The 16th edition of the Rugby sevens world series has reached the business end of the season.
The penultimate stop recently took the planet’s best teams to Glasgow where Fiji continued their impressive late push for a first overall title in almost 10 years.
For the fourth time they stood on top of the podium.
After Australia, the USA and Hong Kong this time their success came in Scotland.
In the final Fiji locked horns with defending champs New Zealand who had Sherwin Stowers and Sam Dickson to thank for a first half lead.
After a hair drying half-time speech by coach Ben Ryan Fiji came out a different side.
Apisai Domolailai came off the bench to score twice to help the Pacific Islanders come from behind for a 24-17 win which moved them above South Africa to the top of the table with just London left to play.
Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand have now all qualified for next year’s Olympics in Rio, where sevens will be making its Games debut.
While England are currently in the box seat for the fourth and final place.
Dongfeng return in style
The latest edition of the Volvo Ocean race began last October – taking the fleet east to west around the globe.
Not long ago the competitors completed leg six to Newport in Rhode Island – a leg that saw supreme sailing conditions, tactical mastery and a superb return to action for one team in particular.
Just a few weeks after being forced to retire from Leg 5 with a broken mast Dongfeng were back on top of the podium after winning leg six from Itajai in Brazil to Newport.
The Chinese syndicate skippered by Frenchman Charles Caudrelier completed the 5,811 nautical miles in 17 days, nine hours and three minutes.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were second a mere three minutes behind the winners.
It was Dongfeng’s second victory in their debut appearance following a leg three triumph.
Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, still lead the overall race with Dongfeng in second and Team Brunel third with three legs remaining.
The next of which starts on Sunday and takes the fleet to Lisbon, Portugal.
Happy hunting ground
The 2015 FISA World Rowing Cup got underway last weekend with 34 nations competing on Lake Bled in Slovenia.
The two-day regatta was the first of three stops this year and Germany kick-started their campaign in dominant fashion notably in the blue riband men’s eight race.
Bled appears to be happy hunting ground for the Germans as it is the same venue as their 2011 World Championships success.
The Olympic Champions burst out in lane 5 and straight into the lead with Poland and Germany2 giving chase.
By the halfway 1000m-mark gaps in the field began to show and Germany1 started to stretch their advantage out in front.
Coxed by Martin Sauer Germany1 crossed the finish line in a winning time of five minutes 35.24 seconds.
Poland were second and Germany2 third.
The second World Cup event takes place in Varese, Italy starting 18 June.
The complete athlete
The founder of the Modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin described Modern Pentathlon as testing ‘‘a man’s moral qualities as much as his physical resources and skills, producing thereby the ideal, complete athlete.’‘
Recently the current crop of ‘complete athletes’ took part in the fourth stop of the UIPM World Cup.
Valentin Belaud made his first mark on the senior Modern Pentathlon circuit winning in Kecskemét, Hungary.
The 22-year-old Frenchman placed fourth in the fencing but a 33rd place finish after a poor swim left Belaud down the leaderboard.
10th place in the riding – won by Pavlo Tymoshchenko – put him in sixth overall after three events.
But Beluad excelled in the combined pistol shoot and cross country run to overcome a 22-second gap on Russia’s Ilia Frolov and beat the former world champion into second place.
The World Cup finals are next and take place in June in Minsk, Belarus.
The fight of a lifetime
Sometimes the world of sport dishes up inspirational stories of determination, courage and fighting spirit.
One such story belongs to Kevin McDowell, a young American triathlete who fought off cancer to return to the elite class of his sport.
In 2011 McDowell was a rising star, he was a two-time USA junior national champion and a Youth Olympic silver medallist.
But just as his career appeared to be taking off it crashed down when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
McDowell said: ‘‘Back then I was preparing for the world championships. The whole target that year was to win the world title.
‘‘Earlier that season I did my first pro race down in Florida and it couldn’t have gone better for me at that point. I set up the season really well and actually two days later I had this lump in my neck and my mum saw it and we got some tests done and it turned out to be cancer, Hodgkins Lymphoma.
‘‘But there wasn’t really a point that I was like ‘I’m not going to come back’, it was just going to sideline me for a while. I knew it was going to be a delay.
‘‘I didn’t realize how much the chemotherapy took out of my body, and how much it would really take my body to catch up.
‘‘So mentally we took it slowly still, but not nearly as much as I should have. I shouldn’t have come back as quickly as I did. So I started coming back and things started clicking and things started feeling better.
‘‘But I never let myself fully recover so I came back and had a couple of early successes within the next year, but then it started to wear on me and my body just broke down.
‘‘Mentally it was getting tiring and tiring but I kept pushing through and things were just going backwards so I had to re-evaluate.
‘‘There was never one point where I was like ‘‘I’m just going to stop, I need to stop’‘, it was more like I need to recover, regroup and I’ll see and let that passion comes back that I’ve always had.’‘
In May 2014 he returned to the elite World Cup circuit in Chengdu China and surprised all, including himself, with a second place finish.
‘‘I could not have asked for a better day than that, to finally overcome everything and be back on top (on form) was just an incredible feeling and I have a lot of people to thank for that,’‘ said the 22-year-old.
McDowell is currently 31st in the elite men’s rankings and so far this year has enjoyed a season-best third place finish at the same venue of his 2014 world cup comeback, Chengdu.
Reducing our carbon footprint is increasingly important and sport has its role to play.
The sustainable championship of Formula E is certainly accelerating in the right direction.
The electrically powered cars use the latest technology and push the boundaries for the future.
Former driver and now managing director of Dragon Racing Oriol Servià helps explain.
Servià says: ‘‘The electric car is like your light switch at home. You turn it on and it’s immediately on. (It’s the) same with the electric car; the second you give it power it gives you all the power right away so it takes a different driving technique or finesse to drive on the track and get the best out of it.
Unlike Formula one where a pit stop means a change of tyres, in Formula E – because of the limited battery life – it’s a change of car half way through the race meaning the driver hops out of one and into the other.
‘‘The FIA gives you a minimum time (to change cars) meaning you can not do it faster than the time they give you and that’s for safety so you make sure you get all the seat belts in and all the safety stuff ready.’‘ said 40-year-old Servià, who drove the first four races of the season for Dragon Racing before being appointed partner and managing director of the team.
The complicated-looking steering wheel comprises the dashboard, marshalling display, gear change, clutch paddles and a ‘magic button’ that can only be used if fans vote for you during the race.
There is also a power regeneration process known as ‘regen’.
Servià said: ‘‘This is what we call ‘‘regen’‘, that when you push the brake it makes the engine, the motor go the other way and create energy that goes into the battery and you can change how aggressive you want that to be.
‘‘This is the magic button and it all depends on you (the fans) this is what we call the ‘fan boost’ and the driver or three drivers that get the most votes (by the spectators) get extras power for one shot during the race, so this is when you activate it and hopefully pass everybody for the win.’‘