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London Wonderland

Zoological Society of London

Zoological Society of London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you ever visit London, don’t forget to spend a day at the London Zoo. The Zoological Society of London are doing a very good job helping preserve some endangered animals. These beautiful animals from all over the world are available for all visitors to see.  It’s also a place to learn about animals and their natural habitats.

I have always have had a rather love/hate relationship with zoos. A part of me, and I think a few other people feel the same way, always  felt its cruel removing wild animals from their natural habitats (Some of them very hot climes, tropical climes, etc) and supplant them in some zoo in Europe for the convenience of the paying public. Like putting all those beautiful fish in a gold bowl! However, the world aint that simple and things are not always straightforward. A lot of animals are at risk of becoming extinct, like the Dodo. Rhinos are especially susceptible. Several animal species are being killed unabated for ‘medicinal’, ‘sexual’, ‘fashion’  and other nefarious claims. Organisations like the Zoological Society of London are waging a war (unarmed war, I should add) against these barbaric people and organisations. And they will always require the support people provide. It would be splendid to go on a safari in Africa and watch the black and white rhinos minding their own business.  Chilling out in their own joint or den! Messing about with the Leopard and Gazelles!Would it not be marvelous to visit North America and watch the Bald Eagle rule the skies, flying majestically across the plains! Or watch in wonder at the majestic wonder at the  Peregrine Falcon‘s speed’ and also marvel at the beauty and athleticism of the Polar Bear. Or if North America is too cold, visit South America and watch the Macaw splendidly crisscrossing the forest hunting for ants; or even watch the Bespectacled Bear enjoying some semblance of freedom in Colombia. Why oh why even consider killing the rather cute Koala Bears-But people do. Isnt it sad that Free Willy or Kung Fu Panda are some of the best movies ever created by man, yet the same human species does not think twice  murdering the Pandas and Whales. It is sad. Every continent, every country has its shameless eople who are are killing these animals. Some generations will never know about these animals. It is a tragedy.

Even one so revered like the Dalai Lama felt compelled to urge people to respect the wildlife around us:

“Our ancestors viewed the Earth as rich and bountiful, which it is. Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustibly sustainable, which we now know is the case only if we care for it. It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past which resulted from ignorance. Today, however, we have access to more information, and it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations. Our marvels of science and technology are matched if not outweighed by many current tragedies, including human starvation in some parts of the world, and the extinction of other life-forms. The exploration of space takes place at the same time as the Earth’s own oceans, seas, and fresh water areas grow increasingly polluted. Many of the Earth’s habitats, animals, plants, insects, and even micro-organisms that we know as rare may not be known at all by future generations. We have the capability, and the responsibility. We must act before it is too late.”

This is why organisations like the ZSL must be applauded for a good job they are doing. London Zoo is remarkable. It hosts some of the most beautiful, and most endangered animals from across the globe. The people looking after these animals are so welcoming. So sweet, you feel like wanting to be part of their team. Even for just a few hours.

There are so many animals to marvel at. There is so much to learn in this beautiful part of London. The staff are so helpful and quite informative. My favourite  animals were the wild dogs (Africa), the Lions, Tigers, fish…well I could go on and on. The penguins though did catch my eye. They were exceptional, and the talk was superb. We were lucky to be present during the feeding time. Ricky, one of the penguins there has actually become some celebrity. He has his own Facebook page. Its worth checking Ricky’s story and it worth finding out about all the animals in this zoo.

London has loads of great places to see and have fun. But there is no place that beats London Zoo. Visit and support the Zoological Society of London and with that, you will help ensure that at least one species of wildlife will survive for our children and grandchildren to see. We had a grand time visiting the zoo. One of my mates had never been to a zoo, let alone see wild life! He left London Zoo wondering how and why it had taken him so long to appreciate the beauty of wildlife. Next time in London, remember London Zoo. Love Life, Love London.

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A gold medal with the olympic rings inside

A gold medal with the olympic rings inside (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Its been a glorious 17 days of sporting action. London did the UK proud. I do not think London has ever seen anything like this before –  a 2 week (and a bit) carnival of sport and sheer joy.

I spend all of last week in London watching the games and doing the tourist bit too. I could not blog using my ipad because for some strange reason, the latest WordPress app update is malfunctional. There was me thinking updated technology was meant to make things easier.

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Any road, a fantastic time was had by all. The weather sulkily stayed good. It wouldn’t rain on this parade. The athletics was great. The athletes were superb. Even the Royal Family was out in full force supporting the Games. The highlight for me was watching the Men’s 200 metres and being totally overwhelmed by the sheer excellence of the Jamaican sprinters. Mo Farah won 2 Golds in the 5k and 10k – What an achievement. It takes guts, stamina, drive and some incredible motivation to achieve such a feat. And who will ever forget the ‘mobot’!. The Golden Girl, Jess Ennis did not disappoint either. She came, overcame all the others and delivered. Perfection! I was also impressed by Michael Phelps. What an amazing achievement! All those medals collected over 3 Olympiads. He is a legend and will forever be remembered as a fantastic athlete/swimmer. Another Legend I was honoured to watch was  the lightning bolt that is Usain Bolt, in the flesh. He has swept all before him. What an athlete. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned up in Rio in 4 years and simply sprint away with the medals again. The British cycling Team was marvelous too. Victoria Pendleton, Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy, and the rest of the crew did not disappoint. The British Sailing team,Tennis players,  the Boxers, Pentathletes – all the athletes did remarkably well. Andy Murray finally won a title at Wimbledon! He was also oh so close to becoming a Double Gold medallist!  Football attendance  crowds beat all the records it is a pity Team GB ladies and men’s teams disappointed. However, the finalists gave us a good show. Brazil were shocked by Mexico, it seemed like the Brazilian team presumed they would walk away with the Gold medals. Congrats to Mexico. Many World records were set or broken-David Rodisha’s was exceptional. He simply annihilated all before him in winning the 800 metres.This young man is one to watch for the next few years. There was one other remarkable athlete who shall be remembered for his courage and athleticism- Oscar Pistorius. He fought hard to be included in the main Olympiad when others argued he should instead participate in the Paralympics. He did himself proud, his country and the whole world. Hats off to him.

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I hope this penny-pinching Government will continue supporting the sports people now the Olympics has left town. They have been making the right noises so far. However, I never trust politicians and I will not be surprised later if we find out the sports budget is somehow curtailed surreptitiously. A lot of effort and energy needs to be invested in competitive sport at Primary school and high school levels. Moreover, pupils should be made to realise you have to compete to win. Taking part is important, however, a winning mentality needs to be nurtured from a very young age. This is something I find quite disappointing every time I attend our local school sports day. There is no real competition at all. The remarkable achievements of the youngish Chinese and American swimmers are a case in point. Pupils should learn to compete at an early age and strive to be the best in whatever sport they take part in.

Some people my choose to disagree here with me. I found it hard to appreciate that BMX racing is an Olympic sport. Please! Roller-blading next!  Since we will be in Rio, maybe introduce Samba dancing as a sport too. I have got nothing against the BMX sport, however, I have always viewed it as a hobby. Walking marathon is another. Well,how does one train to be a walking marathonist? I just don’t get it. Golf has been added to the list of Olympic sports. I love watching Golf, but I seriously do not think its an Olympic sport. I don’t think anyone will ever convince me to think otherwise. Why are they leaving out Squash and or even Darts? These important people entrusted in making such decisions are a funny bunch indeed.

Closing Ceremony

The closing ceremony was just as spectacular as the opening ceremony. Brits know how to throw a party! They did a good party. I will never forget watching the politicians dancing to the music, especially Boris Johnson!! It was interesting, didn’t realise the man could move! He is just as quick on his feet as he is with his one-liners! The ceremony was great. It did market some of the best bits about the UK to the outside world-I loved the convertibles on show! Wow! If I was some rich prince somewhere in the Middle East watching the Ceremony on my super-cool 3D, I would have been on the blower instructing one of my many assistants to get me one of the convertibles! It was a remarkable show and the Guardian’s apt description is on the money:  “a kaleidoscopic spectacle” that showed “the energy of British popular culture over the past few decades. We even had a glimpse of the Spice Girls, they arrived in London Cabs! It spiced the evening for me,and millions others. The imagination, artistic imagery and the crowd made it such a special occasion. A fitting end to the ‘best Olympics games‘ bar none. According to the Washington Post: “The host country truly was Great Britain. London delivered a rousing Olympics. …..the most organized, enthralling and enjoyable Games since Sydney in 2000.” London 2012 won a Gold Medal of its own. I hope people like Mitt Romney and the others who doubted this great City could deliver are eating humble pie. And I hope this is not the only misjudgment this Republican candidate has made.

Hats off to all those involved. The 70 000 volunteers were remarkable and made the games all the more enjoyable. The few we met were always smiling and always helpful. The crowds were magnificent too. Lets hope the Olympic spirit will linger longer and be like  an extra-strength dose of a mood-enhancing drug to the country and the economy.

A day at the Olympics

The weather was great. The stadium was buzzing. The Olympic Park was teeming with people-Welcome to London 2012

Watched Usain Bolt in the 200m heats. Highlight of the day. He was very quick. Too quick for the chasers. Also saw his heir apparent, Yohane Blake. He is a strong sprinter. OMG

Usain Bolt in celebration about 1 or 2 seconds...

Usain Bolt in celebration about 1 or 2 seconds after his 100m victory at Beijing Olympics 2008, breaking the world record. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Olympic Park is a magnificent tribute to the Olympic Heritage. It’s like a hive. So much buzzing. So many people. All having fun. No trouble too. London /2012 is worth the cost to the taxpayer. The spectators are having a ball. So too are the athletes. It’s sad though when an athlete gets disqualified for a false start. Rules are rather strict.
Talking of rules. It’s rather nightmarish going into Olympic Park. Security is so tight bordering on the ludicrous. I am sure these measures are necessary, after all there is (un)clear and rather present danger. However, the security measures kinda spoils the fun to a degree. Even Usain Bolt made his tuppence worth comment on the measures.
The organisers deserve a pat on the back for the great work. It is a magnificent spectacle. There are Live events such as Park Live, there are groups of performers around the park, and all amenities are easily accessible. The support staff are quite helpful too. I should add.
Britain is third on the medals table. Who would have bet on that (Refer to 3 other Olympics articles on this website). China and USA are fighting for top dog status. The Team GB athletes deserve all the applauds. So do all the other athletes from all the other countries. It is disappointing though that Team GB were not even competing  in the steeplechase.  Team GB were also found wanting in javelin, hurdles, sprints, triple jump etc. Surely with all the lottery and other sports funding Team GB should have been doing much better. Not that the natives are complaining. It’s just that I’m sure we spend more on developing our sprinters say in comparison to Jamaica. For instance, yet Jamaicans are somehow quicker. Could it be the training? Maybe some athletes should emulate Mo Farah and enlist with overseas trainers to help them cross that bridge. Swimming and diving are the other sports that disappointed. Without trying to apportion any blame on anyone, Team GB should and could have done much better.
One bit of the Olympic story I could never understand is the Philips Odowu story. How can an athlete chosen to represent a country be so ‘big’ to be allowed to dictate to the selectors? If he was not fit, he should not have been selected. Period. If he was not prepared to avail himself, he should never have been allowed to represent the country. One athlete holding a country to ransom? Maybe there is more to this sad saga than we are made to know. Either way, surely Olympic selectors should reserve the right to assess and monitor the fitness levels of all those selected. It also beggars belief that the UK can only produce one strong male triple jumper in fours years! Someone, somewhere is not doing their job right. Surely the country should have a few long jumpers on the wings and if we can produce a university graduate in say 3-6 years, why can’t we regularly produce athletes good enough to compete at the Olympic level?
The international community has made these Olympics what it is, a great carnival. We have met loads of folk from overseas and everyone is having a ball. May this glorious spirit continue to flourish.

Olympics in London

200

200 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Olympics are in full swing. The Chinese are leading with the biggest medals haul for now.It looks like its going to be a straight fight between China and the USA for the most medals. London 2012 seems to have overcome the cynics’ predictitions. Its running smoothly. Team GB has not disappointed either. Team GB is currently fifth, and with athletes like Andy Murray, Rebecca Adlinton, Jessica Ennis,Dai Green, Ben Ainslie and Victoria Pendleton to compete today (to mention a few); there is a good chance there will be a few medals added this weekend. We can not talk about the Olympics without mentioning the ‘great’ Michael Phelps. He is in the 100 butterfly. Michael has won 2 Golds and 2 silvers at London 2012 so far. Astonishing! He has also accumulated more than 19 Olympics medals. He is the most decorated Olympian and his feats surely inspire other athletes across the globe.

The Olympics were originally meant to be the tournament for amateur sport. It is disconcerting at times watching professional sportsmen (USA Basketball team, Team GB football, professional tennis players, etc) playing against the amateur sportsmen. However, the amateur status was compromised a long time ago with state-sponsored athletes from the Communist bloc. Commercial organisations and other states have since joined in. That is one reason China does so well at the Olympics; with athletes groomed from a very early age. Though it is not a really level playing field, all competitors have a bite at the cherry, and its great to see athletes from little-known countries like Vanuatu, Micronesia, Nauru, Timor-Leste and even Palestine. Just to mention a few. All the athletes deserve their 15 minutes of fame and we should all applaud our countries’ athletes at the Games.

MEDALS:

Country                                      Gold     Silver     Bronze            Total

1 China                                        18           11              5                34

2 United States                           18            9              10                37

3 S Korea                                     7             2               5                 14

4 France                                      6             4                6                16

5 United Kingdom                       5              6               4                15

Controversy

Every Olympics games gets its fair share of controversy, and London 2012 is no exception. There has been some considerable murmurings following the exploits of the  Chinese 16-year old record-breaking Swimmer Ye  Shewin. Lord Coe even went on to urge everyone to cut her some slack imploring “My instinct is to always give benefit of the doubt to the competitor until proven otherwise. My instinct is to celebrate an extraordinary performance.” Her feats were truly extraordinary, achieving a faster time than some male competitors. Record-breaking feats have always left a sour state-When Ben Johnson won the 100m in record time, we all applauded only later to be left deflated after revelations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. It also happened with athletes associated to the Balco scandal. Some of these broke records at the Olympics and we all joined in the adulation,and only to be left dumbfounded when the true nature of their deeds were revealed. A few athletes have all ready been thrown out for using performance-enhancing drugs. That is why some people find it hard to celebrate when some extraordinary athletes win the Yellow jersey at the Tour de France. Many a time we have discovered that these sportsmen tend to use performance enhancing substances and this leaves spectators quite cynical.

A truly spectacular gaffe involved the raising of flags. Yes. South Korea’s flag was raised when the North Korea women’s football team was just about to play at Old Trafford. A spectacular own goal. However, these things happen. As a result the Koreans refused to play until the right flag had been. However, the flag issue aside, is it right for a country that’s known to be arbitrarily abusing its to be invited to the Olympics? Syria is at the Olympics-Aleppo is awash with the blood of hundreds if not thousands of innocent children and people being massacred everyday.  Thousands of Syrians are being murdered by the state everyday and yet the country is allowed to be at the Olympics. It beggars belief. Zimbabwe’s regime atrociously abuses the human rights of its citizens, Tibetans are not allowed to be free yet China is not reprimanded. There is strife in Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, just to name a few. It seems as if the Olympics exist on another planet where only sports matters. Nothing else is important, as long as the athletes grapple for the medals. The only thing that matters is the Athletes Oath! Well, talking of the oath, Badminton has created its little storm in a tea-cup. China, yes China again, Indonesia and South Korea women badminton players have been disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct. Their crime was and “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport” by not making any attempt to win the matches. Erik Thohir the Head of Indonesia’s Olympic team later controversially claimed to AP that “China has been doing this so many times and they never get sanctioned by the BWF”

Saw this video at http://www.guardian.co.uk and felt I should share it. Some may baulk at the temerity. Others may sympathise with the protester. One thing I will never understand though is: Does taking of clothes when protesting make a bolder statement?

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/ccL_11x04sI&#8221; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

London 2012 has proved to be a success so far. It has not been a failure as some people wanted the world to believe. Team GB is doing remarkably well thanks to these athletes who have worked so hard to compete at the highest stage of all. We should all applaud all our representatives at the Games and enjoy these Olympics. After all they only come once every 4 years.

A silver medal with the olympic rings inside

A silver medal with the olympic rings inside (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finally they have arrived. The whole world witnessed one magnificent spectacle last night when the Olympics were officially kicked off.

More than 11000 athletes are competing. Well, watching the archery today I thought, umm maybe the word athlete is abused here. Whenever ‘athlete’ is mentioned, I for one expect a specimen of physical fitness, evidence of hard work at the gym, running swimming or whatever. The Olympics motto is ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ and I am sure the Olympic family embraces all those who take part.  But looking at the archers,well! It doesn’t matter anyway. The Queen apparently parachuted herself into the Olympic Park! Who would have ever thought or imagined that possible. Whether it was the Queen or not is secondary. David Cameron was in attendance too. What he made of it I will always wonder. The best bit for me was watching the athletes walking into the stadium. They are the performers, without them there will be nothing to watch.

Mark Cavendish (cyclist) did not win the gold medal as everyone expected. He didn’t get any medal at all. After Bradley Wiggins‘s victory in France last week, we all expected Cavendish to triumph on home soil as well. He is a very, very good cyclist.It wasnt meant to be. Michael Phelps could not get a look in as well. He came fourth in the 400m Individual Medley. Ryan Lochte,had the cheek to beat him. The American part of the Olympic Village must be a fun place to be tonight. Team GB ladies football team is doing well and I hope that will be replicated by the male team.

Football/soccer

Just been watching English teams playing or showcasing the ‘beautiful game’, in the USA and Canada. They prefer calling it soccer in those parts. Liverpool just played a 0-0 draw with Spurs,and that got me wondering whether the Americans enjoyed it at all. Or how much they are enjoying it. Of course there is a significant proportion of fans who have always watched ‘our football’ or migrated from the hotbeds of football and they will of course enjoy watching the teams from England and Europe. Liverpool have a massive fan base across the globe too. The English teams have every right to invade those ‘virgin’ territories to develop more marketing opportunities. How is the market responding?  The MLS seems to be getting stronger and more competitive too. It’s a good thing the MLS never thought they would name their competitions a ‘world Series’ like the MLB does. Is soccer proving to be a major competitor to MLB, NBA, NFL, NASCAR etc? As a football lover, I really hope soccer becomes big in America. The other side of the same coin though, is that I would also love to watch say the Boston Red Sox playing the White Sox or the Dodgers in the UK. The NFL have a game annually at Wembley. Surely MLB could also have something similar, at Lords or the Oval! After all even NBA has exhibition ,matches, plus, there is the Harlem Globetrotters!

Darts.

It is indeed a very good weekend for sport. We have got darts tonight as well. We have got the World Matchplay at Blackpool. Here is to Hoping Phil ‘the Power’ Taylor is victorious. Whats in a name anyways? All these sports like to call their tournaments ‘world’ this and that. Americans do that for competitions involving not more than 2 countries. Yes Uncle Sam that’s true. Darts now have also got onto the act and proclaim to have a ‘World Matchplay’. Possibly involving more than 5 countries. The mind boggles. But does that give these sports the right to add ‘world cup’ to their competitions? At least with football (or soccer we know every country in the world gets a look in. Why is darts not an Olympic sport,any road? Surely it is a sport and you are very unlikely to find anyone taking performance enhancing drugs in this sport. Moreover, there would have been a guaranteed Gold Medal for Team GB – Phil Taylor would have won it. It time the IOC reviewed the games on offer. Talking of performance enhancing drugs, Hysen Pulaku from Albania has all ready been thrown out of the Olympics for using anabolic steroids. At least two other athletes from Morocco and Hungary have been precluded from taking art in the Olympics because of the use/abuse of these illegal substances.

Formula One

Congrats to Lewis Hamilton getting pole for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The boy is made of sterner stuff. The British tabloids have been relentlessly trying to make his personal life a nightmare of late. If not discussing the ins and outs of his contract with McLaren, they are busy trying to turn a mole hill into a mountain – Apparently Lewis Hamilton had the temerity to hang out with mates (including girls)  when Nicole Scherzinger was away working.Therefore his girlfriend is either (1) going to give him a stern talking to, or (2) Dump him. Well,well, well,I bet the same journalists are allowed to go out for drinks with friends of the opposite sex without asking for explicit permission from their other halves! Ignore the barracking Lewis, and win the Hungarian Grand Prix for all the millions who follow you and McLaren. Admittedly McLaren have had a bad time of late with pit stops, mechanical faults, weather et al. Hopefully they have turned a corner! An interesting fact I just felt I had to throw in: Sebastien Vettel has never won in July. He doesn’t win in July. Therefore the competition for first place tomorrow will just be Alonso, Webber, Schumacher and or Button. Those are my bold predictions. Ladies and gentlemen.

It is quite exciting at the moment.London is doing well. We hope the weather decides to take a back seat and not rain on this parade. Oh and we hope Mitt Romney and his apparatchiks are watching: ‘YES WE CAN.

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