Sport

Popular perception says the devil makes work for idle hands. As it turns out he also makes work for other parts of the body and this he calls exercise.

Because of the supposed endorphins, it’s really easy to get addicted to exercise and you become so fit that you push yourself to ever-greater extremes, one of which is death. Undoubtedly, the benefit of regular exercise is that you develop a superbly toned body, one that everyone would be highly jealous of, were it not for the fact that you stink of chlorine, continually break off to carbo-load with high-energy liquids and have to stretch for fifteen minutes before starting anything. And, in any event, don’t forget that exercise was actually created for those who can’t handle hard liquor and class A drugs!

I’ve done more than my fair share of exercise: I’m still trying to master the game of squash; have run more adventure races, marathons & ultras than I care to recall; discovered I was more rust than iron in triathlon; continually proved that I have no natural talent on two wheels, have swam often in cold water, very cold water; and don’t ever want to do anything like this ever again.

coast2coast

At the time of conception the idea seemed perfectly feasible and relatively sane – to cycle from Whitehaven on the west coast (the Irish Sea) to Whitley Bay on the east coast (the North Sea), a distance of approximately 160 miles in three days. Broadly speaking, the first day would take in the Lake District, the second would see off the Pennines and the third the North York’s Moors/Northumberland. Game on. Ah, but doesn’t that go over some hilly ground? Beer has soooo much to answer for.

mamils, one & all

Back in the day, when some men with a bit of disposable income reached a certain age, or a certain position in life, they did some strange things. The grind of the office and humdrum home life convinced many that the answer to an expanding midriff lay in a pair of expensive designer jeans, a third-hand guards red 911 and brand new Suzuki Gixer thou. At least many of us drew the line at another pony-tail. Nonetheless, teenage daughters ran screaming from the scene and sons were left bereft of convincing role models.

c’mon in, the water’s lovely

Swimming is the new squash! Having only recently dipped a toe in this particular activity I must say I’ve taken to it like the proverbial duck to…er…water. Not in terms of technique and ability but certainly in terms of enthusiasm. It really is a tremendous sport even though you end up smelling of chlorine and develop permanent lines around your eyes from the goggles. Nonetheless, it’s all worthwhile and no doubt you’ll end up open-water swimming at some point in time which at least means you get to avoid chlorine.

kingston’s festival of running

As several of you are probably aware there’s two races within this two-loop course around Kingston and Hampton Court, an eight miler and a 16 miler. I’d had a crack at the shorter distance a couple of years ago and completed it in a pretty respectable 58.04 but with the Ironman fast approaching I thought I’d give the longer one a go and try and put some miles in the ol’ bank as they say.

time to take-up table tennis

I’m not a natural runner; my legs are too short and, having only taken it up when I was 40, I was over-the-hill before I even started. I truly hated every step for several years. It was initially a necessary evil as the adventure races I was competing in were ‘topped and tailed’ a run but I have to admit that it did eventually click and it’s proved to be exercise that I’ve grown to quite enjoy.

the squash dynasty

The game of squash, according to the indisputable Oxford Companion to Sports and Games (1976), originated in the mid-19th century at Harrow School, where boys would knock a squishy rubber ball about whilst waiting to play the ‘proper’ game of rackets. Rackets – similar to squash, though played with a rock-hard ball on a slightly larger court – is now only played in public schools and private clubs, Squash, meanwhile, is played worldwide. The popularity of the sport derives largely from one unlikely group of families: the Khans, from Pakistan.

swim, bike, run, drink

I have to admit that the whole competitive triathlon bug has yet to really sink its teeth into me. In my (admittedly) limited experience of a couple of Sprint and Olympic distance events, two Half Ironman events and one full Ironman I’ve found it all a little too testosterone fuelled and if ever there was a case of ‘all the gear, no idea’ then triathlon is where it’s at.

allez le dope

For as long as it’s been a competitive sport, it appears cycling has been in the doping-doldrums. Back in the early days of the Tour de France, it was the odd bottle of booze, liberated from the local village bar, that the intrepid and uber-hardy cyclists necked before staggering up the indomitable Alpe d’Huez or Le Tourmalet. Cocaine, ether, LSD and amphetamines quickly followed, only to be usurped by the drug choice of today’s cyclists, EPO, steroids, growth hormone, and the scientifically named, GW1516 (an illegally manufactured drug known to cause cancer), not to mention the use of self-administered blood bulking and ‘ozone-treated’ blood transfusions. And contrary to the protestations of many within the industry, professional cyclists are still allegedly […]

our beautiful game

£5.1 bn. Five-point-one-billion-pounds. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly become more disillusioned with professional football I read of a retired manager’s pay-check and it almost made my blood boil. Last week it was inadvertently revealed that Alex Ferguson, MUFC’s recently retired ‘ex’, had been paid in excess of two-million quid for a contract of employment that stipulates the grand sum of twenty days’ employment from him in return. The judicious use of a Texas Instrument’s finest tells me this equates to an immoral daily rate of £108,000. If you’re a fan of Saturday morning’s ‘Fighting Talk’ you’ll know what I mean when I say that I’d love to hear Sir Alex ‘defend the indefensible’ on this one! In a […]

referee blows for time

When I read of the plight of over one hundred highly-paid and internationally known footballers, I almost felt sorry for them. Almost. Apparently, the footballers, including recently retired Premiership League players, are experiencing severe financial difficulty, with many facing potential bankruptcy following recent HMRC demands for the repayment of huge disputed tax relief. Players who earned (or were at least paid) million-pound-plus salaries now face losing everything. The footballers have become very visible targets in a well-overdue crackdown by her majesty’s finest on what it believes is blatant tax avoidance via a variety of schemes which sought to take huge advantage of tax reliefs aimed at British film industry investments. Personally, I think the line between ‘avoidance’ and ‘evasion’ is […]