Cate Blanchett gives America the good oil on Australian rules football

Bravo, and well said.

And yet in the face of such straight talking, who should obfuscate, back-pedal, prevaricate and talk weasel words than Thomas Bach, the IOC president.

“It is not up to governments to decide who can take part in which sports competitions,” he said, “because this would be the end of international sports competitions and world championships and the Olympic Games as we know it.”

No, it would not. It would be sport growing in glory because it would enhance its stature as a force for good in the world, just as it most notably did in things like helping end apartheid in South Africa.

You cannot have it both ways, Mr Bach. You cannot carry on about all the Olympic ideals of humanity, fair play; respect for others; friendship, equality, etc, AND welcome a country engaged in such naked, inexcusable aggression. If invading another country and killing huge swathes of the population doesn’t get you kicked out of a sporting competition, just what does it take.

The final word to Zelensky: “If the Olympic sports were killings and missile strikes, then you know which national team would occupy the first place. If, God forbid, the Olympic principles are destroyed and Russian athletes are allowed to participate in any competitions or the Olympic Games, it’s just a matter of time before the terrorist state forces them to play along with the war propaganda.”

What he said!

Grim times ahead for Tigers and Knights

You will recall TFF, last season, calling it early and saying after the first round, Penrith is going to win this thing. Let me make another prediction, this time, after the first round of trial games. Despite all the hype, hope, and hip-hip-hurrah for the new coaching regime of Tim Sheens and Benji Marshall, the West Tigers are going to struggle badly. Losing 48-12 to the Warriors? Seriously? And their new captain Api Koroisau had before this season, never played a game for the club?

What does it say about a team when the bloke you put out the front before the match to beat the drum about dying for the jersey, blah, blah, can’t possibly have the first clue as to what the jersey actually represents and is talking to blokes who in some cases have been there for years?

I repeat. They will struggle.

And so will the Knights. Got nuthin’, goin’ nowhere. You heard it here first.

Hurrah for Matija and his win for the ages

I love stories like this.

Nearly a decade ago, see, Matija Pecotic was good enough at tennis to be ranked No. 206 in the world, before more or less retiring due to injuries and subsequent surgery that didn’t go well. So, he ended up going to Harvard Business School, and throwing himself into real estate instead.

Still, the tennis nagged at him, and after re-entering a few tournaments and rising to No. 784 in the world, last week he entered the ATP Tour main draw debut at the Delray Beach Open in Florida, not far from where he works – only to find himself up against the former world No. 8 Jack Sock.

Matija Pecotic playing at Delray Beach.Credit:Getty

Pecotic, now 33, knew he had little chance, but . . .

“But I certainly figured if I could sink my teeth into the match and work on the two or three patterns that I prepared before, that I’m going to have a chance.”

And yes, he goes down 4-6 in the first set, but look at him now!

His forehand is blasting cross-court winners like the old days! His serve is working as never before! His backhands are blistering the line!

Sock is shocked. And so is Pecotic. But he doesn’t ease off, and ends up tearing Sock a new one, winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

It got him into the Round of 16, where he lost the next match, but I don’t care. That kind of stuff is sport at its best.

What They Said

John Hopoate: “They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and when it comes to my second son, Jamil, he fell in my lap. He’s in jail now.”

Australian cricket coach Andrew McDonald, after his team’s shattering defeat in Nagpur in three days: “The benefit out of losing the game so quickly is we’ve got a little more think time to work through what scenarios are there for us and that starts today.“ Ah, but seriously, folks.

NBC’s Peter King describing the kick of the former St Kilda player, now Philadelphia Eagles punter, in the Super Bowl: “Eagles punter Arryn Siposs clanked a wounded duck of a punt.”

Philadelphia’s Jason Kelce to brother Travis of the Kansas City Chiefs, after they played on opposing teams in the Super Bowl: “F*** you, congratulations.”

Travis Kelce on whether, after their second Super Bowl win in four years, the Chiefs are officially, a “dynasty”: “You can call it whatever you want.”

Australia’s wicketkeeper-batter Alex Carey on getting advice from all quarters to abandon the reverse sweep: “My wife’s been onto me quite a bit about it, so [you] might not see it for a little while.”

Allan Border thinks Australia is playing too nice: “Play with a harder edge. I mean, we’re giving blokes the thumbs up when they’re beating us outside the off stump. What the hell is going on? That is just ridiculous. Don’t go stupid, but Australia play hard-nosed cricket . . . A big, soul-searching dressing room drink-a-thon tonight, just to try to thrash something out.” Bloody hell. Old school.

Josh Reynolds on returning to the Bulldogs: “It’s not about Josh Reynolds any more.” Is it about talking about yourself in the third person?

Jackson Hastings on interacting with Kalyn Ponga at the Knights: “The first day I walked into the sheds at training he came in with a bright pink singlet on, hat backwards, I was just trying to drink my coffee and he gave me this big hug like we’d known each other for years.” New school.

PSG’s Sergio Ramos after a Champions League loss to Bayern Munich: “We’ll have to show more character in the second leg, and more verticality.”

Tiger Woods on his hopes for his first tournament in seven months at this week’s PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational, whatever that is: “If I’m playing the event, I’m trying to beat you. I’m there to get a ‘W’. If I’m playing, I’m playing to win. There will come a point in time when my body won’t allow me to do that and it’s probably sooner than later.”

Scottie Scheffler and his caddie celebrate winning The Masters.

Scottie Scheffler and his caddie celebrate winning The Masters.Credit:Getty

Woods on the awkwardness of the Masters Dinner with LIV players being there: “The champions dinner is going to be obviously something that’s talked about. We need to honour Scottie [Scheffler, the 2022 champion,] but also realising the nature of what has transpired and the people that have left, just where our situations are either legally, emotionally, there’s a lot there.” Is LIV still a thing? No one seems to talk about it?

Woods, on how he will treat LIV players there: “I don’t know what that reaction’s going to be. I know that some of our friendships have certainly taken a different path, but we’ll see when all that transpires. That is still a couple months away.”

Australian Eamonn Dixon on catching the match-winning ball at the Super Bowl: “I didn’t have a ticket to the game, but one of my incredible . . . clients called me up in the morning and said that a spare ticket had become available. I found out at 7am, got a flight at 12pm, and then I got to the game just as the national anthem was being sung, and then I was just sitting there and, four quarters later, the ball just fell in my lap, which was pretty surreal.”

Cate Blanchett on American Football vis a vis Australian Rules: “To be honest, it’s a gladiatorial sport. Where I came from we have a football that’s Aussie rules, footy. They have a similar kind of ball except they don’t have the protection. They wear shorts and tank tops. And my uncle used to play professionally for Essendon. And my cousin played in Tasmania where it’s so hardcore they played on gravel. They lose a lot of players but … it’s why the population’s really small.”

Waratahs captain Jake Gordon.

Waratahs captain Jake Gordon.Credit:Getty

Team of the Week

Waratahs. Start their Super Rugby season next Friday against the Brumbies.

Matildas. Beat the Czech Republic 4-0; play Spain tomorrow and Jamaica on Wednesday in the Cup of Nations.

Ashleigh Gardner. The Australian cricketer went for $558,000 at the inaugural Women’s Premier League auction.

Peter Bol. Provisional drug suspension lifted. What’s going on? What is the explanation for the A sample and B sample being different? Anyone? Someone, somewhere, must surely be held accountable – or at the very least an explanation offered.

Kansas City Chiefs. Won their third Super Bowl and their second in four years.

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

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