Liverpool this week was filled with the excitement of horse-racing fans enjoying the Aintree Festival (3rd-5th April), culminating with the Grand National race. You can read my blogs on Aintree at http://www.letstalksport.org.uk/aintree-festival-diary in the horse racing section. The city however hosted another sporting event the week before, that was little reported other than on specialist websites.
BRITISH GYMNASTICS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
These were held in the Liverpool Echo Arena and had the cream of British gymnasts taking part, including Louis Smith (Olympic Silver Pommel Horse) who has recently returned to competitive training. The senior overall championship titles were hard fought competitions, and the spread of medal winners makes interesting reading. The British gymnasts, who competed in Liverpool, will be dispersed into smaller nation status gymnasts during the Commonwealth Games. Of course they will be up against the might of Australia and Canada, so will the partition of Team GB in Glasgow 2014 be a hindrance or a help in winning medals? Only time will tell, but the overall championship senior winners were as follows:
ALL ROUND MEN’S CHAMPION: MAX WHITLOCK, Silver: Dan Purvis, Bronze: Dan Keatings.
ALL ROUND WOMEN’S CHAMPION: REBECCA TUNNEY, Silver: Becky Downie, Bronze: Claudia Fragapane
WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Around the same time as the gymnastics in Liverpool, the final competition in the figure-skating calendar took place in Saitama Japan. The final awards for brilliance on the ice were as follows:
Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) 282.59 Mao Asada (JPN) 216.69
Tatsuki Machida (JPN) 282.26 Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS) 207.50
Javier Fernandez (SPA) 275.93 Carolina Kostner (ITA) 203.83
PAIR’S ICE DANCE
Savchenko & Szolkowy (GER) Cappellini & Lanotte (ITA) 224.88 175.43
Stolbova & Klimov (RUS) 215.92 Weaver & Poje (CAN) 175.41
Duhamel & Radford (CAN) Pechalat & Bourzat (FRA) 210.84 175.37
FOOTBALL LEAGUE GIRLS CUP
This is the eighth season that this competition has run for girls under 13 playing six-aside football. Two teams representing AFC Bournemouth and Shrewsbury Town contested the final at Wembley on Mother’s Day (March 30th), prior to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final between Peterborough and Chesterfield (3-1).
Broadstone Middle School qualified to represent Bournemouth whilst Thomas Telford School won the right to represent Shrewsbury Town. Each school girl team competed in several rounds to reach the hallowed turf of Wembley. On the big day itself, the final was closely fought with neither team giving much away, during the 14 minutes of play. But a winning goal from Bournemouth captain Molly Pike in the second half, gave victory to Broadstone Middle School.
The Kid’s Cup an under-11 football competition will see teams compete in finals prior to the League Play-offs weekend.
STREET CHILD WORLD CUP
A short news item on Aljazeera brought to my attention the Street Child World Cup being held in Brazil. I was not aware of this organisation until now, but its aims are to give children who have lived on the streets a chance to know something better through sport. These kids have known terrible depravation, and yet the sheer joy for life that they exude is humbling. Their motto is “I Am Somebody” to remind those more fortunate that every child matters and should have the same chances of opportunity, regardless of wealth or status.
The Street Child World Cup Finals took place at the Fluminense Football Club on April 6th. The play-off for third place went to Team Pakistan (Boys) and Team El Salvador (Girls). I managed to watch some superb footage of both the finals posted on the Facebook site of the organisation (www.facebook.com/streetchildworldcup). It is on You Tube described as FINALS- Street Child World Cup, and well worth a look.
Boys Street Champions 2014: Burundi 1 TANZANIA 3 (h-t 0-2).
Girls Street Champions 2014: BRAZIL 1 Philippines 0 (h-t 1-0)
All these children have been amazing ambassadors for change and children’s rights, and they have done themselves and their countries proud. WELL DONE.
The Information Is Out There
The Street Kids World Cup made the news on Aljazeera which I happened to catch, and the World Figure Skating Championships were televised on British Eurosport. But the other events I happened to discover were taking place quite by accident. I wasn’t aware of any of these events getting much TV coverage or exposure at all. As I don’t have subscription TV I couldn’t watch the ice-skating, and I don’t have a permanent connection to the internet at home either. So my web browsing is mainly done on my mobile phone, although with intermittent signals for that too, my search for information can be thwarted at times. So I’m just pleased to have finally got the facts I wanted for this edition of Off The Beaten Track.
Sometimes you come across the most unexpected things whilst going about your everyday tasks. Whilst in the local Potteries Shopping Arcade I spotted these beautifully sculpted elephants in the Elephants Parade tour, created to highlight the plight of Asian elephants in the wild. More information on this can be found at http://www.intuelephantparade.co.uk, in collaboration with The Asian Elephant Foundation.org.