Sunday, 22 April 2012
Is It Possible To Overdose On Sport?
Let's be honest, it has been an absolutely crazy fortnight of sport. Where to begin? No matter which sport takes your fancy, there has been drama, intrigue, upsets, epic performances and records set in them all.
Let's start with a rarely mentioned sport in this blog: Horse Racing. The Grand National is not an event I've ever taken much notice of before but my recent gambling addiction and the culturally dominant feeling of "you have to bet on the National" prompted me to call the bank manager and pick a couple of random horses to be honoured with 5p bets.
Despite both of my sure-things falling by the 5th fence, there was enough going on to hold my interest. Before the start a major jockey pulled out injured, the favourite threw off his rider then comically ran loose, a couple of false starts and then only 15 of 40 horses actually finishing the course, the best ever finish for a female jockey and the closest photo finish ever. Of course there is the tragedy of two horses being put down and others being injured and retired - a debate I'll leave to writers more experienced and informed than myself.
Back-to-back Formula 1 Grand Prix weekends have yielded some surprising results. Normally a Vettel pole and start-to-finish victory wouldn't raise an eyebrow but this season it comes as quite a shock. But the highlight has to be the Chinese Grand Prix of last weekend, where Nico Rosberg claimed both his first pole and first victory of his career.
This weekend has also seen the beginning of the Snooker World Championships. Stephen Hendry, the most successful player in the modern era (i.e. when you can't win a world title by winning one match in the pub), came through qualifying and then reeled off his record equalling 3rd Crucible 147 break on the 1st day of the tournament. We've also seen the emergence of the youngest ever player at the finals, 17 year old Luca Brecel.
And what a fortnight of football: A Premiership title wrapped up at 82 minutes at Old Trafford was suddenly torn open for the potential of a late City steal. What odds on Tevez getting the winner next Monday evening? We've also had a few fairly dull and uncontroversial semi-finals. Of course I'm referring to Hearts v Celtic. That huge game aside, there was also a Wembley-based Merseyside derby which proved that Liverpool can win football matches and that Andy Carroll is capable of scoring, an uneventful clash between Spurs and Chelsea which had even John Terry being honest, and then Barcelona proving ineffective when coming forward at the Bridge, before losing at home for the first time in about 5000 matches and surrendering La Liga to Real in last night's El Clasico.
I shouldn't like to ignore the elephant in the room so I'll make mention of the fact that yes Sheffield Wednesday's automatic promotion push is still on after a 95th minute winner on Saturday, but how many times do I have to tell you? Don't get your hopes up.
Oh and as if that wasn't enough, it was the London Marathon today, with a few million people exhausting themselves on our capital's streets in the name of charity or Olympics qualification (for the most part).
If you think this sporting gluttony is about to wind down then may I draw your attention to a few particular days ahead of us this spring and summer:
5/5 - World Snooker Champs + FA Cup Final
13/5 - Premiership final weekend + Spanish Grand Prix
19/5 - Champions League Final + Heineken Cup Final + Championship Playoff Final + England v West Indies 1st Test Match
26/5 - Norway v England (football) + AVIVA Premiership Final + Monaco Grand Prix + England v West Indies 2nd Test Match
9/6 - Roland Garros + Euro 2012 + SA v England Rugby + England v West Indies 3rd Test Match + Canadian Grand Prix (I think this is my favourite date)
16/6 - US Open Golf + Euro 2012 + SA v England Rugby + England v West Indies ODI
1/7 - Wimbledon + Euro 2012 + England v Australia ODI
7/7 - Wimbledon + British Grand Prix + England v Australia ODI
Well, you get the picture, there are also a few test matches against South Africa, a bunch more Grand Prix, a couple of golf and tennis majors, and I'm sure there's something else I'm missing to do with London and 2012 but I can't quite place my finger on it.