Cartoon: Zika

150 leading scientists have asked the World Health Organisation to step in and postpone or move the Rio Olympics, due to the Zika virus. WHO has rejected the call.

Chicane Zika Virus Cartoon

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Drawing: Ian Thorpe, “The Thorpedo”

ian thorpe

Ian Thorpe is one of the greatest swimmers of all time. Predominantly a freestyler, he won five Olympic gold medals, the most won by any Australian. He was the highest achieving athlete at the 2000 games in Sydney with 3 golds and 2 silvers.

AT the 2001 World Aquatics Championships he became the first person to win six gold medals in one meet. In total he has won eleven World Golds, the second highest of any swimmer. Three years later at the Athens Olympics he won the 200m and 400m freestyle titles.

He attracted a legion of viewers for his gentle admonishments and thoughtful insights as a swimming pundit for the BBC during the 2012 London Olympics and Australia’s Channel 10 at this years Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. One reporter label him the “philosopher King of the BBC sofa”. He refused to give pat answers and has a dry wit. When a fellow commentator said, “unlucky lane five”, he deadpanned, “there is water in every lane, so it is ok”.

Ian retired in 2006, but returned to swimming with the aim of making the Australian team for the London Olympics. He competed at the Olympic trials but missed out. A shoulder injury scuttled plans to target qualification for the World Champs in Barcelona and this year’s Glasgow Games. He did however make it to Scotland in his commentary capacity and signed my sketch.

Drawing: Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt

Sprint sensation Usain St Leo Bolt is considered to be the fastest person ever. The Jamaican sporting phenomenon nicknamed ‘Lightning Bolt’ for obvious reasons, including his famed victory stance, is undoubtably track and field’s most electrifying star.

The first man to hold both the 100 and 200 metre world records since fully automatic time measurements became mandatory in 1977. Both were secured in Berlin, in August 2009, running the 100 in 9.58 seconds and the 200 in 19.19 seconds.

Add to that the “double triple” at the Olympics, winning gold in the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay at both Beijing (2008) and London (2012).

Known for his relaxed approach, Usain famously fed on chicken nuggets before winning the 100 at Beijing. He didn’t have breakfast and woke up at 11, watched some TV then had some chicken nuggets, slept for 2 more hours, then went back for more nuggets!

After winning the 100 metres in London he celebrated back in his room in the Olympic VIllage til 3am, with three members of the Swedish women’s handball team, before running the heats of the 200 later that day. Despite losing all five of their matches and finishing  bottom of their group, the handballers; Gabriella Kain, Isabelle Gullden and Jamina Roberts asked for “special accreditation” to meet their idol.

A week later he was a guest on the Jonathan Ross show at the ITV studios on London’s Southbank. Hunters, including moi, lined the railings opposite the back entrance to catch a glimpse or possibly a ‘graph. While waiting for his car to arrive, he signed for us through the gaps. As you could imagine, the crowd was a huge crush, and I was left with the impression of a railing on my face for a couple of hours afterwards. But worth it.

Drawing: Lizzy Yarnold

Lizzy Arnold

Elizabeth “Lizzy” Yarnold won Great Britain’s first gold medal of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi after dominating the women’s skeleton from start to finish. It meant that Team GB retained the title won by Amy Williams four years earlier in Vancouver. She also won the World Cup for 2013-2014. For the uninitiated ‘the skeleton’ is a sliding sport in which a person rides a small sled head first down a frozen ice chute at 130km. Madness!

Like many Winter Olympic Sports, it’s an elite event. You have to become part of the programme, which obviously Lizzy did, being picked by the Girls 4 Gold talent spotting drive in women’s sport. But she was picked for her shot putting ability! Then a series of tests revealed she would be better as a skeleton racer, similar to Amy, who was a converted 400 metres runner. Her sled is called ‘Mervyn’.

Drawing: Eve Muirhead “A Stone’s Throw”

Eve Muirhead

Charismatic 24 year old Eve Muirhead is skip of the British Women’s Curling Team, comprising of fellow Scots Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Claire Hamilton. They won the bronze medal at this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Prior to that event, I, like many, hadn’t watched a lot of curling, in fact, my time ‘on the ice’ was zilch. It looked like bowls on ice, although it’s often referred to by the sports disciples as ‘chess on ice’. But, due to the success of both the Great British men’s and women’s teams they enjoyed extensive TV coverage. Captivated by the competition, we all became armchair experts, during work-place commentaries the next day, using curling lingo “stones, brooms, sweepers, the house… did you see Eve’s double takeout in the ninth that restricted the Swiss to a single when they had the last stone advantage?”

Following a family tradition Eve continues a long line of elite Scottish curlers. A four time World Junior champion, she became the youngest skip in the history of the sport, with Team Muirhead, playing for Scotland, winning the World Championships title in Riga last year. She’s also a great exponent of two other Scottish rituals, playing bagpipes and golf, turning down a chance to become a professional in the latter after two scholarship offers from American universities to concentrate on throwing stones.

Drawing: Amy Williams “Ice Queen of Speed”

amy williamsAmy Williams won the women’s skeleton bobsleigh gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, becoming the first British gold medalist in an individual event at the Winter Olympics for 30 years, since Robin Cousins’ won the figure skating at Lake Placid in 1980. Amy was originally a track athlete, before switching to the skeleton in 2002.

She won the silver  medal in her first major event, the 2009 World Championships in Lake Placid. In her Olympic gold-medal winning performance, Amy broke the track record twice and won by more than half a second.

 

Drawing: Blanka Vlasic

Blanka Vlasic

Six foot four Croatian high jumper Blanka Vlasic is one of high jump’s most charismatic characters. Named after the city of Casablanca, where her father, Josko (also her coach), won the decathlon gold in the 1983 Mediterranean Games around the time of her birth, Blanka is second in the all time high jump rankings behind the Bulgarian great Stefka Kostadinova.

Unfortunately, illness and injuries have plagued her career, but in spite of this she has fashioned an impressive record since competing in her first Olympic Games in Sydney (2000) at the age of 16. She has won gold twice at both the World and the World Indoor Championships and narrowly missed the Olympic title in Beijin, winning the silver. In 2010 she was named IAAF World Athlete of the Year. She missed the London Olympics in 2012 due to complications after an achilles tendon operation, but is now back competing, beginning with the Gothenburg Meet last Saturday. Blanka signed my sketch at her home club in Split in September 2012.

Drawing: Sir Murray Halberg

Murray Halberg

Sir Murray Halberg is one of New Zealand’s greatest athletes. After a rugby injury left his arm severely withered, he took up running, motivated by his disability. In the 1950s he teamed up with the legendary Arthur Lydiad who had new ideas about athletics training. Sir Murray  went on to win the 3 miles gold medal at the 1958 Cardiff Empire and Commonwealth Games, and became New Zealand’s first sub-four minute miler.

Two years later in Rome he won Olympic gold in the 5000 metres on the same day fellow Kiwi, Peter Snell, claimed the 800m title. He successfully defended his 3 mile title at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth.

After retiring from athletics, Sir Murray founded the Halberg Trust to support children with disabilities to be active in sport, creation and leisure. It was rebranded in 2012 and is now known as the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation.

Sir Murray signed my sketch at the Halberg Trust Celebrity Sporting Luncheon at Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill, New Zealand in October 2002.

Drawing: Ferg and Macca

ferg + macka001

Speed canoeists Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald are New Zealand’s most successful Olympians. ‘Ferg and Macca’ gained New Zealand sporting immortality at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. On the lake Casitas course they were unstoppable, Ian won gold in the K1, K2 and K4 events and Paul in the K2 with Ferg and the K4 along with Grant Bramwell and Alan Thompson.

Both followed up with gold in Seoul (1988) in the K2 500 and a silver in the K4.

There was a suggestion that their results were questionable due to the Eastern block boycott, so the following year they won gold at the World Championships in Belgium, beating crews from Eastern Europe and Russia. They had also beaten all crews leading up to the Olympics in the previous year

Drawing: Peter Snell

peter snell001

Sir Peter Snell is one of New Zealand’s greatest sports achievers – some say the greatest. He was voted New Zealand’s ‘Sports Champion of the 20th Century’ and one of 24 inaugural members of the International Association of Athletics Federation Hall of Fame in 2012.

Sir Peter won three Olympic gold medals; Rome in 1960 800m, Tokyo in 1964 800m and 1500m and two Commonwealth Games titles for the 880 yards and 1 mile in Perth in 1962. He was knighted in 2009.

I sent my caricature to him at the University of Texas in September 1990, and he signed and returned it with an accompanying letter.

peter snell letter001