A run across Africa

Imagine the possibility of running across the whole continent of Africa! Well, Russell Cook, known as "Hardest Geezer," proved that this is very possible by running the entire length of Africa. Even though he completed his race, he faced many challenges which include an armed robbery, visa issues and injuries.

He was determined to complete this run because he had struggled with mental health, gambling, and drinking. By taking on this challenge, he was able to make a positive impact by raising almost $1 million for charity.

Cook started his journey in South Africa's southernmost point on April 22, 2023 and completed it in Tunisia on April 7, 2024. The journey took 352 days, it was 9,940 miles (16,000km) long and he ran through 16 countries. When he completed his race, all he really wanted was a strawberry daiquiri​ to celebrate his huge accomplishment!


Visuals: Racism in football

European football (soccer) has a history of racism. Recently, there has been a rise in racist comments from fans against players of color. Many football clubs are taking action against it. There are even projects involving computer- and A.I.-assisted technology to pinpoint racist fans.

But fans aren't just shouting abuse at matches; they're using social media as well. A 2021 study of online messages against the U.K's Premier League players found more than 3,000 abusive messages, 56% of which were racist.

So, how are social media platforms responding? Are they doing enough? The graph below shows what fans across Europe think.

Fairly counting Olympic medals

When we hear about the number of Olympics medals each country wins, we usually hear the total. The top five or six countries are almost always the same: the U.S., U.K., Russia, Germany, France and China. When you think about the huge population and wealth of those countries, it makes sense that they would win the most medals.

But this leaves smaller countries who perform better than their relative size and wealth out of the spotlight. Think of Australia, a country of 25 million. Compare that to America's 328 million. You might expect the U.S. to win well over ten times more medals than Australia. But that's not what happens.

Succeeding in sports

When I was a child, my mother wanted me to be elegant. She sent me to dance class. I didn’t like it. I cried before the class because I didn’t want to do it. But my mother didn’t allow me to quit. After five years of dancing, I finally stopped going to the classes. I never participated in any concerts, even though everyone else from this dance club did several times. I wasn’t good enough. I felt like a failure.

After dancing, I didn’t come back to sports until I was in university.

When I was doing my third year in university, I tried Thai boxing (Muay Thai). I loved it. Now I am training 5 times a week and preparing for my first competition. It has become a very big hobby of mine. Thai boxing brings me lots of benefits, such as a good mood, self-confidence, great physical shape and a lot of friends. It doesn’t bring me any money and it does not promote me in my career. But it is something I love. Finally, I feel I have succeeded.

Should a brand kill its mascot?

Recently on Twitter, an advertisement went viral. In it, the long-time mascot Mr. Peanut (pictured above) nobly sacrificed himself to save his two travel companions. Mr. Peanut can be recognized the world over for his eccentric top hat, cane and monocle. He was 104, and by all accounts, in amazing shape considering his age. 

Racism in Italian football

The Italian football world is again experiencing racism within its ranks. A series of players have been subject to racist abuse by fans, with little or no response from clubs, officials, or the media. Hard-core fans claim they have the right to abuse players any way they want, and certain clubs deny that racism even exists.

Finally, Lega Serie A, the organization that oversees the country’s highest division, launched an anti-racism campaign, but the campaign itself has been accused of racism. One of the initiatives in the campaign uses the image of a series of monkey faces in club colors. The image was created by artist Simone Fugazzotto, who often uses monkeys and apes in his work.

First Japanese in NBA

On June 20, Rui Hachimura became the first Japanese player selected in the opening round of the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft when the Washington Wizards chose him as the ninth pick.

The 21-year-old played three seasons at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington State, USA, before declaring for the draft. “It is crazy. It is unreal. It means a lot to me, my family, and my whole country. I am so thankful,” said Hachimura. He commented on the pin badge he was wearing showing the Japanese flag: “For Japan, this gives it a chance for exposure, to be seen from the outside world. I thought that I had a duty to showcase my country.”

He is theoretically the second Japanese to be drafted in the NBA, after Yasutaka Okayama, who was selected as the 171st pick in 1981 by the Golden State Warriors. However, Okayama never played in the league, making this a historic moment for Hachimura.

Call it soccer, like the Brits did

In the early 1800s in England, football and rugby existed as different variations of the same game. Aristocratic boys came up with the shortened terms “rugger” and “soccer” to differentiate between Rugby Football (from Rugby School, in Warwickshire, England) and Association Football.

According to a letter to The New York Times, published in 1905: “It was a fad at Oxford and Cambridge to use “er” at the end of many words, such as foot-er, sport-er, and as Association did not take an “er” easily, it was, and is, sometimes spoken of as Soccer.”

But by the 1980s, Brits started to turn against the word. “The penetration of the game into American culture,” Stefan Szymanski, a professor of sports economics at the University of Michigan writes, “has led to backlash against the use of the word in Britain." 

Aussie rules Mark of the Year

The annual Australian Football League Mark of the Year competition is a sporting award that celebrates each season's best "mark." A mark is the action of a player cleanly catching a ball that has been kicked and has traveled more than 15 meters through the air without hitting the ground.

A spectacular mark, also known as a "specky," is a mark in Australian rules football that typically involves a player jumping up on the back of another player.

Shohei Ohtani baseball sensation

On Sunday 8th April, Ohtani had a perfect game through six innings and ended with seven strikeouts. Oh, and this was after hitting home runs in three straight games as the Angels designated hitter.

Ohtani has frequently been called the Babe Ruth of Japan, in reference to the most well known player in the majors to serve as a pitcher and hitter. But even the comparisons to the Babe may be underselling just how good Ohtani has been at both roles already, as noted by the Washington Post.

One thing is for sure, watching Ohtani continue to blaze this unique trail for the Angels will be one of this year's most fascinating stories in not just baseball, but all of sports. 

Paralympian gets back on track

The Yomiuri Shimbun Paralympian Atsushi Yamamoto has returned to the athletics track after competing in snowboarding at the Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics in March 2018.

The 36-year old athlete, who won silver in the men’s long jump at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, has begun training for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. He participated in the recent Oda Memorial Meet in April, and the Shizuoka International Meet on May 3, in the 100 meters for athletes with limb deficiencies. They were his first competitive track and field races since last autumn, but he looked in great condition.

“I was able to regain my sense for athletics. I look forward to trying a new running form and artificial leg,” he said. 

World's most famous amateur runner

At just 30 years old, Yuki Kawauchi is in a distance running category of his own.

As of January 1, Kawauchi—one guy—has run more sub-2:10 marathons since 2011 than the whole United States put together. Kawauchi’s best time for 2017—2:09:18—was two seconds faster than the fastest marathon of the year by any U.S. man, which would be Galen Rupp, who ran a career best of 2:09:20 in Chicago. Rupp, like most athletes at that level, ran two marathons in 2017. Kawauchi ran 12. 

Video games in the 2024 Olympics?

The closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics saw Tokyo teasing the 2020 Games with a video featuring Pac-Man and Mario. The 2024 Games in Paris, however, might take things a step further.

Tony Estanguet, co-president of the Paris Olympic committee, says he plans to hold talks with eSports officials and the International Olympic Committee about adding competitive video games to the Games.

Sport and money

The footballer Neymar has dismissed suggestions his world-record £198m move to Paris Saint-Germain was motivated by money and instead insisted he moved to the French capital for “a new challenge”.

“I wanted something bigger, a bigger challenge. This was about ambition,” Neymar said. “I was never motivated by money. I thought about the happiness of my family, regardless of money.”

Nasser al-Khelaifi, the PSG owner, said “For me Neymar is the best player in the world. With him our project will grow even stronger. Let’s enjoy Neymar.”

The transfer has not been well received by everyone, however. The international players’ association released a statement demanding an investigation into “anti-competitive, unjustified and illegal” Fifa transfer rules.