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The Sunday Stroll: 10 July, 2011

July 10, 2011

David Haye – what a tit. His pre-fight boastings that Wladimir Klitschko would be ‘violently knocked out‘ proved about as accurate as the majority of the punches he attempted to throw in Germany on Saturday. Haye had talked a good fight but ended up being thoroughly outclassed by a clearly superior Klitschko. The only thing more disappointing than his performance (and the Hamburg weather, which, let’s face it, was rather apt) was the fact he had the disrespectful audacity to bemoan a toe injury as an excuse. In Klitschko’s own words: ‘This is just a cheap excuse […] There were fights where I’ve broken my hand and I didn’t say a word about it.’ Touché, Wlad. Here are his retrospective musings on the fight…

From one British disappointment to another, and Andy Murray once more succumbed to Rafa Nadal in the Wimbledon semi-finals. Shock horror. Work to do yet, Andy. Nonetheless, Novak Djokovic confirmed his new status as World #1 with an emphatic and well-deserved triumph over Nadal in the final, leading to widespread scenes of delight across Serbia and a hero’s welcome on his return. Well played, Nole…

For us though, some of the athleticism displayed in the Djokovic-Tsonga semi-final went down as one of the tournament’s highlights…

This weekend is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. With the recently unveiled new Wing complex resulting in a new start/finish line, here’s hoping they get off to a better start than in 1973 when an impetuous youngster by the name of Jody Sheckter triggered ‘one of the most comprehensive accidents in the history of Grand Prix racing’ (Erik Dymock, The Guinness Guide to Grand Prix Motor Racing)…

This year Sebastian Vettel has been walking away with the Championship, so hopefully Jenson or Lewis can buck the trend and challenge him in the race later on today (although, they might struggle from fifth and tenth on the grid respectively). Webber snuck pole and looks quick at Silverstone, with Vettel p2 and Alonso poised to challenge starting third (Ferrari tend to perform better in race trim). Anyways, just to prove Vettel isn’t God’s gift to everything, here he is butchering Deep Water’s Smoke on the Water on guitar whilst on stage at last year’s British Grand Prix…

We all remember French golfer Jean Van de Velde going for a paddle at Carnoustie in 1999, and last Sunday compatriot Thomas Levet took things a step (or perhaps a leap) further by leaping into a lake after winning the French Open. Only trouble was he broke his leg in the process and will now miss the Open as a result. Quel horreur. His thoughts: ‘the wonderful memory of winning my national Open will definitely keep me going through my recovery.’ Bet he’d rather be playing though…

And whilst things are going far from swimmingly for Levet, Mark Cavendish has been enjoying fluctuating fortunes on this year’s Tour de France. He recovered from a  controversial disqualification during the intermediate sprint on Monday to record a stunning win on the fifth stage on Wednesday before taking the seventh stage on Friday – good going Cav. To say the French might be anti-Cav could be a tad of an understatement, which should make his successes all the more satisfying…

You can’t help but admire the lengths some folk will go to in order to get on TV – a load of French farmers take attention-seeking to a new level, albeit brilliant and impressive one!…

What wasn’t quite so brilliant or impressive was the conduct of this motorbike rider who managed to take out cyclist Nicki Sørensen on Wednesday. The biker – who has since been relieved of his duties – was attempting to overtake the peleton but only succeeded in dumping Sørensen on his backside  before dragging his bike 200m down the road…

On a tragic note, here’s a story from the US baseball scene which defies belief and comes as quite a shock…

In the cricketing world England have been involved in a right old ding-dong with Sri Lanka in their ODI series, which they claimed 3-2 with a tight victory in Manchester yesterday. However, England’s rampant 10-wicket win on Wednesday was a sight to behold, with captain Alastair Cook scoring a rapid 95 off 75 balls and throwing the words of those questioning whether he could score quickly enough in the ODI format right back at them.

Fresh from being crowned as the new world #1 ODI bowler, Graeme Swann takes on Murali in a quite ridiculous 50p challenge. I’d be at this all day and not get close…

Earlier this week Kumar Sangakkara gave the Cowdrey Lecture. It was an eye-opening, enthralling, moving, and – given the fact he included criticisms of his current employers – brave speech, that contemplated the political machinations and struggles of Sri Lankan cricket, as well as the terror attacks he and his teammates faced in Pakistan in 2009. If you haven’t seen it, then it comes highly recommended. The first part is below (Sangakkara begins 6mins in), and the other parts should follow… (There is also a cracking article by the Guardian‘s ‘The Spin’ column on Sangakkara’s speech which is worth a read too, available via this link.)…

From the sport of the summer to the sport that never sleeps and football’s back! Pre-season has kicked off for teams all over the country, much to the chagrin of those oh-so-wealthy ball-kickers who would no doubt far rather being sunning themselves on a beach in Tenerife or spending time with the wife and kids. For a change. Anyways, footballers have been returning to their clubs in droves, all except Owen Hargreaves that is, who has resorted to posting clips of him in action (fitness/training that is) to prove to clubs that he’s not a total crock…

One team that’s doing more than your average pre-season is Fulham, who are treating their Europa League qualifying games (potentially all eight of them) as their pre-season. First up were NSÍ Runavík of the Faroe Islands, beaten 3-0 at the Cottage last week (very brief highlights via this link) before a goalless draw up in the Faroes on Thursday (witnessed quite literally by one man and his dog). A nice gentle start for Maarten Jol at Fulham then. Here’s a nice montage video put together after the first leg in London… (By a bizarre quirk of fate, I’m actually in the background of the image used at 0:17… if you know me, see if you can spot me!)…

And whilst the men might only just be starting, the women have only just finished! England had been making steady progress in their World Cup, with Ellen White’s delicately lobbed finish against Japan amongst the highlights [see the highlights via this link], although somewhat predictabily another England senior team exited a major tournament on penalties, this time to the French – quelle surprise

Quite how the officials missed this handball (heck, she actually caught the ball!) by Equatorial Guinea’s Bruna is beyond us. Unsurprisingly, the Hungarian referee in question, Gyoengyi Gaal, ‘has not been named to officiate in any of the eight final group games‘…

Still, you’ll do well to better this fan’s excessively emotional reaction to this miss by Equatorial Guinea…

It wouldn’t be fair on football not to mention the transfer market, so here goes. Carlos Tévez simultaneously stunned and frustrated City this week when he released a statement saying ‘It is with great regret that I have to inform Manchester City of my wish to leave the club.’ A great loss undoubtedly (he has scored or assisted 42% of City’s goals in the last two seasons, a league high), but it remains to be seen just who could afford his £50m price tag and traditionally exorbitant wages, especially in the knowledge that he will probably try to jolly off back to Argentina within a season or two. #Dilemma

What wasn’t a dilemma was Gaël Clichy’s move to Man City. In short, more money and a more successful recent history trophy-wise were on offer up at Eastlands, so he jumped ship and headed north. Soon to be joined by Samir Nasri perhaps? What was interesting about this move however were Clichy’s comments on the motivations of players joining City back in 2009: ‘I really believe if you are a player who thinks only about money then you could end up at Manchester City.’ Pots calling kettles; you do the rest…

Anyways, proof that football has an unquenchable thirst for signing any child at any age reared its head again recently, with a British kid invited to train with the Barcelona youth section whilst on holiday in Spain. Now who said football had no morals…

Ricky Hatton announced his retirement from boxing earlier this week. Although his standing in the echelons of boxing will forever be limited by defeats to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, he will still go down as a legend of British boxing, not least for his demolition of Kostya Tszyu [highlights below] one evening in Manchester back in 2005. Tszyu was a titan, amongst the pound-for-pound best in the world and the first to unite the light welterweight division in thirty years, but Hatton pummelled him – notably so in that memorable 11th round – until trainer Johnny Lewis threw in Tszyu’s towel. Scans later revealed Tszyu had ‘suffered bruising to the brain and internal bleeding as a result of the fight,’ which – aside from suggesting that Lewis might well have saved Tszyu’s life in withdrawing him early – testified to the brutality of Hatton’s glove work. Hatton was a man of the people who wore his heart on his sleeve and was loved as a result. The greatest he may not have been, but a by heck was he a trier, popular with the fans and respected by all. You just know David Haye wishes the same could be said about him…

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