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Thursday, July 31, 2008

£40m Chicago Contract For British Star Luol Deng


Position: Small forward
Height: 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Weight: 220 lb (99.8 kg)
League: NBA
Team: Chicago Bulls
Jersey: #9
Born: April 16, 1985 Wau, Sudan
Nationality: England
College: Duke
Draft: 7th overall, 2004 Phoenix Suns
Pro career: 2004–present
Awards: 2004-05 NBA All-Rookie First Team, 2007 NBA Sportsmanship Award

A new six-year deal contract for the 23-year-old South Londoner is worth a guaranteed $71m (approx £36m), with incentives taking its possible worth to $80m (£40m). Great Britain will not be competing at the Beijing Olympics but hope to qualify for the London Games in 2012. Deng hopes to be a star at the 2012 Olympics with Team Great Britain.

Deng had rejected a five-year deal but his impressive displays in the team's miserable 2007-08 season ensured they were keen to find a way to keep him.

He represented England at under-16 and under-19 level with basketball's authorities recognising his status as a refugee, but his entry into the Great Britain set-up was delayed by his lack of a British passport, even though most of his family had them.

In 2006, lobbying by British Basketball and the London 2012 Olympic officials helped him gain the passport he needed.

Who Is Luol Deng
Luol Deng was born on April 16, 1985 in Wau, Sudan, Deng is a British professional basketball player for the National Basketball Association's Chicago Bulls, where he plays small forward.

When he was young, his father Aldo, a member of the Sudanese parliament, moved the family to Egypt to escape the Second Sudanese Civil War. In Egypt, they met former NBA center Manute Bol, another Dinka, who taught Deng's older brother, Deng Deng, how to play basketball. Manute also served as a mentor for Luol himself. When they were granted political asylum, his family emigrated to South Norwood in London, England. Deng developed an interest in association football and basketball, and was invited to join England's 15-and-under teams in both sports. During this time, he began his career at Brixton Topcats. At the age of 13, he played for England's squad in the European Junior Men's Qualifying Tournament, averaging 40 points and 14 rebounds. He was named the MVP of the tournament. Next, he led England to the finals of the European Junior National Tournament, where he averaged 34 points and earned another MVP award. He counts himself a fan of Arsenal F.C.

At the age of 14, Luol moved to the United States to play basketball at Blair Academy in New Jersey, where one of his teammates was future NBA player Charlie Villanueva. Deng was also named a Tri-Captain at Blair along with Charlie Villanueva. During his senior year, Deng was considered the second most promising high school senior in America after LeBron James. He was named First Team All-America by Parade Magazine and USA Today, and was selected to play in the McDonald's High School All-America game, in which he performed at a very high standard and impressed many top NBA players. After graduation, he decided to attend Duke University. In one season at Duke, he appeared in 37 games and made 32 starts. He averaged 30.1 minutes and scored 15.1 points per game en route to a berth in the 2004 Final Four. He is only the 10th freshman in ACC history to lead all rookies in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage.

Luol Deng Citizenship
Since his birth in Sudan, Deng has lived in Egypt, the United Kingdom, Russia, and the United States. Deng represented England at Under-16 and Under-19 level, and is an ambassador for the London 2012 Olympic Games. In October 2006, Deng became a naturalized British citizen in a ceremony in Croydon and was called up to play in European competition for the Great Britain team. He made his debut against Georgia in Pau, France on August 9 2007, scoring 19 points. In his first competitive qualifying game repesenting Great Britain Deng scored (32 Pts, 16 Rbs, 11 Asts, 8 Stls & 2 Blks) against Slovakia, at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena on 21 August 2007.

FYI - Behind Sports

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Martyn Rooney Smashing His Personal Best

Great Britain 400m runner Martyn RooneyThe 21-year-old Great Britain 400m runner Martyn Rooney powered down the home straight to claim victory ahead of Ricardo Chambers and Leslie Djhone at the Monaco Grand Prix in 44.72 seconds. This run is for the preparation for 2008 Beijing Olympic.

Rooney's success came after he broke the 45-second barrier for the first time at last week's London Grand Prix.

The men's 400m heats in Beijing begin on 18 August.

Rooney's victory in Monaco lifted him back to the top of the European standings and to ninth in the world rankings.

The Croydon runner said after his landmark performance at Crystal Palace last weekend: "If I don't make the final at the Olympics now it'll be a bad championships.

"Then if I get a good lane in the final, who knows?"

American defending champion Jeremy Wariner is favourite to retain his Olympic title in China as he leads the world rankings with a time of 43.86 secs.

Compatriot Lashawn Merritt is also expected to get amongst the medals.

Rooney and Andrew Steele represent Team GB in the individual 400m while Rooney's PB will boost hopes of a strong performance in the 4x400m relay.

Who Is Martyn Rooney
Martyn Rooney was born on April 3, 1987, Rooney is an English sprinter. Rooney was born and raised in Thornton Heath, London, UK, Rooney started running for Croydon Harriers just before starting his secondary school, The John Fisher School in Purley. He also attended St James the Great Primary School in Thornton Heath. Initially training and competing at the Middle distances; 800 m and 1500 m and doing cross country throughout the Winter, his talent for the one lap sprint was discovered by coincidence when he stood in to make up points at a London fixture a little over two years ago.

Rooney was selected to represent Great Britain at the 2005 European Juniors, held in Lithuania in July of that year. He achieved the Silver Medal in the individuals and gold with the relay team and on his return home was then asked to make up the senior’s 4x400 m Men's Relay team at the IAAF World Championships, held that year in Helsinki, Finland. Martyn was originally running only in the heat, but impressing the GB coaches with a time of 44.9 seconds, he was selected to also run in the final. Despite completing his leg in 44.8 seconds, Martyn and team mates Timothy Benjamin, Robert Tobin and Malachi Davis came in fourth, with a sub three minute time.

Rooney represented England in the 2006 Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne, Australia. Despite impressing everyone throughout the heats, he came fifth in the final with a time of 45.51 seconds and set a new British Junior Record, previous held by Roger Black for 20 years. The English 4x400 m Men's relay team came in fourth at the Games, with the Women coming in First but being disqualified.

At the 2006 World Junior Championships in Beijing he finished third in 45.87 seconds. The British relay team too finished third, earning him a second bronze medal of the Championships.

Rooney is currently studying at Loughborough College, while training with Coach Nick Dakin of Loughborough, and Mike Fleet of Croydon Harriers.

He has a PB of 44.72, clocked at the Super Grand Prix in Monaco on 29th July 2008.

FYI - Behind Sports

Yelena Isinbayeva Set New World Record In Pole Vault


A new pole vault world record set by Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva when she cleared 5.04m at the Super Grand Prix meeting in Monaco on Tuesday.

The Olympic and world champion bettered her previous world record of 5.03m, set in Rome on 11 July.

The 26-year-old's 23rd world record was set on her third and final attempt in the south of France.

The mark cements her standing as firm favourite for gold at the Beijing Olympic Games next month.

"The record just happened," said Isinbayeva. "Monaco is my home town and it's my first competition (in Monaco) since I've been living here. That motivated me.

"I'm in a good shape, I just need to keep my condition that way until the Olympics. I wanted to improve my personal best and that's what I did.

"I see this world record first of all as a personal best."

Isinbayeva initially trained as a gymnast in her hometown of Volgograd. She left gymnastics as a teenager because as she grew she was considered too tall to be competitive.

Her role model since she began the pole vault has been Ukrainian legend Sergei Bubka, and Isinbayeva has said that she would love to better his tally of 35 world records in the event.

Who Is Yelena Isinbayeva
Yelena Gadzhievna Isinbayeva was born on June 3, 1982 in Volgograd, Isinbayeva is a Russian pole vaulter. She won the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal with a new World Record then 4.91 m, was elected Female Athlete of the Year by the IAAF twice (2004 and 2005), and Sportswoman of the Year by Laureus. On July 22, 2005, she became the first female pole vaulter to clear the metric barrier of 5.00 metres.

At the age of 26 she is seen as the best female pole vaulter in history. She has already been a 8-time major champion (Olympic, World outdoor and indoor champion and European outdoor and indoor champion).

Her current world records are 5.04 m outdoors, a record Isinbayeva set at a gala in Monaco on July 29th, and 4.95 m indoors, a record set at the Donetsk indoor meeting on 16 February 2008. The former was Isinbayeva's twenty-third world record.

Her mother is of Russian ethnicity, while her father is of Tabasaran people.

Personal LIfe
Her father, Gadzhi Gadzhiyevich Isinbayev, is a plumber and a member of a small (70,000-people strong) ethnic group of Tabasarans who mostly live in Dagestan. Her mother, a shop assistant, is an ethnic Russian. Isinbayeva also has a sister called Inna. Isinbayeva was born in a modest environment and remembers that her parents had to make many financial sacrifices in her early career.

She has a bachelor's degree after graduating from the Volgograd State Academy of Physical Culture, and is currently studying for her master's. In the Russian club competitions she represents the railroad military team, she is formally an officer in the Russian army, and on August 4, 2005 she was given military rank of senior lieutenant. On her homepage, she states she is working to become a Physical Educator.

Isinbayeva states that she has a boyfriend of three years, a fellow pole vaulter whose name she doesn't reveal. She also acknowledges that she does not get along with her compatriot and rival Svetlana Feofanova.

She likes dolphins and Russian history. "I read a lot about Russian history, but I also love everything to do with dolphins, and collect small models of them. I have about 30 of them. My dream one day is to swim with real dolphins. I like them so much." Since recently, she writes on her homepage that she indeed now owns several of them.

In an interview with The Guardian, Isinbayeva makes fun of the fact that female pole vaulters are seen as sex symbols for "male couch potatoes", as their usual muscular, but slim build makes them highly attractive. In addition, she acknowledges that her rags-to-riches career, combined with her work ethic and sex symbol status, makes her somewhat similar to Maria Sharapova: "We [Sharapova and herself] are quite similar. Being famous sportswomen is not easy and her parents also sacrificed everything for her. And, like (Sharapova), the idea of being glamorous is very important to me. I always want to look like a girl. I don't agree that you are either a sportswoman or a girl. It's important that there are women who bring glamour to sport." Isinbayeva feels she could peak at 5.15 m, and plans to jump at least until the Olympics of 2012, but since Moscow was elected hosts of the 2013 World Championships, she has suggested she may continue until then.

She features in Toshiba ads promoting their entire product line in Russia.

FYI - Behind Sports

Monday, July 28, 2008

U.S. Men's Basketball Eying For Gold In 2008 Beijing Olympic


Mike Krzyzewski head coach of the U.S. men's basketball team said, the growth in international talent will make the team face a "tough challenge" to win Olympic gold.

"Basketball around the world has exploded. Thirty percent of the NBA are international players, and many of the teams we face ... will have a starting five of five NBA players," Krzyzewski said in Macau, where the gold medal favorites will play exhibition games against Lithuania and Turkey before traveling to Beijing.

"It will be a tough challenge for us."

The U.S. have won 12 Olympic men's titles but their supremacy has slipped in recent years.

Spain won men's gold at the 2006 world championships behind inspired Los Angeles Lakers player Pau Gasol, who will be key to Spanish ambitions in China. Argentina, who took gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, will also be a serious threat to American hopes of redemption.

Team U.S.A. finished with bronze four years ago and were third at the 2006 worlds.

Previous U.S. teams have been all-star squads tossed together just weeks before the Games and Jerry Colangelo, managing director of the U.S. team, said "that was good enough, but that's not the case anymore."

The players "wanted to see this thing turned around because there is pride in representing our country and the commitment that was made three years ago means that the core players have been together for the past three years, and that's a big difference," he said.

NBA top scorer LeBron James, who was wearing a U.S.A. basketball shirt printed with the words "Together we rise", said confidence would be the key.

"Every time we step onto the court we know we have the talent and we know we have the strength to go out and be the best team out on the court. So, we have to be confident to go out there and play the way we want to play," he said.

Krzyzewski later clarified that "we're trying to be very confident. That doesn't mean over-confident.

"We don't have anything to be complacent about."

James will play in Beijing, despite an earlier right ankle injury that he described as "healthy".

Basketball is extremely popular in China and will be one of the hottest tickets at the Beijing Games.

The host team have been given a huge boost by the return of towering Houston Rockets center Yao Ming after he broke a foot in an NBA game in February.

Krzyzewski said China merited respect.

"I would think that they'd be better than they were the last time we played them. They will be a foe -- especially (since) they are our first game in the Olympics."

The U.S. and Chinese teams meet on August 10.

FYI - Behind Sports

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Carlos Sastre 2008 Tour de France Winner

Tour de France 2008 map Carlos Sastre behind sports news
2008 Tour de France Map

The 2008 Tour de France was the 95th Tour de France. The event took place from July 5 to July 27, 2008. Starting in the French city of Brest, the tour entered Italy on the 15th stage and returned to France during the 16th, heading for Paris, its regular final destination, which was reached in the 21st stage. All time bonuses for intermediate sprints and at each stage finish line have been scrapped.

On February 13, 2008, the event organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation, announced that the Astana Team would be barred from the 2008 Tour due to its involvement in the doping scandals that marred the 2007 Tour and its links to the 2006 Operación Puerto doping case. This move comes despite an almost complete turnover of the team's management, and rider roster in the wake of the 2007 scandals. The ASO's decision means that defending champion Alberto Contador and last year's third-place finisher Levi Leipheimer, both of whom signed with the revamped Astana Team, will not compete in the 2008 Tour. 2007 green jersey points winner Tom Boonen tested positive for cocaine in a test on May 26, 2008. Since this was outside competition, Boonen does not face sanctions by the UCI or WADA. Despite the absence of official sanctions, Boonen was barred from the 2008 Tour de France.

Carlos Sastre 2008 Tour de France Winner
Sastre coming into the 2008 Tour de France was considered one of the favourites to win the year's race along with Australia's Cadel Evans of Team Silence-Lotto, Spain's Alejandro Valverde of Caisse d'Epargne and Russia's Denis Menchov of Rabobank. However, he also faced competition within his own team from brothers Fränk Schleck and Andy, despite officially being classed as team leader of CSC.

Sastre had a quiet, understated opening to the tour. After a lacklustre opening time-trial, he remained relatively restrained in the opening mountain stages in the Pyrenees and opted to stay defensive and follow the wheel of his main rivals. This allowed his CSC teammate Fränk Schleck to claim the yellow jersey at the finish to stage 15 at Prato Nevoso. However, going into the crucial 17th stage culminating at the 21 hairpin climb up to Alpe d'Huez, it was Sastre who showed his class and strength. He attacked at the bottom of this famous climb away from the main general classification contenders and overhauled his deficits to claim the stage and the yellow jersey.

Going into the final time trial, Sastre had an advantage of 1 minute and 24 seconds over his teammate Fränk Schleck, although more crucially he had 10 seconds more over Cadel Evans, a man considered a more accomplished time trialist than himself. Evans was widely expected to overcome the arrears to leapfrog Sastre; however Sastre on this occasion was able to put in a winning performance to stave off the challenge of Evans and keep the yellow to eventually win in Paris by fifty-eight seconds.

Sastre's victory capped an exceptional 2008 tour for the Danish Team CSC Saxo Bank. CSC also won the young rider classification with Andy Schleck and the overall team classification.

Tour de France 2008 map Carlos Sastre behind sports news
Carlos Sastre 2008 Tour de France Winner

Who Is Carlos Sastre
Carlos Sastre Candil was born on 22 April 1975 in Leganés, Madrid, Sastre is a Spanish professional road bicycle racer and champion of the 2008 Tour de France. Through his consistently improved top 10 results in the Vuelta a España and good showings in the Tour de France, Sastre established himself as a strong and stable climbing specialist, and after working to improve his individual time trial skills, he has become a contender for the top GC spots in the Grand Tours.

2008 Tour de France Teams
Belgium
Quick Step
Silence-Lotto

Denmark
Team CSC Saxo Bank

France
Ag2r-La Mondiale
Agritubel
Bouygues Télécom
Cofidis, le Crédit par téléphone
Crédit Agricole
Française des Jeux

Germany
Gerolsteiner
Team Milram

Italy
Lampre
Liquigas

Netherlands
Rabobank

Spain
Caisse d'Epargne
Euskaltel-Euskadi
Saunier Duval-Scott

United Kingdom
Barloworld

United States of America
Team Garmin-Chipotle
Team Columbia

2008 Tour de France Stages
In previous years, the Tour started with a prologue, followed by a week of flat stages. The flat stages were dominated by the sprinters' teams, and the yellow jersey was worn by a sprinter who had a good prologue. Tour Director Christian Prudhomme announced that the 2008 Tour should be different: "We have wanted a first week of racing with much more rhythm. With no prologue, an uphill finish that will suit different types of sprinters at the end of stage one, with a short time trial on stage four and the first mountain at Super-Besse only 48 hours later, we have decided to change the scenario." The time bonuses at the end of each stage were removed, and there will be 82 kilometers of time trials, rather less than usual.

The 2008 Tour de France is almost entirely in France, with only a small part in Italy.

FYI - Behind Sports

Doping In Tour de France


PARIS – The final act Sunday was supposed to be a champagne-sipping, idyllic run to the Champs-Elysees for winner Carlos Sastre of Spain. Instead, it was yet another announcement of a positive drug test. From the very start to the very finish, doping was along for the ride on the Tour de France.

That the bust involved a Kazakh rider who was never in contention didn’t matter. Once again, drugs left their mark at cycling’s premier event.

Until Sunday’s finale, the race had gone 10 days without a doping scandal—three others had already marred the three-week race.

This time, Dmitriy Fofonov tested positive for a “very heavy dose" of heptaminol after Thursday’s 18th stage, said Pierre Bordry, the head of France’s anti-doping agency. Fofonov was immediately fired by his Credit Agricole team. French police said he was detained for questioning.

“These guys are crazy, and the sooner they start learning, the better," International Cycling Union chief Pat McQuaid said by phone. “You can never rule out at the Tour de France—the biggest event of the year—that these guys are going to take risks."

Sunday’s doping episode gave the Tour a certain symmetry: Veteran Spanish rider Manuel Beltran tested positive after the first stage.

Bordry said Fofonov was asked whether he had a medical exemption for heptaminol, and he did not provide one. The stimulant is used as a vasodilator that helps relieve bronchial spasms.

“Fofonov said he bought the product on the Internet," said Roger Legeay, sporting director of Credit Agricole. “He says that it was for cramps, but that he forgot to tell the team doctor."

Fofonov, known mainly as a strong climber, finished in 19th place in the Tour, 28 minutes, 31 seconds after Sastre.

Word of Fofonov’s failed test came as some teams were still riding farewell laps in the French capital. The announcement compounded the damage of positive tests for the banned blood booster EPO—cycling’s designer drug—by Italy’s Riccardo Ricco and Spaniards Beltran and Moises Duenas Nevado.

Ricco’s Saunier Duval team quit the race and fired him, and the sponsor said it was ending its relationship with pro cycling. Barloworld, a South African conglomerate behind Duenas Nevado’s team, said it would do so as well.

Ricco won the sixth and ninth stages. After his positive test was announced before Stage 12, it looked as if the cheats had been chastened if not deterred.

Tour officials seemed relieved to see cyclists suffer after each day’s ride. It was as if that was a telltale sign they hadn’t relied on pick-me-ups to withstand the ordeal of a trek covering more than 2,175 miles.

This year, because of a long dispute, the Tour said it would not use cycling’s governing body to conduct drugs tests. It gave the job to the French anti-doping agency, contending an outside agency with no ties to the sport would be a more evenhanded arbiter.

Christian Prudhomme, the head of the Tour, insisted there were “a lot of good things" this year: “The faces of the riders, burnt out, exhausted, mouths wide open at the end. ... The fight against doping has made enormous progress."

“The difference between those who cheat and those who chase after them has considerably narrowed," he said.

Bordry pointed to laboratory proof. From the July 5 start in Brest until the first rest day in Pau 10 days later, blood parameters culled from dozens of anti-doping tests showed fewer anomalies on average, he said.

“That means that either the riders were in better health, or that it’s proof they’re not taking as many substances," he said.

Better yet for organizers, the race was intensifying after the Ricco bust. As racers began three climbs through the Alps by riding into Italy in the 15th stage, five racers were within 49 seconds of then-leader Frank Schleck of Luxembourg—the last of them Sastre.

That’s when the 33-year-old Spaniard, who now has six top-10 Tour finishes, took over. The climax for him came in the last and most punishing day in the Alps. He won Stage 17 and took the prized yellow jersey from Schleck, his CSC teammate.

Sastre had one final big hurdle: Saturday’s time trial. Australia’s Cadel Evans, known as an ace in the discipline, was seen as a favorite to recover the yellow jersey that he seized in the Pyrenees but had lost to Schleck.

Sastre knew he needed the time trial of his life to hold to a 1:34 lead against the Australian, and he got it. Evans made up only 29 seconds against the Spaniard, paving the way for his victory cruise—champagne in hand—into Paris.

By the finish on the Champs-Elysees, Sastre finished seven seconds behind Evans, giving him a 58-second margin of victory. Bernhard Kohl of Austria finished 1:13 back in third, the second-tightest podium finish in the 105-year-old race.

Sastre crossed arms and butted helmets affectionately with CSC teammate Stuart O’Grady as they crossed the line behind Gert Steegmans of Belgium, who won the 21st and final stage in a sprint. Sastre was then surrounded by his family after getting off his bike.

“It’s very moving," Sastre said, hugging his two children.

This is the third straight year a Spaniard captured the Tour. Alberto Contador won last year, and Oscar Pereiro inherited the 2006 title lost by American Floyd Landis in a doping scandal.

Sastre grew up in Leganes south of Madrid and became interested in racing at 8 years old when his father opened a cycling school.

“When he was young, we thought that one day he could attempt the Tour de France," Sastre’s mother, Teresa, told Eurosport television from Spain. She said her son had “sacrificed" for this moment.

Television images showed hundreds of cheering fans pouring into the streets Sunday in the mountain village of El Barraco, where Sastre now has a home.

Sastre began racing in 1997 and has been involved with team managers with questionable doping histories.

In 2000, he made his professional debut with the Once team, which was managed by Manolo Saiz. Saiz was one of five people arrested in 2006 as part of the Operation Puerto doping scandal, and is no longer involved in the sport.

Now, Sastre rides for CSC’s Danish owner Bjarne Riis. Riis stayed home from the 2007 Tour after admitting he used EPO from 1993-98, a span that included his 1996 Tour title.

Aware of the doping cloud over cycling, Sastre put it bluntly after his victory appeared certain Saturday. “I’m clean," Sastre said.

What Is Doping
In sports, doping refers to the use of performance-enhancing drugs, particularly those forbidden by organizations that regulate competitions. Doping is mostly done to improve athletic performance. This is why many sports ban the use of performance enhancing drugs. Another form of doping is blood doping, either by blood transfusion or use of the hormone erythropoietin (EPO) or anabolic steroid Tetrahydrogestrinone (THG). Also considered "doping" by many is the use of substances that mask other forms of doping. Doping is considered unethical by most international sports organizations and especially the International Olympic Committee. The reasons are mainly the health threat of performance-enhancing drugs, the equality of opportunity of the athletes and the exemplary effect of "clean" (doping-free) sports in the public.

This entry concerns the doping of humans. In horse racing and other equestrian sports, and in greyhound racing, horses and greyhounds can also be doped.

Origin of word
There are many suggestions as to the origin of the word ‘doping’. the One is that it is derived from ‘dop’ an alcoholic drink used as a stimulant in ceremonial dances in 18th century Southern Africa. Another suggestion is that the word comes from the Dutch word ‘doop’ (a thick dipping sauce) that entered American slang to describe how robbers stupefied victims by mixing tobacco with the seeds of Datura stramonium, known as jimsonweed, which contains a number of tropane alkaloids,causing sedation, hallucinations and confusion. By 1889, ‘dope’ was used in connection with the preparation of a thick viscous preparation of opium for smoking, and during the 1890s this extended to any stupefying narcotic drug. In 1900, dope was also defined as ‘a preparation of drugs designed to influence a racehorse’s performance.

History
Texts going back to antiquity suggest that men have always sought a way to work harder or at least to suffer less as they were doing so. When the fittest of a nation were selected as athletes or combatants, they were fed diets and given treatments considered beneficial Scandinavian mythology says Berserkers could drink a mixture called "butotens", perhaps prepared from the Amanita muscaria mushroom, and increase their physical power a dozen times at the risk of "going crazy". In more recent times, the German missionary Albert Schweitzer wrote of Gabon in the early 19th century: "The people of the country can, having eaten certain leaves or roots, toil [pagayer] vigorously all day without feeling hungry, thirsty or tired and all the time showing a happiness and gaiety."

A participant in an endurance walking race in Britain, Abraham Wood, said in 1807 that he had used laudanum, or opium, to keep him awake for 24 hours while competing against Robert Barclay Allardyce. By April 1877, walking races had stretched to 500 miles and the following year, also at the Agricultural Hall in Islington, London, to 520 miles.

FYI - Behind Sports

Alex Pagulayan Reign In Guinness 9 Ball Tour


Pagulayan Wins Guinness 9-Ball Singapore Leg

Alex Pagulayan of the Philippines ended the Chinese-Taipei stranglehold of the Guinness 9-Ball Tour after the former world pool champion defeated countryman Dennis Orcollo, 10-6, Sunday in the Singapore leg of the Tour at Velocity@Novena Square.

Taiwanese players have been dominating the Asian 9-ball circuit, sweeping all six legs last year and this season’s first three.

But Pagulayan and Orcollo have been in top form and the two Filipinos beat, coincidentally, two Chinese-Taipei players in the semis to set up the all-Filipino finals.

“It’s about time that the Philippines won because the Taiwanese kept on winning all the legs since last year," Pagulayan said.

"Everything went wrong for Dennis and all the rolls went my way. It feels good and extraordinary to beat the no.1 player in the world," the 2004 world champion added.

The last time a Filipino won a title on the Tour organized by ESPN STAR Sports was in 2006 when Efren "Bata" Reyes won in Jakarta.

Pagulayan reached the Finals after a 9–6 triumph over 2005 World Pool champion Wu Chia-Ching. Orcollo advanced following a down-the-wire 9–8 victory over Yang Ching-Shun.

Pagulayan trailed Orcollo, 2–0, but seized control of the match as he won the next five racks. Orcollo managed to make the game interesting, narrowing the deficit to 8–6 after capitalizing on a scratch by Pagulayan in the 14th rack.

But Pagulayan went on to win the next three tables off an Orcollo dry break in the 15th rack and a scratch in the 17th.

"I felt that they changed the way they set up the racks on the table," Orcollo said.

“Alex was really lucky and it seemed that he was motivated ever since the quarterfinals. I played my game, but sometimes it’s all about the breaks of the game," he added.

The Pagulayan-Orcollo match was the first between two Filipinos since Lee Van Cortez beat Francisco “Django" Bustamante in 2004.

Not counting an exhibition match in 2006, Pagulayan’s victory broke a tie between the Philippines and Chinese-Taipei for the most number of Guinness titles won since 2003. The Filipinos upped their card to 13-12.

No other country has won on Tour.

Pagulayan’s victory earned him $15,000 (P675,000). Orcollo, who entered the tournament as a wild card bet, settled for $6,000 (P270,000).

Who Is Alex Pagulayan
Alejandro "Alex" Salvador Pagulayan, was born on June 25, 1978, Pagulayan is a Filipino-Canadian professional pocket billiards pool player. His nicknames are "The Lion" and "The Killer Pixie". He was born in Cabagan, Isabela, Philippines and was raised in Toronto, Canada.

Pagulayan's parents emigrated to Canada when he was 15 years old. His father managed a pool hall, so Pagulayan's exposure to the game came early. Though he was attracted to others sports, he thought his stature may not have been right. "I like a lot of sports, but with pool, you don't have to be physically tough. His main hot spot was the pool hall "Loma's."

Achievements
2008 World Pool Masters, Las Vegas, Nevada
2007 World Summit of Pool
2006 Philippine National Championship
2005 Philippines Snooker Team Gold Medal, SEA Games
2005 US Open Nine-ball Championship
2005 Derby City Classic Ten-ball Ring Game Champion
2005 SML Entertainment Nine-ball Champion
2004 WPA World Nine-ball Championship
2003 Joss Tour Grand Final Winner
2003 Carolinas Open Nine-ball Division, Goldsboro, North Carolina
2003 IBC Western Canadian Open
2002 World Pool Trickshot Champion

FYI - Behind Sports

Monday, July 21, 2008

Manny Pacquiao Who Will Fight Next

Manny Pacquiao Who Will Fight Next Sports News Behind Sports

The answer will be resolved not later than August, promoter Bob Arum said.

“People are asking how long it will take for a resolution on who Pacquiao will fight next and it’s probably the middle toward the end of August," Arum revealed. “We will have it resolved. Who Manny’s going to fight, when he’s going to fight, and where he’s going to fight."

Soto, a super-featherweight title contender and Valero, an undefeated power puncher, are two of the prime candidates to take on Pacquiao. Until recently, so is de la Hoya.

Oscar de la Hoya, whose next bout is likely his last before retiring from professional boxing, also has a handful of choices for his next opponent. Arum said, One of them is Pacquiao.

“As I understand it based on my discussion with the de la Hoya people, there are four possible candidates. One is Floyd Mayweather Jr., who we know is already retired so I don’t know if he’s really a candidate. Second there’s Felix Trinidad, who I don’t believe is a real candidate because Oscar would have to fight him at a very high weight at, like, 175lbs. So that leaves us with two fighters—Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao," Arum said.

According to the legendary promoter, there are several factors to consider, primary of which is the prize money. Arum added that de la Hoya, a natural 154-pounder, reducing weight won’t be a factor.

“I don’t think the weight is a problem as far as Oscar coming down to 147 is concerned. Based on my preliminary discussions, that wouldn’t be a problem," he said, adding the biggest factor may be what his client’s heart and mind dictate.

Is it Humberto Soto?
Armando Humberto Soto Ochoa is a Mexican professional boxer. Soto won the WBC interim featherweight title by beating Rocky Juarez on August 20, 2005, a fight he Armando Humberto Soto Ochoa Manny Pacquiao Who Will Fight Next Sports News Behind Sportsaccepted with two weeks notice. He is known for his unorthodox boxing style, being referred to as a "gumby man" by boxing manager Emanuel Steward.

On November 17, 2007, became the challenger to fight Joan Guzmán, the reigning WBO Super Featherweight champion. Unfortunate for him, Soto lost by unanimous decision.

On June 28, 2008, Soto faced off against Francisco Lorenzo (33-4, 14 KOs) for the vacant interim WBC Super featherweight title. Soto knocked Lorenzo down twice in the fourth round with a barrage of punches. However, after lengthy consultations with officials at ringside, referee Joe Cortez disqualified Soto for hitting Lorenzo after he was down in what appeared to be a grazing punch. Cortez's decision was widely criticized and the WBC refused to award Lorenzo the title.

WBC president Jose Sulaiman condemned the decision as a "gross injustice" and one of the biggest he has seen in a long time. Sulaiman also announced that the WBC board of governors will vote on whether to declare the fight a no contest or to declare Soto the winner by knockout. Lorenzo, therefore, was not presented the green WBC belt as its champion, since it, though, opted to ignore the official verdict, and declared the title vacant. Sulaiman stated he wasn’t seeking to overrule the decision, but: “While we respect the authority of the (Nevada commission) for a decision of the fight, we are the only ones to have the authority to decide on the decision relating to the WBC world title.

Is it Edwin Valero?
Edwin Valero was born on December 3, 1981 in Bolero Alto, Mérida, Venezuela, he is an undefeated southpaw boxer who fights in the super featherweight (130 lb) Edwin Valero Manny Pacquiao Who Will Fight Next Sports News Behind Sportsdivision. His professional boxing record is 24-0 (24 KOs, 19 of which occurred in the first round). Valero is the current WBA super featherweight champion.

Valero started boxing at the age of 12, reportedly compiling an amateur record of 86-6 with 57 knockouts. He was Venezuelan amateur champion three years running, as well as Central and South American Champion (beating Francisco "Panchito" Bojado).

On February 25, 2006, Valero set a new world record by winning his first 18 fights as a professional by first-round knockout (that record has since been broken broken by Tyrone Brunson). The previous record for consecutive first-round knockouts was 15 by Young Otto (record), who accomplished the feat in 1905. In Valero's nineteenth fight (March 25, 2006), Genaro Trazancos ended the first-round knockout streak by surviving until the second round.

Because of his awesome punching power and perfect knockout ratio, he became the darling of hard core boxing fans. His biggest backers in the sport includes Doug Fischer of maxboxing.com (who regularly covers Valero in his articles for the website which also aired videos of his workouts and sparring sessions) and Boxing Inside with Peter Palmiere (Boxing Inside airs on SPTV Channel 33 every Thursday night at 7pm.) The Los Angeles local cable show also aired Valero's workouts, sparring sessions and interviews conducted by journalist Palmiere.

Valero defeated Vicente Mosquera by tenth-round TKO on August 5, 2006. With this win, Valero won the WBA super featherweight title. He has defended the title four times. The last fight was against Takehiro Shimada in Tokyo on June 12, 2008.

Or is it Oscar de la Hoya?
Oscar De La Hoya was born on February 4, 1973 his nicknamed "The Golden Boy", he is a Mexican American boxer and promoter who won a gold medal for the United States Boxing Team at the Barcelona Olympic Games. De La Hoya comes from a boxing family. Oscar De La Hoya Manny Pacquiao Who Will Fight Next Sports News Behind SportsHis grandfather Vicente, father Joel Sr., and brother Joel Jr. were all boxers, but it was Oscar who took his boxing talent to superstar status. De La Hoya became Ring Magazine's "Fighter of the Year" in 1995 and Ring Magazine's top-rated Pound for Pound fighter in the world in 1997. De La Hoya has defeated seventeen world champions and has won ten world titles in six different weight classes. He has also generated more money than any other boxer in the history of the sport. De La Hoya's amateur career included 223 wins, 163 by way of knockout, with only 5 losses. He won the United States' only boxing gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics, by knocking down his opponent; a win which he dedicated to his deceased mother. De La Hoya is also the founder of Golden Boy Promotions, a combat sport promotional firm. He is the first Hispanic-American to own a national boxing promotional firm and one of only a handful of boxers in history who have taken on promotional responsibilities while still active.

On November 23, 1992, De La Hoya made his professional debut, and in his twelfth professional fight, he won his first title, stopping Jimmy Bredahl in (TKO 10) to win the WBO junior lightweight title. He moved up a division several fights later, defeating Jorge Paez (KO 2) to win the WBO lightweight title, and in his first title defense he defeated former world champion John-John Molina (UD 12). Despite his early success, De La Hoya was criticized, with many dismissing his opposition as weak and noting that he had been knocked down several times early in fights.

This perception begin to change when he faced IBF lightweight champion Rafael Ruelas in a unification bout. Many picked Ruelas to win, but De La Hoya knocked him out in the second round. Then in his next fight, he defeated the undefeated WBC super featherweight champion Genaro Hernandez. Hernandez had criticized De La Hoya heavily going into the bout, but De La Hoya broke his nose in the bout, forcing him to retire after the sixth round. On December 15, 1995, he defeated former champion Jesse James Leija. In total, De La Hoya successfully defended his lightweight title six times.

De La Hoya soon moved up in weight again to challenge WBC junior welterweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez, who was an idol to De La Hoya. Chavez believed he would win easily, as he had broken one of De La Hoya's ribs in a sparring session when De La Hoya was an amateur. But in the fight held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, De La Hoya cut Chavez's eye with a jab in the first round, and the fight was stopped in round four due to the cut. Because of this and his later victory over Chavez, De La Hoya has always received criticism from some Mexican fans. In his only defense of this title, De La Hoya defeated previously undefeated WBC lightweight champion Miguel Angel Gonzalez (W 12).

FYI - Behind Sports

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Manny Pacquiao Can Knock Out Oscar De la Hoya

Freddie Roach Oscar De la Hoya Manny Pacquiao Juan Manuel MarquezFreddie Roach is taking it further. He said that after the Diaz annihilation, he was convinced Pacquiao could go up against Oscar de la Hoya. And beat him.

“That performance against Diaz is what set me to make that decision," Roach said. “I’ve been working on his right hand for some time now and sometimes it’s there a little bit. Against Juan Manuel Marquez, it wasn’t there because he’s a guy who’s hard to land a right hand on. But the thing is, Manny has so much confidence now after beating Diaz, he knows he can do a lot more using both hands," Roach added.

“Manny’s become a better fighter after the Diaz fight."

Roach was said to have given Pacquiao an “A-plus" for his win over Diaz, a rating he’s never given his fighter before. But the ultimate compliment could be his recent projection that Pacquiao could stand up to de la Hoya, a sure Hall-of-Famer, and knock him out.

That is, if the Pacquiao the world saw won over Diaz is the same Pac-man who will trade mitts with the Golden Boy.

“I’ve always had confidence in Pacquiao’s right hand," Roach said. “Sometimes he doesn’t have that confidence. But now, the way he dominated Diaz, using that right and setting everything up including his left hand, he’s become the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world."

“And you know Oscar, he loves all these challenges and I know this is going to be a big motivation for him," Roach added.

FYI - Behind Sports

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Paeng Nepomuceno 3rd Guinness Record In Bowling

Guinness Book of World Records honored for the third time - Paeng Nepomuceno six-time world bowling champion, and now for having won the most number of career championships worldwide.

Nepomuceno racked up his 118th career title last September in Melbourne, winning the South Pacific Classic, Australia’s most prestigious individual tournament. Nepomuceno prevailed over Jason Belmonte, last year’s World Tenpin Masters Champion.

That victory gave Nepomuceno the distinction of having three existing Guinness Records.

For winning in Melbourne, Nepomuceno was honored last January 3 at the Malacañang Palace by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who conferred on him the Order of Lakandula with the Special Class of Champion for Life.

The Hall of Famer first Guinness Record was for winning four World Cups in three different decades (70’s, 80’s and 90’s). His second Guinness distinction was in recognition of his feat as the youngest to win a world title at age 19.

“This is a great honor and I’d like to share it with all my countrymen," said Nepomuceno. “Whenever I compete, my countrymen always give me great support, which gives me great inspiration to always do my best."

Nepomuceno was congratulated again by the Guinness World Records Management Team and welcomed to the select club of World Record-holders in an accompanying letter.

In November 1999, Nepomuceno was awarded the International Olympic Committee President’s Trophy, the highest award for sports made especially significant because bowling is still not recognized as an Olympic sport.

In the same year, Nepomuceno was named by the World Bowling Federation’s Athlete of the Millennium.

In 2003, Nepomuceno was recognized by the Bowler’s Journal International as “the Greatest International Bowler of All Time" and became the first athlete to be enshrined in the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, where his seven-foot image is displayed at the museum’s entrance.

Nepomuceno, who still actively competes up to this day, is the only bowler in the world who has won titles in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Who Is Rafael Nepomuceno
Rafael "Paeng" Nepomuceno was born on January 30, 1957 in Manila, Paeng is a Filipino and a 6-Time World Bowling Champion. Paeng is acknowledged as the greatest international bowler in the history of the sport. Paeng won the World Cup of Bowling four times in three different decades:

* In Tehran, Iran on November 19, 1976
* In Jakarta, Indonesia on November 1, 1980
* In Le Mans, France on November 8, 1992
* In Belfast, Northern Ireland on November 23, 1996

Nepomuceno's two other world titles are from winning the World's Invitational Tournament which was participated by the World's best bowlers and was held in Sam's Town bowling center in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 8, 1984 which was a global event to showcase the sport in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Paeng also won the World Tenpin Masters championship in London, England on March 7, 1999.

He is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for three records:
1. for being the only athlete in the world to win world titles in three different decades
2. for being the youngest ever to win the Bowling World Cup (at 19 years of age)
3. for having the most number of career championships worldwide.

In total, Paeng has won 118 career international championship tournament titles in five continents. Paeng who still actively competes up to this day is the only bowling athlete to have won championship titles in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

He is the only bowling athlete who has received the prestigious International Olympic Committee President's Trophy which is the highest sports award that can be given to an athlete. Paeng was the first international male bowling athlete to be enshrined in the International Bowling Hall of Fame in St. Louis, Missouri in 1993 and his seven foot image is displayed at the entrance of the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame. In November 1999, the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ) named Paeng as the "International Bowling Athlete of the Millennium."

In a ceremony held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates during the World Championships, an FIQ official cited Paeng with these words: "No international bowling athlete is more deserving of recognition than Paeng. In addition to his long list of well-known achievements as a world champion in three decades, Paeng truly has been and continues to be an extraordinary ambassador for Filipino sport."

Paeng is the only athlete in the Philippines who has been given the highest award to a Filipino by three Philippine presidents. In 1984, Paeng was awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit by President Ferdinand E. Marcos. In 1999, President Joseph E. Estrada awarded the Philippine Legion of Honor and in 2008, President Gloria M. Arroyo awarded Paeng, the Order of Lakandula with Class of Champion for Life and was declared Best Filipino athlete of all time. Both the Philippine Senate and House of Congress has declared Paeng the "Greatest Philippine Athlete of All Time".

In its September 2003 issue, the Prestigious Bowlers Journal International named Paeng as the Greatest International Bowler of All Time.

Paeng was named Athlete of the Century by the Philippine Sportswriters Association in the end of 1999 and Athlete of the Millennium in 2000.

At present Paeng has been designated by the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) as its International Bowling Ambassador for Bowling and promotes bowling around the world. He is available for clinics and appearances.

FYI - Behind Sports

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Biggest Entrecard Contest Ever - Held By Fantasy Baseball

sport news graphics design by nilo

I want to win the Fantasy Baseball 10,000ec to trade for something ___________?

Welcome Entrecarders! The entrecard community is launching it's biggest contest ever. It is held by yours truly, Fantasy Baseball. There are lot's of sponsors which means lot's of prizes. So count your entries now.

Here is how to join, click this! You have up to July 19 to join. So hurry!

FYI - Behind Sports

Friday, July 4, 2008

British Grand Prix To Donington In 2010

British Formula One Grand Prix Donington Silverstone nilo sports news behind sports

SILVERSTONE, England - In 2010, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said that the British Formula One Grand Prix will switch to Donington Park from Silverstone.

"Following discussions with Formula One Management (FOM), the FIA can confirm that the British Grand Prix will be retained on the Formula One World Championship calendar," the FIA said in a statement.

"From 2010 the new home of the British Grand Prix will be Donington Park."

Donington Park's Web site said the circuit's co-owners, Simon Gillett and Lee Gill, had signed a 10-year agreement that included an investment of $198.4 million during a five-year period.

The surprise decision, while securing the future of the race in Britain, represents a huge blow for the Silverstone circuit owned by the British Racing Drivers' Club, whose contract to host the race expires at the end of next year.

The club had plans to redevelop the pits and paddock complex to bring the circuit in line with other more modern facilities -- but it needed the guarantee of a grand prix to proceed.

Formula One executive Bernie Ecclestone, himself a Briton, had threatened repeatedly to remove the race from the Formula One calendar if Silverstone, which hosted the first championship grand prix in 1950, is not upgraded.

Privately owned Donington, home of the British round of the MotoGP championship, hosted the European Formula One Grand Prix in 1993.

"Finally the uncertainty is over," Ecclestone said in the FIA statement handed out at the British Grand Prix. "A contract has been signed with Donington Park and the future of the British Grand Prix is now secure.

"We wanted a world-class venue for Formula One in Britain, something that the teams and British F1 fans could be proud of," he added.

"The major development plans for Donington will give us exactly that. A venue that will put British motor sport back on the map.

"I am sorry that we could not have helped Silverstone to raise the money to carry out the circuit improvements and run Formula One," continued Ecclestone, who also took a sideswipe at the British government and the funding of the London 2012 Olympics.

"I believe that the government should have supported them [Silverstone], which would have cost probably less than .002 percent of the government's commitment for the Olympic Games," he said.

FIA president Max Mosley said he was delighted that the race's future had been secured.

"We understand that the development program planned for Donington will achieve the very high standards we and FOM expect from a modern F1 circuit," he said. "Finally, British Formula One fans will get the Grand Prix venue they deserve."

The Donington circuit, near the East Midland cities of Derby and Nottingham, will require considerable improvement of its outdated facilities with poor access roads plagued by severe congestion on race weekends.

What Is British Grand Prix
The British Grand Prix is a race in the calendar of the FIA Formula One World Championship. It is currently held at the Silverstone Circuit near the village of Silverstone in Northamptonshire. The British and Italian Grands Prix are the oldest continuously staged Formula One world championship Grands Prix.

Grand Prix motor racing was first established in Britain by Henry Segrave at the Brooklands course in 1926 after his winning of the French Grand Prix in 1923 and the following year at the Spanish Grand Prix which raised interest in the sport. The first ever British Grand Prix was won by the French team of Louis Wagner and Robert Sénéchal driving a Delage 155B.

Silverstone has hosted the race regularly since the start of the F1 championship in 1950 (in which it was the first race of the first ever official World Championship) and every year since 1987; it alternated with Brands Hatch between 1964 and 1986, and with Aintree (better known as a horse-racing course) between 1955 and 1962.

Before it was heavily modified in 1991, Silverstone was one of the fastest tracks on the Formula 1 calendar. The drivers loved the challenge of the sweeping and extremely demanding Copse, Stowe and Club corners. 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg held the all-time Formula 1 qualifying lap record for 16 years after posting fastest time for the 1985 British Grand prix with an average speed of 258.983km/h(160.92mph).

In recent times Silverstone has produced some fine race wins by British drivers, such as John Watson (1981), Nigel Mansell (1987, 1991, 1992), Damon Hill (1994) and David Coulthard (1999, 2000).

A dispute between Silverstone's owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), and the Formula One authorities in 2003 over the funding of necessary improvements to the track's facilities led to doubts over the future of the race.

In October 2004 the British Grand Prix was left off the preliminary race schedule for 2005 because the BRDC refused to pay the race fee demanded by Bernie Ecclestone. However, after months of negotiation between the BRDC, Ecclestone and the Formula One constructors, a deal was made for the Grand Prix to be held at Silverstone until 2009.

Despite the controversy and political bickering that has surrounded the future of the race in recent years, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone remains one of the world's premier motor racing events.

It was announced on 04 July 2008 that Donington Park will host the British Grand Prix from 2010.

Silverstone Circuit

Silverstone Circuit
Silverstone Circuit is a motor racing circuit near the village of Silverstone in Northamptonshire, England. It is best known as the home of the British Grand Prix, which it first hosted in 1948 and which has been held on the circuit every year since 1987. The circuit is also home to the BRDC International Trophy, formerly one of the premier non-Championship F1 races in the calendar, today awarded to the winner of a race for historic F1 cars at the annual Silverstone Classic meeting.

Donington Park

Donington Park
Donington Park is a site near Castle Donington in North West Leicestershire, England, owned by Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd. It is used as a motor racing track, and for music festivals. On 4th July 2008 it was announced that from 2010, Donington Park will stage the Formula One British Grand Prix.

FYI - Behind Sports

6th Straight Wimbledon Crown For Roger Federer - In The Making

WIMBLEDON, England - Record in the making, add up all of Roger Federer's greatness on grass courts, and the numbers are striking: 40 wins in a row at Wimbledon, 65 overall on the surface.

Now he seeks an additional victory, a victory that would make him the first man since the 1880s to win six consecutive Wimbledon titles, a victory that would give him a 13th Grand Slam championship, one shy of Pete Sampras' career record.

And a victory that would have to come against his only real rival in today's game, Rafael Nadal.

No. 1 Federer and No. 2 Nadal set up their third straight showdown in the Wimbledon final, and sixth meeting in a major title match, by handily beating unseeded opponents Friday. Federer eliminated Marat Safin 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the first semifinal, and Nadal defeated Rainer Schuettler 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-4.

"There's one more left," Federer said. "I don't think it matters really a lot if I'm the favorite or not. I'm on an incredible winning streak on grass. First somebody has to be able to break that before we start talking differently."

He reached his 16th Grand Slam final, tying him with Bjorn Borg for fourth most in history. Borg was the last man to win Wimbledon five years in a row. The only man with six successive titles was Willie Renshaw from 1881-86, but he merely needed to win one match in each of his five title defenses because back then the reigning champion got a bye directly into the final.

"A little different," Federer noted.

On the other hand, the ease with which Federer dominates the All England Club these days sort of makes it seem as though he's getting a pass to the second Sunday. For the second time in three years, he's reached the final without losing a set.

"He didn't even give me a chance," said Safin, a former No. 1 with two major titles.

Federer walked out in his custom-designed cream cardigan, the one with the gold "RF" on the chest. Safin, in contrast, looked as though he might have just rolled out of bed, emerging from the locker room with his T-shirt wrinkled, his sneakers untied, his hair mussed. During the third set, a woman in the crowd yelled, "Come on, Safin, wake up!"

Federer did plenty well, but he served impeccably.

He smacked 14 aces, took 70 of 90 points in his service games and faced only two break points. Both came with Safin leading 2-1 in the second set, and Federer erased them in similar fashion: a second serve delivered right at Safin's body, setting up short returns that led to forehand winners.

Federer's return game was working, too, and he broke Safin in the match's second game and its last one. Asked if it was easy out there, Federer said, "Easy in terms of being able to control a really dangerous player who's got the potential to upset anyone — in this aspect, yes."

One example: Safin beat No. 3 Novak Djokovic last week. It was Djokovic who ended Federer's record run of reaching 10 consecutive major finals by stopping him at this year's Australian Open, then wondered aloud before Wimbledon whether the Swiss star was slipping. Djokovic thought Federer's 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 loss to Nadal in last month's French Open final — his worst loss in 179 career Grand Slam matches — might have left him "a little bit shaken."

Federer has scoffed at such suggestions and did so again Friday.

"For me, anyway, that final is out of the picture. I hardly remember anything of it. It went so quickly," he said, without a trace of irony. "Yeah, for me it's not really that big of a problem."

He also alluded to the fact that while he is only 6-11 against Nadal — 0-3 in French Open finals — over their careers, Federer does lead 5-2 in matches played on surfaces other than clay. That includes victories in the 2006 and 2007 Wimbledon finals, the latter a taut, five-set thriller.

That is why, Nadal acknowledged, "I believe I can win, but I also know he's the favorite."

Like Federer, Nadal faced only two break points Friday, and while the Spaniard did get broken once, he never was in true trouble. Thanks to that break, the 94th-ranked Schuettler went ahead 2-1 in the second set, then served for it at 5-4.

But Nadal broke the 2003 Australian Open runner-up there to pull even, and that was pretty much that. The only thing that really bothered Nadal on this day was the condition of his shoes, which he said were worn out from too much running around on the bare earth where the grass has disappeared near the Centre Court baselines. A member of Nadal's entourage tossed a fresh pair onto the court from the stands, and Nadal was back to his usual perpetual motion.

Afterward, Nadal spoke of how a Wimbledon championship would change his career. He'll try again, just as he did each of the past two years, to beat Federer to become the first man since Borg in 1980 to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same season.

"It doesn't matter at any tournament who you beat. It matters that you get to take the trophy home," Nadal said. "But beating Federer would be special."

Borg showed up at the All England Club in 2007, and watched Federer match his modern mark of five consecutive titles. Borg returned this year and sat in the second row of the Royal Box on Friday, rising to clap when Federer finished off Safin to close in on breaking that tie.

"He is still hungry to win. He is still the No. 1 player in the world, and he wants to win more Grand Slam tournaments. He still has motivation to win. I think he will play many more years to come," said Borg, who walked away from the game in his 20s. "Sooner or later someone will beat him here at Wimbledon on Centre Court, but that might not happen this year."

Who Is Roger Federer
Roger Federer was born on August 8, 1981, he is a Swiss professional tennis player, ranked World No. 1 since February 2, 2004, for a record 231 consecutive weeks. Federer has won twelve Grand Slam singles titles (three Australian Open, five Wimbledon, four US Open), four Tennis Masters Cup titles, and fourteen ATP Masters Series titles. He holds many records in the game, including having appeared in ten consecutive Grand Slam men's singles finals (2005 Wimbledon Championships through to 2007 U.S. Open). He also holds the open era records for consecutive wins on both grass courts (with 65) and hard courts (56). Additionally, he is currently on a streak of appearing in 17 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals, also an all-time record.

Federer's remarkable success has prompted a number of tennis critics, legendary players, and current players to consider him to be among the greatest tennis players ever. In 2008, he was named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year for a record fourth consecutive time.

Personal Life
Roger Federer was born in Basel, Switzerland, to Swiss-German Robert Federer and South African Lynette Durand. He grew up in suburban Münchenstein, ten minutes from Basel and close to the borders of France and Germany. As a boy, Federer was a very emotional player and was occasionally kicked off practice courts for his behaviour. Federer was also a talented football player. He had considered becoming a professional but instead decided to pursue a career in tennis. He continues to support FC Basel, his hometown club and is a fan of Italian club AS Roma. As a youngster, he enjoyed watching Marcelo Ríos in action. Federer especially liked Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Marcelo Rios and has cited them as idols.

Federer is currently dating former WTA player Mirka Vavrinec, who retired from tennis in 2002 after a foot injury. The two met at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Federer launched a fragrance called RF Cosmetics in October 2003. He considers Swiss German his first language, but also speaks German, French, and English fluently[6] and conducts press conferences in all three. His favorite vacation spots are Dubai, the Maldives and the Swiss mountains. He is also a good friend of golf superstar Tiger Woods. Federer is Roman Catholic, and met Pope Benedict XVI while playing the Rome Masters in 2006.

Roger Federer is highly involved in various charities. He established the Roger Federer Foundation in 2003 to help disadvantaged people and to promote sports to youth. He was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF from 2006. Since then, he has visited Tamil Nadu, one of the worst tsunami-affected areas in India, and South Africa. He has also appeared in UNICEF public messages to raise public awareness of AIDS.

Time Magazine named Roger Federer as one of the 100 most influential people in 2007.

In 2007 Roger Federer was photographed by Annie Leibowitz as King Arthur. This was part of a series of photographs taken by her of many different celebrities for Disney's 'Year of a Million Dreams' project.

Playing Style
Federer has a versatile, all-court playing style and can hit all of the fundamental shots with a high degree of proficiency. He is an adept volleyer and an excellent baseliner who can dictate play with precise groundstrokes from both wings. He uses an extreme eastern grip, which places the hand between eastern and semi-western for his forehand and finishes with his right arm around the shoulder, and he keeps his eyes on the moment of impact longer than other players. He also can generate extreme top-spin with the forehand shot, allowing him to open up cross-court angles while still hitting the ball with pace. David Foster Wallace has described the exceptional speed, fluidity and brute force of this forehand motion as "a great liquid whip", while John McEnroe has referred to it as "the greatest shot in our sport" on numerous occasions. Federer plays with a one-handed backhand, and has an excellent slice, and can also fire top-spin winning shots. Federer tends to hit his groundstrokes early, while the ball is still on the rise, much like Andre Agassi did. While this requires excellent reactions and footwork, it means that Federer hits his groundstrokes closer to the net than most of his opponents. This reduces the reaction time of his opponents and allows him to hit the angled winners that are a trademark of his game.

His serve is difficult to read because he tosses the ball in the same spot no matter where he intends to serve it and he turns his back to his opponents during his motion. His first serve is typically around 190 km/h (However, he is capable of serving at 220km/h). His second serve usually has a heavily kicked delivery. Federer generally serves with placement and precision, but on occasion he will hit a powerful serve to keep his opponents off balance. His footwork, balance, and court coverage are exceptional and he is considered to be one of the fastest movers in the game. Unlike most players who take many small steps when approaching the ball, like Jimmy Connors, Federer takes long fluid strides. He can hit a strong shot on the run or while backpedaling, allowing him to switch from defense to offense. Federer's relaxed, smooth playing style belies his aggressive and opportunistic tactics as he constructs points that allows him to hit winners with his powerful groundstrokes. Federer is capable of performing in high pressure situations, often saving break, set or even match points during a match.

Equipment And Apparel
Federer currently plays with a customized Wilson (K) Factor (K)Six-One Tour 90 Racquet, which is characterized by its smaller hitting surface (90 square inch), heavy weight (12.5 oz strung weight), and thin beam (18 mm). Federer strings his racquets at a 53–60 pounds tension (depending on his opponent and surface) with natural gut main strings (Wilson Natural Gut 16 String) and polyester cross strings (Luxilon Big Banger ALU Power Rough 16L String). This allows him to hit balls at higher velocity with less effort but makes consistent accuracy more difficult. Federer also uses string savers to extend the life of the natural gut strings. Federer endorses Wilson tennis racquets and accessories and Nike footwear and apparel (he wears the Nike Air Vapor V and Nike Sphere Pinstripe Polo shirts).[60] For the 2006 championships at Wimbledon, Nike designed a jacket emblazoned with a crest of three tennis racquets symbolizing the three Wimbledon Championships he had previously won. This jacket was updated in preparation for the 2007 Wimbledon Championships, with four racquets. He also has endorsement deals from various other companies, many of them being Swiss. He also endorses Gillette with French, Brazilian and Mexican football stars Thierry Henry, Kaká and Rafael Márquez, American golfer Tiger Woods, South African rugby player Bryan Habana and Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid. Nike released a line of personal apparel such as hats and shirts that are embroidered with an "RF" to represent Roger Federer. He also endorses Moores suits and his image is used in the computer.

FYI - Behind Sports

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Venus and Serena Williams Third All Sister Wimbledon Final

WIMBLEDON, England - It will be the first all-Williams final at any tournament since 2003, Venus and Serena Williams won in straight sets Thursday to set up their third all-sister Wimbledon final and seventh Grand Slam championship matchup.

Defending champion and four-time winner Venus beat Elena Dementieva 6-1, 7-6 (3), then two-time champ Serena overcame two rain delays and served 14 aces to down China's Zheng Jie 6-2, 7-6 (5).

Serena holds an 8-7 career edge over Venus, including 5-1 in Grand Slam finals. Since Venus won the U.S. Open in 2001, Serena has won five straight of their major finals.

"She's a tough opponent," Serena said. "I think she'll be the toughest person I've played. I'm excited."

Said Venus: "It's every Williams for themself."

Venus overpowered the fifth-seeded Dementieva in the first set and then prevailed in an error-filled tiebreaker to improve her record to 7-0 in semifinals at the All England Club.

"I am dying for S. Williams to get through," said the 28-year-old Venus, who hasn't dropped a set in five matches and will be going for her seventh Grand Slam title.

Venus then went back out to watch her 26-year-old sister, who sat through rain breaks in both sets before cranking up her big serve, saving a set point in the second set and finishing off the 133rd-ranked Zheng to put her one win away from a ninth Grand Slam crown.

After Zheng dumped a second serve into the net on match point, Serena looked more relieved than anything to get through the match. Venus fiddled with her fingernails as she watched alongside their father, Richard, in the players' box.

"She definitely pushed me," Serena said of Zheng, the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam semifinal and first wild-card entrant to get this far at Wimbledon. "Unbelievable, and not only that she played a great game. She played like she had nothing to lose and she didn't.

"I wanted to do more than maker a Wimbledon final," she added. "I'm just happy to be back in a Grand Slam final."

Richard Williams said he would fly back to the United States on Friday and doesn't plan to watch a single point of the final on television, saying he can't bear to watch his daughters playing against each other.

In men's play, 32-year-old Rainer Schuettler outlasted Arnaud Clement 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (7), 8-6 in a match that took two days to complete. The German saved a match point at 5-4 in the fifth set before pulling out a 5-hour, 12-minute victory that sends him into the semifinals Friday against No. 2 Rafael Nadal.

The other men's semifinal has five-time champion Roger Federer facing a resurgent Marat Safin, a former No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion.

Like her sister, Serena Williams hasn't dropped a set so far. And, like Venus, she relied on her serve to pull her through when she needed it most.

"I didn't want to go three sets," she said. "I could have. I was ready to go three sets, but I felt like I didn't want to. I just wanted to close it. I just hit some big serves."

Serena, who strode onto the court wearing her custom-made white trench coat, was up 5-2 in the first set when play was suspended for 35 minutes. She came back out after the break and held serve at love to close out the set.

From one stretch late in the first set into the second, Zheng was unable to get the ball back into play on 11 consecutive return points as Serena came up with five aces and six service winners.

But Zheng, hitting cleanly from the baseline and winning most of the long rallies, hung in and went up a break at 4-2 in the second set. Serena broke right back and the two stayed even until play was stopped again by rain at 5-5.

After a delay of 1 hour, 20 minutes, Zheng earned a set point on Serena's serve at 6-5 but failed to convert, smacking a second-serve backhand return into the top of the net.

Serena got fired up, letting out a mighty scream — "Come on!" — and pumping her fist after an overhead smash on the next point. She then smacked back-to-back aces to set up the tiebreaker.

Serena took a 5-2 lead with the help of three more aces, but Zheng kept fighting and pulled even at 5-5. Serena hit a 123 mph service winner to set up match point, letting out another loud shout. The match ended tamely with Zheng's only double-fault.

Dementieva, playing in her first Wimbledon semifinal, looked nervous and was completely overmatched in the first set by Venus Williams' sheer power and pace, but settled down and made it competitive in the second. The Russian then faded badly in the tiebreaker and committed repeated unforced errors.

After Dementieva knocked a forehand into the net to end the 1:42 match, Venus skipped and hopped up and down with joy like a kid at a birthday party.

"I guess it started to set in a little bit about being in the final," she said. "When I'm excited I always jump. That I guess will never change. I'd like to celebrate even more if I'm good enough to take that title."

Asked about the likelihood of an all-Williams final, Dementieva said she couldn't imagine playing against a sibling, adding, "For sure it's going to be a family decision."

Venus took offense to a question about a predetermined outcome.

"I'm extremely professional in everything that I do on and off the court," Venus said. "I contribute my best in my sport and I also have a ton of respect for myself and my family. So any mention of that is extremely disrespectful for who I am, what I stand for, and my family."

Later, Dementieva issued a statement through the WTA clarifying her comments, saying English was not her first language.

"I do not think for one second that matches between Serena and Venus Williams are family decisions," she said. "What I meant was it is a unique situation for a family to be in to be playing for a Grand Slam title. I have a lot of respect for Serena and Venus."

FYI - Behind Sports

Gilbert Arenas $111M Deal With Wizards

WASHINGTON - "$111 million over six years", Gilbert Arenas has agreed to re-sign with the Washington Wizards, essentially taking millions less so that his team could have more financial flexibility, two newspapers reported Thursday.

Arenas told the Washington Times and Washington Post that he was offered a maximum deal in the neighborhood of $127 million on Tuesday, the first day of the free agency period.

"The Wizards offered me the max, and I'm basically giving back $16 million," Arenas told the Washington Times from China, where is traveling as part of promotional tour for a shoe company. "This is in line with what I've been saying the whole time. You see players take max deals and they financially bind their teams. I don't wanna be one of those players and three years down the road your team is strapped and can't do anything about it."

The three-time All-Star became a free agent after opting out of the final year of his six-year, $65 million contract. He initially said he was opting out to receive a max contract, but he later indicated he would be flexible in negotiations.

Arenas also said that he would not re-sign unless the team retained two-time All-Star forward Antawn Jamison. The Wizards lived up to that part of the bargain Monday by giving Jamison a four-year, $50 million deal.

Arenas has proven to be one of the most dynamic players in the league when healthy, but two knee operations caused him to miss most of the last season. He has averaged 22.8 points, 5.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds in his seven-season NBA career.

The Wizards cannot comment on talks with Arenas or announce the deal until a league-mandated moratorium expires next week.

"It's a relief," Arenas told the Washington Times. "It was a burden at the same time. Your whole city is depending on you, wondering if you're going to make the right decision. I'm a franchise player and sometimes franchise players need to make franchise decisions."

FYI - Behind Sports

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Wizards Negotiate With Arenas And Jamison

WASHINGTON - Abe Pollin placed a call to free agent Gilbert Arenas, who was at a layover in Toronto on the way to China for a promotional trip on behalf of a shoe company.

In the afternoon, the 84-year-old Washington Wizards owner arrived via cart and was helped into a cushioned chair for a news conference for the newly re-signed Antawn Jamison. Although the body appeared frail, the voice and mind where strong and sharp.

"I'm getting a little old and a little sick," Pollin said. "But I'm still around, and I'm going to be around until we win the ... championship. I'm stubborn and hardheaded."

And determined to achieve his goal with the core group that has led his team to four straight playoff appearances. So far, half of the major offseason work has been accomplished.

While negotiations with free agent Jamison were relatively straightforward — a four-year, $50 million deal that was signed Monday night — the talks with Arenas will be much more complicated. The Wizards can sign the three-time All-Star point guard to a maximum deal worth roughly $125 million over six years, but Arenas has also said he doesn't want to hamstring the team's ability to sign other players.

Under NBA rules, the Wizards couldn't start negotiating with Arenas until the start of the free agency period on Tuesday — Jamison's situation was different because Arenas became a free agent by exercising an opt-out clause. The team also can't comment on the talks with Arenas or announce a deal until a league-mandated moratorium expires July 9.

"We've contacted the players, and the process is going to play out," said president Ernie Grunfeld, referring to both Arenas and free agent guard Roger Mason.

Jamison's signing satisfies one condition in the talks with Arenas, who had said he would not return unless the team also kept his longtime teammate.

"I'm confident something will get done," Jamison said. "He just likes to go at his own pace."

Jamison, meanwhile, was lauded with praise from Pollin, who compared the team co-captain to Wes Unseld, who led the Wizards to their only NBA championship in 1978.

"Mr. Pollin, I love you," Jamison replied. "And I'm going to do everything possible to continue to make you happy."

Jamison is coming off perhaps the finest season of his 10-year NBA career: 21.4 points, a career-high 10.2 rebounds and a second appearance in the All-Star game. Although he's 32, Jamison said he's taken good care of himself and is confident he can continue to be a consistent 20-and-10 threat.

"I couldn't go anywhere else. This is where I'm going to end my career," Jamison said. "I totally believe that we have what it takes to hoist the trophy. That's my job. That's the reason I'm here."

Who Is Gilbert Arenas
Gilbert Jay Arenas Jr. was born on January 6, 1982, in Tampa, Florida. He is an American professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and currently a free agent.

Gilbert wears number 0 because a high school coach once told him he would play 0 minutes in college at Arizona.

From the time of his entry into the league, Arenas's popularity soared. He transformed himself from being a relative unknown to being voted by fans as an All-Star starter for the Eastern Conference in 2007. Now considered to be one of the best point guards in the NBA, but still is known as a "shoot first" point guard. Arenas overcame a 213,000 vote deficit at one point to edge out Vince Carter by just over 3,000 votes for the second of the two starting guard spots, the other spot going to Dwyane Wade. Arenas was most often nicknamed "Agent Zero," but has increasingly been referred to as "Hibachi." Both names have quickly become fan favorites in the Washington area.

Player Profile
Arenas is a prototypical "shoot-first pass-second" guard. He is a highly skilled scorer who has scored at rates of almost 30 points per game (2005-06 regular season average: 29.3), often using his trademark slashing drives to the basket as well as his long-range jumpshot.

His assists per game career average is relatively unremarkable for a point guard at 5.4, and moreover, he is very turnover-prone, as his lifetime tO rate of 3.35 per game proves (he also "leads" the 2006 TO statistics with 3.71 and the previous three years in the top ten). In addition, his on-ball defensive game is still considered below average.

Who Is Antawn Jamison
Antawn Cortez Jamison was on born June 12, 1976, in Shreveport, Louisiana. Jamison is an American professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He currently plays power forward for the Washington Wizards and the USA National Team.

FYI - Behind Sports

Venus And Serena Williams One Step Away On Wimbledon Final


WIMBLEDON, England - One prematch glance at the data displayed on those fancy, new digital scoreboards at staid, old Wimbledon provided a pretty persuasive case for why Venus Williams might be considered the woman to beat.

The entry under career record at the grass-court Grand Slam: "55-7." The listing of her best result: "WINNER 2007, 2005, 2001, 2000."

Yet another reason to like the American's chances: The way she served during the ensuing 6-4, 6-3 quarterfinal victory over Tamarine Tanasugarn — smacking eight aces, saving nine of the 10 break points, tying her Wimbledon record with a 127 mph delivery.

That extended Williams' winning streak at the All England Club to 12 matches, including 19 sets in a row. Nonetheless, at least one person who knows a thing or two about tennis and a thing or two about Venus Williams flatly rejected the notion that she's the favorite: Serena Williams.

Asked after her own impressive quarterfinal victory — 6-4, 6-0 against 11th-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska — whether her older sister should be considered the likeliest champion, Serena shot back: "I would never sit here and say she's the favorite when I'm still in the draw. What are you on?"

Rather than a sibling rivalry, that response perhaps reflects nothing more than the sort of competitive drive that helped the younger Williams win eight Grand Slam singles titles. That haul includes the 2002 and 2003 Wimbledon championships, each time concluded by beating her sister.

One more win apiece, and they'll reprise the all-in-the-family final tradition Saturday. In Thursday's semifinals, Serena will face 133rd-ranked Zheng Jie, who became the first Chinese player to reach the semifinals at a major tournament by upsetting 18th-seeded Nicole Vaidisova 6-2, 5-7, 6-1.

Venus next plays the highest-seeded remaining woman, No. 5 Elena Dementieva, who beat No. 21 Nadia Petrova 6-1, 6-7 (6), 6-3.

Zheng is the first wild-card entrant to reach the women's semifinals at Wimbledon; only one woman ranked lower has made the semifinals at any Grand Slam.

"China has quite a lot of sports in which it is a world leader," she said through a translator. "Unfortunately, tennis is not one of them."

Like Zheng, Radwanska and Tanasugarn were playing in the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time. Unlike her, they were forced to deal with a Williams on Tuesday.

More specifically, they were forced to deal with those Williams serves, developed by Dad all those years ago on the courts in Compton, Calif.

"We're different," Venus said. "I serve big almost every time. She goes for a little more placement."

Against Radwanska, Serena hit 11 aces, including four in one game while pulling even at 3-3 in the first set. On the last of those, Radwanska lunged and whiffed, then grimaced at her racket.

"It's too much, you know," Radwanska said.

She isn't exactly a nobody, having won the Wimbledon junior title in 2005 and pulled off an upset of defending champion Maria Sharapova at last year's U.S. Open. But Serena made her look absolutely ordinary, if that, taking 28 of the last 37 points.

While Serena mixed in flat 120 mph serves with spinning, kicking changeups, Venus stuck with the hard stuff against Tanasugarn.

"I have a lot of power, so it helps," Venus said. "Definitely, the power helps."

She produced some of her best stuff when she needed to, particularly in the match's sixth game.

Tanasugarn earned six break points, and the first five vanished thanks to, in order, a 107 mph service winner, a 102 mph service winner, a 115 mph service winner, a 94 mph service winner and a 122 mph ace.

"I'm really blessed to be able to have a serve to get me out of those issues," Venus said.

On break point No. 6, Tanasugarn managed to put her return in play but then slapped a forehand into the net.

That's when she turned her back to the court and motioned toward the players' guest box with her hand, raising one finger at a time to count out those missed opportunities: 1-2-3-4-5-6.

"She served very well during the break points," Tanasugarn said. "So what can I do?"

A few moments later, she did come up with a possible solution. A tad envious of her statuesque opponent — the 6-foot-1 Williams has 8 inches on her — Tanasugarn said, "Next life, I want to be tall as her. Please."

Neither Williams has dropped a set during the tournament, and their seedings — Serena is No. 6, Venus No. 7 — certainly seem to have been miscalculated. It's the first time at any Grand Slam in the 40-year Open era that none of the four top-seeded women reached the quarterfinals, making the path even smoother for the siblings.

Hard to believe, but there hasn't been a Williams vs. Williams final at a tournament since 2003 at the All England Club.

And what if they do meet again for the title, in what would be their seventh matchup in a Grand Slam final? What would breakfast be like Saturday morning at the place they're sharing here?

"I'm going to sabotage her and eat all the breakfast," Serena said. "I'll eat all the Wheaties so she doesn't have any chance."

FYI - Behind Sports