Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Team GB to finish second in Rio 2016

Saturday, August 20th, 2016 | News, Sport

silver-in-rio

It’s official! Team GB will finish second in the Rio 2016 Olympics medal table. Nicola Adams’s gold in the women’s boxing moves us up to 26 gold medals. China have 23 and only have medal hopes in three remaining disciplines (men’s 10m diving, team volleyball and taekwondo). Given they are so far behind in the silver medals, they can no longer overtake Team GB.

Can Team GB beat China in the Olympic medal table?

Friday, August 19th, 2016 | Sport

union-jack-and-chinese-flag

I remember London 2012. It was magic. We smashed our medal predicts and earned ourselves third in the medals table. It was brilliant. Coming into Rio 2016, this made for a bit of a downer though. Without the home crowd, how could we hope to hold on to our spot as third in the world?

That all seems silly now. We’re smashing our medals target in Brazil as well. In fact, we were predicted to come third with 20 gold medals, just behind China who were predicted to score 22. Both of those targets have now been revised by Gracenote Sports who are now predicting Team GB to finish neck and neck with China.

They are predicting both countries will now finish on 25 gold medals.

Country Britain China
Gold medals so far 22 20
Predicted golds Mo Farah (5,000m)
Nicola Adams (boxing)
Bianca Walkden (taekwando)
Liu Hong (20km walk)
Fu H F/Zhang N (badminton)
Chen Long (badminton)
Qiu Bo (diving)
women’s volleyball
Predicted total 25 25

China took their predicted gold in the badminton so they remain on track for their predicted totals.

Team GB is now exceeding these predictions however. Nick Skelton’s gold in the individual show jumping today was an unexpected result: Britain was not predicted to win any medal in that competition. Joe Joyce, predicted bronze in the boxing, has just won through to the final too.

Of course one defeat for a British athlete expected to win, or one win from a Chinese athlete expected to take silver, could change everything around. It is going to be a nail biting finish.

I’ll keep this page updated as we go, if I can be bothered.

Day 14

19:31 China continue to follow their predictions: Liu Hong wins the women’s 20km walk by just two seconds, while Yin Junhua takes silver in the boxing, also as predicted.

21:56 Lutalo Muhammad was predicted to lose his semi-final taekwondo fight. He won, and so is through into the gold medal match.

22:46 Well blow me down, England have won a penalty shoot-out! Maybe we should play football as Team GB. Our women coming good in the hockey final mean we move two golds ahead of our predicted total.

Overnight We have teams running in both the men’s and women’s 4x100m relays: bronze predicted in each. China’s other medal hope for today was synchronised swimming, which they hit their silver in.

Day 15

Absolutely heartbreaking for Lutalo Muhammad in the taekwondo final, losing the gold in the very last second. Still, silver is better than his predicted bronze. Our women took bronze in the relay, unfortunately our men could not.

Today, both GB and China are predicted three golds each. We also have Joe Joyce (predicted bronze) in the boxing final and Liam Heath being the fastest qualifier in the K1 final (predicted not to place).

13:08 Liam Heath wins in the 100m kayak! Another unpredicted medal means we are now on 25: giving us three clear over China. We’re four silvers ahead too, so China would need four to catch up. With three predicted goals each for today, that is a tough ask.

15:58 China clean up in the badminton, keeping them on target for 25 with two golds and two more silvers predicted.

16:16 Here is the schedule for our remaining medal hopes today:

18:00 Nicola Adams
01:30 Mo Farah
02:00 Bianca Walkden (if she qualifies, China’s Zheng Shuyin also in contention)

Tom Daley is also fighting for a place in the men’s 10m diving final. He is predicted to make the final and earn a bronze, finishing behind China’s Qiu Bo and Chen Aisen. That starts at 20:30.

No predicted medals for Team GB tomorrow. That’s now impossible though as Joe Joyce is through to the men’s boxing final, and therefore guaranteed one. That starts at 19:15.

16:26 It is looking good for Team GB. Here are the remaining predicted medals for Team GB and China:

Gold: Nicola Adams, Mo Farah, Bianca Walkden
Silver: Joe Joyce
Bronze: Tom Daily, women’s 4×400 relay

Gold: Qiu Bo, women’s volleyball
Silver: Chen Aisen, Zheng Shuyin

We’re currently two golds and four silvers ahead. Given the gap in silvers, China can only overtake us by winning more golds, which would mean three. This is the maximum they can win: Qui Bo and Chen Aisen are both in the same diving competition, so they would need to take gold in all three events to overtake us.

Even if that happened, we would only need a single gold to seal the deal.

16:59 Well done Vicky Holland for taking bronze in the women’s triathlon. Bianca Walkden easily through the round of 16. Unfortunately Tom Daley failed to get into the 10m diving final. China finished one and two in that the semi-final.

We can wrap up second place with a gold for Nicola Adams in the boxing. Just over an hour to go for that.

The best pitches for Olympic sports

Friday, August 19th, 2016 | Sport

Some people are simply brilliant salespeople. They have a gift for persuasion. I have always thought physicists must be some of them. They persuaded grant funders that the only place they could put observatories was in the tropical paradise of Hawaii.

Watching the Olympics, I think even they have been outdone though. Consider the successful pitches that must have been made in order to secure our current line-up of events.

dressage

“We are going to train horses to dance.”
“Hmm. Jousting? That’s a sport?”
“No, we just want the dancing included. Maybe a bit of jumping.”

nicola-adams

“Well, it’s just hitting each other really.”

keirin

“It’s an eight lap cycle race. But for the first five laps, the cyclists will queue up behind a motorbike.”

triple-jump

“It’s like the long jump, but the athlete will do a hop and a skip beforehand.”

hammer-throw

“Well, it’s not quite a javelin and it’s not quite a shot put, but man, will they be able to throw that hammer a long way.”

diving

“Yes, it’s diving. But there will be two of them. Doing exactly the same thing.”

beach-volleyball

“Exactly, it’s volleyball. Except with a lot of sand, and the women will be in bikinis.”

10 sports that should be added to the Olympics

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 | Sport

I’m very much enjoying the Olympics. I have no idea how I managed to fit the rest of life in before it started. However, it is clear that it is lacking some of the most fun sports on the planet. Below, I have highlighted some I think are worth including for Tokyo 2020.

Kabaddi

Kabaddi is a massive sport in South Asia. It’s the national sport of Bangladesh and India loves it too. If you haven’t heard of it, you might think it sounds odd. The idea is to go into your opponents half, tag them and run back, all while holding your breath. So the referee can see you are not taking a breath, players chant “kabaddi” the whole time they are doing it. You can watch some on Sky Sports and England’s women’s team want it included in the Olympics.

kabaddi

Flag football

What would American football look like if it was replaced by a far less dangerous non-contact version? The answer is flag football. All the fun of the NFL without the inevitable season-ending injury.

flag-football

Wife-carrying

One of the traditional sports of Finland, the rules are now relaxed so you can carry any “wife” as long as they are 17 years old and weigh at least 49 kilograms. The heavier the better because the prize is your wife’s weight in beer. Traditionally the piggyback was the lift of choice but Estonian-style has now become the dominant technique.

wife-carrying

Bog snorkelling

It’s like regular snorkelling, but in a bog. The annual championships take place in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales. It is a straight race that you must complete just using the propulsion of your flippers.

Wereldkampieonschappen Moeras snorkelen (Bog Snokling)

Dodgeball

Dodgeball teaches children a lot of important skills. If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball. Despite extensive coverage by ESPN-8 of the American Dodgeball Association of America’s tournaments, dodgeball has not yet managed to make the Olympic roster.

dodgeball

Cheese-rolling

This isn’t really a sport, but would still make a fun show. The rules are simple: someone starts a cheese rolling down a hill and everyone has to chase it. The winner is the first one to the bottom as nobody ever actually catches the cheese. Several people usually end up in hospital though.

cheese-rolling

Air guitar

Every year the town of Oulu in Finland welcomes music lovers for the air guitar world championships. Each contestant faces two one-minute routes, one of their own music and one chosen by the organisers. They are then scored by a panel of judges on a series of criteria including technical skill and stage presence.

air-guitar

Baking

With Great British Bake Off about to start, the competitive baking season in the UK is literally heating up. Some people would argue it is not a sport. Not so. Whisking a sauce for ten minutes takes incredible arm strength and has Bake Off shows there is a competitive element., thus fulfilling the definition of sport.

At very least, it is more of a sport than wrestling, which enjoys a large section on Sky Sports.

great-british-bake-off

Quidditch

In real life quidditch is far less amazing than it is described in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. But it’s still a fun game to watch. Players are mounted on brooms and the snitch is moved by an impartial player who runs around with it. Since 2009 the sport has even had an international governing body: International Quidditch Association.

quidditch

Ultimate frisbee

Ultimate is a form of competitive frisbee throwing that in practice is a lot like netball. The score you have to catch the frisbee in the opponent’s end-zone, similar to American football. The game is usually self-refereed with people just being honest when they commit a foul.

ultimate

Leeds 10k 2016

Monday, July 11th, 2016 | Sport

leeds-10k-2016

I ran my first Run For All Leeds 10k in 2014, achieving a time of 1:06:14. Despite it being a hot day this was faster than both my subsquent Abbey Dash times, and remained my personal best 10k race time. This year’s Leeds 10k was also warm (19 degrees) but cloudy (and still cooler than the half marathon!).

I have been running better than ever before in training so I was hoping to knock a significant block off my personal best, and for a stretch target try and run a sub-60 time.

Unfortunately, things were off to a poor start. The 60-minute pacer was right at the front of the green group (athletes predicted to run 60+, I think) so I couldn’t get close to her. By the time I had crossed the starting line she was out of sight. I only saw her at the turnaround point, at which time she was way head of me.

My GPS said that I was running a sub-60 time. However, it kept reporting I was ahead in distance: it would give me my kilometre split before I reached the official marker points and clocked my total 10k distance at 10.26km. When I clocked my final time via GPS I was at 1:00:10. 10 seconds over the hour!

workout-details

I had given it my all, and come up short.

Run For All usually text you your official time straight however. Mine never arrived, so I faced a nail-biting wait in the pub while waiting for the official times to be posted.

Finally, it arrived.

chip-time

My time was 0:59:59. The slowest possible time you can run while still being under an hour. But it was under an hour. I had taken 6:15 off my personal best. An incredibly fortunate ending.

I really like the way Run For All run their events. My race pack and race number arrived on time. They have markers at every kilometre, plenty of water, pacers every five minutes and even though my my text never arrived, the results were available online within a few hours.

Who should survive the Euro 2016 groups?

Saturday, June 18th, 2016 | Sport

euro-2016

When you make it to the finals of Euro 2016, you are allocated to one of six groups. The top two teams from each group, after three matches, get a pass into the round of 16. An additional four teams also make it through.

But should we expect to see there? One way to calculate it is to work out how tough each group is. By taking each team’s world rankings and averaging them, we can see how tough each group is.

Group Teams Rank
A France, Switzerland, Romania, Albania 24
B England, Wales, Slovakia, Russia 22.5
C Germany, Poland, Northern Ireland, Ukraine 18.75
D Croatia, SPain, Czech Republic, Turkey 20.25
E Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium 20.5
F Hungary, Ireland, Portugal, Austria 18

A lower number represents a tough group and a higher number represents an easier group. This suggests England is in one of the easiest groups: only group A has a lower average world ranking, and this does not factor in the home-field advantage that France has.

We can then compare the team ranking to the average group ranking to see who should find it easiest to quality.

Team Difference
Belgium +18.5
Germany +14.75
Spain +14.25
England +11.5
Ireland -12.5
Sweden -14.5
Iceland -16
Albania -18

I have shown the top and bottom four here. The other home nations do not find themselves at the bottom of the table, which is positive news too. Having said this, the difficultly of the group makes little difference: all of these teams are in the same order as if you had just taken the world rankings. So how tough your group is, is probably not a factor.

Leeds Half Marathon

Saturday, May 21st, 2016 | Sport

leeds-half-marathon

I have considered doing a half marathon on and off for a couple of years. There are lots of good reasons not to do it though: for example it’s really hard, hurts a lot and requires a lot of training. And all you get out of it is the feeling that you have done, which isn’t that amazing, because it’s only half a full marathon.

However, with a less intense flag football season this year, being on a fitness drive, and this being my last chance before a tiny human started cutting into my free time, it seemed like a good year to go for it.

Half marathons are a whole new level from 10ks. 10k is pretty easy. If you run regularly, which I do, you don’t really need to do that much training. When I’m going through a good period, a 5k and a 10k is my weekly programme. Half marathons are a step up. After 10k my knees start to go. I get back pain. Things start to chafe and bladder control is put to the test.

Being on the 8th of May, this meant I was doing most of my training in March and April. If you will remember, April was really cold. I did most of my training in the early morning or evening, in not much above freezing.

april-weather

Roll on May, and a week before the marathon it suddenly becomes incredibly hot (for Britain) and everyone is scrabbling around for barbecues. Including me. On the day in question, it was 23 degrees. I had done all my training with my leggings on, to help support my knees, so I didn’t want to change it for the day. Which made for a warm experience.

marathon-weather

I had put my target time down as 2:15:00, but quickly had to re-evaluate this when I realised I had not factor in all the hills (I run up the canal in training, which is relatively flat). Then again when it suddenly hit 23 degrees. In the end I ran a 2:28:00. I think I would have been disappointed to slip over 2:30:00, so this was fine. And sure, there were people who ran it in less than half of that time. But how many children did they high-five? I mean, anyone can win the slalom if they don’t go round the flags.

I was so tired by the time I finished. I found a patch of ground in the shade and sat down to take a drink. After a few minutes I got up to go find Elina, only to realise I was going to have to sit down again and eat some snacks from the goodie bag before I was going to be in a position to walk anywhere.

chris-dying

Luckily, once I had regained the use of my legs, my beautiful support crew was there to greet me with more drinks and snacks. We took 17 photos, the one below was the best we could get.

chris-at-end

The advantage of living in town is that I could go home, have a quick shower, and then go back out for lunch. As we walked out again I passed a number of other runners who were very confused by my combination of jeans and finisher’s t-shirt. We ended up at Blackhouse, where I highly recommend the t-bone as recovery steak, and the rib eye if your pregnant wife needs a well-done piece of beef.

One thing I like about the Run For All series is how well organised they are. I’ve only run the Leeds 10 and Abbey Dash, so I don’t have a huge range of comparisons, but Run For All seem to do a good job: clearly-marked pacers, easy to access water stations, starts on time and you get your result within seconds of crossing the line.

Has this experience inspired me to run a full-length marathon? Dear god no.

Who are the best national ice hockey teams?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 | Sport

ice-hockey

The ice hockey world championships are currently taking place in Moscow. No prizes for guessing who the Worfolk household is supporting. Finland won gold in 2011, and took a silver in 2014, but failed to score any medal last year.

To predict our chances, I took the medal data from the past ten years and graphed it.

ice-hockey-national-teams

The competition has been going for almost a hundred years now. In comparison to the early days, it is a pretty open contest. In the first 26 years, Canada took gold in 18 of them. Great Britain also took a gold in 1936! From 1963 onwards, the Soviets were unbeatable. Until 1987, when Sweden took gold, the only other team to beat the Russians were Czechoslovakia: the Soviet Union took the other 18 golds.

Today, Russia remain the dominant force in ice hockey. In the past decade they have taken as many golds as their nearest rivals, Sweden and Canada, put together. They are far from unbeatable though. In three of those years, they failed to bring home a medal. Sad as I am to admit it, Sweden has the edge over Finland at the moment. Though a gold at this year’s event would put them clear ahead.

The “big five”: Russia, Sweden, Canada, Finland and Czech Republic win basically everything. This is a suprise to many people, who assume that because the United States’s NHL is the biggest ice hockey league in the world, their national team must be really good. But they’re not. Two bronzes, and a silver each for Slovakia and Switzerland are the only medals to go elsewhere.

Rodley Barge

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 | Sport

rodley-barge

If you run far enough up the Leeds Liverpool Canal, you eventually reach the Rodley Barge pub. How you actually get over the canal to have a pint is less clear. However, it does make a convenient place to stop and turn around. This could well be the furthest I ever run up the canal as I don’t have any plans to do longer distances.

Newlay Locks

Friday, April 15th, 2016 | Sport

newlay-locks

Continuing from my post about running last week, I made it even further up the cancel this time. I actually ran a 2km shorter distance. However, without half of the canal being closed by police causing me a large detour, I was able to go further.

I got as far as Newlay Locks, which is a set of locks by Bramley Fall Park.