SPORTS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Doi Saket students break 31-leg race record

Sublime Federer wins 16th major title

Colts face big Super Bowl challenge from sentimental Saints

Doi Saket students break 31-leg race record

Part of the Cholaphatan Phatak School 31-leg race team pose for photographers while their coach holds the champions trophy at a press call in Chiang Mai.

Jedsadapong Wongkiew
Students from Chiang Mai’s Cholaphatan Phatak School displayed outstanding, foot-speed, teamwork and co-ordination to break the Thai national record in the final round of the 5th annual Honda 31-Legs United Race competition held on Jan. 23 at the Hua Mak Sports Complex in Bangkok.
The Honda 31 Legs United Race is a challenging sport that requires 30 runners having their legs fastened together, similar to a 3-legged race, and running abreast for 50 meters as fast as possible. They must demonstrate unity, teamwork and dedication to be successful. It doesn’t require complicated equipment or expensive facilities so all types of schools can enter, with teamwork, a challenging spirit and unity of purpose being the keys to success.
The competition is open every year to students in Grades 5 or 6, aged between 10-12 years old and teams can be comprised of only male students, female students or both genders, but the students on each team have to study at the same school. For safety reasons, every racer has to wear the proper racing gear including a breakaway ankle strap, knee pads and elbow pads.
The competition was first introduced to Thailand in 2005 as a pilot project in the Bangkok area, but following its huge success it was expanded to a nationwide event from 2006 with over 1,000 sets of equipment, competition manuals and VCDs on safety and technique being distributed by the Honda Group of Companies and the Sports Authority of Thailand to schools up and down the country.
The previous Thai record of 8.63 seconds was set by the Sueksaa San School from Samutprakarn, but the Cholaphatan Phatak students blew this time out of the water with a stunning run of 8.53 seconds in their final attempt to win this year’s competition.
The current world record for this event, recognized by the Guinness Book of Records, is 8.41 seconds achieved by the Shao Lin Tagou Martial Arts School from China. The Cholaphatan Phatak School coach said his boys had already beaten this time in practice, but there was nobody official in attendance to ratify their achievement. They will try again for the world record later this year, he said.


Sublime Federer wins 16th major title

John Pye
Melbourne (AP) - Roger Federer dismantled Andy Murray in the Australian Open final Sunday to extend his own record to 16 Grand Slam titles and prolong the British drought.
Federer collected his fourth Australian Open title with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) win at Rod Laver Arena that, apart from the tiebreaker, lacked the drama and raw emotion of his five-set loss here last year to then No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal.

Roger Federer holds the Australian Open trophy after beating Andy Murray in straight sets in the men’s singles final, Sunday, Jan. 31. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Federer saved five set points and wasted two match points in the tiebreaker with some uncharacteristic shot selection before clinching it when Murray netted a backhand after 2 hours, 41 minutes.
Murray was desperate to become the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win one of the four tennis majors, but seldom had the answers to Federer’s unrivaled finals experience. The 22-year-old Scot had set a record for British men just by reaching two major finals in the Open era.
Federer was playing in his 22nd Grand Slam final and 18th of the last 19. He also beat Murray in straight sets in the 2008 U.S. Open final, the only previous meeting between the pair at a Grand Slam.
Murray still holds a 6-5 advantage over Federer in career head-to-heads — one of only four players who can boast that — but has lost the last three.

Serena Williams returns to Justine Henin on her way to winning the women’s singles final. (AP Photo/Mark Kolbe, Pool)

Federer ensured no recurrence of his loss here in the final last year and added the 2010 title to his wins at Melbourne Park in 2004, 2006 and ’07, becoming only the fifth man to win four Australian titles. American Andre Agassi, who won the last of his four in 2003, was also the last father to win a Grand Slam title.
Federer got on top early, breaking Murray’s opening service game when he leaped onto a second serve and fired a forehand down the line to lead 2-0.
Murray rallied immediately, breaking Federer’s serve to huge cheers from the crowd with consecutive passing shots — one which the Swiss star even had to applaud.
Federer had to save three break points in the fifth game before holding with back-to-back aces. He then broke Murray in the eighth game, lifting his intensity in perfect time so that he could serve for the set. He had no trouble closing with a forehand winner down the line.
Federer dominated the second set after breaking Murray’s serve in the third game. The Scot did fend off seven break points across two service games to ensure Federer had to serve it out.
When Federer’s intensity dropped slightly in the third, Murray pounced. He broke in the sixth game, roaring “C’Mon” after rifling a forehand past Federer at the net.
He didn’t face a break point until he was serving to take the match into a fourth set, when Federer pounced again. He got his first break-point chance of the third set with an angled forehand service return and clinched it two points later when Murray netted a forehand.
Federer rallied from 5-2 down in the third to force the tiebreaker and, after saving three set points, missed his first chance to finish it off when his forehand just missed the line.
His unusual decision to try a drop shot at 10-9 backfired when Murray surged to the net and put a winner over Federer’s head.
After saving another set point, Federer made no mistake with the third match point.
In Saturday’s women’s singles final, the number one seed Serena Williams overcame Belgium’s Justine Henin in three sets, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, to win her fifth Australian Open title and 12th Grand Slam singles championship overall. Williams’ five Australian titles is the most by any woman in the Open Era, since 1968, surpassing the four each held by Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles.


Colts face big Super Bowl challenge from sentimental Saints

Indianapolis (AP) - With the New Orleans Saints in their first Super Bowl, memories of Hurricane Katrina still lingering and close ties between the team and the city’s rebuilding effort, they are this year’s sentimental favorite.
The rival Indianapolis Colts understand. They just want to play the role of spoiler this coming weekend.

The Sun Life Stadium in Miami will host the Super Bowl XLIV game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, February 7. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

“There’s a reason America is pulling for New Orleans, and why wouldn’t they? They’ve been through a lot,” Colts safety Antoine Bethea said last week. “Sports tends to pull people together, so it’s commendable for New Orleans to be, as I guess you’d say, America’s team right now. But at the same time, we’re going to go out there as the Indianapolis Colts and play ball.”
The reach of New Orleans’ fans goes all the way to the highest levels of the White House.
“You know, I think both teams are terrific,” President Barack Obama told ABC News. “I guess I am rooting a little bit for the Saints as the underdog, partly just because when I think about what’s happened in New Orleans over the last several years and how much that team means to them. You know, I’m pretty sympathetic.”
The Colts know they’re still the favorite in at least one state, Indiana, and one city, Las Vegas. Bookmakers have installed them as a 5-point favorite, prompting Obama and others to hope for an upset on Feb. 7 in Miami.
“He’s entitled to his opinion and why wouldn’t he be cheering for them?” Bethea said of Obama’s decision to support the Saints. “Like I said, the city has been through a lot. But the Colts, man, we’re going to go down there and give them a show.”
NFL scraps plan for 2nd game in Britain in 2010
Meanwhile the NFL has said it has scrapped plans to play a second regular-season NFL game in Britain next season.
Two weeks ago, the league announced that the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos would play at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 31. That will mark the fourth straight season in which the NFL has played a regular-season game in the British capital.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last year that the league was considering adding a second game. But the NFL said on its Web site that uncertainty related to collective bargaining talks and the current economic climate “were critical factors in our decision not to play a second game in the UK.”
“Playing one game in the UK is a significant investment. Playing a second game in the UK is an even bigger investment,” the NFL said. “Our ambition to bring a second game to the UK is as strong as ever. Once the current uncertainty is resolved, we will be in a strong position to bring multiple games to our UK fan base.”
The NFL has played games at Wembley for the last three seasons, with more than 80,000 fans at each game. The first game featured the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants beating the Miami Dolphins 13-10. In 2008, the New Orleans Saints beat the San Diego Chargers 37-32. And this season, the New England Patriots defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-7 in October.
Aside from Wembley Stadium, Manchester and Glasgow, Scotland, are being looked at as potential venues to host NFL games in the future.
In October, before the New England-Tampa Bay game, Goodell said the idea of eventually putting an expansion team in London was of “tremendous interest” to the NFL. He gave no timeline when such a decision might be taken.
Note: Super Bowl XLIV will kick off at approx. 6 a.m. on Monday morning, February 8 (Thai Time). The game will be shown live on Truevisions (ASN) channel 108.