Greek star hopes for A-League attention

Former Greek international Sotirios Kyrgiakos has agreed to a two-game guest stint with NSW Premier League side Sydney Olympic.
Nanjing Night Net

The 34-year old will make his debut for the ex-NSL champions against Blacktown Spartans on March 23 and is hoping to catch the eye of A-League clubs for next season.

Kyrgiakos has enjoyed a 15-year professional career with clubs such as Liverpool, Sunderland, Rangers, AEK Athens, Panathinaikos, Eintracht Frankfurt, and most recently, Wolfsburg.

While he missed Greece’s Euro 2004 triumph with a knee injury, he played at Euro 2008 and in the 2010 World Cup, accumulating 61 international caps.

Kyrgiakos said he first thought about moving to Australia when he was part of the Greek squad that played at the MCG in 2006.

“When I met Sydney Olympic technical director Arthur Diles in Athens, I was instantly excited by the opportunity to visit a country I briefly visited in 2006 when Greece played Australia in Melbourne,” he said.

“I’ll never forget nearly 100,000 people at the stadium that night. Greeks in foreign countries have achieved so much and I am aware of the great progress football is making in Australia, attracting star players like [Alessandro] Del Piero, [William] Gallas and [Emile] Heskey.”

Kyrgiakos says he still believes he has what it takes to earn a professional contract in the A-League.

“I am in very good physical condition and I am very focused on playing well for Sydney Olympic. But I want to play for another couple of years and the A-League appeals to me,” he said.

“I have had offers over the past six months from Europe but I want my last contract to be about a new experience, an exciting league and the A-League offers that.”

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

Read more

Report from Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority warned against waste dumping plan

Dredging waste: Scientific advice opposing the dumping of waste in the Great Barrier Reef was ignored. Photo: Bloomberg NewsThe federal government ignored scientific advice when the dumping of millions of tonnes of dredging waste from a mining project into the Great Barrier Reef was approved.
Nanjing Night Net

Documents released under freedom of information laws show the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority warned that approval should not be granted for dumping sediment waste into the reef to make way for a coal project.

”The proposal to dredge and dispose of up to 1.6 million cubic metres of sediment per year … has the potential to cause long-term irreversible harm to areas of the Great Barrier Reef,” the authority’s own report reads.

Under the proposal, the seabed would be dredged to create berths for six coal ships for the Abbot Point coal port expansion. The dredged waste would then be dumped in the Great Barrier Reef.

The report’s author warned particularly of the effects on seagrass meadows and coral reefs.

And yet the chairman of the authority, Russell Reichelt, approved the dumpings late last year.

”The approved disposal area consists of sand, silt and clay and does not contain coral reefs or seagrass beds,” he said in January.

Queensland campaigner for Greenpeace Louise Mathieson said though it may be true the immediate disposal area has no seagrass, muddy plumes can spread for up to 80 kilometres. ”I think the chairman was downplaying the impact of dredging and dumping,” she said. ”What he said does not reflect the expert advice that was coming from staff about the real impacts the project could have, especially the risks to water quality.”

In its dredging permit assessment, the authority states that seagrass in the vicinity of the dredging activity is likely to be affected by the dumping, primarily by reduced light and increased water sediment.

”Coral reefs around Holbourne Island, Nares Rock, Camp Reef, Horseshoe Bay and Cape Upstart also have the potential to be affected by turbid plumes and sedimentation,” the assessment said.

The original application from North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation sought approval to dredge and dump 3 million cubic metres of spoil in the reef waters as part of coal terminal expansion plans at Abbot Point, north of Bowen.

Former federal environment minister Mark Butler extended the deadline for a decision on the application twice last year before the federal election.

Ms Mathieson said whilst these documents go some way in suggesting why a decision was delayed several times under Labor, they do not explain the approval granted by Greg Hunt, the present minister. But Mr Hunt says the groundwork for backing the dumping plan was made by previous state and federal Labor governments.

”This was Labor’s project, announced by Anna Bligh as a massive expansion and then upgraded to a super-terminal with 38 million cubic metres of dredging,” he said. ”The final approval was one-twelfth of this at 3 million cubic metres … I was advised the proposal put forward for offshore disposal was the best option available.”

In a statement released by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, chairman Russell Reichelt said the documents released are “preliminary working drafts which were never submitted to the delegate, the senior manager responsible for the GBRMPA’s decision”.

He said the draft permit assessment took place prior to the application of rigorous conditions, “the strictest ever imposed on an application of this type,” which included a requirement for North Queensland Bulk Ports to offset the amount of fine sediments released into the environment by 150 per cent.

Should prevailing conditions such as waves, wind and currents contribute to the displacement of sediment towards sensitive habitats, disposal is not to proceed.

In addition, the Authority included a requirement that a five-year water quality monitoring program is to be implemented in addition to real-time monitoring, a condition which Mr Reichelt says is the “longest ever required for such a program”.

“Without these robust conditions GBRMPA is likely to have said ‘no’ to the application,” he said.

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

Read more

Oscars: Getting a nod just a barrel of laughs for David Clayton

Nominee: Animation supervisor David Clayton with orcs from the Hobbit films. Photo: Ross Giblin Bombur barreling along in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Photo: Warner Bros.
Nanjing Night Net

[Update]Oscars 2014: live ceremonyTop 10 moments in Oscars’ historyPicks for the Oscars winPDF: Pick your own Oscar winners

Dwarves in barrels racing down a river. A dragon buried beneath gold and jewels. Battles against exotic creatures.

Animation supervisor David Clayton has the kind of job he would never have imagined while he was growing up in Australia: creating visual effects for the Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy in New Zealand.

Nor would he have imagined being nominated for an Academy Award two years in a row, with every chance of a third consecutive nod, given there are plans for a spectacular finale to the trilogy.

After making an animated short film, Clayton was offered a job on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King more than a decade ago.

As he moved on to King Kong, X-Men: The Last Stand and Avatar, he joined dozens of Australians working behind the scenes in the film industry that Jackson built in Wellington.

”The ultimate challenge is to make sure any character we create is realistic and engaging and entertaining and holds up to the live-action performers they’re surrounded by,” he said.

Clayton is most proud of the dragon and dwarves-down-the-river scenes in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

”I started working on the barrel sequence years and years ago [when it was planned for the first Hobbit movie],” he said. ”The shot where Bombur bounces down the slope and he’s squashing all the orcs, that was originally my idea so I’m always stoked to see that go down well with an audience.”

While Clayton has been looking forward to his second trip to the Oscars, expecting it to be less nerve-racking than the first, he has no expectations of winning.

”I definitely feel like Gravity is a foregone conclusion,” he said. ”The visual effects were totally integrated into the story itself – the visual effects were the story – so they deserve everything they get.”

When the Hobbit trilogy wraps, Clayton has no shortage of work options at Weta Digital.

”We’ve got the Avatar sequels 2, 3 and a prequel,” he said. ”If I sign up for that, that’s going to be six or more years of steady work.”

Australia’s other Oscar nominees are Cate Blanchett for best actress on Blue Jasmine, Catherine Martin for both best production design, with Beverley Dunn, and best costumes on The Great Gatsby and Michael Wilkinson for best costumes on American Hustle.

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

Read more

Brendan Reeves secures sweep in first round of the Australian Rally Championship

National Capital Rally champion Brendan Reeves overcame a 1.2-second deficit in the final stage to secure a clean sweep at the opening round of the Australian Rally Championship.
Nanjing Night Net

The 25-year-old Victorian backed up his heat win on Saturday’s eight stages with another overall victory on Sunday.

Reeves was pushed across the seven stages on Sunday by Scott Pedder, crossing the finishing line just 5.4 seconds in front, with Canberra’s Adrian Coppin picking up his second-straight third place, 1:48.8 behind the leader.

”Going into the third-last stage we took the lead back and then Scott took the lead back again,” Reeves said.

”We were sitting on the start line of the last stage 1.2 seconds behind and we had to give everything, so it was a great feeling to know we took it all back on the last stage.

”He was two minutes in front of me on the road so I knew we would know either way once I was finished. We just threw everything at it and hit quite a lot of things and found a lot of holes out there, but got through the stage unscathed and came out on top.”

Reeves won five of the seven stages in the ARC division on Sunday to make it 10 from 15 stages for the weekend.

Defending champion Eli Evans was forced to pull out on Saturday after sustaining extensive mechanical damage in a crash on the opening day.

Reeves competed in the US last year, but has set his sights on continuing his strong form at the next round of the ARC in Western Australia in April.

”We just want to focus on the Australian title this year,” he said.

”We tried and we failed last year, so we want to make sure we get it this year.”

Rally legend Neal Bates and long-time navigator Coral Taylor showed all their experience in winning the Classic section in their 1980 Toyota Celica.

Bates declared he would be a certain starter at next year’s event after being blown away by the quality of the course.

He said it was one of the best Canberra rallies he had contested.

”The roads were fantastic, the organisation was fantastic. We were doing very similar times to the top guys.

”We won three stages outright yesterday, to be doing that in a 1980 Celica, we’re very happy.”

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

Read more

Caroline Buchanan bemoans lack of Olympic-level track

Canberra is home to BMX world champion Caroline Buchanan, but not to an Olympic-standard BMX track.
Nanjing Night Net

Buchanan, 23, would love one to be built at Stromlo Forest Park so Canberra can host the 2016 national championships.

Buchanan comfortably won the ACT state title at Melba on Sunday, winning three of her four races.

ellow Olympian Luke Madill won the men’s title.

The ACT state championships usually form part of the national series, but new regulations on track specifications meant the Melba track did not make the grade this year.

Buchanan is confident it will be back on the tour next year.

Bitumen is needed on two more turns to meet the standard.

Buchanan’s next race is the Perth leg of the national series in two weeks as she builds towards the Aussie nationals, the start of Olympic qualifiers and defending her world championship title.

She missed out on the Aussie national title last year but is hoping to reclaim that crown in Shepparton in May.

Track requirements for nationals have also risen, but Buchanan hopes a track can be built at Stromlo so the capital can host the championships in two years.

However, she conceded it would be an expensive project.

”It could be a while, but ideally it would be great to have that facility in Canberra, with the AIS here, with ACTAS, with Canberra being the cycling capital.

”I believe we’ve got everything else here, we’re just missing that Olympic-standard BMX track,” Buchanan said.

”I will be pushing for it … but it’s something that’s not cheap.

”There’s only one [Olympic standard track] in Australia at the moment and that’s on the Gold Coast and they put about $3 million into it.”

Buchanan will head to Perth to begin her preparations for the first World Cup in Manchester in April.

Then the Olympic Games selection process for Rio de Janeiro in 2016 begins at the third World Cup event in Berlin in June.

From there it’s all eyes on the world titles in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, in July.

Buchanan won’t be the only Canberran heading to the worlds – both members of her ”Next Gen” stable, Mikayla Rose, from Canberra, and Sydney’s Paige Harding, will go, too.

Buchanan has taken the pair under her wing as part of her mentoring program.

She said the $10,000 needed in donations for the pair to get to the Netherlands had been reached on Saturday night.

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

Read more