Boston Strong For City’s 118th Marathon

Posted April 18th, 2014 at 11:47 am (UTC-4)
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A "Boston Strong" banner hangs at Rowes Wharf in Boston. Photo: AP

A “Boston Strong” banner hangs at Rowes Wharf in Boston. Photo: AP

My friend Todd Gothberg says he experienced a wide range of emotions after last year’s deadly Boston Marathon bombings, and in his book, Believe, he describes them: “Shock. Sadness. Despair. Anger. Regret. Guilt. Relief. Peace.”

Todd finished his 15th Boston Marathon about an hour before the blasts on Boylston Street which killed three people and wounded more than 260.

2013 Boston Marathon bombing survivor Karen Rand, center, waves to the crowd as others injured in the blasts, Celeste Corcoran, left, and her daughter Sydney, second from left, and Roseann Sdoia, right, are honored at a recent Boston Celtics basketball game. Photo: AP

2013 Boston Marathon bombing survivor Karen Rand, center, waves to the crowd as others injured in the blasts, Celeste Corcoran, left, and her daughter Sydney, second from left, and Roseann Sdoia, right, are honored at a recent Boston Celtics basketball game. Photo: AP

In the wake of the tragedy, the city adopted a simple slogan, “Boston Strong,” to both remember the dead and injured and celebrate courage, leadership and community.

On Monday, April 21st, Todd and about 36,000 other runners will line up for the 118th Boston Marathon.

Todd says “Boston Strong” is all about a unifying spirit and strength that goes well beyond the physical traits required to finish a marathon.

He says it’s also about a group of athletes who gather once a year not to race against one another, but to race with one another.

Brothers J.P. and Paul Norden, who lost their right legs in the bombings, walk the Boston Marathon course with friends and family on the first anniversary of the attack. Photo: AP

Brothers J.P. and Paul Norden, who lost their right legs in the bombings, walk the Boston Marathon course with friends and family on the first anniversary of the attack. Photo: AP

Tom Grilik, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, which will stage the marathon on Monday, says the slogan means “to be borne on by an inner and enduring strength, and it means, above all, that we never, ever give in to anything.”

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick says “Boston Strong” is about “the triumph of community itself,” and it’s a reminder of “how few degrees of separation there are between us.”

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Obama Celebrates Boston Sports

Posted April 2nd, 2014 at 2:46 pm (UTC-4)
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Red Sox slugger David "Big Papi" Ortiz presents a team jersey to President Obama. Photo: AP

Red Sox slugger David “Big Papi” Ortiz presents a team jersey to President Obama. Photo: AP

U.S. President Barack Obama recently celebrated two of Boston’s oldest and most cherished sporting traditions: its annual marathon and its eight-time World Series champion baseball team.

During a White House ceremony honoring the Boston Red Sox, President Obama credited the team with helping heal and unify a city scarred from last year’s deadly Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

“Sometimes, sports seems like it’s trivial, it’s just an entertainment,” said the President. “And then, every once in a while, you’re reminded that sports represents something else and it has the power to bring people together like almost nothing can.”

Running shoes memorial near finish line of 2013 Boston Marathon

Running shoes memorial near finish line of 2013 Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon and the Boston Red Sox have brought people together for more than 100 years. The marathon was first run in 1897, and the baseball team began playing games four years later, in 1901.

President Obama said in winning the 2013 World Series title, the Red Sox played an essential role in renewing the spirit of Boston, and that spirit will be on full display April 21st: “The world will return to Boston and run harder than ever and cheer louder than ever for the 118th Boston Marathon.”

2014BostonMarathonLogoThe Boston Marathon is run annually on the Patriots’ Day holiday in Massachusetts, and as part of the festivities, the Red Sox traditionally play a home game at Fenway Park.

When the Red Sox host the Baltimore Orioles April 21st, there will surely be loud cheers at Fenway Park, as well as on Boylston Street, where thousands of runners from all over the world will cross the finish line for what promises to be a very emotional 118th running of the Boston Marathon.

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Ayanleh Souleiman Earns Athletic Glory For Djibouti

Posted March 11th, 2014 at 3:05 pm (UTC-4)
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Ayanleh Souleiman is Djibouti's first gold medalist at a world athletics championship. Photo: Reuters

Ayanleh Souleiman is Djibouti’s first gold medalist at a world athletics championship. Photo: Reuters

Ayanleh Souleiman says he started running in 2008 after watching the Beijing Olympics on television.

Now 21-years-old, the athlete from the small Horn of Africa country Djibouti appears ready to run for a medal in 2016 when he makes his Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Souleiman was hoping to compete at the 2012 London Olympics, but he missed the competition because of a leg injury.

At the recent world indoor championships in Poland, he turned in a dominant performance in the men’s 1500 meters final, leading from almost start to finish.

After crossing the finish line, Souleiman quickly congratulated runner-up Aman Wote of Ethiopia, and then he listened to the Djibouti national anthem, played at an athletics stadium for the first time at a world championship.

Ayanleh Souleiman (R) hugs runner-up Aman Wote of Ethiopia. Photo: Reuters

Ayanleh Souleiman (R) hugs runner-up Aman Wote of Ethiopia. Photo: Reuters

At the 2013 world outdoor championships in Moscow, Souleiman won a bronze medal at the shorter 800 meter distance.

His gold medal in Poland was applauded by international track commentators, who say it could be a sign of even greater Olympic glory to come for Souleiman and Djibouti.

 

 

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Beckenbauer Backs Libyan Football

Posted March 3rd, 2014 at 9:44 am (UTC-4)
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Franz Beckenbauer Photo: Reuters

Franz Beckenbauer
Photo: Reuters

German football great Franz Beckenbauer is backing Libya as it prepares to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

During a recent visit to the capital, Tripoli, the 68-year-old Beckenbauer participated in a ceremony to launch the building of a new 60,000-seat national stadium that will be used for the Nations Cup.

Beckenbauer’s visit is validation for a country that originally was awarded the hosting rights to the 2013 Nations Cup. But because of the revolution that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, the Confederation of African Football, CAF, moved the tournament to South Africa.

Beckenbauer remembered a message from the late South African icon Nelson Mandela about the power of sports in highlighting what the Nations Cup can do for Libya. You can check out his remarks at the 58-second mark of this Sonny Side of Sports video.

Beckenbauer helped Germany win the World Cup as a player in 1974 and as a coach in 1990.

His trip to Tripoli came a few weeks after Libyan fans celebrated their first major international

A young man waves the Libyan flag in Benghazi after the country won this year's African Nations Championship football tournament. Photo: Reuters

A young man waves the Libyan flag in Benghazi after the country won this year’s African Nations Championship football tournament. Photo: Reuters

football title.

Libya defeated Ghana, 4-3 on penalty kicks, in Cape Town, South Africa, in the final of the African Nations Championship, a competition for home-based players in Africa.

Libya 2017 will mark the 60th anniversary of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. This will mark the second time Libya has staged African football’s premier event.

The first was in 1982, when the Libyans lost to the Ghanaians (7-6), again on penalty kicks.

 

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Haile Gebrselassie Sets The Pace In London

Posted February 19th, 2014 at 1:00 pm (UTC-4)
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Haile smiles at his gym in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa. Photo: Reuters

Haile smiles at his gym in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Photo: Reuters

The man regarded by many as the greatest distance runner of the modern era will lead perhaps the best marathon field ever assembled in London on April 13th.

Ethiopian great Haile Gebrselassie has agreed to be the pacemaker for the elite men in the British capital.

The plan is for Haile, who will be five days shy of his 41st birthday, to take the top men to the 30-kilometer point in about one hour and 28 minutes – or about 4:43 per mile.

Then Haile will step aside and let the younger athletes see if they have what it takes to break the marathon world record of 2:03:23, set by Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang last year in Berlin, Germany.

Kipsang will be on the start line in London, part of a sensational African field put together by race

Haile Gebrselassie has set 27 world records during his great career. Photo: Reuters

Haile Gebrselassie has set 27 world records during his great career. Photo: Reuters

organizers. Another Kenyan, Emmanuel Mutai, the London Marathon course record holder (2:04:40), will also be testing his speed, as will Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede, the reigning London Marathon champion.

In addition, Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich, the reigning world and Olympic champion, will be running London, and so will two more Olympic champions who are making their marathon debuts: Somalia-born Mo Farah of Britain and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, the world record holder at both 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters.

Haile and British star Paula Radcliffe, the current women's world record holder in the marathon, at a news conference in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Reuters

Haile and British star Paula Radcliffe, the current women’s world record holder in the marathon, at a news conference in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Reuters

In an interview with “The Energetic” Andy Edwards, longtime Sonny Side of Sports track analyst, Haile Gebrselassie says he’s never seen such an outstanding collection of running talent in one marathon, and the chance to run with such stellar athletes was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

Haile adds that his good relationship with London Marathon organizer Dave Bedford was his other main reason for taking on the pacemaker duties.

After London, Haile Gebrselassie is scheduled to run the Hamburg Marathon in Germany in May, when he will take a shot at the over age 40, masters world record of 2:08:46, set by Mexico’s Andres Espinosa in Berlin in 2003.

 

 

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Ghana’s Yaro Has Right to Dream

Posted February 9th, 2014 at 5:01 pm (UTC-4)
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SSOS in GhanaAs Joshua Yaro walked down one of the hallways at our Voice of America headquarters, he saw the photo on the left hanging on a wall and stopped to take a closer look.

“I played on pitches just like that when I was growing up,” said Yaro, who recently completed his first season with the men’s soccer team at Georgetown University here in Washington.

The photo was taken in Kumasi, Ghana, where Joshua is from and where he first began kicking the ball on dusty, rock hard pitches.

Joshua says in 2006, he joined Ghana’s Right to Dream Academy, which says at its website that it “seeks to discover and nurture role models through education, sport and character development.”

In a video interview with VOA, Joshua said Right to Dream helps develop young Ghanaians into future leaders who some day can give back to the country.

Joshua says he’s planning to return to Ghana after he gets his degree from Georgetown and “hopefully have a positive impact on my community.”

Joshua (#5) in action for Georgetown in a match against Creighton University.

Joshua (#5) in action for Georgetown in a match against Creighton University.

He says he’s interested in government and is studying international relations at the university.

Before being recruited by Georgetown, Yaro played soccer and competed in track and field at the Cate School in California.

Joshua’s speed on the pitch helped make him one of the top

Joshua and Sonny in VOA's Studio 52.

Joshua and Sonny in VOA’s Studio 52.

defenders in U.S. collegiate soccer during his freshman season.

Even though he missed four matches with a broken arm, TopDrawerSoccer.com had Yaro ranked #3 among freshman players in the country.

Joshua says he is also interested in a professional football career, but he knows if those dreams don’t work out, he is getting a “wonderful education at Georgetown,” knowledge that he plans to take back to Ghana.

 

 

 

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Magic Mountain and Measuring Sticks

Posted January 18th, 2014 at 8:12 pm (UTC-4)
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Andre Agassi lifts the Australian Open trophy for a fourth time in 2003. Photo: Reuters

Andre Agassi lifts the Australian Open trophy for a fourth time in 2003. Photo: Reuters

Former world #1 tennis star Andre Agassi heard some of the players complaining about the scorching heat at the Australian Open and tweeted the following: “Heat is not a curve it is an opportunity to separate yourself.”

The 43-year-old Agassi won four of his eight Grand Slam singles titles in Australia, and the way he separated himself from his opponents was in his workouts in the weeks leading up to Melbourne.

After seeing his world ranking drop to #141 in 1997, Agassi made a big comeback, due in part to a rigorous conditioning program.

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Sonny interviews Andre in 2011 in Washington.

While some players were putting their rackets down and enjoying the holidays during December, Agassi was running up “Magic Mountain,” a 293-meter hill on the outskirts of his Las Vegas birthplace, where he still lives today.

During some workouts, Agassi would run up the hill more than a dozen times to strengthen his legs, his heart and his mind. His longtime trainer, Gil Reyes, says the hard workouts helped make Agassi a more confident player.

“Magic Mountain” became one of Agassi’s measuring sticks, a place to gauge his fitness and conditioning.

I’m almost 10 years older than Agassi, and I’ll never go five sets in Melbourne, but I like to test myself on my own “Magic Mountain.”

West Cedar Lane, when run from Rockville Pike to Old Georgetown Rd. in Bethesda, Maryland, is an incline almost four times longer than Agassi’s hill, although probably not as steep.

Sonny likes to pump his fist like Andre every time he scales his Magic Mountain. Photo: Bill Workinger/VOA

Sonny likes to pump his fist like Andre every time he scales his Magic Mountain. Photo: Bill Workinger/VOA

Still, it’s a good challenge. I used to avoid it during my runs, but now it’s a measuring stick, because I know it’s making my legs, heart and mind stronger.

I time myself from the bottom to the top, and it’s easy to do, there are thin orange poles along the side of the road – measuring sticks.

Find yours and see how you size up. Those measuring sticks are helping keep me in the game for the long run.

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

LeBron James & Serena Williams: AP’s Athletes of the Year

Posted December 30th, 2013 at 3:13 pm (UTC-4)
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LeBron James and Serena Williams. Photo: AP

LeBron James and Serena Williams Photo: AP

Here’s a Sonny Side of Sports salute to basketball star LeBron James and tennis champion Serena Williams, who are the Associated Press’s 2013 male and female athletes of the year.

Serena had what Gordon Smith, the executive director of the U.S. Tennis Association, describes as an unforgettable

Serena Williams lifts the U.S. Open trophy in New York Photo: AP

Serena Williams lifts the U.S. Open trophy in New York Photo: AP

year.

She had a record in singles of 78-4, with 11 titles – including the French Open and the U.S. Open.

The 32-year-old Williams also had a 34-match winning streak; won more than $12 million dollars in prize money, a record in women’s tennis; and became the oldest world number-one in women’s tennis history.

Serena’s 17 Grand Slam singles trophies also matches the number won by Swiss star Roger Federer who, like Williams, is 32-years-old.

But while Federer had his least successful year on the men’s tour since 2001, ending the year at number-six in the rankings, Williams dominated during 2013 and looks like she has several years of great tennis ahead of her.

LeBron James in action against the San Antonio Spurs Photo: Reuters

LeBron James in action against the San Antonio Spurs Photo: Reuters

LeBron James is also at the top of his sport. He celebrated his 29th birthday December 30th and is widely regarded as the best player in the National Basketball Association.

In June, LeBron led the Miami Heat to their second consecutive NBA title.

LeBron shoots over Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks Photo: AP

LeBron shoots over Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks Photo: AP

Miami defeated the San Antonio Spurs, four games to three, in a very competitive NBA Finals, and the player nicknamed “King James” rose to the occasion in the decisive Game 7, scoring 37 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

James was named Most Valuable Player of the championship series, and he also won his fourth league MVP trophy in 2013.

In winning the Associated Press award, LeBron says he believes his calling is much higher than being a basketball player, and he hopes to inspire young people.

 

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Great Year for Nigeria Football

Posted December 19th, 2013 at 3:31 pm (UTC-4)
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Nigerian players celebrate winning the Nations Cup trophy in Johannesburg. Photo: Reuters

Nigerian players celebrate winning the Nations Cup trophy in Johannesburg. Photo: Reuters

It’s been a great year for Nigeria football, with the country winning world and continental titles at the youth and senior levels.

In February, Nigeria’s senior national team, nicknamed the Super Eagles, won its third Africa Cup of Nations trophy with a 1-0 victory over Burkina Faso in Johannesburg, South Africa.

About nine months later, the Golden Eaglets of

Nigerian players pose for team photo before beating Mexico at FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. Photo: Reuters

Nigerian players pose for team photo before beating Mexico in FIFA U-17 World Cup final in Mexico. Photo: Reuters

Nigeria won their record fourth FIFA U-17 World Cup championship with a 3-0 win over Mexico in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.

Nigerian players Musa Yahaya (#11) and Taiwo Awoniyi (#18) celebrate a goal at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Photo: Reuters

Nigerian players Musa Yahaya (#11) and Taiwo Awoniyi (#18) celebrate a goal at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Photo: Reuters

The Golden Eaglets did not lose a match in the UAE, and Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho, who had six goals in the tournament, was named the competition’s outstanding player.

African soccer analyst David Legge says the Golden Eaglets played a beautiful brand of passing football in the UAE, and the team, if it stays together, has the potential to win more medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics and in future international tournaments.Brazil 2014 Logo

Looking ahead to 2014, Nigeria has its sights set firmly on Brazil, where it’s grouped with Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina and two-time champion Argentina for the first round of the FIFA World Cup.

Stephen Keshi didn't smile over his salary problems in 2013. Photo: AP

Stephen Keshi didn’t smile over his salary problems in 2013. Photo: AP

This will be Nigeria’s fifth World Cup appearance, and the team is led by head coach Stephen Keshi, who was a defender on the Super Eagles when they booked their first World Cup ticket at USA ’94.

Nigeria reached the Round of 16 at USA ’94 and France ’98, and Coach Keshi would love to see the team advance to later stages in Brazil. I’m sure Keshi would also love to see his salary paid on a consistent, regular basis by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

Keshi complained that he was not paid by the federation through much of 2013. Paying their coach is one New Year’s resolution that must be met by the NFF for Nigeria football to achieve greater success in 2014.

 

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

Mandela the Fighter

Posted December 8th, 2013 at 3:59 pm (UTC-4)
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Mandela Boxing PicNelson Mandela fought for freedom and justice for all, a lifelong battle that was fueled, in part, by his love for boxing.

Mandela was an amateur boxer in his younger days and he credited the sport with helping instill discipline and the will to withstand the blows of hatred and a long imprisonment.

In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, the anti-apartheid icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner wrote how a daily boxing program helped him cope with the demands and the pressures of the revolutionary movement in South Africa.

“I found the rigorous exercise to be an excellent outlet for tension and stress … After a strenuous workout, I felt both mentally and physically lighter. It was a way of losing myself in something that was not the struggle. After an evening’s workout, I would wake up the next morning feeling strong and refreshed, ready to take up the fight again.”

Nelson Mandela spars playfully with Muhammad Ali

Nelson Mandela spars playfully with Muhammad Ali

In taking up the fight, Mandela viewed boxing, in its purest form, as free from prejudice and discrimination.

“Boxing is egalitarian,” wrote Mandela. “In the ring, rank, age, color and wealth are irrelevant. When you are circling your opponent, probing his strengths and weaknesses, you are not thinking about his color or social status.”

Boxing great Muhammad Ali, a hero to many in his own right, met Mandela several times. In a statement released through his foundation, Ali said Mandela “was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge.”

Mandela also met several other boxing champions after being released from prison in 1990, including former world heavyweight titleholders Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis.

Mandela met Lewis in April of 2001, shortly after he lost his world title belts to American Hasim Rahman, who knocked out Lewis in the fifth round during a championship fight in South Africa.

“I know the history of boxing,” said Mandela during his meeting with Lewis, “and I know the quality of champions.”

The late, great champion of freedom and justice said the best fighters have the ability to overcome adversity and prevail, and he predicted with proper training Lewis could reclaim the world heavyweight title.

Seven months later, Lennox Lewis knocked out Hasim Rahman in the fourth round in their rematch in Las Vegas to regain the world heavyweight boxing championship.

Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

About

Sonny Side of Sports is an energetic and action-packed look at both world and African sports, broadcast on radio, TV and the Internet. Since the show’s creation in 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

The Sonny Side of Sports is broadcast Monday through Friday at 1630 and 1830 UTC/GMT. And on Fridays at 1730 UTC/GMT, Sonny has an expanded 30-minute sports show.

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