June 6, 2012
The biggest football event of the summer is set to start this Friday, June 8th. 16 teams battled through qualification rounds and are now all vying for a shot at winning the European Championship trophy. Spain triumphed in 2008 under the direction of Luis Aragones. They come into this tournament as the favourite, helped by a World Cup title in 2010. However the absence of key players Carlos Puyol and David Villa will certainly hamper their efforts somewhat. Germany is the other key team to watch. Hungry for revenge after a 1-0 loss to La Furia Roja four years ago, they will be looking to capitalise on their opponent’s weaknesses. Winning the title is not out of their reach, especially with a team that boasts talent like Mesut Ozil, Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klos.
Poland, Czech Republic, Greece, Russia
Netherlands, Denmark Portugal, Germany
Spain, Ireland, Croatia, Italy
Ukraine, France, Sweden, England
And lest you get tired of all this footballing speak, there are lots of other sports events taking place this week, most notably the French Open. As we write, Nadal and Murray are playing for spots in the semi-final. After an outstanding display of athleticism yesterday against Tsonga, Djokovic will face Federer on Friday. On the women’s side, Australian Samantha Stosur will play against Sara Errani tomorrow afternoon while Maria Sharapova faces Petra Kvitova for a place in the final.
The IPL is over but the ICC Test Championship has England meeting the West Indies tomorrow.
December 6, 2011
When British boxer David Hayes hung up his gloves in October, he expressed an interest in pursuing an acting career. While most professional athletes move into coaching, management or philanthropic roles, there are a handful who have switched gears completely. This prompted us to look into the proposed and actual second lives of professional athletes – what happens when the whistle blows?
Jason Statham – Actor
British-born Statham was a member of the National Diving team for over a decade. His best showing was at the 1992 World Championships, where he finished twelfth. Statham made the shift to acting after getting cast as a model for the clothing chain French Connection. Guy Ritchie, who was then an up-and-coming director, met Statham and decided to put him in his hit film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The success of the movie helped Statham’s thespian aspirations enormously. Now a fixture on the Hollywood action movie circuit, Statham has appeared in over twenty films.
Anna Kournikova – Professional Beauty
Anna Kournikova’s tennis career wasn’t exactly a smash hit. Hailed as a bright young thing to watch at the tender age of fifteen, Kournikova ultimately gained notoriety for her moves off the court instead of on. The Russian beauty failed to win a major singles championship throughout her tenure on the WTA, but that hasn’t stopped her from capitalising on her fame. She’s been linked to Russian hockey players Pavel Bure and Sergei Fedorov in the past, and had a widely publicized relationship with Latin singer Enrique Iglesias. She is currently a celebrity trainer on the US reality TV series The Biggest Loser.
Imran Khan – Politician
Born into an upper-middle class family in Pakistan, Imran Khan’s illustrious cricket career started to take shape while he was a student at Oxford. Khan would go on to captain the Pakistani cricket team for a decade, eventually leading them to a World Cup victory over England in 1992. Post retirement, Khan, who read PPE at Keble College, dabbled in social work before entering politics. Firmly focused on helping Pakistan become a welfare state with a genuine democracy, Khan has aspirations of becoming the country’s Prime Minister.
Rio Ferdinand – Renaissance Man
Perhaps the most impressive athlete on our list. While money can buy franchises, ghost writers and commercial property, it can’t buy natural talent – something that Rio Ferdinand appears to have in spades. Growing up, Ferdinand was a regular fixture in school plays. He also took ballet classes, eventually winning a scholarship to the famed Central School of Ballet. Currently, Ferdinand co-owns a record label and regularly tweets about his love for the X-Factor. He was an executive producer on the 2009 film Dead Man Burning and is reportedly working on a documentary about growing up in Peckham. We think he made the right choice though, as dancing en pointe and creating independent films doesn’t pay nearly as much as playing footie does.
George Foreman – Spokesman
The acclaimed boxer staged a comeback at the age of 45, regaining his title as world heavyweight champion. Foreman credited his success in part to a healthy lifestyle – and thus the partnership between the boxer and the fat-reducing grill was born. By slapping his name on the piece of machinery and doing promotional work for the company that invented it, Foreman earned an estimated £125 million – more than he ever made as a professional boxer.
Shaquille O’Neal – Rapper/Actor
A massive NBA success story, Shaquille O’Neal boasts a career as colourful off the court as on, though we’re not sure that’s a good thing. Remember his acting in Kazaam? If you can’t, consider yourself lucky. O’Neal has also branched out into the music department, laying down tracks as a rap artist on five albums, including a Best Of compilation disc. While we can’t knock his hustle, we can knock his lyrics…and Shaq’s attempts at intelligent rhyming are comical at best: Merry, merry quite contrary/And Captain Crunch, berry good. (Yes, you read that correctly).
Serena Williams – Entrepreneur
One of the best women’s tennis players in history, the younger Williams sister has carved out an impressive portfolio of side projects. She partnered with Nike in 2004 to produce fashionwear in a deal worth approximately £25 million. Along with sister Venus, she is a part owner of the Miami Dolphins franchise. In 2010 she became a qualified nail technician, voicing a desire to start her own nail care brand (she currently has a line of colours in partnership with OPI). All this in addition to winning thirteen Grand Slams – anyone else wondering how she finds time to sleep?
Theo Walcott – Children’s Book Author
As if being the youngest footballer to play for England, scoring a Nike sponsorship deal at fourteen and being called ‘one of the most dangerous players I have ever played against’ by Lionel Messi isn’t enough – Walcott somehow finds time to pen a series of children’s books. Based on his experiences growing up, the books revolve around a young boy named T.J. and his group of football loving friends. For the most part, his efforts have been well received – and in a day and age where literacy rates are alarmingly low, we salute young Theo for encouraging kids to read.
Novak Djokovic – Comedian
Djokovic is enjoying the best year of his life on the ATP tour and it’s unlikely that he’ll be stopping soon. However should the worst happen (breaks a leg, squanders his millions) and he’s forced to pick a back-up career, ‘professional clown’ would suit him perfectly. Dubbed the ‘Djoker’, Djokovic was, until this year, more famous for his impressions of his fellow athletes than for his playing record. In a Youtube video that went viral, Djokovic is seen capturing the physical mannerisms of Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Andy Roddick et al., perfectly. Hollywood certainly seems to have faith in his acting abilities – Djokovic was recently asked to appear in The Expendables 2 alongside Sylvester Stallone and Jet Li.
Sean Avery – Fashion Editor
The undisputed brat of the National Hockey League, we can only hope that Sean Avery’s irritating persona will serve him well with the Devil Wears Prada set. During the 2008 off-season, he interned at storied fashion magazine Vogue, under the direction of Ms. Anna Wintour herself. Having guest-edited for MensVogue.com, Avery also contributed to a style advice column on AskMen.com. Having a boorish athlete who is also fashion savvy was enough to attract the interest of New Line Cinema – apparently a film based on Avery’s experiences as a fashion intern is in development.
November 1, 2011
Lots of punting action happening this week at Smarkets!
The race for the UEFA Championship continues with a slew of matches over the next two days: Chelsea looks to redeem themselves against Genk after losing to the Gunners over the weekend. Valencia takes on Bayer Leverkusen at the Estadio Mestalla in Spain. Lyon hopes to avenge the 4-0 thrashing they suffered recently by beating Real Madrid tomorrow.
X-Factor drama continues with a cat fight between judges Kelly Rowland and Tulisa. The show is down to nine contestants, with Janet Devlin continuing to lead as the girl to beat.