POLITICAL CONTESTS & SPORTING CONTESTS

Since my last posting, the world continues to be a volatile place, and that’s not counting the many ongoing armed conflicts that remain to be resolved. A near 50/50 split resulted in the appointment of a new French President; Greece approaches another election after a consensus failed to be achieved, causing increased uncertainty about the economic future of many beyond the Hellenic borders; the juggernaut of USA Presidential elections continues to work up through the gears; and the debate ahead of a referendum on the future political landscape of Scotland finally seems to be starting to consider practicalities ahead of emotions. Turbulent times indeed, but at least I eventually received answers to a range of questions that I sent to an MSP last October.

I continue to get by perfectly well without F1 but do still note some of the developments from that forum, Lewis Hamilton’s pole position in Spain being forfeited due to insufficient fuelling and Pastor Maldonado’s first race win for a resurgent Williams team, followed by a fire in their garage. The main sporting events of the last week or so undoubtedly focus on end of season football; not that I’m all that interested in watching the games, but it was hard to escape the eleventh hour league title win for Manchester City, the so-called ‘Salt & Sauce’, all Edinburgh Scottish Cup Final and the EUEFA Cup Final. On a local level Greenlaw AFC gained promotion for next season, a fitting way to mark the official opening of the new facilities in the village. The latter is certainly the most important result as far as I’m concerned; after the fiasco (yet to be resolved) regarding Glasgow Rangers’, it seems far more important to develop home-grown talent rather than rely on buying success with money that isn’t actually there. The emotion displayed as the last minute action snatched success from Manchester United and passed it to their arch rivals was obvious even if I remained a bit bemused by it. The historic Scottish game turned out to be rather one-sided and the foul-mouthed venom spouted by some disappointed Hibs fans on my FaceBook wall reminded me of the ugly side of football, the EUEFA game, going to penalties seemed to be a far closer match. I’m actually amazed to find myself including so many references to football here!

The 2012 Olympics edges ever closer with the arrival of the flame on UK soil and the start of the seventy day torch relay, there may be many contentious issues surrounding the increasing corporate nature and commercial involvement in this massive celebration of sport but I would not like to see dissatisfaction with the money spent, or any other issues, detracting from the commitment and achievements of all participants, it’s time to focus on the positives and celebrate the sporting achievements and leave the politics for another day. It will certainly be interesting to observe how the stated ban on publishing photos and video from inside the venues will be policed and enforced with so many people having mobile technology at all times.

Finally, I get to mention the main reason for electing to write about sport – Kina Malpartida! As I write this I’m watching a live feed from tuteve, a Peruvian channel, ahead of the Kina v. Sriphrae Nongkipahuyuth fight – oh how access to the internet has changed my life. If I try to separate the work of Union Biblica and The Vine Trust from my memories of Peru as a country, one of the highlights of my first visit there in 2009 was the build-up to, and the televised coverage of, Kina Malpartida’s World Title defence against Halana Dos Santos. What made this even more significant for me was that I had chosen to watch only one in-flight movie during the out-going flight – ‘Million Dollar Baby’, followed by a documentary about Muhammad Ali, so the fact that watching a major boxing match as it took place while I was in Lima seemed to be a given. In our hostel room the night before leaving for Yungay, Chris and I watched the pre-match coverage, as I’m doing now, but Chris fell asleep just as the main event started, I, however, managed to remain awake for a memorable victory.

Since returning to the UK, I have continued to follow Kina’s career and have managed to track down video links to all subsequent live title defences. Having first won the title in a victory against Maureen Shea, she has successfully defended against Haland Dos Santos, Lyndsey Scragg, Liliana Palmera, and Rhonda Luna. One thing that I have to say is that the quality of pictures has definitely improved over the years. One thing that doesn’t seem to have changed is the toothpaste advert featuring Kina where she punches 1, 2, 3 times towards the camera to emphasise the triple effects of Dento 3, it seems to be the exact same advert that I first saw in Lima. I find the range of sponsors for the match to be quite bizarre, in addition to toothpaste, products promoted are Gatorade (perhaps the most logical one), Mifarma (pharmacy), Claro (internet), Brahma (Brazilian beer), Mahindra (Indian 4×4 SUV, featuring Simon Cowell), and finally paint, cement and dog food.

I can now close by noting an easy victory for Kina, in fact the bout was possibly even more one sided than the Scottish Cup Final. Thirty two year old Kina totally dominated her nineteen year old Thai opponent until the referee quickly called a halt!

As the sky lightens and the sun prepares to rise, perhaps it’s time for bed.

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