Author: Joe (page 1 of 32)

The end of an era – Bolt and Farah finish in tears

Last night was right up there as one of the best sporting experiences ever. With Mo Farah and Usain Bolt on the ticket, second Saturday tickets had always looked promising.

Little did I anticipate just how bright the fireworks would be.

My athletics watching history dates back to 1993, Colin Jackson smashing the 110m hurdles world record, Linford Christie’s 100m gold and Sally Gunnell’s 400m hurdles triumph.

I was hooked.

I’ve waited 24 years to attend a global championships so wanted to do it properly. Ideally I’d have attended all session but, funnily enough, money prohibited such a crazy plan.

Instead we decided to go to just one session but go big.

That’s why we found ourselves sitting behind the main gathering of Jamaican fans, on the home straight, opposite the finish line. Amazing.

We were wowed by the 100m hurdles and our ladies in the high before the first of the main events.

Mo.

With a fearsome wall of sound and Mexican wave clattering of seats in support, he was set.

So often he’s imposed himself on the field. So often he’s held the lead, gritted his teeth and adopted a Gandalfesque ‘You shall not pass’ attitude.

Not this time.

It was shocking to watch his aura of invincibility shatter down the final back straight as the Ethiopians for once had got past him. The usual strained look was plastered on his face but now he was the hunter not the hunted.

It was a stark reminder of how quickly someone can become yesterday’s man.

The crowd roared him through and he pulled a heroic silver out of nowhere but with Edris doing the mobot across the line, his golden era was up.

The stadium fell into a stunned hush. What had happened? They showed a highlights reel of his best bits which was kind but only underlined the fact he’d just been beaten.

He still saw his family. He still did a lap of honour. He’s still a legend. But his legacy is diminished slightly.

he action continued apace. Stunningly high quality javelin competition – despite not quite reaching 90m – followed by the relays.

The British women were incredible. Flying round the track chasing the likes of Torrie Bowie and Allyson Felix and running them close to finish second. Wow.

Finally, we had the big man himself. Usain Bolt entered the stadium to a cacophony of noise and the Jamaicans in front of us went mental.

They’d had a poor championships but surely now was their time. Not if Justin Gatlin (booed again, very poor) and Christian Coleman had anything to do with it.

And, out of nowhere, not if the Brits had their say too. They were incredible. I found myself utterly hooked by their performance screaming at the top of my voice as the baton flew round.

In the blink of an eye, Bolt had the baton- could he claw it back? I was too busy yelling at Nathaneel Mitchell-Blake as he blazed towards the finish.

Three strides, two strides, line…GOLD!

I’d kept a brief glance on Bolt but to our shock he pulled up halfway to the finish, agony etched over athletics’ most famous face. Horror.

He crashed to the track and the Jamaicans in front of us held their breath in collective despair. Their hero, their figurehead, their idol. This was his career literally ending in tears.

We had the perfect view as the wheelchair came over and the doctors surrounded the prostrate Bolt – his teammates gathering round, devastated.


We saw him helped gingerly to his feet, Gatlin come over and wish him well, the Jamaicans in front of us mourn their defeat.

All the while the majority of the stadium were going mad to celebrate Britain’s confirmed victory. Unbelievable.

The dark sky was awash with stars as we left but two of the brightest stars ever of track and field had seen theirblights dimmer dramatically over 90 minutes.

Not a championships high on sentiment but definitely high on drama.

 

Bootcamp Babies – time off with Daddy is exhausting…!

So I’ve been a “retired” schoolteacher for almost two weeks now and the new lease of life is certainly taking its toll…on Sophie and Harry!

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Perhaps it was Justin Gatlin’s turn

I know this won’t be popular. Usain Bolt has, almost single-handedly, kept athletics relevant and spread the sport across the world to non sports fans.

His appeal, presence and popularity has been totally universal.

In his final 100m race last night, the stage was set for a fairytale golden ending.

Until, that is, the erstwhile ‘villain’ of the piece Justin Gatlin came along and sneaked the victory.

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Cheerful or churlish? – a season in League One awaits…

For the first time in my lifetime, Blackburn Rovers will kick off the new season on Saturday in the doldrums of League One with, all due respect, the likes of Rochdale, Plymouth and Fleetwood.

I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. Sure, I’m imbued with the same old start-of-season optimism that all football fans have before the leaves start to fall and the grim reality of a season of struggle begins to set in. (Make that ten past 3 on Saturday then).

But, for all that following Rovers is both a delight and a nightmare, there is some cause for cautious optimism.

Here are my reasons to be cheerful/reasons to be churlish…

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Manchester: Five Years On

Five years ago, London 2012 exploded into our living rooms in a tidal wave of golden hysteria.

Jessica Ennis-Hill, Tom Daley and Laura Trott led the charge as Team GB’s remarkable exploits captured the nation.

As for us, we were sat watching from our new Chorlton living room having made the switch from Lincolnshire’s Grantham to the suburbs of England’s most ambitious city.

And we’ve never looked back since…

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End of Year Shows 

Ever since I started teaching, I’ve always been involved in helping produce end of year shows. They are one of the major highlights of the job for me.

It’s amazing to watch young people you are working with lose their timidity and perform at their absolute maximum to the joy of the watching audience. To ensure this happens, I strive to make sure the show is as polished as possible.

It’s not a prerequisite to be involved though…I just love to get stuck in.

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Outnumbered

I’d done a weekend by myself before with the two children.

But this was different.

This was on location in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere surrounded by fields and hills.

Oh and Harry really wasn’t feeling well.

This oughta be interesting.
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On top of the world

Our Austrian holiday “peaked” at 2600m on top of the Wetterkreutz.
Sophie and Harry’s first mountain was certainly a good ‘un.
I’ve always loved mountain walking but always on the condition we get to scale summits and tick them off on my mental list.
So when Andrew suggested we go on a longer walk I jumped at the chance to notch my first Alpine peak.
It was a real excitement to pull on my boots, pack up a chunky picnic and look up at the imposing rock face that stood ahead of us.
The only slight complication was the addition of two small children into the mix.
And there was no question of them staying at home.
We’d come prepared – my wife had a sling for Harry and I had a backpack to carry Sophie up. We were also to hugely benefit from a ski lift taking us 2000m of the way. From there though it was climbing steeply in the heat of the day with the children in tow.
It was hard work if I’m honest but we invented a guessing game to keep us entertained. It essentially involved me shouting animals and Sophie shouting colours. Plenty of blue penguins and yellow meerkats on offer.
Towards the top, a sheet of snow – more like compacted hail – made life even tougher. Andrew picked a way over it carefully and I followed suit. Sophie was hanging out of the backpack, shifting my centre of gravity really unhelpfully but I was able to navigate it.

Next came my wife with Harry and he’d decided to wake up by this point. As she tested the ground, his sling slumped forward putting pressure on the back of her neck and weighing her down. She did marvellously well though and made it across.
From there we could really see the distinctive cross which marked the top of the mountain. Just a short zigzag round the summit, a zip across some more snow and then we were there.

Views from the top were absolutely glorious and we even managed to get a classic shot of us looking like a Christian missionary family. (There would certainly be worse places to work).

For the way down I took Harry and Andrew carried Sophie. The temperature had sunk as we’d ascended but this swiftly changed and it was hot and uncomfortable by the time we made it back to the ski lift.
(Naturally my inner child kicked in as we approached the finish line and I raced away from the others so Harry and I secured a glorious victory. At least in my head we did anyway.)
We’d done it – first mountain for the littlies conquered. Many more to come I hope.

A death-defying pizza trip

On our recent holiday to Austria, I thought it would be a tremendous idea to nip over the border into Italy and have a pizza.

My wife could have coffee, Sophie could have ice cream, Harry could have…er…bread(?) and everyone would be happy.

After all, it was only about 50km to the border. Simple.

Little did I know what I was letting myself in for…

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Thanks for Harry and Sophie

Three years ago, we were delighted to have the opportunity to publicly thank God for the gift of our little girl.

Today, it’s Harry’s turn and we can’t wait. 

Below are a few thoughts on the matter which are still important today.

We believe he gave us the extraordinary gift of this child and want to acknowledge that.

My wife and I both come from the Anglican tradition of baptising/christening infants, so why is it that we’re not involving any water?

And what exactly is a thanksgiving anyway?

Hopefully these few thoughts will try and answer those questions – although I am a long way from being an expert!

The New Testament plainly states that all those who belong to Christ’s people ought to be baptised. It is a command from Jesus himself that those who follow him are baptised and publicly recognised as one of his, even if that process has already gone on inside long before.

The question is when?

Many people choose to baptise their tiny babies. This ceremony welcomes them into the church even at such a tender age. But where does this come from? In the New Testament, baptisms that take place are of adults who believe, with infants unmentioned, although household baptisms would suggest infants were involved.

baptism

Our current church usually does Thanksgiving services rather than Baptism services because it generally adheres to the idea of “Believer’s Baptism.” In other words, an individual should be able to understand and profess their own faith in Jesus before being baptised. Any earlier would be inappropriate. Therefore, a tiny baby who cannot articulate or understand ought not to be baptised.

Whilst I have crudely summarised it here, this position of Believer’s Baptism with a Thanksgiving for children is hugely popular amongst Christians, because it gives thanks to God for a child’s life but emphasises the individual’s own personal relationship with Him.

However, the grey area surrounds whether a child born to believing Christian parents has been brought into God’s people by association. Are they part of “the covenant”, the family of God receiving the blessings of his promises, or do they have to make that step of profession themselves?

A child baptist would argue that God welcomes children of believers into his covenant. Therefore, just like in the Old Testament when eight day old babies were marked out as his people through circumcision, it is perfectly acceptable, indeed appropriate, to baptise babies.

This shows that they have been included, until such a day that they decide to step out of it. It places the emphasis on what God has done in Jesus to save his people, rather than on the individual’s personal response to God’s grace

Christians have debated this for centuries and for my wife and I, it’s simply not a huge deal. We accept the Bible’s teaching that a member of God’s church should be baptised, but as for when it ought to happen… well, we’re not sure. Both sides of the argument have strong points and flaws.

We’ve decided to go with a Thanksgiving Service because we are certain that it is right to thank God for Harry, but not certain over whether it is right to baptise him. It seems the best thing to do at this juncture with a prayerful option to revisit the decision in coming years.

As long as God is given the glory, the praise and the thanks, nothing else matters.

A thanksgiving declares our faith in God, our dependence on Him for raising our child and our thanks to Him for his life. We have also asked some godparents whom we love and trust to pray for our little boy and help us bring him up to know Jesus for himself.

Let’s just hope Harry can handle the situation and not get too distressed – particularly when our minister Rich takes hold of him. No pressure!

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