Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Going For Gold

No, not the classic pan-Europe general knowledge quiz show that ran on the BBC for many a year, but the GB (and NI) athletics team at the European Championships that began today in Barcelona.

In fact we've already had a great start to the championships with a 1-2 in the 10,000mMo Farah claimed the gold, four years after collecting a silver in the 5,000m at a rain-soaked championships in Gothenburg, and Chris Thompson (I can see his Wikipedia page expanding a bit over the next few weeks!) took second place and with it the silver.

Sarah is a total athletics geek and spends many an hour watching YouTube videos while looking up historical reults on Wikepedia so I've had to set the V+ box to record almost six hours off BBC coverage each day this week.  She's catching up on this mornings action (Sarah, it's only bloody qualifying heats!!) while I write this and won't appreciate my Sarah is a geek chat!  Ahhh well.

Team GB should have a decent chance in a number of events.  For the men, Phillips Idowu should claim gold in the triple jump and naughty drugs cheat Dwain Chambers should be first over the line in the 100m.  Hopefully Martyn Rooney won't disappoint in the 400m and Dai Greene has a decent chance in the 400m hurdles.

The scrummy Jessica Ennis is a shoe-in for Heptathlon gold and other women with a decent chance of gold are Jenny Meadows in the 800m and Lisa Dobriskey in the 1500m.

If all those come in Charles Van Commenee will be in line for a fat bonus!

The Olympic Stadium has had a lick of paint since I saw it at the end of January.  The track has been relayed and is now blue and the grass on the field looks in a much better state.

This is how it looked six months ago:

Barcelona Olympic Stadium Stitch

And this is how it looks now:

Quite a difference!!

Away from the action in Barcelona, some wise old owl has decided to hold the championships every two years going forward.  This means that the next championships will finish just 26 days before the start of the 2012 Olympics.  Seems a bit of a silly idea to me and one that will surely lead to the devaluing of future championships, especially the ones that fall in Olympic years.

In London today there was an Olympic countdown event because the games will begin two years today.  The 2012 Olympic Stadium seems destined to become a football ground which for me is a real shame.

There is a lot of hot air being spouted about the legacy of the 2012 Games.  As far as I'm concerned one of the major legacies of London 2012 should be a world class athletics stadium in the capital of England.  I don't want West Ham or Spurs to get a new ground on the cheap and I don't want London to be left with another multi-use stadium that has constant pitch problems!  Saying that, the Stade de France seems to be able to cope with football, rugby and athletics so perhaps all would not be lost if the stadium did host multiple sports.

On a more positive note, looking at the photos of the countdown event we are going to have two cracking 2012 legacies.  The aquatics centre and velodrome are going to be world class venues for many years to come.

Jul. 27, 2010 - Aquatics Centre. View of the continuing work to clad the distinctive Aquatics Centre Roof. Picture taken on 23 Jun 10 by Steve Bates.

The velodrome looks quality with a year of work still to go.

July 27, 2010 - London, United Kingdom - epa02263019 General view of the London 2012 Olympic velodrome in London, Britain, 27 July 2010, during a media open day to coincide with the Olympic site opening in exactly two years time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Buckle Up for the Finish of La Grande Boucle

Ever since it's 1986 debut on Channel 4 I've been obsessed with the Tour de France.

Robert Millar, Shaun Kelly and Stephen Roche were taking the fight to the European cycling elite while Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen provided the commentary and insight into 190 riders on a  3,000km journey around France.

The original opening theme to the C4 highlights programme is a classic and instantly takes me back to July evenings lying on the sofa watching the best cyclists in the world battle each other across vast and varied French landscapes.

My favourite stages are those that take the peloton over the Alps and Pyrenees.  Tough mountain stages often prove cruicial and basically it's simple, if you can't climb, you can't win the Tour!

Today is the second rest day of the 2010 editionAlberto Contador is 8 seconds ahead of Andy Schleck with tomorrow likely to be the defining day of this years race.

As usual we've been treated to a compelling three weeks and thankfully nobody has been thrown out for doping...yet!  There was controversy on Monday when Schleck, who at that time was wearing the yellow jersey, sufferered a 'mechanical' on the final climb of the day.  Contador took advantage of this to ride away and turn a 31 second deficit into the eight second advantage he currently holds.

Like in football when an opposition player is injured you kick the ball out, in cycling there is an etiquette that says you don't attack the yellow jersey if they have a problem.  Opinion is split as to whether 'Bert did anything wrong but he's apologised to Schleck and has even posted this video on YouTube:

For what it's worth I can't see anything wrong with what happend on the Port de Bales.  The Tour is a race and there are plenty of instances of riders taking advantage of a rivals misfortune.  In fact earlier in the race, on Stage 3, Schleck gained time on Contador when his brother, Fränk, crashed and held up the Peloton.

Whatever people's opinion of what happened on Monday, one thing is agreed, Stage 17 is going to be one hell of a Pyrenean battle to the 2,115 metre mountain-top finish of the Col du Tourmalet.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Birthdays, Beers and Brentford Beaten...

...actually, make that thrashed!

A 5-0 defeat is never good and it's even worse when it comes against (at one point at least) one of our major rivals.

Last night was the first friendly of the season and Fulham came down to GP.  To be honest the result, although dissapointing, didn't really matter.  Having been postponed last pre-season, the match was Kevin O'Connor's testimonial and a celebration of his 11 years as a Bee.

A very decent crowd of 4,136 came down to GP and gave Kev a night, erm, to remember!  I met Gabs inside the ground and we took up our usual sport on the Ealing Road terrace.  There were plenty of familiar faces in the crowd and

It was my first friendly for a fair few seasons and I won't be going to another one in a hurry.  The main reason for going was to show support for one of my favourite ever Brentford players, and after 11 'interesting' years in the red and white stripes I thought my £12 contribution to his testimonial fund was money well spent.

As frequently happens, Gabs and I spent most of the 70 minutes (yes we left early, when the fifth went in!) we were in the ground catching up.  One of the worst things about growing up, actually I've not down that yet, lets say growing older and having responsibilities, is that you don't get to see your mates as much.  Brentford games are the main occasions we Bees supporting buddies get to chew the fat.  I'm looking forward to seeing Londra at GP when the season kicks-off.  He's just had his first kid, a boy, no name yet.  CONGRATULATIONS PAUL AND LYNDA :)

Fingers crossed the Bees' pre-season will get better.  Next up are Tonbridge Angels away on Saturday and then Wycombe (and their gaggle of ex-Bees) at GP next Tuesday.  I'll be at GP on 14th August for our first home League game of the 2010/11 season.  I'm on holiday for the first game, Carlisle away.  OK, OK, I wasn't going to schlep up to Brunton Park anyway!  We won 3-1 up there on the first day of last season, here's hoping for more of the same.

Away from football, although I do need to blog about the World Cup and my bloody post about video technology at some point, Sarah turned 27 on Tuesday.

Over the weekend I baked her traditional birthday cake.  Nothing too flash, a Victoria Sponge, but I think I've got it nailed on now :)  I have to give some credit to mum, Ruth, Mrs Malcolm because I used her homemade raspberry jam in the filling which as expected lived up to her Delia Smith-esque cookery reputation, amongst us Malcolms anyway!

Being creatures of habit we went for a meal at Maggie Jones's.  I first went there with work many years ago and it's one of my favourite restaurants in London.  The food is amazing and the house red comes in a magnum and you pay for what you drink which is usually the whole bottle for us two greedy gits.  We go there most birthdays so we'll most likely be back there in September :)

Last Thursday work put on the annual 'Profits Party', in fact I was nicely oiled this time last week!  It's basically a celebration of the previous financial year which with the parent company being American, ends on 30th June.

For the previous couple of years we've had the party in the atrium at work.  Redundancies, and the general downturn didn't warrant a big celebration but with things picking up in CACI-world this year the venue was Aqua Nueva.

Inside it's a typical, large West End bar with a few different rooms but what sets this place apart, especially for a geeky west Londoner, is the roof terrace.  It's always exciting for me, probably a bit too much so, when I get to see London from a new viewpoint and I was more than happy to geek it up with my camera...before too many colleagues arrived anyway ;)

The party was winding down by 01:00 so I took myself off home.  I walked it back which took about an hour.  The journey was uneventful for the most part but I did walk past a couple going at it over one of the street cabinets just after Queensway tube station.  They must have heard my footsteps because by the time I reached them the bloke was hurriedly pulling up his jeans and the knickers of his lucky lady friend. 

Just another ordinary night in London!