Gorgui Dieng Goes For New Heights In NBA

Posted September 17th, 2014 at 3:30 pm (UTC-4)
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Gorgui Dieng shoots over superstar LeBron James during his rookie NBA season. Photo: Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports

Gorgui Dieng shoots over superstar LeBron James during his rookie NBA season. Photo: Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports

I last blogged about Gorgui Dieng (pronounced GOR-gee Jeng) in early April of 2013, just before he helped the University of Louisville win its third NCAA Men’s Division I college basketball title.

Since turning professional, Gorgui, which means “the old one” in Senegal’s Wolof language, has shown as he gains more experience, he is more than capable of holding his own against the best basketball players in the world.

At the recent FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain, the 24-year-old Dieng was Senegal’s best player. In six games at the world championship tournament, Gorgui averaged 16 points and almost 11 rebounds per game.

The Senegalese reached the knockout Round of 16 before losing to the host Spaniards, 89-56, in Madrid.

Dieng is now preparing for his second season with the National Basketball Association’s MinnesotaMinnesota Timberwolves Logo Timberwolves club. In his first year with the T-Wolves, Gorgui averaged about five points and five rebounds each game.

I expect his numbers will go up during the 2014-2015 NBA season, and for two main reasons.

Dieng has more confidence after his solid performance at the Basketball World Cup. And Gorgui should get the ball more after the trade last month of Minnesota’s best player, Kevin Love, to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Check out some of Gorgui’s NBA rookie season highlights in this video.

As you can see in the video highlights, Gorgui Dieng can score, rebound and block shots. I look for him to be a fixture at center for the Timberwolves in the years to come.

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.

Pitching Prodigy Mo’ne Davis

Posted August 18th, 2014 at 4:34 pm (UTC-4)
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Mo'ne Davis pitches at the Little Leage Baseball World Series Photo: AP

Mo’ne Davis pitches at the Little Leage Baseball World Series Photo: AP

Remember the name Mo’ne Davis. The 13-year-old is the first girl to pitch a shutout in Little League Baseball World Series history.

She accomplished the feat when her team from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, beat a Tennessee squad, 4-0, and Mo’ne struck out eight batters.

Mo'ne Davis

Mo’ne Davis takes a swing during the Little League Baseball World Series. Photo: AP

Mo’ne throws a 70 miles per hour (110 kilometers per hour) fastball, which is equivalent to a professional pitcher who can fire the ball more than 90 miles per hour.

Mo’ne can also hit. She knocked in a run with a single against Tennessee.

Baseball, though, is not her favorite sport. Basketball is, and her favorite men’s player, Kevin Durant, had a sweet tweet: “This youngster is striking everybody out and she is a girl. I love it. #itsanewday”

And one of Major League Baseball’s big stars, Mike Trout, tweeted: “Mo’ne Davis is straight dominating … fun to watch !!! #LLWS #MidAtlantic”

Check out Mo’ne striking out the side in these video highlights.

This blog post was written by VOA Intern Daniel Brown.

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.

Kenyan Javelin Thrower Julius Yego

Posted August 5th, 2014 at 2:59 pm (UTC-4)
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Julius Yego celebrates after winning the men's javelin throw at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland. Photo: Reuters

Julius Yego celebrates after winning the men’s javelin throw at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland. Photo: Reuters

Kenya is renowned for its distance runners who have won races all over the world.

The Kenyans showed their prowess again recently at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, where they won 10 gold medals.

Nine of the 10 gold came in running events, while Julius Yego made history as the first Kenyan to be crowned Commonwealth Games champion in the javelin.

Yego’s winning throw of 83.87 meters came in the third round of the javelin competition.

Yego gets ready to throw at the IAAF Diamond League meet in Oslo, Norway. Photo: Reuters

Yego gets ready to throw at the IAAF Diamond League meet in Oslo, Norway. Photo: Reuters

The 25-year-old Kenyan decided to pass on his three remaining attempts because he was afraid he would aggravate a groin injury suffered during warm-ups.

“I slipped on the warm-up track,” said Yego. “I thought about pulling out, but I spoke to my coach and I decided I couldn’t pull out of this championship.”

The track in Glasgow was slippery from pouring rain that made the competition challenging for Yego and all the javelin throwers.

Yego has a stocky, powerful physique. He says as a young boy growing up in the Rift Valley region of Kenya, he gave up running and took up the javelin because he was so slow.

Julius Yego competes at the 2013 world championships in Moscow, Russia. Photo: Reuters

Julius Yego competes at the 2013 world championships in Moscow, Russia. Photo: Reuters

To improve his technique, Yego studied YouTube videos of athletes like Czech great Jan Zelezny, the three-time Olympic champion and world record holder in the javelin.

Yego has shown steady improvement in his throws over the past five years, and Kenyan officials recognized his hard work by naming him captain of the country’s athletics team in Glasgow.

After his Commonwealth Games gold medal, Julius Yego is now planning to defend his African javelin title next week in Marrakesh, Morocco.

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.

Eight World Cups

Posted July 29th, 2014 at 1:35 pm (UTC-4)
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George Vecsey

George Vecsey

I’ve had a few friends tell me they’ve been suffering “World Cup blues” since the football fiesta officially came to an end July 13th when Germany won its fourth world title in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

I’ve prescribed Eight World Cups as an antidote for their World Cup blues. It’s a new book by George Vecsey, longtime sports columnist for the New York Times newspaper.

In the book, the 75-year-old Vecsey reflects on some of his experiences covering the eight World Cups before Brazil 2014. For those keeping score, that’s Spain 1982; Mexico 1986; Italy 1990; USA 1994; France 1998; Japan-South Korea 2002; Germany 2006; and South Africa 2010.

My Voice of America colleague Parke Brewer reached Vecsey by phone in New York before the Brazil tournament kicked off and asked him, which World Cup was your favorite as a reporter?

The book has some humorous sections, including a chapter called “Marking Maradona,” in which Vecsey tries to get an interview with Argentina’s football great. As George told Parke, Maradona fooled him when he reached him by telephone in Naples, Italy.

But you can’t fool George Vecsey when it comes to World Cup predictions. Parke asked him which team was likely to lift the trophy on July 13th.

Vecsey replied, “I’ve worked it out in my mind that the one nation that is on the brink of becoming a World Cup champion, for the last two, and now is at its peak with great players and is certainly strong-minded enough to go to Brazil and blind out all distractions is Germany. I think Germany is ready to win the World Cup.”

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.

World Cup Goal-line Technology

Posted June 11th, 2014 at 11:51 am (UTC-4)
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Brazil 2014 LogoBrazil 2014 marks the first time goal-line technology is used at the 32-nation football jamboree.

Fourteen cameras – seven focused on each goalmouth – will be used in all 12 World Cup stadiums in Brazil.

The cameras will record 500 images each second, and a computer will process the frames.

Within a second of a ball crossing the line, the referee’s special watch will vibrate and flash “GOAL.”

The small German start-up company GoalControl created the technology, which has been used for years in sports such as cricket, rugby, tennis and American-style football.

A ball crosses the line of a goal during a demonstration of goal-line technology at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Reuters

A ball crosses the line of a goal during a demonstration of goal-line technology at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo: Reuters

On the eve of the World Cup, the company demonstrated the goal-line technology at Brazil’s famous Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, where the final will be played July 13th.

Officials from GoalControl and FIFA, world football’s governing body, say the system is 100% accurate.

GoalControl CEO Dirk Broichhausen. Photo: Reuters

GoalControl CEO Dirk Broichhausen. Photo: Reuters

During the demonstration at Maracana, GoalControl CEO Dirk Broichhausen mentioned a controversial incident at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

England’s Frank Lampard was denied a goal against Germany when his shot hit the bar and officials failed to spot the ball had bounced down just behind the line.

If it had been ruled a goal, England would have tied the Round of 16 match at 2-2, but Germany went on to win, 4-1.

The Lampard controversy is credited with helping persuade FIFA to adopt the goal-line technology.

FIFA officials say they’re sure they can trust the new technology, and more than 2,400 goal-line tests of the equipment have been carried out at several stadiums in Brazil ahead of the World Cup.

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.

Cameroon’s Young Lion Olinga Achieving World Cup Dreams

Posted June 8th, 2014 at 10:40 am (UTC-4)
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Fabrice Olinga celebrates his goal against Celta Vigo in 2012 when, at age 16, he became the youngest goalscorer in Spanish First Division history. Photo: Reuters

Fabrice Olinga celebrates his goal against Celta Vigo in 2012 when, at age 16, he became the youngest goalscorer in Spanish First Division history. Photo: Reuters

Cameroonian striker Fabrice Olinga, who celebrated his 18th birthday May 12th, will be the youngest player at the World Cup football tournament in Brazil.

Born in Cameroon’s seaport commercial capital of Douala, Olinga developed his skills at the Samuel Eto’o Foundation, established by the country’s four-time African Footballer of the Year.

Eto’o, now 33, was even younger than Olinga – at 17 years and three months – when he played in his first World Cup for Cameroon at the 1998 tournament in France.

Olinga considers Eto’o a hero, describing the elder statesman of The Indomitable Lions of

Cameroon's captain Samuel Eto'o (#9) in action against Germany June 1 in a World Cup warm-up match. Photo: AP

Cameroon’s captain Samuel Eto’o (#9) in action against Germany June 1 in a World Cup warm-up match. Photo: AP

Cameroon as a legend who has achieved a great deal.

Fabrice Olinga says he’ll be proud to play alongside Samuel Eto’o in Brazil, but it’s doubtful Cameroon’s German coach, Volker Finke, will give him many minutes at football’s premier event. Finke used Olinga as a substitute in Cameroon’s World Cup warm-up matches.

Regardless of his playing time in Brazil, Olinga says he’s “living a dream” by being selected for Cameroon’s World Cup team.

Fabrice Olinga with his Malaga teammates in 2012. Photo: Reuters

Fabrice Olinga with his Malaga teammates in 2012. Photo: Reuters

He recently completed his first season for the Belgian club Zulte Waregem, on loan from Spain’s Malaga.

The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon will kick off their World Cup campaign June 13th when they play Mexico in Natal, Brazil.

With host country and five-time world champion Brazil the big favorite in Group A, Cameroon is expected to fight it out with Mexico and Croatia for a berth in the knockout stages.

 

 

 

 

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.

World Cup’s Group of Death

Posted June 1st, 2014 at 2:50 pm (UTC-4)
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Sonny makes his point in the Penalty BOX with, from left to right: Peter Clottey, Joao Santarita and Andre Mendes.

Sonny makes his point in the Penalty BOX with, from left to right: Peter Clottey, Joao Santarita and Andre Mendes.

The Voice of America’s Penalty BOX was the venue for a lively World Cup discussion about Group G, widely regarded as The Group of Death, at the upcoming football extravaganza in Brazil.

I joined Andre Mendes, Joao Santarita and host Peter Clottey for the soccer chat, as we focused on the strengths and weaknesses of Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the USA.

On paper, Germany and Portugal, currently ranked #2 and #3 in the FIFA world rankings, are the favorites.

But as Joao warned early in our spirited analysis, there are upsets and surprises at the World Cup, including the 2002 competition, when the underdog USA surprised Portugal, 3-2, in its opening match in Suwon, South Korea.

The USA used that victory over Portugal 12 years ago as a springboard to the quarterfinals, the best World Cup showing ever by the Americans since they reached the semifinals at the inaugural 1930 FIFA World Cup in Uruguay.

Five days before the Americans upset the Portuguese, I was in the Seoul World Cup stadium

Senegal's Papa Bouba Diop (19) scores against French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez (R) in the 2002 World Cup's opening match. Photo: Reuters

Senegal’s Papa Bouba Diop (#19) scores against French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez in the 2002 World Cup’s opening match in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Reuters

when Senegal stunned defending champion France, 1-0, on a goal by Papa Bouba Diop, in the tournament’s opening match.

Like the Americans, the Senegalese used that upset victory to build momentum for a surprising run to the quarterfinals.

Ghana also surprised many World Cup fans four years ago when it reached the quarterfinals before suffering a heartbreaking loss to Uruguay on penalty kicks (4-2) at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Black Stars of Ghana were led by Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Ghana's World Cup coach James Kwesi Appiah. Photo: AP

Ghana’s World Cup coach James Kwesi Appiah. Photo: AP

This time around, the Black Stars are guided by James Kwesi Appiah, an assistant under Rajevac at the 2010 World Cup, and now the first Ghanaian coach to lead the team to football’s premier event.

Appiah says he’s very proud to be the first indigenous coach to take Ghana to the World Cup.

He also realizes the Ghanaians might have a psychological advantage over the Americans, as the teams prepare to play each other June 16th in their opening World Cup match in Natal, Brazil.

Ghana has eliminated the USA from the past two World Cups – in the group stage at Germany 2006 and in the Round of 16 at South Africa 2010.

Appiah’s coaching counterpart for the USA, Juergen Klinsmann, starred for Germany at three World Cups, scoring a total of 11 goals on football’s greatest stage.

The USA's World Cup coach Juergen Klinsmann. Photo: AP

The USA’s World Cup coach Juergen Klinsmann. Photo: AP

In addition, Klinsmann coached host Germany to a third-place finish at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

He compares the USA’s opening match against Ghana to a World Cup final, something he’s quite familiar with since he played in the 1990 championship game in Rome, where the then West Germany edged Argentina, 1-0, on a late penalty kick by Andreas Brehme.

Klinsmann knows it’s imperative to pick up three points and a victory against Ghana, because up next for both teams in The Group of Death are European powers Germany and Portugal.

Looking ahead to June 16th, Klinsmann says simply, “We must beat 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.

Very Tall Tacko Fall From Senegal

Posted May 28th, 2014 at 2:28 pm (UTC-4)
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He’s 7’5″ (2.26 meters) tall and Elhadji “Tacko” Fall is attracting attention for his height and his basketball potential.

The 18-year-old Senegalese giant came to the United States in 2012 and he just finished his junior (third year) season at Liberty Christian Prep in central Florida.

In a phone interview with the Voice of America’s Daniel Brown, Tacko talked about how he started playing basketball.

Tacko says former Chinese star Yao Ming inspires him when he’s on the court. The 7’6″ Yao is only slightly taller than Tacko, and he was hobbled by lower leg injuries before retiring from basketball in 2011.

Basketball observers say Tacko will need to improve his strength, mobility and overall skills if he is to reach the NBA like Yao.

Yao, though, started playing the game at a much younger age (9) than Tacko, who first picked up a basketball shortly before coming to the USA.

So there’s plenty of room for improvement, and as one coach told me back in my younger days, “you can’t teach size.” And Tacko definitely has a lot of that!

Tacko Fall says he hopes to play basketball at the collegiate level, and I’m betting he gets a few scholarship offers.

Tacko is also an outstanding student. He says if the basketball doesn’t work out, he wants to be a biochemist.

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.

World Cup Penalty Box Music Video

Posted May 6th, 2014 at 4:54 pm (UTC-4)
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A few of my talented Voice of America colleagues are featured in this music video celebrating football’s World Cup and a new discussion series, Penalty Box, that is kicking off ahead of next month’s soccer extravaganza in Brazil.

Heather Maxwell, the host of our Music Time in Africa radio program, the VOA’s longest running English language show, is on lead vocals.

Heather is preparing for a trip to Rwanda and Cameroon. While Rwanda’s national football team, nicknamed Amavubi (The Wasps), has never qualified for the World Cup, let’s give a Sonny Side of Sports SHOUT OUT for The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, who will be making their African record seventh World Cup appearance in Brazil.

Amish Srivastava

Amish Srivastava

Longtime VOA Engineer Greg Burns is on drums in the video, while VOA colleagues Amish Srivastava and Peter Clottey are on percussion.

Amish is the creator of Penalty Box, while Peter will be hosting the lively and entertaining World Cup video series.

Another VOA Engineer, Curtis Bynum, provides

Curtis Bynum "working the boards" in one of the VOA studios.

Curtis Bynum “working the boards” in one of the VOA studios.

back-up vocals in the video. Curtis loves to work the mic, as well as the controls in our studio, with glitzy aplomb.

Rick Barnes, a Telecommunication Manager who supervises Curtis, Greg and other VOA Engineers, plays bass in the video.

You might also recognize a few other friendly faces, including Yours Truly admiring the dribbling skills of Vincent Makori, our Africa 54 host, at the 38-second mark.

More kicks are coming at the World Cup and with Penalty Box.

 

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.

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.

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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