A day of life through sport

Alzain Tareq banner

As the saying goes, sport is a microcosm of life, and surely we saw it all yesterday.

Humble pie, compassion, grief, resurrection, heartbreak, and cats… obviously, cats.

We’ll begin at the end as a death transcended sport around the world.

Neville Neville, the father of former Manchester United footballers Gary and Phil, and current England Netball boss Tracey, died suddenly in Australia while in Sydney supporting his daughter at the Netball World Cup.

He died of a heart attack hours before England’s first game, yet a grief-stricken Tracey was on the sideline, and her brothers supporting in the crowd, as she navigated her team to a closely contested victory against Jamaica.

Movingly, both English and Jamaican teams wore black armbands, as did Manchester United on the first day of the English Premier League season prompting this appreciative tweet from Phil.

As one football league begins another is getting down to the business end of the season as the Women’s Super League ratchets up a notch with just a handful of games to go in the hard-fought competition.

Fighting tooth and nail not only for that all important win but for recognition from the wider sporting community, a 2-2 back-and-forth ding dong between league leaders Sunderland Ladies and last year’s winners Liverpool Ladies yesterday only served to fan the flames of interest in the women’s game following the burning embers lit by England’s fabulous bronze at July’s World Cup.

And even more than that?

Fans can even watch a select few crunch games live on BT Sport towards season’s end and with the top three teams within two points of each other it’ll be a humdinger too.

Meanwhile, the re-birth of the England cricket took place with a 40-minute spell seeing the host side trounce a sorry Australia before lunch on the third day of the fourth Test, winning back the Ashes with a Test to spare.

Eighteen months ago the team was in disarray with back-biting, recriminations, bullying accusations and the long-running heated debate over whether England could do anything without former match-winning but maverick batsman Kevin Pietersen, led in most part by bombastic former tabloid editor Piers Morgan.

After England’s spectacular resurrection Piers could do nothing but post the following.

But where one team celebrated with Champagne-down-the-neck TV interviews, playful players mimicking commentators, and all round tomfoolery, a life-changing decision was imminent for the captain of the opposition.

Respected Australia captain Michael Clarke immediately announced his retirement from international cricket, his body broken, his cricketing soul crushed, but a refusal to leave his team-mates in the lurch he will nevertheless lead his team in the final Test at the Oval rather than retreating to lick his wounds.

Yet lifelong dreams can be achieved even younger for some sport stars.

Eighteen-year-old American swimming sensation Katie Ledecky smashed the 800m world recorld by four seconds. FOUR SECONDS.

This is how you look when you break a world record by four seconds

This is how you look when you break a world record by four seconds

Not only that, it was the culmination of her fifth gold at this World Championships having already won the 200m, 400m, relay and 1500m events.

Akin to Usain Bolt competing in sprint and middle distance races within one Olympic Games, commentators just plain ran out of superlatives for this part women part fish.

Away from the teenage elder stateswoman of world swimming, pre-teen Alzain Tareq from Bahrain took her place on the start line of her second race of the World Championships at the 100m freestyle having already taken part in the 50m butterfly. The 10-year-old was beside herself to be competing alongside her swimming heroes and they, in turn, took her under their collective wing.

Described as “dinky” by Britain’s Fran Halsall the tiny swimmer gained her place by being the fastest in her country, and in turn, made history by becoming the youngest ever competitor at a FINA World Championships.

Yesterday also saw a game changing result in horse racing as a team of three female jockeys beat all the men’s teams to win the Shergar Cup.

Emma-Jayne Wilson, Sammy Jo Bell and Hayley Turner claimed three of the six races with Wilson proclaiming: “I hope that shuts up the doubters”, possibly referring to the jockeys’ coach who only a couple of months ago apologised for saying women “can’t ride”.

Of course, one day in 2015 wouldn’t be complete without cat pictures from the internet and British tennis star Laura Robson obliged, sharing pictures of herself with cat Waffles as part of International Cat Day… No, me neither.

If ever a day thoroughly encompassed life in a day through sport, yesterday was it.

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