Tag Archives: attitudes

David Weir says Paralympians deserve to be respected as much as Usain Bolt

We deserve to put Bolt in the shade! Weir says Paralympians have shown their worth

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UPDATED:

22:48 GMT, 10 September 2012

Not many people can steal the limelight from the world’s fastest man and David Weir admitted the popularity of the Paralympic Games surprised even him.

Weir, who won four gold medals in London, said he smiled when he saw that the Paralympics trumped coverage of Usain Bolt’s 100metre win in Brussels last week.

He said: ‘It definitely surpassed my expectations. It made me laugh when Usain Bolt’s Diamond League was five or six pages back from us. So that just put a little bit of a smile on my face.

Proud: David Weir with his four gold medals

Proud: David Weir with his four gold medals

‘It’s been special. I’ve never experienced anything like it. When you see us (Paralympians) on the front of the papers and the back on the same day, it’s just amazing.’

The wheelchair racer, 33, added: ‘We’ve always said we’re world-class athletes and I think that’s shown in the last 11 days. We’re just as good as Olympians.

Not this time: Usain Bolt's coverage was a few pages back

Not this time: Usain Bolt's coverage was a few pages back

‘We’ve been banging on about it for years and years and it has taken this Games to show people we’re athletes and we’re world class like everyone else. We train as hard as everyone else and we’re getting the recognition now.

‘I think that will carry on to Rio. People are very interested in Paralympic sport. I think everyone’s attitude will change and has changed. It’s all for the good, so I’m happy.’

Changing attitudes: Thousands loved the Paralympics

Changing attitudes: Thousands loved the Paralympics

Weir also revealed Jessica Ennis had told him that her mother Alison said Weir was her favourite athlete of the summer — behind her daughter, of course.

‘I feel like a rock star,’ he said. ‘But I won’t change. I would be the same whatever I had done.’

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and Tony Pulis get down and dirty in a war of words

Wenger and Pulis get down and dirty in a war of words

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UPDATED:

21:49 GMT, 25 August 2012

Arsene Wenger has defended his team's
disciplinary record after Stoke manager Tony Pulis accused Arsenal of
being a dirtier team than his.

Pulis made his claim based on the
number of yellow and red cards each side received last season, with
Arsenal receiving four red cards to Stoke's two and 64 yellow cards to
Stoke's 60.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Head to head: Tony Pulis (left) and Arsene Wenger

'People talk about us being a dirty team, yet we haven’t had as many red cards or I haven’t had as many red cards as a manager as Arsene Wenger has had as a manager,' said Pulis.

'People always talk about me and Stoke City. Nobody ever talks about the situation with Wenger.

'There was a situation not so long ago when a lot of red cards were being dished out to Arsenal. Everybody seems to have forgotten about that.

'All we want is fairness and a balance. It is frustrating when you get labelled for this or that and people don’t look at the other side of the coin.'

But Wenger in turn drew attention to the Premier League's Fair Play table, which also takes account of players' attitudes to officials, which had Arsenal in seventh and Stoke bottom.

Wenger said: 'I think we did quite well in the Fair Play table. I don't know how they did. But we did quite well. It's not only about red cards, it's the number of fouls.'

And Wenger says he will not make a special point of briefing his players on the more physical challenge that Stoke will pose today, even though Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla are new to the Premier League.

'It will give them a good image [of English football],' said Wenger. 'But usually they are quite well informed. We will focus on playing our game and we do not make too much of it. Stoke have fewer yellow cards than us, so we do not need to be briefed too much. We just have to play our game and Stoke play theirs.'

And Wenger believes that, despite the departures of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie, Arsenal have a side that will challenge for the title and that will stay together.

Wenger said: 'The team were there and we were close to four trophies. We start again because we lost all these players in two years.

'Now we build again and this time we have an English core.'

England v South Africa was proper cricket: Patrick Collins

After our diet of fish fingers, this was proper cricket

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UPDATED:

21:50 GMT, 21 July 2012

The South African total was swelling hour upon hour, a relentless accumulation of runs and minor records. The English fielding was starting to wilt, with Andrew Strauss frowning his concern.

And high in the grandstand, a man who captained England long ago was nodding his approval of the scene. ‘Test cricket,’ he growled. ‘Proper cricket.’ And we knew just what he meant.

A philosopher once observed that the English, not being a spiritual people, invented cricket to give them some sense of eternity. At The Oval, their understanding became a little more profound. Not that it was dull, never that. But it was decidedly different to the usual diet of Twenty20 hit and giggle.

Floored: Andrew Strauss is left to ponder one of the toughest days of his England captainsy

Floored: Andrew Strauss is left to ponder one of the toughest days of his England captainsy

Different to the sudden death attitudes of the one-day game. And quite different to most modern Tests, which involve the opposition briefly flattering to deceive before capitulating to the best English side of recent years.

Capitulation was never on the South African agenda, as they played the kind of cricket that Tests were designed to provide. It is a game which examines character as well as technique; a game in which pressure is incrementally exerted, advantages are subtly seized, and tame concession is never contemplated.

The players had grown used to the rhythms of the shorter form. You could almost watch them altering their methods, adjusting their expectations.

After a diet of fish fingers, they were being served Dover Sole, and they found it rich for their taste. Likewise the crowd. This was not quite what they had come to see, but they became slowly absorbed by the intricacies.

Not out: Hashim Amla was immovable, batting all day for 183 not out

Going nowhere: Hashim Amla was immovable, batting all day for 183 not out

True, there were a few Mexican waves when affairs slowed drastically in mid-afternoon. But they knew what was at stake, how much mental effort was being expended on the battle.

South Africa have players who relish this kind of conflict, none more than the captain Graeme Smith. In the course of this short tour — far too short for most tastes — he has dispensed a stream of soothing platitudes: ‘It’s a very open series . . . two good teams going up against each other . . . we wouldn’t expect it to be easy.’

All true, of course, but that is not what he is saying in the dressing room. Smith believes that there are weaknesses, technical and temperamental, in this England side, and he is desperate to exploit them. Since they are rated the best in the world, he offers the English the mandatory compliments, but his body language does not hint at excessive respect.

In this, as in much else, he resembles other successful Test captains. Australia’s Allan Border springs to mind as a man prepared to bat for days without offering a sociable word or a plausible chance. There were times when it seemed that Smith still might be in the middle come Monday evening, and it took the rankest fluke to remove him.

Hungry: South Africa have never lost a Test when Graeme Smith has scored a century

Hungry: South Africa have never lost a Test when Graeme Smith has scored a century

Stuart Broad had just donated 21 off three overs with the new ball when Tim Bresnan was brought on to stem the flow. With his first delivery, he had Smith hesitating for a millisecond.

The ball found the inside edge, struck a pad and touched the wicket with scarcely sufficient force to dislodge a bail. Smith had scored 131, yet he strode blackly away, as if he had left the scorers untroubled. It had been something of a tour de force, his first 50 taking him 160 balls, his second whipped off in just 41. And he had left his side in a position of some security.

Smith’s collaborator, Hashim Amla, was in equally implacable mood. He scores his runs with rather more wristy style and grace than his captain, but he scores them in similar quantities. He was the nimble, resourceful player he had always promised to be and he was to find a formidable accomplice.

Jacques Kallis is not the man a fielding side would most like to see coming down the pavilion steps when the scoreboard is showing 260 for two. His career statistics are overwhelming, certainly with ball, but most ferociously with bat.

Power show: Jacques Kallis helped himself in the afternoon session, moving to 82 off 161 balls

Power show: Jacques Kallis helped himself in the afternoon session, moving to 82 off 161 balls

And this match has revealed no diminution of his abilities. Pretty soon, he was filling his boots; slowly at first, then with accelerating ease as control passed into South African hands. His face gives little or nothing away, but as the total passed 400 the whole of The Oval knew he was enjoying it.

As was my friend, the ex-England skipper. ‘Test cricket. Proper cricket,’ he called it. And he called it just right.

Euro 2012: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain"s family fear racism

Euro race fears drive Oxlade-Chamberlain's family away

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UPDATED:

21:55 GMT, 24 May 2012

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's family have joined Theo Walcott's relatives in staying at home during the European Championship for fear of being victims of racial abuse in Ukraine.

The news comes as the PFA announced plans to allow clubs to sack players if they are found guilty of racist behaviour.

Family fears: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (left) with manager Roy Hodgson at Thursday's England training session

Family fears: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (left) with manager Roy Hodgson at Thursday's England training session

Walcott's brother Ashley confirmed on Twitter last week that he and his father Don would not take the risk after public warnings from the Foreign Office.

On Thursday Whitehall officials reiterated their concerns and Joleon Lescott, one of eight black players in the England squad, revealed that other families, like that of Oxlade-Chamberlain, are opting to stay away.

The Foreign Office launched a free guide to fans for Euro 2012 on Thursday. Two of the recommendations in the 130-page guide are:

Travellers of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent and individuals belonging to religious minorities should take extra care.
Although homosexuality is legal in Ukraine, public attitudes are less tolerant than in the UK and public displays of affection may attract negative attention.

Lescott said his family had decided to stay at home before the warnings were issued, simply for logistical reasons.

'It was quite alarming to see the reports about the situation out there,' he said.

'But even before the reports, my family weren't going anyway. Maybe if I'm playing and we get to the final, my family will want to go.

'But it's a shame for some members of the squad that their families feel they can't go.'

Racism fears: The families Theo Walcott (left) and Joleon Lescott (right) are staying at home

Racism fears: The families Theo Walcott (left) and Joleon Lescott (right) are staying at home

Racism fears: The families of Walcott (left) and Lescott (right) will stay at home

The PFA are getting tough on domestic racism after a season marred by allegations against Luis Suarez and John Terry.

Gordon Taylor, the union's chief executive, is pressing for a small but significant amendment to the standard player's contract clearing the way for clubs to dismiss players guilty of racism without fear of a legal response.

Under the new regulations, the language used by Suarez towards Patrice Evra, which led to an eight-match ban, would be a sackable offence, as would that allegedly used by Terry in the direction Anton Ferdinand.

Terry, who has been stripped of the England captaincy over the case which will be heard in court in July, denies the charge.

Learning lessons: Gordon Taylor vocal in calling for change

Learning lessons: Gordon Taylor vocal in calling for change

Taylor said: 'It's about learning from what's happened this year. It's not been a good year and it's still hanging around with the captaincy.

'There has been strong feeling among all members, particularly young black players, that it's time to progress.

'This will raise the bar and make it a lot more focused. We don't want any ambiguity.'

Taylor's proposal will be raised in July and requires approval from the PFA, the FA, the Premier League and the Football League.

Jeremy Hunt: We must not be complacent on racism

Government weigh in on Suarez spat as Hunt insists: We must not be complacent on racism

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has
warned that football must not return to the 'bad old days' following
high-profile racism rows.

He said the failure of Liverpool
forward Luis Suarez to shake hands with Manchester United's Patrice Evra
on Saturday was 'incredibly depressing'.

On Sunday, Suarez apologised for his
actions while Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish did likewise for his
behaviour in a post-match interview.

Snub: Luis Suarez refuses to shake the hand of Patrice Evra (right)

Snub: Luis Suarez refuses to shake the hand of Patrice Evra (right)

Hunt's comments came as it emerged that David Cameron is to hold a Downing Street summit to discuss the issue.

The sport's authorities and players' representatives are due to take part in the session later this month.

Mr Hunt told the BBC's Andrew Marr show: 'I would say that, as a society, one of the main reasons we have made huge strides in changing attitudes to racial discrimination is because of the changes in football.

'The lesson of the last couple of months is that you can never be complacent and the Prime Minister is very, very concerned to make sure that we don't go back to the bad old days but also that we are absolutely on our mettle to make sure that the football authorities and the Government continue to do everything we can to stamp out this problem.'

The last laugh: Evra celebrates victory as Liverpool's Suarez walks off

The last laugh: Evra celebrates victory as Liverpool's Suarez walks off

Asked for his reaction to the spat between Evra and Suarez, Mr Hunt said: 'It is incredibly depressing. It was very unsporting behaviour and I am sure the Football Association will look to see if any rules were broken.'

He went on: 'I thought the referee handled it brilliantly. It was an incredibly tense and difficult situation and Phil Dowd did a fantastic job.

'This is the kind of thing that can so easily escalate and that is why the Prime Minister has decided he is going to take a real interest and have this meeting in Downing Street.'

Sports minister Hugh Robertson accepts this season's race controversies have 'tarnished' the reputation of the game, but does not think the damage is irreparable.

The Suarez-Evra dispute came just over a week after John Terry was stripped of the England captaincy for Euro 2012 while he awaits trial on a charge of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand – a charge Terry denies.

Incredibly depressing: Jeremy Hunt offered his thoughts on the Andrew Marr show

Incredibly depressing: Jeremy Hunt offered his thoughts on the Andrew Marr show

Robertson accepted the damaging impact of the issue repeatedly making headlines, but insists it should not be allowed to set back the progress made by anti-discrimination campaigns in football.

He told Sky Sports News: 'I think the image of the game has been tarnished, but I don't think it's irreparable.

'This has been a bad season for this sort of thing, but it shouldn't for a moment obscure the enormous amount of good work and progress over the past 20 years.

'I was speaking at a conference on Wednesday for (anti-racism organisations) Show Racism the Red Card and Kick it Out, both of whom – along with the FA – have done enormous good work.

'What we need to make sure of is that this doesn't mark a regression. My gut feeling is that it doesn't, certainly not on the pitch, but there is an issue that still needs to be tackled.

'It goes beyond racism, you hear vile chanting about managers and opposition players. I don't think that really has any place in modern society – if we don't accept it on the high street, I see no reason why we should accept it in a football crowd.'

Stripped of captaincy: John Terry

Fallout: Fabio Capello

Undermined: Terry (left) stripped of the captaincy and Capello (right) resigned

Hunt also endorsed the FA's decision to strip Terry of the England captaincy.

'It's a decision for the FA but I did supported them when they made that decision because I think sometimes the principle is more important than any one person,' he said.

'I think it is incredibly important for the future of the game that the FA deal decisively and clearly with these issues as they did with Suarez and I absolutely supported them.

'But John Terry is innocent until proven guilty and we must wait and see what the courts decide.'

Hunt also said he would like Fabio Capello's replacement as England manager to be English but he must be the 'best man for the job'.

Paralypic sport: A day with Britain"s para-triathletes

Brave and inspirational… do me a favour! Changing attitudes in the newest Paralympic sport

Having completed his first triathlon in July, Sportsmail's Matt Fortune was invited to Loughborough University, the base for some of the country's best athletes, to experience the sport in a very different way. He returned with a renewed sense of drive and an attitude changed.

‘Brave and inspirational Don’t you patronise us.’

It was a reaction I had not expected when I asked the team of para-triathletes I had joined for the day how they felt about the way they are perceived.

However after experiencing the sport like never before – as a visually impaired runner and as a cyclist without the use of my legs – I do, to a certain extent, maintain my position.

Attitude changing: Sportsmail's Matt Fortune spent the day with some of Britain's leading para-triathletes

Attitude changing: Sportsmail's Matt Fortune spent the day with some of Britain's leading para-triathletes

Seeing all too often people wallow in their own minor misfortune, these people are an inspiration, though I see the point they were are at such pains to prove. Their battle for 'acceptance' has been tough going. As one put it: ‘I only ever feel disabled during sport.’

Claire Cunningham, born without her left forearm, was most struck by my controversial assessment. She experienced Paralympic success before her 16th birthday and now works as a chartered accountant at Deloitte.

‘My parents would never allow my disability to act as a barrier, and never was it an excuse,’ she says. ‘Until I was in my teens I would compete against able-bodied athletes and even when I finished second in those races, I would be angry, disappointed.

'I only ever feel disabled when I participate in sport because I fit into a category there'

‘Even at a young age, being told I would be able to succeed at the highest level in disabled sport and travel the world doing it, my parents and I would dismiss the idea.

‘And now for me, I only ever feel disabled when I participate in sport because I fit into a category there.’

Jane Egan, who has a rare neurological disorder affecting her central and peripheral nervous systems, is matter of fact about her success: ‘Everybody has things in their life they have to overcome – physical, psychological, day-to-day work things – and those people do things in their life that inspire people without even realising it.

‘There are lots of people who get really uptight about the words brave and inspirational, and believe in some way it is demeaning what we are doing, but I think that if other people get something from what we are doing, take that into motivating someone to try triathlon, or to try sport, then that is fantastic.

Disconcerting: Matt was put through his paces wearing blackout glasses

Disconcerting: Matt was put through his paces wearing blackout glasses

'Everybody is inspired in life but what they see others doing, and it isn’t really any different. We don’t want it elevated above anything else.’

On the topic of bravery, the athletes opinions are even more forthright. They have tired of attitudes which are to them condescending and belittling.

Claire adds: ‘The brave thing is what gets me most. We’re not brave, there is no danger of death in what we do,’ while Sarah Butler, a runner-up in last year’s world championship grand final in Beijing, says: ‘When people say “isn’t it scary”, my response is, “I’ve never not been visually impaired so I couldn’t tell you really”. I think that is where the brave thing is seen as really bizarre.'

The distances covered correlate to that of the sprint event for able-bodied athletes – 750m of swimming, followed by 20km of cycling and 5km of running.

Alongside the three competitors is John Kearns, who acts as a help for the athletes during competition.

He says: ‘It isn’t about bravery or anything like that, it is just a case of appreciating the effort.’

As a sport in Britain, triathlon is doing more than most to break down barriers with both the para and the able-bodied elite level athletes operating under the same supervision – the British Triathlon Federation.

‘That it all comes under the same federation means I don’t feel mollycoddled or treated specially,’ Claire says.

I ask, timidly, if the success of the likes of Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee – Britain and indeed the world’s finest in elite able-bodied men's triathlon – filters through the system. Are they, I suggest, an inspiration.

Leading the way: British brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee

Leading the way: British brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee

Jane explains: ‘I don’t think it
works like that, but I do think the integration of the para-side with
mainstream triathlon means that the whole thing feels like one sport. It
also means that from a funding perspective that the better the able
bodied athletes do, the better we all do.

‘It
means more funding, more resources, sponsors will be keener to get
involved and that has a knock on effect. I may swim, bike and run but
there is not much I can get from the guys, so it is a different sport
technically, but we feel like a part of the big sports family.’

'Getting para-tri into the 2016 Games is as important as triathlon getting into the Sydney Olympics [in 2000]'

Certainly
the success of the Brownlees and in the women’s discipline – Chrissie
Wellington is a four-time champion – the development is mirrored in the
para event. Participation is on the up and last year paratri was granted
a spot at 2016 the Olympics in Rio de Janiero.

Claire says: ‘The standard and quality of depth has increased a lot, and it is growing year on year. But this is a huge turning point having it in the Paralympics. It means we should get more funding to become better athletes, it will hopefully attract more people into it, and profile-wise it will help increase it.

‘It is a massive step forward. If we hadn’t got in, this progress we’ve all made would have stagnated. I think it is as important as triathlon getting into the Sydney Olympics [in 2000].

‘The team is now building towards to it and I think the key is getting young athletes into the sport. We need to develop younger people as triathletes rather than take them on from the individual sports. That happened in the able-bodied arena in 2000, and now here we are going through that.

And Sara, adds: 'People are now making a long-term commitment to it and once 2012 has gone I think you will see a big turning point because at the moment all the focus is on this summer.’

Jane agrees. She says: ‘From a motivational perspective, whether you think you have a chance of making it or not, it still gives you that dream, something to aim for.’

Trust: Giving over the ability to brake and steer was a curious experience

Trust: Giving over the ability to brake and steer was a curious experience

The understanding is that, as well as with the help of the BTF and its sponsors, British attitudes ensure the best for these athletes.

Claire says: ‘Paratri has only been going for a few years, and as a serious event for only a couple. It is very young.

‘But Britain has always been a leader in Paralympic sport, and with para triathlon we are leaders again. We have got guys who are trained to go water handling, trained to do transition and other countries just don't have that. A lot of that is the excellent funding initiatives, including from GE.’

Reflections on my day

In transition: Much faith is placed in those that are help between stages

In transition: Much faith is placed in those that are help between stages

Of all the experiences, most disconcerting was the run, for which I donned a pair of blackout glasses. As anyone who’s struggled to find the light for the bathroom in the dead of night will know, it’s disorientating.

Despite knowing I was running in a straight line on a perfectly smooth athletics track surface, the feeling of an impending collision was enough for my running technique to disintegrate.

Even the presence of a guide, strapped to me as they were HOW! and talking throughout the experience, failed to give me confidence. Imagine how one would cope on the open road against competitors.

In many ways it is about sacrificing control, a challenge many who have inherited disabilities will struggle to adapt to when their most basic human instincts have been taken away from them for whatever reason.

The same feeling I'd had on the run hits home on the tandem bike where the visually impaired athlete rides at the rear, without any access to breaks, gears or indeed the right to steer. Overcoming the instinct to direct the bike was a challenge throughout and brought home the complexities of what has for me become instinct.

When roles were reversed, the superior power in the legs of the other rider accentuated quite how many more barriers need breaking down and solutions need finding for these individuals to take part. No longer relying on your own will to succeed, you as well place faith in your guide and in the fact that you have chosen a suitable match.

Further understanding of the role others play came in transition, the section of the race between disciplines – from swim to bike, then from bike to run. The professionals will tell you it is here that your race can be won or lost.

Readjusting: The day was as educational as it was enjoyable

Readjusting: The day was as educational as it was enjoyable

For Jane, who has won back-to-back female triathlete of the year awards since starting out in 2009, making her way from the water to chair requires the help of one person. For more powerful male competitors, two men are enlisted to lift, strap in and get going. It’s an effort as efficient as a F1 pit stop and one where the utmost urgency is imperative. There is a lot of trust involved, but it comes with time.

Sara says: ‘I almost have to switch off in a race in terms of trust. I just have to say “what will be will be”. If I was worried I wouldn’t race to my full potential, I’d be holding back a little bit, a bit tentative, and you can't be like that. Luckily now I am starting to enjoy relationships where I can build it so much that I don’t worry.’

Sara's comfort and overall feeling having been involved for a comparatively short period of time is testament to the work done to aid the development of the sport. Long may it continue. And let it, not them, remain an inspiration.

GE is a proud partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the Elite Partner of the GE GB Triathlon & Paratriathlon teams – providing support and expertise for the athletes as they prepare and compete at the highest levels. See more facebook.com/GEtriathlon