Mar 30, 2009

Tiger returns to winning at Bay Hill

Back to playing golf, now Tiger Woods is back to winning tournaments. With those familiar back-nine runs, Woods made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole Sunday to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational for his first victory since returning from knee surgery.

Woods closed with a 67 for a one-shot victory over Sean O'Hair, who led Woods by five shots going into the final round, and matched his largest comeback ever on the PGA Tour.

It was Woods' third tournament since returning from an eight-month layoff.

"It feels good to be back in contention, to feel the rush," Woods said.

"It's been a while, but God, it felt good."

Just like last year, when Woods made a 25-foot birdie on the final hole at Bay Hill for a one-shot victory, he delivered a high-charged celebration.

Instead of slamming his cap to the ground, he turned and ran into the arms of his caddie, who lifted him off his feet.

Then came the meeting with the tournament host.

"What was it I told you last year?" Palmer said with a wide grin.

Palmer has seen enough of Woods to know what to expect. Woods won at Bay Hill for the sixth time, the third PGA Tour event he has won at least that often.

This one was special.

Woods had not been atop the leaderboard since he won the U.S. Open in a 19-hole playoff last June.

He had reconstructive surgery on his left knee a week later, and missed the next eight months.

With two indifferent results at World Golf Championships, there were questions whether he would be ready for the Masters in two weeks.

Not anymore.

He rallied from a five-shot deficit and delivered one crucial shot after another in fading sunlight. - AP

Mar 24, 2009

Chong Wei and Nicol wins best sportsman and sportswoman award

It was a memorable day for world No. 1 men’s singles shuttler Lee Chong Wei and coach Misbun Sidek when they bagged the top prizes at the 2008 National Sports Award ceremony here yesterday.

The 28-year-old Chong Wei was named as the best sportsman while Misbun lifted the best male coach award.

Chong Wei, however, was not present at the award ceremony and his father, Lee Ah Chai, received the trophy and RM10,000 on his behalf from the King.

Chong Wei is in Hyderabad for the Indian Open beginning tomorrow and he is aiming to win his first back-to-back title outside of Malaysia. He scored a sensational win over Lin Dan of China last week to win the Swiss Open title.

The other nominees who Chong Wei beat to the award yesterday were Mohd Azizul Hasni Awang (cycling), Zulmazran Zulkifli (bowling), Safuan Said (lawn bowls), Cheng Chu Sian (archery) and Lee Hup Wei (athletics). His outstanding run last year included a silver medal-winning effort at the Beijing Olympics in August.

It was the second time Chong Wei won the national award after 2005.

“It’s nice to win the award again. This time, it is more special because my coach is also one of the winners,” said Chong Wei in a telephone interview from Hyderabad.

“This will spur me to achieve more good results for Malaysia in badminton. My main goal this year is the world championships (in India from Aug 11-16).”

Malaysia have not won a title in the world championships series.

For Misbun, it was also the second time that he won a national award. He won a special award for Mohd Hafiz Hashim’s success in winning the All-England title in 2003.

“It feels good to be appreciated but this award is a collective effort of many parties. I want to thank the association, the NSC (National Sports Council), the NSI (National Sports Institute), and, especially, the athlete. This award represents all their hard work,” said Misbun, who received RM5,000 and a trophy.

“I am sincere in what I am doing. I will continue to do what I love and try to deliver what the association and the country want — a constant world beater in badminton.”

It was double joy too for squash at the award ceremony.

World No. 1 Nicol David took home her sixth sportswoman award for her amazing unbeaten run last year. She captured 10 titles, including claiming the World Open crown for the third time in four years.

The other nominees for the women’s award were Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty (badminton doubles), Fatehah Mustapa (cycling), Wendy Chai (bowling), Siti Zalina Ahmad (lawn bowls), Siow Yi Ting (swimming) and Chai Fong Yin (wushu).

Nicol and team-mates Sharon Wee, Delia Arnold and Low Wee Wern were named the best female team for winning the Asian Championships team title last year.

In the men’s team category, archers Cheng Chu Sian, Mohd Marbawi Sulaiman and Wan Mohd Khalmizam Wan Abdul Aziz were the winners. The trio qualified for the Beijing Olympics and shown marked improvement in the sport.

The late Datuk Ho Ko Chye was also honoured with the best leadership award for his contribution to sports over three decades.

Two dedicated sports officials Nellan Vellasamy and Petrina Low received special awards for their efforts in promoting golf and gymnastics respectively - The Star

Mar 23, 2009


Jessica Cox inspires audiences around the world with her spunk and indomitable spirit.

JESSICA Cox is a superwoman of sorts. She may not be saving victims from burning buildings, but she is a heroine in the hearts of many.

Born without arms, Cox used to watch with envy as other kids swung about on the monkey bars in elementary school while she was limited to the swings.

Frustrated, she would envision herself flying over the playground like Superwoman while everyone watched in disbelief. “I would imagine taking people up one at a time to experience my super powers. Years later, I realised that my imagination had become a reality,” said Cox at a media interview.

Cox, 26, is the first woman pilot in aviation history to fly without arms. She was invited to Kuala Lumpur recently to speak at the Women of Independence Conference organised by Intelligence Business Networks.

The two-day conference, to commemorate International Women’s Day, gathered successful women from all over the world, who are leaders in their respective fields.

Wearing dark-rimmed glasses and a grey vest over white blouse, Cox was a petite picture of confidence as she took to the stage.

The motivational speaker articulately delivered her speech entitled Architecturing Your Destiny – Disarming Fears, sharing about her life growing up and how she overcame various obstacles.

Cox said one of the challenges she faced when she first learnt flying was how to tie the seatbelt in the aircraft.

To demonstrate, she climbed onto a chair that was on stage and slipped down into an attached, pre-buckled seatbelt, immediately drawing warm applause from an awe-inspired audience.

“This is just to show that there’s always more than one way to accomplish a task.

“I may not have arms but that does not determine who I am or who I can become,” she said.

Her favourite quote is one by spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; it is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Disabling norms

Cox, the middle of three siblings, was born to an American father and a Filipino mother in Tuscon, Arizona.

Doctors could not explain her rare congenital condition as sonogrames and other prenatal tests did not reveal any defect.

However, the spunky lady’s indomitable spirit overrides what she may lack physically.

Standing at a mere 5’ 1” tall (155cm), Cox holds a sport pilot licence, has a double black belt in taekwando and is an active swimmer. (She is the first person without arms to get a black belt in the American Taekwando Association.)

When she first learnt to drive a car, she was encouraged to use special modifications. However, after she had her car modified, she decided to remove the modifications and now holds an unrestricted driver’s licence.

The University of Arizon psychology graduate still draws stares when she pumps petrol at the gas station. She can type 25 words a minute, blow dry her hair, and put on her makeup and contact lenses with as much ease as anyone else.

On Mother’s Day in May last year, Cox flew solo over San Manuel, Arizona, wearing a T-shirt that aptly read: “Look Ma, No Hands!”

She earned a US Federal Aviation Administration sport pilot licence last October. (This type of licence does not require a medical examination, only a valid US driver’s licence, an oral and written exam, and a certificate to fly solo.)

Due to airplane logistics, it took Cox three years, instead of the average six months, before she got her licence. It also required four Ercoupe planes (a type of light aircraft originally built without rudder pedals), three certified flight instructors and 89 hours of flight training in three different states.

“When I fly, I have the greatest feeling of freedom, independence and power,” said Cox, who controls the throttle with her left foot and the yoke with her right.

So far, she has clocked in about 130 hours of solo flights, impressive since flying in commercial planes was her greatest fear since childhood. Needless to say, piloting an aircraft was never on her to-do list.

However, that changed when a member of Wright Flight, a Tucson-based non-profit group, approached her after a Rotary Club talk she gave in 2005. The group uses aviation as motivation.

A fighter pilot named Robin Stoddard who represented the group asked if she would like to fly an airplane.

Being the achiever and optimist that she is, Cox decided to give it a try and was instantly hooked.

“Sometimes fear is rooted in a lack of knowledge and the unknown. When I first started flying, I realised my fear was because I did not know much about it.

“A universal fear people have is a fear of inadequacy and lack of faith in ourselves,” said Cox, who also appeared on the Ellen Degeneres Show in December last year.

Growing pains

Confident, poised and ambitious, Cox has come a long way to become who she is today.

Besides being a motivational speaker (details at, she has also been mentoring children with the International Child Amputee Network for the past five years.

However, getting to this stage in her life was not an overnight process, nor a walk in the park.

When she was young, she often got angry, kicking and screaming in her tantrums.

“As a child, there was no way to understand why I did not have arms like everyone else. It was difficult being different,” said Cox, her voice softening.

Nevertheless, she still took part in various activities such as gymnastics and tap dancing, often performing on stage.

She wore prosthetic arms from the ages of three to 14, but hated them and was more comfortable using her feet.

“In fact, I often wished the prosthetic arms would break so I wouldn’t have to use them!” said Cox with a chuckle.

On her first day of eighth grade, she finally decided to take off her prosthetics before boarding the school bus. “As the bus door closed behind me, I felt freer and independent. Since that day, I never wore the prosthetics again.”

For Cox, the greater challenge of being born without arms is the constant stares rather than the physical adversity.

“I used to get very irritated when people stared, especially when I’m walking down the street or eating with my feet. But I’ve learnt to turn that into something positive and use that opportunity to channel positive vibes and be an example of optimism.

“Accepting myself is an ongoing journey. It’s difficult to keep your spirits up all the time but I rely on my faith to carry me through the rough times.

“It’s only human to have low moments in life because if you don’t, then you won’t feel the high, exciting times.”

Cox credits her parents for being her role models and pillar of support. Her mother is a nurse and her father, a retired music teacher.

“My mum left the Philippines and came to the States without knowing anyone here when she was 22. She is my role model and always tells me I can do anything I’ve set my mind to.

“My dad never once shed a tear when I was born because he did not see me as a victim. It is hard being a parent to a disabled child. He was my rock during the difficult times and that has shaped me into the person I am today,” she said.

At the moment, there are two things that Cox is still trying to achieve – how to tie her hair into a ponytail and do rock climbing, although she can water ski and snow ski.

She also hopes to get certified as a pilot instructor and teach people with disabilities.

“Once you have a taste of something so great, you want to share it with everyone.”

At present, Cox is not seeing anyone but she has no intention of jumping into just any relationship.

“One good thing about not having arms is I can filter out a guy who is superficial and someone who is genuine. If a guy can really see me for who I am despite how I might look, then he is really worth pursuing,” she said.

Eventually, Cox hopes to get married and have kids. “I know it will be difficult to have a family but I know I am going to be a good mum. I don’t think I will be limited in being that and things like carrying the baby will come naturally.”

Her mother, who was also at the conference, said the word “disability” is alien to her daughter, just as alien as having upper limbs would be.

"It was great honour to have met this women during the conference, what an inspiration"- Christopher Raj

Mar 20, 2009


National doubles chief coach Rexy Mainaky wants more action and not mere talk from Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif after the duo’s disappointing outing in Europe.
Rexy had rated them highly after the duo vowed to do well in Europe. But the world No. 4 went down tamely to Hwang Ji-man-Han Sang-hoon of South Korea in the quarter-finals of the All-England and suffered a shocking first round defeat to Shintaro Ikeda-Shuichi Sakamoto of Japan in the Swiss Open last week.
With the back-to-back defeats and the decision to skip the India Open (March 24-29) and the Asian Badminton Championships in South Korea (April 7-12), the duo are certain to lose ground as the country’s top ranked pair in the world standings.
Rexy is optimistic that the duo will keep to their promise of giving better commitment in training to become worthy candidates for honour at the World Championships in India in August.
“I remember that these players vowed to give their commitment in training after missing out on the Malaysian Open (in January this year) due to Zakry’s injury,” said Rexy.
“Being committed means that they have to be disciplined in all areas of training. So, I hope this time, they will honour their words when they say they are committed.”
Rexy said that Zakry and Fairuzizuan, who had been without a title since winning back-to-back Super Series titles in Indonesia and Singapore in June last year, were highly skilled players.
“They will usually complement it with fast movement to deceive their opponents. This was their strong point in the past. In Europe though, their movements were slow and it made them easy target for their opponents,” he said.
“I hope Zakry and Fairuzizuan will not be demoralised. They have to look into every defeat and find ways to become better players.”
Besides Zakry-Fairuzizuan, Rexy would also find ways to help reigning Swiss Open champions Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong to be more consistent in their performances.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong went down tamely to Mathias Boe-Carsten Mor­gen­sen in the quarter-finals of the All-England but played superbly to exact revenge over the same Danes to win at the title at the Swiss Open.

Mar 15, 2009


Asian Football Confederation president Mohammed Bin Hammam's position on the FIFA executive committee could be in jeopardy after 19 AFC countries backed rival Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.Bin Hammam's tenure on the committee comes to an end in two months' time, with Al Khalifa looking to replace the Qatari as one of the region's four representatives.

More worryingly for Bin Hammam, the action will also be construed as a referendum on his six-and-a-half-year presidency of the AFC, with the rebel countries unhappy at the 59-year-old's proposal of a 12-year marketing deal with World Sport Group as well as moving the AFC headquarters from their current home in Malaysia.

The decision to back Al Khalifa was taken following a series of meetings at the Olympic Council of Asia Sports Congress in Kuwait.

"We are happy to have the opportunity to meet in Kuwait here and come up with the decision," said East Asian Football Federation secretary general Takeo Okada.

"We want to make the change because of the mismanagement at the AFC and hope our move can increase the prosperity and solidarity of the AFC."

Al Khalifa launched a scathing attack on Bin Hammam's AFC presidency.

"At the end of the day, people will judge you on what you did in the past, especially six years in office as president," he said.

"He has had his time but if you don't deliver then I think your time is up. So far, we have heard nothing new from his office in the past six years."

The Bahraini added: "We have discussed a lot of things in a friendly atmosphere.

"The attendants confirmed their support for me in the next elections. They showed their clear intention to support me, while other countries confirmed their support but they didn't attend the meeting.

"The officials in the meeting took the green light from their national associations. These officials showed their objections to the current decisions of the AFC, including the marketing plan until 2020 and the decision of moving the headquarters from Malaysia."

Al Khalifa also promised to improve relations across the region if elected as well as pressing FIFA for more help to develop the game in the region.

"During Bin Hammam's reign, we saw a lot of conflicts between the Asian countries and this affected the development of Asian football," he continued.

"Therefore, I will try my best to clear all the borders between the Asian countries and support the national associations.

"The AFC is not getting a lot of support from FIFA like the other Confederations. As the AFC is not getting enough support, the national associations will not eventually get the necessary support for their continuity."

Chong Wei Tames Super Dan

World No. 1 Datuk Lee Chong Wei avenged his All England defeat to archrival and World No. 2 Lin Dan of China last week by turning the tables on the Chinese player to win the Swiss Open Super Series final at the St Jakobshalle indoor arena in Basel, Switzerland, Sunday.

Chong Wei who lost to Lin Dan 19-21, 12-21 in the All England final put up a sizzling show today to triumph 21-16, 21-16 in straight sets and inflict "Super Dan's" first defeat since the Beijing Olympics in August last year.

Lin Dan who had looked invincible after having demolished Chong Wei in the Beijing Olympics final, had skipped three major tournaments since, purportedly undergoing army style training to prepare for the All England assault.

Incidentally, he did lead a Chinese clean sweep of all the five titles at the All England last week.

Meanwhile, the Swiss Open victory was the second for Chong Wei who had won his first title in 2006.

Mar 6, 2009


THE state of Malaysian football got a kick in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday as the Youth and Sports Ministry wound up points raised during the debate on the Royal Address.
The target of MPs ire was the Football Association of Malaysia which they said failed to check the declining standard of the sport. However, Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Wee Jeck Seng defended FAM, saying that it was planning a programme to revive the fortune of football.Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) chided the FAM for its failure and lamented that the national team could not even beat a country like Vietnam which not too long ago was grappling with poverty."We have been beaten by a country which could not even feed its citizens," he said.
When Wee said the government could not interfere in the affairs of the football governing body, Bung Mokhtar countered that the FAM had been giving excuses for its failure for decades."No sponsors are giving money because of the poor standard of Malaysian football. "Even AirAsia is willing to go abroad to sponsor Manchester United because they have good players and are a good brand to be associated with."Wee said FAM was serious about improving football and had even got the private sector to field teams.These included teams like Team KM Naza, UPB MyTeam, KL PLus, Johor FC and Felda United.Dr Tan Seng Giaw (DAP-Kepong) called for the FAM board to be given the boot. Several MPs criticised the leadership qualities of those running youth associations. Azan Ismail (PKR-Indera Mahkota) said the standards of youth associations had gone down as they were being led by elderly people."The older leaders should step down and let the youths take over because they know their interests."Some people want to become association leaders for their own reasons and this will not help to attract new members."Datuk Ismail Abd Muttalib (BN-Maran) said senior leaders were preferred as they had the financial capacity to fund association programmes.However, he agreed that they should resign their posts if they could not perform.Wee said the ministry would draw up programmes to attract more youths to these associations, based on feedback from MPs and other quarters.

Mar 4, 2009

'We controlled the game and created more'

On the overall performance..."The game was decided in the first half where all the important facts happened. After our early goal, coming back to 1-1 gave them hope and belief. But we found goals number two and three just before half time and you could see our third goal was a big blow to them. In the second half we controlled the game and created more chances that we didn’t take but I thought goals four and five were there to be taken."
On ending the goal drought..."It is a strange situation because we have created the same amount of chances as we did tonight in many games but didn’t win. We are on a long unbeaten run since the beginning of November and I still believe that if we had taken our chances in a few of the draws we could still be in the title race. Now, we want to focus on reducing the gap with Aston Villa and maybe other teams."
On the performance of his frontline..."The two strikers did very well. Nicklas Bendtner looks like he is improving from month to month. Andrey Arshavin is improving from game to game as well - in his class and composure although he has been a bit unlucky in his finishing and maybe he thought he had scored before the ball had gone in. Overall you can see the class is there."
On Bendtner answering his critics..."It is difficult when you’re a fan of Arsenal you are always comparing the players with people from five, six or 10 years ago. But you have to accept that a guy who is 19 or 20 years old will get better every three months. He has shown tonight he has the talent to be an Arsenal player and he’s on the right path to mature. I liked his presence, his determined attitude and I thought the way he took people on showed he has improved a lot."
On the superb reception from the Arsenal fans at the Hawthorns..."That’s very nice but less important because I cannot dribble on the pitch. The away fans have always been great to me."I don’t have a problem with the fans being disappointed, that is normal and I never complain about that. It is down to us to make people happy not down to the people outside the pitch to make us happy. We need to get our priorities right and when you don’t manage that I understand when people aren’t happy."

Mar 3, 2009

Chong Wei Must Prove Stature At All-England

For any professional badminton shuttler, winning the prestigious All-England Open title would be the pinnacle of his career.In the world of badminton, there is a saying that "you can win as many international titles as you can but without the All-England, all other titles are nothing."With that in mind, in the quest of becoming the 'best of the best', a national player making waves in the international scene, like Malaysia number one singles player Datuk Lee Chong Wei, knows that winning the All-England would be the peak of his career.Throughout his eight years playing badminton, Chong Wei has won numerous international titles with handsome monetary gains, with the highest title being a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics last year.But, the national shuttler has never won the All-England.Unlike his nearest rival, Lin Dan of China, who is currently ranked world no 2, and has won three All-England titles (2004, 2006 & 2007), two Badminton World Federation championships titles (2006 & 2007), and a Beijing Olympics gold medal (2008).Age is catching up, as Chong Wei celebrates his 27th birthday in October. Hence, the newly-appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador must take advantage of his current performance and rank to wrest the coveted All-England title.Should the Penangite win the much sought-after title, this colourful feat would put Chong Wei on par with two national badminton figures who had won the All-England title before.Muhammad Hafiz Hashim won the title in 2003, while the best feat was displayed by the legendary Eddy Choong Ewe Beng -- four-time men's singles champion -- in 1953, 1954, 1956 & 1957 and three-time men's doubles champion after pairing up with his brother, David Ewe Choong -- 1951, 1952 & 1953.In the 99th edition of the All-England Super Series Open to be held in Birmingham from March 3-8, Chong Wei has been drawn in the top-half and faces unknown Chinese player Lu Yi in the opening round and either Thailand's Boonsak Ponsana or Marc Zwiebler from Germany in the second round.Barring any upset, the 26-year-old is expected to meet world no 5 Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro in the quarter-finals and his nemesis, China's Chen Jin, the defending champion, in the semi-finals.Chen Jin, the world no 3, beat Chong Wei 18-21, 18-21 in straight sets in the quarter-finals last year and went on to beat Lin Dan 22-20, 25-23 in the final to clinch the title.Meanwhile, world no 2 and second seed Lin Dan, drawn in the bottom half, has not played any competitive tournament since the Olympics in August.The Chinese shuttler has apparently been undergoing 'army style' training since the Olympics and did not compete in the Masters Super Series Grand Finals in Kota Kinabalu (December), Malaysian Open in January and the Korean Open, also in January.Apart from Chong Wei, Wong Choong Hann, Sairul Amar Ayob and Lee Tsuen Seng have been listed for the men's singles while Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong (2007 All-England men's doubles winners), Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif/Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari and Gan Teik Chai/Tan Bin Shen are down to compete in the men's doubles.Julia Wong Pei Xian is the only women's singles player listed, as Wong Mew Choo is injured while Chin Wei Hui/Wong Pei Tty shoulder the women's doubles challenge.Two back-up squad pairs, Haw Chiou Hwee/Lim Pek Siah and Goh Liu Ying/Ng Hui Lin play in the women's doubles qualifying rounds.Missing from the list was former champion Hafiz whose form has never been the same since that magnificent feat in 2003. Bernama

Wenger - We have the foundation for success

By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger believes that Arsenal's rock-solid defence can be their foundation for success.
The Frenchman has watched his team rack up six consecutive clean sheets and concede just three times since Boxing Day. Arsenal's lack of goals at the other end continues to frustrate Wenger but, having watched Manchester United reel off a string of 'professional' one-goal victories this season, the manager knows his team can emulate the champions.
"Defensive strength is the foundation for success and we want to keep the focus on that strength," Wenger told Arsenal TV Online.
"We are in the final sprint of the season and you can see that it’s vital and very, very important. You can only make results everywhere if you feel strong defensively. "It’s a fine line [between winning games 1-0 and drawing]. I have watched Man United get an opening here and there and they are a great side. But I don’t feel they dominate the games like we do."
One attribute Man United do have at the moment is instinct. They are taking their chances when they come while Arsenal have faltered in front of goal. According to Wenger, there was more evidence of that elusive quality when Sir Alex Ferguson's side beat Tottenham on penalties in the Carling Cup Final on Sunday.
"They don’t think about it. The trophies flow in for them at the moment so it’s all natural for them," said Wenger.
"Even yesterday they were so convinced they would win it in the end because they have no doubt. They put themselves in that position, we were in that position as well, we just need to continue to focus.
"But I believe that the spirit of my team is great. The focus they have in training is great and they will be rewarded – I have never seen a team not being rewarded for that kind of spirit and quality."

Don’t blame sports, blame the pimps

HAVING grown up in the journalistic world with The Times (of London) long before online newspapers and blogs came on the scene, it was my first read of the morning as a student in England, thanks to a book by its sacked editor, Harold Evans, entitled Good Times, Bad Times, after Rupert Murdoch had taken over the paper. There was an added incentive too – on Mondays, the price wars prompted a 10p (40 sen at that time) cover price when I was there more than 10 years ago. After all these years, its online version and that of The Independent are book-marked on the office computer.
Last week, two columns in The Times’ sports pages caught my attention as they directly reflected the state of sports in Malaysia and the role of administrators and sports agents. Allen Stanford, who last year was described by the British media as the "Texan billionaire" when he presented himself as the messiah of cricket, arrived at the hallowed turf of Lords, the home of the game, in a helicopter carrying a chestful of American dollars. Officials went ballistic doting on him and treating him as if the doyen of amateur sports, W. G. Grace, had risen from the grave. Last week, the bitter truth emerged. Stanford, who was the financier of the US$20 million (RM74 million) winner take-all match between England and the West Indies, was nothing but a fraudster under investigation by the financial authorities and the FBI in the United States.
The Times’ award-winning writer Simon Barnes had this to say: When a billionaire comes a-calling, sport doesn’t waste its precious time by saying, "I’m not that kind of girl." No, one whiff of the inside of a fat wallet and sport is flat on its back with its legs in the air, shouting: "Come and get it." There is a moral confusion at the heart of sport and people such as Stanford can smell it out with the extraordinary and in some ways deeply enviable instincts that make them so good at money.
Barnes then went to draw some important values. Sport, he argues has become a whore. He does not blame the clients, the billionaires and the multinationals. He blames the sports administrators who do the selling. He unequivocally terms them as "pimps". But he does make an important exception: "It’s not that sporting administrators are corrupt, in that they take this money for themselves. Rather, they are corrupt in believing too strongly in the importance of money. If sport is compromised in the pursuit of money, then so what? What is sport for, after all? So sport, with distressing eagerness, has compromised itself in every corner of the Earth."
Another Times columnist, Giles Smith, had his say on BBC TV’s new reality series, Super Agents, where six bright kids battle to become not (sports) agents but super (sports) agents. He says: "Where yesterday’s children dreamt of running out for England at Wembley, today’s dream of creaming 15% off the top of Craig Bellamy’s transfer fee and securing a big boot deal for Bobby Zamora at Fulham. Well, fair enough. But what about starting at the bottom, as an agent, and working your way up to super agent? Not with today’s impatient kids. It’s super agent or nothing for the modern generation. Or maybe it is television that hasn’t got the patience. Either way, it’s the same thing."
What can be concluded is that amateur sport is dead, buried and entombed. It can and will never be resurrected because there’s so much money to prevent its second coming even if miracles do happen. Australian Rod Laver was the World No. 1 player for seven consecutive years (1964-1970). He is the only tennis player to have twice won all four Grand Slam singles titles in the same year – first as an amateur in 1962 and second as a professional in 1969. He retired in 1979 earning US$1.5 million in a 17-year pro career. Today, some tennis stars earn that much from wearing logos on their shirt sleeves and pockets in just ONE season. The footwear and apparel contracts are worth much more.
Long before Laver’s sojourn into the money-making circuit, sportsmen believed that if you made money out of sport, it was meaningless. But these days, if you don’t pay, they won’t turn up. Just ask how much it cost to bring Anthony Kim to our shores for the recently-completed Malaysian Open. Does anyone know how much Bernie Ecclestone picks up each time the two score or so cars appear on the grid at the Formula One in Sepang? Yes, money makes the world go round, but should the guardians of sports open their mouths in awe when the super agents like Stanford descend pretending to have that proverbial pot of gold? There’s no dearth of lackeys or "pimps" as Barnes describes them who are willing to use their political clout for the few crumbs that are thrown and described in the books as "cost of doing business". Besides, there are those in their boxer shorts and gloves ready with their "killer" punches like "We are doing it to promote tourism" or "It will improve the standard of sports". Unfortunately, these are not knockout blows. On the sidelines, there are hundreds of spectators who will cheer because they too have put a small stake hoping for big returns.
At least one of them took us for a RM17 million ride with an additional RM8 million (on the premise of a future ride) only to return home to settle his company’s debts. And yet, there’s another who has arrived to prey on a voluptuous whore in Malaysia, with help from
local "pimps". Yes, I agree with Barnes. Don’t blame the whore. Blame the local pimps. If they claim they’re not in it for the money, they should at least be honest and declare that they do expect some fringe benefits. But the sad part is that prostitution is not an offence, but soliciting is. The pimp, of course, can be charged for living off immoral earnings even if does not mean hard cash. The operative word is "money or money’s worth"! And using Barnes’s analogy, are we entitled to change the titles of these people from "senior consultant" to "chief pimp"? That’s food for thought …
Articles in The Times prompted R. Nadeswaran to do a count of the number of whores and pimps in local sports circles. He could count them on his fingers! He is editor (special and investigative reporting) at theSun. He can be reached at: citizen-nades@thesun

Felda replace Reduan

REDUAN Abdullah has been relieved of his coaching duties as Premier league side Felda United chief coach following his 12-month ban by the FA of Malaysia (FAM).
The club's assistant coach Ahmad Fairuz Yunus, a former Kuala Lumpur player, will be the caretaker coach and his first major task will be to prepare a team for the Premier League away match against Sabah on March 13.Reduan, whose contact with Felda expires on Sept 2010, will be given paid leave for a month pending his appeal against the suspension. The FAM disciplinary board meted out the punishment on Thursday in response to Reduan's assertion that the national body had failed to monitor the fitness tests at the state and club levels.Felda United president Datuk Dzulkifli Wahab said the club is relieving Reduan of his duties despite FAM not having officially them of his suspension.
"As Reduan acted in his own capacity, he will have to appeal on his own," said Dzulkifli after the inquiry regarding Reduan's case at Wisma Felda in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.Felda, who finished sixth last season in the Premier League, are currently eighth after four matches