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falcace

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    Devon
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    Speedway, Running, Cycling, Theatre, Good Food, 5-A-Side Football, Writing
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  1. Is it really that different? I was in Bydgoszcz a month ago working at an athletics event. People speak English, drink beer, eat meat and two veg, same music, same fashion in a relatively affluent Western society. It's a lot different from when I was there in 1992 and I'm sure older fans will concur a lot different from the 70s and 80s. Non-Poles have spent years riding (and in some cases) living there with Polish clubs, not to mention sponsors, mechanics and plenty of people they all know.
  2. You're on safer ground with Muller and Szczakiel of course. I don't think anyone would question that they would never have won in another country or in a GP format. Both victories owed something to elements beyond their own ability, be it track preparation, mechanical, questionable officiating or team mate assistance....and the opposition being in unfamiliar territory. Can't really say that of the GPs. When you list PC's route, it sounds straightforward. But it needs context. This was a time when the UK was the epicentre of world speedway. PC was no more at home than Mauger, Olsen, Crump and all the rest where...it was all of their bases and where they rode more than anywhere else...just as Poland is today. I'd also add that in PC's route, three world finallists and WTC/World Pairs winners (Betts, Wilson, Jessup) were eliminated in the British Final and the two immediately previous World Champions (Olsen and Michanek) were eliminated at the Intercontinental Final. "Easy" is not a word many would use. It's rather more the opposite...you'd be hard pressed to find a more cut-throat World Championship qualifier ever than the 1976 Intercontinental Final with 8 eliminated in a deep field. Yes, we'd all like to see the GPs spread around a bit, but given COVID, we have a very credible series on tracks not unfamiliar to the whole field.
  3. In PC's case. almost certainly. He was head and shoulders the best rider in 1976 and Poland's wide tracks suited him perfectly. A year later (injured) he top scored in the WTC in Wroclaw and a year before (1975) he scored 17 and 18 in two test matches in Poland. Whilst not quite as dominant, Havelock was brilliant all year in 1992. They won because they were the best. Just as Zmarzlik and the rest are doing now. You could make a case if these were unfamiliar tracks to the non-Poles, but they are not.
  4. falcace

    European Union - In Or Out?

    As others have said, well done on working hard and making a life for yourself. That's exactly how it should work. You've taken this personally. Try not to, and think how the 20 year old you would fare today instead. The point is that the ladder society provided for you has since had multiple rungs kicked out from it, all for the benefit of those at the top of the ladder already. The same opportunities do not exist...and if you were starting out now...or even 10 years ago, you would not have the same success. People are having to work hard (or even harder in the 24 hour digital world) just to get by, never mind get on in life. A third of 35-44 year olds are unable to afford a home now and are renting. The outlook is even bleaker for millennials. And Brexit has kicked more rungs out of the ladder. And the kicker is that the boomer generation has voted this environment in time after time, denying subsequent generations the opportunities that existed for them. It pains me to say it, but my own folks are a classic case. They got on the property ladder when first married aged 21 when the average house price was only double the national average annual income. Dad was a plumber and mum had the odd part-time job, but by and large was a stay-at-home mum with two kids. My dad has worked hard and they've made a decent life, a couple of cruises a year, mortgage paid off years ago, children through University all covered by grants and three vehicles (don't ask!). A similar couple today would be struggling. And yes, they vote Tory, voted for Brexit, read the Daily Express and consistently moan about immigration...and live in Devon where they never encounter any immigrants anyway! The sadness is the generation who had it all, benefitted from the sacrifices of previous generations and huge improvements in health, education and housing have not passed the same opportunities on.
  5. falcace

    'the Donald' Trump

    Very late to be posting from Dubai. 2.30am? Still, at least Blumpet was "coincidentally" up at the same time to enjoy your valued contribution. Grow up son.
  6. falcace

    'They Retired Too Soon'

    Sorry I missed that.
  7. falcace

    The Olympic Games

    Tough watching Dina Asher-Smith. A class act in every way. A huge talent. Really unlucky to be injured at the worst possible time.
  8. falcace

    'They Retired Too Soon'

    Before my time, but Jim Airey stepped away at his peak. Definitely worth an inclusion in any list.
  9. falcace

    The Olympic Games

    I get that schools cannot deliver every sport and there are finite Government resources. But I think swimming has to be the exception and should be properly resourced and mandatory. It's an investment in the nation's health. As Humphrey says, its a life-saving skill. It's also possibly the one sport or activity anyone can do at age, on their own or with people with minimal equipment at minimal cost. I run regularly and cycle too...but at some point my knees will give in and I might have less appetite to face traffic on my bike the older I get. But swimming? That's something anyone can do at any time in their life...providing they have learned in the first place.
  10. falcace

    The Olympic Games

    A small bearing I'm sure. But you are talking about a population that takes up less than 5% of the UK population and let's say 2.5% if its girls. This is 33% who cannot swim. The biggest factor, I think, is that its expensive to take every kid in primary school to a swimming lesson and pools are also expensive things to run. So when you get Government cuts to education, sport, leisure, its one of the things that suffers. As a consequence, less kids can swim and go into adulthood without a skill or the water confidence that would enable them to be more active....more likely to be inactive/obese and ultimately, a greater burden on the NHS. It's that old short-term thinking again.
  11. falcace

    The Olympic Games

    I hear you. Hate to sound like an old duffer, but here goes....when I was at school we had regular swim lessons at primary school and very cheap council run lessons. There might have been one or two kids in the year that struggled to swim. Now, a third of kids leave primary school unable to swim. A third!
  12. falcace

    The Olympic Games

    Superb performance. And - you would think - its much more worthy of funding a sport like BMX which is way more accessible to more kids than sailing or equestrian.
  13. falcace

    The Olympic Games

    At the risk of drifting into management speak...there is no "joined-up" thinking. UK Sport have become a medal factory without any thought of the legacy...there is a real disconnect between elite sport and the grassroots. Sport is such a force for good, but it needs a wholesale rethink in the UK. We were absolutely rubbish at the 1996 Olympics with just one gold....and that prompted the massive lottery funding to elite sport to ensure it didn't happen again. Yet, as a nation we were fitter and healthier then. We have drifted too far in the opposite direction. I was actually in the US when those Olympics were on, working in the kitchen for the summer at Camp America in a Minnesota backwater. Picture the scene, every morning started with a roll call in the dining hall of all the American gold medals to a packed room of brats chanting "USA, USA, USA" . Equally, I took a trip to the local University in Bemidji (small place really), the facilities on campus were mind blowing....Ice Hockey stadium, Indoor 400m track with 4 basketball courts inside, American football stadium...all open to the community in a complete backwater town. I don't know what the formula would be, but my suggestion would be a funding model that gives resources to the sports that can prove they are inspiring participation at the grass roots. I'm not sure what significant difference - if any - another kayak sprint medal or equestrian medal makes to the nation's health. I'd rather we had a properly funded GB basketball team to provide a visible pathway and aspiration for inner city kids....of which 0.9m kids play every week.
  14. falcace

    The Olympic Games

    Interesting discussion on BBC Breakfast about the lack of medals for the rowing team, despite £27m of public investment. The thrust of it being...how can we get back to winning rowing medals again? In my opinion, the focus is all wrong. We have become an Olympic powerhouse, lavishing money on world class facilities and elite training programmes to effectively buy medals in sports like rowing, sailing and track cycling. Meanwhile, grassroots sport struggles on, playing fields are lost and the nation gets more inactive and more obese. I agree that there is an inspiration factor in developing role models who succeed at the Olympics, but if it doesn't translate into grass roots participation, then what's the return on that investment? Nice for the athlete, the team and the Governing Body, but apart from the fleeting thrill the country might get from a rowing or sailing gold, there's little tangible impact. Let's not be asking how we get more rowing medals. Let's be asking how we better spend millions across sport to create a more active and healthy nation.
  15. falcace

    The Olympic Games

    It is galling for them, particularly when their "cousins" table tennis, badminton and "big cousin" tennis all have an invite to the party. I know karate was also long banging on the door, but it's governance internationally is a mess. But they still got in. Ironic that squash got the chop again.
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