The shock and awe of sport

Usain Bolt's false start, Manchester's supremacy in the Premier League at the expense of two north London club's and Sebastian Vettel's commanding performance to win the Belgian Grand Prix was a grand Sunday of sport. Sunday's live sport conjured up a couple of feelings one gets from watch sport on a regular basis but to witness a few shock and awe sporting moments in a day, is if not unprecedented then rare.


Usain Bolt could have been cautious at the start of the 100m final considering his talent. Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters ©

The cover of the sport section of today's The National highlights this with space dedicated to the three key stories in question.

First up, Manchester United's complete performance against Arsenal and Man City's drubbing of Tottenham.


OK, The Gunners are still reeling from the sale of two key players and were depleted through injuries in defence, but no one would have contemplated a goal hungry United side putting eight past the goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

What is more impressive, is that it upstaged neighbours City, who through an inspired Edin Dzeko put Tottenham to the sword with a not too shabby 5-1 win at White Hart Lane. Manchester 13 London 3 indeed.

Can things get any worse for Arsene Wenger? The manager  has had a torrid two weeks which has seen the following:

August 13: Summer signing Gervinho is sent off on his debut for raising his hands to Newcastle United's Joey Barton as Arsenal start the season with a goalless Premier League draw at St James' Park.

August 15: Wenger concedes defeat in his bid to keep Cesc Fabregas as the Arsenal captain rejoins his former club, Barcelona. The Gunners are charged with failing to control their players against Newcastle, and midfielder Alex Song is charged with violent conduct after appearing to stamp on Barton.

August 16: Arsenal edge the first leg of their Champions League play-off round against Udinese 1-0, but lose Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou to injury. Wenger is spotted passing messages to the dugout while serving a one-match touchline ban.

August 17: The FA ban Song for three matches after viewing video evidence.

August 19: Uefa open disciplinary proceedings against Wenger for not abiding by his touchline ban.

August 20: Laurent Koscielny limps off and Emmanuel Frimpong is sent off as Arsenal lose 2-0 to Liverpool at home.

August 22: Uefa hand Wenger a two-match touchline ban for breaching the terms of his one-game suspension against Udinese. They defer this pending an appeal until after the second leg.

August 23: Samir Nasri is sold to Manchester City. Wenger reveals Jack Wilshere will be out for at least another two weeks, and the FA fine Arsenal £30,000 (Dh180,000) for failing to control their players against Newcastle.

August 24: Wenger earns some relief when his side qualify for the Champions League group stage after coming from behind to beat Udinese 2-1.

August 28: With a number of first-team players missing Arsenal suffered the embarrassment of an 8-2 defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford. Carl Jenkinson becomes the third Arsenal player sent off in as many league games.

Arsenal have three days to get rid or rein in those who want out or get personnel in by the transfer window deadline to salvage something. For City and United, the title challengers have emerged. Everyone who has watched these two sides this season are very much in awe.

Next is the case of Usain Bolt. A false start knocks the defending 100m world champion out of the final in Daegu, South Korea.

The biggest shock of the night, arguably, due to the fact that the Jamaican world record holder is a few strides ahead of his rivals anyway. He could have been cautious, knowing that a false start is an instant disqualification.

There are already murmurs that the ruling, introduced in 2010, should be scrapped for the 2012 Olympics. Even Tyson Gay, Bolt's long-term rival who was not competing because of injury, says Yohan Blake's win should have an asterisk by it to denote that Bolt was missing from the race.

Bolt has said today that he will put it behind him for when he defends his 200 title later this week. Let's see how quick an angry -- rather than arrogant -- Usain Bolt can run. 

Then there is Sebastian Vettel. The 23 year old German was marvellous on his way to winning the Belgian Grand Prix. He extends his championship lead to 92 points ahead of Red Bull Racing teammate Mark Webber with a polished performance around Spa-Francorchamps in a gripping race. A back-to-back title seems to be a case of where and when now.

Special mentions must go to Michael Schumacher, who started last to finish fifth on the 20th anniversary of his debut at this circuit.

Aside from Lewis Hamilton's crash on Lap 13, the only shock we can report from Belgium, is that the race, loved by drivers, teams and fans alike, could go biennial or even triennial as Bernie Eccelstone considers Europe's schedule. 

Published: August 29, 2011 04:00 AM


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