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Author Archive for Kieran Pender

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Australia v New Zealand: third Bledisloe Cup Test – live!

Live updates as the Wallabies take on the All Blacks in BrisbaneGet in touch with Kieran on email or via Twitter @KieranPender 10.33am BST 22 min: Wallabies building pressure with several tackles around the 22 metre mark. The ball ends up on the ground…

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Pressure peaks on Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos in era-defining Syria clash | Kieran Pender

A dozen years since the Socceroos made it to their first World Cup in three decades, the momentum that has sustained the game is at risk of dissipating

It is remarkable, given the Socceroos’ long history of not qualifying for the World Cup, that the prospect of defeat to Syria on Tuesday evening seems so unfathomable. Australia have participated in only four of the 20 World Cups held since the tournament’s inception; until 2006, the Socceroos had qualified just once.

Yet since joining the Asian Football Confederation, qualification has swiftly become the expected norm. The Socceroos were a class above distant Tajikistan and tiny Bhutan, so it was thought, and a ticket to Fifa’s biggest quadrennial event was now a formality. Even regional heavyweights, like Japan and Saudi Arabia, could be no match for Tim Cahill and company.

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Argentina v Wallabies: Rugby Championship – live!

  • Updates from Australia’s final game in Mendoza
  • Get in touch with Kieran on email or via Twitter @KieranPender

11.40pm BST

1 min: Peeep! French referee Mathieu Raynal commences proceedings and we are underway in Mendoza. Stay tuned for live minute-by-minute coverage.

11.36pm BST

The Wallabies train ahead of today’s clash with Argentina in Mendoza.

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Melbourne City v Brisbane Roar: A-League season opener – live!

  • Updates from the first game of the new campaign at AAMI Park
  • Get in touch with Kieran on email or via Twitter @KieranPender

9.24am BST

Lucky 13? The latest season of the A-League begins tonight with Australian football on the brink of crisis. The enigmatic Socceroos are in very real danger of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, while the brawl between Football Federation Australia and other stakeholders (A-League clubs among them) shows no sign of detente. Amid the gloom, will the domestic league emerge as a ray of hope?

Player recruitment has been sensible, if not splashy, and administrators have revamped the competition’s marketing. The likes of Xavi Torres (Perth Glory) or Tom Hiariej (Central Coast Mariners) might not improve gate receipts, but they do bring European quality to the pitch. With little to separate the top six or seven sides, fans could be in for a riveting season. As the off-field drama inevitably continues, perhaps some actual football could do everyone a world of good.

4.09am BST

Kieran will be here shortly. In the meantime, have a read of Jonathan Howcroft’s season preview.

Related: A-League: off-season recruitment augurs well for new season

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Syria v Australia: World Cup 2018 qualifying play-off – live!

1.48pm BST

16 min: A beautifully-placed lob from Aaron Mooy found Robbie Kruse on the run, but he couldn’t make anything of it.

1.47pm BST

Adrian Lane emails in: “No idea what is going to happen today, but left disheartened and frustrated by Australia being in this position. Is there any sign of hope?”

Well, Adrian, early signs have been mixed. The Socceroos have not looked uncomfortable, but Syria are not shaping up to be a walk-over either. If I had to cast an early prediction, I’d say we might see a scoreless first-half followed by a late flurry in the second stanza: 2-1 Australia. Now I have said that, expect Syria to score five.

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Wallabies v All Blacks: Bledisloe Cup/Rugby Championship opener – live!

  • Live updates as old foes Australia and New Zealand clash in Sydney
  • Get in touch with Kieran on email or via Twitter @KieranPender

10.42am BST

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has offered some words of wisdom to Australian broadcaster Fox Sports in a pre-match interview. “The game will be won by scoring tries,” offered the gruff 58-year-old. “So we will have to score more then them.” Sagely indeed.

10.36am BST

Crisis is an oft-used word in Australian rugby right now. The Wallabies are at a low ebb, the Western Force have been removed from the Super Rugby competition after a chaotic few months and Australian Rugby Union (ARU) boss Bill Pulver has resigned. The prospect of an another embarrassing defeat to arch rivals New Zealand tonight threatens to compound a month of misery.

It is not all bad news for our Australian readers though. Kurtley Beale is back, the pack is full of potential and the Foley-Beale-Folau trio provide a potent attacking threat. The surprise selection of debutant winger Curtis Rona, a rugby league convert, could prove an inspired choice.

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Gold medal-winning Stephen Wooldridge leaves cycling a rich legacy

The death of the much-admired former track cyclist has left the Australian cycling community in shock and questioning why

“We are all looking for answers.” Those are the words of the legendary Australian cycling coach Gary Sutton, but they represent the sentiment of the entire Australian cycling community. Cyclists, coaches and fans are in shock after the death of the much-loved former track cyclist Stephen Wooldridge.

In a sport often riven with division, no one ever had a bad word to say about Wooldridge. The 39-year-old won gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and claimed four world titles, all in the team pursuit discipline, during an illustrious career that concluded almost a decade ago.

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Gold medal-winning Stephen Wooldridge leaves cycling a rich legacy

The death of the much-admired former track cyclist has left the Australian cycling community in shock and questioning why

“We are all looking for answers.” Those are the words of the legendary Australian cycling coach Gary Sutton, but they represent the sentiment of the entire Australian cycling community. Cyclists, coaches and fans are in shock after the death of the much-loved former track cyclist Stephen Wooldridge.

In a sport often riven with division, no one ever had a bad word to say about Wooldridge. The 39-year-old won gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and claimed four world titles, all in the team pursuit discipline, during an illustrious career that concluded almost a decade ago.

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Richie Porte’s horror crash prompts questions of Tour de France organisers | Kieran Pender

Rather than settling for a typical summit finale, ASO opted for the stage’s fourth technical descent and a finish in Chambéry

On Sunday morning European time, Gemma Porte tweeted: “Day of travel for me so only informative [Tour de France] messages/updates wanted. Nothing to spark the wifey nerves please!” She may have tempted fate. Several hours later, her husband Richie Porte ended his campaign for the 2017 Tour de France yellow jersey with a sickening crash on stage nine’s final descent.

Related: Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas crash out of Tour as Froome keeps yellow

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In career best form: Richie Porte a genuine Tour de France contender | Kieran Pender

The Australian enters the famous race in ominous form and better placed than ever before to wrest the yellow jersey from his main rival Chris Froome

It may be now or never for Richie Porte. If the cyclist is to join the exclusive club of Australians to have won the Tour de France – current membership: Cadel Evans – 2017 is his year. After faltering in recent attempts, Porte enters the 104th edition of the famous race in the best form of his life. When the action begins on 1 July with an individual time trial in Düsseldorf, the maillot jaune will be firmly within his reach.

BMC Racing Team have announced their intention to go “all in” for Porte this year, and will send a roster to match: Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet, climber Nicolas Roche and Italy’s Damiano Caruso are among the riders with a brief to assist their leader. Porte showed ominous pre-Tour form with a second-place finish at the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month, but was let down by tactical errors from his colleagues on the final stage. The additions of Van Avermaet and Caruso should ensure BMC can match the firepower of Chris Froome’s Team Sky.

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Shane Perkins on defecting to Russia: ‘I have a clean slate to prove myself’ | Kieran Pender

The Australian Olympian and former world champion is adamant his newly adopted country’s cycling program is doping-free as he focuses on Tokyo 2020

When the Australian squad takes to the velodrome in Hong Kong this week for the UCI Track Cycling World Championships, Shane Perkins will be a notable absence. The Brisbane-based rider was once the country’s sprint king, with past successes including two world titles, gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and bronze at the London Olympics. But Perkins will never again pull on the Australian colours. In February, he defected to Russia.

“If you had told me at the beginning of last year that I would be Russian in 2017, I would have laughed you out of the room,” Perkins says. Measured and articulate, the 30-year-old openly recounts how casual locker-room chat led to a new nationality.

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Shane Perkins on defecting to Russia: ‘I have a clean slate to prove myself’ | Kieran Pender

The Australian Olympian and former world champion is adamant his newly adopted country’s cycling program is doping-free as he focuses on Tokyo 2020

When the Australian squad takes to the velodrome in Hong Kong this week for the UCI Track Cycling World Championships, Shane Perkins will be a notable absence. The Brisbane-based rider was once the country’s sprint king, with past successes including two world titles, gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and bronze at the London Olympics. But Perkins will never again pull on the Australian colours. In February, he defected to Russia.

“If you had told me at the beginning of last year that I would be Russian in 2017, I would have laughed you out of the room,” Perkins says. Measured and articulate, the 30-year-old openly recounts how casual locker-room chat led to a new nationality.

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Richie Porte: ‘I pinch myself most days. It wasn’t long ago that I was working 9-5′ | Kieran Pender

Ahead of the Tour Down Under, Richie Porte opens up about a disappointing past season, Tour de France ambitions and his friendly rivalry with Chris Froome

At first glance, 2016 was an impressive year for road cyclist Richie Porte. After joining BMC Racing from Team Sky, the Australian finished second overall at the Tour Down Under, third at Paris-Nice, fourth at the Volta a Catalunya and fifth at the Tour De France – his best ever placing in the illustrious race.

Yet these respectable achievements do not linger in Porte’s memory. Instead, 2016 is remembered as a season of misfortune. He lost almost two minutes following a puncture during the Tour de France, costing him a place on the podium and a chance to tussle for the yellow jersey with former team-mate Chris Froome.

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Stephanie Morton: ‘To win an Olympic medal would be unreal. But why stop at one?’ | Kieran Pender

Stephanie Morton heads to Rio hoping to add Olympic gold to her medal collection, even if it means beating team-mate and friend Anna Meares

Stephanie Morton is no ordinary track cyclist. An avid badminton player, proud Paralympic gold medallist and lover of Mexican food, the good-natured athlete is upbeat and unassuming. While training partner Anna Meares exudes an aura of intensity, Morton sports a perpetual grin.

The 25-year-old has plenty of reasons to smile after enjoying a memorable past four years. From London 2012 Paralympic success as an able-bodied pilot rider to Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow, Morton has rapidly become one of the cycling world’s fastest female sprinters. She even has an Order of Australia Medal to show for these efforts, awarded following the Paralympics for her “service to sport”.

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Inside Australia’s Olympic track cycling medal factory | Special report by Kieran Pender

With Rio 2016 just around the corner, Guardian Australia was granted exclusive access to the Cycling Australia High Performance Unit in Adelaide

Cadel Evans AM. Stuart O’Grady OAM. Bradley McGee OAM. Katherine Bates. These are just some of the high-achieving former Australian cyclists whose images adorn the Champions Walk at the High Performance Unit (HPU) in Adelaide.

Every day, when Australia’s current generation of cycling stars arrive at their training base, they must pass these photos as they descend into the bowels of the velodrome. Inspiration and pressure, in equal measure.

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Cyclists juggle team commitments and national ambitions as Olympics loom | Kieran Pender

With the 2016 Olympics only two months away, the road cycling season poses a challenge for Australia’s Rio de Janeiro-bound riders

When the Giro d’Italia begins on Friday, one Australian cyclist will be conspicuously absent. Despite the Italian Grand Tour boasting three individual time trials, Australia’s national champion in that discipline – Rohan Dennis – will not be joining his BMC Racing team-mates on the Apeldoorn start-line.

Rather than contest the prestigious race, Dennis is focused on one goal: the 2016 Olympics, starting on 5 August. After setting the fastest ever average speed for a Tour de France time trial on his way to a stage victory last year, the 25-year-old from Adelaide has turned his mind to repeating that feat at the Games in Rio de Janeiro. Yet to be in peak form for the national team, Dennis must forgo potential Giro success and ride within himself at July’s Tour de France.

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Australian cyclists prominent as World Tour begins on home tarmac in Adelaide

Midway through an exciting summer of racing, Australia’s road cycling stars head into the 2016 Tour Down Under in strong form

The streets of Adelaide may be thousands of kilometres from cycling’s spiritual home, a world away from the mountain passes of the French Pyrenees and the muddy Belgian cobblestones. Yet on Tuesday, the World Tour peloton will roll out from the vibrant suburb of Prospect for their first race of 2016.

The domestic summer of cycling, however, is already in full swing. The Tour Down Under comes just over a week after Jack Bobridge and Amanda Spratt were crowned national champions in Ballarat, while a busy criterium season across Launceston, Melbourne and Geelong has provided plenty of fare for spectators to feed on.

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Cadel Evans has gone, but Australian cycling remains in ruddy health | Kieran Pender

Despite the retirement of Cadel Evans, with the 2015 Tour de France about to begin Australia’s cycling stocks have rarely shined more brightly

It’s an unlikely situation when the retirement of a sport’s biggest name coincides with the emergence of a new era of prosperity. But following Cadel Evans’ final race earlier this year, that is exactly the scenario facing road cycling in Australia.

When 10 Australians roll up to the individual time trial starting gate in Utrecht this Saturday for the opening stage of the Tour de France, the former race winner’s absence will not be as conspicuous as it once might have been.

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Australian players in the NBA: how they rated this season | Kieran Pender

From the revelation that has been Matthew Dellavedova to Dante Exum’s mixed bag, how the NBA’s Australian contingent fared in 2014-15

These are exciting times for green and gold basketball. Andrew Bogut became the third Australian in two years to win an NBA championship after his Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers and compatriot Matthew Dellavedova in a thrilling finals series. Earlier in the season history was made when four Australians shared the court for the first time, while the future looks equally bright with both Ben Simmons and Thon Maker being potential number one draft picks in coming years.

As the dust settles on an exciting denouement to the playoffs, we have rated the performances of Australia’s seven-strong NBA contingent, with grades awarded relative to expectations.

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Matthew Dellavedova: drive and dedication pays off for Cavs’ Aussie ace

He was the star for Cleveland on Sunday – and his ascent, along with Golden State’s Andrew Bogut’s, caps a record-breaking year for Australian basketball

If every cloud has a silver lining, then this particular weather formation is distinctly Australian. With Melbourne-born Kyrie Irving missing due to injury, compatriot Matthew Dellavedova rose to the occasion on Sunday as the Cleveland Cavaliers clinched an overtime victory in game two of the NBA finals.

Related: Cleveland Cavaliers strike back in Game 2 thriller to tie NBA finals

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