Vol. VIII No. 30 - Tuesday
July 28 - August 3, 2009



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


SPORTS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Contador holds out on Ventoux to close in on Tour victory

England’s Pietersen out of rest of Ashes series

Watson, Armstrong break through age barriers

Contador holds out on Ventoux to close in on Tour victory

Alberto Contador of Spain, wearing the overall leader’s yellow jersey,
climbs next to Lance Armstrong on Mont Ventoux during the 20th stage
of the Tour de France, Saturday July 25. (AP Photo/Bernard Papon)

Mont Ventoux (AP) - Alberto Contador all but secured a second victory in cycling’s main event on Saturday, by fending off challengers in the race climax on one of France’s toughest climbs: Mont Ventoux.
Sunday’s final stage was set to be a largely ceremonial ride to Paris, were breakaway attempts among the leaders are considered taboo.
Meanwhile Lance Armstrong held off a number of attacks from his closest challengers to virtually assure himself of finishing on the podium in his first Tour since 2005.
Huge crowds numbering some 500,000 lined the climb up to the bald peak of Mont Ventoux, one of the most celebrated — and dreaded — cycling climbs in France.
“Hell, it seems like half of America showed up and all of France. It was so packed and when you have a lot of people it blocks a lot of the wind,” Armstrong said.
Juan Manuel Garate of Spain won Saturday’s stage up the very steep final ascent. Garate, who entered the stage more than 1 hours behind Contador in the overall standings, clocked 4 hours, 39 minutes, 21 seconds, holding off fellow breakaway rider Tony Martin of Germany by 3 seconds.
Andy Schleck, who retained second overall, crossed third, 38 seconds back — in the same time as Contador. Armstrong was fifth, 41 seconds behind Garate, and Frank Schleck was sixth, 43 seconds back.
“Today was a difficult day,” Contador said afterwards. “I had to control Andy Schleck and I managed to do it. He attacked several times, he was enjoying a good day too. But I was able to resist. I knew that every minute that went by was bringing me closer to a Tour de France victory.”


England’s Pietersen out of rest of Ashes series

Rob Harris
London (AP) - England will have to try and regain the Ashes without Kevin Pietersen after the batsman was ruled out of the three remaining tests against Australia following surgery last Wednesday for a chronic Achilles tendon injury.

Kevin Pietersen plays a shot off the bowling of Australia’s Ben Hilfenhaus during the second Ashes Test match at Lord’s, Thursday, July 16. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Pietersen had tried to continue playing in discomfort, but doctors feared he was jeopardizing his long-term fitness. After being assessed by a specialist earlier Wednesday, Pietersen immediately had the operation. He will be out for up to six weeks.
“As an England cricketer, the Ashes are the pinnacle of the game. So I’m absolutely devastated to be missing the rest of this series,” Pietersen said. “Up until now, the Achilles injury has been manageable, but it recently reached the point where we needed to look at other options in terms of treatment.
“I hate missing matches for England, and especially during an Ashes summer, but now that the decision has been made to undergo surgery I’m confident I can return to the England team injury-free following a course of rehabilitation.”
Pietersen has totaled 153 runs with a top score of 69 in the first two tests of the Ashes series, which England lead 1-0 after winning the second match by 115 runs last week following the draw in Cardiff.
The South African-born player spent lengthy spells off the field at Lord’s and was clearly in pain when running.
“I was pleased with the previous course of treatment as it allowed me to take part in this Ashes series, but unfortunately the injury has recently deteriorated,” Pietersen said. “To leave a winning dressing room at this time is heart-breaking, but it wouldn’t be fair to the team or myself to continue given the severity of the injury.
“I’ll be supporting the team closely and wish them the best of luck as they look to build on the brilliant win at Lord’s and reclaim the Ashes.”
England teammate Andrew Flintoff, whose own injuries will see him retire from test cricket after the Ashes, said the 29-year-old Pietersen will be sorely missed in the series.
“He’s a massive influence on our team so it’s going to make it tougher for us, but he’s been in pain,” Flintoff said. “He will be greatly missed and we wish him well. He’ll be gutted.
“He’s performed well in the past and we expected him to in the next three matches but he’ll come back, he’s young and I’m sure he’s got a few more Ashes series in him yet.”


Watson, Armstrong break through age barriers

Marilynn Marchione (AP)
Old for their sports, yet still vying to be at the top of their games, Tom Watson and Lance Armstrong showed the skills that made them great when they were young haven’t faded away with the years.

Tom Watson drives from the 11th tee during the first round of the Senior Open Championship at the Sunningdale golf course, in England, Thursday, July 23. (AP Photo/Tom Hevezi)

The 59-year-old Watson lost his bid to become the oldest British Open champion in a playoff last week in Scotland. Meanwhile, the 37-year-old Armstrong clung to a podium place going into the final weekend of the Tour de France.
“Age is certainly not a barrier” to competing at the highest levels, said Dr. Marc Philippon, a Vail, Colo., orthopedic surgeon whose pro athlete patients include Watson. “The added dimension of making history” probably helps them perform when the competition gets fierce, he said.
Philippon did hip surgery in 2000 on golfer Greg Norman. The Shark tied for third and at one point led last summer’s British Open - at age 53. He missed the cut this year at Turnberry, while Watson was chasing history.
Few aging athletes wind up like swimmer Dara Torres, who won three Olympic silvers as a 41-year-old swimmer last summer. Golf is one sport where they stand a good chance of staying competitive.
“Golf does not require the same aerobic capacity or fitness - it’s a skill game,” and skill can be maintained, said Dr. Andrew Gregory, a Vanderbilt University sports medicine specialist.
“To be a great old athlete you probably have to have been a great young athlete,” said Carl Foster, past president of the American College of Sports Medicine and a professor at the University of Wisconsin in LaCrosse.
“Tom Watson was a good golfer when I was a young man, and that’s a long time ago,” he said.
Torres, Watson and Armstrong “ were all at one point extraordinarily good, so they have skills” they can maintain, Foster said.
Staying fit and maintaining endurance is a challenge, though.
“You lose distance, because of loss of muscle. You lose flexibility in your shoulders and your spine. You can’t rotate, you can’t generate the same clubhead speed to hit the ball very hard,” Gregory said.
To stay in the game, an older athlete must be fit beyond what is needed for his specific sport, said Ralph Reiff, an athletic trainer and director of a sports performance program at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. That means cross-training with weights, and biking or swimming to maintain cardiovascular fitness.
“What we focus on is flexibility and range of motion, because those are the things that leave us as we get older, and also endurance. That’s the one area that might have caught up with Tom a little bit,” Reiff said of Watson, who fell apart in the playoff round last Sunday against Stuart Cink.
“Maybe a little fatigue sets in that wouldn’t have set in for a younger person,” Foster agreed. “It’s still a repetitive sport, and stuff adds up after awhile.”
The success of geezer athletes, as Watson referred to himself, is inspirational, Gregory said.
“It gives all of us who are past our prime reason to be active,” he said.
Reiff said it challenges notions of an age limit to successful competition.
“I don’t think we know what the limits are,” he said.



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