As we approach UFC 152 in Toronto...

When I first heard Rory MacDonald had pulled out of his UFC 152 fight against BJ Penn do to a severe cut above his eye I was devastated. Not only was that a rare matchup to begin with (seeing as veteran Penn came out of retirement to fight youthful Rory), it was also a big blow to the card as a replacement didn't seem likely. UFC president Dana White kept quiet about what would happen next, but I knew time was running out and it would likely remain a fight short. And then UFC 151 was cancelled...

With a late knee injury impeding Dan Henderson's ability to fight light heavyweight champion Jon 'Bones' Jones in Las Vegas this passed Saturday, White cancelled the first UFC event in its history, deciding rather to spread out the fights to other future cards instead of going forward with the show. Now if I were in Vegas I would have been quite peeved, but since I'm here by Toronto things have worked out just swimmingly. UFC 152 is aptly renamed UFC 151 and we now are treated to the second coming of Jones, who fought victoriously against Lyoto Machida at the Rogers Centre in December of last year. When the Jones/Henderson fight was scrapped the now heavier Chael Sonnen stepped up to the plate but it came as a shocker when Jones refused to fight him. Much to the dismay of the President, White went on to blast the star for his unwillingness to fight on short notice. "We've never, ever had a fighter refuse to fight somebody, especially a fighter who is a world champion as well as one of the top pound-for-pound guys in the world," White said. "It's baffling to me, and I've never seen it before." said Dana. It looked as though a Jones/Machida Part II would be the in the making for Toronto, but now things have changed once again. The card UFC 151 is officially scrapped, Toronto gets its card number back and fights held September 22nd will be under card UFC 152.

So here we have it - two title fights in one night - the flyweights at 125 lbs featuring Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson versus Joseph Benevidez and Jones versus the unlikely Vitor Belfort. Belfort has not fought in the 205 lbs division in five years, as he dropped to 185 to compete in the middleweight division. He is a sizeable underdog in the fight. This along with the much anticipated Brian Stann versus Michael Bisping fight and some good Canadian contenders like Sean Pierson and Mitch Gagnon the card is back in full force and my excitement levels are as high as they've ever been!

The countdown continues... Three and a half weeks to go!

xoxo,

The Best Birthday Performances

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo is an example of a living legend who is not about to let his age represent his ability to play the game. Calvillo celebrated his 40th birthday in rare form and epic style as the CFL veteran eclipsed another milestone in a 31-29 win over the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Not only did the Als rally twice in the fourth quarter, the game came down to the final snap- a 37-yard field goal right down the middle by Sean Whyte to put the candles out in front of an exuberant home crowd.

Classic Calvillo completed 25 of 36 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 25 yards of his own including a 17 yard late game changer. 19 years in the league, Calvillo has thrown over 300 yards in the last six games and continues to lead the league in passing. His 438th touchdown to pass to SJ Green moved him to second all time passed Warren Moon, and still a few shy of Brett Favre who ended his career with 508. The Alouettes lead the Eastern conference and are on a three game win streak.

So in honour of Anthony's great birthday accomplishment, here are a few more athletes who have outdone themselves on their special day!

Michael Jordan's birthday dunk!
Although one of the greatest ball players of all time turns fifty next winter, when Michael Jordan turned 29 he had a haymaker of a performance as a member of the Bulls. Facing the Cavaliers Air Jordan put up 46 points, 6 assists and 2 rebounds in what would ultimately end up as a 1 point win for Chicago.

Grand Slam for Colby
Colby Rasmus' 24th birthday will be one he'll always remember. Just s year ago as a member of the Cardinals Colby connected on a pitch by Reds righty Bronson Arroyo for his first career grand slam. Breaking a scoreless game in the 4th inning Rasmus' 4 RBI's helped the Cards win 6-1 and sweep the Reds to regain the lead in the NL Central.

Ryan Lochte Pool Side Party!
Okay, American Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte may not have actually been  competing the day of his 28th birthday, but with the Summer Games happening only once every four years let's give this birthday boy some exposure from his Las Vegas getaway. Not only did the gold medallist in the 400M have a typical poolside party, he celebrated with fellow gold medal swimmers and gold bikini clad girls. His birthday cake was fitting for an 11-time medallist; an aqua blue bottom layer followed by an Olympic rings display on the second tier.

Shaq Birthday Attack
Rumour has it when Shaquille O'Neal turned 28 back in 2000 the Lakers big guy requested some extra tickets for a game against the Clippers. They refused and on that night Shaq scored a career high 61 points along with 23 boards - solidifying him as the best big man of all time. Shazam!

xoxo,

NFL Countdown - Summer Special!


There's 16 or so days before the NFL kickoff and I've been heavily preparing for the season ahead. From mock drafts to injury reports to football recipes there will be no Sunday, Monday or Thursday left unattended to. So in anticipation for the big day, here are some noteworthy field markers:
  • Andrew Luck is looking good:
The first overall pick in this year's draft has played two pre-season games with the Colts and has shown his grit early- From a ripping of the Rams where he completed 10 of 16 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns, to a slow start in Steel town in which the Colts trailed 14-0, Luck is ready to prove he can recover from interceptions and can run the ball in himself if need be. While the 26-24 loss is no biggie in the pre-season, the experience is going to be invaluable to Luck in the regular season, as the new-look team try to improve on last year's 2-14 record. 
  • Peyton and Eli - The Next Chapter
Speaking of the Colts, Peyton Manning is back!!! No longer in the usual white and blue combo that adorned his physique for over a decade, Peyton will return to the field after a full year away due to neck surgery. Watching him play in navy and orange (as a member of the Broncos) will be very uncomfortable.. but it will be even more now that his baby bro has officially surpassed him as the  "more rings Manning". It's just too bad these guys don't play each other in the regular season, and the Colts and Broncos don't play each other either! Ah well, at least we can still compare stats! And who knows.. playoffs maybe?
  • If Jacksonville's Chad Henne can't find a spot on the roster at least he's got a chance on the Food Network!
Two years ago I was watching Rachael Ray's daytime talk show and then Miami quarterback Chad Henne was on preparing a meal! What I love about this lady is not only can she cook incredible meals in under thirty minutes, she's also pro-sports so she'll feature football finger foods and Super Bowl snacks. Football + food = heaven!  Chad Henne shares his tips on how to prepare a delicious filet mignon, but not how to throw an interception! Be sure to check out other NFL worthy meals by guys like Garrett Hartley and grill testing with Victor Cruz!  Find out what this Super Bowl winning wide receiver dislikes most about the BBQ.
  • The Saints SANS Coach Sean Peyton and all the drama that surrounds this squad
If you forgot about if for a brief second, welcome back to 'Bountygate'; the land of the Saints' woes where over the course of the off-season lost they their General Manager, head coach, defensive co-ordinator, players, draft picks, lots of money and even more respect. But they've still got Drew Brees! Pheew! In the countless mock drafts I've been harvesting this month he's still a Top 10 or 11 pick and is projected to have a stellar year (would you disagree with that?). Just don't forget to shut your mouth Jonathan Vilma! If you type in 'bounty' in NFL.com's search bar, you'll arrive here, and see this many results. The over/under is 170 articles related.
  • All the new faces!
With Peyton playing for the Broncos just one of the many exciting moves that have occurred this off-season, here's just a brief reminder of some other guys in new gigs.

Tim Tebow - New York Jets
LaRon Landry - New York Jets
Mario Williams - Buffalo Bills
Peyton Hillis - Kansas City Chiefs
Brandon Marshall - Chicago Bears
Mario Manningham - San Francisco 49ers
Randy Moss - San Francisco 49ers
Vincent Jackson - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
LaGarrette Blount - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

xoxo,

The Ups and Downs of Baseball

I've said it before, baseball is the most beautiful and balanced sport out there... too bad every time something amazing happens something equally destructive occurs putting emphasis on a culture of cheaters and taking away from a pastime of legends. 

This time I am referring to the two major events that have occurred in MLB this week - Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners throws the 23rd perfect game in history, and third this season, but he does it in fashionable style - 12 K's, 68% of his pitches were strikes and the game ended without a dramatic game-changing defensive stand by a team mate. This beauty goes head to head with the recent suspension of MVP All-Star Melky Cabrera, who tested positive to performance enhancing drugs (testosterone to be specific) which have no doubt contributed to his league leading hits (159) and his second best batting average (.346). 

Melky, a hero to young baseball fans everywhere is now tainted with the sport's famous asterisk. He along with a plethora of other stars; Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds and going all the way back to Jose Canseco as an original Smash Bros with Mark McGwire... there are six players on the Top 15 Home Run kings who have been linked to PED's. No other sport has such sad sack statistics. What's worse is that baseball fans have come to be used to this kind of game play, and have thus lost connection to the real shiny accomplishments made by those not proven to have used PED's.


While to each their own, baseball is not nearly as glorious (to me) as it once was - yes, here we go again; no Expos, same Bud and more cheaters than ever. Pitching has never seen a better season, but perhaps in a few weeks a pitcher will be caught for doping. The way I see it, baseball is still in perfect balance - for every incredible feat is an incredible let down. For every anointed hero there is a fall from grace. For every fall from grace there is a lost fan, and for every lost fan there is a lost hope. As long as the beauty of baseball can compete with the ugliness of cheating, this sport should be good for the long haul...or rather the long ball.

xoxo,

Cycle of Hope- A Trip of a Lifetime


The Summer Olympics may be over but the finish line is still in the distance for Canadian Cory Welsh. Cory is on Day 52 of his cycle across Canada to help spread awareness and raise money for Parkinson's disease, which his father was diagnosed with in 2007. Starting in Vancouver at the end of June, Cory is expected to arrive in Halifax on Labour Day Monday with a fundraising target of $50,000.

Cory Welsh's Cycle of Hope
Cory's inspirational journey has him trudging through the Rockies, blasting by the Prairies and spending his nights as a guest in homes of families affected by Parkinson's. The rain, severe wind and at times excruciating heat makes the average trip of 140-170 km a day even more daunting than it already is, but Cory is lucky to have his girlfriend and best friend close, as they split the safety car responsibilities half and half. While the mission is something that has been done before but not very often, Cory feels biking across the second largest country (in size) is his calling, and a great way to get people talking about the disease.




As Day 52 comes to a close the local communities gather in Cambridge to welcome Cory at Moose Winooski's; a Canadian inspired restaurant and bar that is built like a log cabin mansion with a massive moose at the front door. The restaurant owners have set up an Oktoberfest and hot dog BBQ donation stand while a fondant cake representing his journey is divvied up for the 50 or so guests in the crowd. Cory speaks with great passion and honesty, as his speech evokes simple but effective measures that can get people thinking about Parkinson's disease. His tactics have proved viable; when three year old Lyncoln found out Cory was passing by on his bike he felt compelled to ride with him because his grandfather too is diagnosed with the disease. "Lincoln is my inspiration" says Cory, as they both enjoy the rest period of the day. Cory's Cycle for Hope has raised over $30,000 and brought wide attention to something that can happen to anyone having been featured in various news stories in the media.

Cory and Lyncoln
There is still no cure for Parkinson's Disease, and many people have limited knowledge of it's effects to the body. Cory himself said "Before my dad was diagnosed I definitely heard about it - shaky hands, shaky speech...I knew Muhammad Ali and Michael J Fox had it.. .but I didn't know much else". If you happen to fall in that category here are some big tips on spotting the signs:

  • Tremor (involuntary muscle contraction)
  • Slowness and Stiffness
  • Impaired balance
  • Soft speech 
  • Problems handwriting
  • Stooped posture

Please support the Cycle of Hope in any way you can by donating, following the journey or a simple shout out to keep those affected going strong. 
Moose Winooski's
Good luck to you Cory, your family and your country is very proud of you. Finish strong on the way to Halifax!




xoxo,

For more information please visit:
Follow Cory's blog at: 
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And follow him on Twitter!
@corywelsh9

The Best and Worst of the London2012 Games

Sad to say the Games are over, but boy did they end in style! From the Olympic size catwalk for the biggest super models of our time to the spiritually moving sing along of Oasis' 'Wonderwall', I was really impressed with Great Britain's closing ceremonies and overall hosting of the Games. 

Let's look back at some of my favourite moments in this years London2012 Olympics:
  • American girls dominate gymnastics with Gold medal performances from Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman. The 'Fab 5' are additively adorable and their constant support for one another was truly inspiring.  
  • Team Canada Women's Soccer claim the Bronze medal after a 1-0 injury time win over France.. With a win over GBR and a heartbreaking loss to U.S.A this nation is officially on the soccer map!
  • Sarah Attar and  Wojdan Shaherkhani of Saudi Arabia became the first women to represent Saudi Arabia at any Olympic Games. You can't break a strong woman's spirit, even if they come in last.
  • Great Britain's great performances: From heptathlon Gold for Jessica Ennis to Bradley Wiggins' time trial road race champion, these Summer games were very similar to Canada's Winter haul when Vancouver hosted the Olympics in 2010. They also placed 3rd overall with 65 medals. 
  • Tennis anyone? Andy Murray had his shining moment in the sun with a Gold medal victory over Roger Federer at Wembley Stadium. Serena Williams has never looked so happy with her quick clean up of the court but let's not forget the Milos Raonic- Jo-Wilfred match that lasted nearly 7 hours.. seven hours!
  • Legends strike twice; Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps return four years later to claim victory once again and establish themselves as the greatest Olympians ever. 
  • The Jamaicans clean up the track with a 1-2-3 finish in the 200m final making it internationally known not to mess with these sprinters. 
  •  Bad times for Badminton; 8 athletes sent home for 'throwing' matches to receive more favourable draws. However, the men's singles final (which China won) was very dramatic and high energy.
  • U.S.A Judo fighter Nick Delpopolo is sent home after testing positive for marijuana. He unknowingly consumed a snack that had marijuana in it before he left and his years of training for the Games came to a crashing halt. What a waste! 
  • Team Canada Men's 4X100M  relay. The men crossed the line third to claim bronze but was later disqualified for one runner stepping on another's track line which is against the rules. Trinidad and Tobago receive the Bronze.
  • Gay Pride! 23 openly gay athletes participated and 10 won medals so I think that speaks for itself and those numbers are crazy good either way!
Looking forward to RIO 2016 and the fact that the time zone change won't be drastic at all!! Until then...

 xoxo,

5 Sporting Events Ruined by the Weather


Even on the best of days, Mother Nature gets the best of us. From sporting events to weddings, to weekend getaways to week-long vacations, it really boils down to how she's feeling and where you happen to be when she's feeling it.. So if you had to guess, you can bet your dollar that today it's raining. And it has been, for the past 40 or so hours, wiping out any kind of outdoor activity I had in mind including covering the second game of the IBL Playoffs between the Kitchener Panthers and the Brantford Red Sox..

Thar she blows. Rained out and still raining. So let's look at 5 sporting events ruined by the weather!

5. EXTRA! EXTRA! World Series is Rained Out!

Sad, but true. One of the most mystifying championships in American history, the aptly titled 'World Series' has struck out with Mother Nature on more than one at-bat. Since 1903, there's been some inclement weather, most recently Game 6 between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals in October 2011. 20 World Series games have been postponed due to rain, and one game between Boston and Pittsburgh was even delayed early in the century due to cold!

What Canada Gains After a Loss

Canadians have never cheered so hard for soccer the way they did yesterday at the Olympics. For such a diverse country, soccer has taken a long time to climb the sports totem pole. It's one thing when your parents are Italian and you support Team Italy or you support Team Germany and Spain, but it's something completely different when the country in which you live in, which has yet to make their stamp in the soccer world is finally making a push at something huge. Not just big, but huge. As most of us know (but don't like to admit), soccer is the biggest sport in the universe. It can be played by the poorest of the poor or a prince of Spanish royalty, but has never impacted us the way it has the rest of the population. Surely soccer is getting there in North America - from the arrival of the Beckhams to the ever expanding MLS (Major League Soccer), the numbers are growing amongst youth sports and college tryouts. 

If the rest of the world didn't think they ever had anything to fear when it came to Canadian soccer, they were right... until the other day. With a push to the semi-finals and some serious performances against internationally known competitors, Canadian soccer is finally on the map. At least the women are. While the updated FIFA rankings from June have the men at 68th place, the women are strong at 7th, likely to go up. For some time now the USA women have had their command of the soccer scene and the men's Mexican team have always been contenders. Only the cold country of Canada has yielded to the absolute dominance that is soccer; yes, we're a hockey loving nation and hockey will always come first. But with that said, look how far the sport has come! The overwhelming response to yesterday's loss to the United States shows Canadians are very passionate about soccer and are even more involved now that there's a sign of good things to come.

Even though the Canadians lost (in epic and questionable style), I think they gained way more than what they bargained for - they gained believers, supporters and rivals all at the same time. While Canada's showing at the Olympics was the most impressive to date, it's only a matter of time until they come out in droves, attacking the net like they're on the ice and playing the field like they're on a power play. I am looking forward to the next time Canada represents and I'm sure thousands more will be too!

xoxo,





Throwing a Match... Strategy or Silly?

Eight women badminton players have been disqualified from the London Summer Olympics following reports the four teams of two purposely tried to lose matches to in order to get more favourable spots in the tournament. 


Two teams from South Korea, one from China and another from Indonesia have been punished for "not using one's best efforts to win a match" and "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport" as announced by the Badminton World Federation. Reports suggest the South Korean and Indonesian teams will file an appeal. 


Tuesday night spectators at the arena booed the performances of the ladies after it became clear neither team was trying to win. Teams claim the introduction of a round-robin format rather than the traditional knockout stage is what triggered teams to strategize their game play. From simple errors to a lack of attack, the longest rally of the first set was four strokes. After China threw the first game, the others followed suit prompting former players to speak out: "It's a circus match" said 2004 singles Gold medalist Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia. Lin Dan, the No.2 ranked singles player said it will "damage the sport, especially for the audience".  Refunds will not be given out to guests who attended the event. 


So here it is; when someone throws a wrench in your format causing the whole system to be changed, who is at fault? If a round-robin format clearly gives advantages to those who can work out the kinks, should the player be penalized for being smart enough to do so? Obviously it effects the credibility of the sport, so why did they change it? 


I'd like to know what you think... Is throwing a form of cheating? Would you do it if you could? Once the system is flawed, the whole sport is in my opinion, so where does badminton go from here?


xoxo,





 
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