On Sunday 27 July, history will be made when a group of professional cyclists rides the Champs-Elysées. Among the riders who have never before been allowed in the Tour de France, is an athlete The Guardian has called "the finest cyclist of their generation" and who Bicycling Magazine recently touted as one "who could be the most naturally gifted, hardest-working cyclist who ever lived", Marianne Vos. Also riding will be writer, filmmaker, former figure skater and triathlete Kathryn Bertine. Triathlete and marathoner Emma Pooley described her expectation for the event: "On a scale of one to 10, I'd say that La Course is 11 on the excitement levels." Along with the athlete who holds/held all three Ironman world and championship records (including the overall world record), Chrissie Wellington, they created the campaign Le Tour Entier, whose motto is Liberté, Égalité, Cyclisme, a play on the French national motto. [more inside]
Fiction and Real Life are Different, You Moron. A cartoon about sports.
Becoming the All-Terrain Human: [New York Times]
"Kilian Jornet Burgada is the most dominating endurance athlete of his generation. In just eight years, Jornet has won more than 80 races, claimed some 16 titles and set at least a dozen speed records, many of them in distances that would require the rest of us to purchase an airplane ticket. He has run across entire landmasses (Corsica) and mountain ranges (the Pyrenees), nearly without pause. He regularly runs all day eating only wild berries and drinking only from streams."
Ronda Rousey - the first American woman to medal in judo at the Summer Olympics - is widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound female MMA fighter in the world. She has won all six of her professional fights - all but one of them in less than a minute - using a trademark armbar that is usually described as "devastating". [more inside]
Finally, Gilbert Arenas reveals the whole story behind the infamous Washington Wizards guns in the locker room incident.
Anticipating a season long lockout, several NBA players signed contracts with teams in the Chinese Basketball Association. Now that a labor deal has been reached, leaving for the NBA won't be easy.
When athletes are in financial trouble, they often go to high end pawn shops to get money.
With the NFL and NBA potentially going dark in the fall, Michael Schur and Nate DiMeo of Grantland.com decide to watch the India-Pakistan cricket match to see if it can be a suitable replacement.
Before his death, Mickey Mantle spoke to Sports Illustrated about the effect that alcoholism had on his life and career. [more inside]
Deadspin tells the story of the unlikely friendship between Kendrick Perkins of the Oklahoma City Thunder and two fans.
Donnie Moore was the California Angels' relief ace in 1986. After he gave up a home run that began the Angels' collapse in the ALCS, Moore's life and psyche steadily deteriorated, until he committed suicide in 1989. Steve Hofstetter wrote about Moore and the divergent paths taken by other athletes in similar situations.
How 'The Fridge' lost his way. A profile of William 'The Refrigerator' Perry.
In 2006, Joss Naylor ran 50 miles up and down seventy Lake District fells, ascending more than 25,000 feet in 21 hours. Not his best performance, but to be fair, he was 70 at the time. Cumbrian shepherd Joss Naylor (warning: Youtube link; Cumbrian accent, impossibly adorable sheepdog) is one of the greatest British athletes most people have never heard of, and perhaps the greatest competitor ever in a sport most people have never heard of either: fell-running. [more inside]
Mental Floss has some good stuff, but I really like their quizzes. Especially the "Who Am I" series. Novels. Poets. Actors. Sports. Wonders of the World. [more inside]
Billy Ray Bates, in his words, was "an average player who can do fantastic things. After flaming out in the NBA, he became a legend in Phillippine Basketball Association.> [more inside]
When people think of the pitfalls of the baseball draft, it is hard not to remember the story of Matt Harrington. Harrington was drafted in the first round of the MLB draft by the Rockies and the Padres in successive years, only to go back into the draft after failing to reach an agreement each time. As the years went by, his stock kept falling. [more inside]
Republican athlete politicians With trepidation, I post a link to a Slate article (is that akin to posting a Salon article?) Anyway, I've been largely impressed with the "Sports Nut" columns. I think my favourite quote of this one is Brent Jones saying "An athlete is a small business owner whose product is yourself." And Charles Barkely reminding his grandma, unsure of her grandson's political leanings towards the Republicans, "we are rich".