Category Archives: Sport

Harold on Tour

Make’s Cycle to MIPIM team had been looking for ways to raise money for children’s charity Coram, the official charity of the ride, and was thinking of producing and selling 3D-printed cartoon figurines to be mounted on cycle handlebars. After discussions with Coram and event organisers Club Peloton, though, it was decided that we would instead print figurines of Coram’s puppet mascot, Harold the Giraffe, and give one to each ride captain to display on their handlebars during the ride. It would be a perfect opportunity to help Coram increase its visibility during the event.

After deciding on Harold’s dimensions, we worked with specialty 3D printing shop iMakr on computer-modelling the geometry. The first five prototypes, printed in-house at Make, were successfully tested on a training ride to Brighton, after which we did the next 20 for the ride captains – plus one for a Coram trustee who’d specially requested one. With each Harold taking one hour to hand-paint, we were lucky to have a number of volunteers help bring him to life.

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The Harolds will be presented to Coram before the riders depart on 9 March, at which point each Harold will be proudly displayed on the ride captains’ handlebars for the duration of the 6-day, 1,000-mile ride to Cannes. Riders and supporters can chart and follow his journey using the hashtag #HaroldOnTour.

Coram is an incredible charity, so we at Make, along with our friends at Club Peloton, are thrilled to be able to help them like this. We encourage everyone to get involved and help make Harold famous!

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Follow the action on Twitter:

@ClubPeloton
@Make_MattBugg
#HaroldOnTour
#CycletoMIPIM

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Rolled Gold

To the uninitiated, it looks like six football goalkeepers playing a vicious game of ten-pin bowling… all blindfolded, and in complete silence.

This is the Paralympic sport of goalball, one of 20 sports on offer at the London Paralympics.

Goalball

The rules of the sport are simple: two teams of three position themselves either end of an 18-metre court, all wearing blackout masks so that the partially sighted have no advantage.

One player then hurls the ball along the floor as hard as possible towards the goal of the opposing team, all of whom dive across the floor in an effort to block it. Two bells inside the ball alert them to its trajectory, which explains the silence during play.

Either a goal is scored or the defenders trap the ball, after which play switches ends and defenders become attackers. Often, the ball-thrower will spin round, like a hammer thrower, before unleashing the ball at speeds up to 60mph towards the opposite goal.

Goalball was first invented in 1946 as part of an effort to rehabilitate blinded veterans from the Second World War. Introduced to the Paralympics in 1976, it has been growing in popularity ever since, and is now played in over 100 nations worldwide. At the Beijing Paralympics, China took gold in the men’s event, while USA took gold in the women’s.

Goalball

At the London Paralympics, the British home teams were looking to make their mark on the sport. One of the top players in the women’s team is Jessica Luke. She says the conditions in the Handball Arena are perfect. “There are really good acoustics. And there’s a real atmosphere to it.”

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Just a game?

Celebrated, marketed and sold around the world for its unpredictable excitement, England’s Premier League is, like most, a conservative organisation resistant to change. Right now, though, for perhaps the first time in its existence, its ruthless ascendancy is being challenged by forces outside of its control.

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Based in England, it is now in essence an international business. Its top six clubs are all foreign-owned: Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal by Americans, Chelsea by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, Manchester City by UAE politician Sheikh Mansour, and Tottenham Hotspur by the Bahama-based British businessman Joe Lewis.

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The personal funding of all these proprietors has manifestly increased the power of their clubs. However, unrestricted spending – the engine that has driven their businesses – will soon be prevented by new legislation from European football’s governing body, UEFA.

Broadcasting rights – key to the riches that the Premier League distributes – look set to change, too. BSkyB could soon face serious competition from the likes of Google or Apple, for example.

Currently the league operates a collective bargaining agreement that distributes the fees between its member clubs. But it’s possible the top clubs might eventually negotiate these fees individually.

Who knows? We may even see a Premier League Mark II for smaller clubs currently striving for membership. Or even a wider European Super League.

And what of the people at the sharp end? The fans who pay for tickets and TV subscriptions? “All soccer fans know in their hearts that the changes since the 1980s have gone too far in one direction and that it’s all money-related,” says Derek Hammond, author of Got, Not Got, a book about soccer nostalgia. “It has affected the whole greater soccer culture.”

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Football4 Football3

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Judo’s big fight

In one corner are the judo purists, desperate to keep their sport loyal to its traditional Japanese origins.

In the other are the modernisers who know that, if judo doesn’t appeal to a wider fan base, it will gradually die out.

Trying to reconcile the two is Romanian-born businessman Marius Vizer who took over the International Judo Federation (IJF) in 2007, and has been trying to drag his sport into the 21st century ever since.

Before his arrival, the popularity of judo in its biggest market – Japan – had been waning. In France, its secondary market, it wasn’t a widely viewed or appreciated activity.

Dartford Judo Club Dartford Judo Club Dartford Judo Club

So Vizer fearlessly decided to push through an ambitious publicity plan. As well as simplifying the scoring system, he banned moves such as leg-grabs, dropping and sacrificial techniques popular in wrestling – a style dominated by Russians, Iranians and Caucasian countries. Since this ban, pure, classical judo has been allowed to flourish once again, and the Japanese, who invented the sport, are enjoying new-found success.

It has made for more spectacular and attacking judo, something that has pleased television executives. According to Nicolas Messner, at the IJF, more fights now end in a move called ippon, the equivalent of a boxing knockout. “The Japanese have benefitted as they can do their style of judo again,” he says. “Techniques that had disappeared have reappeared.”

Both the modernisers and the traditionalists seem to be content. Vizer may just have managed to find a happy medium.

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Dartford Dojo

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Hand-to-Hand Combat

Every once in a while the Olympic Games give fans the chance to see an incredible team in total domination. Remember the 1992 US basketball dream team, with Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson? Or the 1980 US ice hockey team which managed, against all the odds, to upset the mighty Soviets?

This time round, in London, it’s the sport of handball which featured a dominant dream team. French men’s handball, to be precise.

‘Les Experts’, as they’re known back home, are arguably the greatest handball team of all time: gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008; world champions in 2009 and 2011; European champions in 2010. No other handball team in history has triumphed in so many world-class tournaments.

Competing in the Make-designed Copper Box, in London’s Olympic Park, they were the favourites to take the gold medal again this time round.

  

But how does one explain the total world dominance of the French men? For the last 20 years their defensive play has been outstanding, a constant thorn in the side for teams that challenge them. With three strong players at the back, the team creates a wall that attackers struggle to breach. The final line of defence is goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer, considered the world’s best for his position.

Consistency has played its part in France’s success, too. Most sports have a regular turnover of coaches. Not French handball, however. This men’s team has known only two coaches in the past 25 years, something which has helped foster long-term strategy and player development.

Now that Les Experts have won gold once again in London, France will see thousands of skilled youngsters striving for a place in the national squad. There are now more than 400,000 players licensed to the French handball federation. That number’s sure to grow.

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