The 96th Tour de France has ended—but the word war just started. No sooner had Alberto Contador arrived in Spain when he unleashed a torrent of insults, saying, “My relationship with Armstrong is nil… I’ve never had a great admiration for him and I never will!”
Ouch. That’s distasteful. And, to a seven-time TDF winner, upsetting and embarrassing. But never one to surrender a fight, Lance responded: “Hey pistolero, there is no ‘I’ in ‘team.’ What did I say in March? Lots to learn. Restated.”
HONG KONG—The one place I visit the most here is not Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui or the Harbour City-Ocean Centre mall or Victoria Peak up the mountains. It’s not a ride aboard the iconic Star Ferry or a stroll along Granville Road. It’s not even inside shops like H & M or Esprit or Uniqlo or Giordano. The one site I frequent almost daily?
Victoria Park. I love Victoria Park! Almost each early morning here, I jog about half a kilometer from my hotel in Wan Chai and visit the ground that’s filled with hundreds of Hong Kongers.
Covering an area of 19 hectares, Victoria Park is the largest park in the Hong Kong Island. It’s situated in Causeway Bay and has been a Hong Kong fixture—though not as centrally-located as its New York City counterpart, the Central Park—for a long time. Built in honor or Queen Victoria, it’s been opened, 24 hours daily, to the Hong Kong public for the past 52 years.
There’s a new website I just stumbled upon a few days ago. Called “The Science of Sport,” it analyzes, in full detail, the accomplishments of some of the world’s top athletes. In the case of the past two weeks, it’s the Tour de France riders… in particular, Alberto Contador. Visit the site here. Also, read this fabulous piece (and watch his interview), “A new Lance shows old determination,” by Bonnie D. Ford.
The Tour de France is our planet’s most punishing and excruciating sporting event. It spans 23 days—that’s 21 marathons of pedaling and only two days of rest in-between—covering a total distance of 3,445 kms. From the start in Monaco, it traverses through seven mountain stages, six countries that include Spain, Andorra, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland and (of course!) France, and will finish today, the 26th of July, along the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
I’ve been to the Champs-Elysees. The year was 2001 when my wife Jasmin’s father, Jack Villarosa Mendez, brought our whole family on a European sojourn. That Parisian street, one of the world’s most prominent, I recall as a beauty. And, today, as the 170 or so cyclists joining the TDF will pass through that sight, one man will find the Champs-Elysees with the utmost beauty: Alberto Contador.
If you type the word “shangri-la” in the online thesaurus, plenty of words appear. There’s “bliss,” “heaven” and “promised land.” There’s “seventh heaven,” “garden” and “paradise.”
Having recently stayed for two nights at the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, I’d conclude that, yes, those words are accurate. For here we have, in our very own Cebu, one of the most coveted resorts in the entire Philippines and around Asia.
Jasmin, Jana and myself—our family of three Js—booked a Friday noon to Sunday afternoon stay a month ago. School had not started yet and, what perfect way for a getaway. Plus, our top resort had a fantastic promotion: Book for two nights and, as reward, they’ll give the third night… for free.
There’s more. A free P1,000 voucher that’s consumable in any of their several restaurants—Tides, Acqua, Buko Bar & Grill, Cowrie Cove, and Tea of Spring. And here are two more that my 10-year-old daughter, Jana Marie, enjoyed the most: a 15-minute ride on their jet-ski (free!) and a two-hour access to a children’s paradise of stairs and slides called Adventure Zone. Daily buffet breakfast for two (plus two children) at either Tides or Acqua are all included in the package. (For those still interested, this “Local Residents Package,” which started in June 1, lasts until August 31, 2009.)
Thomas Sturges Watson is a winner of eight Major championships in golf. Lance Edward Armstrong has won the Tour de France a record seven times. Mr. Watson and Mr. Armstrong, in the vast universe called Sports, are two of the most venerated and hallowed names. Together, they are also two of the oldest competitors in their fields of golf and cycling.
Tom Watson, barely a month shy of his 60th birthday, was one of the golfing greats in the 1970s and 1980s. Lance Armstrong, born on September 18, 1971—which makes him 38 years old in six weeks’ time—dominated cycling from 1999 to 2005.
I’ll make an admission: I don’t follow the Philippine Basketball Association like I used to. I’ve watched several out-of-Manila, here-in-Cebu games. Back in the 1980s, I adored Allan Caidic’s three-pointer and reminisce his rivalry against Samboy Lim. Even my dad’s younger brother, Rey Pages, donned the Crispa Redmanizers jersey. And so, yes, I did follow the PBA—but not anymore.
That changed a couple of nights ago when I watched the most awaited finale of the season: Game 7 of the Motolite-PBA Fiesta Cup Finals between Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer.
I missed the first half and watched starting the third quarter. The game? It was, sad to report, unexciting. After a 13-5 burst in that 3rd quarter, the Beermen—led by an import aptly-named Freeman—took a double-digit lead and never relinquished it. In the end, the former Cebu Gems star, Dondon Hontiveros, and his Men In White were champions, defeating the MVP Jayjay Helterbrand-led Men In Red, 90-79. It marked the 18th time that San Miguel were champions of the PBA.
(Thanks to Meyrick Jacalan for all the photos.)
Congratulations to the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC). During the 33rd Milo Marathon in Manila last July 5, nearly a dozen runners joined the 42-km. marathon. The star of the Cebu squad was Harthy Satina, who finished his third marathon with a Personal Best (PB) time of three hours, 52 minutes. Having narrowly missed “sub-4” (under four hours) in the Singapore Marathon last December (Harthy succumbed to cramps 200 meters from the finish line and finished 4:09), this time Harthy ran pain-free and led all Cebu runners.
Dr. Vic Verallo, with minimal training because of an injury, came in next at 4:50, followed by Roger Cuenco, Jesse Taborada, Kenneth Casquejo, Roy and Dr. Rosan Trani, Joel Garganera, Jun Remo, Dr. Albert Santos and Serge Amora, among others. Meyrick and Perl Jacalan also ran with the group.
Dr. Vic Verallo, Harthy Satina and Meyrick Jacalan
Dr. Rosan and Roy Trani