What a weekend.
Day off on Friday was spent tearing down to London to watch the ATP World Tour Finals – a long-held dream fulfilled.
However, just as we saw Mo Farah and Usain Bolt fail in spectacular fashion when we went to the World Athletics back in August, we were in situe to witness the downing of another favourite.
And the rising of a new hero out of nowhere.
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.
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.
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…
Have you ever seen those tiny toddlers who zip down ski slopes as if they haven’t a care in the world?
Well, I’m a Dad who dreams big…and my wish for Sophie is that she could use her tender years to her advantage and be like those daredevil children.
So, just a couple of weeks after her 3rd birthday, armed with a waterproof suit and boundless optimism (from me anyway), Sophie and I headed off at the crack of dawn to Chill Factor…
How would she get on?
There are many sportsmen and women who have influenced me. As a sportslover, I have got a huge amount of respect for all professional athletes and there are too many to mention who have impacted and inspired me.
Michael Johnson’s breathtaking 200m in Atlanta and dominance of the 400m kept me hooked on athletics, not to mention the javelin throwing of Jan Zelezny and Steve Backley.
Alan Shearer led the charge for Blackburn Rovers before the likes of Damien Duff, Matt Jansen and Tugay kept me interested (how far away from those days we are.)
Va’iga Tuigamala, Jason Robinson and Frano Botica’s stunning rugby league skills bought Wigan Warriors a place in my heart.
Roger Federer though, almost exclusively for tennis, is right up there.
This blog has charted accounts of swimming, gymnastics and football. Such is the varied life of a toddler these days.
However, a New Year brings new beginnings and after my wife successfully secured (captured? grabbed? ensnared?!) Sophie’s attention with Strictly Come Dancing, last week saw myself and my little girl foxtrotting down to a toddler dance session at a local high school.
Tonight, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola lock horns for the second time since they both arrived in Manchester to the waving of palm branches and songs of praise this summer.
Back in September, Guardiola’s City were on the crest of a wave and, despite Claudio Bravo’s desperate attempts to sabotage their performance, swamped the Red Devils in a 2-1 win which was far more convincing than the scoreline suggests.
However, since then, both teams have been on a downward trajectory.
City have gone five games without a win – the first time for Pep since 2009 – and United’s performances have been totally inconsistent. One minute, nullifying the significant threat of Philippe Coutinho et al at Anfield and the next being destroyed by that well-known attacker N’Golo Kante at Chelsea in a 4-0 thrashing.
So, with both “Messiahs” at a crossroads, the EFL Cup game tonight takes on new importance.
But is anyone actually bothered?
Was this the end of an era?
Were the Gammy Knees about to be consigned to the annals of history?
Would they go out on a high or would their frustrating record in Manchester tournaments continue?
All these questions and more answered in the following post…
While Team GB are scurrying around Rio de Janeiro defeating the rest of the world and covering their necks with gold medals, the next generation are getting stuck into sport and training for future Olympics.
None more so than two and a half year old Sophie, whose commitment to her fitness regime has been stretched recently and she has come out stronger than ever.