Tag Archives: bastion

Come back safely! Glover"s wish as partner Stanning heads out to Afghanistan

Come back safely! Glover's wish as partner Stanning heads out to Afghanistan



00:46 GMT, 23 December 2012

The tears flowed when Helen Glover and Heather Stanning won Team GB's first gold medal of the London Olympics.

But it will be emotional for another reason when our first champion women's rowing partnership is forced apart by a different British calling.

Duty calls: Helen Glover resumes training - without friend Heather Stanning

Duty calls: Helen Glover resumes training – without friend Heather Stanning

For Glover is certain her tears will flow again when 27-year-old Stanning sets off for what is intended to be a year's break from the rowing lake to head for Afghanistan and do her duty at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province while serving as a captain in the 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery.

Not only will Glover, 26, be fretting over the welfare of the woman who has become her close friend these past two years, she will also be concerned for the future of the partnership that was to win the London 2012 women's pairs gold.

'Heather is like a sister to me and I'll be worrying until the day she returns,' said Glover in a break during gruelling solo sessions at British rowing HQ at the Pinsent-Redgrave Lake.

Don't mess with her: Captain Heather Stanning off to Afghanistan

Don't mess with her: Captain Heather Stanning off to Afghanistan

'I've never had a family member going away as part of the armed forces on what is potentially a dangerous mission, but this feels like it.

'I'll miss her. I'm very proud of her and I'll probably cry the last time I see her, which will be very soon. I'm sure she'll be fine, of course, but I'll still worry about her and be relieved when she's back home safe.

'I also know that while we're apart for a year, our rivals will be training as pairs. Heather and I want to defend our title at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, but with her unable to practise with me until effectively 2014, we've handed the others a year's head start.'

Striking gold made both women switch plans dramatically.

Golden girls: Glover (left) and Heather Stanning pose with their gold medals

Golden girls: Glover (left) and Heather Stanning pose with their gold medals

Originally, Stanning envisaged London as both the beginning and end of her Olympic career, then it would be back to full-time Army commitments.

Glover, who had started to row only in 2008 after she joined the 'Sporting Giants' programme, could not see beyond 2012.

But after they were paired in 2010, their sights shifted after winning two silver medals in back-to-back world championships.

'Months before the Games, Heather and I talked about her returning to the Army and serving in Afghanistan because we didn't want it to become an issue in the final lead-up,' added Glover.

'She had no intention of carrying on in the sport, but as we got better and started winning medals – and then realising we stood a good chance of winning in London – she told me she was having too much fun to stop.

'I hadn't looked beyond August 1 and the Olympic final, but I realised afterwards that we were still a relatively new pair who could improve and I wanted to defend my title in Rio. So it's decided, assuming our coaches select us as a pair in 2016.'

Which makes 2013 a difficult prospect for Glover, both from a personal and professional viewpoint as she resumes her gruelling training schedule.

Double trouble: Glover (right) and Stanning on their way to victory

Double trouble: Glover (right) and Stanning on their way to victory

She added: 'Unusually for a pair, Heather and I are very close friends who have never fallen out. From a professional point of view I haven't needed to say anything to her about what being away means in terms of our partnership.

'I know she's been questioning herself about it enough. But I know how strong a person she is and how much she believes in what she's doing.

'It's not a decision she's taken lightly. Heather is confident she can spend a year with the Army, train on a rowing machine in Camp Bastion and then resume our partnership a year behind our rivals.

'That's how much she believes in what she is doing and in us as a pair.'

In the meantime, Glover has no idea how her year will pan out, with whom and in what.

Oarsome: Helen Glover and rowing partner Capt Heather Stanning, sporting her gold medal, after their success at London 2012

Oarsome: Helen Glover and rowing partner Capt Heather Stanning, sporting her gold medal, after their success at London 2012

'It's up to [women's chief coach] Paul Thompson to decide what to do with me. I'll have the challenge of a new partner in the pairs and aiming for the 2013 world championships in South Korea. Or I might even be in a different boat.

'It will keep me fresh, but I definitely want to get back with Heather after that, whatever happens.

'When Heather and I were teamed up in 2010, we just clicked. We produced times much faster than we should have and it was all on raw speed, not technique. That's what was so exciting. We knew that with technique we could become so much better.

'To be the first British female rowers ever to win an Olympic gold, the first by Team GB in 2012, was a huge bonus. Whatever else happens in the future, that can never be taken away from us.'

Ken Moss seals Wasps takeover

EXCLUSIVE: Former Wasp Moss finally seals his deal to buy out fallen giants



21:55 GMT, 23 August 2012

Ready for the new season: Hugo Southwell of London Wasps

Ready for the new season: Hugo Southwell of Wasps

The state of turmoil at Wasps stemming from the drawn-out process of selling the club is due to end on Friday with an announcement confirming the takeover by a consortium led by former player Ken Moss.

The High Wycombe-based former Premiership and European champions – a bastion of the English game – found themselves facing the threat of administration in April after chairman Steve Hayes had tried and failed to attract suitable buyers.

With the existence of the club in jeopardy as they toiled against relegation on the field and financial disaster off it, Moss and his backers emerged as prospective saviours.

However, since Wasps announced at the end of June that contracts had been exchanged as a major step towards the much-needed takeover, progress had stalled again.

The deal was meant to be finalised by the end of last month but repeated assurances from the boardroom that the end was in sight proved to be unfounded.

As recently as the middle of this week, there were fears the funds had not been acquired by the consortium to complete the deal and that it was in danger of collapse.

Line up: The Aviva Premiership season is almost ready to kick off

Line up: The Aviva Premiership season is almost ready to kick off

Now though, Sportsmail has learned that the buy-out has been concluded and it is understood the official news could be made public as early as Friday.

It will be a major relief to director of rugby Dai Young and his new-look squad as they aim to instigate a revival at Adams Park and reclaim the club’s lost place as a force in the domestic and European game.

Wales and Ospreys centre Andrew Bishop will appear at Cardiff Magistrates Court on September 27 charged with common assault.

Bishop, 27, was arrested and bailed following an incident in Cardiff city centre in the early hours of Monday morning.

Luke Donald annoys golf writers before The Open: Charles Sale

Charles Sale: Golf writers teed off by Donald's digs



23:12 GMT, 18 July 2012

World No 1 Luke Donald caused a
considerable stir on the eve of The Open with his less than gracious
response after winning the prestigious Golf Writers’ Trophy.

Donald, making his acceptance speech
in front of the game’s top brass at the Association of Golf Writers’
annual dinner at Royal Lytham, chose the occasion to be chippy in the
extreme about the tabloid press who had helped vote him top golfer of
the year.

However, Donald, who wrote the speech
himself rather than relying on his IMG management team, claimed
yesterday that he must have been misunderstood by the critical audience.

Ruffling feathers: Donald

Ruffling feathers: Donald

He said: ‘I was just trying to be
light-hearted. I’ve no problem with the British press. I get on well
with them and was trying to reflect that. It seems some people have
got the wrong impression.’ They certainly have.

Meanwhile, the AGW missed an
opportunity by not giving more recognition to the Curtis Cup-winning
quartet in attendance, who all look like models as well as being top
sportswomen. It was a particular shame considering the sexist men-only
Royal St George’s hosted The Open last year and another male bastion,
Muirfield, will do so in 2013.

More from Charles Sale…

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Ashley's 2m payout

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, who is considering bringing 35million striker Andy Carroll back to Tyneside if the price is right, might have to put 2m aside for Open Championship expenditure.

The sponsorship deal the Ashley-owned Dunlop brand has with Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke pays them 2m for winning a major. Westwood is again one of the favourites this week — as he was last year when Clarke took the Claret Jug and Ashley paid up just three days later.

Olazabal absent

Jose Maria Olazabal is nowhere to be seen at Royal Lytham despite being captain of the Ryder Cup team who will defend the trophy in Chicago in two months.

It is understood the Spaniard doesn’t feel the need to be at The Open, having failed to qualify, although his US counterpart Davis Love III is in the field.

It would be extremely rare in any other high-profile sport for a team boss not to watch all his players in action, as well as the opposition, ahead of an event as big as the Ryder Cup.

However, the last European captain to win in America was Bernhard Langer in 2004 and he missed that year’s Open for family reasons.

Staying away: Olazabal

Staying away: Jose Maria Olazabal

BBC's big bid

BBC Sport are understood to have paid around 100million to secure exclusive TV and online rights to the summer Olympics in 2016 and 2020 and two winter Games.

This is despite Sky having discussions with the IOC about buying the contract and then sub-leasing it to fulfil free-to-air commitments. In the event Sky did not bid.

And having had the door closed on their Olympic ambitions, Sky’s resolve for hours of daily non-rights Olympic coverage will be tested.

G4S score Open goal

The biggest surprise at Royal Lytham this week is that the 200-strong workforce from bungling security firm G4S, who have a three-year contract, have all turned up at the course.

R&A executive director of championships Johnnie Cole-Hamilton said: ‘All the managers and supervisors, who we’ve been using for many, many years, are back with us. The numbers we asked for are all here. We have no issue whatsoever.’ Pity London 2012 can’t say the same, although some of the G4S golf personnel are bound for Stratford after The Open.

Is Rio on course

Golf enters the Olympics in 2016, but work on constructing the course in Rio will not start until October at the earliest following complications over the land ownership.

Despite the tight timescale, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson is confident it will be ready for a test event in 2015. Dawson was on the panel that chose American Gil Hanse as course designer ahead of golfing greats Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Greg Norman.

Hanse, responsible for Scottish Open course Castle Stuart, is prepared to live in Brazil during construction.

London 2012 Olympics: Derek Derenalagi lost his legs fighting for Britain now looking for gold

Born in Fiji and lost his legs fighting for Britain in Afghanistan… now he dreams of gold in London



21:26 GMT, 17 March 2012

There is nothing plastic about Derek Derenalagi.

His broad shoulders, thick torso and unflappability made him a perfect soldier when he was recruited from Fiji, the country of his birth, to join the British Army in 1999.

Eight years later, both his legs were blown off by an anti-tank mine as he served in Afghanistan.

Hopeful: Derek Derenalagi is going for gold

Hopeful: Derek Derenalagi is going for gold

But his strength of mind helped him make the transition from the battlefield, where he was pronounced dead, to the athletics field and a chance to bring further honour to Britain at the London Games.

'I don't regret losing my legs because I did it serving this country and doing something I love,' said Derenalagi, now Britain's leading Paralympic discus thrower and shot putter.

'To represent Britain in a home games and compete in that awesome stadium will be a dream come true.'

Derenalagi, 34, was with three comrades from the Mercian Regiment as dawn broke in Helmand Province on a July day in 2007.

Their job was to clear a site for a Chinook helicopter to land. Derenalagi was at the back of an unarmed Land Rover.

'I asked the driver to reverse so I could get a better view of the whole site,' said Derenalagi.

'We rolled on to a 44-gallon drum hidden underneath the ground. Inside they'd filled it with hundreds of ball bearings and metals and six inches of nails.'

Proud: Derenalagi (left) with ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Proud: Derenalagi (left) with ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Derenalagi was thrown 30 metres,
landing on rocks. 'I could hear screaming and shouting and explosives. I
glanced down at my body.

left leg was completely missing and my right leg from the knee down was
hanging by a thread of flesh and bone. I was lying in a pool of blood. I
thought then that I would die.'

It was a medic at Camp Bastion who saved Derenalagi when he felt a pulse as the 'body' was being washed and prepared to be flown home in a body bag.

Derenalagi woke up eight days later in Selly Oak Hospital, in Birmingham, with his wife, Ana, who he met and married in Fiji, at his bedside. 'I saw her and said, “What are you doing in Afghanistan” I had no idea where I was.

Then I told her I had to go to the and she said, “You can't”. I didn't understand why. She couldn't tell me about my legs. She had to take a picture and say, “This is you now, Derek”.'

For his daughter, Anna, who was 16 at the time, it was too much to absorb. 'She moved back to Fiji with relatives,' said Derenalagi. 'She couldn't see me in the wheelchair and with no legs.'

For Derenalagi, who had played rugby to a high level in Fiji and New Zealand, sport was a refuge. Two weeks after he arrived at Selly Oak hospital he asked the nurses to take him to the gymnasium.

'I couldn't lift anything but I just needed to be in an environment where I knew I could still achieve,' he said. When the Ministry of Defence launched its Battle Back programme to rehabilitate injured soldiers four years ago, Derenalagi was identified as a candidate.

Excited: Derenalagi (right) can't wait to perform at the Olympic stadium

Excited: Derenalagi (right) can't wait to perform at the Olympic stadium

'I fell in love with the shot put,' he said. 'That was my strongest event until last year when I put an extra 10 metres on my discus.

'I was very determined to represent Britain, I was thinking of London 2012 the whole time. I watched the Beijing Paralympics in 2008 while I was still bedbound and knew I could do it.'

Derenalagi, who lived in Fiji until he was 20, baulks at the idea he could be considered a 'plastic Brit'. He said: 'I may be born a Fijian but I am British. I sacrificed half my body for this country and I love this country. If I qualify for London, I won't just be representing Britain, but all the British soldiers who have been killed and maimed at war.'

In fact, he is a near-certainty for this summer and his wife and the daughter he sees only on Skype will be there to watch him.

'She will be coming back to England if I make it to the Paralympics,' said Derenalagi. 'To look up and see her and my wife cheering for me at the Olympic Stadium would mean the world to me.'

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