Category Archives: Sport

Surfing Orgs Fight Over Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Ending an argument we’re sure has happened at least once on a slow afternoon in a bar somewhere, a court will finally decide whether stand-up paddleboarding is closer to surfing or canoeing. The New York Times reports the Court of Arbitration for Sport has been asked to settle a dispute between the International Surfing Association and International Canoe Federation, both of which are fighting for control of the increasingly popular sport of stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP. The battle for control of SUP has become more urgent as the Olympics is considering adding it to future games.

The ISA argues SUP is performed on a board, like surfing; it also claims it’s been holding SUP competitions for years, Deadspin reports. The ICF counters that SUP uses a paddle. “Propulsion using a paddle is basically canoeing,” the ICF secretary general says. “Standing up or sitting down is irrelevant.” But the ISA claims the ICF is trying to jump on the bandwagon. “We have a track record of doing this,” Reuters quotes the ISA president as saying. “At the ICF now there is an interest of how they can be part of the popularity of the sport.” The ISA calls itself “the historical rightful custodian” of SUP, and the ICF claims its opponent has rejected all offers of compromise. No date has been set for the court’s decision.

Cyclist Tried Poop Doping

 It probably won’t ever become the focus of a hit sports movie—not even if they call it Poosiers—but “poop doping” is a real thing and could possibly give competitive cyclists an edge. That’s according to microbiologist and mountain biker Lauren Petersen, who tells Bicycling magazine that after being sick for more than a decade with Lyme Disease, in 2014 she gave herself an at-home fecal transplant from somebody who happened to be another racer. Petersen says she not only felt much better after the stool transplant, she upped her training to five days a week and was winning races within months, though her experience proves correlation, not causation. “I wondered if I had gotten my microbiome from a couch potato, not a racer, if I would I be doing so well,” says Petersen.

Petersen—who says the procedure was “not fun” but “pretty basic”—says she started collecting stool samples from top racers and found that a microorganism called Prevotella was found in almost all top racers but less than 10{a8f9cf3d21265415501ee34580aaba6cbc8d0fd8c819137ce9b5604650f9c5af} of the general population. She is now doing more research into Prevotella, which is believed to help muscle recovery. Other experts, however, are skeptical, telling the Washington Post that it is far too early to draw conclusions—and warning that “bacterial doping” at home could be very dangerous. (Petersen herself acknowledges the risk and isn’t endorsing it.) At the Big Lead blog, Tully Corcoran argues that if poop doping is what cyclists really want to do, we should “all just go ahead and let them, for crying out loud.” (Researchers believe fecal transplants could also help with weight loss.)

Alex Honnold scaled granite-face El Capitan in 3 hours, 56 minutes

A California rock climber has become the first person to conquer Yosemite’s El Capitan without using ropes, USA Today reports. Alex Honnold, 31, scaled the nearly 3,000-foot peak on Saturday going free solo, meaning he didn’t use ropes, harness, or other safety equipment. “This is the ‘moon landing’ of free-soloing,” fellow climber Tommy Caldwell tells National Geographic. It’s a particularly daunting prospect since the Guardian notes the granite peak is ranked as among the most difficult, with some hand-holds the width of raisins. After stunning the climbing world with other rope-free feats, Honnold had quietly trained for his latest exploit for more than a year. After spending the night in his van, Honnold pulled on a red T-shirt, nylon pants, and sticky-soled climbing shoes.

With chalk to keep his hands dry tucked in a bag around his waist, Honnold set off at 5:32am. He made the summit three hours and 56 minutes later. “So stoked to realize a life dream today :)” he tweeted. Caldwell and a National Geographic crew were along for the climb, which they filmed for a documentary. “Alex was on fire,” Caldwell tells the mag, which called the feat the greatest in the history of pure rock climbing. Honnold had ditched an earlier bid to climb El Capitan in November, saying it didn’t feel right. This time around, Honnold confesses he was “slightly nervous” at the bottom. “I mean it’s a freaking big wall above you.” But as he began his ascent, he adds, “the climbing just felt amazing.” (Tense moments when a 1,500-poundrock pinned this climber.)

Sloane Stephens Falls Short Against Alison Riske

 Competing for the first time in 11 months, Sloane Stephens had an unfortunate draw for her opening match at Wimbledon on Tuesday: Alison Riske, a fellow American who is most comfortable on English lawns.

Riske, who is ranked 46th in the world, quickly ended the first stage of Stephens’s comeback from a foot injury with a 6-2, 7-5 win.

“Obviously, it’s a big task to play Ali in the first round,” said Stephens, 24, who has not competed since a first-round loss to Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last summer. Her best surface is grass. I did the best I could. I’m pleased with — I mean, obviously, not that I didn’t win — but that I was able to get out there and I was pain-free.”

Stephens, who has succeeded on all surfaces and has been ranked as high as 11th in the world, said she did not know what to expect in her return.

“I have been practicing and playing practice sets and matches and stuff, but it’s totally different when you get into a match situation,” she said. “It’s been a while, so it was different than practicing with people that I’m comfortable with.”

Riske’s first 13 tour-level wins in main-draw matches, from 2010 to 2013, all came on grass, a remarkable statistic given the small window of the grass season (and the lack of grass courts in her native Pittsburgh). Since then, she has improved on the other surfaces, but this stretch of the calendar remains special to her.

“I definitely have an affinity for it,” Riske said.

Though sure of her footing on a surface that perplexes many, Riske did not know what to expect from her opponent. In fact, until she heard the name of her first-round foe, she thought Stephens would be out until the hardcourt season.

“It was too bad I had to play a fellow American,” Riske said, “and especially because it was her first tournament back, so you weren’t sure exactly what you were going to get.”

Stephens had planned to return at the beginning of this season. She had a full off-season of training, and even traveled to Sydney for an Australian Open warm-up event. But after she felt further pain, a magnetic resonance imaging examination revealed a stress fracture in her left navicular, a bone at the top of the foot near the ankle.

Stephens had surgery in January and had to wear a boot and walk with her left leg propped up on a scooter. During that time, she worked for the Tennis Channel, which she said was a revelatory experience.

“There are so many things that commentators don’t see because, obviously, they are not in the locker room and not physically with us all the time,” she said. “It was just weird to be like, ‘Oh, that’s why they say that,’ or, ‘That’s why they, like, don’t know what’s going on.’”

She said she had thought: “Do you not read the paper? Do you not look at our Instagram?”

Currently No. 336 in the world because of her time away, Stephens entered Wimbledon with a protected ranking, which allows her entry into tournaments based on her old status. Stephens will be able to use the protection at seven events within the next year. She has agreed to play in World TeamTennis for the Philadelphia Freedoms, whose season starts in the middle of this month and ends in early August, and then return to the WTA Tour.

The top of the WTA Tour may be changing soon, with third-ranked Karolina Pliskova in position to claim the No. 1 ranking from Angelique Kerber during Wimbledon. Pliskova won convincingly, 6-1, 6-4, in her opening match against Evgeniya Rodina.

Kerber, who reached the final here last year, needs to do so again to have any chance of retaining the top spot. On Tuesday, she beat the American qualifier Irina Falconi, 6-4, 6-4.

Another past finalist, the ninth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, beat Jelena Jankovic, 7-6 (3), 6-0.

Aside from the Riske-Stephens match, there were two others between American women on Tuesday: Shelby Rogers defeated Julia Boserup, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, and Varvara Lepchenko beat the 28th-seeded Lauren Davis, 6-4, 7-5.

The highest seed to lose Tuesday was No. 16, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who was defeated, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 9-7, by Arina Rodionova, an Australian qualifier.

Rodionova was the only one of the nine Australians in the men’s and women’s singles draws to advance to the second round. Australia’s top woman, the 20th-seeded Daria Gavrilova, lost 6-4, 2-6, 10-8, to a qualifier, Petra Martic of Croatia. Martic recently reached the fourth round of the French Open, also as a qualifier.

Olympic 100-meter swim

Rio Olympics 100-meter freestyle gold medalist Kyle Chalmers has withdrawn from July’s world swimming championships to undergo surgery for a worsening heart condition.

Chalmers has supraventricular tachycardia, or recurrent rapid heartbeat, that is normally not life-threatening but can impact on his quality of life.

“I have increasingly begun to suffer from an abnormally fast heart rhythm during training and competitions, which now requires surgery,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “I have had surgery in the past and, unfortunately, it did not work.”

The 18-year-old Chalmers said it was a difficult decision to miss the world championships in Budapest, but he did so with a longer-term view, setting his sights on the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.

In April, he finished second to Cameron McEvoy at the Australian championships.

Swimming Australia head coach Jacco Verhaeren said athletes’ health and well-being were the priority.

“We are at the beginning of a new Olympic cycle and, for some of our athletes, we need to look at longevity to allow them to stay at the highest level for longer,” he said. “Kyle has our full support and we know he will use this time away from competition positively and to his advantage to return for a home Commonwealth Games in 2018 and beyond.”

Chalmers will have the heart operation within several weeks.

“There is never a good time for this type of procedure, but given I’ve suffered from these symptoms during two of the past three major meets and, following my doctor’s advice, I have made the tough decision to withdraw,” he said.

Victory caps team’s 50th season

Sidney Crosby is bringing the Stanley Cup back home to Pittsburgh for a second consecutive year. Patric Hornqvist scored with 1:35 left and Matt Murray made 27 saves for his second straight shutout as the Penguins became the NHL’s first team in nearly two decades to repeat as champions following a 2-0 win over the Nashville Predators in Game 6 in Nashville on Sunday night. The Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and ’98 were the last champions to defend their title, but the Penguins are the first to do it in the salary cap era, the AP reports. They will cap their 50th season with their names on the most famous silver cup in sports for the fifth time.

It is the third championship for Crosby and a handful of teammates from the 2009 title team, surpassing the two won by the Penguins teams led by current owner Mario Lemieux in the 1990s. “We knew it was going to be tough all year, but we just tried to keep with it,” says Crosby, who won his second Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP. “We had a lot of injuries and things like that. We just kept finding ways. That was really what we did all season, all playoffs. It’s great to be able to do it.” Nashville lost for just the first time in regulation on home ice this postseason. The game coincided with the final night of the CMA Music Festival, bringing more than 100,000 to downtown Nashville.

6th-place Kentucky Derby finisher skipped Preakness, gives trainer 3rd Belmont victory

The road to the winner’s circle in the Belmont Stakes ran through the Kentucky Derby, even if the Derby and Preakness winners skipped the final leg of the Triple Crown. Tapwrit overtook favored Irish War Cry in the stretch to win by two lengths on Saturday, giving trainer Todd Pletcher his third career victory in the Belmont. He won in 2007 with filly Rags to Riches and in 2013 with Palace Malice. The first four finishers all followed a well-worn path: run in the Derby, skip the Preakness and come back fresh for the Belmont. Five of the last nine Belmont winners did just that. Tapwrit finished sixth in the 20-horse Derby after encountering traffic in what Pletcher described as “a sneaky good” race. “We felt like with the five weeks in between, and with the way this horse had trained, that he had a legitimate chance,” said Pletcher, per the AP. “I think that’s always an advantage.

Irish War Cry was 10th after pressing the early pace in the May 6 race. Patch took third in the Belmont after being 14th in the Derby. Gormley, ninth in the Derby, finished fourth Saturday. Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Tapwrit ran 1 1/2 miles in 2:30.02 on his home track. Ortiz’s brother Irad Jr. won the race last year with Creator. “The distance, I was sure he could handle it,” Ortiz said. Tapwrit paid $12.60, $6.50 and $5 at 5-1 odds. Pletcher took two of the year’s three Triple Crown races, having saddled Always Dreaming to victory in the Derby. “The last five weeks have been the ultimate roller coaster,” he said. “We felt really good coming in that both horses were doing very well. We felt like both horses suited the mile and a half distance. Fortunately, it all fell into place.” Tapwrit, a 3-year-old gray colt, was purchased for $1.2 million, making him the most expensive horse in the field.

There will be a rematch

Manny Pacquiao guaranteed a return bout with Jeff Horn Monday night, shelving calls to end a sterling ring career outright.

“There’s a rematch,” Pacquiao said after having late dinner at his mansion here.

Beaten by Horn in their showdown for the World Boxing Organization welterweight crown Sunday in Brisbane,
Pacquiao wants to exact revenge on the Australian, who roughed him up to earn a disputable unanimous
decision.

Horn said during the post-fight conference Sunday that he is willing to give Pacquiao a chance to regain the 147-pound crown anywhere, including the Philippines.

On Monday, however, when Horn was being feted in his hometown, he announced that if ever there will be a rematch, it should be held again n Brisbane.

Owing to the tremendous success of “Battle in Brisbane,” which reportedly enriched the city coffers by $25 million aside from gaining worldwide attention, Brisbane officials have endorsed Pacquiao-Horn II.

Informed of the development, Pacquiao said he won’t mind returning to Suncorp Stadium to seek revenge on Horn.

“Even in Brisbane, no problem,” said Pacquiao, who’s out for revenge. “There will be talks.”

One of the chief concerns is when will the bout be staged.

The original timetable is for Pacquiao to fight in November, but it still hinges on Pacquiao’s work as a senator and how swift negotiations between the Pacquiao camp and Horn’s handlers will be done.

Side issues include the fighters’ purses and the event’s coverage.

In the first fight, Pacquiao reportedly got $10 M and Horn $500,000. ESPN aired “Battle of Brisbane” on free television and posted viewership record.

Back at home with his children, Pacquiao said he would rest for a while the Senate is on break. “I’ll relax first.”

But once the rematch deal is signed, Pacquiao will get to work and put his aging body in the best shape possible.

With his legacy secured, 11-time world champion in an unprecedented eight divisions, Pacquiao said it would be easy for him to walk away.

Closing his career, with a loss however, is unacceptable for Pacquiao. If he retires, it should be on a winning note.

Badminton crowdfunding would be a ‘huge’ boost

The sport received £5.5m in the build-up to Rio 2016, where GB’s Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge won bronze.

However, UK Sport felt GB players – who claimed four European medals last week – were not “credible” Tokyo 2020 medal prospects and cut all support.

“A little public support could make a big difference,” said Rajiv Ouseph.

UK Sport’s funding cut – announced in late 2016 – came into effect on 1 April.

The crowdfunding campaign has been launched by Badminton England – from which the majority of the British squad are drawn.

The cut resulted in half of the 24-strong England Badminton player squad leaving, while 13 staff members – including physiotherapists and doctors – lost their jobs.

“Personally, there aren’t as many players around for me to play with now and most of the support staff we’ve had in place have left, so any help would be massive,” European singles champion Ouseph told BBC Sport.

The team’s performance director Jon Austin admits delivering the news to the squad was one of the most difficult moments of his career.

“It was a decision which could potentially end people’s dreams and careers and I broke down in front of the players and staff having to do that,” he said.

“I still feel the decision [by UK Sport] was unjust, but we are trying to move forwards and the crowdfunding is designed to best support those that remain in the programme going forwards.”

Commonwealth champions Chris and Gabby Adcock – who claimed a maiden European gold medal last week – believe the British results at the event in Denmark prove the potential in the squad.

“It’s been a tough time for the team, no-one is denying that, but everyone has been really resilient and stuck together throughout,” Gabby Adcock told BBC Sport.

“Being an athlete is a rollercoaster and UK Sport is just another bump in the road so we won’t let it distract from our goals and the big things that we want to achieve.”

Chris Adcock added: “Everyone is fighting and we will find a way to succeed.”

The bowling out of the gutter

 

In an era a long, long time ago, Filipino tenpin bowlers were rock stars.

It was a time when a tall and dashing mestizo, Paeng Nepomuceno, loomed large as the sport’s poster boy, an era when queues of youngsters wanting to be trained by the local masters were long and the bowling centers were the “in” places to be.

Nepomuceno, Bong Coo, Lita dela Rosa, Arianne Cerdeña, Bec Watanabe and Ollie Ongtawco left for overseas competitions one after the other and came back home with  world or continental titles.

Theirs was an unparalleled two-decade (1976-1996) victory parade that made them household names, adored like the land’s basketball superstars.

Filipino bowlers crowded the Americans as the finest in the world, and the 6-foot-2 Nepomuceno exemplified the country’s preeminence with four World Cup victories, three of them coming in different decades.

But bowling’s halcyon days slowly came to an end as a series of leadership disputes and a lack of sustainable development in the sport, according to two former national team stalwarts, created thick cobwebs that smothered the sport for protracted periods.

Victories later came far and between. Christian Jan Suarez claimed the 2003 World Cup in Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Liza del Rosario, Liza Clutario and Cecilia Yap ruled the women’s trio in the FIQ World Tenpin Bowling Championships in Kuala Lumpur in the same year, and Biboy Rivera seized the Masters title in both the FIQ championships in Busan, South Korea, and the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. Disappointingly, nothing followed these feats.

Last year, the depths into which the country’s hopes in bowling had slipped was magnified when Filipinos managed just two bronze medals in the 10-event Southeast Asian Games competition in Singapore. Thirty-eight years after swashbuckling Filipino bowlers grabbed seven of the eight golds disputed in the 1977 edition of the Games (they settled for the silver in the eighth event), Philippine bowling finally came to grief.

“In the 1970s and ’80s, we were next to basketball in terms of popularity,” said Philippine Bowling Federation (PBF) president Steve Hontiveros. “It breaks the heart that it’s no longer the case now. We need to make up for the lean years by making the sport stronger again.”

What caused this monumental decline?

“Technology; the game has changed,” says the legendary Nepomuceno, who won the World Cup as a 19-year-old in 1976 in Tehran and then in 1980 in Jakarta, 1992 in Le Mans, France; and 1996 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

“Science and technology took over and we were left behind technology-wise. These days you need to match your ball with the bowling lane, for example. If you don’t know how to match them, you’re already at a disadvantage. During our time, it took pure talent to curve a ball. Now the ball can do it for you.

“Times have also changed training-wise. We used to train all day because we were full-time athletes,” adds the 59-year-old Nepomuceno. “Now the bowlers train only in the evening, after office hours.”

To help stop the malady, the PBF has tapped Nepomuceno as head coach of the national men’s and women’s teams. With him in the coaching staff are top-notch players themselves: United States Bowling Congress (USBC)-certified coaches Rivera and Jojo Canare, as well as Rey Reyes and Johnson Cheng.

Considered the greatest bowler of all time, Nepomuceno is actually following in the footsteps of his late beloved father-coach Angel, who guided his son to the bulk of his 130-plus national and international titles—one of three Guinness Book of World Record entries attributed to Nepomuceno. He is also cited for being the youngest World Cup winner at 19 and for his four victories in all.

The big decline in the number of major tournaments also contributed to the paralysis, says Nepomuceno, an international bowling Hall of Famer like Coo and Dela Rosa, who is armed with the prestigious “Gold Coach” certification from the USBC.

“You get better when you compete in tournaments,” says Nepomuceno. “These days the bowlers do not have the luxury of choosing tournaments to play in simply because there is a lack of big tournaments in the first place.”

Adds Hontiveros: “Many bowling centers have closed and the remaining few still in operation, like the bowling clubs, are hard-pressed to come up with tournaments. It’s difficult to put up money for such events.”

Hontiveros recalls how players from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries in the Middle East, used to come over to train alongside their Filipino idols. Filipino bowling coaches snagged top-paying jobs in the Middle East, one of them national mentor Toti Lopa, who was hired to coach the UAE national team.

“These days the Qataris and the UAE players are among the best in the world,” says Hontiveros, the president of FIQ (the French acronym for International Tenpin Bowling Federation) from 1992 to 1997 and for more than two decades the head of the Philippine Bowling Congress, the PBF’s predecessor, until he stepped down in 2000. “We were left behind because the rest have all the equipment and the motivation to play very well.”

Early this year, with the PBF in its most serious state of disarray, Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco Jr. stepped in and urged Hontiveros to lead efforts to “essentially build a new bowling federation.”

With the blessings of the World Tenpin Bowling Association (formerly FIQ), Hontiveros gathered all the sport’s stakeholders. With the appointment of Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto, himself a former World Cupper, as PBF chair, the group drew up a new list of members and drafted a new charter. The 59-year-old Nepomuceno gave the initiative a massive boost by offering to become the national team’s head coach.

“We have set up a new organization and are developing the grassroots,” says PBF secretary general Alex Lim. “We are seeing a lot of potentials, even in the provinces.”

Nepomuceno says they will hold eliminations to choose the members of the national pool in November. From that pool they will form the six-man, six-woman PH teams that will compete in the World Combined Championships in Kuwait for the first time after three failed attempts at qualification.

“My initial work is to craft the National Bowling Pool Training Program,” he says. “It is focused on the bowlers’ physical game, lane play, understanding of equipment

, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and most importantly, mental preparation. It involves several training modules incorporated into the national pool’s training and competition calendar.”

Nepomuceno says the golden age of bowling from the mid-1970s to mid-’90s will always be an unforgettable part of the country’s sports history.

“The process of reviving that era is definitely arduous but we are certain that our aggressive and consistent effort will put the sport back to where it was once was,” he said.

With Nepomuceno rolling the first ball, the pins loom large for Philippine bowling’s long-awaited comeback.