With the rugby Junior World Championships and Winter Tours well under way, together with Euro 2012 commencing, it’s been many a sleepless night from Melbourne in the lead up to the London Olympics; and what a bountiful load of material we have seen in the week’s sport for today’s weekly award.
This week has probably been my most difficult to complete; not through lack of nominations, but through sheer volume of them. Accordingly, these are some of my absolute favourites to date. Apologies to the multitude of nominations that missed out – and yes, sadly over 30 classic moments which would have made any other week were discarded.
Fittingly, these nominations are, I believe, quite supreme. Stand up and take a bow:
Honourable Mention: Usain Bolt (Jamaica) (Athletics)
It hurts. Usain Bolt, a personal hero, brought down to earth with a mention in the Batfist awards. But when one is as silly as Bolt was on Sunday, it’s impossible to ignore.
Bolt and fellow countryman Asafa Powell were partying into the early hours with friends in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, after returning home from the Diamond League meet in Norway. Bolt managed to recover from a poor start in the 100m event at the meet and win his pet event from Powell, recording a time of 9.76 seconds and remaining undefeated this year in the lead-up to London. If only his foot speed skills matched his driving ability.
On his way home, Bolt managed to somehow get himself involved in a “simple fender-bender” in his BMW, where he apparently lost control and ran into a guard rail.
“Fender-bender”? Try the front end smashed in. See for yourself:
Bolt was unhurt, Powell was one of the first on the scene, and police are still investigating after alcohol has been ruled out as being a factor.
1. Remember 2009, Usain? Where you flipped your car inexplicably as well? Coincidentally, also a BMW? If you don’t, here’s the picture:
Now, I’m not casting dispersions on your driving ability, but maybe you need to stay away from black BMWs; and
2. Asafa Powell must REALLY be getting sick of being split seconds late to where ALL the action is.
Honourable Mention: English sporting press (England) (Rugby)
Ahh, it’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? English cockiness, English arrogance, English self-praise in the press.
Actually, no. It’s one of the worst things a sports fan can be subjected to on the planet. But when it all goes horribly wrong, sports fans around the world unite in celebration; and that’s exactly what happened on Saturday night (Sunday morning, Australian time) when a new-look Springboks team faced off against the Motherland in Durban.
Many an English journo and fan spouted about how the Poms were going to take the prized Springbok scalp, at home, under new coach Heyneke Meyer. After all, a new team needs time to gel, right? Two new locks, a young side, an entirely new leadership group, discontentment amongst fans with some selections – this was England’s time to shine, time to smash the Bokke into the Kings Park turf. It was the best chance they were going to get to defeat the green and gold, and they were primed.
In fact, not only were they amped for it, they made it no secret. Stuart Lancaster, England’s coach, declared that it was their time, even stating “if we are serious about becoming one of the best sides in the world, which is ultimately what we are, we need to benchmark ourselves…“
Benchmark themselves, they did. In wet conditions, the much talked about English pack was brutalised by the Springboks, their front row all but sodomised, and the Boks attack carved through sloppy defence that saw England lose their cool – and the match.
But the best part about it? English silence.
It’s going to be a difficult tour if they not only left their best chance go begging, they suffered injuries to key players and now face the challenge of rebuilding for Johannesburg this weekend.
Oh, and for the record? The Boks didn’t even play that well – and they STILL won.
Third place: Denesh Ramdin (West Indies) (Cricket)
Oh, yes – the English feature in a different sport in another nomination this week, but for very different reasons. The West Indies tour of England is well underway and with the imminent return of class all-rounder Chris Gayle to come, one could be forgiven for thinking the most excitement was still a few weeks away.
Cue Denesh Ramdin and Tito Best – the number 7 and number 11 batsmen, to bring a bit of spark to the Windies scorecard.
When Best walked in at 9/283, most would have thought that the West Indian innings would be over shortly. What no one would have expected was that wicket to fall after amassing a 143 run partnership – 95 of which belonged to Best.
But what was probably more surprising was the reaction of Ramdin when he made his century. Ramdin turned, pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and held up a defiant sign, reading “Yea Viv Talk Nah”.
Although it initially left most people who witnessed the display scratching their heads, the sign was directed at none other than cricketing icon Sir Viv Richards, after he had earlier made comments about Ramdin’s recent form, stating “[He] just looks out of sorts. When he first came into the game I felt he was a huge prospect. For some reason he has deteriorated in such a big way. Just the way he is walking back, he looks like a totally lost guy.“
Hardly cutting criticism from one of the world’s finest cricketers, but hey, what do you know?
As a result, Ramdin was fined 20% of his match fee and apologised for his actions in the heat of the moment.
At least Sir Viv made his comments in complete sentences.
Second Place: Khalil Al Ghamdi (Saudi Arabia) (Football)
If there’s one thing that World Cup qualifying matches bring with it, it’s some level of controversy, whether it’s with team selections, player attitudes, the lead up, the venue, the scheduling – or in this case, the referee.
Al Ghamdi was left in charge of the World Cup Qualifying match between Australia and Japan, in what appeared to be a difficult ask for the Socceroos. Having a short turn-around from the round in Oman, playing in oppressive heat was always going to be hard, but the boys in gold had history of pulling out remarkable performances in recent years.
What the Socceroos, nor the Japanese team had failed to factor in, was the influence that referee Khalil Al Ghamdi would play on the match.
In a game filled with more yellow cards than the entire World Cup, in a match which saw Australia’s Mark Milligan sent off controversially and in a battle which saw Australia score off a ridiculous penalty, you can be excused for trying to figure out exactly went wrong.
Even worse for fans of Japan, after scoring 9 goals in two weeks, the boys in blue were denied their last chance shot at goal when Ghamdi blew his whistle for time – presumably in a move to get the hell out of the stadium.
Fans,commentators, players and administrators were left shaking their heads, but I found one fan’s reaction particularly impressive:
You know you’ve done a cracking job when your Wikipedia page gets hacked.
Winner – Batfist of the Week – judges in the Manny Pacquiao v Timothy Bradley title fight
What a disgrace this was. Almost a week later and I’m still shaking my head.
In one of the most hyped and anticipated fights in a long time, undefeated underdog Timothy Bradley was taking on the world champion, Manny Pacquiao, for the WBO Welterweight title. Bradley, standing at 5’6″ and with a record of 29 fights , 28 wins and a no contest, challenged the PacMan, a boxer who, at 5’6 1/2″ with an impressive record of 59 fights for 54 wins, 3 losses and 2 draws, drew world-wide admiration for his skills and finesse; and with a winner takes all dual, neither was prepared to back down.
The fight lasted the full 12 rounds and despite Bradley sneaking the last few rounds from Pacquiao, it was a pretty much unanimous view amongst anyone that had watched the fight that the PacMan had retained his title.
Unanimous of course, except for the judges.
In one of the most disappointing and disillusioning decisions of recent times, Bradley was awarded the fight on a split decision from judges, thereby earning the title.
I could go on for pages about the disgust that was echoed around the world at the decision, but with the buzz words being “boxing”, “corruption”, “fixed”, “bookies”, etc… well, you get the general idea.
To his credit, even Bradley admitted he thought Pacquiao had won the fight.
Boxing is a sport that I love, but is rapidly losing support for a multitude of reasons. When you see decisions like this, it’s not hard to understand why.
Pacquiao supporters were quick to vent their displeasure and request a re-match – in Pacquiao’s home of the Phillipines instead of Bradley’s home of the USA – but I know one thing for sure.
If I was going to get anyone really, really annoyed, a world champion boxer is probably very low on the list.
So to the judges from the Pacman v Bradley fight on Sunday, for your incredible ability to make even the most ardent fans disillusioned in your sport, well done – you are this week’s winners of Batfist of the Week.