Posts Tagged ‘Andy Murray’

Inverdale

For the second Olympics in a row, the BBC have once again excelled in their coverage of the grandest sporting event, with their work in Rio de Janeiro largely being spot on.

Following on from the sterling effort produced in London four years previously, BBC are bouncing back from a number of years that questioned why they should be automatically gifted top sporting events, given their sub-standard coverage compared to other channels who had raised the bar.

Having promoted Clare Balding to lead anchor for the home games, things have improved immeasurably, but there still have been little bits for people to complain about. From the length of Helen Skelton’s dress to Chris Boardman’s rather innocent ‘sexist’ remark, there has been the odd minor slip-up – barring one clear blight to their coverage.

 

John Inverdale has long been at the forefront of anything BBC have done in terms of sporting coverage, with the exception of football, which has always had its own specialists dedicated to it.

Just four years ago, he produced one of those iconic moments of London 2012, sitting down and sobbing alongside Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase after the pair came in to claim silver in the lightweight double sculls in the rowing. It was a beautiful moment that encapsulated the mood of a nation that had completely taken the Olympics to heart and was so emotionally invested in the success of their own athletes.

It has proved to be something of a zenith in his career however, with the BBC’s consistently improving standards to match the world’s quickly modernised views leaving him solidly behind.

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Inverdale’s interview with Hunter & Purchase was a heart-warming moment from London 2012

This is no personal attack on Inverdale. He comes across as a well-meaning bloke, there’s no real malice in him, despite reminding me of Mark Lawrenson at times. But quite frankly he is an out-dated dinosaur in the world of modern broadcasting, seemingly kept along for sentimental value only to good old Auntie.

The flagrant chauvinism does rankle in a modern world where women are more than simply household objects, and should be judged on ability first, with so much time and effort having gone into becoming a superstar on the Olympic stage.

He has already been dropped from Wimbledon duties after claiming Marion Bartoli was ‘not a looker’. Sure, it’s something many of us men will have done while watching the tennis (because women love Rafa Nadal for his double-handed backhand, or David Beckham for his crossing ability!), but the difference there being we have not done so while in a professional capacity, live on national television. There’s a big bloody difference there.

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Inverdale’s comments on Bartoli saw him dropped from BBC’s Wimbledon coverage

His latest faux pas this summer seems worse however, being corrected by a clearly irked Andy Murray that he was not in fact the first tennis player to win consecutive gold medals at the Olympics, with both Williams sisters having already accomplished this feat.

This might have been a reasonable mistake had this been achieved 30 years ago, if still unexpected of a true professional. However this was so very recent, that this year had the big shock of seeing the Williams’ lose their first ever doubles match at the Olympic Games, as well as an unusual early defeat for Serena in the singles.

The comments of Bartoli’s appearance were one thing. This suggests he does not see women as equals in the sporting arena, that their achievements are not worth the same merit as the ‘real athletes’ and simply puts female sports on an inferior level, despite all the work by people to reach a standing of respect around the world.

 

Add in his comments on the riverbanks which once again went to the tired old joke of the Germans being the old enemy and you have a man who is so behind the times, he has no business representing our media on this great sporting spectacle. World War Two ended over 70 years ago now. Let’s move on shall we? Unless there is a bigger rivalry between Britain and Germany within the rowing community a casual observer like myself isn’t aware of?

This is not a case of political correctness for the sake of it. It goes far deeper than poorly-chosen jokes that could be deemed offensive and would usually be completed with a “no offense luv,” upon its delivery at some form of social gathering.

It might not be intentionally meant as an insult, in the same way that your grandparents might use phrases frowned upon in modern society now to refer to black people, with it having been a common term in their day. Regardless of whether it is said with malice, it doesn’t make it any less cringe-worthy. Especially when, as stated earlier, you are on national television with a microphone in your hand!

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Should Laura Trott’s achievements be respected any less than any male Olympian?

John Inverdale has shown constant disregard for women’s sport in general, seems to hold a genuine belief that it is inferior to others and will never change in that respect. How he can stand there and not feel that Laura Trott, Helen Glover or Sophie Hitchon have put in the same amount of time, effort, blood sweat and tears in as their male counterparts?

They have made the same sacrifices and every female Olympian out there deserves their respect for their endeavours. Given BBC’s array of up-and-coming bright and modernised presenters, commentators  and journalists, there is no reason for them to continue with Inverdale outside of perhaps the rugby.

You can’t teach an old dog to respect gender equality. Shooting him would be too far (he’s not Richard Keys bad after all), but it’s definitely time to severely restrict his duties. His purpose is run; bring on the new, hungrier and modern-minded batch of reporters.

 

Want further reading on Inverdale? These are both well worth a read:-

Daily Telegraph – Why does everyone hate John Inverdale?

Vice.com – What it means to be John Inverdale 

 

Djokovic Celebrates

Djokovic celebrates his Australian Open victory

The first six weeks of 2015 have already seen two major sporting finals take place as the calendar year has kicked off in emphatic fashion to help divert our gaze from the trials and tribulations of real life.

However, these have not gone the way many would have hoped within the sporting community, with both the Australian Open in tennis and football’s African Cup of Nations both being blighted by some severe cases of gamesmanship that frankly seemed of an improper nature on the way to the crowning of the victors.

Both Novak Djokovic and the Ivory Coast were guilty of feigning injury in order to play mind-games with their opponents on way to claiming their respective titles, and one wonders as to how long until the rules are changed to prevent such ridiculous acts being performed in order to unnerve their competitors.

Djokovic is quite frankly one of the most talented tennis players to come onto the scene in recent years to dethrone Roger Federer, so it beggars belief that he would need to resort to such underhanded tactics in order to triumph over Andy Murray – a man whose ATP ranking had plummeted over the previous six months.

Murray had been much improved to muscle his way into the Australian Open final having overcome his Wimbledon conqueror Gregor Dimitrov and Thomas Berdych to land another shot at claiming his maiden championship Down Under, and he had fought back well from a set down to level the match in the second.

Djokovic Injury

Djokovic receives treatment on a dubious injury

Having secured an early break in the third, it looked probable that Murray could once again defeat the talented Serb to claim gold, until his momentum was undone by an injury timeout for Djokovic to deal with supposed cramp.

Murray’s body language seemed to believe that there was nothing wrong with his friend and opponent, but yet he let the actions of the supposedly weakened Djokovic get to his performance, with the eventual champion raising his game to edge the third set, before obliterating the Brit in the fourth with a 6-0 victory to claim the title.

Whether there was any genuine injury to Djokovic is something that only he will know at the end of the day, but given a man of his talents, there was a sour taste left in the mouth that he had appeared to resort to underhanded tactics in order to claim a remarkable fifth title at the Melbourne Grand Slam.

Ivory Coast Celebrate

Ivory Coast celebrate their African Cup of Nations triumph

One week later in Equatorial Guinea, some of us tuned in to watch Ghana take on the Ivory Coast to land the African Cup of Nations, a match that went down to the wire as neither side could be separated and a penalty shootout was required to crown a champion.

Two dreadful penalties has seen Ivory Coast fall drastically behind early in the shootout, before two equally poor efforts from Ghana had allowed the Elephants to clamber back into the contest, with Seydou Doumbia levelling the scores at 2-2 with four penalties taken apiece.

It was at that point that Ivorian goalkeeper Boubacar Barry threw himself to the ground at the side of the box, claiming cramp and calling for the trainer to come on to treat him.

With there being no substitutions at this point, leaving Ivory Coast having to place an outfield player in goal should he not be able to continue, it was painfully obvious to anyone witnessing the game, that Barry was feigning injury, forcing Andre Ayew to sit and stew on his heavily important penalty for a further couple of minutes.

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Boubacar Barry hits the turf during the penalty shootout victory

Ayew clearly recognised what his adversary was attempting to do as he aimed a torrent of abuse in the direction of Barry after he converted his penalty, and the Ghanaian even came back for a second helping at the Ivorian ‘keeper after Jonathan Mensah had stuck away the first kick of sudden death.

Barry was not done there though, as he crucially denied opposite number Razak Brimah’s spot-kick at the end of the first rotation, only to once again go down claiming injury and calling for the trainer, potentially to get out of taking his own penalty and have a more established taker step up in his place to secure the victory.

Whilst the referee saw through things this time and booked Barry, it came as a disappointing end to a fascinating contest that he was able to get up and score the winning penalty that clinched Ivory Coast their first African Nations title in 22 years, breaking the hearts of the honest Ghanaian side in the process.

Whilst neither man technically broke any rules (barring time-wasting) it proved wholly unsatisfactory that the first two major sporting contests of the year were not decided by superior ability or will to win, but by playacting and mental mind-games.

Sport is supposed to give us that distraction from the realities that life brings and allow us to engross ourselves in an epic struggle between two players or teams, but this was taken away from us in truth by the underhanded actions of the eventual champions.

With major championships in cricket and rugby now underway, one hopes for a more amicable way to see a side rightfully crowned come the conclusion of these tournaments, especially in two sports that are very much renowned for holding sportsmanship at the forefront of their games.

Both sports have endured their troubles in recent years, with Mankading having reared its head in cricket in particular again last year, but there is a desperate need now within the sporting community to see a champion crowned in clean fashion, without having to resort to borderline cheating.

Wiggins was the outstanding sporting star of 2012

Wiggins was the outstanding sporting star of 2012

2012 was a massive year for sport, with the Olympics taking centre stage in a year saturated with huge sporting events.

Here I pick the highlights of 2012 and the people who will look back on it with a heavy sense of pride, as they enjoyed some wonderful successes.

BRADLEY WIGGINS

No surprises here for the sporting man of the year, not only in Britain, but potentially the world.

Wiggins made the leap to become the first Briton to ever win the Tour De France, with a Herculean effort needed to become victor without the aid of performance enhancing drugs (more on that in the losers section).

To then top it off, Wiggins had a two week rest before leaping back on his bike to win gold in the Olympic Games, Great Britain’s first of an incredibly successful summer.

His reaction to being persistently quizzed by journalists about whether he was using drugs at all saw him throw a table across the room, (which is quite frankly brilliant) and he won BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, as well as a Knighthood.  

A very good year for a likeable man. Just a shame he’s referred to in tabloids as “the sideburns ace.” Sigh.

JESSICA ENNIS

The pressure was on really on Britain’s golden girl and quite frankly it would have been only too easy to hide away or choke on the expectation that followed her around all year.

But instead she rose to the occasion and absolutely destroyed a strong field to take home her first ever Olympic Gold and fulfil a life-long dream.

There has been no sense of arrogance from the Sheffield heptathlon star who has taken the success and fame in her stride to really become a national treasure.

Who hasn't done 'The Mobot' yet?

Who hasn’t done ‘The Mobot’ yet?

MO FARAH

Followed up his World Championship success by claiming double gold at his home Olympics in some style.

His performances in the 5,000m and 10,000m races established him as the number one long-distance runner in the world right now finally wrestling that title away from the continent of Africa, with these races traditionally dominated by Athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia.

On top of that, he got an entire nation pulling a stupid pose, as millions of photos appeared on social media sites of people doing the Mobot. Given this includes Usain Bolt, that’s a reason to be proud of yourself.

LIONEL MESSI

It was generally a bad year for football, but there’s no way the Argentinean forward will look back on 2012 with anything but pride.

He’s almost become a problem for sports-writers, who are constantly trying to come up with new superlatives to describe a player who will most likely be looked upon as the best player ever come the climax of his career.

Messi won his fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon D’Or in recognition of a year in which he broke a 40-year-old record for goals in a calendar year, scoring an incredible 92 goals for Barcelona and Argentina.

For the man to stay so humble in a game populated by egos despite his incredible ability is almost staggering, but he will surely talk about 2012 for years to come.

ANDY MURRAY

After so many near misses and almost theres, Andy Murray finally broke his major tournament duck by defeating Novak Djokovic to win the US Open in New York.

I’ve been an outspoken critic of the Scot on many an occasion and won’t hide behind any hypocrisy here, but it was an incredible achievement in a fantastic match against a player currently at the top of his game.

This came just a few weeks after Murray had claimed Olympic gold as well, thwarting Roger Federer from claiming the only title he has yet to win in a glittering career.

In addition to this, his surly attitude and penchant for petty excuses seems to be giving way for a more approachable and enthusiastic competitor, who will look to build upon this successful year in 2013.

THE PARALYMPICS

Such a terrific year for sport leaves us with only so much room to cover the successes and despite several athletes and individual Paralympians, the event as a whole deserves recognition for the boost in publicity it has received.

Never before has the Paralympics been so popular, so widely watched and so well supported than in London 2012. So often it has been an after-thought to the ‘main event’, forgotten about in the aftermath of emotionally draining Olympic Games.

But not this year, not in London, as people swarmed to take in the Paralympics just as much as the more able-bodied athletes.

It helped shatter some of the poorer attitudes to the disabled, as athletes with physical and mental disabilities proved themselves worthy of adulation, exceeding the accomplishments of most other people in the nation.

Hopefully this doesn’t prove just a false dawn and the Paralympic Games can continue to receive the recognition and adulation it has finally been given. It also brought Adam Hills to our screens on a regular basis, which must happen more often.

Who were your sporting winners of 2012? Comment below or directly @SmParker8 on Twitter