Author: James Gill

Women-only motorsport series: “Oppression masquerading as opportunity is still oppression”

The decision to create a women-only motorsport series has been branded a “sad day for motorsport” by British Indycar driver Pippa Mann. The W Series will start in 2019 and hopes to have 20 of the world’s best female drivers competing over six races for a $1.5 million prize pot.

The competition is free for drivers to enter and the final 20 will be chosen through an intensive program that will test the abilities of the candidates. The overall winner will receive a third of the total prize pot, $500,000, to be used to break into competitions such as Formula 1.

“What a sad day for motorsport,” said Mann, adding: “Those with funding to help female racers are choosing to segregate them as opposed to supporting them. I am deeply disappointed to see such a historic step backwards take place in my lifetime. For the record, I stand WITH those who feel forced into this as their only opportunity to race. I stand AGAINST those who are forcing the above-mentioned racers into this position as their only solution to find the funding to race.”

On the website for the W Series they state “there are no biological or hormonal impediments” to a women’s ability to compete with the best male F1 drivers, and that they “expect that the best graduates from W Series will be able to compete in Formula 1 on level terms.” This begs the question if the best graduates from the series should be able to compete on level terms with the likes of Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel then why is a women-only series needed? Matt Bishop, Communications Director for the W Series, said that “we don’t have the resources. Would that we did.”

“That’s why we’ve chosen to create what we hope will be a sustainable business that uses commercial sponsorship to create a series for women to race in, some of whom wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to race at all.”

Michele Mouton, president of the FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission, is dismissive of the W Series. “One of the objectives of the commission is to help ensure females have equal opportunities to compete at the highest level of the sport. We know from our recent driver-assessment programme that there is a pool of very talented women drivers who deserve the chance to do this. As competitors, they want to be the best and the only way for them to benchmark their performance is to compete in a mixed environment, which they are already doing.

“While this new series is obviously giving an opportunity for women to showcase their talent in a female-only environment, our objective is to have more of them competing alongside men and demonstrating they have the same ability and potential to succeed in top-level FIA championships.”

Since the first F1 series in 1950, there have been over 900 drivers, of which only two have been women. Maria Teresa de Filippis started three races in 1958/9 and fellow Italian Lella Lombardi competed in 12 races between 1974 and 1976, yet despite several more female drivers being on the fringe of F1, none have managed to break into the starting grid.

This was not helped by Bernie Ecclestone, former Chief Executive of the Formula One Group, being dismissive of women driving in F1 saying that they “would not be taken seriously”. He has also said multiple times in interviews that women “should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances.”  Ecclestone left his position in 2017 and many are hopeful that this could represent a turning point for female involvement in the sport.

With the recent news that 21-year-old Ann Carrasco has become the first female rider to win a motorbike world championship in the World Supersport 300, it seems that the only thing holding women back from excelling in top motorsport competition is opportunity, not skill. So does the W Series offer that opportunity? Whilst there has been a lot of criticism, especially from prominent female drivers, there has been praise for the competition too.

Former F1 driver David Coulthard believes that men and women could compete equally but the current structure for finding female talent has “not worked”. He said “if you want a fundamental change in the outcome, you need a fundamental change in the process. W is a fundamental change in creating an opportunity to bring through female talent to the highest possible level.”

Interestingly this is not the first time a women-only racing series has been attempted. ITV presented ‘Formula Woman’ to viewers in 2004 in an attempt to boost the female audience of the sport and bring more women drivers to the major competitions. There was not a happy ending for the series as the main sponsor, Mazda, pulled out at the end of the first season and within three years it was axed.

Only time will tell what the impact of this new competition will be, but every female drive that enters the W Series will be hoping to use it as a stepping stone to greater things. “As female racers we are racers first, and our gender comes second. We grew up dreaming of winning races and winning championships, against everyone – the same as every male racer does. We did not grow up dreaming of being segregated and winning the girl’s only cup.”

Deontay Wilder apologises after “breaking mascot’s jaw” live on tv

WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has apologised on Instagram after punching a mascot live on US television. There are reports that the American broke the jaw of the mascot as part of a segment on ESPN to promote his upcoming fight on December 1st against Tyson Fury.

The mascot, wearing a sombrero and moustache, received a full-strength blow to the head as the presenters looked on shocked.

Some media reports suggested that Wilder did not know there was someone inside the costume. This is something he denies saying on Instagram: “anything headlining I didn’t know a “Human Being” was in there is just straight “Click Baiting”. Like come on now, I guess the Mascot rolled out there. Show some respect!”

He added “I sincerely apologize to the brave man that was injured (if this is true). I have the utmost high respect for him, his participation, willingness and courage. If this is true ESPN I personally would like to invite him to my Dec.1 fight. Word Is Bond”

Wilder will fight Fury in Los Angeles to defend his WBC heavyweight belt.

Conor McGregor loses to Khabib Nurmagomedov in an event marred by post-fight violence

UFC 229 was the subject of a mass brawl after Khabib Nurmagomedov beat Conor McGregor in Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena. The Russian won in the fourth round through submission before jumping over the cage and diving towards McGregor’s team with his entourage soon following.

Dana White, UFC president, said: “Police officers were getting punched, security guys were getting punched. I actually think police and security did an incredible job. Khabib jumped over the cage like one of those parkour guys. What are you expected to do?”

While the brawl outside the cage took place two of Khabib’s team climbed in and started attacking McGregor. First one came from the front and shortly after another sucker punched him from behind. British boxer Tony Bellew said that there is “not a chance in the world he deserves to be attacked by two men! One in front and one from behind!”

“Both bare knuckle after he’s just been fighting for 20 minutes anyway. It’s a disgrace. The coward jumping the cage is a disgrace. UFC have to deal with this.” According to White, Nurmagomedov’s fight payment has been withheld until further notice while the Nevada State Commission, who originally sanctioned the fight, investigate the events.

Three members of Nurmagomedov’s team were arrested as a result of their post-match actions but were later released. White said that McGregor had refused to press any charges.

Once the brawls were broken up each fighter was individually escorted away surrounded by a mass of security guards and police officers. McGregor went first and looked amazed at what had happened, both during the fight and after. Nurmagomedov left second but not before demanding his belt from White.

“I know if we put the belt on him in the octagon there’ll be things thrown,” White said. “I just said let’s try and get him out of here.” It turned out that the Irish fans would throw things regardless of whether the belt was handed over or not and Nurmagomedov was bombarded with objects as he left the arena.

The victory for the Russian means he is now unbeaten in 27 MMA fights, the longest ongoing undefeated streak in UFC, however, if it not yet clear for how long he will be suspended. “He is going to get suspended so maybe you give him four to six months,” said White. “If Nevada puts a suspension on him everyone will put a suspension on him. We are not going to go around the athletic commission in this country to put on a fight.

When asked whether he will keep the belt White said “he absolutely keeps his title. They’re talking about keeping his purse. I do not think that should happen. You should not be able to keep his whole purse. I think they should take £250,000 from him.”

Nurmagomedov’s father, Abdulmanap, announced that he will punish his son more severely than whatever the UFC gives out. “I warned him. For me, discipline comes first. You do whatever you want in the Octagon, (but) outside, this is the border of civilians, where there are children, women, strangers.”

Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas’ trophy stolen in Birmingham

Geraint Thomas has issued a plea for the thieves who stole his Tour de France trophy to return it. The Coupe Omnisports, given to the winner of the most prestigious race in cycling, was taken from a display at The Cycle Show in Birmingham.

West Midlands Police are currently investigating the situation, with the trophy being taken after being “momentarily left unattended” whilst the clean operations were underway following the conclusion of the event. Thomas’ team, Team Sky, loaned the trophy to their sponsors Pinarello to take to the show at Birmingham’s NEC from September 28th-30th.

A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said that “police were contacted on 2nd October to report the theft of a trophy from the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, sometime between 6:30 and 7:30 on 29th September.”

Speaking about the issue Thomas said: “It is incredibly unfortunate that this has happened. It goes without saying that the trophy is of pretty limited value to whoever took it and hopefully (they) will have the good grace to return it. A trophy is important, but clearly what matters most are the amazing memories from this incredible summer, and no-one can ever take those away.”

Thomas won Team Sky’s sixth Tour de France in seven years earlier this year. Sky completed a clean sweep of the 2018 Grand Tours with Chris Froome winning the Giro d’Italia and Simon Yates winning the Vuelta de Espana.

The Coupe Omnisports was on display next to fellow teammate Chris Froome’s Giro d’Italia trophy from May and his 2017 Vuelta de Espana trophy.

The managing director of Pinarello, Richard Hemington, said “we are obviously devastated about this. We accept full responsibility and have personally apologised to Geraint. Obviously we all hope that the trophy can be recovered.”

He has since been told that he will be given a replica of the trophy next year if the original is not recovered.

England’s first One Day International against Sri Lanka abandoned after heavy rain

England’s first cricket match since their 4-1 Test series win against India was abandoned after 15 overs due to heavy rain. The one-day international, played in the town of Dambulla, was called off mid-afternoon due to a sodden outfield.

Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to field but the England team looked eager to get started. In the 15 overs that were played England managed to reach a score of 92-2. Johnny Bairstow and Jason Roy were the openers and managed to reach 25 and 24 respectively before getting caught out.

The first wicket came as a delivery from fast-medium bowler Nuwan Pradeep was edged by Bairstow and comfortably caught behind the stumps. Five balls later Roy completely misjudged a ball from Akila Dananjaya to get caught at mid-off.

Third and fourth at the crease were Joe Root and Eoin Morgan who picked up runs quickly, reaching 25 and 14 respectively before the game was called off.

Talking to BBC Sport about the match Morgan said “It has been a little bit frustrating but there is plenty of energy in the camp, we’re excited about being here and getting into the series. This has halted that energy a bit but we’re hoping to get a full game in for the second match, especially with the reserve day. Only time will tell if we’ve had enough preparation but we certainly will be fresh.”

The second ODI will also take place in Dambulla, in the centre of Sri Lanka, on Saturday, with a reserve day on Sunday in case rain becomes an issue again.

After the five-match series of ODI’s concludes on October 23rd there is a one-off T20 game on the 27th followed by a three-match Test series to finish the year. In January 2019 the English team will begin a 3-month tour of the West Indies with a similar format to this tour of Sri Lanka except featuring three T20 games instead of one.

Mo Farah wins his first marathon in Chicago setting a new European record

In only his third attempt Great Britain’s Mo Farah has won his first marathon in Chicago. The four-time Olympic gold medalist previously competed in London in 2014 finishing eighth, and again in London this April where he finished third and set a new British record of 2 hours, 6 minutes and 21 seconds.

This time Farah’s clock stopped at 2 hours, 5 minutes and 11 seconds shaving a massive 70 seconds on his previous attempt. He became the first British athlete to win the event since Paul Evans in 1996.

After retiring from the track in August 2017 to focus on road racing, Farah has won his record fifth successive Great North Run last month as well as proving himself as a force to be reckoned with over the full 26.2 mile distance.

Talking about the race Farah said: “The conditions weren’t great and everyone was thinking about conditions rather than time, but towards the end we picked it up. I felt good towards the end of the race. At the beginning I felt a bit sluggish but overall I’m very happy with it.”

In the wet conditions Farah looked strong for much of the race, however he wasn’t alone. It wasn’t until the final half-mile that he began distancing himself from Mosinet Geremew. A strong runner in his own right, Geremew became the first person to win twice at the Yangzhou Jianzhen International Half Marathon with back-to-back wins in 2015 and 2016, setting the fastest ever half marathon time in a Chinese race.

The 26-year-old had to settle for second place in Illinois though as Farah crossed the line 13 seconds clear of the Ethiopian. Farah’s win means that he receives the mantle of victor from his former training partner Galen Rupp with whom he competed in three Olympics.

Elsewhere in the other Chicago races, Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei won the women’s race with a time of 2 hours, 18 minutes and 35 seconds, and Manuela Schar won the women’s wheelchair race in 1 hour, 41 minutes and 38 seconds. Six-time Paralympic gold medalist David Weir had to settle for third in the men’s wheelchair races as American Daniel Romanchuk took home the victory with a time of 1 hour, 31 minutes and 34 seconds.

Kids See Ghostwriters: Kanye West and Violent Crimes

Political tirades, controversial tweets, and questionable interviews. Three things that are now synonymous with a Kanye West album release. The build up to Yahndi, Kanye’s sixth project of 2018, has featured all of these and more. From a pro-Trump speech on SNL that had to be cut from the air to deleting all of his social media accounts, again, he certainly is a master of drumming up a media circus to ensure the commercial success of his albums. One tweet however seems to have slipped by unnoticed that needs to be addressed.

On September 30th Kanye tweeted: “Pardison Fontaine wrote the Violent Crimes verses. I changed 2 lines. He wrote the entire song though. Cyhi Cons Pardi. The ghost in the industry”. What he’s saying here is that the song Violent Crimes on his solo album Ye was ghostwritten. Not just the hook, or the chorus, but the song in its entirety.

Ghostwriting is no longer as uncommon or as taboo as it once was with high profile rappers such as Snoop Dogg and Nas admitting to using them. What sets the common usage apart from what Kanye is saying though is the type of song.

Will Smith’s Grammy Award winning song ‘Gettin’ Jiggy wit It’ is a prime example of the commonly acceptable usage of a ghostwriter, in this case allegedly Nas. With lyrics about fast cars, pretty girls, and bottomless pockets, it’s a classic late 90’s rap song. One that could have been performed, although perhaps not as well, by any other rapper.

Violent Crimes is different. The lyrics are profoundly personal. A journey of self-exploration about being a father, and the world he sees his daughter growing up into. For example this line near the start of his verse, “’cause now I see women as somethin’ to nurture. Not somethin’ to conquer”, shows that Kanye is coming to terms with how he used to see women, how his mindset has changed since having a daughter.

The fact that this song wasn’t written by Kanye is shocking. It means that Fontaine not only wrote about Kanye’s inner feelings, but also from his perspective, as if he was Kanye. Several questions spring up from this. Does Kanye feel the things he rapped about? If this is where ghostwriting is now where could it go? A whole album? A whole discography?

Back on solid ground one of two situations most likely happened surrounding this song, with one being far more unsettling than the other. Either Kanye accepts that he, as primarily a producer, lacks the ability to weave a lyrical narrative as personal as he wanted and so brought in Fontaine. They explored the direction Kanye wanted to take the song, the things he wanted to say, and the overall message, then Fontaine went and wrote the verse to that specification.

In this situation the heart and soul of the song is Kanye’s, he just sought aid in making the song as emotionally charged as it was. Now the alternative is that Kanye didn’t have this long conversation with Fontaine, only giving the topics of fatherhood and women, that he doesn’t truly believes the lyrics, and that he betrayed the trust of fans who believed they were getting to hear the real Kanye.

The resulting question is which situation is the right one? Regardless this is a surprising revelation especially given the nature of the song and it will surely cause people to pay a bit more attention with his future projects. Without an answer though it seems that this will just have to be another test of faith for Kanye West fans. After the announced delay of Yandhi while West goes to Africa to finish the album, there won’t be a long wait for more controversy.