Tag Archives: earthquake

Royal Trophy 2012: Ryo Ishikawa could make the difference in Brunei

Japan's superstar Ishikawa could be the difference in Asia's bid to topple Europe in Royal Trophy



15:48 GMT, 15 December 2012

The first thing that set Ryo Ishikawa apart from the other golfers at the Royal Trophy, Ryder Cup stars and all, came during the tournament’s opening ceremony.

Each player was introduced to polite and respectful applause. Then came Ryo, and suddenly the room was not filled with dignitaries and journalists but squealing teenagers.

Ishikawa attracts a fanatical following from his homeland of Japan wherever he plays across the globe. Whenever he takes to the course there are as many photographers as paying spectators following his every move.

Eyes on the prize: Ishikawa struck two outstanding shots in the fourballs

Eyes on the prize: Ishikawa struck two outstanding shots in the fourballs

Young, squeaky clean, good looking but entirely unthreatening… as a colleague here in Brunei put it, Ishikawa could well be described as the Justin Bieber of golf.

But, like when asking anyone over the age of 16 what their favourite Bieber song is, mention Ishikawa and most golf fans’ faces will turn blank.

To be fair to Ryo, his music does not make a proportion of the public want to pull their own fingernails out. Although it must be said we’ve never heard him sing. Let’s keep it that way.

So what’s all the fuss about Well, apart from the boyband looks, he donated his earnings on tour in 2011 to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief fund, plus an additional 750 for every birdie he made during the year. So he’s a nice boy – but is he a top-class golfer

The Ishikawa frenzy erupted when he became the youngest ever winner on the Japan Golf Tour aged just 15. Now 21, Ryo has won another 10 titles but only last month ended a barren run of two years without a victory. He has also never made his presence felt at any of the major championships, beyond the sizable boost to the local economies provided by the ever-present, and ultimately disappointed, throng of Japanese tourists.

Joining the scrum following Ishikawa during his fourball match at the Royal Trophy on Saturday, there were encouraging signs early on.

Up for grabs: The Royal Trophy was on display as Ye Yang tees off

Up for grabs: The Royal Trophy was on display as Ye Yang tees off

A wedge approach into the par-four first was accompanied by a long, posed follow-through – the equivalent of the ‘save for the cameras’ in football – as the ball flew straight at the flag and stopped four feet from the pin.

Ishikawa is known as ‘the Bashful Prince’ back home, but this was a showman working the crowd in a way the rather arrogant Prince, of musical fame, would approve.

But it was not to last. The putt shaved the hole leaving Ishikawa flabbergasted. A stunning approach to the fifth was a rare highlight in a round consisting mainly of piercing drives but sloppy iron play.

Despite being 50 yards longer off the tee than one of his opponents, Francesco Molinari, he was unable to match the two-time Ryder Cup veteran’s precision into the greens.

Then he started to falter off the tee too, splashing down in the lake with an ugly slice on the eighth, and began to find fairway bunkers with ease.

As Duran Duran might have sung, his name is Ryo and he likes playing from the sand. Ishikawa and fellow Japenese Yoshinori Fujimoto found themselves two holes down to the Molinari brothers at the turn and wilting in the stifling tropical heat.

All looked lost, but Fujimoto had other ideas. Sleeves pulled up, in the manner of Andy Roddick, over his impossibly square shoulders, he started firing at pins and sparked life back into the contest. And then, the moment we’d all been waiting for.

Raptures: Ishikawa received a warm reception in the opening ceremony, a much louder applause than Ryder Cup stars such as Miguel Angel Jimenez

Raptures: Ishikawa received a warm reception in the opening ceremony, a much louder applause than Ryder Cup stars such as Miguel Angel Jimenez

With his playing partner in trouble after driving towards the beach on the 549-yard long 15th, an under-pressure Ishikawa launched a lusty blow off the tee before firing a laser-guided missile into the green. His ball finished nine feet from the pin and the putt was sunk for an eagle three, the first of the week on any par-five here.

The fire was lit in Ishikawa’s belly and he followed that with another belter into the green at the short 16th.

Fujimoto’s birdie meant he did not need to complete his own near-certain two. After finding sand off the tee on the 17th, he blasted his approach out of the bunker to 10 feet. The Molinaris missed longer birdie putts and the match was over, the Japanese winning three up.

It wasn’t the most polished performance and it remains to be seen whether he can succeed under such an intense media glare. Helping Asia to come from a point behind and beat Europe in Sunday’s singles here may also be beyond his powers.

He takes on Henrik Stenson tomorrow.

But with two of the most fabulous blows you will ever see in any golf tournament across the globe, this young superstar won a new admirer.

If Ishikawa really is the Justin Bieber of golf… then I’m a Belieber.

London Olympics 2012: Oscar Pistorius set to explode into action

Blade Runner: Stand by for the fastest man on no legs to explode into the London Olympics



21:20 GMT, 31 July 2012

For the man who is about to become one of the most famous Olympians of all time, first a little peace and quiet.

Tucked away in a small town in north-eastern Italy, Oscar Pistorius is enjoying a rare stint out of the spotlight. He trains on a track built especially for him by the mayor of Gemona as he prepares to make history.

Just after 10.30am on Saturday, Pistorius will become the first disabled athlete to compete at the Olympics. The South African, who runs with blades instead of legs, will compete in the heats of the 400 metres.

Pistorius, who trains in the town from May to September, looks utterly relaxed here. It is two hours and a million miles from the focus that will be on him in London’s Olympic Stadium.

Purpose built: Oscar Pistorius trains on the Gemona athletics track

Purpose built: Oscar Pistorius trains on the Gemona athletics track

‘I came here in 2010 to receive an award at an event run by two universities in the area,’ he says.

‘The mayor wanted more of a sporting background to the town, so he offered me the chance to train here. I looked at the facilities and came up with some suggestions of what they needed to improve and now we have a beautiful track in one of the most beautiful settings there is. Kids come down to the track to watch. It’s an amazing, supportive culture. It’s so peaceful and tranquil and the facilities are world-class.’

For Gemona’s mayor, Paolo Urbani, it was a simple decision and one he feels is already paying off. ‘We wanted to have a sporting project in Gemona and Oscar was the perfect person to represent that,’ he says.

‘Oscar is like one of us. In 1976 we had a big earthquake which destroyed the town. The people were strong and wanted to rebuild and Oscar is like that too. He is a tough person. If he wants something, he puts the effort in to achieve it. The whole town will be watching his races.’

At full stretch: Pistorius prepares for training

At full stretch: Pistorius prepares for training

How Pistorius follows in the footsteps of a cheetah

Oscar wears the Ossur Cheetah Flex-foot Artificial Sprinting Leg

Cost approx 1,300

Made of carbon fibre, manufactured in Iceland

Each blade weighs 512g (18.1oz)

The prosthesis’ ‘J’ curve shape resembles the hind quarter of a cheetah, the fastest animal on land

He only has one pair — he trains and competes in the same blades — and he’s been using the current pair since 2003

If they were to break, he’d be scuppered… but they won’t

Spikes are taken from an ordinary Nike shoe

Knee sockets are moulded specially around Oscar’s joints, with additional soft cushioning

It is cold and wet — a rare break from the blistering Italian summer — when we are there to see Pistorius but that does not alter the 25-year-old’s routine. Under the eye of his coach, Ampie Louw, Pistorius removes his prosthetic legs, puts on his blades, stretches and then starts his training.

He has the blades because he was born without fibulas, the bones that connect the knee and the ankle. They have caused their fair share of controversy, with some arguing that they give Pistorius an advantage over able-bodied athletes. But science has supported him and that is why he is preparing for the Games.

Pistorius, who at the Paralympics later this summer will defend three titles he won four years ago, cannot wait for his race. He adds, however: ‘I am definitely going to feel nervous. As soon as the gun goes, you are fine but the waiting kills athletes. You can be a nervous wreck but you just go through the motions of breathing deeply, stretching, making sure your number is on straight.

‘My first Olympic memory was watching Maurice Greene. He had crazy power and used to bounce across the track like a gummy bear. I used to tell my friends he was the best. The 100m, 200m and 400m was pretty much all we knew about the Olympics as kids. It’s crazy to think that now I’m about to run.’

EURO 2012: Victor Valdes wary of Andrea Pirlo threat

Valdes wary of veteran playmaker Pirlo as Spain gear up for Italy clash



11:35 GMT, 8 June 2012

Spain goalkeeper Victor Valdes believes his side will need to pay special attention to Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo on Sunday night as the reigning champions look to start Euro 2012 on a winning note.

Spain head into the tournament looking to become the first country to claim back-to-back European Championships and, with 19 members of their 2010 World Cup-winning squad heading to Poland and Ukraine, few would be surprised to see La Roja write another page in the history books.

Wary: Valdes believes Pirlo poses Italy's main threat

Wary: Valdes believes Pirlo poses Italy's main threat

They face a tricky start to the defence of their title though after being pitted against 2006 world champions Italy in their opening Group C match, and in veteran Pirlo, Valdes knows the Azzurri have someone who can make life difficult for the Spanish.

The Barcelona goalkeeper said of the 33-year-old Juventus man: 'He's the player that carries the Italian midfield.

'Everything goes through him. They have wingers that get forward a lot, they go on the attack. The strikers play quite deep, but they are always looking for that assist from Pirlo. We'll have to keep an eye on him and how we can counter that type of play.'

Old hand: Pirlo won the World Cup in 2006

Old hand: Pirlo won the World Cup in 2006

Real Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa is another who has plenty of respect for Italy heading into this weekend's game despite their opponents' poor recent form.

Italy have lost their last three friendly matches without scoring a goal, going down 1-0 at home to Uruguay in November and also against the USA in February, before losing 3-0 at home to Russia last Friday.

That loss came days after Italy's proposed friendly against Luxembourg was cancelled following an earthquake in the northern part of the country.

It is therefore hard to judge how Cesare Prandelli's men – who have also had to contend with a match-fixing scandal – will perform on Sunday but Arbeloa is not underestimating the threat posed by a nation that has won the World Cup four times and also claimed the 1968 European Championship.

Keeping up appearances: Valdes trains with Pepe Reine (right) and Iker Casillas (centre)

Keeping up appearances: Valdes trains with Pepe Reine (right) and Iker Casillas (centre)

Arbeloa, who was part of the Spain side that lost 2-1 to Italy in a friendly last August, told www.uefa.com: 'Italy can be struggling, perhaps not controlling the game, looking like they are not doing anything, but they are able to hold on, and then with one chance they can win the match.

'That is how the Italians are; they have that competitive edge, that winning nature that has seen them win so many titles.'

After facing Italy, Spain take on the Republic of Ireland on June 14 before completing their Group C fixtures against Croatia on June 18, with all three match taking place in Gdansk, Poland.

Euro 2012: Cesare Prandelli hopes Italy"s nightmare is over

Prandelli hopes Italy's mauling by Russia is the last part of their nightmare



09:37 GMT, 2 June 2012

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli believes Friday's defeat to Russia will only make his team stronger ahead of the European Championship.

The Azzurri lost 3-0 in Zurich in their last test before Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

'We have suffered a lot,' Prandelli said. 'We have made many mistakes and we hope that we have used them all tonight.

Smashed: Italy were destroyed by Russia

Smashed: Italy were destroyed by Russia

'Russia were better than us physically, from an intensity and temperament point of view.

'Perhaps losing in this manner can help us as we return to work in order to improve.'

Italy went into the game after a nightmare week.

A match-fixing scandal disrupted their preparations, with Prandelli dropping Zenit St Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito from the squad after he was put under investigation.

Euro 2012 email button

The team's friendly against Luxembourg in Parma was also cancelled on Tuesday because of an earthquake in northern Italy.

'Right now we are a team that is suffering a lot,' Prandelli said.

On the pitch, Italy had only conceded two goals in qualifying but they showed worrying signs defensively against Russia.

'It's not an issue of a given line but of the whole team,' he said. 'If you don't defend well as a team then you struggle.'

Italy defender Christian Maggio hopes his side can put this loss, the Azzurri's third consecutive friendly defeat, behind them.

'Honestly, it has been a terrible night,' he said. 'I hope it is the last and we can do much better in the next game.

Let's go: Cesare Prandelli hopes Italy have made the last of their mistakes

Let's go: Cesare Prandelli hopes Italy have made the last of their mistakes

'A lot of things have not gone the way we wanted and we really wanted to do well before we started the European Championship.

'We still have a few days to improve. Our minds are on the Euros and not on what has happened this week.

'We have to understand where we went wrong and try not to make the same mistakes.

'It's clear that we cannot play the way we did tonight against a strong team like Spain is.'

Italy take on European champions and World Cup winners Spain on June 10.

They will also play against Croatia and the Republic of Ireland in Group C.

Ferrari suspend operations in Maranello in the wake of deadly northern Italy earthquake

Ferrari suspend operations in Maranello in the wake of deadly northern Italy earthquake



18:57 GMT, 29 May 2012

Ferrari suspended operations at their factory in Maranello on Tuesday in the wake of the 5.8 magnitude earthquake which killed at least 15 people in northern Italy.

A Ferrari spokesperson confirmed there had been no damage to their facilities but the team had decided to send their employees home to be with their families.

Safety first: Ferrari, for whom Fernando Alonso finished third in Monaco, are taking no chances

Safety first: Ferrari, for whom Fernando Alonso finished third in Monaco, are taking no chances

Euro 2012: Italy friendly cancelled due to earthquake

More disruption to Italy's Euro 2012 preparation as earthquake forces friendly to be cancelled



13:21 GMT, 29 May 2012

Italy's Euro 2012 preparation has been further disrupted after an earthquake struck the region they were due to play a friendly in.

Their match against Luxembourg in Parma was cancelled and at least 10 people in the area died.

Shaken: An earthquake ruined Italy's plans for a friendly

Shaken: An earthquake ruined Italy's plans for a friendly

The earthquake magnitude was 5.8 and occured just a week after a similar sized shock occured.

Match-fixing allegations which rocked Italian football have already caused them difficulties, with defender Domenico Criscito excluded from the squad so he can clear his name.

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci has also been linked with match-fixing but will travel as he is not under formal investigation

A statement from the Italian football federation (FIGC) read: 'The friendly between Italy and Luxembourg scheduled for tonight at the Stadio Tardini in Parma has been called off.

'The decision has been taken by the FIGC along with the local and regional authorities after the earthquake that has hit the Emilia Romagna region and affected the north of Italy.'

Disaster: At least 10 people died in the earthquake

Disaster: At least 10 people died in the earthquake

Vincenzo Bernazzoli, president of the Emilia Romagna region, added: 'In our region, millions of people have been affected.

'In view of the victims and of the continuous tremors, it does not seem appropiate to proceed with the game.'

The tremors were felt across the north of Italy, including the hotel where the national team are staying.

'It is the first time I have felt an earthquake,' Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio said.

'It only lasted for a few seconds but the whole room shook.'
Italy will travel to Zurich to face Russia in a friendly on Friday.

Jack Warner controlled Haiti aid funds bank account allegedly

Trinidad and Tobago FA claim Warner responsible for missing Haiti earthquake funds

Control: Jack Warner allegedly controls the bank account aid funds were paid into

Control: Jack Warner allegedly controls the bank account aid funds were paid into

Funds donated for earthquake-hit Haiti that never made it to the Caribbean island were paid into a bank account controlled by former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) insisted on Thursday.

Some 440,000 of emergency aid money has gone missing since it was donated two years ago, and FIFA have frozen funding to the TTFF until they explain what has happened.

In 2010, Warner was special adviser to the TTFF and the cash from FIFA (250,000 US dollars) and the Korean FA (500,000 US dollars) was paid into a federation account they claim only he controlled.

The TTFF say they 'surrendered their authority' to Warner, who resigned from football last year after being accused of bribery, and he has refused to explain what happened to the money.

A TTFF statement said: 'The TTFF acknowledges it is aware of funds made available by both FIFA and the Korean football federation for the football victims of Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010.

'However, we are unable to confirm the quantum of funds received, as these monies did not go into the account used by the TTFF administration for its day-to-day operations, but instead to the TTFF's LOC (Local Organising Committee) account as was requested by Mr Jack Warner, the former vice-president of FIFA and special adviser to the TTFF.

Donation: Lord Triesman says Warner asked him for 500,000

Donation: Lord Triesman says Warner asked him for 500,000

'The current executive is unaware of how these funds were disbursed or utilised and is awaiting the promised audited accounts from Mr Warner.'

The statement added: 'We never questioned his authority or actions and are now in a position of despair as we are starved of funds by FIFA until full disclosure, which we are unable to provide without Mr Warner's input. Sadly Mr Warner seems disinclined to comply with our repeated requests.'

FIFA are withholding Warner's pension – reportedly worth 30,000 a year to the 69-year-old.

Warner, a government minister in his country, himself suggested on Trinidadian television that the allegations were a conspiracy.

He said: 'I have nothing to answer to anybody. Who wants to make allegations, make allegations. Ask yourselves, as objective members of the media, 'why now…'And after you get why now, just join the dots and see.'

Lord Triesman, the ex-FA and England 2018 World Cup bid chairman, said last year that Warner had asked him for a 500,000 donation to buy the rights to the World Cup for Haiti so that games could be shown to survivors of the catastrophic earthquake on big screens.

'I was later told Jack Warner owned the television rights for Haiti,' Triesman told a Parliamentary committee. 'I don't know if it is true.'