Two great sports documentaries to watch before the New Year

As 2013 nears its end, there seems to be an abundance of sports documentaries for fans to savour during the festive period. The recently released The Class of ’92 is just one of the documentaries that has been on the Christmas list of most sports fans. It looks back on the careers of the Manchester United youth team that went on to form the treble-winning United team in 1999. In celebration of this great film, which should be on your list of “must-sees”, here are two more programmes that have to be seen before the New Year celebrations are over.

Keane and Viera: Best of Enemies

Two Premier League greats, two fierce competitors and one fractious rivalry. This is a must-see documentary for all football fans as Roy Keane and Patrick Viera are reunited to look back on their infamous dual. Continue reading

Arsenal put on a special display

This season marks ten years since Arsenal won the League title at their invincible best and Saturday’s 4-1 win at Norwich had the same flair and prowess of Arsenal’s past. After a disappointing home defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season Arsene Wenger’s side has blossomed into title contention. Seven games on and Arsenal have surprised everyone by heading the Premier League table.

At the Emirates on Saturday, the home team’s attacking play was purposeful, creative and clinical, as has been the case throughout this season. Wenger’s side entertained the crowd with their team play as his attacking players wove together exquisite passes to expose the Norwich City defence. Continue reading

My Paralympic inspiration

It was this time last year that London 2012 began its Paralympic legacy, with record crowds coming together for an inspiring two weeks of sport. Olympic fever had swept the nation and sporting fans were all hoping that the Paralympics would continue the party.

The Paralympics more than delivered. I visited the Olympic stadium on “Thrilling Thursday” and witnessed an unparalleled sporting atmosphere. It was electric. (Read the article here)

This was just one night amongst a fortnight of incredible stories. However, Alex Zanardi’s victory in the handcycling at Brands Hatch was one of the great moments of the games. The Italian’s story is made for a Hollywood script. His life journey has been epic and courageous but at last year’s Paralympics, his sporting journey reached its pinnacle.

Zanardi raced in the world of motorsport for a decade. He was a charming character, respected by his peers during his brief spells in Formula One and, in CART racing, Zanardi proved himself to be a winner. His “donut” celebrations became infamous with fans across America.

It was in 2001 that he experienced the devastating crash that resulted in both of his legs being amputated. The charismatic Italian almost lost his life but has never let that accident thwart his love of racing. He helped to design his own custom-made prosthetic legs so that he could return to the track. His positivity and determination never waivered and, in 2006, he won his first race since his crash in the World Touring Car Championship.

Zanardi’s handcycling career began in 2007, when after only a few weeks of training he raced his first marathon in New York and finished in fourth place. It was soon after that he continued to cycle and made the London 2012 Paralympics his target.

Fast forward to 2012 and Zanardi returned to Brands Hatch looking for Paralympic glory. The setting was perfect, the Italian had raced before at Brands Hatch, but never won a race in his car. Returning to the famous motorsport circuit in his handcycle, he won the hearts of the nation as he claimed gold in both the individual H4 time trial and the individual H4 road race in emphatic style. With his handcycle waived high above his head and joyful tears streaming down his face, the Italian’s emotional post-race interviews and celebrations encompassed the spirit of London 2012.

What makes the buoyant Zanardi stand out from the crowd is his unrivalled determination to succeed in sport. His next goal is to win more medals at the 2013 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships this weekend. At 47, he is adamant that Rio 2016 is his next target, and nobody should doubt him.

The excitement of exploding tyres

This weekend’s build-up to the Grand Prix at Silverstone had British motorsport fans bursting with anticipation at the thought of a home victory for Lewis Hamilton. Unfortunately, for fans of the former world champion, their hopes imploded as fast as the rubber at the rear end of Hamilton’s Mercedes car.

For the drivers, today’s race has raised serious questions about their safety, as Pirelli are once again at the centre of a media storm. Fives tyre punctures over one race weekend will fill nobody with confidence. However, the high drama made the entire race unmissable viewing.  Continue reading

Who can look forward to the Champions League next season?

With Manchester United’s firm grip on the Premier League title looking impossible to break, the race for Champions League qualification is arguably proving to be the more exciting conclusion to the 2012-13 season. Tottenham are flying high with Gareth Bale’s imperious displays and pundits are highlighting the realistic chance of Spurs finishing above Manchester City in the table.

Their victory over Arsenal last weekend was a major blow for their north London rivals, whose manager seems to be under real threat from supporters. In West London, Chelsea are the club constantly in the spotlight and are surrounded by negativity following the signing of interim coach Rafa Benitez.

Liverpool and Everton are not technically out of the race, but I think that the three London clubs are the most likely to take the remaining Champions League positions. Although, both of the clubs from Merseyside may play a crucial role in deciding which London clubs will finish in the coveted fourth spot.

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A little prediction… part 2

Last year, I laid my cards on the line and predicted who I thought would be victorious in the 2012 tennis Grand Slams (click here to read the post). It turns out that most of those predictions ran true, and, had I placed a bet at the time of writing I probably would have received a substantial amount in return.

Now, with just over two days before the 2013 Australian Open begins I’ve decided to hedge my bets once again. To start with, I’m going to predict who will win in Melbourne and then attempt to choose the other Grand Slam winners in future posts. Continue reading

Play with Flair’s Sports Personality of the Year

Last night’s Sports Personality of the Year awards showed why 2012 has been a year that will long live in the memory. The huge success of Team GB at the Olympics and Paralympics rightly took centre stage as it was a summer that the British public will never forget.

It was a remarkable show, in stark contrast to the controversial ceremony that took place last year. The whole event was completely inspirational, especially as Martine Wright, who survived the London 7/7 bombings to play sitting volleyball at the Paralympics, told of her struggle to compete as she won the Helen Rollason award.

Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Sports Personality of the Year. Source: alittlebitofstone.com

Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Sports Personality of the Year.
Source: alittlebitofstone.com

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OPINION: Looking forward to the Ryder Cup

With a matter of minutes until the first foursome match kicks off in Chicago, I wanted to explain why I’m more excited than usual to watch the battle between USA and Europe rekindled once again (and yes it may have something to do with the rather long spell since my last post). The truth is that since the high emotions and superhuman efforts of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes, it has been difficult to find that same level of sporting drama and entertainment.

Of course, when I say this to other sports fans they stare in some disbelief, as if I’m not aware that the new football season is well under way. This is true and, so far, both the English Premier League and Champions League have started from where they left off, with plenty of goals and unexpected comebacks already. Real Madrid’s dramatic 3-2 victory in the Bernabeu has been one of the highlights.  Continue reading