grainne McManomon and Tara Dillon at Colour Dash 2014, Dublin
Sometimes a serious day out fundraising for charity can just be about having fun with your trainers on. These three women were among thousands running a brisk 5km in Dublin at the weekend for the Irish Cancer Society. Every kilometre saw them covered in coloured power-paint representing different cancers. 

The first runners home were mostly teenagers - something which warmed my cynical heart. You hear so much about kids and TV or X-box, it made for an inspiring start to the morning to see these kids sprinting for the finish. 

Sixteen year old Lauren Fowler came in joint third and wasn't even out of puff.  Hands on multi-coloured hips, she said: 'I'm here for the fun, it was a great race. Fun you know.' And only when asked, she added: 'My granddad had cancer before, he's recovered now though, he's doing good.' 

I've posted before about how many women seem to need the push of a charity fundraiser to get out and run. It's a curious phenonomen, somehow I'm sure linked to how women are pushed away from sport, made to feel it's not their space but it's OK if there is a nurturing element to it? Maybe I'm over-thinking?

Maybe it doesn't matter as long as you're running? Or walking, a few hundred people at the back walked the whole route, getting out there the best they could. You never know, this could be the first step of their healthy running journey; one family had been training with their kids using the Couch to 5km app, and are planning to run the whole thing next year.

It seemed as if more than half of the runners were female. I spotted quite a few young Dads on the sidelines with their kids while their wife or girlfriend ran the race. 

At least with this race the organisers pledged 100% of the entry fee goes to charity, everything including the paint was donated. And if that's what it takes to get people off the couch, that's what it takes? 

What about you? Do you need to fund-raise, does it make a difference to your training?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Judoka Lisa Kearney medals in Glasgow

Lisa Kearney in action Glasgow Commonwealth Games PIC Kearney's FB
Lisa Kearney, Ireland's first female Olympic judoka was in action this week again - taking home a bronze medal from the Commonwealth Games. 

Some great photos on her Facebook page and knocking around elsewhere that I thought I'd share. You have to love the determination in this one below, I wouldn't care to be lining up against her. 

Receiving her Bronze  PIC https://www.facebook.com/kearneyjudo 
If you're a judo fan, you can follow Kearney here on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/kearneyjudo

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