Belfast Telegraph

Rhinos, a Peacock and a pair of gold Farahs

By Billy Weir

It wasn't just on two wheels where we were to find legends of sport over the weekend but on very different fields.

It was like all our yesterdays on BBC1 on Saturday with an afternoon of sport, Football Focus making way for the athletics and then the Rugby League Challenge Cup final and I had to pinch myself just to check if Frank Bough was around.

He wasn't, but all talk was of a pair of golden Farahs, with our Mo (surely only a matter of time before he starts advertising bread-based Ulster delicacies?) looking for a second gold at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing, this time in the 5,000 metres.

The only thing that happened in a painfully dull first few thousand metres was that Mo veered off course to get a drink. He could have waited for someone to pour him a pint of Guinness given the rate they were going but in an effort to make it easier, the organisers moved the bar closer for the next lap.

"It's like one of those Dr Who episodes when you've looked away and the monster got closer," said Steve Cram, before there was one of those moments when everyone looks away, courtesy of Brendan Foster.

"I spoke to his coach, Alberto Salazar, and I asked what is it about Mo Farah that makes him win all these medals?" he pondered. Answers on a postcard to a Mr S Coe…

My money is on Quorn, while Cram's was on magic, but whichever he raced away from a chasing herd of Kenyans and Ethiopians to clinch yet another gold.

"I would say that Mo Farah is the greatest sportsman that Britain has ever had," said Foster, opening up a big can of wriggly things, with Daley Thompson less than convinced back in the studio. He clearly was about to mention Phil Taylor's 16 World titles but settled for, "if Mo wants to be the best, he needs a longer career and a few world records". Hmm, like who I wonder?

And from the sublime of Mo onto another magnificent marauding set of beasts with their roots in Africa as the streets of London were over-run with Rhinos. From Leeds.

Yes, it was that day of the year when north comes south for the Rugby League Challenge Cup final and a fairytale decider as Leeds faced the Rovers of Hull Kingston, who, aptly enough, were underdogs.

It was a big day, the sport celebrating its 120th birthday, and the Beeb employed former Shameless star and professional northerner, Maxine Peake, to stand on a peak and build up the tension.

"There is a danger when you start the show with Maxine Peake that it can only go downhill," said presenter Mark Chapman and he was right.

Before that, though, there was one of the more surreal Wembley moments.

"Brian Noble did a little dance while going through the teams because Erasure is blasting out," Chapman began. "Andy Bell, the Erasure frontman, sent a really nice message to Hull KR and their fans."

He should really have sent one to the Rhinos asking for a little respect, as they went on the rampage to ensure that legends of the game, Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock, left Wembley for the last time as winners, and there was a last hurrah too for Kylie. That's Kylie Leuluai, who, and we were all very lucky, was not wearing gold hot pants.

Even playing the Grandstand theme at the break didn't help the Rovers, who went on to lose 50-0 with five tries from Tom Briscoe, but he wasn't the star of the day.

That was Lizzie Jones, wife of former Welsh player Danny, who lost his life playing the game he loved earlier this year. Lizzie sang Abide With Me before the match and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Forget gold medals, records or try-scoring, that is the stuff of legend.

Belfast Telegraph


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