31 January, 2011

How music can make a workout more effective:

           Listening to music can make exercise up to 15 per cent more effective, says a well known sports psych - ologist. So what works best?
Black Flag or Bob Marley? It’s a question I often ask myself a few saturated miles in, as the rain hangs in curtains, my muscles feel like overstretched elastic bands and there’s a hill in front of me, glowering like a bully.
But it’s been a long run, it’s getting dark, and I need punk. My wet fingers smudge across the iPod dial and the singer Henry Rollins is there, yelling in my ears like a demented drill sergeant, driving me onwards and upwards through the mud.
For me, running without music is unthinkable. But I’m certainly not the only one who checks that his MP3 player is charged even before he looks for his trainers. Almost everyone who exercises seems to listen to music. Since the arrival of the first Sony Walkman three decades ago, earphones have been essential for those wanting to get fit. But why? And do the right tunes really have a measurable effect on our performance?
“If you co-ordinate your efforts with musical tempo or the rhythmic qualities of music then there will be a significant ergogenic or work-enhancing effect,” says Dr Costas Karageorghis, the head of the Music and Sport Research Group at Brunel University and author of a new book, Inside Sport Psychology. “It colours your perception of effort and enhances mood up to the point of voluntary exhaustion. At low-to-moderate exercise intensities we have found a reduction in perceived exertion of 8-12 per cent with carefully selected music. When you synchronise your work rate to musical tempo you can increase endurance by up to 15 per cent.”
That’s a huge boost to anyone’s training — and it’s no accident that many elite athletes are well-known for using music to prepare for a major event.
“We know anecdotally that the rower James Cracknell, who has won two Olympic gold medals, used to listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to create his own bubble, shut out the pre-race hullabaloo and enable him to get into the right aggressive mindset,” says Karageorghis.
Dame Kelly Holmes: two-Olympic Gold Medal winner (2004)
“Other athletes like more sedate music. Dame Kelly Holmes listened to the soulful ballads of Alicia Keys going into the Athens Olympic Games. She found that the lyrical content reflected how she felt. She had been quite depressed going into the Games, having had a spate of injuries, and her participation had been in question. The music prevented her from getting too het up about the task in hand.”
The US swimmer Michael Phelps listened to I’m Me, by the hip-hop star Lil’ Wayne, as he prepared for the Beijing Olympics, finding affirmation and inspiration in the line: “Yes, I’m the best and no I ain’t positive, I’m definite.”
Dr. Costas Karageorghoris (right): Head of Brunel University Sports Science Department
“I like a lot of drum ’n’ bass before a fight,” says Nick “Bang Bang” Blackwell, the current English Middleweight boxing champion. “Either that or hip-hop. Sometimes I’ll listen to soppy stuff when I’m running. It depends whether I want to psyche myself up or chill out.”
According to Dr Karageorghis, the selection of the tunes is critical to achieving the best result: they must not only have the right tempo or rhythm to co-ordinate with your work rate (see box), but also reflect the music you like. Just listening to whatever the gym pumps out won’t work — unless you happen to love chart dance music. We all bring external associations to the music we listen to, and these can be as important as the beat in helping us to get more out of our exercise.
“For example, we often link certain music with heroic feats,” says Karageorghoris. “Lots of athletes use the Vangelis soundtrack to Chariots of Fire; it’s not particularly loud or driving, but they associate it with victory.”
“I definitely find some beats help me,” says Clare Bebber, who has just started circuit training at home. “I’ve always been a swimmer and obviously I couldn’t listen to music doing that. But now I find it motivates me and distracts me from just counting repetitions. Anything upbeat is good — although nothing new, I have to know where it’s going. I listen to a lot of 1990s house music as that has really good associations for me.”
Recapturing the 3am euphoria felt in a sweaty club years ago seems to be a theme for many people, and repetitive beats linked to good memories can be a real boost.
“I like music with a lot of energy,” says Alison Powell who runs distances of 5km. “I often listen to Deadmau5: it makes me smile and that adds to the high of running. I used to go clubbing a lot in my twenties and it reminds me of that — I suppose running is my middle-aged dancing. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics, though. It’s just too distracting. I find running quite a meditative time; it’s when I sort through a lot of things in my head and I don’t want to interfere with that.”
For those wanting to compile the perfect soundtrack to their training, the advice is simple: first find out the beats per minute of your favourite songs — the most straightforward way to do this is to put the title of the song and “beats per minute” into Google, and then use this information to build your playlists from warm-up to high intensity and back down again, making sure that the tempo (the speed and rhythm of the music) matches your running cadence.
“I used to listen to different music when I was running longer distances, such as half marathons,” says Powell.
“I liked slower artists such as Moby. I also needed a lot more variety when running for two or three hours.”
Try to match the music to the activity you are taking part in, and the mood you want to get into. For example, loud, fast, rhythmical music with a lot of bass can be a great preparation before interval training.
If all that sounds like too much work, there are plenty of CDs offering a ready-made running soundtrack, such as the Ministry of Sound’s Running Trax compilations, currently being advertised on TV. But choose carefully, says Dr Karageorghis, who was a consultant on Run to the Beat 2010, a music half-marathon in London: “Look at the track listing. If it conforms with your own preferences then go ahead, it’s likely to have a beneficial effect.”
However, it’s important to remember that silence also has its place.
“We always start off with a quiet gym,” says Tom Crudgington, a strength and conditioning coach at Body Development who trains both professional and amateur athletes. “It’s important to focus on the exercise itself until you can get it right before you turn on the music. You see it all the time in big health clubs: blokes doing bicep curls badly while they look around at all the girls and watch MTV.”
“Try to alternate two sessions with music to one without,” says Dr Karageorghis. “Music works sort of like a drug, and if you use it too much, you are likely to build up a tolerance and reduce its effectiveness.”
It’s also worth remembering that not everyone likes listening to music while they exercise — the Olympian sprinter Daley Thompson says he could only ever listen to his body while training.
But if music works for you, then the advice is to use it: you could train better and longer than without. Who knows? It might even help you to keep those New Year’s resolutions.
Need to know
The Ministry of Sound Pump it Up Body Burn DVD (extract shown at the video tab above) costs £14.99 and is available at HMV and online from www.ministryofsound.com

Equestrian: Ireland's Jesica Kürten loses best horses:

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Bad news for Jessica Kurten - and Irish equestrianism
Irish Show Jumping has been rocked by the news that a major dispute has arisen between the Antrim-born rider and Lady Georgina Forbes, five of whose German based horses Jessica Kürten has been riding, for Ireland, with much success over the past eight years.
Lady Forbes, an Irish citizen herself based in Switzerland, frequently visits her ancestral home in County Longford – the 17th century Castle Forbes in Newtownforbes. It appears that the existing contract between Mrs Kürten and Lady Forbes expired on 31 December 2010.
The former Jessica Chesney, Mrs Kürten was born in Culleybackey, Co Antrim (some three miles from Ballymena) in Nov 1969 and following her marriage to Eckard Kürten moved to Hünxe in the German Rhineland in 1994. She represented Ireland at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 on
Diamond’s Exchange finishing 26th in the individual event and 8th in the team competition and again in 2004 Athens on Castle Forbes Maike, finishing 18th in the individual competition. 2010 proved a very successful year for Jessica – winner of the Rolex FEI World Cup Qualifier at the 5* Mechelen, in
Belgium I and despite an early season injury, finished the year at no.11 in the F.E.I world rankings.
Jessica has spoken to a German website and reportedly said :
“I have been very fortunate to have celebrated many great victories with the horses from Lady Forbes and I am very grateful for this time.
“Both parties have profited from this relationship.”
A spokesman for Jessica later said: “There are financial commitments which need to be cleared up between the owner and the Kürtens, as well as third parties.
“There are diverse details also for the German tax authorities who need to be sorted out due to the fact that Lady Georgina Forbes is Irish and lives in Switzerland.
“It goes without saying that the horses from Lady Georgina Forbes will continue to be provided for and cared for while they are at Jessica Kürten’s facility in Germany”
According to the official spokesperson for Lady Forbes, German solicitor, Eva Jacobs, the dispute is, however, likely to end up in the courts.
The official statement from Eva Jacobs says:
“As an official spokesperson and at the same time legal representative of Lady Georgina Forbes I would like to correct the public statements of Ms Jessica Kürten as follows:
1. It is not correct that Lady Forbes decided not to use her horses in sports events at the moment. The truth is that the contract with Ms Kürten was terminated by Lady Forbes as of December 31, 2010. After Ms Kürten refused – in violation of contractual obligations – to hand over the horses to the owner Lady Forbes after the contract had come to an end, Lady Forbes explicitly forbade her to take part in tournaments with the horses.
2. Since Ms Jessica Kürten refused to surrender Lady Forbes’ horses, Lady Forbes was forced to seek legal support in Germany. A temporary injunction is pending, further legal actions will follow.
3. Ms Jessica Kürten doesn’t have any claims concerning Lady Forbes. Claims raised by Ms Jessica Kürten after the end of the contract don’t have any basis. In case Ms Kürten does not revoke these allegations, Lady Forbes will seek clarification in court concerning this case as well.
4. Ms Kürten refuses to allow a complete examination of the horses by a veterinarian selected by Lady Forbes. Furthermore, Ms Jessica Kürten explicitly refuses to allow this veterinarian to take a blood sample or respectively to hand over a blood sample taken in his presence.
Robert Splaine (on horse)
Eva Jacob Attorney at law Roth, Klein, Gilcher & Partner Following the recent comments from another German based Irish rider, Dennis Lynch that he was withdrawing from the Irish team, following Robert Splaine’s re-confirmation as Team Manager up to the 2012 Olympics, this latest development will come as another unwelcome distraction at a time when Ireland needs its best riders – and horses – if qualification is to be obtained for the 2012 Games, with only one further opportunity to qualify, in 2011.
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30 January, 2011

Dawn of new Cork City era has "Cockney Rebel" buzzing:

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The Cockney Rebel has come home to Leeside
 "It's great to be
  back in Cork
  and I'm really looking
forward to the season" 
  - Danny Murphy

                The Cockney Rebel is back and will play First Division football for the first time with Cork City next season. After winning another league medal with Shamrock Rovers, Danny Murphy has returned (for the third and hopefully last time) to his adopted home of Cork and is determined to help get Tommy Dunne's side get promoted to the Premier Division.
         "If we don't get promoted this season, the year will be seen as a failure and rightly so. The only reason I came back to Cork City is to help get them promoted and that's the big issue for us this season. We have to go up this time or we could be left in the wilderness," says Murphy, who has agreed a two-year deal with City.

Cork City FC manager: Tommy Dunne
"I want to be back 
in European football
within three years
with Cork City"- Murphy

Things have changed for the better since the Londoner was 
last here and embroiled in a crisis that brought the club to its knees. "The club was in turmoil the last time I was here but now it's a far better run club and the people here now have the club at heart and are not interested in lining their own pockets. We have a very good manager in Tommy Dunne; he cares about the club and wants the club to improve. There is a lot better atmosphere around the place now and I could see that from the moment I arrived back" - said Murphy.
Danny has acquired Joma sporting franchise in Ireland
                "There's only so much of the Cork-Dublin road you can take and with a young family (Danny has a 13 month old son, Shay), it was best to get back here. I want to concentrate on my football and a few other things I have in the pipeline" - says Danny, who has acquired the franchise in Ireland for Joma, the Spanish sportswear company.
                 "We're trying to nail a few clubs (to sign up to Joma) for the new season, but with the way the recession is, it's hard work," - says Murphy.
                Danny believes that if City fans trust FORAS and follow the Shamrock Rovers model, they won't go far wrong, as they try to rebuild the club's image, standing and reputation.
                Murphy reckons that Waterford, Shelbourne and possibly Limerick will be City's main rivals for promotion this season.
Cork City: Campeones 2005
                Murphy agrees that the happiest time of his career has been with Cork, though another career highlight was making his QPR debut as a raw 17-year-old. "Yeah, making my debut as a teenager with QPR was a career highlight but I've played my best football and enjoyed my football most here at Cork City. I won the League (2005) and Setanta Cup (2008) and intend to add to my medal haul here. Winning the League against Derry on the final night of the (2005) season was probably the biggest moment in my career," - he added.  Hopefully there'll be many more in the seasons ahead for the one and only:  "Cockney Rebel."                

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Six Nations Preview: "Until they go out on the razz, England will never feel that bond"

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Can these scenes be repeated in 2011???
It's not often that I have a headline featuring England (though I have nothing against the English), but this is a very wise quote from former England rugby legend Jeremy Guscott. 

There can be little doubt that an RBS Six Nations campaign which takes place in World Cup year is more important than a Six Nations campaign in other years and this year is no different.  

France: 2010 Grand Slam Champions but impossibly unpredictable
"They've got the best talent in Europe and the weakest mind in Europe. They're good enough to win in England though."  -  Stuart Barnes on France.
"France can't win in Twickenham or Ireland (which are their away games this year)." - England 2003 World Cup (and two-time Heineken Cup) winner: Laurence Dallaglio

Jeremy Guscott

"Wales are waiting to happen, but can't play for 80 minutes and are nowhere near their Grand Slam winning sides" - former England and Lions star: Jeremy Guscott. 

2011 is last Six Nations for many Irish stars: 2011 WILL be Brian's last World Cup

"Ireland somehow look better than last year, eventhough they've the same players." - Dallaglio 
"Ireland are way past their sell by date" - All Black all-time leading cap holder: Seán Fitzpatrick

"Italy's big game every year is always against Scotland, though they could fancy
Italy:  can't play for 80 minutes
themselves against Wales this year" - former England international: Stuart Barnes
"Italy won't win a game. If rugby was a 40 minute game, Italy would win a lot of matches. Problem for them is that it's an 80 minute game." - Jeremy Guscott 

Scotland's star man: scrum-half Mike Blair

"I think Scotland will win three games; against Ireland at home, Italy and Wales." - Stuart Barnes

All Black all-time record cap holder:  Seán Fitzpatrick
The 2011 RBS Six Nations starts this Friday and is certainly more than a dress rehearsal for the World Cup.
"It's the best rugby competition in the World, due to it's rich history." - Seán Fitzpatrick

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Cork's Nemo Rangers are Munster Club Football Kings....now for the All-Ireland!

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Action from today's tight battle
Nemo: Munster kings thanks to 'keeper's late save
  Nemo Rangers have won the Munster Senior Club Football Final today, beating old rivals Dr. Crokes from Kerry in the Final.  Nemo played with the (strong) wind in the first half and went in with a 13 points  (1-13 to 0-3)  lead at the half-time break. Nemo, playing into the teeth of a gale in the second half, were under the cosh and Crokes scored the first seven points of the second half. Nemo held on though and came out the right side of a 1-15 to 1-13 scoreline. Nemo will now play St. Brigid's from Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final on 26th February.
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29 January, 2011

World Title Fight: Rigondeaux v "Big Bang" Casey Sparring Session and Press Conference in Cork city today:

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This photo is what all the fuss is about...oh and the World Title belt as well!
James Clancy & the WBA Bantamweight Champion of the World
Reigning WBA Super Bantam - weight World Champion and two-time Olympic (2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens) Bantam - weight Gold Medalist: Guillermo Rigondeaux conducted a sparring session and press conference with Willie "Big Bang" Casey in Cork city (Ireland) today. Today's public event took place ahead of the pair's World Boxing Association (WBA) Title Fight at City West Convention Centre in Dublin on March 19th. The Special Event today was held in the Montenotte Hotel in Cork city in front of some 1,200 lucky fans, who were admitted free into the venue as a special "Thank you" for the continued support that has been shown for both fighters. The pair will conduct a further unconfirmed press conference in Dublin ahead of the fight on Saint Patrick's Weekend. 
             The World Champion conducted a light to moderate training session at the Montenotte Hotel today - though his trainer (Rick DeCubas) punching him on the stomach while he did sit-ups; didn't look like it felt light to moderate. Shortly after Rodrigeaux finished his 60 minute sparring session, Ireland's Willie "Big Bang" Casey came on stage and he
Me & WBA Bantamweight Title Challenger: Willie Casey
really filled the room with his bubbly personality. The (World) Champion (who fought in front of 80,000 plus fans at Cowboys Stadium on the undercard of Pacquaio v Marghareeta a few months back) was more quiet and under-stated, going about his business without any fuss. 
The look of a World (and two-time Olympic) Champion
Champion and Challenger:  ready for war
             In what was a refreshing change from the "norm" in pro boxing, both fighters spoke with respect of and to each other, though the fact that neither fighter speaks the same language might be partly responsible for that. When asked if he'd win by knock-out, the Champion replied by saying (in Spanish):  "For me, the knock-out is not important. What I am here to do is to go home with the (World Title) belt still in my posession. If the knock-out comes, it comes. As long as I win, I don't mind how I win. I have a lot of respect for Casey. I know he has worked hard to get where he has gotten. I will not be intimidated by the home crowd however. Professional sport is not allowed in Cuba, so I am used of fighting all over the World and loud, intimidating audiences are not a problem for me."
               Willie "Big Bang" Casey was more ebullient and certainly seems more than confident heading into what is unquestionably the biggest fight of his career. When asked how it would feel to join such Irish fistic greats as Barry McGuigan and Steve Collins by winning a World Title, "Big Bang" interjected: "It'd be incredible.
Guillermo  Rigondeaux's trainer translates
All my life I've worked to get this (World Title) chance. Irish fight fans are truly special and they will have a massive impact on March 19th. To know that everyone in the arena is behind me, willing me to win and almost jumping into the ring, will make for a very special ocassion. To win a World Title in Ireland would be a dream come true. I respect Rigondeaux and he is a great fighter, but March 19th is my night and the (World Title) belt will not be leaving Ireland with him."

Trainers - but not enemies - together
             Both fighters squared off before posing for photos and aoutographs. Both fighters (and trainers) appeared to have tremendous mutual respect for each other and I asked "Big Bang" Casey if I could get a photo of both fighters shaking hands. However, Rigondeaux had vanished in the blink of an eye, lightning fast in and out of the ring evidently. Both trainers talked openly to each other in an atmosphere of mutual respect, which was very pleasant to see in the often distasteful world of professional boxing.
World Champion for one second!

This is what we're here for: the WBA World Title Belt...and a curvy lady
          WBA Super Bantam - weight Champion of the World (and two - time Olympic boxing gold medal winning king at Bantam Weight): Guillermo Rigondeaux will defend his World Title against Willie "Big Bang" Casey at the City West Convention Centre in Dublin on the evening of 19th March, 2011. Tickets are on sale now at www.ticketgroup.ie and are priced at €50, €70 and €130 [ringside].

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FIFA World Cup 2022 Trial-run:

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See you in 2022:   Port Stadium Doha,  Qatar
The 2011 Asian Cup has just finished today at the location for the 2022 FIFA World Cup; Qatar. The final of FIFA's most populous confederation (i.e. Asia) took place in Doha. Japan beat Australia 1-0 after extra-time in a most exciting tie. The goal came after 109 yards and was a sweet 12 yard volley from T. Lee, which makes the "Blue Samarai" the most successful Asian nation with their fourth Asian Cup triumph this evening. Japan have been invited to this year's Copa America, and could become the first nation ever to win two continental competitions (on different continents) in one calendar year! Star of the show (and for the entire tournament) was 'keeper Kawashima who time after time saved his side's bacon.
Japan thank their 'keeper for their 2011 Asian Cup win
            The climatic conditions in Qatar were certainly humid throughout, with average temperatures of 20C and summer temperatures look as if they will be most uncomfortable for a summer World Cup in the Gulf. Organisers of World Cup 2022 have much to ponder. 
For now though; JAPAN are 2011 Asian Champions.
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28 January, 2011

London 2012 Olympics: get your tickets NOW:

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          Ten months ago since President of Ireland Mary McAleese, Pat Hickey, and Ken Egan, Olympic Silver medallist (pictured left) were guests of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games during a tour of the Olympic facilities at the Stadium and at Excel where the Boxing takes place yet here we are exactly 18 months away from the Opening Ceremony of the Games. Two of Britain’s biggest sports stars have today urged the British public to Sign Up and register their interest in tickets at www.tickets.london2012.com. Exactly the same advice goes for the Irish fans. Do NOT just wait and hope that you can get tickets in Ireland through the official channels.
Alistair Cook (above): Man of the Series: Ashes 2010-'11
England Ashes hero Alastair Cook went on an exclusive tour of the Olympic Park and was keen to stress how important it is that people register now to make sure they are part of the greatest show on earth.
Alastair said: ‘London 2012 will be a once in a lifetime opportunity, the Olympic Games is the biggest sporting event in the world and whether you’re an athlete or a fan you don’t want to miss out. It’s really important that people Sign Up for tickets, you won’t get this chance again so go online today and register.
‘Having great (home) support behind you makes a big difference, I’ve experienced it myself in England as well as with the Barmy Army abroad and it really spurs you on. As athletes around the country prepare to compete, and with more than 2.1 million people having already registered their interest, gold medal hopeful Phillips Iduwo joined Alastair in urging the public to sign up.
Of course with Ireland being ‘so close’ and with a huge number of Irishmen and women in UK, it could also almost feel like a ‘home from home’ for the Irish competitors. Imagine the noise from the Irish audience at the Excel Centre when such as Egan, Paddy Barnes and Katie Taylor compete? Do not just “hope” that you will get tickets ‘nearer the time or on the day’ – a forlorn hope even for friends of the Irish competitors so do SIGN UP now and list the events you are particularly interested in. The Irish team need all the support they can get especially with inevitably a huge British audience
Phillips said: ‘I’m from East London so it’s literally my home Games. It’s the perfect opportunity to win that gold medal” . He is expecting a huge British following in the stadium. The Irish team deserve your support too…. Book tickets early, book flights early and be sure of your place in the Stadium, at Excel or at any of the other events throughout the UK that host Olympic or Paralympic events.
Tickets will go on sale on March 15th but in order for people to put themselves in the front row for information it’s essential they register their interest at www.tickets.london2012.com
There will be 6.6 million tickets available to the public via the ticket application process for the Olympic Games. Details of tickets for the Paralympic Games will be announced later this year.

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