Monday 11 December 2017

Weekend takeaways

Usain Bolt wasted little time in congratuling Justin Gatlin. Photo: Getty Images
Usain Bolt wasted little time in congratuling Justin Gatlin. Photo: Getty Images
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

No fairytale ending for Bolt

It will forever be remembered as one of the biggest anti-climaxes in sporting history, and the manner in which Usain Bolt lost his world title will stick in the craw for some time yet.

Bolt has built his glittering public persona on rarely getting involved in speaking about anything controversial, but even still the manner in which he wasted no time in congratulating a twice-convicted drug cheat was quite something.

Justin Gatlin's 100m final win was the worst possible result for athletics as the pantomime villain snatched glory from the coming sensation Christian Coleman and the star of the show, Bolt.

Gatlin has served his punishment but athletics has paid the price for not finding a way to ban a serial offender for life.

We may never know (scientifically at least) if at 35, Gatlin's previous drug use has helped to not only prolong his career but become a world champion 12 years after he first managed it in Helsinki, but one thing is for sure, regardless of what he or Bolt tell us, in many people's eyes, he will never be trusted again.

There's no show like a Joe show

At a time when paranoia and secrecy dominate the agenda, there was something refreshing about reading an extensive exclusive interview with one of the country's top hurlers and a day later watch him put in a display for the ages.

Vincent Hogan's piece with Joe Canning in these pages on Saturday presented a different side to the player we are used to watching, and his man-of-the-match heroics hopefully proved to others, across all sports, that talking honestly with the media before a huge game doesn't have to throw you off-kilter.

Canning was immense and when Galway needed him most, he stepped forward and seized the moment. His 11-point haul included some absolute gems. His stunning winning score will live long in the memory, and it is worth remembering that he also scored the Tribesmen's last five points.

There are few better players to watch in full flow but as Canning's post-match interview suggested, the personal adulation counts for little at this stage of his career. His eyes are firmly on that elusive first All-Ireland medal.

Open woe will stand to Maguire

Leona Maguire. Photo: PA
Leona Maguire. Photo: PA

Starting the final day with a three-shot advantage over her nearest challenger, Leona Maguire was on course to be the leading amateur at the British Open for the second successive year but as plenty of big names have learned on their way to the top, it's rarely an easy route when the stakes are so high.

Maguire is a superstar in the making and tough experiences like yesterday will surely stand in her favour.

Having reached the turn at one over par for the day, Maguire still held a one-shot advantage over Sophie Lamb but a disastrous double-bogey at the 17th scuppered her chances of glory.

The 22-year resisted the temptation to turn pro and join the LPGA Tour last November as she continues to forge her reputation in the amateur ranks.

Opting to remain in college for the next two years to complete her psychology degree was an extremely mature decision, one that she will be all the better for when she eventually does turn pro.

An impressive top 50 finish will come as little consolation but yesterday's difficult round will benefit her the next time the going gets tough out on course.

Robertson's Super moment

Scott Robertson has come a long way since he lined out for Ards' seconds and on Saturday, he came full circle when his Crusaders side were crowned Super Rugby champions for the eighth time.

The former All Black back-row spent the 1993/94 season with the Down club where he lined out for the second team because he missed the deadline to register in time for the All-Ireland League, but he has never forgotten what he learned on these shores.

The Crusaders were 25-17 winners over the Lions in South Africa, capping a stunning season in which they lost just one league game. Robertson became the first person to win the Super Rugby title both as a player and coach and his exuberant celebrations illustrated why he is so popular.

The 42-year old recently said that he hates to miss out on a party and if his on-field break dancing moves were anything to go by, he will be leading the celebrations all week in Christchurch.

Up in the Ards clubhouse, they will raise a glass to the man who once called their club 'home'.

Irish Independent

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