The race began by paying tribute to the Boston victims with a minute's silence. Thousands of runners wore a black ribbon attached to their race number and, minutes before setting off, in solidarity with the American city, formed the sign of the letter 'B' in sign language.
26,000 runners took part in the race which also showcased Madrid's bid to host the 2020 Olympics.
Spanish runner Vanessa Veiga raced to victory in the women's category with a time of 2h36:38. Veiga overtook Ethiopian Desta Girma Tadesse, who won in 2010 and 2011, just 50 metres from the finish line.
Kenya's Francis Kiprop set a new record with a time of 2h10:37. Fellow Kenyan Nickson Kurgat secured second place this time round, with a time of 2h10:53.
The previous Madrid race record was held by another Kenyan, Moses Arusei, with a time of 2h10:54 with which he took the 2011 win.
Published in Sport
AFTER losing out in 2008 and 2012 Madrid hopes to host the 2020 Olympics.
Istanbul and Tokyo are also competing for the next-but-one edition of the Games.
“We want to write another page in Olympic history,” Prince Felipe told the International Olympic Committee (IOC), whose inspectors recently spent four days in the capital.
He was speaking at a gala dinner held for the 17 members of the evaluation commission at the Palacio Real in Madrid.
Also present were Queen Sofia, Prince Felipe’s wife, Letizia, the Infanta Elena and the King’s sister, the Infanta Pilar.
Since the Barcelona92 Games, Spain was more committed than ever to the Olympic concept, the Prince told the IOC inspectors.
Spain is safe, accessible and strategically-situated, the Prince reminded them. Mariano Rajoy, president of the national government, had already met the IOC inspectors some days earlier.
“Madrid has a great advantage as 80 per cent of the sports facilities needed to hold Olympic Games are already built,” he assured them.
Madrid is accustomed to hosting major events and as one of the world’s favourite tourist destinations Spain receives 58 million visitors each year, he said.
The proposed budget of €1.5 billion would be split between the three Administrations, said mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella. She added that it was “a perfectly affordable amount.” A further €150 million would be needed for security.
The IOC will announce its choice of host city in Buenos Aires on September 7.
Published in Spain
After persistent effort I managed to get some Paralympic tickets.
I really reckon I should get a medal for the effort put in to get these tickets, but it's worth it because this morning I set off into the bright London sun for some good Stratford fun.
Talking of sun it's a little miraculous how good the weather has been for the duration of The Olympics, it's as if the world is not going to have to change it's impression of these sceptered isles as sunny no, no more umbrella metaphors in opening ceremonies such as the Paralympic ceremony.
I arrived at my local station to collect my complimentary London travel pass only to be told that I had to go to the Olympic park to get it. The irony of this was too much for me to mention so I just trotted off, it was early and I didn't mind as it wasn't far.
It was all very easy when I got to Stratford. The website had suggested arriving a few hours early but it took merely minutes to get through security, so I got a chance to see most of the site before going to see the swimming.
It was nice to see how it had all come together. I had cycled around when the stadium was half built and could now see the purpose in the designs, the River Lee snakes through the site and the grass and flower beds will mature into a healthy amount of greenery in time. Sadly it looked very concrete and sparse now.
One large irony was the huge presence of McDonalds on the site, considering this was meant to be a healthy pursuit it wasn't exactly a healthy option, but I guess fast food is what was needed and it's what we were getting!
The swimming was fun, the crowd being whooped up American style to cheer anyone and everyone meant that the athletes were well supported. We had a good handful of people getting through the heats and into finals, the outcome of which I'll see later.
A wonderful day out.
Published in blogs
ONE of the truly gratifying things to emerge from the recent games was the pure sportsmanship that prevailed throughout the whole experience. The wonderful feeling of human beings, vying against each other simply to bring out the highest achievements possible and all in the true spirit of mutual respect and honorable competition.
And then came football.
The day after this wonderfully refreshing and uplifting episode ended, I can quite honestly say my heart sank; there they all were again. All those magnificent sportsmen and women were suddenly replaced by a bunch of mercenary louts who have about as much in common with sport as Pol Pot had with human rights. Back they all were, with their designer haircuts and stubble, pontificating and prancing around the pitch, their inflated egos thrust upon us by a media, which frankly is not much better. Spitting, snarling and being generaly unpleasant, these overpaid uniformed yobs once again brought the game, that in the days of Sir Stanly Mathews and Billy Wright truly could be called a sport, down even below the level of professional wrestling. These extremely lucky young men have no more sense of sportsmanship than Vlad the impailer. They are all up for the highest bidder and, with very few exceptions, wouldn’t know loyalty if it punched them on the nose. The excuse that they are paid such exorbitant sums of money because their careers are so short, is total bull. Many of them are being paid ridiculous sums of money at sixteen years of age. By the time they are eighteen they can command hundreds of thousands a month and most of their playing careers can last twenty years or more. That’s about the length of the career of your average soldier or policeman. Do I need to add more? If I had my way I would put a cap on all professional footballers’ wages, worldwide. I would also cap all transfer fees, bonuses and numbers of foreign transfers. Contrary to how it may appear, I do actually like the game. To see it ruined by billionaire owners and money grabbing mercenaries, truly makes me both sad and extremely angry. Will any of this tirade make any difference? Of course it won’t. Money is still the God of the human race and the answer to it all? Blowing in the wind my friends. Blowing in the wind.
As a final matter of interest! I counted one hundred and thirty eight ‘amazing’s’ in the various interviews and commentary’s I watched during the Olympics - and now the X factor is back! Whatcha mean, get a life Leapy?
Thanks for all the mail. Keep em coming, I can take it.
Keep the faith.
Well, well. I have received some stick over my predictions that Team GB competitors could prove a medal embarrassment in these Olympic Games. Some of the correspondence did hold constructive criticism, but most were downright nasty. Don’t worry about that by the way, I have been insulted and ‘poison penned’ by the very best. Last week, basically because I considered it the quickest way to put it all to bed and felt I couldn’t prove it anyway, I almost groveled with unctuous apologies. Well in the light of all the mail I've received, I take it all back. When I stated in my defense that I was only referring to track and field events, I could hear the derive snorts of scorn and disbelief from here. Then I got to thinking. Surely no one with any smidgen of intelligence whatsoever could believe that I would be stupid, or anywhere near knowledgeable enough, to make predictions for every event in the Olympic calendar?
If I were as capable as that, I wouldn’t be bashing out this weekly blurb, I'd be Minister of Sport, head of the Olympic committee and biggest Mastermind winner of all time. Give us a break. It’s not rocket science. Of course I was only referring to a specific area. Although I enjoy them, I know very little about equestrian, sailing or rowing or indeed most of the other sports that generally receive minimum coverage by the media, but I do know and love my athletics. Therefore my prediction was obviously only referring to those events. My only miscalculation was generalizing and not spelling it out! Well surprise, surprise. In total there are forty seven field and track events in these Olympics. At the time of writing the games are almost over. To date our field and track athletes have taken just five. Three gold, one silver and one bronze. That means wave failed miserably in forty two of the events that most consider the very core of the Olympiad. One commentator actually admitted he would never have imagined he would be cheering on a British competitor for seventh place!! (Mind you compared with the utterly incompetent Denise Lewes, who remarked that one entrant was suffering from ‘lack of inexperience’ I suppose that observation was almost acceptable) No I’m sorry. Overall our athletic and field competitors have been abysmal and my predictions proven to be totally correct. Well done our splendid winners in all the other categories. All I can say is thank the Lord you were there.
Have you noticed how the Chinese only cry when they lose? Possible banishment to the salt mines awaiting back in the ‘auld’ country? Mmmm…..
Keep the faith.
THERE’S been much hype lately about the social network site, Twitter. Tom Daley, the Olympic diver, was attacked by a tweeter after he and his team-mate, who had been widely tipped for gold, failed to win a medal in the synchronised 10m diving final.
Helen Skelton, the Blue Peter presenter, who covered the Olympics for the BBC, announced she’s deleting her account because she didn’t have a thick-enough skin to deal with the comments she’d received. And likewise a host of other ‘celebrities’. Gary Lineker, the football guru, who said he felt “physically sick” after his son, George, was targeted over his leukaemia. Kirstie Allsopp, the TV presenter, who reported two 15-year-old girls to the police for their bullying tweets. And the England batsman, Kevin Pietersen, who’s said to be shutting down a parody Twitter account followed by his England team-mates which has 10,936 followers, the tweets making much use of the word “genius”.
So, should we be worried about Twitter - which has become part of the daily life of millions in Britain and tens of millions more around the world — and avoid it, too?
Now, ‘celebrities’ who use Twitter are being naïve. Prior to its invention, would they have actively published and publicised their email address and phone number to the world in general rather than just to family and friends? I don’t think so. Why not? Because they wouldn’t have wanted to attract attention from people they didn’t know, who might bombard them with abuse/ practical jokes or even harass them over time. That’s why, after all, so many people opt to be ex-directory as far as their phone numbers are concerned.
A recipient can ignore ‘trolls’, block them or simply switch the phone off. Otherwise, apart from threats or libels, you just have to accept or ignore offensive behaviour via this medium as you would a spoken or written comment. ‘If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned’ should be the mantra of any twit who uses Twitter!
In other words, why blame Twitter itself? You might as well blame BT or Telefonica for abusive phone calls. This is just the same as blaming guns for killing people. They don't. People do. “Twitter has a dark side”? – Rubbish!
Nora Johnson’s thrillers, ‘Soul Stealer’ & ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.com) available from Amazon in paperback/ eBook (€0.89; £0.77) and iBookstore. Profits to Cudeca
Published in Nora Johnson
Spanish radio station owner Richard Shanley scooped an Olympic first when a GB gold medallist agreed to give his first interview outside the UK. Nicole Hallett reports.
Lives: Vera Playa, Almeria
In Spain: 12 years
Originally from: Stratford Upon Avon
Status: Married with two daughters age 13 and 15.
Hobbies: Skiing (water and snow) and golf.
Love: My wife Jessica, most of the time
Dislike: My wife Jessica, some of the time
Most like about Spain: Lifestyle, weather and laid back approach.
Least like: The manana attitude. Even after 12 years I can't get used to not getting things done instantly.
Why did you come to Spain?
For the easy life, which it was until three-and-a-half-years ago when I bought a radio station on impulse.
Highlight of your career?
Interviewing Olympic Gold Medalist Nick Skelton only four days after he won the Team GB Showjumping medal at London 2012. It was his first interview outside the UK and I believe the first interview by any Team GB medalist in Spain during The 2012 Olympic games. A real scoop for Spectrum FM. You can listen to the interview as a podcast at http://costaalmeria.spectrumfm.net/
Owned a Printing Business, Classic car Showroom and Satellite TV company.
Aged 10, what did you want to be?
A lollipop man because they didn't start work until age 65.
Most exciting experience?
Competing in the 1986 Beuajolais Neaveau run that is held in late November. Our car from Byrons Wine Bar in Solihull, West Midlands came fourth in the race back to the ferry at Calais with over 500 cars from the UK taking part. When we were released from the vineyard by Beaune (south of Lyon) at midnight with our case of poor wine we arrived at Calais 4 hours 22 minutes later having covered in excess of 700 kms. I think the police in France always turn a blind eye on this night as they are happy to be getting rid of rubbish wine.
What would be your theme song?
DReam 'Things can only get better'. As a cup half full type of person this is what I think all the time since the recession in Spain began.
Who would you invite to dinner?
Ayron Senna (Sporting Hero) and Margaret Thatcher (Political Hero)
Who has inspired you the most?
My late father who was without a shadow of doubt the best ideas man I have ever known and not a day goes by when I don't wish he was still here for advice
Published in Interviews
RECENTLY released classified documents from the UK’s Ministry of Defence reveal how staff believed aliens could visit for “military reconnaissance”, “scientific” research or “tourism”.
Now, why would 'aliens' with such advanced technology that enabled travel throughout the universe at maxi-mph be interested in a week's B&B in Skegness? Surely they'd have the technology to do their "reconnaissance" from afar?
And why on ‘Earth’ would anyone want to go to the UK for a holiday? Presumably they have the run of the universe, somewhere without global warming, corrupt politicians or bankers.
The UK admittedly does possess some uniquely otherworldly, semi-derelict, desolate seaside resorts that might make them feel at home. Judging by some of the population of these places, some of them might well have stayed and set up boarding houses, one-armed bandit emporia, tattoo parlours and ice-cream stalls.
Presumably, though, those who did make it managed to pass through Heathrow when passport control was having one of its relaxed days. The rest will just have to join the queue and wait - the Borders Agency has no ‘guidelines’ concerning those not from a ‘World’ country.
In many low-budget, science-fiction classics of the past like The Invaders, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Quatermass 2, the alien invaders had the power to assume human form. Maybe some among the many migrants amongst us aren’t just from other lands but other planets? After all, according to the 2011 census, the UK alone has undergone its biggest population surge after a decade of mass immigration. Some even believe many ‘alien migrants’, collectively, are known as Members of Parliament!
Good grief! Next we’ll read Northern Europe’s current bad weather is the fault of aliens. Their UFOs moved the jet stream south. Anyway, let’s hope they bring their wellies and brollies for their next visit – what, the Extra-Terrestrial Olympics?
Really! Stories like these - head in bucket of sand comes to mind - do bring the crazies out. En masse. Is it the traditional summer ‘silly season’ already when such daft stories are regularly trotted out? What real news are we being distracted from? Elvis has been sighted on the moon – again? Katie Price really does write her own novels? And former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi’s planning a comeback? No, hang on, that is true!
Nora Johnson’s novels, Soul Stealer & The De Clerambault Code (www.nora-johnson.com) available from Amazon in paperback/ eBook (€0.89; £0.77) and iBookstore. Profits to Cudeca
Published in Nora Johnson
Well, now I know how Michael Fish felt. For those of you who don’t know who I'm referring to, Michael Fish was the TV weatherman who scornfully dismissed warnings that Britain was in the path of an approaching hurricane. The following day the whole country was flattened by the worst storm in living memory! My predictions for the Olympics were so akin to Mr. Fish and so short of the mark I’m delighted, that in the event I was proven wrong, I didn’t promise to eat anything! In my somewhat pathetic defense however, I was referring mainly to track events and although I knew Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah were in with a chance, we didn’t have much more in the bag. Hopefully I'll be proven wrong about that as well. Oddly these Olympics do keep getting their own back on the ol’ Leaper. 'Hey Jude' keeps rearing its annoying head. This song was the McCartney composition that kept me at number two in the British charts for 23 weeks and subsequently cost me a fortune. So all of you who wrote and gloat can gain even more satisfaction knowing that this stroke of utter mistiming keeps coming back to haunt and hound me with relentless repetitiveness. As this week’s final word on these glorious games, I would like to add that I have never been more delighted to be so utterly wrong and hope by the time you read this I will have been proven even more of a nit. (By this past Sundays track and field results however, I may have not been as far short of the mark as originally accused!) As a final, final word, I still consider many of the events that have brought a whole swathe of medals, are not open to the hoi polloi, and are restricted to the privileged few and not as nearly accessible as they should be to those less fortunate. Horse-riding, rowing and sailing to name but a few.
Another wonderful result this week was seeing those ‘parents from hell’* jailed for 25 years for the ‘honour’ murder of their beautiful seventeen year old daughter. And what wonderful words from the judge when he told them and I quote. ‘Shafilea was a determined, able and ambitious girl who wanted to live a life which was normal in a country in which you had chosen to live and bring up your children. However you could not tolerate the life Shafilea wanted to live. Although she went to local schools you objected to her socializing with fellow white pupils. You objected to her wearing Western clothes and objected to her having contact with boys. You wanted your family to live in Pakistan in Warrington’. Well done judge, Couldn’t have put it better myself!
Keep the faith.
*Iftikar and Farzana Ahmed, strict Muslims from Pakistan, were found guilty of the 2003 honour killing of their daughter Shafilea. They suffocated the 17 year-old in front of their four other children at their home in Warrington, Cheshire after she rejected a forced marriage in Pakistan.
Remarkably, although it was almost a month ago, I still find myself under attack from our German colleagues for remarks I made in the column.
Oddly, none of my German friends (yes I do have quite a number!) have taken umbrage at all. Probably because they know me rather better than most and realise that my observations are more 'wind up' than 'put down'. Many of them also find Monty Pythons 'Don’t mention Za Vaar' sketch absolutely hysterical. So fear not, I can assure you the Arian sense of humour is still in good health, hovering just below the surface of bristling indignation (let’s hope so anyway).
For a final word on the subject I will refer all those scribing dissenters to one of the greatest scribers of all time; the immortal bard who wrote so wisely. 'Methinks thou dost protest too much'. Awright?
I love athletics. Particularly the female participants. To me there’s nothing more sexy than a finely tuned, gloriously fit female, straining every fibre to be the first in her chosen objective. Gorr! I've dated two athletes in my life (both female I hasten to add) The first was somewhat of a surprise, when her Olympic diver's statuesque body turned out to be mostly muscle! Ah well, I soon got over it. The second was a sprinter who unfortunately ultimately decided she preferred the ladies. C’est la vie.
As I write, we are well into the second Olympic day and have finally won our first medal. Already there are long faces, where expected medals didn’t materialize. A couple of months ago I prophesized most of our athletes were nowhere near world class. As the host nation, this is of course not only unacceptable, but could also turn out to be extremely embarrassing. Although I accept the opening ceremony was nothing short of magnificent, the most important part of the Olympics are the contestants themselves.
Nowhere near enough encouragement, facilities or investment are directed toward those who are somewhat less fortunate than the equestrian, sailing, tennis and other events that only the more privileged of society can financially aspire to. Let’s hope by the time you read this the medal situation will have improved substantially, sadly I somehow doubt it.
Don’t forget to listen out for the new rap version of Little Arrows - I know I know, is nothing sacred?! You heard it here first folks.
Keep the faith
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