Sports Outside the Beltway

Oscar Pistorius, Double Amputee Olympic Sprinter

As incredible as it sounds, a man with no legs will be able to compete as a sprinter in the 2008 Olympics.

Oscar Pistorius Photo Stu Forster/Getty Images In its ruling, the CAS said the IAAF failed to prove that Oscar Pistorius

Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius won his appeal Friday and can compete for a place in the Beijing Olympics. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that the 21-year-old South African is eligible to race against able-bodied athletes, overturning a ban imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

More amazing: the opponents argue that he has an unfair advantage.

Pistorius appealed to CAS, world sport’s highest tribunal, to overturn a Jan. 14 ruling by the IAAF that banned him from competing. The IAAF said his carbon fiber blades give him a mechanical advantage.


“The panel was not persuaded that there was sufficient evidence of any metabolic advantage in favor of a double-amputee using the Cheetah Flex-Foot,” CAS said. “Furthermore, the CAS panel has considered that the IAAF did not prove that the biomechanical effects of using this particular prosthetic device gives Oscar Pistorius an advantage over other athletes not using the device.”

It’s hard not to admire Pistorius, who was born without fibulas and had his legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday, and wish him all the best.

At the same time, those of us who grew up watching “The Six Million Dollar Man” and its spinoffs can certainly envision a scenario where those with prosthetic limbs do have an advantage over the “able bodied.” And what’s the standard for assessing that? No better than the best human legs ever in existence? Knowing how obsessive competitive athletes can be — survey after survey shows they’re willing to risk losing years of their life if they can win now — we might see the day when someone decides it’s worth it to have perfectly healthy legs amputated.

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British Olympic Athletes can’t criticize China

Wouldn’t it be a better world if Politics had little or nothing to do with Sports? From the Daily Mail-

British Olympic chiefs are to force athletes to sign a contract promising not to speak out about China’s appalling human rights record – or face being banned from travelling to Beijing.


The controversial clause has been inserted into athletes’ contracts for the first time and forbids them from making any political comment about countries staging the Olympic Games.

It is contained in a 32-page document that will be presented to all those who reach the qualifying standard and are chosen for the team.

From the moment they sign up, the competitors – likely to include the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips and world record holder Paula Radcliffe – will be effectively gagged from commenting on China’s politics, human rights abuses or illegal occupation of Tibet.

Any athlete who refuses to sign the contract won’t be allowed to travel to Beijing this summer. I’m a advocate of free speech, having defended the rights of people to say what they want from Cindy Sheehan to Ann Coulter, but the BOA is probably within in its right under British law. With hindsight the wisest course of action would have never been to award China the Olympics in the first place till they got their house in order. Needless to say I don’t think this summer will be anything like Berlin 1936.


IOC strips Marion Jones of 5 medals

The disgraced Gold Medal winner confessed two months ago to taking steroids prior to the 2000 Olympics. From AP-

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The IOC formally stripped Marion Jones of her five Olympic medals Wednesday, wiping her name from the record books following her admission that she was a drug cheat.

The International Olympic Committee also banned the disgraced American athlete from attending next year’s Beijing Olympics in any capacity and said it could bar her from all future games.

Jones had already handed back the three gold medals and two bronze she won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Last month, the International Association of Athletics Federations erased all of Jones’ results dating to September 2000, but it was up to the IOC to formally disqualify her and erase her Olympic medals.

The decision was announced by IOC president Jacques Rogge at the end of a three-day executive board meeting.

Jones won gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 1,600-meter relay in Sydney, and bronze in the long jump and 100-meter relay. She was the first female track and field athlete to win five medals at a single Olympics.


The IOC postponed a decision on redistributing her medals, including whether to strip her American relay teammates and whether to upgrade doping-tainted Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou to gold in the 100.

The IOC’s move comes as no surprise. One thing I find intersiting is Jones not being to be at any future Olympics. Can she still attend the games as a spectator or does it just forbid her from associating with athletes?

Also the IOC postponed any decision to take away Jones’ relay teammates medals. I don’t see how they can take Jones while not taking the others. This sounds unfair to the gold medalists, but the IOC can’t just go half way in my opinion.


China to combat spread of HIV/AIDS during 2008 Olympics

What are their plans?

BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing, preparing to host the 2008 Olympics, has ordered hotels to provide condoms in all bedrooms in a bid to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS after cases of infection soared 54 percent in the first 10 months of this year.

Announcing the move, the official Xinhua news agency made no direct reference to the Games, saying only that all the Chinese capital’s 700 hotels must comply by the end of 2008.

With many thousands of visitors due to crowd into the city for the Olympics, which run from August 8 to August 24, every hotel is likely to be sold out.

While hotel managers must provide condoms for their guests, Xinhua said, they are not required to make a loss. The city health bureau said it was up to them how much to charge.

I thought the state set the prices in a communist nation. Then who says mainland China is communist any more?

Will the Olympic athletes get condoms too? If they do, will they be charged?

Author John Le Carre may have termed China’s plans as ‘extra special service’. Blogger GI at ROK Drop ponders if Chinese hotels will put condoms on pillows like some do with mints.


Chinese Gymnast Wang Yang Paralyzed

A Chinese gymnast has been paralyzed after a training accident.

Chinese gymnast Wang Yan is expected to be paralyzed for life following a fall from the uneven bars during the national championships, a key warmup for the Beijing Olympics.

Wang fell headfirst Sunday during the final in Shanghai, breaking her neck and losing consciousness. Doctors said she was fortunate to have survived at all given the severity of her injury, the Shanghai Daily reported. “The patient could not react to stimulant under the chest bone, and both hands lost their capability to move,” Jia Lianshun, a bone specialist with the People’s Liberation Army medical corps, was quoted as saying.

Wang, whose age was given as 15 or 16, was second in the Chinese national all-around competition in 2005.


UPDATE: Xinhua has a bizarre report under the awkwardly translated headline “Chinese gymnast Wang on track of sentience recovery” that appears to offer good news.

Wang Yan, who dropped from uneven bars and lost consciousness on Sunday, revived the feeling of right foot and were back on track of sentience recovery, said Gao Jian, the chief of gymnastic administration center, here on Thursday.

According to Gao, Wang is getting stronger physically and the right foot regains the ability to move. “I visited Wang Yan in hospital yesterday. Wang expressed her will to cooperate with the doctor and hoped to get well soon. I suffered similar injury when I was a gymnast in 1968, so I encouraged her by taking me as an example,” said Gao.

“I can sit first and then to walk, even to continue my gymnastic career as an athlete four four years further after that injury. I had the spinal fracture in the fifth and sixth bones, while Wang is in the second and third bones, but it’s somewhat a similar case,” added Gao.


Former New York Yankee Clete Boyer dead at age 70

He was a member of five New York Yankee World Series teams. He also had 2 brothers, Ken and Cloyd, who played in the major leagues. Being an old Strat-O-Matic, I ‘m well acquainted with Clete. He was an excellent glove man, but not much of a hitter. RIP

NEW YORK – Clete Boyer, the third baseman for the champion New York Yankees teams of the 1960s who made an art form of diving stops and throws from his knees, died Monday. He was 70. Boyer died in an Atlanta hospital from complications of a brain hemorrhage, son-in-law Todd Gladden said.

“He wanted to be cremated and he wanted his ashes to go in a Yankee urn,” Gladden said.

Boyer played from 1955-71 with the Yankees, Kansas City Athletics and Atlanta. He helped the Yankees reach the World Series in five straight years from 1960-64, when they won two titles.

Boyer’s death came on the 50th anniversary of the day he joined the Yankees, completing a dozen-player trade between New York and the A’s.

“He was a great Yankee and a tough guy. He never talked too much but he was extremely hardworking. A wonderful third baseman, and had fire in his belly,” Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said through a spokesman.

In 1964, Boyer and his brother, Ken, became the first brothers to homer in the same World Series game. They did it in Game 7, and nodded to each other as they rounded the bases.

The St. Louis Cardinals won the Series and Ken was the NL MVP that season. An All-Star third baseman, he died in 1982 at age 51.

Another brother, Cloyd, pitched in the majors from 1949-55. There were 14 children in the Boyer family.

Cletis Leroy Boyer was a career .242 hitter with 162 home runs and 654 RBIs. Decent stats, but it was fielding that became his signature.

Boyer added an air of flamboyance to a Yankees team that otherwise played with a conservative precision.

“In all my years of playing with him, he only made one bad throw to me,” former Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson said by telephone from his home in South Carolina.

“When I made the double play, I could just about close my eyes, put my glove up and the ball would be there,” he said. “I would consider him one of the best players defensively. And when we got in the World Series and the lights came up, he made those great, great plays.”

Boyer’s lone Gold Glove came in 1969 in Atlanta; he might’ve earned more had it not been for the peerless Brooks Robinson.

“He was in the Brooksie era. He didn’t get as much attention as Brooksie,” said Yankees manager Joe Torre, a former Boyer teammate with the Braves.

“Plus, he was a little goofy,” he said. “Certainly, it helps you play the game.”

After finishing with Atlanta, Boyer played in Japan. He later coached under Billy Martin with Oakland and the Yankees.

Boyer was part of an exceptional Yankees infield in the 1960s that included Richardson, shortstop Tony Kubek and first basemen Moose Skowron.

Richardson said he was with Boyer last month in New York for a reunion of the 1961 Yankees infield. “We had three or four, we looked forward to them,” Richardson said.

The Yankees beat Cincinnati in the 1961 World Series. Boyer’s best Series performance came in 1962, when he hit .318 with a home run and four RBIs in the seven-game victory over San Francisco.


IHWC Quarterfinals Set

The Ice Hockey World Championships have completer the preliminary and qualifying round to set the flied for the knock-out stage of the competition:

Russia vs. Czech Republic
Sweden vs. Slovakia
Canada vs. Switzerland
USA vs. Finland

True to form, Russia and Canda are the favorites going into the quarters, but a hot golaie and solid play can lead any of these teams (except Switzerland) to victory. For full results follow the folloing links:
Preliminary Round
Qualifying Round
Relegation Round


NCAA Moves Men’s 3-Point Line

The NCAA will move the 3-point line starting in November. For men only.

Two decades after adding the three-point line, the NCAA men’s basketball rules committee approved a measure Thursday that will move the line back one foot — from 19 feet, 9 inches to 20 feet, 9 inches. If approved by the playing rules oversight committee on May 25, it would mark the first major change to three-pointers since their adoption.

The change would not take place until November 2008.

The move comes after years of debate about extending the line. Rules committee chairman Larry Keating said two proposals were considered. The other would have moved the line to 20 feet, 6 inches, the same distance as international 3-pointers. Both are shorter than the NBA line, which ranges from 23 feet, 9 inches at the top of the key to 22 feet at its nearest point in the baseline corners.

“We made it a point to come up with a distance that was correct for us and that didn’t necessarily mimic the international line,” Keating said.

The women’s basketball rules committee did not adopt the change and will keep the 3-point line at 19 feet, 9 inches.

I’d have liked to see the NCAA go with the international line, which would help our guys prepare for the Olympics and World Championships. It’s ridiculous to give 3 points for a shot essentially at the top of the key.


North Korea blames South for lack of progress on joint Olympic team

The two countries hoped to compete together in the 2008 Olympics.

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has blamed South Korea for a lack of progress in forming a single team for the 2008 Olympics, urging the South to accept its demand of equal representation on the proposed squad, the North’s state media reported Thursday.

The two Koreas have made little headway on the proposed unified team since their agreement discuss the plan in 2005, mainly due differences on how to compose the team. South Korea has insisted athletes be selected based on performance, while the North demands equal representation.

The two sides last met in February, without setting a new date for further talks.
On Thursday, a spokesman for the North’s Olympic committee said South Korea’s “irrational stubbornness” was holding up the discussions and that the South “has no will to form a unified team.”

“The talks, which were in the final stage of conclusion thanks to our compromise and sincerity, failed to bear fruit,” the unnamed spokesman was quoted as saying by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

The North’s proposal of equal representation “was a reasonable and realistic measure that will achieve reconciliation and co-operation” between the divided Koreas, the spokesman said.

Maybe the sticking point in the negotiations was the DPRK women’s soccer team’s inability to kick.

Either that or Kim Jong-Il want Michelle Wie to close the deal by coming to Pyongyang. Do it Michelle, As a Korean Olympic spokeswoman you can bring world peace and give golf lessons to Kim at the same time.

No scratch that, Kim can give Michelle lessons.(Sarcastic laughter time) ‘The Great Leader’ shot 38 under par once and made five holes-in-one!

Hat tip- DPRK Studies


Michael Phelps Ties Mark Spitz’ 7 Gold Medals

Frankly, I don’t care much about swimming, especially in non-Olympic years. Still, what Michael Phelps has accomplished at the World Championships this year is truly amazing.

Michael Phelps Photo USA's Michael Phelps waves to the cheering crowds after setting a new world record in the men's 400m Individual Medley final at the World Swimming Championships in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, April 1, 2007. His record breaking time was 4 minutes and 06.22 seconds. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith) Michael Phelps equaled the most hallowed mark in swimming, winning his seventh gold medal at the world championships Sunday night with his fifth world record.

Phelps smashed his own standard in the 400-meter individual medley by 2.04 seconds, becoming the most successful swimmer ever at the worlds. “This is probably one of the best meets I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’m definitely happy with how it turned out.”

The 21-year-old American joined countryman Mark Spitz as the only swimmers to win that many golds at a major international meet. Of course, Spitz’ achievement came on the sport’s grandest stage — the Olympics.

Phelps hopes to equal the feat or go one better at next year’s Beijing Games. “This is definitely the best-case scenario for what we had in mind leading into the (U.S.) trials and Olympics next year,” he said.

Buoyed by Phelps’ historic performance, the United States won a leading 36 medals, including 20 golds — equaling its record haul at the 1978 worlds in Berlin.

“Probably one of the best meets I’ve ever had?” Dude, you set five world records. That means nobody–not even you–ever swam that fast in an official meet before!


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