The week in numbers: w/e 11/3/12

Wiggins' win on the final stage clinched overall victory (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

2 – Bradley Wiggins became only the second British cyclist (after Tom Simpson in 1967) to claim victory in the Paris-Nice stage race, as he won the final stage individual time trial to beat Lieuwe Westra by eight seconds overall. It was also Wiggins’ second major stage race win after the Criterium du Dauphine last year.

4 – Scotland were condemned to their fourth loss in as many matches in this year’s Six Nations as they lost 32-14 to Ireland. Similarly, Italy joined them with an identical record as they lost 24-3 in Wales, who can clinch a Grand Slam if they can beat France in Cardiff on Saturday.

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The week in numbers: w/e 4/3/12

McIlroy displaced Luke Donald as world number one (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

22 – Age of Rory McIlroy, who yesterday became world number one at 22 years and 10 months after winning the Honda Classic at Palm Beach. Only Tiger Woods, who was joint-second, two shots behind, has climbed to the top of golf’s rankings at a younger age.

72Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray 7-5 6-4 in the final of the Dubai Championship to win his 72nd career title. Murray had beaten world number one Novak Djokovic to reach the final.

50Wladimir Klitschko recorded his 50th professional knockout as he successfully defended his WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight title belts with a fourth-round win over Frenchman Jean-Marc Mormeck.

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The week in numbers: w/e 18/9/11

Djokovic improved his record against Nadal in 2011 to 6-0 in winning the US Open

6Novak Djokovic‘s 6-2 6-4 6-6 6-1 victory over Rafael Nadal in Monday’s US Open men’s singles final improved his 2011 record against the Spaniard to 6-0 and made him only the sixth man to win three Grand Slam singles titles in the same year, joining Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors, Mats Wilander, Roger Federer (three times) and Nadal.

97.0%Djokovic‘s win percentage in 2011, currently the best single-year record ever. He has lost just twice in 66 matches this year.

26Federer (12), Nadal (10) and Djokovic (four) have now won 26 of the last 27 Slams between them, dating back to the 2005 French Open. The only man to break the sequence is Juan Martín del Potro, who won the US Open in 2009.

77Lancashire won their first County Championship in 77 years after beating Somerset by eight wickets.

3AC Milan became only the third team in Champions League history to score in the first and last minutes, as they drew 2-2 at Barcelona. Alexandro Pato‘s opening goal after 24 seconds was the fifth-fastest in the history of the competition.

17 – Borussia Dortmund’s late equaliser in a 1-1 draw extended Arsenal‘s run of Champions League away games without a clean sheet to 17 games.

Giggs has now scored in 16 separate Champions League campaigns

16Ryan Giggs‘ goal for Manchester United in the 1-1 draw at Benfica means he has now scored in a record 16 of the 17 Champions League campaigns he has played in, failing only in 2007-08.

2Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake recorded the fastest times of 2011 in the 100 and 200 metres respectively at the Diamond League meeting in Brussels. Bolt clocked 9.76s in the 100 metres, while Blake’s 19.26s in the 200 metres was also the second-fastest run ever, 0.07s behind Bolt’s world record.

1Jonathan Trott became the first ever English cricketer to win the ICC Cricketer of the Year award outright. (Andrew Flintoff shared the award with Jacques Kallis in 2005.) Alastair Cook also won Test Player of the Year.

8Barcelona‘s 8-0 win over Osasuna in La Liga on Saturday night marked the first time they had scored eight times in a game at the Camp Nou since October 2003. Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick.

3 – The HTC-Highroad pair of Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw recorded three one-two wins during the Tour of Britain‘s eight stages. Cavendish won the final sprint in London to claim his second stage. Dutchman Lars Boom won the overall race by 36 seconds.

58:56 – Kenya’s Martin Mathathi broke the men’s record for the Great North Run, winning in a time of 58:56 – nine seconds faster than the previous record and the sixth-best half-marathon time ever.

The Premier League in numbers

3 – All three promoted sides won on Saturday: Swansea beat West Bromwich Albion 3-0, while QPR and Norwich won 3-0 at Wolves and 2-1 at Bolton respectively.

Arteta has scored for both Everton and Arsenal at Ewood Park this season (image courtesy of arsenal.com)

2Mikel Arteta‘s goal in Arsenal’s 4-3 defeat at Blackburn marked the second time he has scored in the Premier League at Ewood Park this season. He had already scored the only goal when Everton won 1-0 in August.

3 – Shots on target by Blackburn, who scored four goals.

373 – Scott Sinclair’s 14th-minute opener for Swansea was their first Premier League goal, ending a run of 373 minutes without scoring.

5Bolton‘s 2-1 defeat at home to Norwich means they have lost five consecutive top-flight home matches for the first time ever.

5Norwich equalled Wimbledon’s feat (in the 1999-2000 season) of conceding a penalty in each of the first five games of a season.

14Liverpool‘s 4-0 defeat at Tottenham, in which they finished with just nine men, was the 14th consecutive away game in which they have gone on to lose after trailing at half-time.

4Stoke‘s 4-0 defeat at Sunderland means they have failed to score in their four Premier League visits to the Stadium of Light.

5Wayne Rooney became only the second player to score in each of first five matches of a season, scoring the last of Manchester United’s goals in the 3-1 win over Chelsea. Former Arsenal player José Antonio Reyes was the first to achieve the feat, in 2004/05.

6Martin Jol remains unbeaten as a manager against Manchester City as Fulham recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2. However, the draw did end his perfect record of six wins out of six against City prior to yesterday’s game.

1 – Four of the five teams who started the weekend winless – Blackburn, Swansea, Sunderland, Norwich – won their matches. Only Fulham remain waiting for their first victory.

The Rugby World Cup in numbers

11 – Penalties committed by England in an ill-disciplined first half of their 41-10 win over Georgia. They conceded just three after the interval.

Shaw became England's oldest ever World Cup player

38 – At 38 years and 17 days, Simon Shaw became the oldest player to play for England at a Rugby World Cup.

0 – Number of tries scored in Scotland‘s 15-6 win over Romania.

1Russia lost 13-6 to the USA in their debut World Cup match, as Mike Petri scored the only try in the first half. It was also only the third ever win in the competition for the USA.

83New Zealand‘s 83 points in their 83-7 win over Japan was the 14th highest score in Rugby World Cup history. In total, they have posted six of the top 14 individual scores.

3Australia‘s 15-6 defeat to Ireland was only the third time they had failed to score a try in their 36 World Cup matches.

6South Africa and Argentina both scored six tries from six different players as they beat Fiji 49-3 and Romania 43-8 respectively.

The NFL in numbers

11 – New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady became only the 11th man to pass for over 500 yards in a single game as he registered 517 yards and four touchdown passes in a 38-24 Monday night win over the Miami Dolphins. One of Brady’s four touchdown passes was a 99-yarder to Wes Welker, a former Dolphin.

358 – However Brady did throw one interception, ending his NFL record streak without an interception at 358 pass attempts.

Janikowski tied the NFL record with a towering 63-yard FG (image courtesy of raiders.com)

63 – The Oakland Raiders’ Sebastian Janikowski tied the NFL record by kicking a 63-yard field goal in their 23-20 win over the Denver Broncos. New Orleans’ Tom Dempsey (in 1970) and Denver’s Jason Elam (1998) also landed 63-yarders.

5 – The Buffalo Bills scored on all five second half possessions as they overcame a 21-3 half-time deficit to beat the Oakland Raiders 38-35. The lead changed hands five times in the last 14:10, the last on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to David Nelson with 14 seconds remaining.

45 – The Detroit Lions‘ margin of victory in their 48-3 win over the Kansas City Chiefs was the largest in the team’s history.

16Santonio Holmes‘ first quarter score in the New York Jets‘ 32-3 win over Jacksonville broke his team’s streak of 16 consecutive games without an offensive touchdown in the opening period.

11 – Rookie running back Ben Tate became only the 11th player in NFL history to rush for at least 100 yards in his first two games as the Houston Texans defeated the Miami Dolphins 23-13. Tate gained 107 yards on the ground.

7 – Both Carolina Panthers rookie Cam Newton and New England’s Tom Brady had their second consecutive 400-yard passing days, becoming only the sixth and seventh quarterbacks ever to achieve the feat. Carolina have lost both games (they lost 30-23 to the Green Bay Packers last night); New England have won both (they beat San Diego 35-21).

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

The week in numbers: w/e 7/8/11

Rudisha appears unbeatable over 800 metres (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

30 – World record holder David Rudisha ran a new UK all-comers record of 1:42,91 for the 800 metres in the Diamond League meeting at Crystal Palace. It was his 30th straight win at the distance.

24 – Number of seconds Britain’s Helen Clitheroe knocked off her previous best time in the 5,000 metres as she finished second to the USA’s Lauren Fleshman. Clitheroe clocked 15:06.75.

319England‘s margin of victory in the second Test against India as they took a 2-0 lead in the series. If they can avoid defeat in the remaining two matches, they will overtake India at the top of the Test rankings.

4 – The last four winners of football’s Community Shield have gone on to win the Premier League title (Manchester United, United, Chelsea, United). Manchester United defeated Manchester City 3-2 after Nani scored his second goal of the game in injury time to complete United’s comeback from a 2-0 halftime deficit.

21 – Points scored by Port Adelaide in their 138-point defeat against Collingwood in their AFL match-up, the second-lowest total by any team in the last 20 seasons.

25Alistair Brownlee‘s margin of victory (in seconds) in yesterday’s Hyde Park triathlon, on the course which will be used for next year’s Olympic event. Brother Jonathan was third.

4 – Australian Adam Scott won the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio by four shots after a final round of 65. World number one Luke Donald tied for second, while Rory McIlroy was tied-sixth, seven shots back. Seven-time winner Tiger Woods finished 18 shots behind Scott, who was caddied by Woods’ former right-hand man Steve Williams.

Carberry scored an unbeaten triple century

523 – Stand shared between Michael Carberry (300 not out) and Neil McKenzie (237) during Hampshire’s County Championship draw with Yorkshire at the Rose Bowl. It was the ninth-largest partnership ever, 32 short of the record set in 1932.

10 – Somerset’s Alfonso Thomas took match figures of 10/88 as they beat Sussex by nine wickets at Taunton.

4Nottinghamshire lost four wickets for no runs in the space of just six balls as they collapsed from 21/0 to 21/4 against Durham. Nonetheless the match was drawn.

6 – Winning margin for Peter Sagan at cycling’s Tour of Poland – equal to the time bonus he received for finishing second in the closing sprint at Saturday’s final stage.

4 – Stage victories for German sprinter Marcel Kittel in Poland. He won all four flat sprint stages.

484 – Wins for HTC-Highroad‘s male and female cyclists – including British sprinter Mark Cavendish – since the start of 2008, more than any other team. Team owner Bob Stapleton announced the team would fold at the end of this year after failing to secure a sponsor.

98In Brighton & Hove Albion‘s first game since promotion to the Championship in their new home at Amex Stadium, debutant Will Buckley scored two late goals to give them a 2-1 victory over Doncaster Rovers. Buckley’s winner came in the 98th minute.

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times and Infostrada.)

My sporting month: August 2011

As the long days start to shorten and we move closer to the end of summer than its beginning, it can only mean it is time for the return of Premier League football (even though the Scottish league season kicked off more than a week ago). But August is also a big month elsewhere in the world of sport, with the last of cycling’s Grand Tours and tennis’s grand slam tournaments also getting under way, not to mention the most serious championship test for Britain’s track and field medal hopefuls ahead of next summer’s London Olympics. Here is a quick preview of the five big sporting events I’ll be watching this month.

1. Premier League kick-off (13th)

Just 11 weeks after the end of the 2010/11 season, the Premier League is back on the 13th. The highlight of the opening Saturday is surely Arsenal’s return to St James’ Park, where last season they squandered a 4-0 lead in the final quarter of the game to draw 4-4. The initial round of matches sees promoted clubs QPR and Norwich at home to Bolton and away to Wigan respectively, with Swansea travelling to Manchester City on Monday night. In between, defending champions Manchester United visit West Bromwich Albion on the Sunday afternoon.

With the phony war of the never-ending transfer merry-go-round and preseason matches aplenty, it often feels like the football season never really ended. However, it will be good to see it back again. Let battle commence.

2. Vuelta a España (starts 20th)

Vincenzo Nibali will be back to defend the crown he won last year on a course which is heavily weighted in favour of the strongest climbers. There are ten designated mountain stages – the first day in the high mountains comes as early as stage four with a concluding climb to the summit of the Sierra Nevada ski resort in Andalucia – but even several of the designated ‘flat’ stages are fraught with challenging minor or uncategorised climbs near the finish. Unlike this year’s Giro and Tour, which featured their most difficult climbs in the final week, the Vuelta’s biggest challenges are largely in the first two-thirds of the race.

Expect Nibali to put up a spirited defence against the massed ranks of Spanish climbers chasing glory on home soil, but this is likely to be a tough three weeks for the sprinters. (For an overview of this year’s route, see my analysis here.)

3. IAAF World Championships (starts 27th)

The 13th athletics world championships is being held in Daegu in South Korea this year, and runs until September 4th. The Great Britain team will be hoping for medal success to provide a springboard for the 2012 London Olympics, with their target being to improve on their six-medal haul (two of each colour) from the 2009 championships in Berlin. There Jessica Ennis and Phillips Idowu claimed gold in the heptathlon and triple jump, while Lisa Dorbiskey and Jenny Meadows won silver and bronze in the 1,500 and 800 metres respectively, and both men’s relay teams also brought home medals.

The Berlin championships were a memorable mix of the sublime and the ridiculous, from Usain Bolt‘s world record-breaking exploits in the 100 and 200 metres to the disgraceful treatment of South Africa’s Caster Semenya in a gender-testing controversy which left no one involved looking good. We will be hoping for more of the former and less of the latter this time around, although Bolt does not appear to be in anywhere near the kind of form he exhibited in sweeping all before him in 2008 and 2009.

4. Belgian Grand Prix (28th)

Formula 1 returns from its four-week summer break at the fearsome and challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit. With just eight of the 19-race season remaining, Sebastian Vettel‘s rivals face an uphill challenge if they are to deny the young German his second consecutive drivers’ title. Vettel leads teammate Mark Webber by 85 points, having won six races already this season. However, he has failed to win any of the last three grands prix as Red Bull’s rivals have gradually closed the performance gap.

Vettel has never won at Spa. Lewis Hamilton took victory for McLaren last year, while Felipe Massa (2008) and Michael Schumacher (1992, 1995-97, 2001 and 2002) are also previous winners here. If Vettel’s rivals are to prevent him walking away with the championship, they will need to beat him here.

5. US Open tennis (starts 29th)

Rafael Nadal and Kim Clijsters should be back to defend their 2010 singles titles at Flushing Meadows, with both having already banked a grand slam win in 2011 (Nadal at the French Open, Clijsters in Australia). However, neither has had a smooth passage this year, with Nadal losing his number one ranking to the pre-eminent Novak Djokovic and Clijsters forced to miss Wimbledon through injury.

Other than Djokovic, Nadal can expect fierce competition from both Roger Federer and Andy Murray – for the latter, this represents arguably his best chance of a first grand slam title after defeats in each of his three previous finals. Meanwhile the women’s draw is as open as it has been for years. Each of 2011’s grand slams to date has been won by a different player – Clijsters in Australia, Li Na in France and Petra Kvitová at Wimbledon – while Caroline Wozniacki continues in search of her first grand slam win which would finally validate her world number one status in many fans’ eyes. And, or course, one cannot ignore Venus and Serena on their home turf, with the latter winning her first tournament in 13 months last weekend.

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