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March 4, 2018

Sport Sunday: Swimming, Track, La Liga, Paris-Nice

In the USA, the TYR Pro Swim Series is being contested at Atlanta, today being the last of four days of the Atlanta meet.  The TYR Pro Swim Series meets for six four day meets in 2018, from January until June.  

The Atlanta meet, held at the Georgia Tech McAuley Aquatic Center, was capped at 600 entrants, giving us an idea of the scope of these meets. This is a long course event, meaning, I think, that the pool length  is measured at 100 meters rather than 100 yards.    Sunday's event, which continues throughout the day, beginning at 8 a.m. with timed finals,  is the 1650 yard / 1500 meter Freestyle event.  Throughout the week notables who are swimming, well known to readers of this space, include Nathan Adrian, Michael Andrew, Cody Miller, Andrew Wilson, and Ryan Murphy. 

Meanwhile, in Great Britain, the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships are currently being contested at Birmingham.  A trio of Ethiopians and a Kenyan duo were amongst the top qualifiers going through to Sunday afternoon’s final in the men's 3000m.  Defending champion Yomif Kejelcha qualified fastest courtesy of his swift 7:42.83 heat one victory, whilst his Ethiopian teammate, Hagos Gebrhiwet, followed him home closely with 7:43.55.  Four athletes were disqualified for lane infringements, including Olympic 5,000m silver medalist Paul Chelimo of the USA.  

In the men’s 60m final, It was another record-breaking 60m blast from Christian Coleman, and a first global gold medal for the burgeoning 21-year-old US sprint talent from the USA.  This time the world record was spared, the 6.34 that the Atlanta native clocked in the thin air of Albuquerque at the US Championships on 18 February, smashing Maurice Greene’s 20-year-old global mark of 6.39.  It was the second fastest indoor 60m of all time, matching the unratifiable figures Coleman clocked out of unwired blocks at Clemson University on 19 January. Su, hitherto unbeaten on the boards this season, was rewarded with an Asian record 6.42 in second, with Coleman’s US colleague Ronnie Baker taking the bronze in 6.44. Then came Su’s inspired Chinese team-mate Zhenye Xie, fourth in 6.52, followed by Iran’s Hassan Taftian, fifth in 6.53.  “I made it through the snow; I got here,” Coleman said, sounding somewhat downbeat in his trackside interview with 2000 Olympic 400m bronze medallist Katharine Merry. “I felt pretty good. Me and my coach have been working a lot. I’m definitely proud of it.”  Su became only the fifth male Chinese athlete to snatch a world indoor medal, following in the footsteps of Liu Xiang, who won his first senior global medal – bronze in the 60m hurdles - at the 2003 championships in the same arena. “Liu Xiang is my idol and also my friend,” said Su.  "I was always so close to a medal in recent championships and finally I got one. Back home, I expect there will be a big celebration as this is my dream come true."

In Spain, La Liga action has been heating up, as teams battle for the top of the table.  Catalonia's Camp Nou hosts the most important game in Spanish football so far this season on Sunday, Barcelona against Atletico Madrid, first against second. Barca were 11 points clear of Atletico a month ago, with Real Madrid long forgotten about in the title race. Now, the gap is down to five.  Long praised for their tight defense under Diego Simeone, Atletico have the best defense in Europe this season, conceding only 11 goals in 26 league games so far. Real Madrid have let in 28. Barca were unbeaten and still are, so initially Atletico was given no chance,  but Barca have started drawing matches, most surprisingly at relegation-threatened Las Palmas on Thursday night.  Perhaps the long flight to the Canary Islands gave the Barcelonans motion sickness.  

Espanyol beat Real Madrid earlier this week, and they are the only team to have beaten Atletico in the Liga season, and they held Barca to a draw.  Atletico's  last six games have been victories, allowing them to close the gap at the top. They are by far La Liga’s form team, and this can be attributed in some regard to key player, Frenchman Antoine Griezmann.  Another victory on Sunday will cut the gap on Barca to a scant two points. No wonder many in the Spanish media are screaming "Hay Liga!" (The league is on) while extolling the virtues of a genuine title race rather than the one horse ones in England, Germany and France.

Cycling never seems to have a down season anymore, but if there is a start of the season, France holds it beginning today.  The annual chase for the sun, the Paris-Nice, begins this afternoon and last throughout the week.  Starting on Sunday and ending next Sunday, March 11, Paris-Nice is officially the sixth race of the 2018 UCI World Tour, covering 1,198.9 kilometres over eight stages.   Sunday's opening stage will see the riders start in the Paris suburb of Chatou before undertaking a 135km route that sees the peloton take on three category three climbs, one of which is the ascent finish at Meudon.  

Irish cyclist Dan Martin, who took third last year in this very race,  has said that "Paris-Nice is one of the hardest races on the calendar because there is no easy day. The race can be lost every day. On paper the first stages seem easier but then there is the possibility of bad weather and crosswinds...  My place on the podium at Paris-Nice last year was my first big result, so I'm definitely back this year to contest the GC, but of course I need to survive the first days and then we will see the situation after the Time Trial.” 

Watch this space for updates next Weekend! 

1 comment:

Xersex said...

Out of Topic:
today is a day of mourning and sadness for Italian football