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Friday, August 21, 2009

Sports Disasters - Us Magazine, The News International

Ground Reality

Sports disasters

By S. Hamza Asad

The moment I think of sports, the picture of an incredibly talented athlete hits my mind whose sweat appearing on his powerful biceps and thighs shows the capacity of zeal and zest in him; whose moves arouse enthusiastic sentiments, whose versatility speaks volumes and who plays the sport like a pro.

Exciting sports have always kept the crowds on tenterhooks till the end and there have been some memorable moments, unexpected and bizarre, that have left their prints in the sands of time. Here goes…

Manchester United Team Crash

On February 6, 1958, seven Manchester United footballers were among 21 people who died after an air crash in Munich, Germany, which shook the world and in particular the City of Manchester to the core. The British European Airways (BEA) Elizabethan class plane, flight 609 Zulu Uniform caught fire shortly after take off with 38 passengers and six crew on board. The footballing world reeled from the loss of some of its most talented young players. Their average age was 24 and they included Roger Byrne - the captain - Mark Jones, Eddie Colman, Tommy Taylor, Liam Whelan, David Pegg and Geoff Bent. Eight British sports journalists and several club officials were also killed in the disaster. An 8th player, Duncan Edwards "the greatest of them all" was to die 15 days later after a heroic struggle for life that had astonished the doctors who treated him.

The ManU team, managed by Matt Busby, was named the 'Busby babes' for their youth. They were returning from a European Cup match in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, but had to make a stop in Munich for refuelling. After refuelling, the pilots tried twice to take off, but had to abandon both attempts due to technical problems. On the third attempt to take off the plane over-shot the runway, hit a house with its port wing, veered to the right, hit another building and burst into flames. The fuselage did not catch fire and several crew and passengers went back into the wreckage to rescue the injured.

Of the 44 people on the aircraft, 21 were killed instantly and several others were knocked unconscious. Matt Busby, who was severely injured, resumed managerial duties the next season (1958–59), and eventually built a second generation of Busby Babes, including George Best and Denis Law, that ten years later won the European Cup, beating Benfica. Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes were the only two crash survivors who lined up in that team.

Munich Massacre

The Munich Massacre is considered to be the worst tragedy in the modern Olympic history. During the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, some members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostages by a militant group called Black September. By the time it all ended, the terrorist group had killed eleven Israeli athletes and coaches. One West German police officer was also killed while five of the eight members of Black September were killed by police officers during an abortive rescue attempt.

Johnson's doping

Benjamin Johnson is a former Canadian sprinter and a winner of two Olympic Bronze medals. In the 1988 Summer Olympics, Johnson set a world record of 100m race in 9.79 seconds and left the stadium awestruck after his victory. When he underwent some medical tests later, the reports showed that he had used steroids. After his confession, he was disqualified for doping and Carl Lewis was promoted one place to take his gold medal.

Tyson's biting off an ear

The former undisputed heavyweight champion and the youngest man ever to win the WBC, WBA and IBF world heavyweight titles, Mike Tyson has been one of the most amazing boxers the world has ever seen. He is still remembered by his fans for his ferocious behavior inside and outside the boxing ring. On 28 June, 1997 the world saw one of the most abnormal spectacles of Tyson's career. The Holyfield-Tyson: II match is unforgettable because during the match Mike Tyson bit off a portion of Holyfield's ear! He did not stop on that. The match referee declared Holyfield to be fit for the match despite the injury and so the match resumed. This time, Tyson bit off Holyfield's other ear, too. On this the match was stopped. Tyson was suspended from playing and his license was withheld.

Zidane's infamous head-butt

A controversy arose in the final match between Italy and France in the FIFA World Cup 2006 between Zinedine Zidane and Italian defender Marco Materazzi when Zinedine Zidane was issued a red card in the 110th minute. Zidane, rammed his head into Materazzi's chest and knocked him to the ground. It was one of the most stunning moments in the history of Football. After that incident Zidane became the fourth player to be given a red card in a World Cup final.

Bob Woolmer's controversial death

Cricket has always been an unpredictable game. The unexpected elimination of Pakistan at the hands of a team like Ireland in the Cricket World Cup 2007 was terribly shocking. However, the sudden death of the former Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer a few hours after the match was even more disturbing. Woolmer was found dead in a Jamaican Hotel on March 18, 2007. The initial reporters speculated that Woolmer had died of a heart attack. According to a Jamaican pathologist's report, Woolmer had died of asphyxia due to manual strangulation. But, Lucius Thomas, the commissioner of the Jamaica Constabulary Force refused the report put forward by the pathologist and announced on June 12, 2007 that Bob Woolmer died of natural causes, and was not murdered.

Attack on Sri Lankan cricket team

The attack on the Sri Lankan team came at a time when Pakistan was facing some serious security issues like terrorism and suicide bombing and no foreign cricket team was willing to play in Pakistan. Despite all this, the Sri Lankan cricket team agreed to play on the Pakistani soil. On March 3, 2009, when the Sri Lankan team was going to Qaddafi Stadium to play the third day of the second Test against the Pakistani cricket team, 12 terrorists attacked the bus in which the Sri Lankan team was travelling. Six members of the Sri Lankan team were injured in this attack and six policemen and two civilians were shot dead.