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Rich rewards: Porte visualises road to glory

AS Richie Porte cycled in the solitude of the high mountains early this week, he played over in his mind how his dream of winning the men’s elite world road race championship might unfold.
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The Tasmanian, who has so often ridden for others, would love to claim next Sunday’s crown for himself. But if another Australian is in a better position to win the 272-kilometre race, Porte will have no problem playing the team game.

Porte (Sky), 28, and 2009 champion Cadel Evans (BMC), 36, will lead Australia’s nine-rider team for the men’s elite road event in Florence next Sunday. Both riders come in to the world titles after competing in last week’s two Canadian one-day World Tour races – the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal – rather than the last of the three grands tours, the Vuelta a Espana, which finished last Sunday.

The risk of having two leaders from the same lead-in is that neither will have a first-hand gauge of the form of other contenders who raced in the Vuelta. But they will have a close knowledge of each other’s condition; and because they have both raced in Canada they have been able to discuss world title tactics.

Evans won the 2009 world title in Mendrisio, Switzerland, on a hilly course. It will suit him that this year’s circuit in Florence is tougher than at Mendrisio. And judging by his recent form – highlighted by a stage win in the Tour of Alberta in Canada – he is on the right trajectory for a best performance in Sunday week’s race.

Porte, meanwhile, has taken a steadier build-up towards the road race, which he will enter for only the second time after his debut last year.

But he will start after having competed in Sunday’s first world championship event – the 57.2km team time trial he will race for his British Sky team – followed by the 57.9km individual time trial on Wednesday for which he will swap his black and blue Sky strip for the white with green and yellow hooped jersey of the Australian team.

While the men’s elite road race is the top event, Australia will field strong line-ups in every race – from the team time trials for trade squads in which the Australian men’s Orica-GreenEDGE and women’s Orica-AIS are highly fancied, to all road and individual time trial races.

Porte should be strong in all his three events, but his priority is the road race. If the chance arises, he will try to win it after spending most of this season at the service of his Sky leader, Englishman Chris Froome, who won the Tour de France and will this time be a rival in Florence.

But Porte is confident Evans will be worth supporting should he be a better option between the two for an Australian win. “I had a little chat with him about it,” Porte told Fairfax Media on Wednesday from Dolceacqua, in the Italian province of Imperia during a break in a ride that included 3,200m of climbing.

Asked about Evans, Porte said: “He’s fit. He’s lean and on a course like that – he’s done it before, hasn’t he? If I have a bad day I’ll have no trouble at all in trying to give him a hand for the win.”

Is he confident Evans will do the same for him in similar circumstances? “Cadel is a professional and so am I. If we can help each other,” said Porte, who has never forgotten Evans for his help on his grand tour debut in the 2010 Giro d’Italia, when Evans advised him on climbs en route to placing seventh overall, wearing the leader’s pink jersey for three days and winning the white best young riders’ strip.

Porte returned to Monaco on Monday from Canada and the US, where he trained at high altitude with Froome and his Sky team after the US Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado from August 19-25.

The US Pro Cycling Challenge marked the start of Porte’s back-end of the season after a well-earned break following the July 27 Clasica San Sebastian World Tour race in Spain a week after the Tour finished.

“I had a couple of weeks doing nothing but being a normal person, drinking beer and eating what I want. I needed that,” Porte said.

So what of his return to racing and training in the US and Canada?

“It’s as high I have ever been before,” Porte said of the high altitude training he and his Sky teammates did before the two Canadian races. “One day, we rode up to 4200m – then there was the intensity. We came down to Canada and did those punchy [World Tour] races, which was a shock. Now we’re back at sea level, recovered and feeling good, not just for the worlds but for the end-of-season races like [Giro di] Lombardia [October 6].” Porte’s training program this week has been simple, as he explained on Wednesday. “I’m just riding mountains … the jet-lag absolutely busted me,” he said. ”I’ve never had it this bad – at 2am I’m awake. After the flight it’s nice to get out and do the longer rides.”

On Thursday, Porte travelled to Tuscany to join his Sky teammates and fine-tune preparations for Sunday’s team time trial. With Sky as favourites are the Belgian Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Australian Orica-GreenEDGE and the US Garmin-Sharp and BMC teams.

In Wednesday’s time trial, Porte and Australian Rohan Dennis face stiff opposition, with the likes of German Tony Martin, Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara and Briton Bradley Wiggins all on form. “It’s those three guys for the podium. If it’s not an Aussie who wins, then I’d like it to be Brad,” said Porte.

As for the road race, it’s always a lottery. And Porte does not know what to expect from those who have just competed in the Vuelta.

“I just hope they come out on their hands and knees,” he says.Schedule of events for September 22-29

Sunday, September 22: Team time trial – women (42.79km), men (57.20km)

Monday, Sept 23: Individual time trial – junior women (16.27km), men’s under 23 (43.49km)

Tuesday, Sept 24: Individual time trial – junior men (22.05km), elite women (22.05km)

 Wednesday, Sept 25: Individual time trial – elite men (57.9km)

Thursday, Sept 26: No racing

Friday, Sept 27: Road race – junior women (82.85km), men’s under 23 (173.19km)

Saturday, Sept 28: Road race – junior men (140.05km), elite women (140.05km)

Sunday, Sept 29: Road race – men’s elite (272.26km)

Television: Live on Eurosport, starting Sunday from 10.30pm, Sydney time. Live on SBS2 from Monday, 10.30pm

Twitter – @rupertguinness

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


Three ruled out, but strong line-up for the elite men’s road race

Three key riders had to rule themselves unavailable for selection in the Australia team to race in the men’s elite road race at this month’s world championships.
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Simon Gerrans is out with a fractured hip, Michael Rogers with a shoulder injury and Adam Hansen due to fatigue after finishing the Vuelta a Espana on Sunday.

However, selectors have still named a strong nine-rider line-up for the 272km event, which will be raced on the final day of the September 22-29 titles at Florence, Italy.

RUPERT GUINNESS looks at who they are and their form and roles.

Leaders

Cadel Evans (Vic/BMC) Evans (pictured), 36, 2009 world champion, made great return to form with stage win in Tour of Alberta earlier this month and strong rides in World Tour races, Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec (12th at 8 secs) last Friday and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal (18th at 26secs) on Sunday. Form for world title race on hilly course augurs well.

Richie Porte (Tas/Sky) After a strong Tour de France (19th) to help Chris Froome win, raced Tour Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec (54th), Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal (DNF) and US Pro Cycling Challenge (92nd) for training, not results. Porte, 28, will relish world’s route and should recover well from individual time trial four days earlier.

Sprint option

Michael Matthews (ACT/Orica-GreenEDGE) Unafraid of hills or of joining breakaway, as he did in last year’s world titles on a hilly course at Valkenburg in the Netherlands. Matthews, 22, is a sprinter who likes a selective course. A threat should he find himself in a lead group. In terrific form, with two stage wins in the Vuelta a Espana.

Team Captain

Mathew Hayman (NSW/Sky) Hayman, 35, brings 13 years’ experience as a professional. He must co-ordinate tactics to protect team leaders and help them save energy before race explodes; a crucial role in a race with no radio contact between riders and their sports director in the team car behind.

Domestiques

Simon Clarke (Vic/Orica-GreenEDGE) Finished world’s preparation on Sunday, placing 69th in the Vuelta a Espana. Strong climber, unafraid to go in breaks, Clarke, 27, should provide great cover for Evans or Porte in the back end of the race, as he did for Evans in 2009.

Rohan Dennis (SA/Garmin-Sharp) Dennis, 23, has had a top rookie season that includes overall and stage 3 wins in the Tour of Alberta. Never raced over 230km, but form and hill-climbing ability should help early on. In his first senior world’s, he will also race in the individual time trial.

Cameron Meyer (WA/Orica-GreenEDGE) Tour de France finish with team time trial win and ninth on hilly stage 16. Meyer, 25, raced Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec (98th), Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal (DNF) and Tour of Alberta (35th). Good for an early long-range breakaway.

Rory Sutherland (ACT/Saxo-Tinkoff) Strong climber, Sutherland, 31, can support Evans and Porte in the hills. Last races include US Pro Cycling Challenge (9th), Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec (75th) and Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal (83rd).

David Tanner (Vic/Belkin) Tanner, 28, has valuable all-round qualities. Provides strong, reliable, selfless back-up to riders – and can do so in all terrain. Rode very well at last year’s world’s at Valkenburg. In good form after finishing Vuelta a Espana on Sunday in 106th place.

Twitter: @rupertguinnesss

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


Diamonds wary of narrowing trans-Tasman gap as Kiwis rise

IT USED to be that the Australian and New Zealand netballers would play each other so occasionally that, by the time the big clashes arrived, there was such tension and mystery that the intimidation factor played a big part in the result.
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Often it worked to Australia’s advantage. Sometimes not. Liz Ellis confesses to having had mental visions of Silver Ferns players seeming to be ”10-feet tall”.

”We’d play against New Zealand, and someone like Irene van Dyk, she’d loom large in your mind because she was so good and you wouldn’t have played her in a long time,” says Ellis, whose career from 1993 to 2007 yielded a record 122 appearances for the Diamonds.

”By the third time you’d played her, you’d work her out. But then you wouldn’t see her again for 12 months.”

That has changed. Since the establishment of the ANZ Championship in 2008, the veil of secrecy has been lifted. Before it, the Australians had a national competition and New Zealand played in theirs. But the joining of the heavyweights in a trans-Tasman super competition, while increasing the sport’s overall strength, appeal and professionalism, may have started to alter the balance of power.

Following five straight losses, including a series defeat to England early this year, the Diamonds beat the Silver Ferns in a 47-45 thriller in Auckland on Thursday to even the ledger at 1-1 in the Constellation Cup, a series introduced in 2010 to mirror rugby’s Bledisloe Cup. The Silver Ferns are the holders after winning last year for the first time. The recent pattern has raised questions about whether Australian netball’s aura is diminishing.

”We didn’t have an ANZ Championship,” former Australia coach Jill McIntosh recalls of the dominant period in the 1990s under her leadership. ”There was a national championship, which evolved to the Commonwealth Bank Trophy, a good competition between eight teams which played each other regularly. Our youngsters, in that environment, were always playing against top players, week in, week out. Then the ANZ Championship started. It’s a fine competition. But, because we only have five [Australian] teams competing, it has limited the amount of space available for those up-and-coming players.”

There are five teams, too, from New Zealand. All franchises are allowed one import, meaning fewer Australian teams and one less place on each team list.

McIntosh says the set-up ”has benefits, but it has also worked a little bit against us”. ”It has given our players the chance to play against top international players,” she says. ”But it has also meant fewer positions for some of our younger players to get experience.”

Australian netball’s grassroots structure, talent identification and development remain sound, McIntosh says. But the international club-based championship has brought New Zealand closer to Australia in more ways than one.

”I think, overall, the New Zealand teams playing in a mixed competition with Australian teams has been more beneficial to New Zealand. But I don’t think that’s bad for the game. From an Australian point of view, we’d like to be winning more. But, still, the games are very close and great to watch.”

Only one New Zealand team has won the ANZ Championship, the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic last year, and often the New Zealand sides finish amid the bottom.

”From a club point of view, Australia still dominates,” Ellis says.

”Internationally, it’s certainly shifted towards New Zealand. I guess that having their players playing against the top Australian players week in, week out, it means both teams lose a bit of that fear factor and it evens things up a bit. It goes both ways.”

Ellis points to other factors behind the Diamonds’ recent struggles.

Vast experience has been missing, including Cath Cox being unavailable for this tour, Mo’onia Gerard having left the sport to give rugby sevens a go and Natalie von Bertouch having retired.

”There’s 250 Tests between them,” she says. ”Meanwhile, the Kiwis have had a very settled line-up. Their only changes have been in wing attack and wing defence positions. But there’s no doubt that the balance of power has shifted and it’s now up to Australia to play catch-up.”

Australian netball faced a similar predicament when Norma Plummer was appointed coach in 2004.

Under McIntosh, the Diamonds had won the 1995 and 1999 World Championships and the 1998 and 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medals, the pinnacles of the sport. At the 2003 World Championships they were pipped by the Silver Ferns, sparking a reshuffle.

”There were a lot of changes around that time,” Plummer says. ”Some players retired, some had got pregnant, there were some bad injuries. You have that happen occasionally.”

The Silver Ferns won Commonwealth Games gold in Melbourne in 2006, but the Australian team soon settled and regained the world championship in 2007. The Silver Ferns claimed the 2010 Commonwealth Games title in a double-overtime epic, but the next year Australia won yet another world championship.

Plummer says a key to her success through the transition time was that, as a former Australian under-21s coach, she knew which players to bring up and wasn’t afraid to do so. ”It allowed us to build things up quicker,” she says. ”You’ve got to make sure you’re always blooding youngsters.”

Neither Plummer nor McIntosh believe there is any reason for concern. They are confident that depth, resources and programming augur well for the Diamonds’ future. But they know Australia needs to be on its toes.

”Australia and New Zealand are still one and two, clearly,” McIntosh says. ”But England are making big strides forward and Jamaica are realising the benefits of some of their players playing in the ANZ Championship. It’s having a positive effect. The top four are very competitive now.”

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


Fans declare Gwar over Super Bowl half-time gig

THE WRAP
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Messi still the one with three … Fourth time lucky for McKenzie … It’s 5 o’clock somewhere but O’Connor wouldn’t know … Six the new eight as seven becomes the new six … Hat-trick for McKay but it’s still England on cloud nine … Atlantic Jewel shoots for perfect 10.

SEATTLE SOUNDS OFF

It may be two decades since Seattle was the centre of all things noisy but it’s good to see the spirit remains after Seahawks fans at CenturyLink Field this week set a Guinness record as the loudest stadium crowd. The mark of 131.9 decibels was set when Michael Bennett sacked San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the first quarter, breaking the record held by a football crowd in Turkey. Taking a leaf out of Pearl Jam’s book, the Hawks faithful went on to bigger and better things than their stellar debut, later beating their own mark by hitting 136.6dB in the third.

STACK OF MACS

Don’t say you haven’t thought about it. The Dudefoods blog is packed full of goodness such as the inside-out grilled cheese sandwich, chicken and waffle wings and the bacon weave taco, but his latest effort tops the lot. The McEverything. It’s exactly what it claims to be – a combination of every burger (including breakfast offerings) available at the Golden Arches reaching a height of 1.5 metres. That’s a total of 43, and set him back $US140. In the immortal words of another Seattle legend, there goes my hero.

MOVE TO BAR MARS

Sticking to this developing theme of all things American and loud (tautology anyone?), here’s a cause we can all get behind. Sugar’s item last week about the travesty of Bruno Mars getting the Super Bowl half-time gig struck a nerve and no group was more vocal than fans of theatrical heavy metal act Gwar. More than 18,000 people have signed a petition to see the Virginian five-piece, famous for non-hits such as Meat Sandwich and Stalin’s Organs, take the biggest stage of them all. There’s some football pedigree there too – frontman Oderus Urungus, right, writes a column on the game for metalsucks.net. Check out their version of Carry On My Wayward Son for a glimpse of what might have been.

SNAGGING A WIN

Basketball legend Cal Bruton stole the show at the NBL season launch at the Entertainment Quarter on Thursday night. The pioneer of the competition’s early days revealed the secret to his team’s success way back when – sausage sizzles. ”We’d have a barbecue on court two while we were playing on court one,” the 58-year-old Hall of Fame guard said when asked about his initial foray into Australian basketball with the Brisbane Bullets. He said the smell wafting onto the main court would often distract opposition players. ”That was our sixth man,” he said.

IF YOU’RE NOT WATCHING SPORT YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING TO …

Silk Degrees. Boz Scaggs. Summer is on the way and the feeling is laid-back. As in banana lounge. Poolside. Cabanossi. Margaritas. Never mind albums with ”never mind” in the title – chillax to the Californian sounds of the 70s.

Stearns Hefti

IT’S NOT A MONKEY RIDING A GREYHOUND BUT YOU’LL LIKE IT …

Can he get an encore? It’s our man Adam Lefkoe again who, fresh from his Seinfeld heroics last time out, this week devoted his Sportscast to classic hip-hop lyrics. Jay-Z, MC Hammer, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Dr Dre, Blackstreet, Eminem, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Aaliyah, Beastie Boys, Naughty By Nature, LL Cool J, Wu Tang Clan, it’s all there. Search: Rapcast.

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


Roadmap plots Socceroos path to top

By the e-book: FFA released its online curriculum designed to reshape Australian football. Photo: Justin McManusIf a Socceroos team ever wins the World Cup, historians will pinpoint the day back in 2013 when an online e-book was launched, aimed at reshaping the style and culture of football in Australia.
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Around midday on Friday, Football Federation Australia released The National Football Curriculum – The Roadmap To International Success, which national technical director Han Berger described as his legacy, a comprehensive blueprint the Dutchman is confident will transform the way the game is played and coached from grassroots upwards, hopefully eventually placing Australia among the world’s football powers.

Based on years of research and analysis, the free resource – which Berger believes may be unique in the world – is aimed at players, coaches and parents and provides detailed practical lessons on training, coaching and football philosophies.

It offers age-appropriate drills and model sessions directed towards building a style of possession-based, pro-active football, rather than relying on physicality and mental strength.

”At this moment [the patient possession-style game] is not really in the Australian psyche,” Berger said. ”The simple fact of the matter is that, at the top level, it’s impossible to think you can ever be successful consistently with a physical direct playing style. In a one-off, everything is still fortunately possible in football. But on a consistent basis, the direct physical playing style is not the way to go. Modern top level football has moved away from that.”

Berger revealed that Guus Hiddink’s former assistant, A-League-winning coach Graham Arnold, warned shortly after the 2006 World Cup there was not a sufficient succession plan. Pim Verbeek repeated the warning when he left in 2010.

Berger, who joined FFA in 2009, said when things were going well, it was sometimes hard to look to the future. ”People and organisations tend to take things for granted,” he said. ”Then suddenly the coin starts dropping when things go less well.”

In recent years, despite qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, the Socceroos’ rank has fallen from the 20s to the 50s. The so-called ”Golden Generation” of players who carried the team to relative success throughout the mid and late 2000s is breaking up and cracks are appearing. No longer can Australia simply hope that another good group of players comes together.

The building blocks have to be laid. In 2009, the first edition of the curriculum was released but it dealt mainly with the over-riding philosophies required to implement a new way of playing football.

It was focused on the top down and some of the results have filtered through to A-League and national junior sides. Berger highlighted the under-20 team as having shown encouraging signs at the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey in June.

This edition is a practical resource, which will be implemented at future A-League club elite academies and national premier league clubs. It is especially aimed at the foundation level.

”When it starts there, I’m convinced we’ll see the results of that,” Berger said.

The main culture change will centre around changing the win-at-all-costs mentality in junior football, which Berger explained led to booting the ball upfield and scrapping for possession. That approach emphasised physicality, not technicality.

It also had the effect of alienating smaller children. He said he wanted young players to be encouraged to be creative and clever with the ball, rather than just trying to get the ball to the goal as quickly as possible.

”At grassroots level it’s still very much a winning at all costs mentality, a direct physical type of game,” he said. ”That’s the big challenge now, to convince the coaches, the players and the parents that that’s not the right way to go.”

Implementing such a change will take much more than publishing a book, apps and videos. It will take time and patience. In Japan, a 50-year plan was launched in the 1980s. In Germany, it took a decade.

”That is the minimum,” Berger said. ”So, you have to think in decades. That’s a difficult selling point because people tend to look at results next year, or changes next year, they want it to be tangible and visible. But those processes do not happen overnight.

”To really make it happen … there needs to be a shift and change in culture and mentality. The success [of the curriculum] stands or falls with how much, how deeply, it will be embraced.”

If it is embraced properly, Berger is convinced the long-term approach will develop generations of players to take Australia to the top levels of the game.

”We’re three or four years into it. We’ve only touched the surface. We’ve only worked top down. Now we have to start putting our energy in working bottom up. Only if you have a broad and strong foundation, your summit will be of top quality as well.”

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


Brilliant career keeps coming up for heir

Breathing a little easier: Jessica Fox, whose three-month tour of Europe, included a scary moment and great success. Photo: Anthony JohnsonJESSICA Fox is upside down, grasping desperately for her paddle. She is quickly running out of breath as the white water churns around her. She fights the urge to panic. It is July. Fox, 19, and the K1 silver medallist at last year’s London Olympics, is at Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia, for the under 23 world championships. The first outing in a new canoe for the C1 event she is dominating has just met a disastrous and desperate end.
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Natural courses can be more dangerous for canoeists and kayakers with obstacles such as trees and rocks, against the “well rounded bollards and softer features” that Fox says characterise man-made courses such as this one where water levels and force can be controlled, or hands-on help – as she may soon need – can be a rope’s throw away by attendants.

But capsizing as she has while “surfing” a stopper – a wave that will “pull you back in and hold you” – can still be frightening.

“I was dizzy and couldn’t breathe,” Fox said this week at home in Penrith of the moment that led her to think “if I don’t get air in the next two seconds” she would have to unzip from her canoe and face the heavy rush of water that would make the situation “worse before it gets better”.

But after 30 seconds, Fox said she fought the fear, pushed “up from the bottom and got a bit of air” and was suddenly flushed to safe water.

Fox not only handled the ordeal well, but won gold in the C1. It was but one part of a terrific season.

In the World Cup, Fox won the C1 in four rounds. At Tacen, Slovenia she also became the first woman to win the C1 and K1 at a cup round. Then last weekend, she won gold in the C1 at the world titles in Prague, and a second in the C1 team event before her one main setback – not making the K1 final.

But considering her three-month tour was her first with so much racing against opposition 10 or more years older, it was invaluable experience.

“You can’t learn unless you have that racing,” Fox said. “It is when you are on the start line of a final that you know what it’s like.”

Fox, who is studying social science and psychology, has also put plenty of energy into her call for the C1 event to join the K1 on the Olympic program for the 2016 Games. But until the International Canoe Federation ticks off a change in the 4-1 ratio for men’s and women’s events for the C1’s entry, the International Olympic Committee can’t act.

“It’s been a hard battle,” she said. “A lot of people are missing the point why we are pushing it. It’s an event that I’d love to compete in at the Olympics but Australia is pushing for gender equity because it is the right thing to do. It is for the benefit of the sport. It’s for the benefit of women … to get more women involved.

“Some federations say ‘women are not at the level of the Olympics. We are not going to support them until they get to this level’. Some girls have been brainwashed to think they are not good enough, don’t deserve to be in the Olympics. But it’s not about that any more, it’s about equal opportunity.”

Supporting Fox in her campaign and pursuit for white water success are her parents Richard and Myriam who are former Olympic paddlers. Richard, a 1992 Olympian and five-time world K1 slalom champion for Great Britain, is Canoeing Australia’s national performance director. Myriam, from Marseilles in France where Jessica was born and lived until the family moved to Australia when she was five, was an Olympian in 1992 and 1996 – when she won bronze – and a two-time K1 world champion. She coaches Jessica and her 16 year-old sister Noemie.

Jessica’s first sports were swimming and gymnastics but at 12 she took to the white water when advised by her physiotherapist to paddle for rehabilitation from a broken arm in a gymnastics fall. Soon, Fox found “going down rapids was much more exciting than swimming”.

“For a long time I heard ‘You are the daughter of Richard Fox. Are you going to be as good?” Fox said, laughing. “At my first junior worlds in 2010 at France the speaker was saying, ‘Is she going to equal her mum? She was the queen of the water. Is Jessica going to be the princess’?

“I just decided I am my own person. I am different, that is what I told myself. Then when I won the junior worlds. Well, mum never won at junior level. So I am a step ahead.”

Twitter – @rupertguinness

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


Thomas Kelly’s mother recounts his final hours: ‘He suffocated in front of us’

Revealing her torment: Kathy Kelly.The mother of Kings Cross assault victim Thomas Kelly has recounted in detail the final 48 hours of her son’s life, in a speech that left much of her audience in tears.
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“The one thing they don’t tell you about when they finally do remove life support is how a person dies,” Kathy Kelly said at the launch of the Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation.

“They took the ventilator away and Thomas suffocated in front of us. His heart was beating as strong as an ox and it just got slower and slower until he passed away.”

Mrs Kelly told a packed room at The Star on Wednesday that she knew when the phone rang on July 7 last year that the call had something to do with her son, who was 18 and on his first night out in Sydney when he was king hit in an unprovoked attack.

“As soon as they said it was St Vincent’s and Thomas had been assaulted I just threw the phone at [husband] Ralph … I don’t think we understood how serious the situation was. They were telling Ralph that we both needed to come to the hospital.”

When Mrs Kelly arrived with her husband, they found their son, “a beautiful young man, who was shy, independent”, lying in intensive care. A doctor told them it would take a miracle for him to survive.

“He was very cold, he had his head shaved and there was a very large bandage that said ‘no bone’ on the front of his skull. That’s a very confronting thing to see when your 18-year-old son is lying there and you don’t know what the outcome is going to be.

“We were told that we would have to turn off Thomas’ life support,” she said. “A lot of media said we made that decision but … we didn’t make that decision. It was made for us when Thomas was punched.”

Family and friends who came to the hospital left completely heartbroken, Mrs Kelly said.

“At the very final hours of the day, on a Monday, we gathered together, just the four of us, and we just said goodbye to Thomas in our own way. It’s hard enough for Ralph and I as Thomas’ parents, but for his brother and sister seeing their beautiful big brother die in front of them was a very difficult thing to face and I’m sure it will affect them for the rest of their life.”

The foundation aims to help curb the alcohol-fuelled street violence that robbed the Kellys of their son. It held the launch dinner to raise money for a package of programs to improve street safety at night.

The programs will be known as TK, for Take Kare (TK was also Mr Kelly’s nickname among his friends), and include additional CCTV cameras to be installed in the city and other areas after consultation with police, and the establishment of a “safe zone” in Kings Cross that will offer support services to drunk young people who may be at risk of crime as a victim or offender.

In his speech at the launch, Ralph Kelly said the judicial system also needed to change, to stop “hooligans and cowards” who king hit others from getting off with light sentences. The man who king hit Thomas Kelly that night, Kieran Loveridge, has pleaded guilty to his manslaughter.

Mr Kelly said he had attended a homicide victim’s support group meeting in June, at which 25 families were warned to lower their expectations of the judicial process.

“We were told that night we would not receive justice. If we could all walk away and know that we would be disappointed at the end of the process, then we would come out at the other end far better than we were that night,” he said. “To me that’s outrageous.”

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


Father jailed for ‘vengeful’ killing of Brandon Siaa at Banktown train station

A young father who stabbed a teenager and told him “I run Bankstown, I own Bankstown” has been sentenced to at least 18 years in prison for a “cowardly, vicious, vengeful and premeditated attack”.
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Mosa Julius Mbele, 24, armed himself with a dagger and a hoodie and went to Bankstown train station to confront Brandon Siaa, 16, on May 25, 2011, two hours after the pair had a heated fight about dominance in the Bankstown area.

At 6.48pm, Mbele approached Mr Siaa, slapped him across the face twice and produced a large dagger from underneath his jumper.

Friends tried to separate the pair but, after exchanging some angry words, Mbele stabbed Mr Siaa in the heart so severely that the blade snapped off and Mr Siaa died within minutes in front of his brothers, friends and shocked commuters.

In sentencing Mbele to prison on Friday afternoon, Justice Megan Latham accepted that Mr Siaa had racially taunted him by calling him a “nigger” but she said such provocation “was the consequence of the offender’s own aggression towards the victim”.

Two hours earlier the men, whose animosity arose out of being part of rival Bankstown groups, had traded punches and Mbele had warned that he “owned” the suburb.

Justice Latham rejected Mbele’s argument that he was acting in self-defence during the fatal encounter, saying that “at no stage did [Mr Siaa] threaten him in any way”.

Rather, he stood over his victim “menacingly” and deliberately assaulted and antagonised him because of a toxic mix of his own anger, immaturity and insecurity that Mr Siaa was much larger than him.

“This was a cowardly, vicious, vengeful and pre-meditated attack which was out of all proportion to the petty animosity that existed between them,” Justice Latham said.

She was scathing of Mbele in her judgment, saying that little of his evidence could be taken as credible and he showed no remorse or desire to undertake steps to understand what he had done.

Mbele’s South African parents had little idea of their son’s true character and believed him to be a non-violent boy, she said.

Justice Latham sentenced Mbele to 26 years in prison, with a non-parole period of 18 years.

Dozens of Mr Siaa’s relatives attended the Supreme Court on Friday and cried after the lengthy sentence was handed down.

“The court is acutely aware of the devastating effects on them,” Justice Latham said. “The violent way [in which Mr Siaa was killed] must haunt their daily lives.”

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


The secret lives of us

About halfway through our interview, Canadian actor/director Sarah Polley does a very curious thing. Out of nowhere she asks, ”Are you from Australia originally?” and then spends the next couple of minutes asking me about my own background with apparently genuine interest.
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It’s unusual because, as a rule, interviewees are never interested in the interviewer (which is fair enough – it’s not about us, after all). But then Polley has long ducked conventional expectations and this quirky reversal makes perfect sense when one considers her fascination with families, their stories and how they are told and re-told.

Stories We Tell is an award-winning multi-layered portrait of Polley’s own family and the myth-making surrounding one key event in the past. The story is told in part through interviews with Polley’s siblings, her father, actor Michael Polley, and other family and friends.

At one point, her brother, John Buchan, asks: ”What would you say this documentary is really about?”

Curiously, this key question arises only near the end of the film. And, even now, Polley doesn’t have a neat answer.

”I think it’s something different for everyone,” she says.

It appears that, in a strange way, Polley is still relying on members of the audience to explain her own film to her.

”I feel I discover more of what it’s about by reading what people write about it and hearing people talk about it afterwards.

”I hear much more articulate explanations than I had at the time I was making it or even that I have now,” Polley says.

Stories We Tell is her seventh film as writer/director, in addition to her extensive television and film work. She first shot to prominence in Canada when she starred, aged 12, in 65 episodes of the popular show Road to Avonlea.

It is impossible to outline too closely the central event of Stories We Tell without spoiling it for would-be viewers, but it’s not revealing too much to say the narrative centres on Polley’s mother, who died when Polley was just 11.

Diane Polley was an actress and casting director who captivated pretty much everyone she met with her infectious appetite for life. The story is gradually revealed from multiple points of view through family interviews but also by a mixture of re-staged Super-8 ”home movies” and some genuine footage.

Like Diane herself, Stories We Tell is a film that resists being neatly placed in a category. Is it a documentary, a detective story, a memoir, a family drama … or all of the above?

”The way I thought of it while I was making it was as a hybrid between a documentary and an experimental film,” Polley says. ”I think lots of documentaries now push the boundaries of traditional documentary, so I don’t think this film is original in that sense. I think it fits into a lot of categories. But I find it interesting how so many people see it so differently. Some people see it completely as a documentary and some people don’t see it as a documentary at all.

”I did have a sense that I couldn’t find a model for what I wanted to do. It really excited me, as well as terrified me, that I didn’t have a reference point. I don’t think anyone ever creates anything completely original, but it was as close to original as I was going to get,” Polley says.

In part because of this ambiguity, and also because of the intensely personal and revelatory nature of the story, making the film became an agony of uncertainty for her. It is remarkable that, despite being constantly assailed by doubts over the validity of the project, she persisted with it.

”There was never a moment when I got completely comfortable with the fact I was making the film in the first place,” she says. ”It felt like a real mess to me most of the time. There were so many points of view and we had so much material to work with, it was a pretty bewildering and confusing process right until the end.

”I was telling my husband the whole time I was making it that there was a 98 per cent chance the film would never get finished,” Polley says.

”I just wanted to quit all the time. But I said there is a 2 per cent chance it will get made and I know I will be prouder of it than anything I have ever done, just because of the sheer difficulty of making it.”

A key theme of the film is how, when it comes to stories – big and small – in the lives of families, each family member has their own take on what happened and why.

”At the time I was making it, what was most interesting to me was this idea of storytelling and the many versions made out of the same story,” says Polley.

”And also why we have this attachment to creating a narrative out of our lives and how we deal with the bewildering nature of life by creating stories.”

Polley’s own memory of her mother is hazy, simply because she was so young when she died. But rather than try to establish a ”true” representation of her quixotic parent, she allows each player in the family drama to add their own layer of interpretation of the ”mythic figure”. ”I became really interested in what it means to try and recreate a person through so many images of that person.”

At a purely family level, Polley’s project also came at some personal risk. Old wounds could easily have been reopened. However, in the end, all but one member of the family was happy to take part in the film.

”I was surprised,” admits Polley. ”I think probably the potential risk would be what would attract them, rather than what would scare them away. In that way, they are probably different from a lot of families.”

Still, it was a nervous time for Polley when she finally showed them her work in a series of individual screenings.

”I wanted to hear what they thought and felt before I locked [the] picture,” she says. ”Strangely, nobody had any notes and they were all very supportive. They all felt it was not the story they would have told, but it was the story I was going to tell.

”I was terrified, because I don’t know what I would have done if they had had questions or notes. I don’t think I had thought that through. It was probably the most stressful three weeks of my life.”

In particular, uncovering what turned out to be a big family secret could have taken a severe toll on Polley’s father, Michael. In the end, however, it is he who provides the narrative device through his voiceover to drive along the drama. His response to the revelations is also extraordinary.

”I always knew he saw the world in really unusual ways and not like anyone else,” Polley says. ”But I don’t think anything could have prepared me for how gracious and understanding and empathetic he was.”

■ Stories We Tell opens on September 26.

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


Israeli destruction of Bedouin village puts strain on peace talks

The demolished village of Khirbet Makhoul in the Jordan Valley. Photo: Ruth Pollard Goats huddle in a temporary shelter in the demolished village of Khirbet Makhoul in the Jordan Valley. Photo: Ruth Pollard
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The demolished village of Khirbet Makhoul in the Jordan Valley. Photo: Ruth Pollard

Palestinian village of Al-Zubeidat, overlooking farms located in illegally-built Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley. Photo: Ruth Pollard

Mangled tin lies as if tied in knots on the dusty ground as pigeons try to nest in shattered coups and residents gather near two solar panels – the only structures still standing after Israeli soldiers demolished the tiny Bedouin village of Khirbet Makhoul this week.

Twelve families – more than 100 people – are now homeless and unable to herd their animals, residents say.

Conducted in the shadow of renewed peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and just a day after the most recent visit to Israel by US Secretary of State John Kerry, the demolitions placed further pressure on a process already weighed down by decades of distrust.

The army came without warning at 4.30am on Monday, said resident Yousef Bisharat. “They didn’t even allow us to get our furniture out before our homes were destroyed.”

The Israel Defence Forces also knocked down and confiscated the emergency tents provided on Wednesday by the International Committee for the Red Cross, the 33-year-old herder said.

Describing it as a “despicable and ruthless act,” Mr Bisharat said simply: “We have nowhere else to go”.

The IDF declined to comment on the demolitions, while Israel’s Civil Administration said the structures were illegal because they had been built without a permit.

The demolitions took place after the village unsuccessfully applied to the High Court of Justice to prevent the destruction of homes, the administration told The Jerusalem Post.

But residents say they have the deeds to their land and that they have made repeated efforts to seek building permits from the Civil Administration, only to be denied every time.

It is a dilemma faced by many Palestinians living in what is known as “Area C” in the West Bank, which is under the civil and military control of Israel, human rights groups say.

Last week, Israeli forces raided the Jericho village of Fasayel and demolished residential and agricultural structures, while in the village of al-Zubeidat, Hassan Jerme’s date palms, planted on his land, are the subject of demolition orders.

It is all part of a plan to expand nearby settlements, the governor of Tubas, Rabih Khandakj, told diplomats and journalists in the highly contested Jordan Valley, the site of large swaths of fertile agricultural land and significant water resources.

It starts with a demolition notice, then there is military training, next your home is destroyed and a military camp is erected in its place, and finally, settlement construction begins, Mr Khandakj said.

For Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator in the Israel-Palestine talks, it is a familiar pattern and one threatening the survival of the newly revived negotiations.

“I have never seen it [settlement growth] as intensive as I have seen it now,” Dr Erekat said, indicating that since July 30, settlements were growing at seven times the pace of housing in Tel Aviv.

Declining to comment specifically on the content of the talks, he said: “Is this the behaviour of someone who wants to reach an agreement? Is this the trust that is required to achieve the two-state solution?”

There are 37 Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley with an estimated income of $US612 million last year, Dr Erekat said.

He pointed to past comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he called for Israeli control of the valley for another 40 years.

Israel has always said the Jordan Valley was key to its military security. “It’s not about security,” Dr Erekat said. “It’s about stealing land and profiting.”

Dr Erekat’s claims were dismissed as “grandstanding” by senior Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev.

“All the construction that this government has authorised is in Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs, areas where the Palestinians themselves have admitted in the past will be staying part of Israel in [a] final status peace agreement,” Mr Regev said.

“We have serious concerns about Palestinian behaviour. They have their demands but the way to move forward is in negotiations and not through grandstanding,” Mr Regev said.

Since 1967, Israel had severely restricted Palestinian development in the Jordan Valley, which made up 28.5 per cent of the occupied West Bank, the Palestine Liberation Organisation said.

More than 90 per cent of the valley was off limits to Palestinians, the PLO said, forcing many to leave their homes and villages, leaving only 70,000 out of a population of 250,000 before Israel’s 1967 occupation.

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