Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Ryan Giggs Receives Salford University Honorary Degree

Manchester United footballer and Salfordian, Ryan Giggs has been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Salford today.

The 33-year-old midfielder who grew up in Swinton, was made a Master of Arts for his contribution to sport and his unstinting charity work.

Since his childhood playing football for Salford Boys, Ryan has amassed ten FA Premier League winners' medals, four FA Cup winner's medals, two League Cup winner's medals and two Champions League winner's medals.

He has also beaten Sir Bobby Charlton's record of 758 appearances for Manchester United, achieved on 11 May when he scored one of the two goals which secured this year’s Premier League Title.

As an ambassador for UNICEF, he regularly campaigns for children in South Africa who have been made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS. He was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2007 for his services to football.

Ryan said: “I’m really pleased to accept this degree. When I started my career as a professional footballer I didn’t envisage that one day I’d be made Master of Arts. I grew up in Salford and it’s been a big part of my life for 30 years, so it’s great to be a part of Salford University now.”

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Salford, Professor Michael Harloe said: “We are delighted to present this degree to Ryan. It is not only his great achievements on the pitch for which he deserves recognition, but for his valuable charity work with developing countries.”

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Hamilton Celebrates With Fans At Silverstone Grand Prix Party

Lewis Hamilton became the first British driver in eight years to win his home Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday (6 July). Not since David Coulthard (in 2000) had a Brit celebrated on the top step of the F1 podium at Silverstone, and a passionate sell-out race day crowd of 90,000 were just as thrilled as the Vodafone McLaren F1 Team driver, after one of the most eventful and thrilling British Grand Prix in recent years.

Record crowds headed to Silverstone to cheer on the three British drivers – Hamilton, Coulthard and Button – including 65,000 on Friday and 85,000 on Saturday. All three days of the 2008 FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX were a sell-out and Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, Richard Phillips, has heralded this year’s Grand Prix as one of the most exciting races and most successful events he has ever worked on.

Phillips commented, “From an event point of view, this year’s British Grand Prix has been one of the best run, most entertaining and well supported events I have ever worked on. Sunday’s British Grand Prix and Saturday’s GP2 race produced some of the best and most entertaining on-track action we’ve seen for a very long time; and Lewis winning on Sunday capped off a fantastic weekend of racing. The 240,000 fans who attended over the three days, and all of the drivers that produced such spectacular racing on track, have made this a phenomenal British Grand Prix.

“Away from the track Silverstone has delivered another fantastic event. Despite the disappointing news that we won’t be hosting the British Grand Prix in 2010, my staff have picked themselves up, worked as hard and as professionally as they always do, and delivered another incredible Grand Prix. 240,000 fans got in and out of the circuit without any fuss and we have proved, once again, that our team can deliver a near- faultless event.

“The fans have also played their part. No other country in the world is fortunate enough to have fans that are as passionate and supportive as ours. We had capacity crowds on all three days and they were treated to some unbelievable racing. The inclement weather certainly didn’t dampen their spirits and, if anything, added to the excitement on track. Their support for all the drivers, but especially the British drivers, was fantastic, and the noise and atmosphere when Lewis won was amazing.”

The atmosphere in the F1 Paddock was equally electric, as the sun came out towards the end of a fantastic race. A number of high profile guests and VIPs were making the most of the glamorous occasion, including The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, chef Gordon Ramsay, presenters Davina McCall and Vernon Kay, cricketer Kevin Pietersen, England rugby international Lewis Moody and this year’s Female Face of the British Grand Prix, Gemma Garrett.

After the big race on Sunday, a record-equalling 20,000 fans stayed behind at Silverstone to continue the post-race celebrations as Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and David Coulthard joined a number of other F1 drivers and VIP guests at the Grand Prix Party. Established as a traditional finale to the British Grand Prix, the Party, free to all ticket holders, took place after the last race of the day on a purpose built giant stage in the centre of the circuit.

TV broadcaster Tony Jardine hosted the evening’s entertainment and was joined on stage by a number of F1 drivers, personalities and celebrity VIP guests. All of the drivers received a heroes welcome, but the biggest cheer of the day was saved for Lewis Hamilton, who had earlier won the 2008 FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX, moving up to become joint leader in the World Championship.

In addition to the British drivers, Jardine was also joined on stage by F1 drivers Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, Kazuki Nakajima, Nelson Piquet and Sebastian Bourdais. Celebrating 60 years of Silverstone, there were also appearances from former World Champions Damon Hill and Sir Jackie Stewart, British Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert; and legendary F1 commentator Murray Walker.

Whilst celebrating Silverstone’s glorious past, Jardine also caught up with some of the potential champions of the future. Five BRDC Superstars, beneficiaries of a BRDC initiative to nurture the UK’s most promising young drivers, also made an appearance at the Grand Prix Party, alongside BRDC Superstars Director, and former BTCC champion, Tim Harvey.

Miss Great Britain 2008, Gemma Garrett - this year’s Female Face of the British Grand Prix - also made an appearance on stage at the Grand Prix Party, organised to thank the fans for their continued support for the British Grand Prix. Gemma was overwhelmed by her first visit to Silverstone. “Today has been amazing”, said Gemma. “The atmosphere, noise and anticipation just blows you away. And the race was incredible. Being the Female Face of the British Grand Prix, and to meet some of the drivers, has been such a privilege.”

Speaking on the Monday after the event, Phillips announced that tickets for the 2009 FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX had already gone on sale, “Tickets for next year’s British Grand Prix have already gone on sale. They went on sale over the Grand Prix weekend and we’ve already sold more than 2,000 tickets. We have already started work for 2009 and hope to see as many fans back as possible.”

Tickets for the 2009 FORMULA 1 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX are on sale 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be booked at www.silverstone.co.uk, or by calling 08704 588 300. Booking fees do not apply when purchasing tickets online.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Tickets to the gun show...

Did anyone else wince at the sight of Andy Murray showing off his pasty Popeye muscles to the Wimbledon centre court crowd last night? After his marathon 5 set victory against Richard Gasquet which ended at 21:29 BST, Murray pulled back his sleeve and flexed his biceps in celebration.

It was a fantastic comeback by the Scot, but that move was clearly an error in judgment. I can't see him doing the same against Rafa Nadal in the quarter finals. I think it's quite clear who wins that contest!

Monday, 30 June 2008

Bridgestone Motorsport British Grand Prix Preview

Formula One heads to the United Kingdom for the ninth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship where Bridgestone’s hard and medium Potenza tyres will tackle the tough turns of the 5.14km Silverstone circuit near Northampton.

This Grand Prix marks the half way point in the season and only ten points separate the top four drivers. Felipe Massa (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro) currently leads the standings, with Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber F1 Team), Kimi Raikkonen (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro) and Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) all in hot pursuit. Each one of these drivers has been at the top of the standings at some point in the season so far, illustrating the close battle with all drivers using Bridgestone tyres as the Official Tyre Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship.

This will be the 59th running of the British Grand Prix, and the 42nd time the event has taken place at the Silverstone track. The circuit is one of the oldest on the calendar and it is characterised by its high-speed layout. Although most of the track is high-speed, there is a slower complex before the main straight, which is a breeding ground for tyre graining.

Last year Kimi Raikkonen (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro) used a medium – medium - hard tyre strategy to win the British Grand Prix by 2.4 seconds from team-mate Felipe Massa. Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) finished third.

Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development, said:

What are the challenges of Silverstone? “Silverstone is one of the more harsh circuits on the calendar, which is why we bring the hardest compound Potenza tyres from our range. It is a tough circuit for tyres in the sense of the layout and the track surface, which is one of the more abrasive we use. Graining is always a consideration when coming into the final complex, and tyre management of this is an important aspect to getting a good result. Drivers require good stability from their tyres to give them confidence through the high-speed turns. Good heat and wear resistance are also desirable here.”

What has been learnt from the latest test in Silverstone? “The medium compound enabled a faster lap time over one lap, and if conditions are similar for the Grand Prix we would expect this to be the preferred tyre for qualifying. The hard compound enabled more consistent performance. However, if teams and drivers are able to manage the graining, the medium compound could be the preferred option in the race. As teams have now tested here so close to the Grand Prix weekend, we should see very close lap times as competitors have a good opportunity to find a good setup and maximise their cars to Silverstone’s requirements.”

Stats & Facts
Number & Spec of tyres brought to Silverstone 2,200 (wet/extreme wets and hard & medium dry)
Pole position time 2007: 1min 19.997 (Hamilton)
Fastest race lap 2007: 1min 20.638 (Raikkonen)
Top three 2007: Raikkonen, Massa, Hamilton

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Marilyn Rocks Rafa’s World

Tennis’ world number two makes his bid for Wimbledon crown by netting an exclusive Marilyn Monroe painting

Fresh from his French Open title and first round win at Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal has picked up an original artwork by renowned Italian artist Daniel Dondé.

The tennis hero acquired Marilyn Rock on the advice of art collector and Dondé’s agent, Daniel Muszkat, and was presented with his new painting earlier this week at the Wimbledon home he is renting for the tournament.

“My agent Carlos Costa introduced me to the work of Dondé. I met Daniel Muszkat two weeks ago in Paris before the final at Roland Garros, and I just fell in love with the painting,” Nadal said. “Not that I am very much in to art but I do like these things, especially paintings.”

Marilyn Rock is regarded as one of the highlights of Dondé’s 30 piece collection. The painting is finished with gold, jewels and other precious stones.

Park Plaza Riverbank London (18 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7DJ) is displaying the remaining paintings in Dondé’s collection until the end of July 2008. Prices range from £3,500 to £5,900.

Dondé’s latest creations celebrate Marilyn as “the modern day Mona Lisa”. Along with more than 20 paintings of Marilyn, the collection includes Bridgitte Bardot, Mona Lisa and a painting of Paris Hilton with Swarovski crystals.

A fan of Glam Rock Art, Dondé has a loyal following among the rich and famous. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Simon le Bon, Sophia Loren, Flavio Briatore, Roger Moore, Prince Albert of Monaco and Giorgio Armani have purchased works by the artist.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Out with Kornikova, in with Ivanovic

A new Ana has emerged on the scene at Wimbledon, and this one is better looking and a much better tennis player.

Ana Ivanovic arrived in SW19 off the back of her first Grand Slam title at the French Open earlier in the year, and she has won over the British public and Press. Ever since the BBC announced that she is single and looking for love, the Serbian has become the most eligible bachelorette on the tennis circuit.

Asides the fact that she is clearly stunning to look at, she plays a beautiful tennis game as well. She hits the ball with power and style, and in a funny but endearing way sounds a bit like a baby crocodile when on court.

Having said that, I don't fancy her for the Wimbledon title this year. The number 1 seed struggled through against Nathalie Dechy by literally a matter of inches, when at Match Point down a shot by Ivanovic hit the net and crept over, proving to be the turning point in the game. At the end of a marathon 6-7, 7-6, 10-8 thriller that lasted 3 hrs 24mis she kissed the net in thanks. My wager this year is on Maria Sharapova who looked very comfortable in her opening game and has clearly made Wimbledon a priority.

And for the men's tournament I fancy Nadal. He is much closer to beating Federer on grass then Federer is to beating him on clay, and he just appears so incredibly focussed this season. I feel the torch could be passed on and the bookies will go home happy.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Lookalike (Euro 2008): Luiz Felipe Scolari & Gene Hackman