Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hey Venus, how about one more for the road?

Go on, it won’t harm you. Flush it down with aplomb; let the rest drown their sorrows out in the meadow.

Just one more slam title, to accentuate to the masses that you really are one of the greats.

We all know, and accept, that you may not be the force you were of yesteryear. You won five Wimbledon’s and a couple of US Open’s back in the pomp of your mid twenties.

Those were the days, the days when your competitors would have no choice but to succumb to your brutal talents. That is why, I suppose, you were World number one.

Never could you be accused of being drunk in charge of a tennis racquet, such was – and is – your talent. You were the star, burning brightly, as you destructively went about dismantling a bevy of tennis princesses. Davenport, Henin, Clijsters, Hingis, Capriati and the like, you had their measure. They may have been the princesses of the circuit, but you were the queen. And rule you did.

Even that young upstart sister of yours, Serena, more often than not would be at your mercy, doing your bidding. You shone above all.

You achieved the rush that one gets when perched upon the giddy heights of world domination. The thrill of winning the holy grail of Tennis, Wimbledon, in front of ten thousand adoring fans, that’s what it is all about. It doesn’t get much better than that. Or perhaps it does. For, to win in your own Country, now that really is something. And you did it twice.

Twice you won in New York, the city that never sleeps. It’s where you regularly dealt with your foe in a New York minute. Such was your ruthlessness that they would come and they would go, with you swatting the parasites away with the efficiency of the most disdainful of tennis dictators.

Then, as with every reign, you lost your Midas touch. That perch that you looked down upon the mere mortals of this highly competitive sport suddenly dumped upon you. The star had lost its aura, the glow was no more as the planets failed to align for the once mighty Venus.

The titles were no longer a foregone conclusion. Serena overtook you, challenging the family hierarchy. You were on a slippery slope, and it wasn’t to nowhere. Indeed, it was all downhill, slip sliding your way into the murky dusk of oblivion.

But now is the opportunity to put a halt to this malaise, to rise, like the mighty phoenix, from the ashes to once again soar into the stratosphere of ball playing splendour. This is the time to show all and sundry that the grand old lady of the pro circuit is still alive and kicking, that she is still capable of the grandest of performances and that age has not wearied the mind, nor body.

Come on, do it one more time, Venus.

We’re all behind you, willing you on as you climb yet another peak in what has been a stellar career. After all, there is nothing quite like a fairytale ending to keep the sporting hearts of the world upbeat.

So now is the time to find that peerless form whereby your racquet head is once again firing down the most menacing of serves, pounding your opposition into submission. And those ground strokes – fearsome things they are. Feel free to, once again, allow them their day in the sun with the fluff of a ball fluttering in awe at the mastery of a magician that regularly has balls bidding a sniggering adieu to many a wrong footed foe.

How about it, Venus? Just one more for the road, to sign off in style, and allow those that once feted over the grandest of them all a chance to see that, yes indeed, the queen is still alive.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Man, what a gigantic cock-up that was.

There they were, a couple of Chinese, two South Koreans and some Indonesians deliberately attempting to lose a match.

What has the sport of Badminton come to?

For so long a sport without corruption, it was now being laid out flat from the tainted actions of a small number of cynical souls.

Talk about making things hard for themselves. Four Women’s doubles pairings hitting a shuttlecock every which way but in, in a shameful attempt to manipulate results to their liking. All of this just to get on the right side of the draw.

So glad they had the confidence in their abilities to take on all-comers.

They couldn’t even muster up enough respect for the Olympic spirit, which it must be said failed miserably to insert itself into the psyche of these women as they defiled the game with their sinister intentions.

Oh well, quaint wee notion anyway.

Luckily, though, officials were alert to the nefarious methods of a few bad eggs, catching them in time before they escaped and impregnated the sport with their mischievous and devilish intentions.

More than likely, this will lead some to say how unfortunate that this has occurred at such a high profile event. Truth to the feather, while we all would prefer nothing untoward happens at any event, let alone the Olympics, that it has under the glare of the big daddy of Badminton Internationals may be a blessing in disguise.

There is now no hiding from the fact that these practices are part of the fabric of this highly skilled sport. And now is the time to stamp it out. To deal with this ticklish poser before it enters the throes of a widespread aneurysm that has become awash with a cancerous shaft of muddy waters that risk exploding through the floodgates of the authorities defences.

Hope remains though. The guilty parties were expelled with a swift ride out the back door with no one to blame but themselves. What’s worse was their lack of smarts in how they went about achieving their goals. In no way should their behaviour be condoned, but one would have thought that they may like to go about their misdeeds in a manner a little less obvious.

So, not only are they now seen as cheats, but also somewhat on the dim side, too.

And the irony of their actions remains that not one of them managed to gain any satisfaction from the end result after being unceremoniously dumped from the Olympic tournament.

To further reinforce the point to these players that their actions will not be tolerated, the International Badminton Federation might like to consider a lengthy ban on top of their disqualification.

Only then could we be sure that there are no more shuttlecocks open to being manipulated for a long time to come.