Friday, March 30, 2012

Wee Adventure Film Festival time

And here comes the summer ... This trailer is for the brilliantly-named Wee Adventure Film Festival which takes place here in Dublin tonight.

Enjoy watching, and hope you get to have your own wee adventures this weekend!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Striking Beauties

Mary Morgan from Striking Beauties gym in Massachusetts, America got in touch recently to tell us about the gym. 

She says the gym was set up in 2009, at that time the only women’s-only gym in the state.

“I live to promote this place, it is the most amazing sisterhood of women, it is our second family, our home away from home, our church,” she says.

“I have found a new passion and it has caught on with my two daughters.  The improvement it has made in their lives is inspiring!”

Mary says the mix of classes, private instruction, open sparring and specialty workshops bring in women to their 24-hour a day gym. Yes, open 24-hours and seven days a week.

And with fighters like four-time world title holder Jaime Clampitt and 2011 National PAL Champion Amanda Pavone you need the hours. But it’s not all girls with trainer Mike Culbert holding pads. One of his many claims to fame is a bout with Mickey Ward who non-boxers might know from The Fighter*.

“Encouraging relationships within our sport and support among our sisters will help the future generation of girl boxers,” she says.

*possibly the best boxing film ever.
If you're in the area, more info on the Striking Beauties gym is here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Good luck to the Girls in Green!

The Irish women's rugby team play England in their final match of the Six Nations championships this afternoon. Best of luck to them - having beaten Scotland and Wales, they're on track for the Triple Crown if they can keep winning.

I talked to manager Gemma Crowley earlier this week, and she was cautiously optimistic. Hoping to get that interview from Dublin's NearFm to play here for you at some stage. In the meantime, all the latest women's rugby news is over on ScrumQueens.



Friday, March 16, 2012

Horseracing ... not just for boys

The H.H Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Endurance Cup takes place in the Emirates every year - an all-female horse 100km race over four stages. It's not quite Cheltenham but with a prize fund of Dh800,000 (over 166,500 euro) it's not to be sneezed at.  Enjoy and have a great St Patrick's Day weekend!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Who makes the Olympic badges?

This post is taken from Playfair 2012. The writer based this information on their report "Toying with Workers’ Rights" (Play Fair, 2012)

The Olympic movement states that it aims to “build a better world through sport”, but for  workers making the Olympic mascots and London 2012 pin badges, this translates into poverty pay, long hours and poor health and safety.

Wang, 29 years old, works in a factory which made London 2012 pin badges for Olympic licensee, Honav. He lives with his wife in a small rented room outside the factory where he works.

Workers like Wang, who were making London 2012 pin badges in China, could be paid as little as 64 pence an hour. Wang would have to work for around 10 hours just to afford to buy 1 pin badge, which retails in the UK for around £6.50.

On their low wages, Wang and his wife can’t afford for their son to live with them, so he stays with Wang’s mother in their home village. They only get to visit their son once a year at Chinese New Year.
“Sometimes I buy a lottery ticket and hope I get some luck.” says Wang.

Zhang, 28 years-old, works in a factory making Olympic mascots Manderville and Wenlock for licensee Golden Bear. She’s paid a piece rate, and her basic pay can be around £170 a month, for a 40-hour working week. And yet, a wage that allows Zhang and others working in this area of China to cover their basic needs and have some extra, is estimated at around £225 a month.

 “I hope the Olympic Games Committee can tell us how much a plush toy is sold for and gives us a fair unit price.” says Zhang.

Zhang sends most of her wages home to her family in her home village, where her two children live. On her days off she stays in her room to avoid spending money, and during peak season, she does two to four hours overtime a day to top up her low pay.

In the factory where she worked, some workers were not even being paid the legal minimum wage, and temporary workers in both factories were paid below the legal rates.

Under Chinese law, workers are entitled to social insurance benefits, including pensions, work-related injury insurance and medical insurance. In the factory making pin badges, many workers thought that they were protected by social insurance, but investigations revealed that only a small proportion of workers were enrolled on the scheme. Workers under 30 years-old making the Olympic mascots were being discriminated against, with no social insurance payments being made, affecting the majority of the workforce.

In China, workers should get a pay-slip under labour law, but those making the Olympic mascots didn’t receive a pay-slip at all, and most workers interviewed said they had no idea how their wages were calculated. Those making pin-badges did get a pay slip, but it didn’t provide a clear breakdown of how wages were calculated.

Workers making goods for the ‘greatest show on earth’ shouldn’t need to depend on the lottery to enable them and their families to live in dignity, and at minimum, they should have their human rights and legal rights respected.

Following publication of this report the organisers of the London Games signed a ground-breaking agreement with the TUC on behalf of the Playfair 2012 campaign to take a number of actions to protect the rights of workers making Olympic goods in its supply chains. This is a positive step forward and the campaign will be working closely with the London 2012 organisers on delivering these commitments. 

Playfair 2012 is also working with Golden Bear Toys to help try to improve conditions in the factory investigated. But to ensure the lessons learned from London 2012 benefit Rio 2016 and all future Games, the International Olympic Committee needs to take responsibility and to act  to ensure that no workers are exploited in the name of the Olympics.

Read more on Playfair 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

How green are your Olympics?

This news-clip from Russia Today takes a look at links between the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984 and one of the Games' main sponsors Dow Chemical.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

On her bike at the World Championships

Irish cyclist Fran Meehan and her partially-sighted partner Catherine Walsh won Gold at the World Para-cycling championships in Los Angeles recently. Here Fran describes for us what it’s like to race at that level.

This training camp was all about recovering from jetlag, resting (lying around the hotel between track sessions) hydration and the dreaded weighing scales. The fact we are self-catering really helps to keep the weight down, but just takes that extra bit of planning and teamwork.

The track sessions are very intense but short which builds speed in the legs without inducing fatigue, unlike the last camp in Palma Majorca (in Spain) when we were doing anywhere up to five hours a day.

The goal is to keep the goal the goal… as our strength coach would say while he batters us in the gym. The goal is to stay calm, focused and go very fast.

The morning of the 3km pursuit we eat a light breakfast, preload race fuel, and then head to the track to warm-up.  The turbo warm-up is a very specifically planned 70 minutes to deliver us to the bike which is set and locked in the starting gate on the track. Three minutes from the off we sit side by side on the holding chairs waiting of the call to mount the bike.

This three minutes feels like a life time, at this point you have to shut out the crowed the other bike on the opposite side of the track, and just focus. When the call comes, Catherine and I give each other the nod as if to say lets rock and head to the bike, walking on to the track we mount the bike, check the pedals and wait for the countdown to start.

Ten seconds to go with everything checked, big deep breaths looking up the track, five seconds to go the focus is the start, two seconds engage the core muscles, one second up and rock back, zero trust forward with all the power you have to move the bike as fast as possible straight down the track.

We stay out of the saddles for three quarters of the first of twelve laps to get the bike up to speed. Once seated we drive into the bend to continue to build speed on the home straight I move my arms from the drops to the tri bars for the most aero position possible. Lap two begins, the goal here is to not to overcook it, it feels easy the adrenalin is up and your buzzing, but going too fast here is race suicide. 

We sit on the speed. 

The third lap we settle on the time and try to hold that speed, our goal is 17.7 seconds per 250m lap and the aim is not to let drift by more than two tenths of a second per lap.

Lap by lap we keep the same rhythm driving out of the bends and working the straights, this track is nice for a tandem. 

It has long straights tight bends, which makes my job of riding the lines easier, and with the tight bends it flings the bike out of the bend at an average speed of 49kph.

When the lactate levels rise, legs begin to burn and fatigue sets in; usually with four laps to go. Everything by now is a blur seconds seem like hours, all I can hear is my breathing, the black line on the track seems to rise up to meet me, I’m seeing stars and begging to hear the bell for the last lap.

The line arrives some seventeen plus a few tenths of a second later I flick the bike up the banking and try to read the timing board, hopefully we are happy with the result.

Then it’s down to the track side to where our coach and team manger help us off the bike, because the legs will not hold up.

That’s the first race if we have gone fast enough; we get to do it all over again in the ride offs for medals in the evening.*

Standing on the podium getting your medal and flower knowing that you’re in the national jersey is a nice feeling this is really the little thanks we can give to all those who helped us get here, without the support of our team we build around us; our family, partners, coaches, massage therapists, bike mechanics and the sponsors Cadbury Ireland, Continental, Richies bike store Swords, Tullamore Court Hotel, and Buckley Cycles Tullamore.

*And of course they did

Thanks to Fran Meehan for sharing this experience with us

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Blog karma for Women's Day

I'm always a little ambivalent about Women's Day - strange I know but it just seems strange that we need to have a day to mark the existence of half of the world's population but there you go - suppose you could say that about this blog too!

On the sporting side of things, one of my favourite Irish sites is hosting a week-long celebration:

Action81 - a week of columns including tennis and MMA, always worth a read! 

Any others we should look out for?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ireland's women win over Wales in 6 nations

Great afternoon of rugby today for the Irish team against Wales in the women's 6 nations tournament, with a scoreline of  36 - nil.

Clare Molloy runs past Laura Prosser of Wales

Stand-out player for me was winger Alison Miller who scored one try, and was involved in setting up two more. The other five tries were scored by Joy Neville, Sophie Spence, Niamh Kavanagh, Gillian Bourke and Ashleigh Baxter. Neville's try was one of my favourites  - a rolling maul right down the sidelines. The Irish scrum was excellent as well, and defense just didn't leave any openings for the Welsh team at all.

It was great to be so close to the action in the club-size pitch at Ashbourne, with a close-up view of some crunching tackles. Welsh flanker Sioed Harries made a massive tackle on Ireland's captain Fiona Coughlan - defintely wasn't the only one wincing at that. 

And the win was even more impressive considering two of the Irish players were sin-binned - one in each half - leaving them a player down for a good section of the game. The second card was minutes from the end so the score was pretty set at that point but ... 

So half-time was 17-0, and this lead just lengthened in spite of some good effort from the Welsh team leaving the Girls in Green comfortable winners. The Welsh came closest to scoring when Philippa Tuttiett ran in metres away from scoring but she was stopped by Niamh Kavanagh leaving them with nothing to show for the day out. 

This leaves Ireland third now in the table, behind England and France who have won all three of their games so far. The full table of results is here on the RBS 6 Nations website.

The interviews I did with the Irish manager and captain at the Ireland-Italy match are here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gloves for girls in the boxing gym

My story on some of the female fighters training at Dublin's Bridgestone Gym ran in "Irish Fighter". 

Female Muaythai fighters in Ireland "Irish Fighter" w niamhgriffin