Buckman sets new 1500m PB

World championships finalist Zoe Buckman took advantage of a super-fast 1500m at the Diamond League meet in Oregon to improve her personal best and consolidate her position as the third-fastest Australian over the distance.
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Kenyan Hellen Obiri claimed the win on Saturday in three minutes, 57.05 seconds, with Buckman finishing ninth in 4:04.09, stripping 0.73 off the time she set at last year’s world titles in Moscow.

‘‘It was a real test of my strength going out that hard,’’ said Buckman, who sat 10 metres off the lead for much of a race set up by a pacemaker.

‘‘It was an ambitious pace but a lot of my 1500m races lately have been slow with an 800m kick so it was a real shock to my body.

‘‘I haven’t had that experience in a long time. Probably since worlds.’’

Buckman, 25, spent four years in Eugene attending the University of Oregon, but had not raced there since 2011.

‘‘Surprisingly I wasn’t nervous,’’ she said.‘‘I thought I would be more nervous than usual in front of my college crowd. This was my second home for many years. But I wasn’t intimidated at all because I’ve run at world champs now.

‘‘I’m a completely different athlete now.

‘‘I’m a little tired from all the recent travel, but I’m still happy with a PB because that’s what I came here for.’’

Australian steeplechaser Genevieve LaCaze also bettered her PB on the weekend in a welcome return to form less than two months out from the Commonwealth Games.Competing at the Flanders Cup Meeting in Oordegem, Belgium, LaCaze guaranteed her spot on the Commonwealth Games team with an  a qualifying time of 9:37.16, which saw her place second in a race won by Charlotta Fougberg in a Swedish record of 9:34.61.

In other Australian action over the weekend, Ryan Gregson was sixth in the men’s mile in 3:53.85 at the Prefontaine meet in Oregon. After being in eighth spot at the bell, Gregson surged all the way to second before fading in the final 200 metres in a race won by American Leonel Manzano. Collis Birmingham was 12th in the 5000m.

The Diamond League circuit now moves to Rome, with world and Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson, world championships silver medallist Kim Mickle (javelin) and reigning Commonwealth discus champion Benn Harradine all in action on Thursday (early Friday AEST).The remaining members of the Commonwealth Games athletics squad will be announced on Thursday.

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Waratahs halfback Nick Phipps unsure if he has done enough to get Wallabies nod

Nick Phipps says he hopes Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie continues to follow form with selection in Australia’s three-Test hit-out against France this month.
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The Waratahs halfback refused to talk up his claim for higher honours, even after being voted players’ player by his teammates for an outstanding effort against the Chiefs in New Plymouth on Saturday.

Phipps said contributing to the Waratahs’ mounting finals hopes has meant more to him than hype surrounding his Test selection chances. But he admitted McKenzie’s public comments that form was king in the race for Wallabies selections had driven a lot of his work for the Waratahs this season.

“The message that form is so important from Ewen is something that’s been important to me and it’s been driving not just me but a lot of boys on,” Phipps said. “If I was given the opportunity, you know how honoured I’d be. The player I am this year, compared to last year or the year before that, is a lot different. If I get a chance I’d love it but, at the end of the day, it’s something that’s for people who are a lot smarter than me to decide.”

As teammate Paddy Ryan was called up to replace injured Test tighthead Ben Alexander (neck) in the Wallabies squad to face France this week, Phipps said the 12 NSW players who went into camp on Sunday would continue to work hard with the Waratahs and a coveted finals spot in mind.

“[The Test window] is a bit of a staller but it gives some of the boys who’ve been working their butts off all year another opportunity at international level,” he said. “We’ve talked about whoever’s picked working hard and the boys at home working hard, because we don’t want to stall that momentum when we come back. We play the Brumbies and we want to be firing and back to our best brand of football.”

In the final round of the regular season before the three-week Test window, all three potential Test halfbacks were in commanding form. Will Genia, plagued all season by form issues and the Reds’ fading finals hopes, turned out a season-best performance against the Highlanders on Friday, before Phipps and Brumbies rival Nic White also produced decisive games. Phipps has peaked nicely heading into the three-Test series against France, but refused to countenance any desire for higher honours.

“It’s good timing for the Tahs,” he said. “Being able to contribute something is more satisfying to me than people talking about higher selection honours. I’m just stoked that the Tahs are going well. We’re second on the table still and that’s something that all the boys are really happy about, being able to contribute. We’re sitting in top two now but there are three games left that are massive for us.”

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Cain able, but can he crack big time?

Port Melbourne midfielder Chris Cain is hopeful AFL clubs continue drafting mature age state league players as he clings to hope of realising his dream.
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Cain, regarded as one of the VFL’s premier midfielders, turns 27 this year and although he admits his “time’s probably past” in terms of the AFL clock, the lively Port Melbourne on-baller continued to impress onlookers in the VFL state league match on Saturday with 30 disposals.

“I think you sort of have to not give up as well because you never know what could happen,” Cain said.

Cain, who has blossomed right under the eyes of many AFL club recruiters, has watched his best mate Sam Dwyer get picked up by Collingwood in 2012 at 26.

Dwyer, who was influential on arrival, has gone on to play 25 matches with the Pies including four this season.

Brett Goodes (Western Bulldogs), James Podsiadly (Adelaide) and Ian Callinan (ex-Adelaide) were all 28 when they got a surprise call-up in their respective AFL drafts.

Orren Stephenson, a handy back-up ruckman at AFL level, was 29 when plucked by the Cats before Richmond gave him another shot.

Cain had arguably the best season of his career last season but was again, overlooked.

“I wasn’t really expecting a great deal, I’ve obviously learnt not to get too excited over talk here and there. If something was to happen, I’d be rapt but if not I’ll keep trucking along,” he said.

Cain said he and other older team-mates at Port have been revived this season given the influx of young midfielders to the team. Port Melbourne is undefeated and on top of the ladder; perhaps testament to veteran coach Gary Ayres’ strategies.

“I’m getting a bit more attention than what I have been over the last few years and I’ve been working through that and we’ve got enough midfielders through there now to chop and change,” he said.

“We’re probably not as reliant on our top few players as we have for the last few years. To have some of the younger guys step up in the midfield and give a lot of the older guys a bit of a rest has been good.”

Cain believes forward Julian Rowe could be an x-factor for AFL recruiters to consider at the end of the season considering his blistering start.

Rowe, a former Collingwood rookie, just turned 29 but is considered to be a late bloomer.

He was rampant in the state game on Saturday and kicked five goals for Port against Box Hill a week earlier.

“He’s [Rowe] having a decent year so you never know. He’s that sort of x-factor player who some clubs might want so you never know what might happen,” he said.

Sandringham’s Adam Cockie (25), Footscray’s Nick Lower (27) and Williamstown’s Scott Clouston (27) and Cameron Lockwood (26) are other top prospects that are considered to be racing against time for a shot at the big time.

Of course, history suggests there is still time for other prospects such as Box Hill’s David Mirra (23), Port Melbourne’s Josh Scipione (24), Bendigo’s Alik Magin (23) and Werribee’s Scott Sherlock (24). But the clock is ticking.

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Eurobodalla Surfriders join fight to ban plastic bags in Bali

Source: Bay Post
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SURFING a world-class break, Allen Grimwood remembers the day his spirits sank in an ocean of plastic

In 2007, the president of the Eurobodalla branch of the Surfrider Foundation Australia was surfing off the east coast of Bali, the tiny island he has loved since his first visit in 1981.

“It is one of the world’s best breaks,” Mr Grimwood said.

“Just paddling through the water, I was picking up plastic bags between my fingers.

“On the beaches were plastic bottles, syringes, all sorts of rubbish.

“That was an awakening for me.

“I have been there half a dozen times and surfed right around its coast.

“I have seen the environment change in terms of infrastructure development and traffic.

“A lot of it is good, it generates employment and income for the Balinese people, but at the same time there is a massive impact on their environment.”

PLASTIC PERIL: Rubbish in the water and on beaches has galvanized Eurobodalla surfers to help cleanup Bali and in their own backyard.

With the island loved to death by millions of visitors each year, Mr Grimwood and his fellow surfers have joined a Balinese campaign to gather a million signatures on a petition.

At the same time, they are cleaning up at home, collecting rubbish in the Eurobodalla, then sorting and counting it for a national data base.

Mr Grimwood hopes they can be effective at home and away.

“Bali’s governor Made Pastika has agreed to ban the manufacture, distribution and use of plastic bags in Bali if one million signatures were obtained,” he said.

“So far there have been just over 56,000 signatures.

“This area (Eurobodalla) has an incredibly strong environmental focus so I would expect we could achieve thousands of signatures.

“Surfers, and there are plenty of us around here, have a longstanding relationship with Bali.

“Eurobodalla people travel there regularly, so there is strong, long-term relationship with the island.”

Mr Grimwood said Bali’s waterborne rubbish was a combination of plastic used on the island and plastic floating from the South China Sea.

“The rubbish is mounting,” he said.

“It will collect on the beach and drift out to sea with the tide and then the wind will blow it back in.”

This year, Mr Grimwood set up the Eurobodalla branch of the Surfrider Foundation and members took part in Clean Up Australia.

Internationally, the foundation has launched a campaign, Rise Above Plastics.

This month, 15 people collected six bags of rubbish from a national park beach at Bingi and sent the data to the Tangaroa Blue campaign, a lobby group collating national figures to convince governments and manufacturers to reduce plastic waste.

For details visit www.avaaz.org and search for Bye Bye Plastic Bags on Bali.

Visit www.surfrider.org.au for ten ways to Rise Above Plastics.

Party people

From left; Zoe Brindley and Pia Lukaitis at Stokehouse City opening, Alfred Place. Photo: Shaney Balcombe
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From left; Bridget McCall and Nicholas Van Messner at Stokehouse City opening, Alfred Place. Photo: Shaney Balcombe

From left; Kat Angelidis and Harrison Craig at Edge of tommorrow premiere, Village, Crown. Photo: Shaney Balcombe

From left; Kiani Trisna and Anna McEvoy at Eat Street, Sofitel, Melbourne on Collins. Photo: Shaney Balcombe

From left; Georgia Sinclair at Stokehouse City opening, Alfred Place. Photo: Shaney Balcombe

From left; Felipe Bueno and David Keen at Edge of tommorrow premiere, Village, Crown. Photo: Shaney Balcombe

The Sun Herald launched the new ‘S’, at The Penthouse, The Ivy, Sydney. Emma Lung. May 28th, 2014. Photo: Brianne Makin

Lara Dawson and Daisy Dumas, The Sun Herald launched the new ‘S’, at The Penthouse, The Ivy, Sydney. Photo: Brianne Makin

AMonique and Tim Blackwel, The Sun Herald launched the new ‘S’, at The Penthouse, The Ivy, Sydney. Photo: Brianne Makin

Tim Cahill, The Star ?Sharing the thrill of Vivid Sydney.

Lewis Grant and Simone Holtznagel, The Star ? Sharing the thrill of Vivid Sydney. Photo: Ken Leanfore

Michelle Milliken, Siobhan Dunn and Kate Gildea, Gourmet Traveller Hotel Awards 2014, Surry Hills, Sydney. Photo: Paul Lovelace

Stephen Howard and Marie Gallien, Gourmet Traveller Hotel Awards 2014, Surry Hills, Sydney. Photo: Paul Lovelace

Catriona Rowntree, Gourmet Traveller Hotel Awards 2014, Surry Hills, Sydney. Photo: Paul Lovelace

Hannah Saul, ModelCo Summer Tanning Collection 2014 North Bondi Fish. Photo: dlrphoto

Tully Smyth, ModelCo Summer Tanning Collection 2014 North Bondi Fish. Photo: Darren Leigh Roberts

Anthea Meredith and Eliza Humble, Royal Dragon Vodka launch.

Tim Dorma and Jade Albany, Royal Dragon Vodka launch.

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Accused damned by bad behaviour: the case for Robert Hughes’ appeal

Robert Hughes leaves court in Sydney prior to his conviction for child sex offences. His lawyer will appeal his convictions.Damning evidence of ingrained predatory behaviour – or unfair character assassination? That’s the heart of the contentious legal strategy of introducing evidence of a pattern of incidents, or ”signature” bad behaviour, that has been a feature of both the recent prosecution of Robert Hughes in Australia and the Rolf Harris trial in Britain, both on child sex offences.
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And it’s a practice that Hughes’ lawyer, Greg Walsh, will appeal all the way to the High Court. He believes most of the ”tendency evidence” heard at the trial, and which ultimately proved devastating to Hughes’ defence case, should never have been admitted.

This involved a number of witnesses who said they were subject to Hughes’ predatory behaviour – but weren’t in themselves seeking to prosecute their claims. They were called to tell their stories to establish that Hughes had a tendency to behave in a sexually inappropriate and disturbing fashion.

Greg Walsh said there were, in fact, twice as many tendency evidence witnesses as actual complainants (four). Speaking from Honolulu by phone yesterday, Walsh said that if he failed at the Court of Criminal Appeal in New South Wales, he intends to take Hughes’ case to the High Court – which has a much higher threshold for admissibility of tendency evidence than the states, including Victoria and NSW, which operate under the Uniform Evidence acts.

On May 16, when he sent Hughes to jail for a minimum of six years, Judge Peter Zahra said the tendency evidence witnesses had satisfied him that Hughes’ sexual malfeasance was not isolated instances, but spanned ”some 20 years from 1984 to 2004”.

These weren’t simply character witnesses and the question of a defendant’s character generally cannot be raised in a criminal trial unless the accused has raised it first – along the lines of ”there’s no way I could be guilty because I’m such a great citizen”.

Under the Uniform Evidence Act (legislated by the Commonwealth in 1995, and by Victoria in 2008), tendency evidence goes to prove not simply that the accused is a bad egg, but that he or she ”has or had a tendency (whether because of the person’s character or otherwise) to act in a particular way”.

If it’s said an accused person had done a certain kind of crime several times, with a particular method and set of behaviours, then it can be argued he has a system or a signature that matches the evidence.

”If you know a person has a signature way of committing a crime, that might elevate a pathetically weak case into one that a jury will accept,” says Peter J. Morrissey, a senior counsel in criminal matters and chairman of the Criminal Bar Association of Victoria.

At the Hughes trial, where the accused was facing multiple charges from multiple complainants, further supported by tendency witnesses, the signature was established when many witnesses told similar stories of Hughes exposing himself. The jury came to believe this was his signature behaviour because they’d heard it so many times from so many people. It probably became almost impossible not to believe he did it.

Rolf Harris, being prosecuted using similar strategies in Britain, kicked an own goal in admitting he had a dark side, while he steadfastly denied that he has a signature pattern of groping. But will the jury have made up its mind?

Says Morrissey: ”Tendency reasoning is viewed as potentially seductive. It leads to the identification of an accused or a witness as being of bad character and likely to commit the offence. And that reasoning is unfair. The concern is it becomes a trial about character and not the facts.”

Morrissey says it becomes an open question as to whether a pattern has been identified ”or is it a pattern that’s artificially produced by advocates”.

But Associate Professor John Anderson of the University of Newcastle Law School, and a former senior solicitor/advocate in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions NSW, says ”the courts have said there is no necessity for the events to be strikingly similar”.

It depends which court you’re talking about – and what threshold test is applied to admissibility.

Under the Uniform Rule of Evidence acts (applicable in NSW, Tasmania, the ACT, NT and Victoria) a judge has to decide whether the evidence has probative value that substantially outweighs the risk of the jury being prejudiced. Probative value is the extent to which this evidence affects the probabilities of guilt or innocence. Anderson says this is a ”tough ask for the judges”.

Morrissey concurs. ”The judge has a heavy burden because he doesn’t know how the evidence will affect the jury. Will the jury be able to handle the evidence and give the person a fair trial or the witness a fair hearing?”

Associate Professor David Hamer from the University of Sydney’s Law School has researched the applications tendency evidence and notes: ”There is no way of resolving the risk. If you let the evidence in, it will prejudice the jury. If you exclude, you deprive the jury of evidence that gives them a honest picture of things. A balance has to be achieved.”

Greg Walsh argues that the Crown throughout Australia, particularly in states subject to the Uniform Rule of Evidence, is frequently applying a ”dangerously low threshold test” and admitting tendency evidence that has little genuine probative value, particularly in sex abuse cases. He cited instances where such evidence offered little more than innuendo – such as when the accused sent a complainant a birthday card – rather than demonstrating a relevant pattern of predatory behaviour.

”I have no doubt there will be increasing numbers of miscarriages of justice because of the way tendency evidence is being applied,” he said. ”Because juries, in my opinion, are finding tendency evidence confusing and what I think happens is they use tendency evidence to say, ‘He did it’.”

Melbourne defence lawyer George Balot believes that since the introduction of the evidence act in Victoria, ”defence lawyers [are] frequently choosing not to challenge the admission of highly prejudicial evidence because there is a prevalent view that it is almost impossible to resist such admission into evidence”.

There is a good reason why Greg Walsh hopes to reach the High Court: in 2006, in a landmark decision, the court ordered Queenslander Daniel Phillips to be retried on multiple counts of rape and sexual assault he had committed as a teenager.

Phillips’ initial trial had featured multiple complainants, cross-admissibility and accumulated tendency evidence – and ended with him sent to jail for 12 years. He appealed to the Queensland Court of Appeal on the basis of evidence admissibility and lost.

But the High Court, says Hamer, ”upheld the appeal because it found the tendency evidence lacked sufficient probative value … [Phillips] was released on bail and soon after raped a 16-year-old girl.”

Caught red-handed, he pleaded guilty. Hamer later wrote a paper that criticised the High Court’s decision for setting ”a very bad precedent”, for the ”pernicious effect it is likely to have on sexual assault prosecutions”.

As a PR exercise, muddling up Robert Hughes with Daniel Phillips is unlikely to figure in Greg Walsh’s public agitations. And legally, the Hughes appeal won’t have the benefit of being heard under common law, which has a much more stringent admissibility test for tendency evidence than Rule of Evidence Law. It all comes down to the weird luck that Phillips was originally tried in Queensland under common law, because the rule of evidence act hasn’t been adopted there. Hughes was tried in NSW, where the act was first legislated, in 1995.

If in fact the Hughes appeal was being heard under common law – that is, under the same rules as Phillips – victory would be pretty much assured. That’s because under common law tendency evidence is ruled inadmissible ”if there is a rational view of the evidence consistent with innocence”.

What exactly does this mean? Apparently the High Court is still working it out.

Stephen Odgers, SC, specialises in criminal appeals. He is also Adjunct Professor, faculty of law, University of Sydney and author of Uniform Evidence Law in Victoria 2e.

He says: ”It’s an extraordinarily demanding threshold. This evidence had to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt on its own even before it is let in. The High Court has spent some years qualifying that … There is still some uncertainty of what the High Court test means.”

For Greg Walsh and his client, the question is still open. Says David Hamer from the University of Sydney Law School: ”The question is whether the High Court of Australia would take a more open approach to admissibility under Uniform Evidence Law, or whether they’d attempt to import the more stringent approach of the common law.’’

It’s worth noting the High Court ran an earlier test case where a murderer was convicted on tendency evidence that was purely circumstantial. We can’t tell you the man’s name or what he did. It’s a compelling story. It will be told again soon when he faces trial on another old murder case. Tendency evidence will no doubt play a vital role in his trial. And many people will be thankful for that.

An earlier version of this story implied that the High Court would rule on tendency evidence admissibility in a Robert Hughes appeal under the common law. In fact, it would be heard under the Uniform Rule of Evidence Law. 

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Allergy and asthma – is lack of fibre the culprit?

There’s a new story emerging about the value of eating fibre rich foods and it’s got nothing to do with constipation. Instead  it’s about allergy, asthma and autoimmune disease and how lack of fibre in the western diet may be a culprit.
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The link between fibre and these diseases, all of them related to problems with our immune system, is the microbes living in our gut. This is a part of the body that has more to do with immunity than most of us realise – it’s home to millions of immune cells as well as trillions of bacteria. There’s a growing recognition that this colony of  gut bugs,  or the  microbiome as it’s called,  affects our health for better or worse depending on which bacteria are in residence,  says Professor Charles Mackay of Monash Unversity’s Department of Immunology.

“Less fibre, more processed food and the weight gain that can result from this has altered the mix of microbes in the gut,” he explains. “This can affect our immune system and may be driving the rise in allergy, asthma and autoimmune disease in industrialised countries.”

One clue to the connection between fibre and the immune system comes from rural Africa where problems like allergy and asthma are rare, diets are higher in fibre – and people tend to have a different mix of gut microbes.  A study comparing the gut bacteria of African children from Burkina Faso with those of European children from Italy, for instance, found the African children had a more diverse bunch of microbes than the Italian children.  Importantly, the Africans had more of the bacteria that digest fibre to produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) –  substances that help keep both the gut and the immune system healthy, says Mackay.

Besides having an anti-inflammatory effect  these SCFAs help keep  the gut lining in good shape, preventing  gut permeability or  ‘leaky gut’, a problem where the gut lining becomes weakened,  allowing things like   bacteria and waste to pass through into the bloodstream.   There’s some evidence linking a leaky gut to Type 1 diabetes, says Mackay who’s soon to take up an Australian Diabetes Council funded chair of Diabetes at the Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney.

“It could be that bacteria or products of bacteria pass through the gut lining and stimulate the immune system in a way that causes it to attack the wrong target,” he says. “Although for someone to develop an autoimmune disease like Type 1 diabetes you generally have to have a genetic predisposition as well as an environmental trigger. It may be that a leaky gut is the environmental trigger,” he says.

Google ‘leaky gut’ and you’ll find claims that it’s behind a range of health problems from chronic fatigue to autism  -and  all because we’re eating grains. But research into gut permeability and autoimmune disease is still at the early stages, says Mackay.

“I think there’s some scientific basis for a possible effect of grains on the gut lining for some people but I don’t think that this means all of us – there are plenty of healthy people who eat grains,” he says.

So what should we eat to encourage the right mix of microbes we can count on to produce SCFAs? Although you’ll find advice on the internet to get your SCFAs from butter, Mackay’s advice is to eat a wide range of fibre rich plant foods.

“The levels of SCFAs produced from fibre are much greater than that derived from butter,” he says. “I don’t think there’s any substitute for the health benefits of dietary fibre.”

There’s also a scientific argument for using vinegar in dressings to add to vegetables, he adds. Vinegar’s main component is acetic acid which is also a short chain fatty acid.

Once we understand the ideal mix of microbes – how long would it take for a change of diet to improve the quality of our gut bacteria?

“We’re not sure – in humans and mice the microbiome can change very quickly and going on a bender of fast food for two weeks would change it,” Mackay says. “But we don’t know what happens then – does it go back to normal once you start eating differently?  We have ideas about which microbes are useful but we don’t understand yet what the ideal composition is.

“But when we do it has the potential to improve human health just by improving diet without spending money on developing drugs – It’s one of the most exciting developments in medical research in a long time. In the future, we’ll probably be monitoring the health of our gut microbiome and then correcting it if it’s unhealthy.”

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Nairo Quintana poised to become a “grand champion” after Giro d’Italia win –

Zoncolan: As Nairo Quintana raced towards overall victory in the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, Australian dual stage winner Michael Rogers barely drew breath before labelling the 24-year-old Colombian as a rider who could become a “grand champion” of the sport.
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Speaking after he won stage 20 of the Giro – 167km from Maniago to the summit of Monte Zoncolan – Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) said he was surprised by the strong finish  from Quintana who was poised to become Colombia’s first Giro champion.

“He certainly impressed me. To tell you the truth, after 10 days I didn’t see him as a winner,” Rogers said after soloing to his second stage win of the Giro.

In Saturday’s stage, Rogers finished 38 seconds clear of Italian Franco Pellizotti (Androni Giocattoli) and 49 secs ahead of another Italian Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani) who Pellizotti passed near the end.

The overall favourites finished several minutes behind but Quintana’s 17th place at 4mins 45secs was enough for him to hold on to his overall lead and remain confident of doing so until the race finished in Trieste on Sunday.

Going into Sunday’s final stage – 172km from Gemona del Friuli to Trieste – Quintana’s lead was 3mins 7secs over Uran in second and 4mins and 4secs on Aru in third.

Meanwhile, Cadel Evans (BMC) was eighth overall at 12 minutes flat, after he dropped a place from seventh with 33rd place on the stage at 7mins 20secs.

Asked about Quintana, who finished second in last year’s Tour de France but has focused this season on the Giro – an event in which he hurt his hip in the stage six crash approach to the uphill finish at Montecassino and the flu in the second week, Rogers said:

“It just goes to show you these races are won in that last week, especially the Giro which is a very, very hard race; this Giro in particular.

“With stages like [Saturday’s 20th stage] for light guys who are real climbers or ‘scalatori’ …

“We saw the hill time trial and at this stage, it’s who has the legs and background and talent.”

Pressed on Quintana’s potential, Rogers said: “He still has to do the work at the end of the day, doesn’t he?

“He has even showed the potential to be a grand champion.”

Meanwhile, Rogers will now rest up following the Giro before preparing for the Tour de France that starts in Leeds in England on July 7 and in which the Canberran will be at the services of dual Tour winner, Alberto Contador of Spain.

“Between Roman  Kreuziger and myself, I think we can support Alberto in the mountains really well,” Rogers said.

“I think everyone is a little bit nervous about the cobblestones stages. But we have [Daniele] Bennati. We have [Sergio] Paulinho.

“We have a pretty good team, but we need to work hard, create opportunities and take them when they arrive.”

Rupert Guinness has been covering the Giro d’Italia as a guest of Eurosport. Eurosport have been covering every stage live, up to an including Sunday’s final and 21st, Gemona del Friuli to Trieste – 172km – from 10.30pm on Eurosport Channel 511, Foxtel.

*Times are subject to change

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Carter is king but Jonny was a genius

Jonny Wilkinson retired from rugby in the early hours of Sunday morning steering Toulon to their first French title in 22 years. Jonny says that he is a fraud. The rest of the world says he is a freak.
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Dan Carter can claim to be the finest number 10 of a generation, but Jonny can perhaps claim to be the greatest.

You may well wonder what the difference is, and it is this. Carter can do things on a rugby pitch that Wilkinson cannot do and never will do.

The great All Black is the better, the more complete rugby player. But Carter is short of pots, he has never even played in a World Cup semi-final, and his character does not set him apart like Wilkinson’s.

That is not to criticise Carter. We like normal blokes in New Zealand and Carter is a normal bloke. Wilkinson is not. He is an extraordinary bloke. In an age of celebrity, Jonny has remained almost out of sight.

You may not know this, you may have been deafened by the noise of the special k’s, Kanye and Kardashian, but last November Jonny got married. The ceremony took place in a French town hall. There were two guests. One was Jonny’s mum.

Jonny is a bit of a weirdo, but in a lovely humble way. He likes a slice of Buddhism and says things like, “My time is not now. It has been and won’t be.”

Any other bloke would seize this day. Last weekend, a day shy of his 35th birthday, Wilkinson manoeuvred Toulon to a successive European title. Whatever he says, it was an extraordinary performance. He made one mistake, spilling a ball in contact, the rest was a perfect ten.

Of course it is the mistake that will torment Wilkinson. He said, “I’ve lived for 17 years where every weekend your life hangs in the balance. It might be nice that that’s no longer the case, waking up on a Saturday morning without that horrible feeling in your stomach and not having to worry about all the what ifs.”

Of course, Wilkinson’s life didn’t hang in the balance, except in his mind. He is obsessive. Earlier this season, before a match in Glasgow, Jonny went through his morning kicking routine in a supermarket car park because the practice pitches were closed. Wilkinson has always been haunted by imperfection.

He once said, “I’ve been searching for tranquillity in a world created by obsessive thoughts.”

Wilkinson’s utter absence of arrogance, of any conceit, means that many Scots, Welsh and French, traditionally bitter sporting enemies of blasted Albion, will stand alongside the English and applaud Jonny from the stage.

The applause started last weekend in Cardiff where many French and Welsh hands came together. Wilkinson is admired as man. He is the antidote to English arrogance.

The Toulon 10 hardly touched the ball for the first 20 minutes of the European final. He was a domestique, clearing bodies, cleaning up the rubbish. Then there was an inside ball to Carl Hayman. Who would have thought in 2005 that these two would stand shoulder to shoulder as teammates one day.

Then the magic play. Jonny gave an arm signal, just before he took the ball to the left of the ruck, on the openside. Misdirection. The deep defence and the front line drifted Jonny’s way. He switched the ball back right to Matt Giteau with perfect accuracy. The Aussie hooked a chip over the committed defence, Drew Mitchell beat the fullback to the ball and Giteau followed up to score.

Wilkinson, Giteau and Mitchell made a fool out of Alex Goode, England’s some time fullback, all game. They exposed how slow Goode is to change direction. They also exposed Owen Farrell, England’s first choice fly-half.

Toulon dummied a forward drive and then Wilkinson took the ball out the back. Farrell, so pleased to have read the play, went to bury Wilkinson. He got the hit in but Wilkinson got a perfect long pass in first. Dave Strettle then came up to bury Mitchell, who ducked under, and Toulon were through the over-committed defence for their second try.

This match was a celebration of Wilkinson. Farrell and Goode, missed the odd penalty kick, at goal or to touch, and a drop goal went wide. Every Wilkinson penalty to touch hit its mark. All four kicks at goal, two from the touchline and two from the 10 metre line, bisected the posts. They never looked like missing. And of course there was a drop goal off his right foot, supposedly the weaker.

That strength of mind, reading of the game, planning and two-footedness are why Carter has always rated Wilkinson so highly. Wilkinson is so revered in Toulon, despite having twice kicked France out of a World Cup semi-final, that the club want to retire his number 10 jersey, something that has never happened in rugby before. Jonny Ten they call him.

World Cup-winning teammate Will Greenwood wrote in the Telegraph, “Jonny Wilkinson is the kid who came into the England set-up and dragged a lot of us from the dark ages into the future. His levels of dedication and ability to physically and mentally crucify himself were a genuine shock. Respect was earned the hard way – by showing you would never back down or run away.”

Wilkinson says, “I have been given too much respect and others deserve it more. Some will realise soon I am a bit of a fraud. I have been part of great teams and others should get credit. In the end, I get paid well to fulfil my passion.”

It’s not false humility. Jonny actually believes it. While Yaya Toure rails because no one said happy birthday to him, Jonny has his cake and eats it, alone, in the corner, thinking about how he can help the team. It is why he is so respected by fan and player alike. Wilkinson will be missed in New Zealand this winter. He is still the best 10 in England.

Sunday Star Times

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

Troisi move to Victory vindicated, World Cup next stop

Twelve months ago James Troisi’s career was going nowhere. But things are certainly looking up now. Photo: Getty ImagesTwelve months ago James Troisi’s career was going nowhere. Yes, the 25-year-old attacker might have been on the books of joint owners Juventus and Atalanta, but that was a technicality.
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He wasn’t playing, there was little interest and he knew that his hopes of cracking a place in the World Cup squad were non existent in those circumstances.

So when then Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou asked him to consider joining the A-League club on a season-long loan deal, the Adelaide born Troisi decided to heed the request.

It isn’t easy for players in his situation – mid 20s, having played for the national team and been in Europe most of their professional careers – to return and play in domestic competition.

Some might see it as a step back, some might feel their pride dented, while others would regard it as a failure.

Not so Troisi. Even if he might have had doubts he impressed right from the start during his time with Victory, initially under Postecoglou, then under Kevin Muscat.

There was a moment or two when things could have turned out differently for Troisi in Muscat’s early days as a coach, when he publicly upbraided Troisi when the player seemed to be heading straight for the dressing room having been substituted for tactical reasons in the first half against Adelaide United at Etihad Stadium. Muscat made his player return to the bench and watch the rest of the half from the pine.

To his credit he knuckled down and made himself an indispensable part of Victory’s midfield and attack, eventually finishing the season as runner-up in the Johnny Warren medal behind German import Thomas Broich.

His form also put him right in the frame for a World Cup place, something he acknowledges would not have happened had he stayed in Europe. His presence in Brazil is vindication of his decision to come back, reload, and then go again.

”Ange gave me a phone call overseas and told me to come back but obviously I still have a lot to do. I have had a very successful season and want to continue that. I am here today for what I have been doing,” he said.

”Everyone is anxious and trying very hard, everyone wants to be in the final 23 or even the 11. We are all working hard, but unfortunately that’s how it is in football, some people have to miss out.”

Not that he believes he will.

“I think I have done enough to get into that final cut. I will continue to work hard in training and I am feeling good about it,” he said after another intense training session when Postecoglou called his players together on several occasions to talk as he watched them competing in a small-sided game.

Numerous players were missing good opportunities, but Troisi said the coach wasn’t talking to them about their profligacy in front of goal in a training game.

”No, it was towards the end, and everyone was pretty tired, but it was quite a conditioning session today and one of the last ones we will have leading up to the game on Monday (against a Brazilian club side)”, Troisi added.

For so many players the World Cup is a shop window, and Troisi is no different. He is hoping to relaunch his career in Europe, but says the focus has to be on the task ahead first. Like his teammates he, too, is happy that the public, and perhaps even the opposition, have written off Australia’s chances before a ball has been kicked.

”I am still contracted in Italy for two more years, after this I will sit down and see what options I have.”

Told by a journalist that the Chilean team had made a TV commercial to motivate their players which focused on their group but didn’t mention Australia, Troisi shrugs.

”I haven’t seen it, but for us it doesn’t really matter, we are going to focus on the three games and do the best we can. In a way, maybe it’s good. No-one thinks we are going to be successful, so we want to show them differently.”

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