Upsets, drug cheats, controversies and figure skating first align in this week’s edition of the ‘Good, Bad and Ugly’ of Sport, so let’s load the barrels and fire.
Sports fans love an upset, especially when it comes to the Aussie cricketers being dealt to in their own backyard, but Sunday’s thrilling eight-run win by the West Indies at the Gabba inspired by a wounded Shamal Joseph is the stuff of dreams.
At 11pm Saturday, Joseph couldn’t walk after having a toe crushed by a Mitchell Starc yorker. He was still in hospital at 11am on Sunday, but three hours later, he was on the field at the Gabba, and what unfolded will go down in cricket folklore. The speed merchant ripped through the Aussie batting line-up, taking 7–68 off 71 balls for the Windies’ first test win across the ditch in 27 years.
Non-league club Maidstone United from Kent pulled off one of the biggest upsets in FA Cup history, sending in-form Championship side Ipswich Town [ranked 98 places higher] tumbling out of the Cup with a 2–1 away win.
Jannik Sinner had the pasta, pizza and wine flowing in his native Italy by winning his first Australian Open title. After ending Novak Djokovic’s reign in the semifinals, the 22-year-old came from two sets down to win a five-set thriller over Russian Daniil Medvedev. Bravo!
Figure skater Yanhao Li broke the ice for a Kiwi, winning our first-ever figure skating medal in any form of Olympics, scoring a bronze medal at the Winter Youth Olympics in South Korea. That made it three medals for Aotearoa, along with bronze for Luke Harrold [freeski] and silver for Lucia Georgalli [snowboard].
On the local scene, nine-year-old Arden Watt picked up a pair of silvers in the Under-11s at the National Scooter Championships; Thomas Barnes and Ali Wilson were the toughest on the day, charging to line honours in the 30th running of the iconic Jumbo-Holdsworth Mountain Race, and Burger King Red Star smashed Whanganui Marist by 182 runs in cricket’s Coastal Challenge.
Although it’s hard to have sympathy for a batter to be run out by a ‘Mankad’ [at non-striker’s end before the ball is bowled] because of the increasing use of the practice, it still leaves a sour taste, especially when there’s no friendly warning, and it’s only a matter of cms. That was the case for Red Star batter Trey Bidois, who was on 84 at the time. But then again, there’s been plenty of bad blood between local teams and those from the River City for decades.
What’s happened to our All Blacks sevens sides, with women knocked out in the quarterfinals and the men failing to make the playoffs in the latest round of the International Series in Perth? Worrying signs in Olympic year!
Ugly, or is it simply ludicrously laughable?
The red card that was dished out to Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Rylee Foster for an off-the-ball incident, where she was jostling for position with a Canberra player, hardly looked like a foul, let alone a sending-off. To add insult to injury, Foster is slapped with a one-match ban because there is no scope for the match review committee to downgrade the red card.
A red card and lengthy stint on the sideline should be swiftly handed to debutant referee Molly Godswell. Sunday’s incident followed a blatant handball on the goal line in the Phoenix’s 2–1 loss to Brisbane that was missed by the referees, denying the Phoenix a chance of a late equaliser.
But Godswell just piled on further fuel to the fire that the Kiwi teams competing in Aussie leagues are harshly treated by officials. Unconscious bias? I will leave that for you to decide!
Here’s a shock! A Russian Olympian has been banned for four years for – you guessed it – testing positive for drugs. Figure skater Kamila Valieva, who was 15 at the time, tested positive for a banned heart drug before the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and played a pivotal role in Russia winning the teams’ gold medal. Russia is set to be stripped of the gold, which will be handed to the USA.
Unsurprisingly, the Russians are claiming contamination, but it simply appears to be more proof that the Russians are at the very summit when it comes to the ugly side of sport.