The week in numbers: w/e 2/10/11

Woods' ranking continues to plummet (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

51 – Tiger Woods‘ latest world ranking, the first time since 1996 he has been outside the world’s top 50. Woods has not won a tournament since the 2009 Australian Masters and had spent 778 consecutive weeks in the top 50 since October 1996, 623 of those at number one.

3Sir Chris Hoy won the team sprint on the final day of the National Track Championships in Manchester to add to his gold medals in the open sprint and keirin events.

3Andy Murray won his third title of 2011 at the Thailand Open, defeating Donald Young 6-2 6-0. The American had surprisingly beaten him at Indian Wells in March.

3 – Gold medals for British taekwondo players at the British Open in Manchester. 17-year old Jade Jones won in the women’s 57kg category, while Martin Stamper and Bianca Walkden won the men’s 68kg and women’s 67kg events respectively.

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The week in numbers: w/e 25/9/11

Makau erased Gebreselassie's time from the record books

2:03:38 – Kenya’s Patrick Makau set a new world record time of 2:03:38 at the Berlin Marathon, taking 21 seconds off the previous record held by Haile Gebreselassie.

1Sebastian Vettel requires just one point from the last five Formula 1 races of the season to clinch his back-to-back world titles after he dominated the Singapore Grand Prix to record his ninth win of the season.

0 – Number of times a car other than a Red Bull has been on pole position during the 14 races of this F1 season. Vettel has 11 poles, Mark Webber three.

2  Owen Hargreaves made only his second competitive start in three years, and scored as Manchester City knocked holders Birmingham out of the Carling Cup 2-1.

3 – Arsenal Ladies completed the domestic treble with a 4-1 League Cup final win over Birmingham. It was their 37th trophy in 24 years.

Cavendish sprinted to victory to take the rainbow jersey (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

2Mark Cavendish won the men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships to become only the second British rider ever to win the event. Tom Simpson was the other, in 1965 – he went on to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year that year.

3 – Three of the four senior (elite) races at the Road World Championships were won by riders from the HTC-Highroad team (Cavendish, Tony Martin, Judith Arndt). In addition, all three riders on the men’s road race podium rode for the team in 2010: Cavendish and Matt Goss remain with HTC, while bronze medalist André Greipel moved to Omega Pharma-Lotto this year. The team is disbanding at the end of the season.

7 – The West Indies lost seven wickets for just 21 runs as they collapsed to 125 all out in their first Twenty20 match against England at the Oval. England romped to victory by ten wickets.

4 – Run outs in England‘s innings in the second Twenty20 match as they slumped to 88 all out – their lowest ever score in this form of the game – and allowed the West Indies to level the series 1-1.

4 – The European ladies’ golf team defeated the USA 15-13 to regain the Solheim Cup after three consecutive defeats. It was only the fourth time Europe have won the competition, which the USA leads 8-4.

80 – Age of Donald’ Ginger’ McCain, trainer of three-time Grand National winner Red Rum, who died last week.

The Premier League in numbers

100Robin van Persie scored his 99th and 100th goals for Arsenal in the 3-0 win over Bolton.

Walcott links up particularly well with van Persie (image courtesy of arsenal.com)

7Theo Walcott provided the assist for van Persie’s second goal. All seven of Walcott’s assists in 2011 have been for goals scored by van Persie.

43West Bromwich Albion‘s 0-0 draw with Fulham snapped a streak of 43 games since their previous goalless draw in a Premier League game.

63Chelsea‘s 4-1 win over Swansea extended their unbeaten streak against newly promoted sides to 63 games, dating back to 2001. They have won 56 of those 63 games.

27Manchester United opened the scoring in their 1-1 draw at Stoke with a 27th-minute goal by Nani. This was the third time in a row against Stoke that they have opened the scoring in the same minute.

6 – In scoring Stoke’s equaliser, Peter Crouch became only the sixth player to score for six different clubs in the Premier League. (The other five are Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand, Marcus Bent, Nicky Barmby and Craig Bellamy.)

9Queens Park Rangers‘ last-minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw against Aston Villa came courtesy of Richard Dunne‘s ninth Premier League own goal. He has two more than any other player.

The Rugby World Cup in numbers

9South Africa‘s 87-0 win over Namibia marked the ninth-biggest winning margin in a World Cup game and the third-highest score to nil.

14Namibia have now lost all 14 of their Rugby World Cup matches. No other side has lost as many without winning a single game.

Ashton's was one of two England hat-tricks against Romania (image courtesy of rugbyworldcup.com)

5Mark Cueto and Chris Ashton both scored hat-tricks in England’s 67-3 win over Romania – the fifth time more than one player has scored a hat-trick in the same World Cup match.

14 – Australia scored 11 tries in their 67-5 win over the USA, the 14th time they have crossed for ten or more tries in a match.

25New Zealand‘s 37-17 victory against France extended their unbeaten run at Auckland’s Eden Park to 25 matches. The last team to beat them there was France, in 1994.

2Argentina‘s 13-12 victory over Scotland was only the second game at this World Cup with fewer than ten points in the first half. The other was Argentina vs England.

The NFL in numbers

11 – 11 of Sunday’s 15 games were decided by seven points or fewer.

3 – Baltimore rookie Torrey Smith took his first three career receptions for touchdowns of 74, 41 and 18 yards, all in the first quarter of the Ravens’ 37-7 rout of the St Louis Rams. He finished with five catches for 152 yards.

18 – The Buffalo Bills became the first team in NFL history to win consecutive games in which they trailed by at least 18 points in each game, as they overcame a 21-0 deficit to beat the New England Patriots 34-31 on a field goal as time expired.

15Buffalo‘s victory ended a 15-game losing streak to the Patriots, dating back to 2003.

Brees has now thrown a TD pass in each of his last 30 games (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

4 – New Orelans’ Drew Brees became only the fourth player in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass in 30 consecutive games, joining Johnny Unitas (47), Brett Favre (36) and Dan Marino (30). The Saints outlasted the Houston Texans 40-33 in an offensive shootout.

20 – The Detroit Lions were outscored 20-0 in the first half by the Minnesota Vikings, but rallied to win 26-23 when Jason Hanson hit a 32-yard field goal in overtime.

1 – Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson became the first player ever to have at least two TD catches in each of his team’s first three games of the season. He had seven receptions for 108 yards, scoring from 32 and five yards.

553 – The Ravens accumulated 553 yards on offense, 406 of which came in the first half. Both marks were new franchise records.

3 – In a wild finish, the lead changed hands three times in the last 5½ minutes of the game as Pittsburgh beat Indianapolis 23-20.

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times, StatManJon, Infostrada, nfl.com and rugbyworldcup.com.)

SPotY-watch

In exactly three months’ time (Thursday 22nd December) the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPotY) Awards will take place at the BBC’s new MediaCityUK complex in Salford, Manchester. As ever, this will be a celebration of British sporting achievement in 2011, which includes England crushing Australia in the Ashes and rising to the number one Test ranking, a 19th top-flight title for Manchester United, victories in two of golf’s four majors, the green jersey at the Tour de France and two golds at the World Athletics Championships.

The competition for the main SPotY award looks set to be a close-run affair, with several candidates vying for supremacy in the public vote. The final shortlist of ten will not be published for several weeks, but here is a quick overview of the top ten contenders based on the current odds offered by bookmakers’ William Hill.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Darren Clarke (10/11)

Won The Open Championship by three shots at his 20th attempt, giving him his first victory in one of golf’s four majors. The genial Irishman, who remains a firm public favourite, dedicated his victory to his two children and late wife Heather, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2006. That year he was runner-up in SPotY, having said that he did not want to win because of a sympathy vote.

SPotY prospects: The runaway favourite. Possesses the winning combination of a great sporting achievement and a human interest back-story.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Rory McIlroy (4/1)

After a spectacular implosion on the back nine in the final round of the Masters which saw him card a final round 80 – the worst ever of any player leading the tournament after three rounds – the 22-year old Irishman bounced back at the US Open. He led every round and finished with a 16-under par total of 268 (both tournament records) to win his first major by an astonishing eight shots. He is currently ranked three in the world.

SPotY prospects: Slim. If Clarke dominates the golfing vote as expected, McIlroy may well slip outside the top three.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Mo Farah (4/1)

Having launched himself into the elite echelon of distance runners with gold in both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the 2010 European Championships, the Somalia-born Farah continued his upward trajectory in 2011. He won the 3,000 metres at the European Indoor Championships in March, and then followed that up with gold and silver at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. After narrowly losing out to Ethiopian Ibrahim Jeilan in his favoured event, the 10,000, he bounced back to outsprint 2007 world champion Bernard Lagat in the 5,000 to win his first global championship gold.

SPotY prospects: Top three.

Image courtesy of Graham Watson

Mark Cavendish (12/1)

For the fourth year in a row Cavendish, the Manxman regarded as the world’s best sprinter, was dominant at the Tour de France. He won five stages – including the prestigious finale on the Champs-Élysées for an unprecedented third year running – and claimed his first green jersey as the leader of the points competition. He also won two stages at the Giro d’Italia in May, and starts as the favourite for Sunday’s road race at cycling’s Road World Championships. Winning the rainbow jersey might just elevate him into the top three.

SPotY prospects: The cycling world is relatively small but will mass in support of Cav after years of being overlooked in the public vote. It may just be enough to put him into the top three – I will be voting for him – but I suspect he will fall just short.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Tom Daley (20/1)

2011 has been a relatively unexceptional year for the young diver (who is still just 17 years old) in terms of performances, failing to top an individual event – he finished second in both the 3m springboard and 10m platform at the British National Championships – and notching just two wins in the synchronised event with partner Pete Waterfield. However, his year has been overshadowed by the death of his father Robert in May after a long struggle with cancer.

SPotY prospects: No chance.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Alastair Cook (25/1)

Cook was the outstanding batsman in the 2010/11 Ashes series, scoring 766 runs – the second-highest total ever by an Englishman in an Ashes series – at an average of nearly 128. This summer against India, his 294 in the third Test was the highest individual score of the series. (In eight innings, India as a team only surpassed this total once.) For 2011, Cook finished with 927 runs at an average of 84, and recently won the ICC’s Test Player of the Year Award.

England teammate Jonathan Trott had an equally impressive year and was named the ICC’s Cricketer of the Year. The 4-0 series whitewash of India catapulted England to the top of the Test rankings, making them a virtual shoo-in for Team of the Year – even if the rugby team wins the World Cup. This is reflected in the official ICC rankings: England current has four of the top nine batsmen (Cook, Trott, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen) and three of the top five bowlers (Jimmy Anderson, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad).

SPotY prospects: Possible top three, and an almost certain winner as part of the Team of the Year.

Image courtesy of fantasypremierleague.com

Wayne Rooney (33/1)

Having started the 2010/11 season slowly, England’s primary striker finished strongly to help Manchester United to a record-setting 19th league title and the final of the Champions League. However, his form at the start of this season has been electrifying, with nine goals in five league games, including back-to-back hat-tricks.

SPotY prospects: Slim, unless he continues his blistering early season form and performs Beckham-style heroics in England’s final qualifier in Montenegro in a fortnight’s time.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Dai Greene (33/1)

The 25-year old Welshman added the World Championships 400 metres hurdles gold to his European and Commonwealth titles with a storming finish in Daegu. He is also the second fastest-ever British man in the event, behind Kriss Akabusi. His achievements are all the more notable for the fact that he suffers from Osgood–Schlatter disease (a condition which affects the knees) and was diagnosed as a teenager with epilepsy.

SPotY prospects: None, despite his inspirational back-story. Track-and-field voters will opt for Farah.

Image courtesy of rugbyworldcup.com

Chris Ashton & Jonny Wilkinson (both 66/1)

The two rugby players’ SPotY prospects rely solely on England’s performance at the current World Cup, even though both featured in the Six Nations triumph earlier in the year. Winger Ashton – he of the controversial ‘swallow dive’ celebration – has scored 12 tries in just eight internationals this year, including four against Italy during the Six Nations and two in Sunday’s World Cup group victory over Georgia.

Image courtesy of rugbyworldcup.com

Wilkinson is the record points-scorer in World Cups with 257, but had a less than impressive start to this tournament, converting just three of his eight kicks at goal in England’s stuttering 13-9 win over Argentina – a performance which included five consecutive misses. The fly-half did win SPotY in 2003 after that kick, but he remains the only winner of the award from rugby, and several years of injury and declining form since them will weigh heavily against him.

SPotY prospects: None, unless England win the Rugby World Cup – in which case it could be any one of half a dozen or more players – and even then, neither is likely to feature higher than third. 

Beyond the current bookies’ favourites, if I could usher one more sportsperson into the final SPotY shortlist of ten it would be Alistair Brownlee, who recently clinched his second senior world triathlon title in three years. Heptathlete Jessica Ennis misses out this year, by virtue of ‘only’ finishing second in her event at the World Championships.

In terms of the other major awards, I think we can probably safely pencil in the England Test cricket side as the Team of the Year, and Andy Flower must surely be the favourite to become Coach of the YearOverseas SPotY has gone to a tennis player in four of the past seven years and Novak Djokovic – world number one and winner of three Grand Slam singles titles in 2011 – is likely to make it five out of eight, with an honourable mention for Sebastian Vettel, who is on the verge of his second Formula 1 title.

The Lifetime Achievement Award has been won by a football player or manager six of the 12 times it has been awarded, but it could genuinely go to any of a number of sportspeople – however, my bet would be Michael Schumacher. Seve Ballesteros, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009, could potentially be posthumously given the Helen Rollason Award (for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity). There would certainly be few more popular winners. Tom Daley has won the Young SPotY award in three of the last four years. Open to anyone aged 16 or under on January 1st 2011, he is eligible for the last time this year, but I suspect it may be heading elsewhere this time around. Your guess is as good as mine on that one, though.

Incidentally, in case you’re wondering why the ceremony is taking place on such an unusual and late date this year (it is normally held on a Sunday in mid-December) it is reportedly because two of the favourites, Clarke and McIlroy, are scheduled to play in tournaments up to the 18th and would not otherwise be able to attend in person. So now you know.

The week in numbers: w/e 13/2/11

Clijsters has regained the number one ranking

1 – Despite losing the Paris Open final to Petra KvitovaKim Clijsters has regained the number one ranking in women’s tennis for the first time since March 2006, before her initial retirement from the sport.

4 – Chris Ashton becomes the first England player to score four tries in a Five/Six Nations match since 1914, as Italy were routed 59-13 at Twickenham.

16 – A 1-1 draw at Sporting Gijon ended Barcelona‘s run of 16 consecutive La Liga wins.

91 – Goalkeeper Iker Casillas was sent off after just 91 seconds at Espanyol last night, but Real Madrid still won 1-0. It was the earliest red card ever received by a Madrid player in La Liga history.

1 – Australia’s Mark Renshaw, more commonly employed as Mark Cavendish‘s lead-out man, won the first stage race of his career at the Tour of Qatar, beating Heinrich Haussler by eight seconds.

2Elisabeth Görgl added the downhill title to her super-G win at the World Alpine Championships. The 29-year old Austrian had never previously won a top-level downhill.

2 – Two horses died in the paddock at Newbury on Saturday. It is thought they may have been electrocuted by underground cabling. The meeting was abandoned.

The Premier League week in numbers

Rooney remains an Old Trafford lucky charm

41Wayne Rooney scored the winner as Manchester United beat Manchester City 2-1 at Old Trafford. United have won all 41 home league games in which Rooney has scored.

10Robin van Persie scored both goals in Arsenal‘s 2-0 win over Wolves, giving him ten goals already in 2011. He is the first Premier League player to reach that milestone in the first two months of a calendar year.

24West Bromwich Albion‘s run of games without a clean sheet extended to 24 as they threw away a 3-0 lead at home to West Ham, drawing 3-3.

5Blackpool‘s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa ended a run of five consecutive league defeats.

61Everton lost 2-0 at Bolton. They have now failed their last 61 away matches in which they have trailed at halftime, dating back to September 2000.

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times@InfostradaLive and @StatManJon.)

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