There was a lot of road rash and pain today in the huge crash at the Tour de France. Watch it here.
Photo by en.wikipedia.org
Okay, after forty years even Moses found his way out of the desert.. The fan base of the Golden State Warriors has waited patiently for almost forty years to celebrate a NBA championship. That NBA championship trophy was last hoisted in 1975, led by a Ricky Barry Warrior team that beat the Washington Bullets in four games. The euphoria lasted a long time because Warrior fans are some the most Read More →
If you don’t know who Rhonda Rousey is by now, then you haven’t been reading enough sports rags or seen anything related to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Of course, not only is she the most popular face in her sport, but she is also a product endorser, an action movie actress and model.
Why would I bother writing an article about her when she already gets plenty of publicity? What angle could I take about this talented athlete? I remember one thing she said in an interview, that I believe is the driving force behind many of athlete with a highly competitive psyche. She talked about the intense need to not just compete but the overriding fear of failure. She is driven to be the best and there is no satisfaction in just giving a good effort.
You can spot these types of athletes in any sport. They overcome psychical shortcomings, upbringing, team sport limitations and they rise to the top because they hate failing more than anything in their life. They outwork their competition and never rely on their coaches to motivate them. It is like a hidden superpower that comes out when the competition needs to rise to the next level. They are going to fight and scrape until they have conquered.
Ms. Rousey had an illustrious career in judo which peaked at the 2008 Olympic Games. With that bronze medal victory, she became the first American to win an Olympic medal in women’s judo since its inception as Olympic sport in 1992. She reinvented herself as a MMA fighter champion over the past five years. It is safe to say she started the women cage fighter movement by being both unbeatable but also an empowering role model for women. I just like the attitude of bravado mixed with good sense of awareness. She appears to be grounded with humility and respect for her sport. Of course, that humility is left behind once she engages herself into a UFC match up.
Rousey, as a fighter mixes technique, power and speed as witnessed in her last fight that lasted 14 seconds. In fact, the last three fights have lasted a whopping total of 96 seconds. Is there any woman out there who stands a chance to beat her? If there is, she has to be someone with the similar drive and fear of failure.
Photo courtesy of www.homeschannel.net photo gallery, submitted by ZDislav
The Alex Zanardi story is one that most people do not know about. I didn’t either until I saw him on a late night television talk show in November of 2014. He walked out and sat down and proceeded to tell his story.
Alex Zanardi was born in Bologna, Italy in 1966. He had an early inspiration for racing when he built his own racing karts from a dustbin of pipes from his father’s workplace. From that humble beginning, he became involved in European road racing in its various formats.
He moved onto Formula One Racing for a few years with mixed results while enduring crashes and injuries. From Formula one he moved to CHAMP Car racing and became one of its most popular drivers through his daring style and victories.
In the 2000 season, Zanardi was not signed for a team so he moved back to Formula I racing. In his most competitive race of the 2001, he suffered a violent accident at the Euro Speedway Lausitz on September 15th while trying to merge back onto the track. His car was impacted from the side at high speed, severing the nose of the car. Zanardi lost both legs (one at and one above the knee) and nearly three quarters of his blood volume. His life was saved due to some rapid medical interaction.
You would think the story ends there. Zanardi was fitted with two prosthetic limbs and began an ambitious rehabilitation program. Zanardi was not happy with the limbs and so he designed and built his own custom legs. He wanted them made to be able to withstand the rigors of race car driving. By 2002, he was back on the track in a specially designed car to take test laps and in 2003 he was back competing. Zanardi has been racing ever since in various formats and cars.
In 2006, Zanardi took up hand cycling as part of an exercise program. With only four weeks of training, in 2007, he achieved 4th place in the New York City Marathon in the Handcycling Division. He took up the sport in earnest to compete in major handcycling events. He won the Venice Marathon in 2009, the Rome City Marathon in 2010 and the New York City Marathon in 2011. His crowning achievement in this sport was the Gold Medals he won in the 2012 Paralympics in London.
As with Zanardi, there are no limitations. Zanardi completed the 2014 Ironman World Championship with a time of 9:47 ranking 272 overall and 19th out of 247 in the 45-49 year category. He used a hand bike for the cycling section and an Olympic wheelchair for the running section.
Zanardi has lived his life with the greatest of passion. Zanardi is the rarest of humans that cannot be stopped to achieve his goals with grace and humility.
What drives a person to get on top of an enormous wild animal and tries to stay atop while the beast does everything to send you into orbit? What makes anybody do an extreme sport? Adrenaline is one thing to consider but there is a level of thrill seeking that defies explanation. The rider must stay atop the bucking bull for eight seconds. The rider has his hand fastened to a braided rope as the only method of attachment while the other hand remains free. It is a dangerous sport, and considered the most dangerous eight seconds in all sports.
Of course, the bull riders are doing this for the million dollar paychecks….not! Even though professional circuit bull riders can earn a six figure income, the majority are doing it for less. The main reason that bull riders do it is because of the long tradition and history. This is very generational going back centuries, while originating in Mexico and spreading into America. Now it is worldwide down to South America, and as far as New Zealand.
Bull riding is no different than other youthful endeavor, kids usually start out competing in high school and other youth organizations. They hone their craft and train like any other athlete to gain advantage. There are countless rodeos and organizations that sponsor the sport with top competitions being in the Professional Bull Riders, Championship Bull Riding and the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association circuits.
The equipment the rider appears minimal but there are many components to keep the rider safe. The main piece is the bull rope, which has a handle braided into it. One side of the rope is tied into an adjustable knot for different size bulls and other side is flat braided with an attached bell. In addition to the sound the bell produces, it also gives the rope weight allowing it to fall off once the rider has dismounted.
The most recognizable protective clothing item is the chaps made of leather, they protect the rider’s legs and thighs. The riders are required to wear a protective vest made of high impact foam. The riders also wear gloves, boots and mostly cowboy hats. There is no requirement to wear a protective helmet yet in the professional ranks, but slowly times are changing and more are wearing them.
The way a rider wins a competition is through judging and a point system. Judges award points based on several aspects of the ride. Judges are looking for constant control and rhythm in the rider in matching his movements with the bull. Points are deducted if the rider is constantly off balance and no points if the eight seconds atop are not achieved. The bulls also receive points for not allowing the riders make the eight seconds. There are standings for the bulls and there is such a thing as “Bull of the Year”
Bull riding requires balance, flexibility, coordination, and courage. Facing down a two-thousand pound bull takes as much mental preparation as it does physical ability. There is an amazing amount of training a rider must put into his sport. They have so much at stake while atop the animal. All of riders build their core strength to withstand the whiplash effects of the ride. Their upper body strength must be able hold the rope against the thrust of the bull gyrations.
Even though, the sport has its share of issues, there is still a large audience for the spectacle. There will be changes to constantly improve the matters that critics bellow about but bull riding doesn’t appear to going away anytime soon. The key to its longevity is safety not for lack of excitement. Yippee Ki Ay!!
Images courtesy of Chuck Szmurlo, Konaboy, Mike Sega/Reuters
Mad Bum, as he is called by his San Francisco Giant teammates is one of those athletes you can’t help but like. He is a nice young man, humble and always putting his teammates first. He has a little wild side to him as he has be photographed holding up six open beer bottles above his mouth after winning the rounds of baseball play offs. Okay, maybe is isn’t a saint but he sure saved the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.
Mad Bum is a fierce and relentless competitor with a calm demeanor except for when Yusiel Puig tries to showboat him. Some say he has ice water running through his veins, as appears stoic on the baseball mound.. He is not the type to implode with his emotions when things don’t go his way as it appears he bears down and refocuses to deliver his best effort.
Bumgarner at the age of twenty six has two World Series rings and the Series MVP to put under his belt. Pitchers like him do not come around often, a tall left hander with an easy motion that looks deceiving to most batters. Because of the angle the ball comes out from his motion along with velocity, his pitches are hard to get a read on. When he has a master of his release point and pitch location, he is unhittable. Bumgarner also takes pride in his hitting, he knocked out four home runs last year, and two were grand slams.
When baseball experts look at the San Francisco Giants for 2015, they are picked to not repeat their exploits. Every year the Giants have won the Series, they have been picked as under dogs. Mad Bum is the pitching ace of the staff and loves nothing more than to be picked as an underdog, again. Please, Major League Baseball don’t unleash the Mad Bum for your own good.
Images courtesy of: Theron W. Henderson Getty Images/North America & Linemakers.sportingnews.com
AT Super Bowl XLIX (49), the game’s fate turned on dime when the ball ended up in the hands of a player nobody ever heard of before the game started. One of the most beautiful moments in team sports is when the player that was once the goat can make a redeeming play that wins the game. It’s sports movie material that is no fan can resist. That player is Malcom Butler, the New England Patriot cornerback who intercepted the pass in the end zone that broke the hearts of the Seattle Seahawks and their legion of fans and delivered the thrill of victory to Patriot Nation. Victory was snatched in a fleeting moment from Seattle but in turn carried one man into the sports history books.
If you don’t know the story by now, Butler was involved in the two biggest plays of the game. With the Patriots leading by four points, under a minute to play and the Seattle making a final drive, Butler was matched up with wide receiver Jermaine Kearse. Russell Wilson threw a 33 yard pass to Kearse that Butler deflected. However, as Kearse fell to the ground, the tipped pass landed on him, he juggled it and eventually retained possession. Kearse’s catch is widely considered as one of the best of all time in Super Bowl history. After recognizing Kearse had made the catch and was not down by contact, Butler pushed him out of bounds at the five yard line.
Two plays later, with 20 seconds remaining and the Seahawks on the Patriots’ one-yard line, Butler intercepted a Wilson pass at the goal line, returning possession to Patriots and virtually assuring their 28-24 victory.
One of five children raised by his mother in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Butler started his college football career at nearby Hinds Community College, where he had a hard time getting started. He eventually transferred to West Alabama where he had a good career while achieving conference honors. He didn’t get much of a look by the pro scouts but did get seen by one NFL coach who remembered him.
New England took a chance on him and Butler was able to make the most of his situation. He only started one game for the Patriots but kept improving throughout the year and team kept their confidence in his abilities.
Butler is a very quiet and nice young man whom is very emotional about his good fortune in the Super Bowl. I know Tom Brady was because he gave his MVP Car Award to Butler. Butler is now the toast of the town but it is obvious he will never forget the tough road it took to get there.
This young lady is not only an amazing athlete, she also an inspiration to all young girls. If you haven’t heard by now, Mone Davis was the thirteen phenom who took the 2014 Little League World Series by storm. Yes, a girl that got a lot attention but had the chops to back it up. She throws harder than most boys and also has a mechanically fluid wind up that looks like she throwing effortlessly.
Ms. Davis was the first girl to pitch a shutout in the Little League World Series, along with the fact she was only one of eighteen girls to ever play in this tournament, sixth to get a hit and the first African American girl to play in LLWS. She played for the Taney Dragons, a team in Pennsylvania. They didn’t win the World Series but the ride they went on captivated the whole nation.
Davis throws a seventy mile per hour fastball which is about ten MPH faster than the average player in in her age group. That translates into ninety three mph on a full sized diamond when using the reaction time comparison. Her wind up is very consistent throughout her pitching performances. She is quite a marvel for an any baseball fan.
Davis’ impact should inspire more girls to play the game of baseball. As we all know, that the term, “throwing like a girl” is tag that no boy wants to hear but maybe in the future, it will be used more thoughtfully.
In October 2014, Davis was named one of the “The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014” by Time Magazine. Director Spike Lee, produced a sixteen minute documentary entitled, “I Throw Like a Girl”. Davis also threw out the first pitch of game four of the MLB World Series in San Francisco.
Mone Davis, most of all brought joy and a humble attitude that captivated all baseball fans and non- baseball fans. It will be interesting to see her age and see how her journey in life evolves. Don’t be surprised if this is not the last we hear from her.
Images courtesy of Gene J Puskar/AP, Al Tielmans SI/Getty Images, Littleleaguenow.org, Rob Carr/Getty Images