Sunday, 26 August 2012

Let's do it again - the Paralympics 2012

After a two week rest the energy, excitement and Olympic glow  returns to London this Wednesday. The 11 day Paralympics will see the best from around the World competing like never before in a whole range of events.  With over 4,200 athletes competing from a record breaking  165 countries, this is no longer a sideshow to the Olympics. It is the second biggest sporting event in the World, and the competition is sure to be fierce in every event.  All the regular events are there, plus some fascinating additions such as Wheelchair Rugby and Sitting Volleyball which are sure to make great viewing.
Whilst this Games is crammed full with talent and quality, there are always those who shine that little bit brighter. After plenty of discussion, Team Konkura have come  up with, in no particular order,  the three athletes who we believe will be the biggest stars of these Paralympics:-

1) Oscar Pistorius

Pistorius had both legs amputated below the knee at  11 months old. He was a star of Beijing winning an amazing 3 gold medals. Nicknamed the 'Blade Runner', Pistorius runs with the help of blade-like prosthetic limbs. His battle with Team GB's Jonnie Peacock,  American Jerome Singleton and fellow South African Arnu Fourie  is sure to be one of the highlights of this Games.  

2)  Tatyana McFadden

Wheelchair racer McFadden is a sprinter and distance racer all-in-one. Imagine Usain Bolt being the 10,000m champion as well as the 100m King! A champion at both 100m sprints and 26 mile marathons, American Tatyana combines strength and endurance perfectly  . Born with a hole in her  spine,  McFadden spent her first six years in a Russian orphanage before being adopted and brought over to the US.  Big things are expected of Tatyana, and more often than not she delivers.

3)  David Weir  

Much of Great Britain's hopes lay on the dependable shoulders of distance wheelchair athlete David Weir. At 32 years of age this will be David's fourth Paralympics' as he aims to overtake Tanni Grey-Thompson as Britain's leading athlete. Weir will race in the  800m, 1500m, 5,000m and the marathon - illustrating what a truly amazing athlete he really is. He is looking to build on his successes in  Beijing and this year's  World Championships where he won a total of 5 gold medals!  If his pedigree hasn't been illustrated enough already, David has also won the London Marathon five times! Glory at London 2012 would surely be the icing on the cake for this national hero.

Lance Armstrong loses Tour De France Titles

So, the most successful Tour rider of all time, inspiration to millions of cyclists and cancer sufferers, has thrown in the towel and accept the loss of his titles rather than face USADA’s evidence.
Doesn’t seem very in character for someone who battled cancer, battled up L’Alpe d’Huez in the 2nd and 4th fastest times ever recorded (as one journalist put it, check out the list of fastest ascent time which consist of a list of dopers and Lance Armstrong – a case of “by the company you keep, so shall you be known”?), and battled through a dozen Tours.
The decision not to defend himself against allegations and the supposed 10 former teammates lined up by USADA to give evidence against Armstrong certainly looks like an admission of guilt.
The only possible benefit of the doubt that can be given is that a man with a famously short fuse and arrogant attitude has genuinely had enough, and that following his close brush with death he’s someone with a real appreciation that life’s too short to spend it engaging in long running disputes.  Maybe it was a snap decision.  But to not defend the enormous expenditure of energy and willpower it took to drive himself to seven Tour victories seems a perverse decision.
As someone who’s certainly no expert on cycling (I only bought my first road bike 10 weeks ago, fortunately just early enough so I can’t be accused of jumping on the Bradley Wiggins bandwagon!) I can’t really comment on the doping allegations and whether his performances could only be done with artificial assistance.  Certainly it seems that “everyone was at it” during the Armstrong era, so unless he was really an extreme outlier in the talent and endurance stakes, or that the way he rebuilt his body following testicular cancer gave him some form of advantage by stripping out all non-cycling muscle, or simply that he had the best team and psychological edge over all of his competitors, it seems unlikely he achieved such dominance without cheating.
Either way, the effect of Armstrong not defending himself on his status as an inspirational icon is huge.  Lance Armstrong’s feats, books and Livestrong foundation have no doubt inspired millions to get fitter, not to mention cancer sufferers.  The sense of disappointment and deja vu that many will feel at the fall of an icon is strong.
Whilst I doubt it will cause anyone to stop exercising who has already started to get fitter, it does mean that fewer people in future will be inspired to challenge themselves based on Armstrong’s example.   His books will likely end up in the remainder bins.
No-one else in sport has the combination of profile and extraordinary back story to step into the gap Armstrong as a sporting inspiration.  Paralympic althletes may be incredibly inspirational but lack the high profile.  Usain Bolt is bigger in global profile and a great role model, particularly showing that sport can be fun (although his insistance that the 400m is too hard work to train for isn’t quite so inspirational for general fitness).  Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis are fantastic but don’t have the global reach yet.  And on the cycling front Bradley Wiggins has brought a modest and humourous attitude to the Tour that was distinctly lacking during the Armstrong era, but has a long way to go in terms of Tour de France wins.
Maybe the answer is that we should all stop looking to icons to inspire us to do sport and exercise?  Maybe we should just take personal responsibility for our health and fitness, get out there and do it ourselves.  We shouldn’t be expecting Olympic sports stars and Premier League footballers to be role models and the basis to inspire a generation.
Get inspired by the people around us, by our friends and neighbours who do extraordinary things like running marathons or triathlons whilst holding down jobs.  Get motivated by the person on the next treadmill in the gym, by the local martial arts or dance instructor, by the regular walkers or the people we see cycling to work in all weathers.
We can all achieve lifetime fitness that will make our lives better and happier, and inspire others to do the same.  Even if we’ve been put off sport at school, we can all find activities we enjoy and which will help us get fitter, whatever our starting level.  Taking part in Konkura’s sport and fitness challenges are a great way to find new exercises and workouts, motivate your training, track your progress and make new training friends.  And yes, there’s a growing section for cycling challenges– Lance, you’re very welcome to join in, as long as you promise you’re clean.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sport and Fitness Community Unveiled

The team are proud and excited to announce the re-launch of . The site has been completely re-designed and enhanced with our most important asset at the forefront of all decision making – the users. Driven by the feedback we've been receiving from users and sport / fitness industry professionals over the past year, we've not only changed the way the site looks, but also the way it functions. The free to use new site allows you to:-
* join a community of people who share your passion for sport and fitness.
* compete with people from all around the World at any challenge imaginable.
* create simple or complex challenges to share with friends.
* take part in challenges brought to you by leading fitness professionals.
And this is just for starters! Over the coming months we will be unveiling new features which will revolutionize the fitness World.
Please let us know what you think of our new site and tell your friends, relatives, colleagues and anyone else you want to unleash on the Konkura community!  And, as anybody who has ever worked on a Web site redesign knows, there will inevitably be some minor bugs here and there, so if you find one, please let us know so we can fix it. Email with your feedback.
I've gone on long enough for now -  we'll be posting blog entries here over the coming weeks. Now would be a good time to sign up to , and be sure to follow our Twitter , Youtube , Pinterest and Facebook accounts if you haven't already. Go compete, go win – but most of all, go and enjoy!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Golden night for Team GB in the Athletics

Team GB had the night of all nights as Jesssica Ennis (heptathlon), Greg Rutherford (long jump) and Mo Farah (10,000m) all won gold to send the crowd crazy in the Olympic stadium.
Jessica Ennis got things started with a great 1500m victory to win the heptathlon title in style. That was followed by the shock result of the night - Greg Rutherford leaping a huge 8m 31cm to win gold in the long jump. Mo Farah capped the night off with a magnificent victory in the 10,000m final.
It's raining golds for Team GB.