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Archive for July, 2019

Josh Torley is working towards a top 10 placing in the City2Surf event. Photo: Graham TidyJosh Torley was six-years-old when he started running – but it wasn’t for the love of the sport.

“When I was younger I had really bad balance,” Josh, now 17, said. “My dad suggested I try running and it really helped.”

Hailing from Canberra, he has won many rural and national titles. Josh’s eyes are set on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but his next challenge is August’s Sun-Herald City2Surf, presented by Westpac. Hoping to secure a top 10 spot, the runner is ready for the notorious Heartbreak Hill.

“I feeling a bit more confident than last time. I know the course a bit better which is always good,” Josh said.

“Before the race I will probably be doing more work so I am ready for the hills.”

The key to Josh’s success goes back to a technique he used as an unbalanced youngster.

“I use to run with my mouth shut so I just breathed through my nose, which in a way has helped me with my lung capacity,” he said.

Despite his athletic aspirations, Josh says he lives like a normal teenager. But he does have one weakness.

“I am trying to cut out the doughnuts,” he said. “Now that I get a bit better I have to watch a bit of what I eat.”

Annabel McDermott, also 17, says running is time-consuming and she has to sacrifice time with her friends and playing other sports. But her passion for the sport means it is worth the effort.

“I love to run and if I can keep enjoying it as much as I do now I’d be very content,” Annabel said.

She will represent Australia at the World Junior Championships in Poland just weeks before the City2Surf. The young athlete’s goal is to beat her City2Surf record.

“Being selected in the junior Australian team has certainly inspired me to continue to improve my performances.”

Annabel started running when she was 13. So what’s her hot tip for Heartbreak Hill? Don’t look at your watch.

“I try to find a rhythm going up the hill and never look at my watch as my km [kilometre] pace is always so much slower and it can be disheartening when you’re already in so much pain.”

The Sun-Herald City2Surf will be held in Sydney on August 14.

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Was this Roger Federer’s Wimbledon farewell?Graf equalled, can Williams overtake Court?Williams sisters win doubles final

London: Serena Williams’ year-long, frustrating, emotional and at-times tormented wait for the 22nd grand slam singles title that would tie Steffi Graf’s Open era record is over, at last. The American great earned a seventh Wimbledon crown and avenged her Australian Open loss to Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 in a quality women’s final.

The most imposing shot in women’s tennis was the difference between two exceptional competitors, whose previous meeting on an occasion of similar importance lasted the full three sets at Melbourne Park in January. In this one, on a windy centre court at the All England Club, Williams hit 13 aces, won 38 of 43 points when the first ball thundered safely in, and faced a single break point.

Having flung herself on her back after a final forehand volley winner, Williams raised two fingers on each hand in the direction of her player box. One message: No.22. Only Australian Margaret Court, a guest in the Royal Box, now lies ahead, her all-time mark of 24 the next milestone to pursue.

Williams’ emotions were a mix of elation at winning Wimbledon title No.7 and the excitement of equalling Graf. “Trying so hard to get there, finally being able to match history, which is pretty awesome,” the 34-year-old said after an 80-minute match decided, and dominated, by her incomparable serve.

There was also relief, undoubtedly, for Williams was honest enough to admit to some sleepless nights since her shock US Open loss to Roberta Vinci last September, and in two losing slam finals since. “Coming so close. Feeling it, not being able to quite get there,” she said. “My goal is to win always at least a slam a year. It was getting down to the pressure.

“This tournament I came in with just a different mind frame and mindset. In Melbourne I thought I played well, but honestly Angelique played great, she played better. She just played really good tennis. So I knew that going into this one, I just needed to keep calm, be confident, just play the tennis that I’ve been playing for well over a decade.”

New York was crushing. Melbourne and Paris – where she lost the final to Garbine Muguruza – disappointing. “I’ve just felt a lot of pressure, I guess. I put a lot of that pressure on myself. Obviously had some really tough losses.

“But if you look at the big picture, I was just thinking about, you know, getting to three finals, grand slam finals. In the past eight grand slams, I don’t know how many finals I’ve been in. It’s pretty impressive.

“I had to start looking at positives, not focusing on that one loss per tournament which really isn’t bad, and for anyone else on this tour would be completely happy about it. Once I started focusing more on the positives, I realised that I’m pretty good. Then I started playing a little better.”

Williams admitted it had been a challenge not to focus on Graf’s record, having lost in one major semi as she chased the calendar year grand slam, and then two finals in 2016.

“It’s been incredibly difficult not to think about it. I had a couple of tries this year. I lost to two great opponents, one actually being Angelique,” Williams said during the presentation of the Venus Rosewater Dish. “It makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard I worked for it.”

There is no longer any space for engraving on the original plate, so it is just as well that the Williams family name had already appeared 11 times. S Williams will be the first name on the additional part of the trophy, and it is hard on current form to imagine that will be the last.

Kerber was far from overawed or outclassed on her Wimbledon finals debut, sharing with Williams some excellent, desperate rallies, a warm hug at the net and obvious mutual respect. Kerber played some wonderful tennis, and lost her own serve only once each set, but that was enough.

Having battled through four deuces and two break points to hold her opening service game to rousing applause, the German fourth seed blinked unexpectedly at 5-6. With just three unforced errors on the efficent Kerber stats sheet as she served to force a tiebreak, consecutive groundstroke misses at 15-15 hurt her badly.

She saved the first when, not for the first time, her opponent unsuccessfully deployed a drop shot that was easily run down by one of the best movers in the game. Not so on the second, when a Williams cross court forehand helped her close out a 47-minute opener 7-5. The top seed’s reaction showed how important that was.

”Kerber played really good,” said Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. “But she’s human. It’s difficult to hold your serve when you’re so much under pressure because you feel you can’t break the opponent. So at a certain point you have to do one or two mistakes, and Serena did the job.

“The match was really tough. She’s very difficult to manipulate on the tennis court, because she reads the game so well, because she has a good answer to almost  all the problems that you can give. That’s one thing. The second thing is she’s a bit predictable. Otherwise, we would be in trouble. Even so, when  Serena serves like that, it’s difficult for anyone.”

Kerber did not earn her first – her only – break point, until the seventh game of the second set. But then came two thunderous aces. Naturally. One wide, 188kmh. Bang. Another down the middle at 199kmh. From 40-15, Kerber was broken in the following game, having led 40-15, two backhand errors contributing to the break. All that was left was for Williams to serve out the championship Emphatically. Of course.

“It was her time, this was her moment, you could sense the focus the whole two weeks,” said former great Chris Evert. “The way she just went about her business, you could feel that she was ready for this.”

Williams was due to finish a triumphant Saturday contesting the doubles final with her sister Venus. Job unfinished, still.

So, too for Kerber, but for different reasons. The 28-year-old insisted she enjoyed the experience of her first slam finals loss, and would “never forget the feeling” of duelling with Williams on Wimbledon’s centre court. Due to return to No.2 on the rankings on Monday, the tenacious left-hander rebounded after a first-round loss at Roland Garros in her first major since winning one, satisfied that she knows how to get to finals, at least, and determined for more.

“I think I played what I could today,” she said, declaring the Williams serve, on grass, as the only difference between this contest and the one in Australia. Just too good. “I can just say, I mean, Serena was serving unbelievable today. At the end I was trying everything, but she deserved it today. She really played an unbelievable match. I think we both play on a really high level. I try everything.

“I know I have the game, all the experience to win a few more grand slams,” said Kerber. “Of course, Wimbledon is a really special tournament, but I know how to get here, and I will hope that I will get one day the chance to play another final here.”

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An artist impression of “long tunnel” option chosen by the government as part of its Western Distributor project. Photo: suppliedA three-kilometre twin tunnel will be built beneath Yarraville in Melbourne’s inner west as Premier Daniel Andrews moves to avoid a community backlash over his flagship road project.

After months of considering different designs, the state government is set to unveil its preferred tunnel option for the Western Distributor, a $5.5 billion project that aims to create an alternative river crossing to the West Gate Bridge, reduce truck congestion and cut travel times to the CBD by 20 minutes.

Instead of building a shorter tunnel – which residents feared would be too close to houses and result in a loss of open space near Stony Creek – the chosen option includes a longer four-lane tunnel under Yarraville, starting at the West Gate Freeway and coming to the surface at industrial land near the Maribyrnong River.

New on-and-off ramps for trucks will also connect the West Gate Freeway with Hyde Street in Yarraville, but the final design will not contain any flyovers and will be built as close as possible to the existing West Gate Freeway – in line with what the community wanted.

“We’re building Melbourne’s long-overdue second river crossing – a true alternative to the West Gate Bridge that will slash congestion so Victorians can spend less time stuck in traffic on the M1,” Mr Andrews said. “The Western Distributor will create 5600 jobs, fully funded as part of our historic investment in transport infrastructure. The time for talk is over – we are getting these projects done.”

The reference design will be unveiled on Sunday, with the hope of allaying community concerns about the project. Last year, tolling company Transurban – which has partnered with the government to deliver the Western Distributor – enraged residents after quietly announcing it was moving a proposed tunnel portal to within 100 metres of their homes.

In a bid to avert a public relations disaster, the government announced a detailed consultation process, giving locals a greater say over the length and location of the tunnels.

The government argues that the longer tunnel option will not change the project’s overall price tag and is more in line with the community’s needs because it protects local parkland and minimises the loss of open space.

“We’ve listened to the local community and we’ve worked to ensure their views are reflected in the reference design of the project,” said roads minister Luke Donnellan.

In addition to the tunnel under Yarraville, the Western Distributor project also includes extra lanes on the West Gate, a bridge over the Maribyrnong River and an elevated road above Footscray Road.

However, Maribyrnong Truck Action Group secretary Martin Wurt said MTAG would only support the project if trucks were permanently banned from residential streets such as Somerville Road, Francis Street and Buckley Street.

“Unless they put truck bans in, we’re just going to see trucks avoiding the toll road, particularly if the tolls are costing more,” he said.

Greens MP Colleen Hartland, who represents the western suburbs in the upper house, agreed that a truck restriction was needed if the government was to achieve its aim of removing 6000 trucks from local streets.

“All options have faults, but unless the government commits to a ban on inner west streets this will fail residents,” she said.

The tunnel has been now been provided to three short-listed construction consortiums bidding for the project, who will use it to develop their more detailed and costed plans. The contract will be awarded in late 2017 with construction to start soon after.

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Stan Grant said a treaty could occur in a unifying way, as it had in New Zealand. Photo: Elesa Kurtz Stan Grant said recognition with a treaty would help fill the “hole” he feels where his country should be. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Prominent Indigenous journalist Stan Grant has used Constitution Day to push for a treaty with the first Australians, saying it could end the tensions of torn allegiances.

Speaking at the National Archives of Australia on Saturday, Grant said the tension was obvious when he held one of the original copies of the Constitution this week and thought about the nearby petition of the Northern Territory Larrakia people which asked for a treaty like the maoris had been given in New Zealand.

“When I held that Constitution I felt great reverence, but when I looked upon the Larrakia petition, I felt that I belonged,” he said. “There is a hole in me where my country should be.”

Grant is a member of the Referendum Council, a government body looking into how best to recognise Indigenous Australians through a change to the Constitution.

His calls came as Cape York Institute constitutional researcher Shireen Morris said a referendum should create an Indigenous advisory body which the federal government would have to consult before actions such as the Howard-era Intervention.

Ms Morris, an Australian-born lawyer with Indian background, said Australia’s first people had been given less of a fair go than migrant Indians and they continued to feel discriminated against.

Her proposed advisory body – which, unlike past representative commissions, would be constitutionally protected – would guarantee Indigenous Australians had a say when laws were made about them. It would have no legal power but put a high degree of moral and public pressure on governments to deliver better laws, she said. She also backed the call for a treaty.

Grant said treaties were simply agreements, and there were already 17,000 agreements in place between Indigenous peoples and the multiple layers of government and business.

“[A treaty] would give us certainty, peace, and for me it will mean that the tension I feel as an Indigenous person in Australia would potentially be laid to rest, the tension between the torn allegiance, first, to who I am and my people, and to my country that we still struggle when it comes to the acknowledgment of our rights,” he said.

Constitution Day is marked on July 9, the day in 1900 when Queen Victoria signed her assent to the act that created the Commonwealth of Australia. The Larrakia petition was handed to Queen Elizabeth II in 1972.

Grant, a former CNN reporter, now hosts SBS’s National Indigenous TV (NITV) channel.

His speech where he declared racism was “killing the Australian dream” went viral on social media earlier this year.

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Malcolm Turnbull is through by the skin of his teeth – but he must learn lessons from the experience. Photo: Christopher PearceLatest from Federal Election 2016Peter Martin: Three simple tweaks to tell the budget truth

When the other side is using a sledgehammer on you, you have to pull one out and start swinging yourself, Malcolm Turnbull was told.

The exasperated advice came as members of the Australian Republican Movement’s inner-sanctum watched their cause falter ahead of the referendum in 1999.

The problem, they diagnosed, was common-or-garden politics in which Turnbull had seemed strangely reluctant.

Left-leaning populists, such as the former independent MP Phil Cleary and the late Clem Jones, were splintering the pro-republic vote with their direct-election alternative.

It was manna from heaven for monarchist leaders Tony Abbott and the then prime minister John Howard, who warned people against leaving it to politicians, fully aware that the direct electionists were doing their work for them.

Turnbull was urged to slam Cleary et al as wreckers and to hack into the senior Liberal hypocrites applying the wedge, even as they took the pay cheques as politicians themselves.

But he was unenthusiastic and, as chair and a major funder of the campaign, he had extra sway. Despite the committee’s inclusion of people with extensive direct political experience, Turnbull gave the impression it was his way or the highway.

“He wanted to stay above the fray,” said an insider from the time.

“We were fighting with one arm behind our backs, because Malcolm insisted on a level of intellectual argument … we couldn’t mention the royal family, we were getting slammed,” revealed another.

The similarities with his election campaign just run – albeit nearly 18 years later – are plain. Not least the unhappy process of starting out and going steadily backwards. And more specifically, his reluctance to properly head off a badly exaggerated Medicare scare campaign.

Liberals grumble that the “Mediscare” campaign nearly killed them. Yet the more important question looking forward is why Turnbull’s campaign was caught off-guard, and why it was so half-hearted once the allegation had emerged.

In any event, his descent started well before Mediscare.

Much has been written about how (and why) the Turnbull juggernaut hit the ground dithering after Christmas, thus managing to wipe out an extraordinary 56/44 two-party-preferred lead from November to be 50/50 by April.

It is hard to know whether to blame his shambolic “thought-bubble” policy processes that saw a bigger GST, negative gearing excesses, and state income taxing powers, come and go (all the political pain for naff-all fiscal gain), or the steady disappearance of Turnbull himself, as voters thought they knew him.

More likely it was a combination of both expressed in a general sense that Turnbull had become unclear about what he stood for personally, and more instrumentally, what he wanted to do right now.

Even the election, its timing and form became an unnecessarily drawn-out affair with weeks of speculation over moving the budget date, rescheduling the tax white paper (would it be before the budget or in it?), the Senate voting reforms, and the double dissolution.

Eventually, the budget did get moved to facilitate the election and the do-or-die voting reforms did get passed if only to be immediately neutralised by the double dissolution. Politically, it was a mess, and the sense of chaos was hardly assuaged by a crazy-brave eight-week campaign in which the dull-as-ditchwater budget would ensure no exciting policy announcements would be made throughout its extended duration.

Within the campaign itself, the reluctance to get down and dirty – re-emerged.

The Liberal campaign continued to underestimate the sensitivity of voters to rising medical costs in the suburbs, and failed miserably to understand the credibility deficit it carried with voters on trust generally and Medicare in particular.

Both of these stemmed from the 2014 budget, which Tony Abbott continues to defend even now as “visionary” and as the right fiscal formula despite its blatantly broken promises.

Three lessons.

First, to the extent that this was Abbott’s post-coup booby trap, it was Turnbull’s responsibility to locate it and defuse it ahead of time. He didn’t.

Second, as an Ebiquity analysis of all election advertising done by the major parties shows, the Liberal campaign compounded this failure. Labor’s advertising focused on “out-of-touch Malcolm” and the Medicare claim, with 75 per cent of its ads being negative in tone. The Coalition went 55 per cent positive and, while Labor ran a negative ad on day one (May 9), the Coalition waited another month to June 7, to unleash its “same old Labor” attack ad.

Hardly agile.

Third, as Turnbull showed in the republican push, he prefers his own advice to that of others – a fact painfully evident on election night also.

To his credit, Turnbull at least has acknowledged the first problem, noting the Coalition’s past behaviour on health assisted the Labor claim regarding Medicare.

His prospects in a difficult Parliament will turn on his success in addressing the other two: playing politics as hard as his now emboldened opponents, and, at least pretending to suffer fools gladly.

Mark Kenny is chief political correspondent.

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