Damien Oliver blows a kiss to the heavens after winning the Victoria Derby
Photo: Getty Images
Oliver, who rode Fiveandahalfstar to victory in the Victoria Derby on Saturday, almost didn't have a ride for the showpiece Flemington race at all. Trainer Anthony Cummings was hesitant to run the three-year-old gelding, and Oliver – who, let's not forget, is currently under investigation for betting on a rival horse and has reason to be distracted – had to talk him into it. Imagine if he hadn't. Oliver got a dream run on the $41 outsider behind early front-runner Jimando, hit the front in the straight, and held off Super Cool for his fourth Derby win. As he crossed the post, Oliver blew a kiss to the sky, echoing his famous tribute to late brother Jason aboard Media Puzzle at the 2002 Melbourne Cup. It was nearly 10 years to the day that his brother died in a barrier trial fall in Perth, making Oliver's victory all the sweeter.
Daniel McBreen (Central Coast Mariners)
McBreen made Sydney FC look like a rotten bunch of amateurs on Saturday night, scoring a sublime trio of goals as the Mariners routed the Sky Blues 7-2. Records fell at Bluetongue Stadium as McBreen slotted his third in the 67th minute, sealing the first-ever hat trick for the Mariners in A-League history. The final margin was Sydney FC's equal-worst loss in history, as well as the most goals the Sky Blues have ever conceded. McBreen and teen sensation Tomas Rogic utterly dismantled Sydney's defence in the second half, scoring three goals between them in the space of six minutes as things turned from bad to ugly for the visitors. McBreen now shares the lead on the A-League goal-scorers' table with Emile Heskey; both have four goals after five games.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Sanity prevailed on Friday as Mayor Bloomberg cancelled the New York Marathon under extreme pressure from the media and angry residents. The Mayor had initially declared the 26.2-mile race would still go ahead despite the damage wreaked upon Manhattan and its surrounds by Hurricane Sandy, but as the search for bodies dragged on and thousands of residents remained without power, it became obvious the resources being diverted to Central Park for the iconic race (such as generators that could power 400 homes) would be better utilised elsewhere. Staten Island, the forgotten borough of New York City, was particularly vocal in the push to cancel the marathon. The race was set to begin in the borough in an area reduced to rubble after a six-metre wall of water slammed into the island.
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Harden, traded away from the Oklahoma City Thunder last week, was painted as the villain after refusing to accept a four-year, US$52 million deal offered by last season's runners-up. The 23-year-old had wanted $60 million, but was instead turfed to the Rockets, where he has since made the Thunder administration look incredibly foolish for giving him away. In his first two starts with his new team, Harden – now taking more minutes and more shots without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in his way – put up a combined 82 points. He was held to 'only' 24 in his third game, a loss to Portland, but with Harden and Knicks castoff Jeremy Lin in the backcourt Houston may well be laughing all the way to the playoffs.
Folau should never have jumped to AFL for the cash to begin with, but to walk away after pocketing $3 million for 13 games is disgraceful. Given the amount of money invested in him, the least the code-hopper could have done is stuck around to see out his four-year contract with GWS. He was rubbish on the field, but even if he played just 10 more games he still would have been invaluable to the AFL as an ambassador to the Western Sydney market. Instead, Izzy slinks back off to NRL as the biggest mercenary either game has ever seen. Former Demon Russell Robertson said it best, tweeting: "Israel, you made more money in 13 games than I did in 13 years."
Tomic's horror year both on and off the court continued in the wee hours of Monday morning, when he was discovered by police scuffling with a friend in a spa at his apartment on the Gold Coast. Police were forced to intervene, and then Tomic asked them to remember "who he was", believing they were responsible for orchestrating a hate campaign against him. It's not the only drama Tomic is faced with – he is also set to appear in court on traffic charges stemming from January this year. On the court, his ranking has dropped from 27th to 49th since June, and now Pat Cash thinks Tomic would be wise to stick with his father because no other coach would want to touch him.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain)
Ibrahimovic is known for being a bit of a self-deluded egomaniac, so it's no surprise that he couldn't fathom why he would get sent off for a flying kick into the chest of Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier on Saturday. Ibra, who has been known to kick even his own teammates, delivered the studs-first challenge to Ruffier's sternum in the 70th minute, resulting in an instant dismissal that apparently took the Swede completely by surprise. The ugly incident drew to a close a bad week for Ibra, one that began with his agent calling Sepp Blatter a "demented dictator" and suggesting that the Ballon d'Or is corrupt and worthless because Zlatan Ibrahimovic is yet to win one.
National Hockey League
Friday was the darkest day yet of the ongoing NHL lockout, as the league officially cancelled the Winter Classic. Held annually on New Year's Day, the Classic is one of the most beloved (and lucrative) events on the NHL calendar, and had been considered a tipping point for the negotiations with the NHL Players' Association. Now that the league has shown it is willing to scrap the wildly successful open-air game, it seems likelier than ever no hockey will be played this season. Even if a lockout-shortened season does take place, the loss of the Classic is bitterly disappointing for fans already disgruntled at having to sit through their fifth labour dispute in 20 years.
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