High-Five for World Cup Mascot Zakumi

Posted May 17th, 2010 at 4:21 pm (UTC-4)
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Keen viewers of my “In Focus” TV segments filmed at my VOA cubicle will notice a trusty back-drop in many of the shoots – his name is “Footix,” and he was the official mascot of the 1998 World Cup in France.  “Footix” is a rooster, one of the national symbols of France.

World Cup mascots usually show a characteristic feature of the host country.  One of my objectives during my first trip to South Africa in June is to give a high-five to Zakumi, the official mascot of the 2010 World Cup.

Zakumi is a leopard, a common animal found in South Africa, and his green and gold colors represent the national colors of South Africa’s national sports teams.  A high-five for you, Zakumi!

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.

Ethiopian great Haile Gebrselassie gets his World Cup kicks

Posted May 14th, 2010 at 3:31 pm (UTC-4)
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Ethiopian athletics great Haile Gebrselassie was one of the celebrities who attended the FIFA World Cup draw in December 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa.  Haile took the stage in Cape Town with other big names like England soccer star David Beckham and South African actress Charlize Theron.

Seeing Haile on stage in Cape Town reminded me of one of my great sporting thrills.  In 2001, the Voice of America sent me to Edmonton, Canada, to cover the IAAF World Championships in Athletics.  As luck would have it, a special 800-meter “media race” was held in Edmonton, and I decided to test my speed.

While I didn’t set any records, I did get a chance to meet Haile Gebrselassie, who attended the race as a special VIP.  I guess you might say it’s the only time I’ve been able to catch up with speedy Haile, the world record holder in the 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.

World Cup Comeback By Charlie Davies Falls Short

Posted May 13th, 2010 at 2:08 pm (UTC-4)
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Here’s a Sonny Side of Sports salute for Charlie Davies, a 23-year-old American striker who made an inspirational comeback in a bid to play at the World Cup in South Africa.  Before a terrible car crash in October 2009, Davies was considered a top candidate for the USA’s 2010 World Cup team.  He excelled at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup tournament in South Africa, and during the USA’s World Cup qualifying campaign, becoming one of the top scoring threats for the Americans.

But, a day before a World Cup qualifying match against Costa Rica at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., Davies was a passenger in a vehicle that crashed on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, just outside the nation’s capital.  A second passenger died in the crash.  Davies suffered numerous injuries, including a broken right femur, tibia and fibula, as well as a dislocated elbow and lacerated bladder.

Davies made remarkable progress in his rehabilitation, and resumed training with his French club Sochaux in April.  USA head coach Bob Bradley said Davies showed incredible heart and determination during his recovery, but in the end, he decided not to include him on his World Cup roster.

On his Twitter page, Davies wrote:  “It was a very sad day for me (not to be included on the USA World Cup team) … I will be back stronger than ever.”  Here’s hoping we’ll see Charlie Davies on the 2014 USA World Cup team.

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 Spotlight on Didier Drogba

Posted May 12th, 2010 at 3:00 pm (UTC-4)
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Didier Drogba

Two American magazines are featuring Chelsea and Ivory Coast football star Didier Drogba ahead of next month’s World Cup in South Africa. Time magazine has named the 32-year-old Drogba one of its 100 Most Influential People. And, Vanity Fair magazine has Drogba on its cover for June, along with Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

Drogba is the reigning African Footballer of the Year and he recently completed an outstanding season for Chelsea. The muscular Ivorian helped lead Chelsea to its third English Premier League title in six years. He won the league’s Golden Boot award, scoring 29 goals for the season.

Drogba and “The Elephants” of Ivory Coast are in Group G at the World Cup, along with North Korea, Brazil, and five-time World Cup champion Brazil. Ivory Coast will play its first World Cup match 15 June against Portugal at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

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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