Month: July 2019

Paralympian in bid to overcome injury

JESSICA Gallagher has declared that a chronic knee injury would not hamper her attempt at the London Paralympics to become the first Australian athlete to win a medal at a winter and summer Games.
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Vision-impaired Gallagher had her chance to compete at the Beijing Paralympics snatched from her when officials ruled that her sight was marginally too good to compete.

From what she calls the lowest moment in her career, Gallagher has rebounded to become the first Australian woman to win a winter Paralympics medal when she took bronze in the vision-impaired slalom in Vancouver in 2010.

The 26-year-old will compete in javelin and long jump in London and is a strong chance in both events. She won a silver in the long jump and bronze in the javelin at last year’s world championships.

She said she was ”in the best shape I’ve ever been” but her training, particularly with the javelin, had been hampered by soreness in her left knee. However, she said, it had been well managed by medical staff and she was confident the pain would subside. She is to have knee surgery after the Paralympics.

”[It] has been causing me a bit of grief but I guess the good thing despite all the issues with the knee is that I’ve been able to hit PBs [personal bests] in the gym and my training for long jump and jav is going really well,” Gallagher said.

”The knee’s not great and it’s not going to get any better until after London and I have an operation on it but despite all that I’m in the best shape of my career, so I’m happy with where I’m at.

”It’s exciting going into London knowing that you’re running faster than you ever have and you’re stronger than you ever have been.

”… It’s been affecting my javelin throwing but I’ve still been able to train a full load, but the volume of training for my javelin has not been to the degree that I’d like it to be, so that’s a bit of a concern knowing that I’m not throwing as much as I’d like to be or should be.

”But all the hard work over the past few years is really what holds you in good stead and now it’s just all a matter of it coming together.”

As for the memories of Beijing, Gallagher said she had moved on. ”I know that London will be emotional regardless of what happens because of the knowledge that I wasn’t able to perform four years ago, but I’ve got new goals and new dreams I want to accomplish,” she said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Sailors on crest of wave with gold strikes

IT’S safe to say that never in its 350-year history has The Cove House Inn seen anything like it before. Certainly, the locals – who have seen their quiet seaside pub, close to the Olympic sailing venue at Portland, turned into a Yachting Australia team headquarters – haven’t.
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Over the past few months, regulars have become accustomed to the Australians’ high spirits. Their love affair with inflatable kangaroos. Their hungering for delicacies such as kangaroo burgers and Foster’s. Their beery bantering, which has prompted some Portland people to wear T-shirts with the subtle message, ”Aussies drink like faeries”.

But nothing prepared them for the wild celebrations that greeted the golden double by the Australian sailors on the waters that separate Portland from the traditional English seaside resort of Weymouth.

Sure, gold medals for Australia at these Olympics have come with the same frequency and reliability as London buses: none for a long time, then two at once.

First, young Tom Slingsby, from Gosford, a man whose talents for picking, anticipating and exploiting wind shifts has earned him the nickname ”the wind whisperer” won the men’s single-handed Laser dinghy event by a huge margin.

Then, just as the master of medal ceremonies was searching for a recording of that rarely heard national anthem, Advance Australia Fair, news came through that the youthful pairing of Nathan Outteridge and Iain ”Goobs” Jensen, playmates from Wangi Wangi on Lake Macquarie, had won the 49er skiff class.

Indeed, the pair – who almost missed the start of their race because they sailed over to give the victorious Slingsby a high-five – were so far ahead that today’s final race was not strictly necessary. ”Tom said, ‘Right guys, now it’s your turn [to win gold], so we did,” Outteridge said afterwards. No wonder The Cove House Inn crowd – so big it filled the pub and overflowed on to the famously pebbly Chesil Beach – went wild at the arrival of the pirate kings, the captains of the Team Australia fleet, who had proved that they, not Britannia, or Cypriots, or Kiwis, ruled the Dorset waves.

”Slingers” has many of the attributes of the archetypal Aussie sporting hero. He has been described as half ultra-competitive sea-monster, half laid-back Central Coast larrikin, and was given a guard of honour on his arrival. He repaid the compliment by spraying those closest to him with champagne.

Outteridge and Jensen, who have grown up together along the lake side, were more restrained – after all, they do have to go through the formality of today’s final. But, as promised on their triumphant return to the slipway, they would enjoy a beer with family, friends and supporters.

Slingsby has about a dozen family members and close friends in Dorset. They include his mother Mavis, father David and girlfriend Flavia Tartaglini, an Italian windsurfer, who watched his race among several thousand sailing enthusiasts sitting on the grassy promontory known as the Nothe. Outteridge, it is reported, has no fewer than 25 family and friends staying locally.

The three winners – indeed, all 13 members of the Australian sailing team – are close friends. They support each other, watch each other’s races and have been living together during the Olympics in the ”sailors’ village” at Portland, a three-hour train ride from London.

Hence the camaraderie, identified by Slingsby’s coach, Michael ”Blackers” Blackburn – a bronze medal winner in the Laser class at the 2000 Sydney Olympics – as a major factor in the sailors’ success, which he described as ”great for sailing, great for Australia”.

Slingsby, whose interests include cage-boxing, expressed the hope that his personal success would ”kick-start” an Australian gold rush. That may be wishful thinking this late in the Games, but aficionados of sailing – and who isn’t this week? – should not rule out Australia making more waves and winning more medals before competition ends on Saturday.

The precocious women’s racing team, comprising skipper Olivia Price, 19, and crew Nina Curtis, 24, and Lucinda Whitty, 22, all from Sydney, remain unbeaten in competition – though that will count for nothing in the coming, instant-death races. And Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page can still win a medal in the 470 class.

Meanwhile, three cheers for Australia’s gallant sailors.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Solomon wiser about what he can achieve heading to Rio

STEVE SOLOMON’S work was almost done before he crouched on the blocks. The first Australian man to make an Olympic 400m final since 1988, he had also been the man some within the team didn’t think should be running at all.
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After three personal bests in three weeks, including two in two days, Solomon became the first Australian male since Darren Clark in Seoul to reach this stage. By the time the starter’s gun sounded, however, he had no more to give and trailed the field to the line.

”I am really, really happy,” he said. ”Someone has to come last in the race and unfortunately it was me today, but I ran my heart out the best I could so I am really happy. I am going to walk away from these championships with my head held high and really hungry for future success.”

Solomon did superbly well in his first Olympics and has had his eyes opened to what is possible in Rio in 2016. That was also the thinking of selectors when they promoted Solomon from the relay team – to the chagrin of John Steffensen – to run the individual 400m despite not having achieved an A-qualifying time.

Steffensen, who defeated Solomon at the Olympic trials in the summer but also failed to clock an A-qualifying time, did not believe anyone from the relay team should be given the discretionary pick if they did not have the requisite time.

Solomon vindicated the decision of the selectors to gamble on his promise when he ran two personal bests in two days in the heats and semi-final – breaking that A-qualifying mark in the process – and made the final.

”I was actually a lot more relaxed tonight than I was yesterday,” Solomon said. ”I put a lot of pressure on myself yesterday to make it to this final, and today I felt like I had achieved part of my goal and went in relaxed, and I think I ran really well out there. It wasn’t that far off what I ran yesterday and I was backing up after two personal best days.”

The final encouraged Solomon to believe in what was possible, not only because of his own form but the fact the two men who won gold and silver – Grenadian Kirani James and Dominican Luguelin Santos – are both only 19 like him. The other side of that is that he is going to be competing against this pair for many years to come. He knows he has some ground to catch up.

Meanwhile, West Australian pole vaulter Alana Boyd was left to wonder why it was that when she needed it most, she could not find the form she had displayed so consistently in the domestic season after finishing 11th in the women’s final.

”I am disappointed,” Boyd said. ”I went out there today, a new day, and really thought that I could go out there and match it with those girls. Obviously conditions weren’t fantastic for pole vaulting, but nonetheless I wasn’t able to put together the pressure jumps that I did in qualifying. So, yeah, I am disappointed.”

Lauren Boden finished the semi-final of the 400m hurdles only to be told she had been disqualified. Boden had come in at the back of the field but had no idea why the DQ was placed next to her name. She appealed and her time (56.66s) was later reinstated.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Been there, he can jump that

Kieren Perkins has been where Steve Hooker is now. He knows what it is to be the champion no one expects to be able to fly again.
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Perkins did, though. In Atlanta in 1996, he defied logic, odds and the widest of lanes to defend his Olympic 1500-metre crown. It was one of the most inspiring Olympic performances because it was so unexpected. It proved the danger of presuming to write off a champion. It has provided a word of caution about jumping to write the epitaph for Steve Hooker’s outrageously successful career.

Hooker has won every title there is to win in pole vaulting but he has not done that for a year or more now, constricted by a muddled mind that forced him to break down his entire jump months before the Olympics and rebuild it. It was a painstaking approach and one Hooker believed was complete when he left Australia to begin competing overseas.

Then events, or more specifically the weather, dampened the excitement of the Australian team captain’s resurrection. He met rain in Shanghai in his first meeting and could not get off the ground; he went to Europe and struck similar troubles. He managed to record a height of 5.42m in Rome and in Munich a week later he cleared 5.20m but these were heights that were going to threaten no one. Even when he again cleared 5.42m in Lille it left the idea of a true comeback unanswered because he went on to Madrid and London and failed to record a height at either meet.

The fact Hooker was off the ground again was positive but if he could do no better than 5.42m he was not going to have a successful Olympics. But then Poland changed the look of Steve Hooker’s Olympics. In Szczecin, on the eve of the Games, Hooker jumped 5.72m – his highest in a long time – and sent a ripple through the jumping world. He was flying again.

”All along I have been saying I actually feel all right, I have been doing things pretty well and have just been in challenging comps, so in a way [Poland] showed that wasn’t all smoke and mirrors,” Hooker said at the time. ”What has been happening in the public eye and what has been happening in these comps isn’t reflective of what I have been doing at training. I feel it has been coming along and improving the whole season and I am in a really good place.”

As he observed, a jump of 5.72m in the qualifying round today would get him through to the final. And then, as Perkins proved – he qualified for the final of the 1500m by just 0.24 seconds in Atlanta – anything can happen.

”The Olympics is all about mentality,” Perkins said this week. ”You see a group of finalists in any sport … they’re all amazing physical specimens, they’ve all been through hell and back to get to this moment and be there. The thing that will see one person standing on the gold medal dais and someone else not, is what’s going on between their ears. So absolutely, I’ve got no doubt [Hooker] can do it. He’s just got to find the right head space to get the job done.”

Perkins said Hooker knew what that head space was. He knew what was required, which was both a good and bad thing.

”It’s one of those uniquely odd situations where you’ve climbed the highest mountain, you’ve been there and done it, and in some respects, it actually makes it more challenging because you know what you’re in for next time,” Perkins said. ”Ignorance is bliss, as they say – when you don’t really understand, it can be simpler.

”But on the flipside … you know what’s involved, you know how you’ve got to get it done. I think the hardest thing for a lot of older athletes is to actually bring it back and focus on the stuff that matters.

”If you’ve got the right perspective and you understand the true significance of success and failure, you’re in a much better position to get the job done.”

As much as the mental side of jumping will influence Hooker, what he did in Poland is potentially get into the heads of the men he will be contending with. France’s Renaud Lavillenie won most of the warm-up meetings in Europe and cleared the world-leading height (5.97m) before the Games while German Malte Mohr has cleared 5.91m and his countryman Bjorn Otto has a 5.92m season best.

Hooker has presence and charisma and when he jumps well, he has a strut about him that intimidates his rivals. They will doubtless have looked at his result in Poland and thought, as Hooker’s training partner Alana Boyd did, ”he is back to his old form”.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Plum UN ‘jobs’ as Canberra takes on Luxembourg

HERE is a job ad for an escape from the daily grind. Salary in excess of $220,000, move to New York, plush apartment, every day a new challenge.
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Only one catch – the interview panel is made up of the whole world. Literally every country on the planet gets a say. And the job may not even exist.

Australia’s campaign for the Security Council is nearing crunch time ahead of a vote in October, and, hoping to not come last in a three-man race that will have two winners who snare a seat, the Foreign Affairs Department has begun advertising for senior diplomats to work in United Nations headquarters.

”The department is making no assumptions about the outcome of the [UN Security Council] elections or … government consideration of budgetary matters,” is the bold warning that heads an internal memo circulated last week inside the foreign service.

But the team running the campaign has determined Australia must show it is ready to immediately take a place on the world’s top table for global peace and security.

A total of eight new jobs are on offer to bolster Australia’s representation in New York, including two senior executive roles and a clutch of mid-level diplomats.

But before they are dispatched, Australia must first secure the support of two-thirds of UN members, 129 countries, to win one of two seats in a stiff battle with Finland and Luxembourg.

Cautious or measured optimism is the usual way insiders describe progress in the campaign, wary not to be overly confident given Australia lost a bid for a seat in 1996 it had expected to win.

Besides, the 16-year break since Australia last ran a race of this type and the knowledge countries can change their mind at the last minute – once dubbed, rather undiplomatically, the ”rotten lying bastards” – makes the level of support hard to judge.

”The black spots are the ‘Stans, the central Asian countries,” said an official with knowledge of the campaign.

Australia has special envoys fanned out across the globe to drum up support, including to Africa and Latin America.

More than $25 million has been devoted to the bid – generating controversy in the era of public service cuts.

The campaign even boasts a souvenir pen, embossed ”Australia Candidate for the Security Council 2013-14” alongside a bouncing kangaroo.

Every nation with paid-up UN dues gets a vote for the 10 temporary members on the 15-member council, with the world’s most populous country, China, counting equal to the Pacific fly-speck Tuvalu.

Finland, which has been campaigning since 2002, is expected to be a walk-up winner for one of the seats reserved for ”Western European and other” nations, with a two-year term to begin in January.

Usually Australia – the world’s 18th largest economy – would be expected to dominate a minnow like Luxembourg, with a population of barely 500,000.

But the tiny nation entered the race more than a decade ago and has the backing of its powerful European Union allies – and is the only founding member of the UN never to hold a Security Council seat.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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