Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pressure on 2012 boxers

Interesting piece in one of the Irish papers today looking at the effects of only having three weight divisions for women's boxing in the London Olympics. Looks like there will be a large shuffle with boxers moving up and down the divisions to try and qualify. And something tells me the women moving down from higher categories will stand a *slight* advantage as long as they can keep the weight off. 

Taylor pic Lucozade Sport
For anyone reading that who hasn't seen how easily boxers drop kgs, it might sound nuts. But if you're fit and know how to skip in a sweat-suit or even in a sauna (oh yes) then dropping five or more kgs just in time to make a weigh-in is not difficult. And depending on how long you have before the actual fight, you can be back up at your normal weight by ringtime. But lighter women trying to go up, or women naturally in these three divisions could face problems. Bulking up means losing speed and agility, plus mentally you feel slow and a bit trapped in your gloves.

A former Irish champion interviewed for the piece, Michael Carruth said: "There is huge pressure on Katie (Taylor, Irish world champion) that she just needs to turn up and win. That’s not right. Two World champions will come into her weight division because there are only three weight categories in the Olympics for women. You will have the 64 kilo class going down to 60 and you’ll have the 57kg boxers going up to 60kg. 
"Then you are looking at beaten semi-finalists and quarter-finalists also flooding into the same weight category."

If you think of all the quality women boxers you know, and imagine them shoehorning into three divisions with just 36 places, well the getting there is going to be as big an achievement as medalling. While Taylor faces incomers, another favourite of mine - Mary Kom from India - will be looking to go up. The divisions are: 
Fly Weight (48-51kg), Light Weight (57-60kg), Middle Weight (69-75kg) 

Sadaf Rahimi, Afghan Women's Boxing Team pic Majid Saeedi

What about the boxers from your country? How are they fixed for qualifiers?


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Special Olympics

Mary Gavin Ireland @ Special Olympics

Aisling Beacom @ Special Olympics
Wordless Wednesday is a group of bloggers who give words a rest once a week.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Woman wins Hickstead Derby

Tina Fletcher 2011 Derby winner
Tina Fletcher on Promised Land PIC via Horse and Country

The CarpetRight Derby at Hickstead has been won by a woman rider for only the second time in the competition's 50-year history. And Tina Fletcher's horse's name? Promised Land.

Fletcher (UK) came second in 1991 and last year just lost out in the jump-off stages. Riding the same horse again, things went better for them. Interviewed for Horse and Country she said: "“You have to sit as quiet as a mouse on him. He lives in a field at home. I hardly ride him, he just hacks out. Graham bought him and I actually said to him, ‘I don’t know why you’re keeping that horse, he’s a lunatic’.” Only after Graham broke his shoulder was PL passed on to Tina, a lucky break? (sorry)

This is Fletcher speaking to H&C 


Monday, June 27, 2011

Results ICF Freestyle Plattling

As someone who has never quite managed to roll correctly in even the calmest of water, it's incredible to watch the kayakers at the Freestyle World Championships. The tournament finished up yesterday in Plattling, Germany.

Claire O Hara, UK took two world titles in the Squirt and K1 sections. She was quoted earlier on the ICF site saying it just all went well and how excited she is to be part of the changes in women's kayaking. Second in the Squirt was Motoko Ishada  from Japan. Emily Jackson, America - defending champ - came second in the KI event. In all, Amercia, the UK and Spain took 17 of the 24 medals across the men's and women's competitions.

Emily Wall (UK) who sent the great pics for last week's Wordless Wednesday posted on her site: "After a shaky prelims, a personal best quarterfinal and a below average perform in the semi final, I placed 6th. I just missed the cut by 3pts. I’m proud of myself for getting that far. Of course it would’ve been nice to paddle better in the semifinal and make the final, but that’s just the way competition goes." And Polly Green, who I've posted about here and here, wrote a lovely piece on her blog on what competition can really mean here.

There are more video interviews with kayakers like Hayley Mills (US) and Courtney Kerin (New Zealand) - silver medallist in the junior women's - on the ICF site, just scroll down here almost of the end of the page.ou

Which are your favourite 'couch-potato' tournaments?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ireland's soccer keeper Emma Byrne

The FIFA Women's World Cup begins tomorrow. (so tempted to write 'kicks off' but resisting) Ireland didn't make it this year but we live in hope.

This is an interview I did a while back with Emma Byrne, one of the stars of the Irish team and you can also see her in goals for Arsenal Ladies in the FA WSL during the year. Bit longer than my usual posts but interesting to see how different women's soccer is to the glam male leagues.  (updated w photo)

Interview with Emma Byrne Arsenal and Ireland keeper

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mariann Sather Norwegian kayaker

The World Freestyle KayakChampionships are running this week in Germany.  This week's blog-posts are dedicated to the crazy women who run rivers, and love the white water.

Norwegian Mariann Sather is one of the women to watch at this tournament. Sather has been competing for ten years, while fitting in degrees in English, Spanish and Norwegian on the side - usually distance learning as she's competed in 50 countries so far. She has an inspiring view on life, one that certainly made me think it's time to do more with my days.

"To write is almost as big of a passion as kayaking, as well as helping people realize that normality is what you determine it to be. To roam the rivers of the earth,  teach at the local school or jet-set around the globe, we all carry dreams that have the potential to become reality."

This footage was shot on a trip to Corsica in May this year. 


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Canadian Kayaker Sara Jane Daub

The World Freestyle KayakChampionships are running this week in Germany.  This week's blog-posts are dedicated to the crazy women who run rivers, and love the white water. 

Sara Jane Daub is representing Canada in the Junior events at the Championships. The 17-year-old was interviewed in her local newspaper while ramping up the training for the tournament, saying the trick she has most problems with is: "is called Phonics Monkey, where you use your paddle to piroutte your kayak around the bow and then roll into a front flip.“I can't do those” but she is working on it, she says.“That would really help me at the worlds.'"
You have to laugh at her favourite food - anything with cheese or ketchup. Wonder if her coach has seen this?

Images from Sara Jane Daub

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kayaker Katya Kullova in action

The World Freestyle KayakChampionships are running this week in Germany.  This week's blog-posts are dedicated to the crazy women who run rivers, and love the white water.

Russian Katya Kullova started in her first kayak about eight years ago, when she got tired of rafting on dangerous equipment. Far from being the built-up sport it is in many European countries, Kullova says the sport is really only starting in Russia now. In an interview a few months ago, she said: "We went in one year from two kayakers in our city to like 20-25 people. Gear was difficult to get. We could get if from Moscow or St. Petersburg, but it took like 6 months. The first boat I got, I didn’t know what to order, so I just got a riot booster without knowing anything. I had no idea what I was getting. There was no one around to give me advice."

This video was shot on the White Nile river in Uganda - a kayaking mecca.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Kayaker Polly Green goes for gold

Today is the first day of the World Freestyle Kayak Championships. This week is dedicated to the crazy women who run rivers, and love the white water.

First up is American-born, New Zealand-based kayaker Polly Green. Green, a former pro-kayaker retired at 35 to become a film-maker without having achieved her dream of being World Champion; she came 5th in 2003. Last year, she decided it was time to recover her 'Fire Within' and set out training again and documenting the whole journey. Brave woman.

Green's blog has more information, including on her training time with Dr Jessie Stone, who I posted on here. 


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kayaking in the Alps

A group of Irish kayakers went adventuring in the French and Italian Alps last week. Aisling Griffin*, one of Ireland's few female surf-kayakers went along for the ride.

Kayaker Mark Ward-Bopp filmed her in action.

*Disclaimer: nepotism

Friday, June 17, 2011

Media pays attention

Just about one week to go before the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011 It's exciting to see the tournament getting so much attention. Ireland is obviously pretty quiet as we're not in it but the neighbours over the channel have been really getting behind their team. Most especially The Guardian and Observer newspapers. And as I'm usually carrying on about how little attention women get in the sports pages, I would like to say Thank you! to those papers. 
England manager Hope Powell was interviewed here on Sunday - two full pages with a great photograph.* And just spotted this article: "Panini's football stickers for women's World Cup prove to be a sellout" According to this story, Germany's schoolchildren are swapping women's football cards, something I have never seen before. The company are even having to stock up on another run.
The Guardian's Women's World Cup 2011 site is here.Uh-huh, that's a whole section dedicated to one tournament with female players. And yes, I know I'm not the world's biggest soccer fan but hey, this is exciting. Today soccer, tomorow boxing?? (rhetorical question, do NOT ruin the buzz by saying how crazy that is)
I'll leave you with England striker  Rachel Yankey. Have a great weekend!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nigeria heads for World Cup

Less than two weeks to go to the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011 (what a mouthful). This week's posts are given over to profiling some of the teams and players.
Question of the tournament: will Germany get their three-in-a-row?

African champions 2010
Nigeria's women's team, the Super Falcons, are a dominant force in African football, having won the African championships six out of the seven tournaments. But haven't done so well in the world cup:

1991 Round 1
1995 Round 1
1999 Quarter-final
2003 Round 1
2007 Round 1
2011 Group A

Nigeria was involved in a strange controversy with another team who qualified this year, Equatorial Guinea, on accusations of playing men. The wonderful world of soccer. And I found a brilliant blog Women's Soccer Africa if you want to read about the other teams, or get more detail on Nigeria.
They play their first game on June 26th against France.

Getting really close now, do you have a team yet? ( Can you tell Ireland isn't playing?! Not really sure who to support)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

North Korea at the World Cup

Less than two weeks to go to the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011 (what a mouthful). This week's posts are given over to profiling some of the teams and players.
Question of the tournament: will Germany get their three-in-a-row?

North Korea women's soccer
North Korea, ranked five in the world, play their first game against America on June 28th. Yes, an interesting political match-up there. 
One Korean blogger says: "Because the women's team does relatively well, the better coaches prefer to coach the women's team."

They won the 2006 U-20 world cup, won the Asian Cup three times and their record in the senior world cup is:

1991 Didn't qualify                                                    
1995 Didn't qualify
1999 Round 1
2003 Round 1
2007 Quarter-finals
2011 Group C

I read a little more about the history on Ask a Korean, it seems the team was set up in 1986 with women from the track and field teams. One of the highlights of their games is beating their neighbours South Korea. If you've been a longtime women's soccer fan, you might recall a crazy incident a few years ago when some North Korean players were less than impressed with a referee's decision

What are your predictions for the tournament? 


Monday, June 13, 2011

Matildas ready for the World Cup

Less than two weeks to go to the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011 (what a mouthful). This week's posts are given over to profiling some of the teams and players.
Question of the tournament: will Germany get their three-in-a-row?

A is for apple and ... Australia.
The Aussie team is known as the Matildas, taken from a well-known song Waltzing Matilda. (The boys team, if you're wondering, are the Socceroos) Ranked No 11 in the world, the team feels they're in with a pretty good chance of taking home some silver. Something to do with the elixer of youth if they do, a report in The Australian said the team "has an average age of 21.6 and nearly half the squad is 20 or under." This includes Caitlin Foorde, all of 16 years and 7 months young. Captain Melissa Barbieri (31) is looking forward to not being the underdog, saying in the same article: "I love the youth factor. It is an amazing feeling knowing they are so enthusiastic and unpredictable and that Brazil is going to have to worry about us for a change." In another interview, Barbieri and coach Tom Sermanni admits this is more down to injury and players committed to international clubs but is still hopeful it will all work out.

Their record, as you might have guessed from the above, doesn't include a win yet.
1991 Didn't qualify
1995 Round 1
1999 Round 1
2003 Round 1
2007 Quarter- finals
2011 Group D

This year's team also includes two Indigenous Australians, Kyah Simon and Lydia Williams. This clip is from a documentary being made about their particular journey to the World Cup.

The Matildas opening game is on July 29th against Brazil with games against Norway and Equatorial Guinea to follow.

Who're you supporting? (if you are!)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Canoeist is Sports Woman of the Month

Irish canoeist Jenny Egan won the monthly sports award for her silver medal at the 5,000m sprint canoe K1 at a World Cup in May. Egan already holds a silver from the 2005 World Junior Marathon Championships, and silver from the 5,000m at the Senior Sprint Canoe World Cup last year, only losing out by six seconds to Hungarian Renata Csay - ouch. For the record keepers among you, that the first medal for an Irish female sprint canoeist.

Her training session was described in one of the Irish papers as: 'training twice a day, doing 'three paddling sessions, three gym sessions, three swims and three runs every week'" That would be while completing an Athletic Therapy and Training course at university.

Jenny Egan pic Irish Canoe Union
Every month the The Irish Times/Irish Sports Council 'Sportswoman of the Month' goes to a woman who has gone above and beyond in her commitment to her chosen sport.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sally Fitzgibbons talks surfing

Australian surfer Sally Fitzgibbons won the Swatch Girls Pro France this week, taking home a giant watch among the prizes. Rated no 2 on the ASP Women's World Title Series this year - second to another Aussie Stephanie Gilmore - Fitzgibbons pipped American Sage Erickson on the final day of the tournament.

She's been riding on Gilmore's heels since her first qualifying rounds at 18 years of age in 2008. Since then, she's clocked up a number of ASP titles including the famous Bells Beach Pro title and runner-up in the World title race in 2010. And with a dedicated family behind her, Dad quit his job to travel around with her in that rookie year, she's made a huge commitment to her sport.

This video runs through her best moments, but my favourite part is right at the start when she talks about why she loves surfing so much. You can read more about Fitzgibbons on her site here


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday; Bikes and bandanas

Marlo Perry; marathoner, cyclist and wearer of bandanas

Wordless Wednesday is a group of bloggers who give words a rest once a week.

Do you need to do good to feel good?

marathon paula radcliffe running womenThousands of Irish women will run this summer to raise money for charity. Many of them will have never run before but the motivation of raising money will get them out on the streets. 

I asked a friend on Sunday which charity she was supporting in her first marathon-relay, she looked at me askance and said "Nothing, I'm running for myself."

I should have hugged her, but I was so surprised to hear someone being this honest and respectful of themselves, I just smiled and carried on talking about carbs. Why do so many women need a charity to justify giving time to running? And to being healthy. 

It's something charity fundraisers like Australian Annie Crawford of Can-Too have used; a lot of women   (yes, I am generalising here) are not comfortable saying I want to run, I want to be strong, I want to have time to be with my friends which does not involve shopping or alcohol. 

In Dublin 40, 057 women ran in the women's mini-marathon this week, the headline in one of the papers was "Sprains and blisters but all for a good cause."

Why couldn't the good cause be just wanting to run? And before you say it, I know lots of men run for charity too but it seems to me that watching women's events, there is a far higher percentage of charity Tees and banners than there would be if it were all men.

I don't think it's a bad thing to raise money, it would just be great if women were able to stand proud and say I did this for me.

What do you think - do women really need that extra Do-Good factor to Feel Good?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Emily Jackson, American Kayaker wins again

It's that time of year again - rivers, mountains, kayaks and Emily Jackson wins the Teva Freestyle gold for the seventh year running. At 21. Must be getting quite frustrating to be chasing her at this stage. 
Emily Jackson by Corey Rich
Jackson is just one of the successful kayakers in the Jackson home. But this event at the Teva Mountain Games is the one she has really made her own. Talking to the local paper, she said: "My first run, I got all my hard tricks in right away. I got lots of air on my front loop, my McNasty and my phonyx (monkey). I felt really good. My score was beatable, but Ruth (Ebens), like me, didn't have her best ride.” 

She has placed in the top three in any event she's entered since 2006, including winning the world freestyle title in 2009, second in the Pan American games 2010, winning the Natural Games in Milan, Italy as well as that Teva title every year.

Off the water, she has worked with Dr Jessie Stone in Uganda - posted about here work here - raising $30,000 so far for Power Health and their work combatting malaria. 


Monday, June 6, 2011

Wanna arm wrestle lady?

What do you get if you add arm wrestling plus fancy dress plus a few beers plus a shed-load of screaming women? The Collective of Lady Arm Wrestling, that's CLAW to you and me.

It all started three years ago in Virginia, USA and is spreading around the States faster than you say big guns pardner. Billy Hunt and Brian Wimer are making what looks like a great documentary, following the women around and putting together the story of how much money they are raising. Well, that is they are hoping to make that doco. They emailed me from Kickstarter - a website where creative types promote their plans and ask for mico-funding - and honestly, if the film is half as intriguing as their trailer, it's well worth a few dollars or euros or whatever your bank is stocking.

Their project home is here at CLAW  They're only looking for about $1,600 more, piece by piece building up to their five grand total. This is their idea:

UPDATE: CLAW reached their total and then some.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Adventure sports in Ireland

It's a beautiful morning here in Ireland, summer may finally be here. And it's the start of a three-day weekend for us so lots of outdoor plans being made.
This is a tourism promo (from one of our many, many tourism boards) with shots of the adventure sports you can do in Ireland. Sometimes it's just good to be reminded of what is on our doorstep. Enjoy, and have a great weekend wherever you are! 


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dying to take part in sport?

MuayThai cutting weight making weight Boxing Diet

How healthy is sport?

Not something many of us question, everyone knows sport is good for you, right? But this article I read yesterday points out that maintaining a healthy weight for competition isn't always the same as being healthy. 

It's definitely something boxers struggle with, most have a "walk-around" weight which is significantly higher than their competitive weight, and the same appears to be true for other martial arts as well as sports like gymnastics. The author of that study (and studies she quotes) feels women suffer more from this than men, "Like the non-sports world, females are more affected than men."

That is something I would quibble with, she has clearly never spent time in a boxing gym. Every male boxer (well, the good ones!) knows their weight to the gram, knows the weight of their food, knows the effect of drinking 200mls of water vs 300mls before a weigh-in. I learnt more about food control and weight-loss from men than any women's magazine. Not saying all of it was necessarily healthy, but that's the story.

It would be interesting to do a comparative study between males taking part in weight-specific sports and males taking part in sports such as rugby or soccer where weight-loss is not so central. Or indeed if males in sports like American football or rugby are under the opposite pressure: to bulk up.

From what you know in your sports, do you think women are more prone to problems than men when it comes to weight?