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Olympic archers won't target Lord's wicket
Saturday 19 February 2011, 12:08AM
The London 2012 Olympic archery competition will see stands built on the Lord's pitch and arrows fired over the wicket but the Games organisers have pledged to protect cricket's hallowed turf. They have switched their plans so that the archers will now fire from the Pavilion End, requiring the construction of two temporary stands on the home of cricket's grass, in front of the Pavilion. England are due to host a Test match against South Africa at the north London venue within two weeks of the archery medals being won, meaning there can be no slip-ups in returning cricket's sacred ground to normal. The original plans had the archers shooting on a north-south line, from the corner between the Pavilion and the Tavern Stand. However, it has been moved to a northeast-southwest line running directly over the wicket between the famous pavilion and the futuristic Media Centre. Sports facility designer Jeff Keas, from the London 2012 organisers' venues team, said they didn't feel the old line showcased Lord's enough. "We really went back to first principles: what makes Lord's Lord's? The Pavilion, the Media Centre -- these are the things that make it Lord's," he told AFP. He said the International Archery Federation and the Marylebone Cricket Club which owns the ground were both thrilled with the new plan. "The real positive thing that happens there is that it does showcase the sport, it brings the spectators right in nice and close on the athletes, it gives them that good energy, that good vibe." Lord's has seen some quick deliveries from the Pavilion End before, but nothing this fast or deadly. Keas insisted that firing arrows over the wicket presented no threat to the precious square -- the world's best archers were not going to miss the target that badly. "We're going to be in the outfield. The hallowed ground of the wicket will not be touched," he said. "We're only shooting arrows over it and the volunteers who retrieve those arrows actually walk around it." The weight of the temporary stands will be spread out to protect everything beneath the surface. The stands will kill the grass they cover but replacement turf is already being grown at the same farm Lord's uses for its regular re-turfs. The archery competition takes place between July 28 and August 3, with 64 men and 64 women taking part in two team events and two individual events. During the Olympics and the stands' construction, Middlesex will play their county home fixtures at their other grounds, Southgate and Uxbridge. "The Test match is 11 days after the last archery event," Keas said. "We've already scheduled very closely. We know exactly how long it takes to tear down these two stands and get the turf replaced, so this is all in place, we'll be perfectly fine for the Test match."
Rooney's redemption
Friday 18 February 2011, 11:08PM
Wayne Rooney dedicated his wonder goal this week to Manchester United fans and said it was the least they deserved after what he put them through. Rooney hailed his sensational overhead kick, which gave United a 2-1 win this week over local rivals Manchester City, as the finest goal of his career. And after a season in which he has scored just six goals and threatened to walk out on United before eventually signing a new deal, Rooney admitted he owed the fans something special. "It was a special feeling for the United fans because they deserved that from me," said Rooney. After his unseemly contract stand-off with United was eventually resolved last October, Rooney admitted he faced a fight to win back the trust and support of the club’s fans. And although there are many who still find it hard to forgive his perceived disloyalty, Rooney knows his stunning strike was a massive step on the road to redemption. "To get that goal and see the joy in the crowd, amongst the players, management and staff, was a fantastic moment," said Rooney. "I scored one like that in school, but not professionally. "It was always going in and it’s definitely the best goal I’ve ever scored. Sir Alex Ferguson cut through the euphoria by demanding his star striker raise his game away from home. "What we need to get is performances like those away from home," said Fergie. It was typical Fergie. While the rest of the world was eulogising over Rooney’s early contender for Goal of the Decade, the United boss was demanding more from his front men. For as Rooney himself admitted, up until his moment of magic he had been a peripheral figure – full of commitment, but lacking the sharpness and cutting edge to make any kind of impact. But any criticism of another laboured, below-par Rooney display was dispelled the moment he hoisted himself into the air to execute the goal of a lifetime. The 75,322 punters present at Old Trafford are unlikely to ever witness a better goal. Despite his demand for more from Rooney, Fergie did marvel at the brilliance of his strike, hailing it as the best he had seen in the Theatre of Dreams in a quarter of a century in charge of United. "I don’t think I’ve seen a better goal at Old Trafford. "In terms of execution, you will never see better. It was absolutely stunning." Rooney’s sublime strike all but ended City’s slim title hopes and kept United on course for a record-breaking 19th title triumph.