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Posts tagged ‘Sport’

The Money shot: Beach Volleyball 4 days before Christmas

It may be hard to feel Christmasy when instead of ice cold streets, shop windows misted up from condensation, and fireplaces crackling with log fires to keep out the cold, you have instead summer-like sunshine and beach life, but I think I can live with the change. For here in Palma de Mallorca, my new home town, we have been blessed with incredible December temperatures, and this past weekend, there was not a single cloud in the sky nor a breath of wind to make anyone think of Winter. In fact the weather was so good that for most local residents, Christmas wrapping was left to one side, and enjoyment of the outside was top on the agenda.

Amongst those enjoying the amazing conditions were these beach volleyball players. Stripped down to their shorts, enjoying the unseasonable heat on the beach immediately adjacent to Palma, these players not only made for an iconically summery sight, but their location meant that any photograph was bound to be dazzling. And this photo, taken in a split second as one of the players leapt for the ball, is certainly the money shot and deserved a Daily Norm post all of its own. Not only is it a spectacular shot, with the incredible view of Palma Cathedral immediately behind the player frozen mid-play, but it is also the very epitome of a summer’s day. Would you ever have guessed that this was taken 4 days before Christmas?

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It’s a Winter weather change I can well get used to.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Wonderful Wimbledon: strawberries, cream and a place to be seen

I interrupt this ambrosial Amalfi story to sneak a peak at the sweet verdant lands and the rolling hills of summertime England, where far away from the sun-baked mountains of the mediterranean, different peaks are being climbed – peaks of physical fitness and sporting prowess when the world’s best tennis stars come together for the ultimate in tennis championships, the creme de la creme of all tournaments: Wimbledon.

Wednesday may have been a grey day for British tennis, when national hopeful Andy Murray was chased out of the championships in a depressing straight-set defeat, but above the perfectly manicured lawns of centre-court where I was lucky enough to be a spectator all day, the skies shone a vivid blue, and all around the many courts of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the glamourous and chic of high society perambulated in their finery, clutching glasses of lansen champagne in one hand and a tub of the traditional Wimbledon accompaniment of strawberries and cream in the other.

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For even those few who do not get caught up in the all-encompassing excitement of riveting rallies and tense tie-breakers, Wimbledon is an unmissable event of the season. With a ground filled with perfectly manicured floral blooms in the championship colours of green and purple, when styled summer frocks and panama hats get an airing, and some of the world’s best players and celebrity spectators gather together, Wimbledon is surely the high point of the British summer, when the tennis loving crowds include even the royals themselves – why yesterday the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (otherwise known as Wills and Kate) were in attendance.

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Naturally, while I rode the emotional wave of highs and lows that came with watching Murray’s defeat and Federer’s later quarter final victory, I also felt happily immersed in the high-flying excitement of the entire Wimbledon experience, and these photos are testament to the day we had. As with the good english weather, these two weeks of Wimbledon are a transient experience – so like me, I hope you will enjoy the brief interlude of Wonderful Wimbledon while you can.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacy-brown.com

Licence to thrill: The London 2012 Paralympic Experience

We are all now used to the sight of London’s Olympic stadium, blazing brightly in an otherwise subdued East London skyline, the diamond in the rough, with its triangular light stations looking like the pointed pinnacles of a medieval crown. When you see it on television, the stadium is both a giant-sized modern multi-coloured spectacle, but equally a giver of intimate human stories – the athletes crying, their families hugging, supporters bedecked in countless variations of red, white and blue. Through the aid of high-zoomed television cameras, you get to catch every detail of the various spectators, the royals who are sitting on the show and giving out medals, and the super-strong athletes pulling superhero poses at the start line to the track events.

When you’re there in the stadium itself as one such spectator in a sea of thousands, it’s a whole different story. Everything is magnified, augmented, accelerated. The stadium loses all sense of the human story. It becomes superhuman, a thing of such magnificence, on such a brilliantly huge, exaggerated scale that you literally cannot believe you eyes. What is before you is not only a photogenic stadium worthy of star-studded superlatives and photographs in their thousands; it is history in the making, it is London’s definitive moment in the spotlight. It’s a magnificent mastery of social unity on an epic scale, as people come together in their tens of thousands to cheer, to wave flags, to take photos, to share in the glory. And so it was that the human became superhuman, where in a stadium so big, small people in a crowd of thousands became mere pixels in an ocean of humanity: when a mexican wave took hold amongst the crowd, it literally looked like a ripple pulsating around the stadium; when the crowd took photos, it was like the spectator area had become a diamond encrusted snake, sparkling to the movement of its slithing great body as the flash bulbs went off in their thousands around the racing track; and when a Brit was on course to win a medal, the joint roar of 80,000 spectators made a noise like nothing I have ever heard before – it was a noise enough to conquer nature – thunder itself could not have outdone it.

Yes, as the above probably makes clear, I have experienced the London 2012 Olympic park at last, as well as the Athletes stadium itself, doing so as part of the incredible Paralympics festival which is currently underway in London. Having not obtained tickets for the park itself during the Olympics, I was on the ball when the Paralympics tickets were released a few months later. This time I was lucky, receiving tickets for the Swimming, the Athletics, and, this coming Sunday, the Closing Ceremony. And needless to say, I am incredibly glad that I got to sample not just the Olympic park, but the wonder of the Paralympics as well – The Athletes involved are nothing short of incredible. Talking of superhuman, these guys take the word to a new level all on their own, overcoming debilitating injuries and conditions to excel in sports to levels which, if not equal, are a fine match to the standards set by the incredibly fit able bodied athletes of the Olympics two weeks before.

Last night I was lucky enough to see the UK’s David Weir win the T54 1500m race in super-strength style, pivoted to the finishing line by the sheer strength of his arms alone. And the night before, I was equally fortunate to see Brit favourite Ellie Simmonds win her second gold medal of the games and win in world record time for the second occasion too. Her victory was immense. She was in around 5th place when she turned to swim her final lap of the pool but then, again with superhuman almost mechanical genius, she managed to propel herself, not only ahead of her competitors, but leaving a huge margin trailing between her and the silver medallist. And who else was there? None other than the current Prime Minister (David Cameron), a past Prime Minister (Gordon Brown) and a potential future Prime Minister too boot (Boris Johnson) all getting in on the action (I think that’s known as jumping on the band wagon).

As for the Aquatics centre itself, designed by Zaha Hadid, what a feat of architectural genius, with its organic curvaceous wooden roof perfectly mirroring the muscular contours of a huge killer whale, and appearing to float, defying gravity, in mid air above a marine blue pool and some equally innovative diving boards. 

Well, after an Olympian effort to effectively describe the feeling and emotions of experiencing what is nothing short of a sensational Paralympics experience, I think it’s about time to show you some of my photos of the event – you’re not getting any athlete close-ups I’m afraid – these venues are huge and my seats were, as my budgetary constraints would predict, fairly high up in the gods, but for architectural appreciation, my photos are surely on form. Check out in addition Anish Kapoor’s wacky red Arcelormittal Orbit tower, now an insuperable icon of the Olympic park skyline, and, at the opposite end of the scale, the delicate beauty of the park’s many wildflowers and tranquil riverside walks. Amazing to think that only a few years ago, this was one great industrial wasteland. Oh and let us not forget that incredibly Olympic flame designed by Thomas Heatherwich.

The UK truly is at an all time creative and sporting high. Long may it continue.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

London 2012: Infected by Olympic Fever – Tennis at Wimbledon

I’m not a big sports fan. I don’t really know the terminology, and my familiarity with the various sports stars extends as far as those faces who regularly hit the headlines and are splashed across perfume promotions and London buses. However there is something utterly contagious about the Olympic spirit which has swept throughout London and up and down the British isles which just cannot be resisted. The aim of London’s bid was to bring all Britons and people from throughout the world together under the olympic flag, to create a huge party of spectators enjoying the adrenaline rush engendered by sporting achievement and to inspire future generations to enjoy sport and aim for sporting brilliance. They’re all cliches, the stuff of marketing machines, but what the last week has proved to me, is that those objectives have really manifested – I feel inspired by sport, part of the global sporting party and loving every minute of London 2012.

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As with many Britons, I found it difficult to get any olympic tickets, despite applying for a good few (and yes, like everyone else, I am secretly seething inside at seeing so many empty seats at the events – a byproduct of the Olympics’ necessary reliance upon corporate sponsorship and IOC executives who then don’t bother to turn up, depriving so many future generations of the opportunity to be inspired). However the one set of tickets I did get was to see men’s semi-finals tennis at Wimbledon. This was a double whammy for me. Not only did it mean I would get to visit the British home of Tennis (tickets for the main Wimbledon tournament are as easy to get your hands on as the holy grail) but it also meant that I would be treated to not one, not two, but three matches played by undisputed tennis royalty.

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