Sports United: A round-up of global sport news and featuresComments
It’s a truly global circumnavigation – 11 ports in 11 different countries.
It started in Europe and by it’s conclusion will have reached Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Americas.
The Volvo Ocean race fleet has already covered some 17 thousand nautical miles but the race is far from over.
Leg four of nine has just begun.
After a well-deserved rest in Sanya the remaining six crews were back in action.
But it wasn’t before a lively farewell by the locals as well as family members of the teams.
Dongfeng Race Team continue their record journey.
They are the first Chinese-backed crew to win a leg in the 41-year-old event after triumphing in the voyage from Abu Dhabi to home waters in Sanya.
Ahead of leg four they also won the in-port race.
With two second-place finishes and a win so far in the main legs Dongfeng are leading the standings but have Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Brunel snapping at their stern.
The serious stuff begins again now and it doesn’t get any tougher than the fourth stage to Auckland.
The crews will tackle some 5,200 nautical miles of treacherous waters especially in the South China Sea, when they head towards the Philippines.
The boats are expected to arrive at their destination at the beginning of March.
Astana aiming high
The Pro-Tour cycling season has only just begun and already the prestigious classics and Grand Tours are looming large.
The Astana cycling team, like most others, strengthened their ranks for the new campaign and are confidently targeting a victory-laden season.
We caught up with ambitious Kazakh outfit in Dubai.
Vincenzo Nibali for the Tour de France, Fabio Aru for the Giro d’Italia and Alexey Lutsenko for the future.
This season, the Astana team, led by Italian Nibali, aims to win all the races that it contests whilst imposing its dominance of the peloton.
Ambitious no doubt, but Alexander Vinokourov’s group is a formidable outfit, full of cyclists with real chance of victory.
Rising star Aru has soared through the ranks and aims to etch his name into a memorable season with overall victory in the Giro d’Italia.
The arrival of high quality riders such as Dutchman Lars Boom, has improved the chances of turning a Kazakhstan dream into a victorious reality.
A hardened rouler, tactically intelligent and favouring the one dayers, Boom is an all-weather rider destined to become the devil in April’s Paris-Roubaix, dubbed “The Hell of the North”.
It’s one of the highlights of the international equestrian calendar.
The FEI World Cup Driving Final took place for the fourth consecutive time at Bordeaux in France.
Six of the worlds best four-in-hand drivers thrilled the crowds as they battled it out for the overall title.
Well it certainly was a thrilling end to the season.
After seven stops around Europe, Australian defending champion Boyd Exell produced two superb clear rounds in the final to put the pressure on closest challenger and last man out IJsbrand Chardon.
But the Dutchman, who was in the lead before his last ride, came unstuck towards the end which left Exell celebrating a record sixth Driving champion crown.
Germany’s Christoph Sandmann eventually finished second with Chardon third.
Toe to toe with WSB
Many sports have a World Series but none pack a punch quite like the one we’re about to show you.
The World Series of Boxing has taken the typically individual hard-hitting sport and turned it into a thrilling team event contested by colourfully-named franchises around the globe.
It has given the sport a new dimension and the crowds are loving it.
The fifth edition sees 16 teams divided into two groups of eight.
Over the space of a surprisingly short 15-week period teams will fight each of their group rivals over ten weight categories twice – home and away.
The winners of each group advance directly to the semi-finals while the second and third ranked teams in each group enter a playoff for the remaining last four spots.
It’s a professional competition that allows the boxers to maintain Olympic eligibility.
Cuba Domadores are the defending champions.
They won the title in their debut campaign and will prove stiff opposition once again.
The regular season is in full swing.
Among those looking to dethrone the Cuban champs come the final in the second week of June are the British Lionhearts, the Algerian Desert Hawks and last year’s losing finalists Azerbaijan Baku Fires.
It’s regarded by some as Asia’s best kept secret.
It’s a mix of volley ball, football and spectacular acrobatics.
Sepak Takraw takes ball skills to a whole new level.
The technique is complicated but the rules are simple.
The name is a marriage of the Malay word ‘‘Sepak’‘ which literally means kick or smash, and the Thai word ‘‘Takraw’‘ – the original rattan ball used in the sport.
The sport is played on a court similar to the ones used in badminton,with a net suspended in the middle.
Players may use any part of their legs, head and torso to handle the ball, but not their arms or hands.
To start the point one of the players tosses the ball – made of synthetic fibre – to their serving teammate who must keep their non-kicking foot inside the service circle.
During the serve the other two players on the team must stand in the corner circles next to the net which is not the case for the receiving team who can stand anywhere on the court they choose.
The server then high-kicks the ball over the net.
As soon as the ball is kicked to start the point the two ‘‘inside’‘ players are then free to move while the opposing team will then use their three touches to return the ball over the net without it touching the ground.
The spectacular rallies continue until the point is won. The match is usually best of three sets. All three sets are played over 21 points.
We leave you with our emotion of the week which comes from the IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships in Cable, Wisconsin.
It’s an event that gathers over 150 paralympic athletes from 20 countries in a competition of Biathlon and cross country skiing. Truly inspirational.
Enjoy the clip above and see you next week.