Archive for March, 2022


Thursday, March 31st, 2022

TV1 News has spent half an hour obsessing about the decision of Team New Zealand to race the next America’s Cup in Barcelona. If it’s that important, I guess it’s worthwhile Swimwatch adding its ten cents worth to the debate.

I have no idea why Television New Zealand decided to take a myopic view of Grant Dalton’s decision. I swear Simon Dallow was about to burst into tears at the injustice. Hayley Holt was surprisingly smug in a, “What do you expect from Team New Zealand” sort of way. Self-important Andrew Saville scoffed about money being Team New Zealand’s Holy Grail. Even Abby Wilson, a journalist for whom I have the utmost respect, decided to go with the money above principle line.

It was all far too much. Show me a top New Zealand sports team or person that doesn’t race the majority of their best competitions overseas. Where did John Walker win the Olympic Games? Where did he break the World Record for a mile? Where do the All Blacks normally play England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France? Where did Paul Coll rise to be the world’s number one squash player? Where did Danyon Loader swim most of his races preparing to win the Atlanta Olympic Games? Where are Liam Lawson and Marcus Armstrong racing fast motor cars? Where did Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Brendon Hartley and Denny Hulme do the same thing? Where did Valerie Adams go to train for a year? Where does her brother compete? Where did Rod Dixon win an Olympic medal and where did he win the New York Marathon? And finally, where do Zoe Sadowski-Synnott and Nico Porteous win their Red Bull this and their Xtreme Sport that? Sure as God made little green apples none of that happened in New Zealand.  

Where were Simon Dallow’s tears about all that. Where was Andrew Saville tapping a pot plant at the top of the Cardrona Ski Field saying it was the second most expensive pot plant in the world. Hypocrisy, it seems has no limits when it comes to Television New Zealand sport. I actually have the figures for my daughter, Jane. She was a New Zealand Champion and open record holder. She represented New Zealand at the Oceania Championships, and the Pan Pacific Games and she swam in the finals of the American NCAA Swimming Championships. From her first race to her last she competed 723 times. 498 of those races were overseas and 225 were in New Zealand. I would think that ratio is similar to most of New Zealand’s good athletes. That does not mean Jane or anyone else – even Grant Dalton – doesn’t love their country. It just means that to take on the best, to promote their sport, requires competing in the Northern Hemisphere.

Ah, but I hear Andrew Saville smugly sigh, “What about the money”? And, with a similar sigh of scorn, some moron called Tony Steel at the Stuff website agrees. In Stuff, Steel even compared Dalton’s negotiating skills with “Captain Jack Sparrow, sailing international waters looking to nail his tattered banner to the highest bidder’s mast.” Tony Steel – what?????

Now I’m not fully aware of the money involved, but it seems that Dalton has accepted something like $124 million from Barcelona compared to $31million offered by the New Zealand Government. For those of you without a handy calculator that’s a difference of $93million – three times the New Zealand offer. If New Zealand wants Team New Zealand to compete in this event, that’s the sort of hard decision it takes. Well done Grant Dalton. You’ve done well so far. God speed to the main event.

And consider this, Dallow, Steel and Holt, as you sigh your way through another Russel Coutts’ crucifixion, if you were working for TV1 for $31,000 and TV3 said here’s $124,000 to come and work for us – would you go? I bet you would. You would abandon the national broadcaster, owned by all New Zealanders, for money from an American mass media giant. So much for your patriotism. You guys are hypocrites beyond belief.   

And finally, the city of Barcelona. I don’t know how often readers have been to Barcelona. I’ve been ten times for stays between two weeks and two days. Grant Dalton has chosen an ideal city to contest and promote America’s Cup sailing. The waterfront runs in a T shape across the city’s main street – Las Ramblas. Both the ancient harbour and Las Ramblas are iconic. Shops, restaurants, flower stalls, souvenir shops, and ice cream parlours abound. Barcelona has finished what Auckland has as a work in progress.

Where the waterfront and Las Ramblas cross is a monument to Christopher Columbus. You see, in 1493, Columbus reported to Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand V in Barcelona after his first trip to the new American continent. From Columbus to the America’s Cup. Sigh as much as you like Andrew Saville – that’s quite a journey. And a story of far more interest than Saville’s parochial effort on Wednesday night. Just as the voyages of Columbus are considered a turning point in human history, marking the beginning of globalization. Dalton’s decision could be equally significant in America’s Cup history.

If you get a chance to watch the racing spend an afternoon at the beachside L’Escamarlà restaurant. Fortunately, because I think its quite expensive, I was taken there by an American who could afford the bill. But that location, eating that food, watching top drawer sport, any city, even Auckland, would find very hard to beat. The America’s Cup is in good hands. Dalton has made a good choice.

Let’s hope he can win it there and find an equally attractive spot for his sport in four- or five-years’ time.  


Monday, March 28th, 2022

This post doesn’t need to be very long. It asks one simple question – why did Sport New Zealand lie to us?

Most of us remember the day, last August, when Olivia Podmore died. After publishing an Instagram message about the stress she was under at Cycling New Zealand’s centralised facility in Cambridge, at 4.00pm on Monday 9 August 2021, life got too much. Olivia Podmore decided suicide was her only option.

Mainstream media were full of the news. Sport New Zealand and Cycling New Zealand officials clamoured to outdo their praise of Podmore’s life. “Forever in our hearts” and “will never be forgotten” messages were spread around like confetti at a royal wedding. Within two weeks Raylene Castle had formed yet another inquiry. Michael Heron QC, Dr Sarah Leberman MNZM, Dr Lesley Nicol ONZM and Genevieve Macky were appointed. Together with the coroner the truth behind Olivia’s death was at the top of Raylene Castle’s urgent list.

In fact, their concern for the dead cyclist was so great, Castle and the Inquiry published a statement that said this.

“We propose to deliver our draft in February 2022, and hope that this will give us time to connect with more participants in person, visit the home of Cycling New Zealand in Cambridge, and come together as a panel for a hui to discuss our findings and recommendations. Cycling New Zealand and HPSNZ have agreed to that proposal.”

They also told the Cambridge newspaper this.

“The results of the inquiry will not be known until early next year but already Cycling New Zealand has announced the closure of four regional development hubs in Invercargill, Christchurch, Auckland and Cambridge. The hubs, will close in March,”

Now I could well have missed something but consider the following.

We are now at the end of March which is way past “February 2022” and “early next year.”

I have heard and read nothing about a draft report being published or about regional hubs being closed.

I have heard and read nothing about a mostly white hui being held in Cambridge to discuss a Report into Olivia Podmore’s death. Incidentally it pisses me off when I read token Maori words being used like that. It’s the most racist thing imaginable.

And so, my questions are simply

Where is the draft report?

Why is it two months late?

Why did Castle and her Inquiry lie to us about the publication date?  

Have the Cycling New Zealand Regional Hubs been closed or was that another lie?

Why have Sport New Zealand and Cycling New Zealand lied to a dead New Zealand cyclist? “Forever in our hearts” obviously doesn’t mean much when it comes from Sport New Zealand. Unless of course their definition of forever is eight months.

Is the delay in publishing the Report caused by its contents? Are Sport New Zealand and Cycling New Zealand looking at criminal charges resulting from their abuse of a cyclist – because that’s certainly what Castle’s cycling program did – at their centralised training facility?

People involved in sport need answers to those questions. More importantly, the memory of Olivia Podmore has to stop being played by Castle and her mates like some political football game. If Castle wanted the Report out in February it would have been out in February. Why wasn’t it?


Sunday, March 27th, 2022

The past ten weeks – since the Monday 24 January to be exact – have been interesting and have taught me a lot about the men and women who organize swim meets in New Zealand. In the ten weeks Eyad has swum in 22 races spread across 6 meets – 2 were in Hamilton, 1 was at the Millennium Institute, and 3 were over consecutive weekends at the Henderson West Wave Pool.

In the ten weeks Covid traffic lights have changed, Covid rules have been relaxed and the Wellington Facebook clown has tapped himself into a frenzy trying to convince us that Jacinda has screwed the country and Gary Francis couldn’t organize a swim meet if his life depended on it. Drinking cold coffee at midnight is clearly as bad for the clown as is pouring it over those who stir-up whatever it is between his ears. In spite of all the disruption and negative ravings on Facebook, Eyad’s 6 meets have come and gone seamlessly. Thank you, Waikato, North Shore Swimming and Auckland.

But it does make you think. There are two options. You can start drinking the clown’s offering of cold coffee or you can look at what is actually happening and thank those like Kaye-Marie McCaskill-Day, Tonya Osborne, Kate Griffiths and the staff at Swimming New Zealand for 10 weeks of trouble-free racing.

But beware New Zealand, the season is not done yet. In one week, the clown will test the skills of Steve Johns, Gary Francis and Chloe Francis at the National Championships. This is not a test they should be taking lightly. What an inter-continental ballistic missile is to Kim Jong-un, a cold cup of coffee is to the Facebook clown.

Chloe be warned, misspell Joul, sorry Joel on the scoreboard and a cup full of nuclear coffee beans could be heading your way. And Gary, in this era of Lia Thomas, please announce the next New Zealand team with a clear indication of their preferred gender assignment. I’ve heard the clown will be listening at midnight. And Steve you are responsible for the whole show. One mistake and tragedy could follow.

Consider this scenario. One afternoon, the clown’s coffee command and control system detects a failure in the Championship lane four touch pad. By the time the clown is notified, key officials from the National’s “live stream” office have approximately one minute to brief the clown. After that, the clown has about seven minutes to confer with his advisor, Kevin Hill from Palmerston North to decide if he will retaliate, and which pre-packaged coffee response option to retaliate with. That’s it. Seven minutes to discern whether or not the failed touch pad is real. Seven minutes to decide if it is worth it to start a nuclear coffee war.   

If the clown decides to retaliate, 400 underground intercontinental ballistic coffee beans could be launched just five minutes after receiving the clown’s launch order. I’m giving Swimming New Zealand a warning here. This is no joke. A coffee attack has been ordered before. Just ask a staff member at Massey University what she felt as the deluge of radioactive coffee stained her pale blue business suit.

And so, officials in Waikato, Auckland and North Shore, you have done well. But the true test is a week away. And in an underground bunker, hidden in the Tawa hills the clown is waiting, watching and turning up the flame under his 24/7 ever-ready coffee pot. Please Steve, Gary and Chloe, don’t screw up. The flight path from the Tawa bunker to Apollo Drive goes right over my house.


Thursday, March 24th, 2022

Very few would question the idea that science has been of benefit to our understanding of the world. Every aspect of our lives has profited from scientific discovery. But even science has its lunatic fringe. There is an anti-oil advertisement on New Zealand TV just now of an oil company scientist saying to an energy consumer, “We understand each other. You are concerned about the environment. We are concerned about the environment. Buy our oil.”

Sadly, the same flawed logic is used by “scientists” employed to prove that Lia Thomas has every right to compete against natural born women. For example, four researchers from the “Nottingham Centre for Gender Dysphoria” have published a paper that poses as academic. Their paper says this.    

  1. Within the literature, it has been questioned as to whether androgenic hormones (testosterone) are even a useful marker of athletic advantage. 
  2. There is no evidence to suggest that androgenic hormone levels (testosterone) consistently confer a competitive advantage
  3. There is limited research from which to draw any conclusion about whether transgender people have an athletic advantage in competitive sport or not.
  4.  Currently, there is no direct or consistent research suggesting transgender female individuals have an athletic advantage at any stage of their transition (e.g. cross-sex hormones, gender-confirming surgery) and, therefore, competitive sport policies that place restrictions on transgender people need to be considered and potentially revised.

There it is then, their “Buy our oil” argument. If any of that was true, I would love to hear their explanation of why East German scientists spent years pumping their women swimmers with gallons of androgenic hormones. We can accuse East German scientists of many things. Ignorance of the performance benefits of androgenic hormones is not one of them. The “Nottingham Centre for Gender Dysphoria” tell me fairness is defined as “competition in the absence of advantage”.  To suggest that Lia Thomas’ 21 years of natural male androgenic hormone treatment has no advantage is clearly rubbish.

Even World Athletics boss Sebastian Coe needs to climb out from under his rock. Sports scientist Ross Tucker has made the point that “competition in the absence of advantage” involves more than testosterone. Tucker says Coe “needs to come over to the fair sport brigade” and drop his nostalgia for testosterone as the trump card on transgender inclusion if he is to heed his own warning that the “integrity and future of women’s sport” is at stake.

And so, in this case we are hearing the good, the bad and the ugly from the scientific community. Perhaps then we should leave the final word to the man or woman in the street. First a Twitter user called Elvin L. Speights Sr. He recently said this.

  1. Care to explain this one anyone?

Lia Thomas was born a BIOLOGICAL MAN, he didn’t so called transition into a women until he turned 21. He now competes with women where he went from being ranked 462 as a man swimmer to the number 1 swimmer in WOMEN’S swimming….

Now meet Caster Semenya. She’s 31, born a BIOLOGICAL WOMAN from South Africa. She was recently DENIED the chance to compete in the Toyko Olympics because she’s said to be TOO MANISH. They wanted her to take medicine to lower her NATURALLY GIFTED testosterone. Since she refused, THIS WOMAN was not allowed to compete with other WOMEN… can’t make this up!!

Well, that’s true – you can’t make this up. Or perhaps you can if you teach at the “Nottingham Centre for Gender Dysphoria”.

But let me leave the final word to American rapper Boosie. I doubt there is a less politically correct group of people alive than American rappers. But in the case of Lia Thomas, it appears even American rappers have had enough. Boosie was interviewed on the fairness of Thomas swimming in the Women’s NCAA Championship. Here is what he had to say. In true rapper style, please excuse some of the language.

  1. “In women’s sports bro. Let the women have their glory man. We let this shit go down and in 5 or 10 years they are going to have kids raising their boys to be big strong mother fuckers, then turning to be women in sport and getting million-dollar contracts. Watch. Mother fuckers take money. Mother fuckers take money. Go get a seven-five and turn into a woman and put him onto a mother fucker’s NCAA team.

Women don’t get paid like men. Get the fuck out of that pool man. Get your ass out of the pool man. Get your ass out of the pool. It is not acceptable. I don’t know who is going to agree with me but I’m going to tell them, “Get your ass out of the pool”. This girl been training her whole life. You got girls who been training since they were 4 years old. Their shoulders not made like yours. Bro, come on bro. If Kevin Durant put on a wig – it’s cheating bro. It is cheating bro, they got girls who have been training their whole life to be good at women’s sports – at women’s sports.”

Amen to that bro.  


Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

With a week to go before the National Swimming Championships I thought it might be interesting to look back twelve months and see what the effect of Covid has been on a normal swimmer’s programme. You see, I like the TV1 program “Seven Sharp”, but I’m getting mightily fed up with Hillary Barry’s negative spiel about how hard the past 12 months have been, of how our collective anxiety monitors are at record levels and the danger to us all of Covid controls. New Zealand is not a Covid asylum. 

So how was a national class swimmer like Eyad’s training affected? What are the numbers? Is Barry right? Eyad should be a babbling psychological mess? Or has this Covid year been a bump in the road that we should all comfortably treat as one of life’s ups-and-downs?

So here are some figures describing how the past 52 weeks have been affected.  

  1. Eyad swam for 35 weeks out of 52. 16 weeks were lost to the lockdown and 1 week’s holiday at the beginning of the year. Normally he would swim for 49 weeks with 1-week holiday after major competitions and at Christmas. That’s a loss of 14 weeks or 27% of the years training. Serious but not life threatening.
  2. In the 52 weeks Eyad swam a total of 852 kilometers. In a normal year this number would be 2300. That’s a loss of 1448 kilometers 63%. The loss in kilometers is greater than the loss in time because the training affected most was the distance, aerobic swimming and the added short speed work necessary to accommodate Championship events. Serious and must be addressed.
  3. The number of weeks allocated to each phase of training in Eyad’s program compared to normal is shown in the table below.
Phase of training Actual this year Normal Weeks Lost % Lost
Buildup Aerobic 10 20 10 50%
Anaerobic 6 8 2 25%
Speed & Taper 19 21 2 9%
Total 35 49 14 27%

As you can see, the training that has been sacrificed most (50%) is the buildup aerobic conditioning. This will not have an effect on this years Nationals but will require more aerobic swimming in the future to avoid a deterioration in Eyad’s base aerobic condition. One year’s loss of buildup conditioning can be repaired. Keep repeating that loss and the swimmer’s future will be fatally compromised. Can be repaired.

So, there you have it. Despite Covid, Eyad’s speed work has been done, his anaerobic training is in pretty good shape, but his buildup aerobic conditioning has been badly sacrificed. Next year that must be addressed.

For twelve months, Eyad can look forward to as many weeks as possibly of steady aerobic, DPS swimming, while we fill the tank with gas borrowed to get him through the Covid year. If we don’t, we will become no better than the Saudi Swimming Federation coaches he left behind.

The answer to the question posed at the top of this post is, Covid has been “a bump in the road that we should all comfortably treat as one of life’s ups-and-downs.”