The week in numbers: w/e 10/4/11

36 – Shots by Real Madrid as they beat Tottenham 4-0 in their Champions League quarter-final first leg. Cristiano Ronaldo alone had 14 shots. As an entire team, Spurs mustered just four.

Vettel has won the opening two races of the F1 season (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

17 Sebastian Vettel won the Malaysian Grand Prix, marking the 17th time a driver has won the opening two races of the Formula 1 season. On every previous occasion, that driver has also gone on to win the drivers’ championship.

5Jason Maguire, the jockey of Grand National winner Ballabriggs, was given a five-day ban after the race for excessive use of the whip.

2 – Number of horses which had to be killed after serious falls in the Grand National. Ornais fell at the fourth fence, while Dooney’s Gate fell at Becher’s Brook.

47 Lionel Messi scored his 46th and 47th goals of the season as Barcelona beat Almeria 3-1. He also scored 47 last season, tying for the Barcelona club record with Ronaldo (in 1996/97).

4Beth Tweddle was unsuccessful in her attempt to win a third consecutive gold in the floor exercise at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships, finishing fourth. However, she did win gold on the uneven bars.

3 – Cyclist Johan Van Summeren won the one-day classic Paris-Roubaix race. It was only his third career win, and his first in nearly four years.

The Masters in numbers

4 – Consecutive birdies by South African Charl Schwartzel to conclude his final round at the Masters, as he finished 14-under to win by two strokes.

50 – Schwartzel’s victory came on the 50th anniversary of Gary Player becoming the first non-American to win at Augusta.

McIlroy had a disastrous sequence between the 10th and 12th holes (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

6 – Shots dropped by Rory McIlroy between the 10th and 12th holes as his challenge disintegrated. He carded a triple bogey on ten, followed by a bogey and a double bogey, and finished with an eight-over-par round of 80.

5 Geoff Ogilvy, who finished tied for fourth on 10-under, had five consecutive birdies between the 12th and 16th holes.

7 Tiger Woods also finished tied-fourth, marking his seventh straight Masters appearance in which he has finished in the top six.

8 – Number of players who held or shared the lead during the final round.

0 – Number of golf’s four majors now held by an American golfer, the first time this has happened since 1994.

The Premier League in numbers

0 – Number of red cards awarded in the weekend’s nine Premier League games.

0 – Number of penalties awarded in the weekend’s nine Premier League games.

Van Persie has 12 goals in 10 PL starts in 2011 (image courtesy of

12Robin van Persie scored his 12th Premier League goal of the season – the first time he has reached this milestone – as Arsenal won 3-1 at Blackpool. All of his goals have come since New Year, in just ten starts.

449Sunderland broke a streak of 449 minutes without scoring when West Bromwich Albion‘s Nicky Shorey put through his own goal at the Stadium of Light. However, West Brom rallied to win 3-2.

7 Stoke‘s 3-2 defeat at Tottenham was their seventh consecutive league defeat away from home.

12Manchester United‘s 2-0 win over Fulham was their 12th straight home league win.

11Aston Villa‘s 1-0 win over Newcastle was their first clean sheet in 11 games.

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

Top 10 of 2010

So here we are at the end of another year of sporting triumph and disaster, of great joy and crashing disappointment. A football World Cup and an Ashes series. Doping controversies sweeping the sport of cycling. Corruption scandals swirling around FIFA‘s Executive Committee and the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids. A Commonwealth Games in Delhi which was as shambolic as it was uplifting, and mercilessly criticised by an at times gleeful Western press. A Winter Olympics in Vancouver which was initially overshadowed by a tragic death, but went on to provide some sparkling, spectacular and life-affirming action.

Over the course of 2010, I have written over 250 posts, focussing on many of these subjects and various other topics relating to the world of sport. As 2010 ticks over into 2011, here are my ten favourite pieces of the past year. I hope you like reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.


1. Something is rotten in the state of England

Following England‘s World Cup exit at the hands of Germany, an examination of England’s true place in the world order, and what needs to be done to improve it.

2. Wilshere stakes claim as Fabregas’ heir apparent

18-year old Jack Wilshere takes centre stage and stakes a claim as Cesc Fàbregas‘ heir apparent as Arsenal hammer Braga 6-0 in the Champions League.

3. Who was greedier: Hicks and Gillett, or Liverpool fans?

As Liverpool FC‘s sale to New England Sports Ventures goes through, a comparison of the relative greed of former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr versus the attitude of entitlement that some of the club’s fans have.

4. The measure of a fan

Why are fans increasingly so impatient with the teams and sportspeople they support, and whose fault is it?


Image courtesy of Graham Watson

5. The day sportsmanship died?

After Alberto Contador took advantage of Andy Schleck‘s mechanical misfortune to claim the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, I examine the arguments for and against whether the Spaniard has a case to answer.

6. Tour de France 2010 review: Ten talking points, ten random photos

A post-Tour review in words and pictures, focussing on ten key talking points arising from this year’s race.

7. Defining moments 7: Tom Simpson initiates cycling’s war on drugs

A trip back in time to look at the tragic death of Britain’s first world champion cyclist, and the lasting impact it has had on the fight against doping in sport.

Other sports

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

8. Tweddle’s hat-trick achievement throws Rooney’s millions into sharp relief

Celebrating Beth Tweddle‘s third World Championship gold medal, and considering her (lack of) earning power in the week in which Wayne Rooney doubled his salary at Manchester United.

9. Doping’s enduring legacy continues to hamper women’s athletics

To what extent are the reputation and earnings potential of today’s top female athletes being hampered by the continuing existence of world records from the 1980s, many of which may have been set by systematically doped athletes?

10. Is the Commonwealth Games worth the bother any more?

Reviewing the good, the bad, the ugly and the simply absent of the Delhi Commonwealth Games. Is it still a relevant event in the modern sporting calendar?


Have a Happy New Year and I look forward to watching and commenting upon another great year of sport in 2011.

The week in numbers: w/e 24/10/10

3Beth Tweddle won her third gold medal at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Rotterdam, triumphing in the uneven bars. She is the only British gymnast ever to claim gold at the Worlds.

LaShawn Merritt - 21-month ban (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

21 – Length of ban (in months) given to LaShawn Merritt, the world and Olympic 400 metres champion, after three positive tests for testosterone prohormones. Merritt co-operated with the US Anti-Doping Agency, who subsequently shortened his suspension by three months. Conveniently, Merritt will now be eligible to compete in the 2012 Olympics.

14 – Goals scored by Arsenal in their three Champions League group matches to date, the most ever at this stage. They had already beaten Braga 6-0 and Partizan Belgrade 3-1 before defeating Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1 on Tuesday.

6 – Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh became the first player to score in six consecutive Champions League matches (three for Bordeaux, three for Arsenal).

8 – Number of summit finishes (out of 21 stages) the peloton will have to tackle during the 2011 Giro d’Italia, the route for which was revealed on Saturday. Ouch.

Samuel Eto'o - six Champions League goals (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

6Inter Milan‘s Samuel Eto’o has scored with all six shots on target in the Champions League this season.

1,200,000 – In dollars, the size of the fine the Kazakh cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov has avoided after his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport was upheld. Vinokourov had signed a contract which stated he would forfeit a year’s salary if caught doping. He was thrown out of the 2007 Tour de France for blood doping and subsequently served a two-year ban.

16 – Goals scored by Real Madrid in their last three league games after their 6-1 win over Racing Santander. Cristiano Ronaldo scored four times in Saturday evening’s rout.

10PSV Eindhoven inflicted a record 10-0 defeat on former European and UEFA Cup winners Feyenoord. Brazilian Jonathan Reis scored a hat-trick.

70 – Former footballer Edison “Edson” Arantes do Nascimento celebrated his 70th birthday on Saturday. We know him better as Pelé.

Fernando Alonso now leads the F1 drivers' championship (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

5Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso claimed his fifth grand prix win of the season – it was his third in the last four races – at the inaugural event in South Korea yesterday.

25 – With two races remaining of the Formula 1 season, just 25 points separate new championship leader Alonso from fourth-placed Sebastian Vettel. There are 25 points available for a race win.

26 – Age of American male swimmer Fran Crippen, a World Championship bronze medallist, who died on Saturday after losing consciousness in a 10km race held in the United Arab Emirates. The water temperature was officially 30 degrees, although many of the swimmers reported it was hotter. Three other competitors were hospitalised as race organisers did nothing to heed warnings and concerns from several swimmers.

The Premier League week in numbers

1West Ham only managed one shot on target in their 2-1 defeat at home to Newcastle, the third time this has happened to them this season.

Johan Elmander - away specialist

5Johan Elmander‘s goal for Bolton in their 1-1 draw at Wigan was his fifth in the league this season. All five have come away from home.

8 – After defeating Wolves 2-0, Chelsea have now kept eight consecutive Premier League clean sheets at home.

12 – For Wolves, it was the 12th straight game in which they have failed to keep a clean sheet. They are the only Premier League team yet to register a clean sheet this season.

51Birmingham‘s 2-0 win over Blackpool snapped a sequence of 51 games in which they had failed to win by more than a single goal.

Richard Dunne - generous

8 – A Richard Dunne own goal was enough to give Sunderland victory over Aston Villa. Dunne has now scored eight own goals in the Premier League, more than any other player.

16 – Arsenal’s 3-0 at Manchester City was their first clean sheet in 16 games (in all competitions) away from the Emirates Stadium.

4 – Arsenal’s league opponents to date have had four players sent off, and conceded four penalties – more than any other team in both categories.

The NFL week in numbers

328 – Rushing yards accumulated by the Oakland Raiders in their 59-14 rout of the Denver Broncos. It was the third-best rushing day in franchise history, and the most since they set their record of 356 rushing yards against Seattle in 1987.

12 – Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has won his last 12 starts at home, and is 16-1 in his career at home as a starter (Atlanta 39 Cincinnati 32).

184Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward had his 184th consecutive game with a reception, passing Art Monk for the fourth-longest streak all-time (Pittsburgh 23 Miami 22).

1 – The Carolina Panthers‘ 23-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers means there is only one winless team remaining in the NFL – the Buffalo Bills, who lost in overtime, 37-34, to the Baltimore Ravens.

2Cleveland Browns linebacker David Bowens returned two interceptions for touchdowns, becoming only the third linebacker since 1950 to achieve this feat (Cleveland 30 New Orleans 17).

68 – Cleveland punter Reggie Hodges’ 68-yard run on a fake punt was the longest run by a punter since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger.

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, @castrolfootball and

Tweddle’s hat-trick achievement throws Rooney’s millions into sharp relief

Triple world champion Beth Tweddle (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Beth Tweddle secured both personal and team glory for Great Britain in Rotterdam by winning gold in the uneven bars, rounding off a day in which Louis Smith and Dan Purvis also won silver and bronze to ensure Great Britain’s best ever performance at a World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.

Despite being her favoured event, Tweddle was an underdog coming into the uneven bars final, having qualified behind reigning champion Ke Hexin and her Chinese teammate Huang Qiushuang. However, both Chinese girls fell during their routines, opening the door for her. Tweddle had fallen from the top bar during last year’s championships, and her nerves must surely have been jangling having seen her two biggest rivals fall immediately before her.

We should never have doubted her. Tweddle is a redoubtable competitor, consistently cool under pressure, and her difficult and varied routine was flawless, earning her a score of 15.733. Of the five other finalists who followed, only Russia’s Aliya Mustafina came close to matching the Briton’s score, registering 15.600. The USA’s Rebecca Bross was a distant third with a score of 15.066.

The 25-year old Tweddle is the only British gymnast to have won World Championship gold, and today’s victory marked her third such success, having triumphed on the same piece of apparatus in 2006 and on the floor last year.

It means everything to me to regain the bars title. I have worked so hard day in day out in the gym for this so I’m very proud. I wasn’t watching the previous routines but from the noise of the crowd I could tell the two Chinese girls ahead of me had fallen and so I tried to remain calm, but knew at that point that if I went clean I had a great chance of winning the title.

Earlier in the day, Dan Purvis had followed up his fifth place in the men’s all-around competition with a bronze medal on the floor, while Louis Smith took silver on the pommel horse, with a small error potentially costing him gold. Double Commonwealth gold medallist Imogen Cairns finished eighth in the final of the vault. Never before has the Great Britain team collected such a haul of medals at a single World Championships – and this was achieved without the injured Daniel Keatings, who won silver in the men’s all-around last year.

Gymnastics used to be a sport in which we were something of a laughing stock, where also-ran status was the best we could ever aspire to. In no small part due to the success of Tweddle, gymnastics is on the up and Britain can look forward to a ground-swell of support and medal expectations by the time the London 2012 Olympics comes around.

Nonetheless, it remains very much a minority sport in terms of the funding and commercial interest it generates. Last year, Tweddle received £25,000 in lottery funding, supplemented by a sponsorship deal with equipment manufacturer Gymnova worth about £10,000. That brings her total earnings to around £35,000 – similar to the average for a higher level NHS midwife, and less than a typical London tube driver. Or, to put it another way, in a week in which a certain England footballer somewhat cynically negotiated a new contract with Manchester United which, reportedly, has at least doubled his £90,000 per week basic salary, it would take Tweddle at least five years to earn what Wayne Rooney is now paid every week (and that is before you factor in his image rights and other commercial earnings).

Yes, I understand all the arguments that justify the incredible amounts top footballers are paid. I know the popularity and economics of football and gymnastics are on completely different scales – hell, they are on completely different planets – but is Rooney really worth 250 times what Tweddle is? One is a three-time world champion who has inspired a new generation to take up a sport they might otherwise have ignored in record numbers. The other has never made it past the quarter-finals of a major tournament.

As Tweddle told the Guardian last year:

If I was doing this for fame or money I would have retired a long time ago. As long as I keep doing what I love, training and competing in gymnastics, I don’t really mind. I’m very happy.

In so many ways, Beth Tweddle is a remarkable young woman. It is a tragedy that she has received so little financial recognition for her achievements.

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