Young champions in the making

Gotta love this city. At the Narrabeen North cross country race last week, the usual winner of the senior girls division, Caitlin Hickey, had left her opponents so far behind they were in a different postcode, only to suddenly pull up badly lame with 400 metres to go.

All she can do is hobble forward to the finishing line, and she is just 50 metres off when her great friend and rival Jasmine Nix catches her.

What’s up?

My toe is broken and I can’t run.

Jasmine offers to walk the last part of the race with her and such is their lead they approach the tape with still no other runners close.

Five metres off, Jasmine offers first place to her friend, reasoning that but for the broken toe, Caitlin would have finished well in front.

Caitlin declines and insists her friend deserves the win. So they agree to break the tape together, but at the last instant Caitlin pauses and sends her friend over first to take the win.

Champions both.

Gotta love this city!

The accidental superstar

The Buddy thing? Hey, happens to us all.

Someone tweeted the other night that it would be like my damn hide to get too high and mighty over it, as I should know only too well that those kind of things happened in the Wallabies all the time in my day … well, at least my five minutes. (But, oh Gawd, how did he know? Every second week, one or other of us, on a clear stretch, with no rain, no oncoming traffic, careered out of control and totalled four parked cars. I mean ALL THE TIME!).

So, what did actually happen?

No idea. The main thing is neither he nor anyone else was hurt. But the most intriguing theory came from 3AW’s Ross Stevenson. “I’ve just checked,” he said on Thursday morning, “and Buddy Franklin did have a seizure while at Hawthorn, and Sharrod Wellingham did have to call an ambulance. It was called a ‘dizzy spell’. And on January 3 at Sydney, he had a seizure. I’m not saying he had a seizure last night, but if there’s no drugs or alcohol, and he’s crashed his car in dry conditions into four parked cars on the other side of the road, you’ve got to ask what’s going on.”

Makes a certain amount of sense, no? Particularly when you put it together with the piece written by Caroline Wilson on Thursday, detailing the long and troubled history of Franklin’s driving record.

Boost for women’s cricket

Can’t quite get it straight, but Geoff Lawson is involved, and I gather there will be some major announcement shortly about six corporately run women’s cricket teams – with the best players from all over the world – playing in a comp in one city, at one venue, over 12 days. (A kind of antipodean female miniature IPL?)

We’ll see who the companies are, and what kind of moolah they put in, but if it works, and the crowds come, it has to be a major step forward for women’s sport in Oz.

Leapai is punching above his weight

You may or may not have got to the bottom of it all, but it seems one of ours, the Samoan-born Alex Leapai is fighting for the heavyweight boxing championship of the world early on Sunday morning, against incumbent champion Wladimir Klitschko. Back in the day, such a fight would garner immediate and huge attention, as boxing had not yet descended into an alphabet soup of organisations that we mere mortals have no chance of determining the credibility of.

To try and make sense of whether or not this is the real deal, I asked my friend and Fox Sports boxing commentator Paul Upham and he advises: “Of the four major boxing sanctioning belts, Wladimir Klitschko holds three of them – WBA, IBF and WBO. He has not lost for 10 years. The consensus of boxing experts I respect consider Wladimir Klitschko to be the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world.”

To the good then. But is our bloke any chance of beating him?

“If Alex does win, it would be one of the biggest boxing upsets of all time; in my opinion, a bigger upset than when James ‘Buster’ Douglas beats Mike Tyson in Japan. In boxing, it only takes one punch to win. Alex has the power punch to win, but probably not the skills to win this match.”

Has Benji lost the magic?

Which brings us to Benji Marshall. TFF did an interview with Radio New Zealand on Tuesday, where they were wondering how someone so brilliant at rugby league could be such a dud at rugby union. My answer, for what it’s worth, was this: Yes, the five-eighth’s quixotic skills with the Tigers were extraordinary. For a decade, every time they hollered for a Marshall, there he was, usually dancing to the line through a thick forest of defenders, with such skill that Fred Astaire would blush. He was the best. But he wasn’t like that for the last two years or so with the Tigers, even being benched at one point. His form for the Auckland Blues has been entirely consistent with those two years.

Has he lost it? It remains unclear. But even the best of magicians must eventually go stale. Marshall was a star for a decade with the Tigers. How many players get much longer than that at the top of their game?

What they said.

Benji Marshall, in July last year: “I will honour my words about not playing for another [NRL] club. There is no other NRL club for me to play for. The Tigers are my home and will always be my home.”

Marshall this week, after leaving the Auckland Blues, happy to play for anyone who will have him: “When I made those comments I was obviously emotional. I hadn’t played for any other club before.”

Marshall on why he and the Auckland Blues have parted company this week: “I am just an average rugby player.”

Buddy Franklin: “I truly am sorry for the inconvenience I’ve caused other people’s cars.”

The Age’sCaroline Wilson, in an interesting piece highlights Franklin’s long history of bad driving in various forms: “It is now beyond dispute that any suggestion Lance Franklin and his rock-star lifestyle would be left to their own devices in a big city not obsessed with Australian football was fanciful. This is because Franklin has not significantly curbed that lifestyle and also because Sydney is a tabloid town that knows a car crash waiting to happen when it sees one, and pounces accordingly.”

The Tele’sAnthony Sharwood on SBW pulling out of the Anzac Test. “Rothfield claims the absence of Williams will mean less bums on seats. He’s wrong. It’ll just mean one less bum on the field.”

Curtis Woodhouse, on the boxing match between Australian-Samoan Alex Leapai and Wladimir Klitschko for the heavyweight championship of the world: “Someone said, ‘It’s a bit like Rocky’. But it’s nothing like Rocky. Rocky is f—ing made up. This shit is real.”

What does Joe Bugner say? “Alex has got one chance. He’s got to land the big one, because he’ll never outsmart Klitschko. In reality, it’s going to be a hard task. I said to Alex straight up, ‘Don’t you dare wait for him. When that bell rings, you go across and you whack him’.” Sounds like a plan!

Klitschko’s own analysis: “I think that Alex is certainly very motivated to become a champion and he’s the guy that has nothing to lose. I think Alex has been successful with his style – I call it ‘pure violence’ in the ring – and he became No.1 mandatory, thankfully to that style.”

Gary Ablett snr on Gary Ablett jnr: “I wouldn’t like to play on Gary. The way he’s going, I think he might take the crown.”

Eddie McGuire on playing AFL football in Melbourne on Good Friday: “We live in a secular society, and I believe that if you want to have a sacrifice to commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross, well, then you do that, you don’t go to the footy. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to if you’re not into it, or the Muslims or the Jews or whoever else.”

Kevin Pietersen tweets: “Everyone deserves a second chance … !” How the mighty are suddenly humble! Perhaps it is cold outside the England team?

Sebastian Vettel’s reply when told to let teammate Daniel Ricciardo pass: “Tough Luck.”

In the game against the Titans, Panthers skipper Peter Wallace protests to referee Gavin Morris that his teammate Sika Manu has had the squirrel grip put on him by Greg Bird: “He grabbed him on the nuts …”

Greg Bird, in response, after the match: “He wasn’t that lucky … ”

This up-and-coming writer for nrl苏州美甲培训 will make his mark, but I am guessing maths was not his strong suit at school. Here he previews the Sharks-Roosters game: “There have been exactly 48 games played so far this year, which means – if our second-grade maths is correct – that there have been 24 outright winners and the same amount of losers.”

Team of the week

Buddy Franklin. Crashed his girlfriend’s car into four parked cars at Double Bay on Wednesday evening, making him appear to be up Shit Creek without a paddle. It was a Jeep. I think he’s going to need a bigger boat.

Benji Marshall. He came, he saw, he conked out in rugby union and looks likely to return to the NRL somewhere, at a club desperate enough to take him. Step forward, Cronulla.

Glenn Maxwell. “The Big Show” is setting the IPL on fire with 279 runs in three innings from 131 balls. Man of the match in all three games.

Merewether Surfboard Club. The reigning Australian club of the year is having its 50th anniversary celebration and reunion on June 28 at Newcastle City Hall. Give ol’ Bloody Mary a bell.

Minami Katsu. The 15-year-old became the youngest winner in the history of the Japan LPGA Tour by winning the Vantelin Ladies Open.

Canterbury Bulldogs. First team in NRL history to win three games on the trot by one point.

Sydney FC. Losing to Melbourne Victory with a winner in injury time sums up their season perfectly.

Mark Webber. Began his world endurance championship career with a third-place finish.

Luke Versace. Cheated death running with the bulls in Pamplona 12 years ago, and this week won a dramatic Stawell Gift final.

David Gallop. Has done well as FFA chief executive, with crowds for A-League matches up this season by 3 per cent, while over the last three seasons numbers are up by a staggering 43 per cent.

Australian women’s cricket team. A reader wonders WHY THE HELL, after winning the World Twenty20 championship for the third successive time, they still have not been honoured with their image on a stamp, the way Michael Clarke’s team was when they won the Ashes.

Sydney FC. Follow in Manchester United’s footsteps and also sack their manager, Frank Farina, who is likely to be replaced by Graham Arnold. I have the impression that there are about 10 well-known soccer identities perpetually circulating through about eight clubs?

Lewis Hamilton. Has won the last three formula one races.

Israel Folau. Back with a try in the first 25 seconds of the match against the Bulls. He is The One.

RIP Dylan Tombides. Young Australian soccer player, who broke into the West Ham first-team squad while receiving cancer treatment, has died. He was just 20. Vale.

RIP Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Made famous by Bob Dylan’s song, the boxer who did two decades in jail for a crime he did not commit, has died at 76. Despite it all, there are those who insist he did commit the murders. They should read this.

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

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