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Sat, Feb 16, 2013, 00:00

Compiled by MARY HANNIGAN

One man loses his grip as wrestling falls out of Games

The world of wrestling was not, it would be fair to say, best pleased with the decision of the International Olympic Committee’s executive board to drop the sport – for now – from the 2020 Games, despite it featuring in the Olympics since right back at the inaugural affair in Athens.

“A piece of the Olympic idea is dying with this decision,” as aggrieved German wrestling official Jannis Zamanduridis put it.

In the aftermath of the announcement, there followed a rather unique sporting squabble – wrestling versus modern pentathlon – supporters of the former up in arms over the decision to keep the latter in the Games at wrestling’s expense, when it had been anticipated it might be the one to get the axe (the gist of the argument being that any sporting contest that includes shooting, fencing, swimming, show jumping and a cross-country run, as the modern pentathlon does, is just, well, silly, and doesn’t belong in the Olympics).

But the modern pentathlon survives as one of the 25 “core” sports in the Olympic programme, while wrestling must battle it out with the likes of baseball, karate and squash to get back in the Games when the IOC meets later this year.

Wrestling devotees are hopeful they can persuade the IOC to readmit the sport for 2020, American Cael Sanderson, a former Olympic champion, reckoning the decision “might just awaken a sleeping giant here”.

The future of humanity (apparently)

Russian coach Vladimir Uruimagov seems less optimistic, though, as the opening line in a piece on R-Sport suggested: “Gay rights activists with a vendetta against masculinity are behind plans to cut wrestling from the Olympic program, the coach of a London 2012 gold medal-winner told R-Sport on Tuesday.”

Eh? “If they expel wrestling now, that means that gays will soon run the whole world,” said Uruimagov, describing the decision as “a blow to masculine origins”.

“It turns out this committee is headed by representatives of these minorities,” he added, insisting “the future of humanity is at stake”. (And you thought it was only wrestling.)

“It is necessary for millions around the world who understand that this is a man’s sport,” he continued, appearing to forget women compete in wrestling too, “and who understand the need to continue the human race to go out and explain their position to the Olympic Committee. We should prove and explain that in any other case there is no future.”

Quite a, well, powerful argument, then, for allowing wrestling back in to the 2020 Games, but whether the sport’s governing body will choose Uruimagov to present their case to the IOC remains to be seen.

Indoor hockey game called off due to meteor strike

It’s fairly unusual for a sporting event in an indoor arena to be postponed, as the Ice Youth Hockey League game between Belye Medvedi of Chelyabinsk and Magnitogorsk’s Stalnye Lisy was yesterday. Even more atypical was the reason: stadium damaged by meteor.

Traktor Chelyabinsk announced the news on Facebook: “The emergency services have confirmed that the walls of the Arena Traktor were among those structures to suffer damage . . .”

The stadium was opened in 2009 and has a 7,500 capacity for matches and 9,000 for concerts – which it can stage without, wackily, thawing the ice.

Canadian goalkeeper Michael Garnett, one of the club’s imports, was, initially, unaware that a meteor had struck, although it wouldn’t be correct to say he was blissfully so.

He was, he told the Canadian Press, “jolted out of bed”, and “when he looked out the window, he says he saw a bright streak across the sky”. He assumed there had been a plane crash or a bomb blast – but he still set off for training.

Was he traumatised? Seems not. “Meteorite shook Chelyabinsk this morning. Shook my whole building and woke me up!,” he tweeted. “So cool!”

Gallagher's gold medal haul at 150 and counting

So, who’s the most successful Irish athlete of all time? It depends, of course, what criteria you choose, but if you opt for a medal count then Hugh Gallagher of Creevy, Co Donegal, will be severely hard to top.

Gallagher collected the 150th gold medal of his career at the National Indoor Masters’ Athletics Championship in Athlone, a collection that makes Usain Bolt’s haul look like a mere speck of dust.

In all, he picked up three golds, in the shot putt, 60 metres and long jump, and he hopes to add to that collection at the National Outdoor championships in Tullamore in August, the same month he turns 89. “If God spares me, I’ll be in Tullamore,” he told the Donegal Democrat.

If you were hoping to hear Gallagher has lived a life of debauchery, just to give you some hope – no joy. “I never drank or smoked and I train every day,” he said.

Maradona proves he's still the daddy of 'em all - just don't expect him to be there for the birth

Hearty congratulations to Diego Maradona for becoming a father again this week, his girlfriend Victoria Ojeda giving birth to a boy in Buenos Aires.

Daddy, alas, wasn’t pacing the hospital corridors puffing a cigar – he was busy with business in Dubai.

“My feeling is that Diego’s going to show up at any moment,” an optimistic Alfredo Cahe, Maradona’s doctor, told Reuters, before revealing of the baby: “He’s a Diego, with a big head and lots of hair.”

No paternity disputes there, then. Although England fans might want to know if his left hand was raised skyward when he emerged (get over it).

There was, of course, a bit of a paternity barney a few years back about another of Maradona’s sons after what he claimed was merely a 24-hour entanglement with a woman from Naples.

Nine months later, in September 1986, the product of their day-long dalliance was born, Maradona finally saying “hello, son” 17 years later when they bumped in to each other on a golf course, like you do.

And what have the 2013 and 1986 sons in common? They were both christened, well, Diego.

This, of course, is not an uncommon occurrence in the sporting world, George Foreman, rather famously, being the possessor of five sons called George – George jnr, George III, George IV, George V and George VI.

As he explained a few years back, “if you’re going to get hit as many times as I’ve been hit by Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Evander Holyfield – you’re not going to remember many names,” which was fair enough.

It will, though, always be hard to top the name the late Emlyn Hughes gave his first-born, which half suggested he might have been anticipating a boy.

It was a girl, as it turned out.

Her name: Emma Lynn. After that? A boy. Name? Emlyn jnr. Naturally.

At 50, Jordan is still raking it in and walking on Air

If (a) you’re a basketball fan and (b) you’re already feeling old, look away now: Michael Jordan will be 50 tomorrow.

So, how is the man, hailed by many as the greatest player of all time, holding up financially a decade after his retirement? Not bad at all, as a Forbes headline suggested this week: “How Michael Jordan Still Earns $80 Million a Year.”

The bulk of that comes from his association with Nike, his branded basketball shoes still cornering, remarkably, 58 per cent of the American market. Sales were up by 30 per cent in 2012, with the brand now generating $1.75 billion globally.

His original five-year deal with Nike back in the 1980s? A pittance at $500,000 annually.

LeBron James, according to Forbes, is the top-seller among current NBA players with shoe deals, “but Jordan outsold him by a 6 to 1 margin in 2012 in the US.” That margin might just increase in 2013 with the release of the Air Jordan XX8, the 28th shoe in the Jordan franchise.

He has several other “corporate partners”, including Gatorade, owns six restaurants, a car dealership, a motorsports team and has an 80 per cent stake in the Charlotte Bobcats, the North Carolina basketball team, which Forbes values at $315 million – and rising. Jordan’s net worth is, they estimate, $650 million.

So, he’s doing grand. And, among sports people, only Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and David Beckham have more fans on Facebook. The legend lives on, then, 10 years after hanging up his Air Jordans.

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