Chelsea in relegation battle – Hiddink

first_imgLONDON (AP):Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink has mentioned a word never heard at Chelsea in the Premier League era: relegation.Asked yesterday if Chelsea are in a relegation battle, Hiddink said: “It’s (a) reality.”Chelsea, which fired Jose Mourinho last month, are six points above the relegation zone in 14th place, ahead of matches against Everton and Arsenal.Hiddink says when he replaced Mourinho “we were one point off the line, relegation line, and now we have (a) little bit more” breathing space.Chelsea were relegated in 1988 but instantly returned to the topflight. A team has never been relegated straight after winning the Premier League.Meanwhile, both Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion were charged by the English Football Association yesterday with failing to control their players in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw.last_img read more

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Dolich: Oakland A’s Howard Terminal ballpark plan is fantasy

first_imgCLICK HERE if you are having a problem viewing the photos on a mobile deviceThe A’s last month proudly took the wrapper off their latest plans for a new ballpark, making public their desire to build at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal next to Jack London Square.They intend to be playing in a 34,000-seat “Jewel Box” by 2023. Thousands of fans would arrive each hour on a gondola over the Nimitz Freeway.The team’s announcement was a double-header proposal that also included redevelopment …last_img read more

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South Africa’s toughest endurance challenges

first_imgA Skyrunner seems on top of the world as he tackles one of the tough mountain route’s challenges. Runners are rewarded for their efforts with stunning scenery. (Image: Media and Kelvin) MEDIA CONTACTS • Adrian SaffySalomon Skyrun organiser+27 82 566 5668• Comrades Marathon Association+27 33 897 8650 RELATED ARTICLES • Search on for top thrill-seekers • SA woman conquers the Seven Summits • Spoilt for adventure choice • The world’s biggest cycle race • The Tour de Kruger, a wild rideFiona McRaeSouth Africa, like most of the continent, is a land of great challenges but also of great opportunities.With the resulting mindset of effort and reward, it is perhaps not surprising that the country should host some of the world’s most gruelling endurance sports events, in which athletes put their physical and mental stamina to the ultimate test in their goal to make it to the finish line – in itself an achievement of the highest order.Heading the list of these tough events is undoubtedly the annual Comrades Marathon ultra-distance road race between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal province.This taxing event attracts athletes from around the globe. Entries for the 2011 race, the 86th edition, closed at the end of November after the cap of 18 000 participants set by the Comrades Marathon Association was reached.Dubbed the “ultimate human race”, the Comrades was officially recognised as the world’s largest ultra-marathon after 14 343 runners crossed the finish line within the 12-hour cut-off time in this year’s event.The 2011 marathon, taking place on 29 May, is an up run – that is, from Durban on the coast to Pietermaritzburg inland – over a distance of 89km (56 miles).Challenging the elementsBut while the Comrades might be South Africa’s best known ultra-sports event, the country hosts a variety of lesser known but equally demanding endurance challenges in which participants pit themselves not only against their own limitations but also against the elements.Two of these epic events take place in the Eastern Cape, known as the country’s adventure province because of the outdoor action opportunities its diverse landscapes offer.They are the Salomon Skyrun, which requires participants to tackle a 100km unmarked mountain trail in a continuous run at an average altitude of 2 500m, and the Southern Shamaal Surf Ski Challenge, which sees paddlers cover a 250km stretch of ocean between the coastal cities of Port Elizabeth and East London, over four days.In the neighbouring Free State province, horse riders and their mounts set out to cover a fast-paced 201km over three consecutive days in the annual Fauresmith Endurance Ride.The 13th edition of the Skyrun took place in the Eastern Cape’s mountainous north-eastern highlands in November. The event drew a record field of 159 intrepid starters prepared to tackle 100km of tough terrain along the ridgeline of the southern Drakensberg mountains, from the picturesque Victorian town of Lady Grey to the Wartrail Country Club, in a quest for the prestigious Sky Runner badge of honour.According to race organiser Adrian Saffy, this was almost three times the usual field and most of the entrants were Skyrun novices, with only 40 participants having any previous experience of the legendary event.He attributes the huge growth in the number of entrants this year to increased awareness of the race through support from a number of adventure brands, as well as to “the motivating mixture of fear and anticipation of taking on an unknown adventure – the feeling Skyrunners live for”.“The Skyrun is not a race, it is a journey,” he warned in pre-run publicity material for the self-supported event that challenges participants not only with distance but also the rigours of running at altitude and the terrain’s ascents and descents, compounded by darkness after nightfall and the sometimes bitterly cold night temperatures.“There is no guarantee you will finish the route, no matter how much you train and prepare.”With runners facing many hours of solitude in the wilderness, the event has a mystical element to it and is a test of mental and of physical fitness. Navigational and basic survival skills are also required – this year one runner got hopelessly lost and was found 50km off course after a search.The last entrant finally reached the finish line after an epic 35 hours – more than 20 hours behind the winner, Iain Don-Wauchope. In his second Skyrun victory, Don-Wauchope finished in 14 hours 56 minutes – 90 minutes ahead of second-placed Bruce Arnett, also a previous winner.Only 59 runners managed to complete the full route, with another 76 completing variations, says Saffy.Toughest surf ski race of allSwitching from mountains to ocean, the 2010 Southern Shamaal Surf Ski Challenge launched from Port Elizabeth’s Bluewater Bay Beach on 9 December and ended at East London’s Nahoon Beach four days later.A field of more than 130 paddlers in single and double surf skis took to the water in what is now one of the world’s longest-running ocean paddling races, with the inaugural event taking place way back in 1971.Traditionally held every second year, a three-year sponsorship by the Dubai-based Shamaal Group has enabled organisers to stage the event annually since 2008, although last year’s Challenge – as it  is simply known – was a team relay, to give  prospective solo entrants a gentler introduction to the event.South African paddling stalwart and multiple Challenge winner Oscar Chalupsky has described the contest as “pure hardcore racing – one of the single toughest physical events in the world and the longest and most gruelling surf ski race anywhere”.The race along what can be a treacherous coastline demands skill, stamina and mental and physical endurance, as well as a comprehensive air, land and sea support, safety and rescue network. The sea, sun and wind conditions are all part of the make-or-break equation, while ocean creatures like sharks, whales, jelly fish and blue bottles are also dangerous factors.According to race organiser Anton Erasmus, the sheer isolation of being alone on a vast ocean, without the option of simply stopping when the going gets too tough, is psychologically demanding for challengers, who paddle distances of up to 75km a day as they make their way up the Eastern Cape coast.Challenge for horse and riderIn the Fauresmith Endurance Ride, staged from the small Free State farming town of Fauresmith, riders and their mounts also cover up to 75km in a day to conquer a total distance of 201km in three days, over terrain ranging from flat grassland plains to the ridges and rocky slopes of the area’s low hills.Because the event is held in mid-year, the days usually offer mild and pleasant riding conditions for both humans and horses. However, the below-freezing temperatures of the Free State winter nights bring a challenge of their own and riders are known to get up regularly during the long dark hours to check on their mounts.The event has its origins in a 1964 argument in which a national farmers’ magazine debated the endurance capabilities of various horse breeds.  It was decided to settle the matter with a test, and an Arabian took the honours.The inaugural Fauresmith Endurance Ride, held nearly a decade later, grew out of that contest. From the initial field of 17 riders and horses, the event now attracts more than 400 participants, ranging from pre-teens to septuagenarians, keen to not only tackle what has been described as the ultimate challenge for horse and rider but also to experience the warm hospitality and sense of camaraderie for which the event has become known.The horses are checked by vets at regular intervals during the race and any animal deemed to be under strain is withdrawn, resulting in a sometimes much reduced field of finishers as another tough event exacts its toll.last_img read more

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Press release: South Africa retains ranking in 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance

first_imgEvery year the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance assesses the performance of all 54 African countries in categories such as human rights, the rule of law, sustainable economic opportunities and human development.According to Mo Ibrahim, pictured, and his 2017 index of African Governance, South Africa shows signs of bouncing back after a decade-long slump. (Image: Mo Ibrahim Foundation)Brand South Africa today welcomed the results of the 2017 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), which saw South Africa retain its rank of 6 of 54 countries assessed in the index.In its 11th iteration, the IIAG is an annual statistical assessment of the quality of governance in every one of the 54 African countries, covering a period of 17 years from 2000. The 2017 IIAG framework has four overarching categories that reflect the foundation’s definition of governance: Safety and Rule of Law; Participation and Human Rights; Sustainable Economic Opportunity; and Human Development.In terms of these pillars, South Africa improved in the indicator of Participation and Human Rights, moving up from position 5/54 to 4/54. As a democratic nation, it is heartening to see South Africa improve its rank. South Africa’s rank in the category of Safety and Rule of Law remains the same as the previous year, at 7/54.The IIAG’s focus on governance is a critical issue, especially in the African and emerging market context. While general governance performance, as outlined in the IIAG results, speak to general state capacity, South Africa also has notable strengths in terms of its corporate governance environment.Commenting on the 2017 IIAG, Brand South Africa’s CEO Dr Kingsley Makhubela said, “This year has been a particularly challenging one for South Africa, with a number of incidents in public administration and the private sector leading to the creation of grounds for improvements in administration. As a consequence of these incidents, whether they involved fraud, improper administration, badly informed managers or failing supervision, corporate governance in the private sector and in the public sector have become subjects that are widely discussed and reported on in the media.“Cultivating [good] governance is high on South Africa’s agenda, which is why authorities across various stakeholder groups are working hard to safeguard and improve governance. It is the responsibility of all stakeholders, including government, business and civil society, to ensure not only that we deliver on our central mandate of providing sound and sustainable initiatives for the country’s economic and social needs, but also that we are well run, and that investments yield the required results that will address unemployment, inequality and poverty in South Africa.”Dr Makhubela added: “Despite improvements in the areas highlighted above, Brand South Africa notes with concern a decrease in the country’s ranking on Sustainable Economic Opportunity from position two to four, and Human Development from position six to eight.“In an increasingly competitive global landscape, the risk of poor governance remains fairly high. We need to look to institutions of governance such as Parliament, the SA Reserve Bank, the Human Rights Commission, the Financial Services Board, the Competition Tribunal, and many more, to obtain insights on how they are all playing their part in ensuring that South Africa’s Constitutional Democracy and Rule of Law continue to demonstrate high levels of resilience, maturity and good governance.”The conversation can be followed at @Brand_SA #CompetitiveSA.last_img read more

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Gujarat Dalit activist, who set himself ablaze, succumbs to burn injuries

first_imgDalit activist Bhanu Vankar, who attempted self-immolation in Gujarat on February 15, succumbed to severe burn injuries late on February 16. Mr. Vankar has sustained 80% burn injuries and was admitted in Ahmedabad’s Apollo Hospital, where he died. To protest the Patan district administration’s failure to regularise a piece of land he was allotted a few years ago, he set himself on fire in the Collector Office in North Gujarat. Despite repeated visits to the district administration officials, his case did not move, which apparently distressed him to take an extreme step of ending his life. His suicide is likely to trigger Statewide protests by the Dalit community and organisations working for the rights of Dalits and other marginalised sections in the State. “We have lost him. We hold the district administration responsible for his death. He was forced,” a relative said. Earlier in the day, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani ordered inquiry into the incident. “I have asked Chief Secretary to get all details of the incident after an inquiry,” Mr. Rupani said, adding, “the State government will also bear all medical expenses of Mr. Vankar, who is presently under treatment in Apollo hospital in Ahmedabad.”Moreover, nine other Dalit men were detained by the police after they also tried to storm into the premises of the collectorate with the intention to commit suicide, and were later released. “As many as nine people were detained briefly after they tried to storm into the office of the collector with the intention to commit suicide. They had expressed their intention to the Collector on a previous date and police were deployed in large numbers to prevent any such attempt,” a police official from Patan said. “However, Banubhai Vankar from Unjha village managed to enter the Collector Office premises by jumping over the barricade and set himself on fire. He has been shifted to a hospital in Ahmedabad,” the official had said.The incident triggered a huge backlash among the Dalit community in the State. A leading organisation Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, fighting for the rights of Dalits, gave a call for Patan bandh on February 16 to protest against the “administrative negligence” in the transfer of land to Dalits, “which forced a group to attempt suicide”. The bandh evoked mixed response in the North Gujarat town.A prominent activist and Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani, who is also the convener of the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, in a statement said it was a “matter of shame” for the BJP government that Dalits had to resort to extreme steps to fight for their rights in Gujarat.Mr. Mevani demanded suspension of the Collector and Superintendent of Police holding them responsible for driving the community members to take extreme steps to press for their rights.last_img read more

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