Monday, July 30, 2012

An Iraqi Olympian: Dana Hussein Abdul Razzaq دانة حسين عبد الرزاق (Abdulrazaq Danah)

My blogs have been getting quite a lot of hits thanks to Iraqi sprinter Dana Hussein Abdul-Razzaq دانة حسين عبد الرزاق  (Abdulrazaq Danah). Dana had the honor of carrying the Iraqi flag at the London Olympics Opening Ceremonies.

Read: "Track Beauty of the Week - Dana Abdul Razzaq"

Dana definitely has the talent to excel in the world stage, having personal bests of 11.76s and 24.49s in the 100m and 200m. Remarkably, Dana trains in Iraq despite the security situation.

At the 2011 Arab Games, Dana came second to Lebanon's Gretta Taslakian

The Iraqi sprinter's hopes of an Olympic medal might be dim at the moment, but in light of the circumstances of her home country, her mere presence in London is an achievement in itself.

Godspeed, Dana!

EC2012 Triple Jump: Olha Saladukha (Olha Saladuha Ольга Саладуха) takes gold

I love watching the triple jump because of its highly technical nature. The way the athletes hop, skip, and step to amazing distances is a graceful exercise that evokes wonder for this athletics aficionado. 

However, the event has not been given the same attention as the more popular disciplines like the men's 100m dash. I got thoroughly pissed off while watching the Adidas Grand Prix, a Diamond League meeting, last month. The directors of the telecast opted to air round-after-round of a pedestrian long jump competition over the women's triple jump competition!

Thankfully, the same mistakes were not repeated during Eurosport's broadcast of the 2012 European Championships in Helsinki. Ukrainian Olga Saladukha (Olga Saladuha Ольга Саладуха) went tantalizingly close to the 15 meter barrier, as she leaped to 14.99m to outclass the rest of the field. Patricia Momona (14.52m) and Yana Borodina (14.56m) came in 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Simona La Mantia (14.52m), Dana Velďáková (14.24m), and, Niki Paneta Νίκη Πανέτα (14.23m) comprised the subsequent places.

The 2011 European U23 Champion, Voula Papachristou (Paraskevi Papachristou Παρασκευή Παπαχρήστου) finished in a disappointing 11th place (13.89m).

I am particularly excited about the upcoming slug fest in the women's triple jump in London. An in-form Saladukha will be hard to beat. But with the likes of 2010 World Indoor Champion Olga Rypakova Ольга Рыпакова, two-time World Champion Yargelis Savigne, the South American Champion Caterine Ibargüen, and the inspired hometown bet Yamilé Aldama in the fore, the competition has the makings of classic.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Olga Rypakova Ольга Сергеевна Рыпакова

Olga Rypakova Ольга Сергеевна Рыпакова is this week's Track Beauty!

The Kazakh triple jumper is one of the best in her event. Rypakova has jumped 15.25m outdoors and 15.14m indoors, both Asian records. She also has a world-class personal best in the long jump at 6.85m. Olga is the 7th best triple jumper all-time. 

Photo from Erik van Leeuwen
Aside from the triple jump, the Kazakh has had respectable performances in the long jump and the heptathlon. In fact, she started out as a long jumper, making her international debut at the 2000 World Junior Championships in Chile. As a youth heptathlete, Rypakova missed the podium at the World Youth Championships in Debrecen back in 2001.A year later at the World Junior Championships in Kingston, the then 18-year old Rypakova snared a silver medal in the heptathlon.

Learn more about Rypakova

The Kazakh had won Asian Games titles in the triple jump and heptathlon and an Asian Games silver and bronze in the long jump, demonstrating her dominance in continental competition.

She came into prominence at the 2010 World Indoor Championships in Doha, outclassing Cuba's Yargelis Savigne in the final. Rypakova's two best jumps of 15.14m and 14.93m were enough to put the Cuban out of contention. With her victory in Doha, Rypakova climbed up to third place in the World indoor all-time list.

Since her breakout 2010 season, Olga has yet to go beyond 15 meters. In the runup to the London Olympics, Olga (14.73m SB) is trailing world leader Olha Saladukha Ольга Саладуха (14.99m SB), Cathrine Ibarguen (14.95A SB), and Kseniya Dziatsuk (14.76m SB) in terms of season's bests. Nevertheless, her strong showing at the Daegu World Championships (2nd place) and the Istanbul World Indoor Championships (2nd) puts her in strong contention for Olympic gold.

Additional Link:
Focus on Athletes - Olga Rypakova


Holly Bleasdale vs. Yelena Isinbayeva

Pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva (Елена Исинбаева) always makes her first jump when everyone else had made theirs. The Russian usually isolates herself from the other competitors, opting to cover her face with a towel and nap. British Olympic hopeful Holly Bleasdale was not amused. She called Isinbayeva "disrespectful" and likened her to a "tramp."

Read Tom Battaglia's column on Bleasdale's comments 

Holly Bleasdale at the Palais des Sports d'Orléans. (Photo from Defeder)
Track athletes nowadays feature non of the banter and trash talk prevalent in other sports. Although Bleasdale's words could somewhat help in drumming up interest in the sport, it would have been better if she had been a little more respectful of Isinbayeva.

Yelena Isinbayeva at the Doha World Indoors. (Photo from Erik van Leeuwen)
The sight of tens of thousands of British spectators cheering for a Bleasdale victory would be a sight to behold. I would love to see Bleasdale on top of the Olympic podium, but I'll have to root for Isinbayeva on this one. Despite Yelena's tag as the most dominant female vaulter in history, she has not been in top form of late, showing chinks in her armor the past few years.

After everything that Yelena has been through it would seem just for the Russian to strike gold one last time.

Christine Sonali Merrill’s Balancing Act and Olympic Hopes

Christine Sonali Merrill deserves a shoutout.

Christine Merrill. (Photo from Djh57/Wikimedia Commons)
The American-born Sri Lankan hurdler will compete in the London Olympics as a wild card, having missed the Olympic “B” standard by almost two-hundredths of a second. She has a personal best of 56.83s, set during the preliminary rounds of the Asian Athletics Championships last year in Kobe. Merrill eventually wound up in 3rd place, thanks to a strong finish.

Click this link to read the full article...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


London-bound Triple Jumper Voula Papachristou (Paraskevi Papachristou Παρασκευή Παπαχρήστου) has been expelled from the Greek Olympic Team because of a racist tweet.

The following was translated using Google:

 She also retweeted a post by a right-wing Greek politician.

Papachristou has apologized publicly, but the Greek authorities seem steadfast with their decision:

“I would like to apologize to all my friends and fellow athletes, who I may have insulted or shamed, the National Team, as well as the people and companies who support my athletic career. Finally, I would like to apologize to my coach and my family.”

Things do get lost in transation. If you can read Greek, read the original tweet below:

Xue Chen 薛晨 and Zhang Xi (CHN, Beach Volleyball)

Beach volleyball is one of the youngest sports in the Olympics. Because of its unique setting and interesting play, the event has seen its following grow the past few years. 

Xue and Zhang at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. (Photos from leon li)

The duo of Xue Chen  薛晨 and Zhang Xi are China's best beach volleyball pair. Since their partnership began in 2006, Xue and Zhang had won bronze medals in the Beijing Olympics and the 2011 World Championships, on top of an Asian Games gold in 2006. The Chinese duo also have two Asian Beach Volleyball Championships titles.

Xue, the more popular of the pair, is younger by Zhang by four years. In 2006, the then 17-year old Xue grabbed Women's FIVB World Tour "Top Rookie" award.

They had a memorable run in 2010, when they broke the winning streak of the Brazilian pair of Franca-Silva at the FIVB World Tour Women's Final in Finland. 

Xue and Zhang will again compete for flag and country at the London Olympics. Grouped in Pool C of the preliminary round, the Chinese pair is slated to go head-to-head with Russia (VasinaVozakova), Switzerland (KuhnZumkehr), and Greece (ArvanitiTsiartsiani).


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pat Summitt Receives Arthur Ashe Award

This documentary on Pat Summitt, the most successful coach in U.S. collegiate basketball, almost moved me to tears.

 Additional Link:
Pat Summitt's Wikipedia Profile

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Irina Davydova Ирина Давыдова

Irina Davydova Ирина Давыдова is this week's Track Beauty!

Irina with her European Championships gold medal. (Photo from
Coming into 2012, Daydova had a relatively humble personal best of 55.48s in the 400m hurdles. Davydova made heads turn when she made her outdoor debut in Sochi last May. The Russian clocked 53.87s for her first ever foray under 54-seconds, shedding 1.61 seconds off her erstwhile lifetime best. In fact, she had yet to go under 55 seconds prior to this year! Her performance in Sochi propelled the 24-year old to the top of the 2012 world rankings.

Click here to watch the ECH 400mH W Final

Davydova lived up to her favorite tag at the Helskinki European Championships late last June. Irina was dominant, stopping the clock at yet another personal best of 53.77s, the fastest time in the world as of that month. Denisa Rosolová (54.24s) and Anna Yaroshchuk Ханна Ярощук (54.35s) were far off Davydova's pace. Yaroschuk beat Daydova to the World University Games hurdles gold in 2011.

Perhaps the indication for the newly-crowned European Champion's sudden rise is the improvement in her flat out 400m speed, which merited a selection to the Russian squad to the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, where Irina made it as far as the semifinals. 

Considering the fact that Helsinki was Davydova's major championship debut, the maturity that she displayed was impressive. 

With the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics barely a week away, Davydova is ranked as the second fastest intermediate hurdler this season, behind compatriot Natalya Antyukh (53.40s). Should Irina maintain her momentum, an Olympic gold medal is within reach.

Additional Link:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Michelle Jenneke: The Dancing Hurdler

My college coach suggested that I take up dancing classes a few years back, to improve hip mobility. I'm not really the dancing type, so I ignored his advice! I chose hurdle drills over dancing lessons! But then again, hip mobility is imperative for efficient hurdling clearance.

Screenshot from Al-Jazeera Sport
Michelle Jenneke obviously doesn't share my dancing shyness. The Australian junior has become the latest internet sensation, thanks to a viral Youtube video of her doing a pre-race dancing jig before her qualifying heat.

Lo and behold, this young Aussie is a hurdling gem. She topped her heat in effortless fashion, registering a time of 13.52s. She ran 13.41s in the semis, two-hundredths of second off her personal best. Jenneke’s technique is picture perfect. It is efficient. There is hardly any wasted movement. Her trail leg action, as expected, is remarkably snappy. She even clears with a bowed lead foot. Indeed, she is every inch the hurdling technician.

Michelle eventually wound up fifth in the final, stopping the clock in 13.54s.

You can see from her expression and her body language that she really loves what she is doing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: happy hurdlers are formidable competitors. The bubbly Aussie takes the concept further by adding the dance factor, reminiscent of such classy performers like Blanka Vlasic and Chaunte Lowe.


Netizens are calling her the new Allison Stokke. Let's just hope that this does not go overboard. 

Additional Links:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Future World Beater

Ariane Friedrich's achilles injury back in December 2010 did not leave a void in German high jumping. Instead, it left the field wide open for up and coming athletes to excel. One such talent is Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch. 

She made her major championship debut at the European Indoor Championships in Paris. She finished 15th in qualifying, registering a mark of 1.89m - 3cm off her then indoor personal best of 1.93m. Marie-Laurence also failed to progress beyond the qualifying rounds at the Helsinki European Championships, as she placed outside the top 12. 

The young German immediately made amends. A few weeks after the European Championships, Jungfleisch soared to a new personal best of 1.95m in Luzern, ranking her 17th in the 2012 top list.

Marie-Laurence has yet to win her first ever major championship medal, much less a barge into the final. Judging by her solid jumping the past few seasons, expect the young German to gradually work her way up the high jump hierarchy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Helsinki European Champinships: Women's 4x400m Relay

The 4x400m relay has traditionally been the final event of athletics competitions. From low-key schools meets to the Olympics, the grueling yet exciting event has always been the curtain-ender. 

The recently concluded European Championships in Helsinki were no different. With the Russian Olympic Trials being held the week after, the European athletics powerhouse opted to send its "B" team to Helsinki. With the absence of the perennial favorites, other countries had the opportunity to step up and rise to the occasion. Coming into the European Championships, the Ukrainian quartet were the favorites, having run the fastest time by a European team (3:26.36) this season. The British squad, the reigning World Indoor champions from Istanbul, were also well-regarded. 

The German team (Esther Cremer, Janin Lindenberg, Christiane Klopsch, and Fabienne Kohlmann) sped to an early lead in the first lap. The Ukrainians eventually ate up the gap. By the third leg, the experienced Natalya Pyhyda Наталія Пигида padded Ukraine's lead by around 10 meters. France, Germany, and Great Britain ran head-to-head coming into the final lap. 

The Ukrainians lived up to their top billing, as the foursome of Yuliya Olishevska, Olha Zemlyak, Pyhyda, and Alina Lohvynenko stopped the clock at 3:25.07 - the fourth fastest time in the world in 2012. France (Phara Anacharsis, Luina Guion Firmin, Marie Gayot, and Floria Guei) came in second (3:25.49), almost two-tenths of a second ahead of the gutsy Czech squad (Zuzana Hejnová, Zuzana Bergrová, Jitka Bartoničková, and Denisa Rosolova - 3:26.02) composed mostly of 400m hurdlers. The favored British (Shana Cox, Nicola Sanders, Lee McConnell, and Eilidh Child) wound up in fourth place.

Ivet Lalova's Comeback

Ivet Lalova at the 2009 Berlin World Championships. (Photo from Erik van Leeuwen)
Ivet Lalova Ивет Лалова was one of the favorites to win a medal coming into the 2004 Athens Olympics. She had just set a new personal time of 10.77s, drawing level with Irina Privalova as the sixth fastest sprinter of all-time. Ivet, however, fell short of the podium in Athens. She finished in fourth place behind Yulia Nestsiarenka (10.93s), Lauryn Williams (10.96s), and Veronica Campbell-Brown (10.97s). 

Unfortunately, Lalova's career was sidetracked by a freak injury. While warming up for a competition in Greece, Lalova accidentally collided with another athlete. Ivet broke her femur, as a result. 

She struggled to recover in the subsequent years, as her performance dramatically dipped. Lalova's hard work and perseverance finally paid off when she won the European 100m title in Helsinki.

Angelica Bengtsson: Pole Vault's Rising Star

At just 19 years old, Angelica Bengtsson has won all the major age-group single titles.

The World Youth Champion from 2009, Bengtsson had topped the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore two years ago. Despite being just 17-years old, she also won gold at the World Junior Championships in Moncton the same year - a title which she successfully defended in Barcelona a few days back. Angelica is also the reigning European Junior Champion.

She has a personal best of 4.58m outdoors and 4.63m indoors. Indeed, Bengtsson is the future of pole vaulting. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Christina Vukicevic (Љубица Вукићевић) Interview

Watch the following interview with Christina Vukicevic (Љубица Вукићевић):

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Track Beauty of the Week: Murielle Ahouré

Murielle Ahouré is this week's Track Beauty!

The Ivorian sprinter has improved gradually the past few years. From an 11.42s best in the 100m dash in 2006, Ahouré came close to the 11-seconds in 2009, as she clocked 11.09s in Greensboro. She had forgettable campaigns in the next two years, but the 2012 season has been a revelation for the fast starting African sprinter. 

Ahouré at the 2012 Bislett Games. (Photo from Chell Hill)
Ahouré won a 60m dash silver at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, her debut at a major international competition. She timed 7.04s to finish second behind Jamaican legend Veronica Campbell-Brown (7.01s).

The 24-year old was able to translate her superb indoor form to the outdoor races. She had recently run a lifetime best of 11.00s at the Rome Diamond League, as she beat the defending Olympic 100m champion, Shellly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (11.06s). Ahouré also topped the half-lap sprint at the Bislett Games in Oslo, another Diamond League leg. The Ivorian stopped the clock in a new personal best of 22.42s.

Read: "London Olympics Preview - The 200m Dash"

Murielle is currently ranked 9th and 11th at the 100m and 200m season top lists, respectively. With the London Olympic Games barely two weeks away, the Ivorian is poised to make an impact judging by her sterling form.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Martina Hingis Photos

Martina Hingis at a practice session in Indian Wells 2006 (Photo from Akademan):

With Anna Kournikova Анна Сергеевна Ку́рникова at the 2002 Sydney WTA tournament (Photo from TwoWings):

The comebacking Hingis at the 2006 Australian Open. (Photos from pfctdayelise and "Graffiti By Numbers' Flickr account):

Adrienn Tóth (HUN, Modern Pentathlon)

The Modern Pentathlon is unique since it was invented especially for the Olympic Games. Modern pentathletes, as the name suggest, compete in five disciplines that aim to demonstrate the skills of a 19th century cavalry officer. The event was invented by Baron Pierre de Coubertin as "a test for an ideal, well-rounded soldier... [consisting] of shooting, one-touch épée fencing, a 200-meter swim, show jumping on an unfamiliar horse and a 3-kilometer run."

Photo from
Adrienn Tóth is an up and coming modern pentathlete. The Hungarian is currently ranked 21st in the Senior Pentathlon World Ranking, after notching respectable finishes at the World Championships held in Rome and in two editions of the World Cup. Tóth also placed second at the 2011 Senior European Championships in Medway. She was part of the silver medal winning Hungarian team during last year's World Modern Pentathlon Championships.

As a junior, she topped the World and European competitions for her age group back in 2007.

Tóth, according to the website, particularly excels in fencing. The Hungarian, in fact, scored her highest points tally to date (5596)  en route to winning the 2007 World Junior title. She has been involved with the unique sport since 2004.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Portrait Verena Sailer

Check out this interesting documentary on Verena Sailer!

Verena is Back!

My favorite moment of the 2010 Barcelona European Championships was when Verena Sailer stormed to first place at the 100m dash. Since then, I've been a fervent supporter of Verena. Unfortunately, the German sprinter's performance have been hampered by injury.

The Helsinki European Championships was her first major international since her breakout win in Barcelona a couple of years ago. The German champion performed magnificently. Sailer notched a season's best of 11.14s in the 1st Round. Verena (11.17s) finished second in her semifinal, behind the fast-finishing Olesya Povh Олеся Повх (11.13s)of Ukraine.

Sailer, however, missed the 100m dash podium as she crossed the finish line in fifth place (11.42s). 

But she did not leave Helsinki empty-handed.

The German 4x100m relay squad of Leena Gunther, Anne Cibis, Tatyana Lofamakanda Pinto, and Verena, demolished the opposition, stopping the clock in a European-leading time of 42.51s. The Dutch team was almost three-hundredths of a second behind the German victors, as a faulty baton exchange ruined the hopes of the favored Ukrainian quartet.

With their swashbuckling run in Helsinki, the Germans earned an outright ticket to London as the second-fastest team in the world this year.

Additional Links:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Rising Stars" by Joboy Quintos

It's always great to see featured Track Beauty athletes do well in international competition.

The European Championships have seen the rise of Moa Hjelmer, Jiřina Ptácniková, Alina Talai (Alina Talay Аліна Талай), Laura Ikauniece, Nikolia Kyriakopoulou (Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou Νικολέτα Κυριακοπούλου) and Margrethe RenstrømDafne Schippers and Gesa Felicitas Krause have also done well in Helsinki, as middle distance runner Katya Kostetskaya (Ekaterina Kostetskaya Екатерина Костецкая) made waves at the Russian Championships.

This confirms the fact that Track Beauty of the Week does not just feature mere eye candies, but women gifted with athletic excellence!

Photo from SVD Sport
Moa's surprise 400m dash performance in Helsinki is my favorite moment of the European Championships. Although the newly crowned European Champion had won a 200m dash bronze at the 2011 European U23 championships, her previous best at a major international were semifinals stints at the World Championships in Daegu and the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.

Photo from
Coming into Helsinki, the Czech had made the finals of the Daegu World Championships, two editions of the World Indoors, the 2010 European Championships, and the 2011 European Indoor Championships, where she placed fourth. Jirina could not seem to barge into the top three, despite such consistency. 

Her time finally came in Helsinki, where she won the title under the worst conditions possible!

The Belarussian hurdler had a breakthrough campaign at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, where she won her first ever major international medal - a bronze. She followed this up with a gutsy showing in Helsinki, finishing in second place behind two-time champion Nevin Yanit. 

Photo from Romualds Vambuts/
Ikauniece might just be the future of heptathlon. She is still just 20-years old and is rapidly improving. Laura had won World Youth silver and European Junior bronze the past few years. Her bronze medal-winning tally of 6,335 in Helsinki came in the wake of five personal bests.

Photo from
The 26-year old Kyriakopoulou has shown excellent form this season, churning out respectable performances in several meets like the Diamond League. Her European Championships bronze in Helsinki is her first ever major championship medal.

6.) Margrethe Renstrøm

Photo from
The Norwegian record holder won the bronze in the long jump. Renstrøm flew to a distance of 6.67m in the final, one-hundredth of a second off her 2-year old national record set at the Barcelona European Championships. This was her first major championship medal.

Photo from Erik van Leeuwen
Schippers ran a European-leading time of 22.70s in the semifinals in Helsinki. She failed to replicate her form in the final, however, perhaps because of a lack of practice in the half lap. Dafne is also a talented heptathlete, having scored 6,360 points in Gotzis this season. 

Nevertheless, this was the World Junior and European Junior Heptathlon champion's first appearance at a senior-level final.

Photo from Matthias Reiß / Andreas Grieß/Wikimedia
As a Daegu finalist, the young Krause was a favorite for a medal in Helsinki. She finished in fourth place behind compatriot Antje Möldner-Schmidt. Krause's transition to the senior ranks seems to be going smoothly. 

The German still has more left in the tank!

Photo from Zimbio/Getty Images
Kostetskaya was actually a talented 400m hurdler, having won World Junior and European Junior titles, before making the big shift to middle distance running. The Russian has not been as successful since changing events. Aside from her silver at the 2007 World University Games, her best finish was fifth at the Daegu World Championships 800m run final.  

This season could just be Katya's time to shine. She came from behind to snatch the Russian 1500m title in Chekosbary, setting a personal best of 3:59.28 - the eight fastest time in the world this season. Kostetskaya also placed third in the 800m final, after running an impressive 1:57.46 (3rd fastest in 2012) in qualifying.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Track Beauty of the Week: Mary Onyali-Omagbemi

Mary Onyali-Omagbemi is this week's Track Beauty!

The retired Nigerian sprinter is an athletics legend. It is difficult enough to qualify for one or two Olympic Games, but Onyali-Omagbemi represented her country at the Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens Olympics. She had also won seven All-Africa sprinting titles and two Commonwealth Games gold medals. 

Photo from
Mary was part of the bronze medal-winning Nigerian 4x100m relay squad at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Despite a doping suspension months prior to the Atlanta Olympics, Onyali-Omagbemi bucked these difficulties to land third at the 200m dash. The 1992 Nigerian 4x100m relay team was featured in the Celebrate Humanity advertisement series:

The Nigerian has personal bests of 10.97s in the 100m (1993) and 22.01 (1996) in the 200m. She still holds the Nigerian national record in the 200m dash, her best event.

Onyali-Omagbemi is considered as a pioneer in Nigerian and African women's sports. She came from a time when it was not normal for a woman take part in professional sports. Her winning ways, according to an article by the Ladybrille magazine, "opened the door for many women" to do the same. 


Friday, July 6, 2012

Supporting the Kick-It Foundation

I've been watching quite a lot of tennis the past few weeks. Since it's Wimbledon season, the internet is abuzz with news from the Championships. While browsing through the news feed of my Facebook account, I came across photos of Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic Ана Ивановић, and Victoria Azarenka (Вікторыя Азаранка Виктория  Азаренко) pledging their support for the Kick-It Foundation.

Williams (L) and Ivanovic (R). (Photos from Eloyse Tyson)
The Kick-It Foundation was started by a "10-year old cancer patient with a big dream- to cure cancer by playing kickball." The foundation "raises money for pediatric, adolescent and young adult cancer research."

Screenshot from the Kick-It Foundation Website
I admire athletes like Williams, Ivanovic, and Azarenka, who take time out of their busy schedule and use their considerable clout to promote a just cause. It's good to know that being a professional athlete is not all about the money nowadays.

Ever since my dad was diagnosed with the Big "C" a couple of years ago, my awareness of the disease jumped from mere theoretical to up close and personal. The disease has brought forth great sadness, but has also brought my family closer than ever. 

Cancer among adults is bad enough. But when it afflicts children, it just becomes more heart-wrenching.

Watch the video below to learn more about Kick-It:

Screenshot from Jeff Gordon's Youtube Account

Additional Link:

Sabine Lisicki Action Shots

Here are some photos of my favorite tennis player, Sabine Lisicki!

At the BNP Paribas Open 2012 (photos from Christian Mesiano):


At the Texas Tennis Open 2011 (photo from R. Hensley):

At the 2010 U.S. Open (photos from Christian Mesiano):


At the 2011 U.S. Open (photos from Charlie Cowins):


Godspeed, Darya!

Photo from Nigel Chadwick
Russia and the former Soviet Union has a storied history in women's long jumping. The 7.52m world record of Galina Chistayakova Галина Чистякова still stands. Tatyana Kotova Татьяна Котова, and Tatyana Lebedeva Татьяна Лебедева occupy prominent positions in the all-time list. Out of the nine Olympic medals at stake the last three Olympic Games, Russian women had won a staggering five. The troika of  Lebedeva, Irina Meleshina, and Kotova even made a clean sweep of the podium at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Hence, it is hardly surprising that the recently concluded Russian National Championships in Chekosbary featured so much depth. The top six athletes all had personal bests of beyond seven meters. Yelena Sokolova Елена Соколова won gold with a best mark of 7.06m. Anna Nazarova Анна Назарова (6.88m), Lyudmila Kolchanova Людмила Колчанова (6.87m), Olga Kucherenko Ольга Кучеренко (6.81m), Darya Klishina Дарья Клишина (6.81m) and Kotova (6.66m) rounded up the next five places.

For all the advantages of having a solid field, it is also a selector's nightmare. 

As a big Darya fan, I am particularly concerned about her Olympic prospects*. Nazarova, Kucherenko and Sokolova are amongst the very best long jumpers this season. Although Klishina is a veteran of several major championships and is the reigning European Indoor Champion, the credentials of the aforesaid jumpers are not particularly far behind.

Read: "Darya Klishina and Superb Senora"

I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for decision favorable to Darya. A healthy Klishina has what it takes to leap the winning distances in major events. 

*Note: Klishina and Kucherenko failed to make the final cut. Read the full story here.

Additional Links: