culture

The Story of Diana Nyad: Another Wonder Woman

Last night I went to the movies with a couple of friends to watch the newly released Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot. It was perfect! Wonder Woman spoke her mind, stood up to men, fought on the front-line, asked questions, made mistakes, lost battles, won battles, learned from mistakes, experienced failure, was relentless in pursuit of success, cracked jokes, had issues choosing an outfit and was generally everything that a woman can and should be. As a 20-something-year-old woman, I was inspired.

Here we are the following morning and a new story has came to my attention. This is the story of Diana Nyad, the woman who never gave up in pursuit of sporting greatness!

Whether you have a keen interest in sport and sporting achievement or not is truly irrelevant here. This one’s for everyone, and the world should know her story.

Diana Nyad came to the public eye last month following the publication of her award winning book, “Find a Way“. At the end of May this year her book picked up the top prize as the International Biography of the Year, and i’m not surprised; her story is triumphant.

Nyad is a swimmer by trade, and as a teenager the young Diana was introduced to the world of marathon swimming. She broke records; in her first-ever race she broke the women’s 10-mile record completing the feat in 4 hours and 22 minutes. She swam the Bay of Naples, without a wet-suit for some 28-miles!! It wouldn’t be me, but each to their own.

Despite the records Nyad’s dream was always to complete a swim from Cuba to Florida. The water was infested by dangerous sea creatures, including sharks and jelly-fish but she did it anyway. In fact, she did it five times!!

The swimmer made her first attempt as a 28-year old in 1978; she completed the journey at the fifth attempt as a 64-year old in 2013.

The first attempt was halted by strong winds and high swells, and after 42 hours covering 79 miles she was forced to retreat. A devastated Nyad, broken by her failure, never swam another stroke for thirty years.

33 years after her first attempt Nyad vowed, just days before her 62nd birthday, that she would have another go at the 110-mile crossing. She wished to “prove to other 60-year-olds that it is never too late to start your dreams.”

She failed.

Shoulder pain and asthma attacks meant the trip had to be abandoned once again.

This didn’t stop her.

A month later she was back in the water. But 41 hours into her journey the brave Nyad was forced to stop due to severe jellyfish stings.

Another one bites the dust.

Again, it wouldn’t stop her.

2012, the fourth attempt. The furthest she had ever ventured but again jellyfish and storms would stop her from crossing her finish line.

Many people would have stopped at the first hurdle, never mind the fourth, but there she was again; standing on the shores of Cuba ready to find a way.

And she did.

On the 2nd September 2013, Nyad reached the shores of Florida. As she stepped out of the water, exhausted and victorious, she gave the crowd awaiting her arrival a piece of advice:

“Never, ever give up…You’re never too old to chase your dreams”

It’s never too late, you’re never not ready.

Wonder Woman, as genuine as her representation was, doesn’t flip off horseback, knee-slide into Nazi’s and jump from buildings; or maybe she does. Maybe we can. But this Wonder Woman, another one, she swims across the Gulf of Mexico in shark-infested water. She does this five times until she succeeds.

Nyad’s story highlights exactly why sport is so important while simultaneously justifying the ways in which it can lose it’s importance.

It may be pertinent to say that we have become far too obsessed with material gain. Modern sport has become too focused on collecting as many golden nuggets as possible by the end of the quadrennial fair. But this obsession pulls funding from athletes who are trying, just as Nyad did, to achieve a dream. This obsession can be damaging. Not everyone will stand on a podium but everyone has a dream, and you can achieve it.

Nyad did not swim from Havanna to Key West for Olympic Gold, nor did she do so with the support or finance of a billion-dollar training programme. Rather she did it because she wanted to achieve a dream.

Sport is important because it pushes people beyond their limit. It brings out the best and worst human emotions and experiences. Experiences that bring us together. Lessons that we can learn. Losses that we must humbly accept, and victory that we must gratefully receive.

Sport has the ability to do this in a way that few other things in the world are capable of doing.

Similarly, if sport isn’t for you – find your dream, define success and achieve it.

Keep going until you find a way. Just as Nyad did.

Finding a way is universally applied to everyone, in every place, in every creed, in every colour, in every gender.

You keep going, you never give up and you are rewarded with a prize so enormous it can’t be bought. The prize of self-fulfillment. The only thing limiting you is your decision to give up.

It’s never too late, you’re never not ready. Believe in yourself.

ONES TO WATCH

 

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the best nicknames in football.

United, City, County, Rovers, Wanderers.

All of the above offer the run of the mill; nicknames which fail to tell the story of the proud community of football fanatics who support their respective clubs.

Few nicknames offer an insight into the behind the club badge. Of those that do, here are some of the best in Britain:

AYR UNITED

Founded: 1910 (106 years old)

Ground: Somerset Park (10,185)

League: Scottish Championship (currently 9th)

Nickname: The Honest Men

Ayr United’s nickname is taken from the famous Scottish poem ‘Tam o’Shanter’ written by Scottish bard and Ayrshire born, Robert Burns. Scotland’s national poet wrote a sweet anecdote to his native town in which he described the town as a haven of “honest men” and “bonnie lasses”. The poem, published in 1791, described the life of a man named Tam, who visits the local pub with friends and gets himself in a rather drunken state. Meanwhile Tam’s wife sits at home in anger at her husband’s immoral behavior. One night Tam rides back on his horse, Meg, and a stormy night it was. On his journey home Tam notices a glow from the local haunted church, and peeks through the window to see witches and warlocks dancing. There is even mention of the devil playing bagpipes. I think Rabbie Burns may also have been a bit pickled when he wrote his beloved poem. Long story short, Tam gets himself in a bit of bother and finds himself fleeing from the haunted creatures. The horse loses a tail, and Ayr United find some inspiration. The Honest Men stuck, and what a fine nickname it is.

“Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses, for honest men and bonnie lasses”

What happened in 1910?

  1. Old Trafford opened (First game ended in a 4 – 3 defeat to Liverpool)
  2. Frenchman, Louis Paulhan completes London to Manchester air race in under 24 hours
  3. Terra Nova sets sail on Arctic expedition
  4. The Fowler Match, considered to be “the greatest cricket match of all time”, took place at Lord’s between Eton and Harrow
  5. 300 suffragettes clashed with police outside British parliament over Conciliation Bill

 

BURY FC

Founded: 1885 (131 years old)

Ground: Gigg Lane (11,840)

League: English League One (currently 20th)

Nickname: The Shakers

The Shakers, a truly unique and fantastic nickname! The name was coined back in 1892 by the then Chairman, J T Ingham. Prior to the Lancashire Cup Final in 1892, against what would be tough opposition in Everton, the Chairman put full faith in his team to come up trumps and defeat somewhat better opposition with this rather sharp remark:

“We shall shake ‘em, in fact, we are the Shakers’

Bury would go on to win the competition, after the Chairman’s rousing team-talk. The name stuck, and the Shakers would go on to Shake it Up in the 1900 and 1903 FA Cup final, were they won the famous old tournament on both occasions beating Southampton and Derby County respectively.

Vincit Omnia Industria or “work conquers all”.

PS. We love your nickname Bury FC!

What happened in 1885?

  1. Women were permitted to take the University of Oxford entrance exams for the first time
  2. We witnessed the largest margin of victory in a professional football match. Arbroath led Bon Accord by 36 goals to nil (it was 15 – 0 at half time)
  3. 29 kilometres away Dundee Harps were playing against Aberdeen Rovers in the Scottish Cup. The referee noted 37 goals but the club secretary suggested a miscount and noted 35 goals instead. The official score was recorded as 35 – 0.
  4. Millwall FC is founded (The Lions)
  5. The first flush toilet is demonstrated by Frederick Humpherson
  6. The first Dictionary of National Biography is published

 

COWDENBEATH FC

Founded: 1881 (135 years old)

Ground: Central Park (4,309)

League: Scottish League Two (currently 10th)

Nickname: The Blue Brazil

Another classic football nickname. There are a couple of fan theories as to why Cowdenbeath are called the Blue Brazil. One of the more obvious reasons is that their home jerseys are indeed blue. A popular theory is that the name provides a heavy dose of irony towards a football team that has never found much success. It has also been suggested that the name arose due to the club’s financial plight during the 80’s which was humorously compared to that of Brazil’s national debt. There is also a rather long winded story on fan website, http://www.thebluebrazil.co.uk, which suggests three Brazilians illegally played for Cowdenbeath on the last game of the season against Dunfermline in which Cowdenbeath won the game 11 – 1 with the three Brazilians claiming all the goals. The fan forum goes concludes, “The Cowdenbeath community hailed these 3 lads as heroes and as they didn’t know their names they were christened ‘The Blue Brazilians’.” It is rumorued that the Rio Trio left Scotland to play football in their native Brazil for then champions, Santos.

Have a read. (http://www.cowdenbeath.free-online.co.uk/fanzine/bluebrzl.htm)

So who knows!? But it is one of the best nicknames in football.

 

What happened in 1881?

  1. Andrew Watson of Queens Park Football Club captains Scotland to a 6 – 1 victory over England. He was the world’s first mixed race international association player. (Scottish/British Guianese background)
  2. Old Carthusians defeat the Old Etonians 3 – 0 in the FA Cup final at the Oval. This would be the last time the FA Cup was played between amateurs.
  3. The Natural History Museum opened in London
  4. Godalming, Surrey becomes the first town to have its streets lit by electric light
  5. Alexander Fleming was born

 

DUNDEE UNITED FC

Founded: 1909 (107 years old)

Ground: Tannadice (14,223)

League: Scottish Championship (currently 1st)

Nickname(s): The Arabs (The Tangerines and The Terrors)

Not a particularly exciting or thrilling nickname, however it is rather intriguing. Like Cowdenbeath there are rather a few fan theories. Again, one such theory provides a heavy dose of irony with many believing that, like Arsenal, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain who are funded by United Arab Emirates, that the Tangerines have come into a bit of money. Of course, not true but rather amusing. Another theory comes from a fan story that dates back to the 1962/63 season. According to legend this season offered a particularly cold winter and thus many matches were cancelled. The club attempted to thaw the ice with a tar-burning truck. Unfortunately, the truck caused damage to the grass and so to allow play to continue the club had no choice but to pour sand onto the field. The use of the sand and the desert like look it gave the ground was therefore the reason behind the unique nickname.

However, I’m not so sure how accurate or, indeed, true that story is. Maybe take that with a pinch of salt.

What happened in 1909?

  1. The National Old Age Pension scheme came into force
  2. The first film in colour was shown using Kinemacolor at the Palace Theatre in London
  3. The department store Selfridge’s was opened in London
  4. Manchester united won the FA Cup for the first time (Beat Bristol Rovers 1 – 0 at Crystal Palace)
  5. Matt Busby was born

 

SOME WORTHY MENTIONS

  • Peterborough United – The Posh
  • Hartlepool United – The Monkey Hangers
  • Everton FC – The Toffees
  • Clyde FC – The Bully Wee

 

Half and half shirts: what’s the problem?

_86486330_halfhalf1A wind – up? An expression of dual identity? Or an expression of the impact of the global football market?
Many ridicule such an image, of a ‘football fan’ sporting a shirt with two club emblems on the chest, however you may be more alike than first thought.
How many people can truly say now that they support their local team? How many people even support their regional, or indeed their national team?
There is an ever increasing number of football fans supporting teams who occupy Europe, predominantely teams from Europes BIG FIVE, notably in Germany, Spain, Italy, France and England.
Mass media has allowed us to be consumed by football events, heroes and villians. Everyday we are emerged in a spectacle of footballing prowess, and those teams with the greatest amount of money and the greatest amount of power possess the loudest voice in our social world. It is therefore probable to assume that football is no longer as community based and tribal as it once was. Globalisation and immigration has been a huge factor in this also.
Is this a good thing?
Many people agree, and feel positively about getting away from footballs ‘tribal’ elements. Possibly believing it will alleviate violence, and ethinic difference.
Is it a bad thing?
Well it is changing the culture of the game. Fans are now involving themselves in the business of football like never before, and are being commodified by the vast media market. This goes against the age old tradition of being ‘born’ a fan which is charaterised by common footballing tales such as ‘cut me and i’ll bleed (insert team colours)’, ‘my Dad was a (insert team name) fan, so I am’ or ‘I was born here, so I support (insert team name)’.
Traditional fans don’t like this commodification of football fans, and more importantly they don’t like that “fans” are buying into it. Many struggle with the concept of having a ‘second team’. To many it’s unthinkable, but in the modern world it’s ordinary.
IMO.
I would love to live in a world without sky sports. I would love to have seen an international match with a minimum of 100,000 people standing under one roof watching the sport I love (From 1906 – 1914 Scotland v England managed this feat: never less than 100,000 attendance during this time).
Alas, these are changed days and we live in the age of digital media. However, I must side with the traditionalists. With dwindelling numbers at football grounds, and complete lack of local and national talent in the United Kingdom I only worry that collective identities soon become extinct. Of course football must celebrate multiculture diversity, which football has aspired to since the Bosman ruling (1995), but it should never lose sight of local and regional pride and identity.
All that from one kit, eh?
PLEASE LEAVE COMMENTS AND THOUGHTS BELOW.