Aaron Royle conquers pain to win triathlon

AARON ROYLE WINNER: Aaron Royle.
Nanjing Night Net

WINNER: Aaron Royle.

NEWCASTLE’S Aaron Royle defied the pain barrier to open his preparations for the Commonwealth Games with a gutsy victory in the Devonport Triathlon on Saturday, which doubled as the Australian and Oceania Olympic distance championship.

The 24-year-old from Maryville outlasted Australian teammate Ryan Fisher in a shoulder-to-shoulder sprint finish to claim his first Devonport title. He finished runner-up twice before.

Australia’s top triathlete with an international ranking of 11, the former world under-23 champion raced with limited preparation after he tore his calf training in January.

The injury required two weeks of intensive physiotherapy at the Australian Institute of Sport.

Royle said afterwards that he was in pain as he crossed the finish line but was determined not “to come to Devonport and finish second again”.

“I decided with about two kilometres to go that I just didn’t have the legs in me and I was going to save myself for a sprint finish,” he said.

“I decided just to keep that tempo going so Ryan still had to work to catch me, but I backed it off a little bit, to save for that sprint finish. It really hurt. Today it hurt a lot.”

Royle said his victory was a confidence boost before the International Triathlon Union season.

“It wasn’t easy, coming down to that last 50 metres,” he said.

“There was a little bit of hustle and bustle.

“We both wanted that inside line, but I just managed to hold him out

“I wanted a hard race.

“When you come up against the Brownlee brothers [Alistair and Jonathan] and [Javier] Gomez and those kind of guys, they are not easy races so you want to try and emulate these races as much as possible.”

Royle said he was pleasantly surprised with his performance so soon after his injury setback.

“I had a couple of weeks out so I have come into this race with no expectations,” he said.

“I had no idea how I was going to go.

“I am actually quite pleased that I’m in decent form right now.”

Read more

ANALYSIS: Hypocrisy descendsto tragedy

Nanjing Night Net

SLOGANEERING: Chris Holstein, Darren Webber, Premier Barry O’Farrell, Alan Hayes, Chris Spence and Chris Hartcher make a statement.

ANALYSIS

IT was Nathan Rees as premier who pledged to ‘‘end the soap opera’’ but it was Barry O’Farrell voters expected would actually get the job done.

Cleaning up the mess from years of Labor scandal and corruption and restoring the electorate’s trust in government was the foundation of the Coalition’s pitch at the 2011 state election on which everything else was built.

But a year out from the next election, in March 2015, that trust has been breached spectacularly, perhaps irrevocably so.

On February 18, the state’s corruption watchdog confirmed two major investigations – one targeting three Central Coast Liberal MPs, Darren Webber (Wyong), Chris Spence (The Entrance) and Chris Hartcher (Terrigal), who after an Independent Commission Against Corruption raid on his electorate office in December was forced to quit as resources minister.

It was the same position held by Ian Macdonald in the former Labor government when he corruptly awarded mining licences to companies involving former MP Eddie Obeid and (separately) Doyles Creek Mining, of which his friend and former union official John Maitland was a director.

This time, ICAC will examine allegations that ‘‘members of parliament corruptly solicited, received and concealed payments from various sources in return for favouring the interests of those responsible for the payments’’.

The allegations include that as chief executive of a water infrastructure firm, Australian Water Holdings, Liberal figure Nick Di Girolamo agreed the company would make ‘‘regular payments’’ to another called Eightbyfive. Eightbyfive was owned by Tim Koelma, who became Mr Hartcher’s senior policy adviser.

ICAC said the payments were ‘‘purportedly for the provision of media, public relations and other services and advice, in return for which Mr Hartcher favoured the interests of AWH’’.

The three MPs have suspended their Liberal Party membership.

But if that wasn’t bad enough, the Premier, under opposition questioning this week, admitted he ‘‘dropped in’’ to a meeting attended by Mr Di Girolamo and former resources minister Mr Hartcher about the Wallarah 2 mine proposed near Wyong.

The meeting, on February 28, 2012, may have occurred before Mr Di Girolamo was placed on the lobbyist register as representing mine proponent, Korean government-owned company Kores.

Mr O’Farrell said he ‘‘dropped in to say hello’’ to Kores president Kim Shin-jong, also in attendance, and ‘‘to apologise for the fact that I hadn’t previously been able to see him’’.

Even ignoring the damaging corruption inquiry, the statement is a huge blow to the Coalition’s credibility and faith with voters.

Wallarah 2 is the mine Mr O’Farrell himself said the government would not allow.

‘‘The next Liberal-National government will ensure that mining can’t occur here,’’ Mr O’Farrell told a Central Coast rally before the election.

Water catchments would be protected ‘‘no ifs, no buts, a guarantee’’, he said.

Mr O’Farrell and his Central Coast candidates posed for a photo in T-shirts with the slogan ‘‘water not coal’’.

Mr Hartcher, as opposition resources spokesman, wrote to residents that the Coalition would use special legislation to protect the catchment if it had to.

The mine was refused by the former Labor government just before the election. A new application was lodged under the Coalition.

The Department of Planning has recommended that it be approved.

Mr O’Farrell said repeatedly the assessment of the mine was being done independently by the Planning Assessment Commission, without the kind of interference or politicking that occurred under Labor.

Which begs the question, if the process is entirely independent, why do coal companies seek meetings about specific projects and why do ministers agree to attend?

And why promise in opposition to block a mine?

‘‘T-shirts shouldn’t lie’’ read a placard I saw at a coal protest in Sydney last year.

Nor should the pollies who wear them.

By SEAN NICHOLLS

VOTERS have turned on the O’Farrell government and are threatening to throw it out of office after just one term in a dramatic resetting of the political contest in NSW.

Three years after Barry O’Farrell was swept to power after a historic rejection of the long-serving Labor government, the latest Fairfax-Nielsen poll shows Labor is leading the Coalition 51per cent to 49per cent on a two-party preferred basis. The turnaround represents a 15per cent swing since the March 2011 election and is the first time Labor has led the Coalition since 2008.

Labor’s primary vote – which crashed to a historic low of 25.6per cent in 2011, has recovered to 35per cent – an improvement of 12points since the last Nielsen poll in March 2013.

The Coalition’s primary vote has fallen to 40per cent from 51.2per cent at the last election – down 12points since last year’s poll.

If the 15per cent swing was applied uniformly across the state, it would see the Coalition lose up to 25 seats – wiping out gains it made in western Sydney, the central coast and the Hunter three years ago.

The poll has bad news for Mr O’Farrell, revealing an 8-point slide in his personal approval rating since the Nielsen poll in March last year.

Read more

Adam Hewitt back just in time to help Wests/UC in title defence

Adam Hewitt will return for Wests-UC this weekend after missing most of the season. Photo: Colleen PetchStress fractures in his back forced last season’s grand final hero Adam Hewitt to miss the start of Wests/UC’s title defence.
Nanjing Night Net

But the experienced campaigner has timed his return to form to perfection with the chance to reclaim the two-day Douglas Cup premiership just around the corner.

In his 100th game for the club, Hewitt compiled a patient 117 from 220 balls to help Wests/UC to a first-innings score of 259 in its penultimate-round match with North Canberra Gungahlin at Jamison Oval.

Norths will resume on Saturday on 0-6.

Hewitt has been rewarded with selection in an ACT team to take on the NSW second XI, featuring promising fast bowlers Gurinder Sandhu and Josh Lalor, at Manuka Oval starting on Monday.

The all-rounder has been unable to bowl for more than 12 months because of the back injury first sustained at the end of 2012.

He travelled to England in the off-season to play in the Lancashire League before the stress fractures flared again.

Hewitt returned to the crease in January as a specialist batsman, with MRI scans last week showing the fractures have healed.

”I was advised to take the majority of the season off, even with batting and fielding, and lay on the couch for six weeks and not really do anything to make sure it healed fully,” Hewitt said.

”It kept occurring in England and I had it before I left.

”I got back into batting at the start of January and now I can start up some strength (training) and hopefully have a good pre-season.”

Hewitt played a crucial role in Wests/UC winning its first two-day title since 2007-08, scoring an unbeaten 154 in last season’s grand final victory against Tuggeranong.

After a slow start to its title defence, Wests/UC has roared back into contention and sits equal second on the ladder.

”We’re very confident, we don’t have too many changes to last year,” Hewitt said.

”Going back to back is a very difficult thing to do, but we know we can do it.

”We spoke about a little bit of complacency in some games, but coming into finals time we’re really serious and ready to take out the title.”

In other games on Saturday, Queanbeyan (4-105) needs 28 more runs to get first-innings points against ANU at Freebody Oval, Eastlake (4-143) requires another 40 in its match with Weston Creek Molonglo (182) at Kingston Oval and Tuggeranong (9-245) will be chasing just its second win of the season against Ginninderra at Chisholm Oval.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read more

Australian Opal Abby Bishop keen to return to Canberra Capitals after stint in Hungary

Canberra Capitals star Abby Bishop has reaffirmed her desire to play for the club for the next WNBL season after accepting a rich two-month deal with Hungarian heavyweights PEAC Pecs.
Nanjing Night Net

Bishop will depart for Europe on Saturday with six-month-old niece Zala, whom she has cared for since birth.

The short-term nature of the deal means the Australian Opals forward can still potentially return for the Capitals next season.

The club’s reigning most valuable player is contracted to Canberra for the 2015-16 campaign, but is a free agent next season.

Bishop admitted Zala’s needs, plus the fact she’s recently bought a new home in Canberra, will be factors in whether she plays in Europe or recommits to the Capitals.

”It definitely is a factor. I’ll be coming straight back to Canberra after I get back from Europe, and I’ll spend the off-season here,” Bishop said.

”I’ll speak to Graffy [Canberra coach Carrie Graf] and the Capitals about next season.”

”I’d love to stay here.”

The Capitals have accommodated Bishop’s personal situation, allowing her to take Zala on away trips.

Bishop said the willingness of PEAC Pecs to follow suit convinced her to sign the deal.

”They’re really supportive of Zala and I have somebody else coming with me to help look after her,” Bishop said.

”They’ve organised lots of things for the baby, I definitely wouldn’t go if they weren’t [supportive].

”Like I’ve said before, we’re a package deal and Canberra were very supportive of it, it’s worked out the new club is too.”

Graf remains optimistic Bishop will return for the Capitals next season, setting up a mouth-watering post partnership with Opals star Lauren Jackson.

”In an ideal world she’d love to stay here, it’s whether we can present an offer that’s palatable for her,” Graf said.

”It’s a different life for her now, she has a child. I think they’re pluses for us, and she’s signed for us year after next.

”It’s a short contract and hopefully it provides a good financial hit and an opportunity, if she wants, to come back to the Caps rather than go to Europe.

”She has to weigh it all up, but I think this certainly helps our cause in terms of trying to get her back.”

Bishop expects to hear back from Basketball Australia officials shortly on whether they will permit Zala to travel with the team, admitting last week her involvement hinges on it.

”It’s still a work in progress and I hope to hear from them next week,” Bishop said.

”I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read more

GWS’s Boyd to play against ACT at Ainslie

Tom Boyd with his mum Anita. Photo: Anthony JohnsonAFL legend Kevin Sheedy expects No.1 draft pick Tom Boyd to have some nerves before he runs out for his first game for the GWS Giants.
Nanjing Night Net

It will not be in Wagga Wagga for Saturday’s NAB Challenge match against St Kilda but instead at Ainslie Oval for a hit-out with the club’s reserves team.

The match against an ACT invitational side continues Boyd’s low-key entrance to senior football after he was the overwhelming top selection at last year’s draft.

Standing at 201 centimetres and tipping the scales at 102 kilograms, the 18-year-old already has the physical attributes needed to excel at the elite level. However, the Giants have been careful to monitor his workload and have kept him in cotton wool during the pre-season.

Sheedy, who will work as a mentor with the ACT team, said the NAB Challenge had shown it took key forwards longer to shake off the rust of the off-season than did other players.

”At this time of the year big men have got to get their technique and balance right,” he said. ”Watching the games so far you haven’t seen great marking in February.

”The things you’d be looking at from Tom Boyd are, does he lead well, his bodywork, kicks coming towards him, can he actually recover and be a one-grab player at low level?

”If he takes a couple of grabs that’s fantastic because he’ll be nervous, it’s his first game, it’s the first time he’s played against a bit more senior opposition, he’s just come out of the under-18s.

”It’s not all about size – you’ve got to have intelligence, you’ve got to have footy smarts, you’ve got to have team operational skills and working in with different types of players from all over Australia.”

Sheedy finds himself in the unusual position of coaching against GWS after being at their helm for their first two seasons.

He has handed the reigns to Leon Cameron and has a seat on the club’s board. His main focus is assisting with recruitment and ensuring the Giants foster the talent within their development zones, which include the ACT.

While there has been a lack of Canberra players drafted in recent years, Sheedy believes the work the Giants are doing in the region will pay off. ”For me it’s about assisting the development of ACT players, along with making sure we have some good kids coming through along with the under-23s. Lots of different areas have quiet periods of talent coming through.

”Eventually it will lead to more players getting drafted, kids will get inspired and all of a sudden you’ll see a few more come through.”

Boyd will be joined by a host of senior-listed players in the GWS Giants team, including Stephen Gilham, Will Hoskin-Elliott and Zac Williams.

■SATURDAY

GWS Giants Reserves v ACT at Ainslie Oval, 11.30am.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Read more