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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 24 January, 2019

A portrait of Suarez, Roche's nemesis and the Williams sisters; the week’s best sportswriting

This week’s selection also features a piece on the high performance culture in Team Sky.

The superb artwork that accompanies Wright Thompson's piece on Luis Suarez for ESPN.
The superb artwork that accompanies Wright Thompson's piece on Luis Suarez for ESPN.
Image: ESPN

1. EVERYTHING ABOUT LUIS Suarez is viewed and judged through his reputation, which, although familiar to fans around the world, might not be as clear in the relative soccer wastelands of America.

Putting him in an American context is difficult because he transcends the sports page. Imagine the tabloid fodder of Lindsay Lohan’s life with Jennifer Lawrence’s acting chops. That’s the unique place Suarez occupies in the European pop culture firmament. In April, the English Premier League named him player of the year.

He has carried the reborn Liverpool side on his shoulders. And yet, despite his widely acknowledged greatness, people hate him.

Perhaps the most talked about sportswriting piece of the week, Wright Thompson’s portrait of Luis Suarez for ESPN is worth your time, while the accompanying graphics are superb.

2. “Being attacked by opponents was normal, but it was my team mate and I could just not stomach it,” he said. “I sometimes lost to star riders like Moser and Saronni, but I never complained. Roche’s attack was unacceptable.”

He wasn’t just unhappy with Roche though, but with the team management too.

“If the captain is in the lead, the team must help him. Roche, however, attacked me. But the real crime was by the team management; clueless, heartless.

Writing for Stickybottle, Graham Healy learns that Stephen Roche’s 1987 Giro nemesis, Roberto Visentini, is still not happy after all these years.

3. Still, though. There’s something about the Williams sisters that remains fascinating after all these years — about their relationship, I mean. How they seem to exert this orbital pull on one another.

How each still defines our understanding of the other’s career. Maybe the other’s whole self. You probably knew people in high school who were so close that now, when you hear something about one of them, it wakens the other’s shadow in your mind, even if they went separate ways years ago.

On the pages of Grantland, Brian Phillips takes a look at the Williams sisters, following their second round defeats in the French Open.

US Open Tennis The Williams sisters both crashed out of the French Open in the second round. Source: Mike Groll

4. Before his daughters left for Paris this week to compete in the French Open, Williams, who wore a striped polo buttoned at the neck and Nike sneakers with the laces untied, was in town to give a talk to the Hudson Union Society about his new memoir, “Black and White: The Way I See It.”

He walks with a limp, the result of a childhood fight in which he was stabbed with a railroad spike, and sits with a hunch, the result of having recently turned seventy-two.

Staying on the topic of the Williams family, this article by Reeves Wiedeman for The New Yorker paints a picture of Venus and Serena’s father, Richard.

5. It’s rare to see a huge change in performance from one event to the next. Typically, fluctuating improvements or incremental gains in performance present that aren’t necessarily linear. Brailsford advises a 1% gain in performance between events is A LOT more manageable for athletes and staff.

This feeds back into the aforementioned philosophy based upon THE BEST people for all roles. If the best people are present, they’re more likely to engage fully and thereby build upon every single aspect to improve performance. Buying into this philosophy generates a contagious enthusiasm, momentum and positive environment.

It was published last week, but this guest blog by Gareth O’Neill for the Ireland Strength & Conditioning page is an interesting read for those interested in high performance.

Tricks, tackles and more than a few tries: Leinster’s Brian O’Driscoll tribute is absolutely brilliant

Want to head along to some live sport over the long weekend?

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TheScore Team

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