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BASEBALL From CARIBBEAN to big league

SOCCER Afghanistan’s new pro league

SAILING Battling for the speed record

ULTRA RUNNING Racing 50 miles, 100 miles, 150 miles...

POPart These intricate pieces of furniture and woodwork, by two of the Populous team in the USA, showcase the traditional art of woodworking in the American Midwest. “Since childhood I’ve always enjoyed building things,” says Joe Spear who designed and made the bowls


pictured here. “It is a creative outlet for me. I started woodworking just after university as a way to have highquality furniture on a budget. I bought a used lathe which turned out to be as old as I am. Thanks to that I naturally gravitated towards bowls and enclosed vessels. They make great gifts.”

1. Bowl by Joe Spear 2. Wardrobes by Charlie Kolarik 3. Bowls by Joe Spear 4. Cabinet by Charlie Kolarik





HELLO Thanks to Populous’s involvement in so many aspects of the wonderfully successful London Olympics – plus our major project wins around the world – I guess you could say that 2012 was possibly our most exciting sporting year yet. However, as I write these words, 2013 is starting to shine brightly. The world keeps turning and sport and other public assembly buildings grow in scale and complexity to give more and more back to their communities. To illustrate this we bring you another shining issue of Populous magazine. Our cover story tells the tale of the teenage Dominican baseball players hoping to break into US Major League Baseball. We focus on a 16-year-old called Patterson whose destiny hangs in the balance. Across the other side of the planet we take a look at Afghanistan’s fledgling soccer league which had its inaugural season last year. It really is a good-news story in a war-blighted nation. Other features include the race to break the world speed sailing record, India’s unlikely chess grandmaster and national hero, the bizarre hybrid sport that unites Ireland and Australia, plus the eccentric ultra-runners who regularly compete over distances up to 150 miles. Enjoy reading Rod Sheard

Publisher: Tony Richardson Editor: Dominic Bliss Art direction and design: Deep



© Alma Media International Ltd 2013 All material is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the written permission of Alma Media International is strictly forbidden. The greatest care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of information in this magazine at the time of going to press, but we accept no responsibility for omissions or errors. The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of Alma Media International or Populous.


Editor-in-chief: Rod Sheard Editorial team: Nick Reynolds Tom Jones Patricia Fernandez

Images: Getty Images; Red Bull; Billy Weeks; Nick Bothma/EPA; APL/Moby; Summit Fever Photography; Ice Marathon; Ben Moon; Ohad Ben-Yoseph; Billy Weeks; Helena Darvelid/Vestas Sailrocket; Pierre Sheard. Marlins Park, Miami, USA. Image: Ohad Ben-Yoseph

Tel: +44 (0) 20 8874 7666 Email: Web:

Populous magazine is published by: Alma Media International London, United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0) 20 8944 1155 Email: Web:






01 Covers _Issue 8.indd 3

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Populous magazine is sent to our clients and friends around the sporting world.



LEFT FIELD How sports and concert venues can be more compact without sacrificing seats. And how ticket websites could help spectators choose their perfect seats.


American Dreams The story of the 16-year-old Dominican who hopes desperately to get signed by a Major League Baseball team in the USA.


Who’s the quicker skipper? Two of the world’s best sailing teams are battling each other for the sport’s prestigious speed record. Just how fast can they go?


Afghanistan united Sports fans in Afghanistan are hoping their new soccer league, which started last year, can unite a war-torn nation.


CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD World chess champion and India’s first ever grandmaster, Vishy Anand is an unusual role model for kids in the second most populous nation on Earth.


IT’S JUST NOT CRICKET Since the introduction of Twenty20 (cricket’s shortest format), the playing style employed by bowlers, batsmen and fielders has changed – sometimes quite radically.


going the distance Sometimes marathons just aren’t long enough. More and more runners are now choosing to test themselves in gruelling 50-mile, 100-mile, even 150-mile races. Top ultra-runner Scott Jurek explains why.


the wingmen We meet the crucial yet vastly underappreciated wingmen of professional sport: golf caddies, rally co-drivers and rowing coxes.


in the swim Thousands of hours in the swimming pool have taught Populous’s Christopher Lee that perseverance is key to realising any project – architecture included.


THE ODD COUPLE The bizarre hybrid sport that is uniting Irish and Australian footballers.


POP HISTORY The world’s first indoor stadium with a natural grass pitch.


my logo, my sport Instead of sponsoring shirts and billboards, some companies like Red Bull go the whole hog and invent brand new sports of their own.




The architecture and technology of public venues is evolving faster than ever. Here we bring you some of the most exciting ideas of the near, and sometimes distant, future.

Sight for sore eyes Stadium architects are radically rethinking the way they design venue seating. If the new system works it could ensure better views for spectators, and it could make new stadia more compact, more environmentally-friendly and cheaper to build. Currently, in order to calculate spectator sight lines, and the angle and spacing of stadium seats, architects use a mathematical formula known as the C value. Measured in millimetres, this is the vertical distance between one spectator’s line of sight and the eye level of the spectator sitting in front of him. It was first developed as a measurement for tiered theatre seating in the early 1800s and later adopted for sports stadia.



However, there’s an inherent problem with C value: you need a high C value near the field of play where your line of sight to the pitch is very shallow and easily obstructed. But high up, at the back of the stands, high C values are less important because you can see more of the field of play anyway. If architects had a more accurate measurement system they could design seating in the top tiers to be more compact, thereby bringing spectators much closer to the field of play without affecting their views. Michael Westlake, an architect and research consultant for Populous, is part of a team currently developing another way of measuring view quality – called the A value. This

calculates the entire physical area of the pitch that you can see from your seat. Westlake believes stadium architects should use the A value as well as the C value. “It’s just a question of persuading architects and sports governing bodies to break with tradition,” he says. “Take FIFA, for example. They have been told that a high C value means a good view, so they insist on it for all FIFA-approved stadia. Their intentions are good but it means that when you design huge venues, you end up seating lots of spectators further away from the soccer pitch than you need to. If FIFA understood the science of seating layout they would possibly change their rules.”

Seating plans The way we buy tickets online for sports and entertainment events is set to improve enormously thanks to new computer software in early stages of development. Currently, when we choose a seat on a ticketing website, we are normally offered a simple map of the seating area. We might choose to be behind the goal at a soccer match, for example, or on the front row at a rock concert, or next to the finish line at an athletics meeting. But the next generation of ticketing websites will allow us to be far more specific. “Being close to the action isn’t always the most important consideration for a spectator,” says Michael Westlake, a research consultant with Populous. “There are many other factors at play. You may prefer to be near the exits so that you can beat the rush at the end of the game. Or you

may suffer from vertigo and need to choose seating lower down. You might be on a stag party and need to be close to the bars. Or you might be at a match with your kids and need to be near the toilets.” The possibilities are enormous. In the future, websites will be able to show you the exact view you can expect from certain seats. They will ask you to state which factors are most important – proximity to exits and bars, distance from the pitch, length of walk to a certain railway station etc – and then calculate which seats best suit your needs. “Once this technology arrives it will give spectators so much more choice,” Westlake says. “They will be able to make more informed choices about where they want to sit. It will make sports events and concerts so much more enjoyable for them.”

Websites will ask you which factors are most important – proximity to exits and bars, distance from the pitch, length of walk to a certain railway station etc – and then calculate which seats best suit your needs.




Baseball // American dreams

The tiny Caribbean nation Dominican Republic is a conveyor belt of talented young baseball players all dreaming of playing pro in the USA. Seyi Rhodes, from British TV station Channel 4, follows the fortunes of one hopeful 16-year-old.

Patterson Segura is a skinny, acne-ridden 16-year-old. Like virtually every other boy his age in the Dominican Republic, he dreams of becoming a Major League Baseball player in the United States. The difference is he can already throw a baseball at 90mph – as fast as a professional. He turned 16 just three months ago – a key stage in any Dominican baseball player’s life: he can now legally sign his first professional contract. Patterson dropped out of school two yeas ago and joined the Sabino Sports Academy, one of hundreds of baseball factories across this tiny Caribbean nation. “My grandma told me to stay in school, but all I’ve ever wanted to do was play baseball,” he says. All the scouts are talking about Patterson. They call him ‘seguro Segura’ (secure Segura), because everyone agrees he is a sure bet. He’s even had a couple of offers from Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, however, the money offered wasn’t enough to tempt him. He’s still desperate to realise his dream, but only if the price is right. “Sometimes I lie in bed at night and say ‘When, God, when will I get to play in the big leagues?’” Patterson’s manager is Jovanny Sabino, owner and head coach at the Sabino Sports Academy. Jovanny is a classic, macho, Dominican alpha male. Tall, well-built and with a faintly menacing aura, he struts around the baseball field barking orders from behind his sunglasses. “Patterson is a tremendous talent,” he says. “To throw a ball that fast at his age is phenomenal.” Jovanny and Patterson are not unique in this baseball-obsessed country. There are over 2,000 independent trainers like Jovanny and tens of thousands of prospects like Patterson, and those that do get signed by MLB teams go on to dominate the sport. Nearly 20 per cent of all the professional players in the American leagues are Dominican. POPULOUS MAGAZINE //

07 7

Images: Billy Weeks

Americ n Dreams

Baseball //

A Dominican youngster hones his pitching skills.

Jovanny’s academy is based in San Pedro de Macoris, a town that, unbelievably, has produced more MLB players per capita than anywhere else in the world. It has an old feel to it, littered with Spanish colonial buildings in pastel colours. The surrounding fields still grow sugar cane, and carved into a corner of one of them is the baseball field where Patterson has spent most of his waking hours for the last two years. He shares a house here with five other boys. Jovanny pays the rent but the facilities are fairly basic: two of the three bedrooms are piled high with broken furniture and rubbish, none of the two toilets has a working flush; one is overflowing with faeces. The prospects sleep and eat here and spend almost every other hour in the baseball field. Jovanny provides them with three meals a day and all their equipment as well as ferrying them to and from matches against other academies and try-outs with US teams. In return he gets 25 to 30 per cent of their signing bonus – the money they’ll receive up front if they sign with an MLB team. The boys are taking a huge risk, sacrificing their education for a shot at the majors. But for many it’s the best option. As one of Patterson’s roommates, Cristopher Lobaye, explains: “My area is poor. There are loads of murders. Most members of my family are criminals. I’m the only one who plays baseball. It would be nice to make millions without becoming a drug dealer.” 08

Baseball // American dreams

“My area is poor. There are loads of murders. Most members of my family are criminals. I’m the only one who plays baseball. It would be nice to make millions without becoming a drug dealer.” A young Dominican baseball hopeful.

Life would be very different if these boys were born in America. In the US, children have to graduate from high school before signing an MLB contract. That normally happens when they’re 18 or 19. Or they can wait until after college when they’re in their early 20s. MLB teams would like to sign players younger than 19 – so as to have more time to grow them into brilliant players – but legally they can’t, unless they come to the Dominican Republic. In this nation, in the Greater Antilles, between Haiti and Puerto Rico, boys can leave school at 14 and sign contracts when they’re just 16. They spend the two years in between at unregulated baseball academies, honing their skills. It’s a perfect situation for the US teams. The Americans get great players who are cheap and young. If the teams do their jobs correctly they can get ten good years out of each signing before he is either past it or so talented that he’s worth millions of dollars in resale value.

The teams pay the best bonuses to the youngest players – the record is close to US$5 million. On average, 16-year-old prospects get bonuses of $90,000, but by the time they’re 18, when the market is flooded with American high-school graduates, they will struggle to make $20,000. This 16 to 18-year-old window is the only time a Dominican will get signed. Leave it too late and it’s game over. For Jovanny and Patterson this means numerous try-outs. A recent one was held at the Saint Louis Cardinals’ Dominican academy. Every MLB team has an academy in the Dominican Republic where they train and prepare young players for life in America. The Cardinals’ academy is like a little slice of America in the middle of the Caribbean. Its manicured lawns would compete with any of the country’s best stadia and its pretty painted buildings contain facilities that have Dominican boys wide-eyed in amazement. “They even have air con in the toilets!” Patterson says on arrival. His try-out, he hopes, will be a mere formality. A “coronation” as Jovanny likes to call it. Patterson plays three innings against some of the best unsigned players in the country. None of them is able to hit his pitches and, four strikeouts later, he’s back in the dugout, grinning from ear to ear. “It was a perfect session,” he says, “I’m sure they’ll make me an offer.” Jovanny is so confident that he doesn’t want to drive home. He stops at a roadside restaurant to wait for the call, but

DOMINICAN DOMINATION One in five of all American baseball league players hails from the Dominican Republic. These five stars are arguably the greatest talents ever to appear in the MLB. (And, no, Alex Rodriguez doesn’t count since he was born in New York and raised in Miami.) Manny Ramirez (unsigned) Possibly the best pure right-handed hitter in history, Ramirez is one of only 25 players to hit 500 home runs in his career. His legacy is tarnished by two doping offences.

Patterson Segura, when he was still trying out for the MLB.

two hours later it still hasn’t come and the two of them head home dejected. Two days later the Cardinals finally call to offer $55,000, the same amount Patterson was offered by three other teams. But Jovanny wants more, so he turns it down and arranges more try-outs for the coming week. Patterson is gutted. To keep him focused, Jovanny has told him he can’t go home until he’s signed a contract. For Patterson this has meant three months without seeing his family. And it’s about to get even longer. Patterson’s grandmother, Juana, has raised him since he was a baby. She lives in a village in the Barahona province, the country’s poorest. She and her family worked in the local sugar factory until privatisation left them and nearly 60 per cent of their village unemployed. Her take on the signing saga is very different to Jovanny’s: “Patterson needs to sign and not think about money so much. I’ve told him, when he gets to the majors he’ll make millions so he shouldn’t hold out for such a high bonus.” It turns out she has plenty of experience with baseball coaches. Her son, Miguel, is now 23. When he was Patterson’s age he too was a top prospect. He had three offers from MLB teams but his trainer turned them all down, hoping for more – and he missed his chance. He’s now way past the optimum signing age and his only hope is to become a trainer like Jovanny and get one of the kids from his village signed up for

millions. If Patterson doesn’t sign soon he could end up like his uncle. “Coaches in this country are too greedy,” Miguel says. “They hold out for their own interests and ruin your dreams.” Back in San Pedro, Jovanny is philosophical. “Its my job to find a star player, not to deal with family issues,” he says. But there’s a problem. Patterson’s latest try-out didn’t go as well as the previous one. After five minutes the scout walks off and says he won’t be making the youngster an offer. Baseball at this level is very subjective – one expert’s million-dollar signing can look useless to another. Two weeks later Patterson is allowed to return home to his grandmother. It seems his dream may be over. Then suddenly there’s a reversal of fortune. Baseball, like any sport, has a knack for the unexpected. In December 2012 Jovanny finally accepts an offer of $60,000 from the Washington Nationals. Patterson has been given a chance to live out his dreams. He may even end up one of MLB’s big stars.

Juan Marichal (retired) The Dominican Dandy, as he was known, was a pitcher with a high leg kick as deceptive as it was eccentric. He spent the majority of his career – in the 1960s and early 1970s – at the San Francisco Giants. As a child, growing up in the Dominican Republic, he practised baseball using bats made from wassama trees and old golf balls wrapped in cloth. Vladimir Guerrero (unsigned) With stints at Montreal Expos, LA Angels of Anaheim, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles, Guerrero was once one of the most feared hitters in baseball. He famously used to bat without gloves, using pine tar smeared on his helmet to improve his grip. Pedro Martinez (retired) Thanks to his speed, variety and deception, this man was considered by many to be the best right-handed pitcher in baseball history. Albert Pujols (LA Angels of Anaheim) With an OPS (On-Base plus Slugging) statistic of 1.0264, Pujols (right) is one of the best sluggers currently active in MLB. Growing up he used limes for baseballs and milk cartons for gloves.

Populous has designed over 20 MLB stadia including Patterson’s new home, Nationals Park.

POP VIDEO... See Patterson’s arm in action.



Who’s the

Sailing // Two of the world’s best sailing teams are battling each other for the sport’s prestigious speed record. What is the secret to their technology and just how fast can they go? Tim Thomas, editor of Boat International magazine, finds out.

“Let’s not shoot for the stars. The moon will do.” These are the words of Paul Larsen, explaining the conservative choices he and his design team made in their most recent attempt on the world speed sailing record. If it seems a little cautious, don’t be fooled – in the course of one week in November last year, Larsen blasted his vessel, Vestas Sailrocket 2, down a 500-metre course in Waliv Bay, Namibia, and lifted the outright record from an average of 55.65 knots, first to 59.23 knots and then to a staggering 65.45 knots (over 75mph). That’s like Usain Bolt shaving 1.8 seconds off his own 100-metre world record. While there are many variants and class records within speed sailing, the outright record – first recorded in 1972 – is the one that counts. To break the record, the average speed over a 500-metre run is calculated. Challengers

The need for speed While there are many different sailing records ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, it’s the outright speed record (average speed over a 500-metre course) that really matters. Up until 1986 it was specially designed speed vessels that held the record until windsurfers and kitesurfers took over, dominating unchallenged for 25 years before the arrival of Vestas Sailrocket 2 last year. By the time you read this a new record may well be in place.


sailing // Who’s the quicker skipper?

record breakers

either time a run over a marked 500-metre course or use highly accurate GPS. All data and methods of measurement must be validated and ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council. The science of sailing fast is incredibly complex. The vessel, reliant solely on the wind for its power, must be able to handle two radically different media – air and water. To be fast and stable requires a fine balance between hydrodynamic and aerodynamic efficiency. It is no surprise then that the current record challengers – and many other modern racing designs – employ a combination of highly efficient aeroplane-style wings to generate the thrust, and carefully designed foils that lift the hull out of the water at speed, thus minimising the effects of drag. While windsurfers and kitesurfers have held the record largely unchallenged for most of the past 25 years, two teams have been

Date 2009

Craft Hydroptère

Skipper Alain Thébault (FRA)




locked in battle for the last decade, attempting to wrest the record away. Paul Larsen’s Vestas Sailrocket 2 may look radically different to Alain Thébault’s Hydroptère, yet the designs follow those same principles: generate thrust through a highly efficient sail or wing, and reduce drag by rising out of the water on foils. Vestas Sailrocket 2 is the epitome of cutting-edge design and technology. Built in the UK, she uses carbon on a honeycomb core for the main hull and arm elements, carbon for her foils, and polyester heat-shrink film on carbon ribs for the wing. Titanium features throughout. Hydroptère, although larger and more conventional-looking, is built on similar principles. A highly evolved, 18.28-metre trimaran design, she is also built in carbon with titanium elements, although she uses a more conventional sail rather than a fixed wing. For both teams the process has been long and involved. Larsen, an experienced offshore racer, spent ten years and two versions of the Vestas Sailrocket design to finally smash the record. For Thébault the process has been even longer. The first designs and model for Hydroptère were created in 1985 but it wasn’t until 2005 that the team finally started challenging for the record, first breaking the record across the English Channel, and then briefly holding both the outright speed record and the record over one nautical mile.

Date 2010

Craft Kitesurfing


Rob Douglas (USA)



Date 2012 knots

Craft Vestas Sailrocket 2

Record challengers employ aeroplane-style wings to generate thrust, and foils that lift the hull out of the water at speed, thus minimising the drag.

Thébault and his team have now shifted their sights from the outright record to the big offshore and ocean records – crossing the Atlantic in three days, the Pacific in four. That’s not to say they’ve given up on the outright record; far from it. “I am addicted to high speed,” Thébault says. “I am thinking about chasing the 80-knot barrier.” Neither is the Sailrocket team yet sated. Larsen firmly believes there is more potential in the Sailrocket 2 design, and with it the chance to put the record way beyond the reach of kitesurfers. “Now we know the platform works, we can start plugging in more efficient foils,” he says, “which will either make us go a lot faster, or fast in a lot less wind. While I am satisfied with what we have achieved, she is still a fair way from the limit. I would love to test what that limit is.” Time, perhaps, to forget the moon and shoot for those stars after all.




Skipper Paul Larsen (AUS)



Afghanistan United Soccer // Can sport unite a war-torn nation? In Afghanistan, where the country’s new soccer league enjoyed its inaugural season last year, everyone is hoping so, as Joe Boyle finds out.

The concept is so obvious, it’s astonishing one of the world’s major media didn’t run with it years ago. Take that most popular of television formats – reality TV – and the world’s most popular sport – soccer – and throw them together. As well as enormous ratings, you unite a nation torn apart by decades of conflict. This has nothing to do with SKY, FOX or the BBC. Rather it’s the MOBY Group, the largest media organisation in Afghanistan. Their hit TV show Green Fields put aspiring soccer players through their paces, with 18 talents voted onto each of the eight new teams that would compete in the inaugural season of the Roshan Afghan Premier League. The season ran through September and October last year, with a group and knockout stage. Though the teams represented all areas of the country, every match was played at the same venue: the Afghan Football Federation’s stadium in Kabul. Interest, sparked by the Green Fields selection process, resulted in enthusiastic crowds; an estimated 10,000 turned up for the opening match, twice as many as the seats available in the stadium. Enthusiasm meant soccer conventions weren’t always adhered to. A radio reporter at one point wandered onto the touchline to interview a player mid-match whilst on another occasion a section of the crowd left the ground at halftime, thinking the game was over. Despite an inevitable lack of sophistication and its gimmicky origins, the league was relatively well-balanced. The only freak result came in a semi-final when Toofan Harirod beat De Spinghar Bazan 10-0. The former, representing the west of the country, were tipped as one of the stronger teams at the start of the tournament. Many of their hopes 12

Soccer //Afghanistan Soccer// AfghanistanUnited United

were built around playmaker Waheed Nadim who was already an Afghan international and had played for Kabul Bank in the pre-existing Kabul Premier League. Toofan Harirod lived up to their billing, winning all five of their games and beating Simorgh Alborz (representing the northwest) 2-1 in the final. A third of Afghanistan’s 30 million people watched on TV. This was a televisual tournament in a country where 80 per cent of households have a set. Coverage of the final began in sobering fashion, with footage of players visiting a hospital filled with the maimed and limbless, victims of decades of conflict. With NATO forces set on military withdrawal, the league seemed to manifest the so-called soft power about which Western nations are now so keen to talk. The very name Roshan Afghan Premier League echoes the successful English Premier League, while the individual team logos adopt a graffiti aesthetic that wouldn’t look out of place on the helmets of NFL players. Ignore any Western influences, though. The Roshan APL is an Afghan triumph and one that could be crucial in helping this country rebuild its civic society. “The league is important for the Afghan people because after three decades of war we have to show our unity, show that Afghanistan is a nation,” says Ali Lali, a former international who now works for FIFA on grassroots projects. He claims that, during matches, the divisions between Afghanistan’s warring tribes are cast aside. For Lali, the real impact of the Roshan APL is the enthusiasm it has generated in young Afghans. Western organisations, too, are well aware how sport can drastically improve life for the next generation. Anders Levinsen heads up the Cross Cultures Projects Association, an organisation which uses soccer

An estimated 10,000 turned up for the opening match. A third of Afghanistan’s 30 million people watched on TV.

POP VIDEO... See an introduction to the Roshan Afghan Premier League.

to repair war-torn societies around the world. Earlier this year the CCPA ran its first grassroots courses in Afghanistan. “We must keep our eyes strictly on the children,” says Levinsen. “We make a space in this conflict where we bring in children from all sides, we dress them in the same shirts, we mix them together and then we play and play and play. We try to build the best possible environment for children so they can start to tell new stories when they come home. Not stories about conflict but of what fun they had with their friends.” The real success of the Roshan APL will be judged not on the exploits of the professional players at Kabul’s big stadium, but on children’s kick-about games on dusty fields far from the country’s capital. As Levinsen says: “I have not seen any tool so strong for community-building than soccer.” Afghans and the world will hope he’s right.

Stars of Kabul A quick guide to the major forces in Afghan soccer. Top team Toofan Harirod FC Winners of the inaugural Roshan APL, and undefeated in all their matches, their run to the title and the $15,000 prize included a 10-0 semi-final victory over De Spinghar Bazan. Their star player Hamidullah Karimi scored nine goals in five games. Afghan national men’s team A decade after returning to international football, following a Taliban-imposed ban that ran until 2003, the Lions of Khorasan, as they’re known, enjoyed their best success in 2011, reaching the final of the 2011 South Asian Football Federation Championship.

Toofan Harirod player Hamidullah Karimi.

Afghan national women’s team With women’s rights in Afghanistan notably curtailed, 2012 was a remarkable year for a side that was only formed in 2007 and which can draw upon fewer than 30 domestic teams. They recorded their first official international victory in February last year with a 2-0 win over Qatar and then thumped Pakistan 4-0 in September’s South Asian Football Federation Championship. Star player Balal Arezou This 23-year-old striker plays in the third tier of Norwegian soccer with Asker Fotball. He moved to Norway as a refugee, one of a number of Afghan international players who were forced to move overseas. National coach Mohammad Yousef Kargar A sporting institution, Kargar was a national ski champion as a teenager before turning to soccer. He represented his country from 1976 to 1984. Subsequently he has been coach of the national side since 2008, overseeing its gradual rise up the FIFA rankings to its current but still lowly position of 186 in the world.



Cha i rma boar d

of the

CHESS // Vishy Anand is India’s most unlikely sporting hero – a chess grandmaster who has encouraged thousands of youngsters across the subcontinent to take up the game. James Pratt, editor of The British Chess Magazine, assesses his impact.

The all-powerful king and queen, the middle-ranking bishops and rooks, and then, beneath them all, the lowly and dispensable pawns. You might say that chess mirrors India’s strict social caste system. Now that India can lay claim to the world’s greatest chess player – grandmaster and world champion Viswanathan Anand – this cerebral sport is bigger than ever across the entire subcontinent. 43-year-old Viswanathan (or Vishy, as he’s known) has become a surprising role model for thousands of young Indians. He has none of the pizzazz of a Bollywood star or a top cricketer, yet he is so popular and instantly recognisable that fans regularly mob him in the streets. This mild-mannered, poker-faced, bespectacled son of a civil servant has suddenly made chess cool. Born in Chennai, Vishy became India’s first ever grandmaster in 1988. (The title of grandmaster was only formalised in 1950.) The youngest of three kids, he learned the game from his mother and a TV show 14

Chess // Chairman of the board

about chess he saw in the Philippines where his father was briefly posted. So what makes Vishy so special? Most obvious is his speed. Once nicknamed the Lightning Kid, he first made a name for himself in fast chess, a version of the sport which puts players under extra time pressure. Yet Vishy later proved himself an expert in the sport’s traditional format, too. He prepares his moves with care and cunning, has a terrific memory, remains calm and, when necessary, can exercise caution. What sets him apart from many other top players is his ability to put comparative failure to the back of his mind. He is at his best during the most high-profile competitions. In 2007 he became world champion for the second time. He has defended the title ever since, beating off three challenges. What distinguishes him from India’s other famous athletes (for that read mainly cricketers) is that his sport is purely mental. It requires all brains, no brawn – a perfect match for a nation such as India which is now reinventing itself as the world’s greatest

This mild-mannered, poker-faced, bespectacled son of a civil servant has suddenly made chess cool.

supplier of computer engineers. Indeed, Vishy’s many sponsors include computer products. Thanks to his success, chess has blossomed throughout India. Since he became a grandmaster, 27 compatriots have followed in his footsteps. Granted, this may not sound so impressive when you consider Russia’s 200 or so grandmasters but with so many Indian youngsters inspired by Vishy to take up the sport – and such a huge population (1.2 billion) to choose from – that number will surely rise soon. Two of India’s states, Tamil Nadu (Vishy’s home state) and Gujarat, have now added chess to the school curriculum. Could the sport eventually rival cricket in popularity?

n The challengers to Vishy Viswanathan Anand may be riding high at the top of chess but he has plenty of challengers snapping at his heels. Here are those most likely to knock off his crown. (Rankings correct in February 2013.) Sergey Karyakin (Russia) Ranked fifth in the world, he has convinced many opponents of his genius. Aged just 23, he is more than ready to challenge for top honours. Fabiano Caruana (Italy) In chess it’s rare to find a challenger from the West. One of the youngest players listed here, he is already enjoying the life of a highly successful professional. Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) A grandmaster since the age of 14, he is one of the few players with a plus score against the longtime champion Garry Kasparov. Levon Aronian (Armenia) A brilliant and loyal team player, he may yet justify his number three spot in the world rankings. He is at the peak of his form and his opponents know it. Magnus Carlsen (Norway) Aged just 22, Carlsen (below) is the enfant terrible of the chessboard and currently ranked world number one. He combines versatility with killer instincts.



Unpredictable bowling

Spinners open bowling

Bat design

Slow bouncers


With limited overs, batsmen are constantly preparing for big hits so it’s crucial that bowlers keep them guessing. Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who varies length, line, swing, cut, spin and speed, is a great example.

By making batsmen play unfamiliar shots and slow, turning balls early in the innings, bowlers pull them out of their comfort zones. When conditions suit, spinners like India’s Ravi Ashwin now open the bowling in Test cricket, too.

West Indian big hitter Kieron Pollard wields a bat that looks like a railway sleeper but is actually quite light. Twenty20 has seen the introduction of more compact bats with very wide edges, making them powerful and easier to swing. Some bats have longer handles and shorter faces, giving batters more whip action; others are double-sided for switch-hitting.

Bowlers don’t always try to knock batters’ heads off with their bouncers. Australian all-rounder, Shane Watson, for instance, sometimes bowls a slow bouncer. Batsmen might be expecting something faster, so they might hit through the shot too early and put the ball straight up for a catch.

Occasionally, just before the bowler releases the ball, England right-hander Kevin Pietersen reverses his hands, becomes a left-hander and whacks the ball to the opposite side to take advantage of gaps in the fielding positions. Pietersen’s left-handed England teammate Eoin Morgan uses hurling skills he learned in Ireland to deliver some deft right-handed shots.


Cricket // It’s just not cricket

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Risky batting

Going for sixes

Limited-overs matches are shorter so batsmen have less time to score runs. Sometimes they will try to smash even good-length balls. West Indian batsman Chris Gayle isn’t afraid to step forward and strike the ball at the top of the bounce, or move back into his crease and launch it over the ropes.

Batsmen like Indian captain MS Dhoni know that with their strength, even if they don’t connect perfectly, fielders in the deep don’t stand a chance. The ball will clear them and the boundary, sailing into the stands.

Best fielders on the boundary In Twenty20 the ball flies around so best fielders are placed on the boundary to save fours and sixes rather than in the slips to take catches, particularly towards the end of an innings when batters swing at every ball. Australian David Warner is a great example.

Populous has designed cricket grounds around the world including the MCG in Melbourne, The Oval in London and the new 100,000-seat Greater Noida Cricket Stadium in India.

No rest for fast bowlers

Bowlers change tactics

In Test cricket it’s normal to rest fast bowlers in easy fielding positions. But in Twenty20, matches are often decided by a run or two so everyone must be a top fielder. England fast bowler Jade Dernbach is a particularly athletic fielder.

Since there aren’t enough fielders to cover the whole ground adequately, batsmen look to score off every ball by hitting into gaps. To counteract this bowlers vary their tactics, obliging the captain (take Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene) to change the field accordingly, sometimes several times an over.

POP VIDEO... Australia’s T20 Big Bash League, the latest Twenty20 tournament, takes the excitement levels up a notch. POPULOUS MAGAZINE //



Ultra-running // Going the distance

Ultra-running // Sometimes marathons just aren’t long enough. More and more runners are now choosing to test themselves in gruelling 50-mile, 100-mile, even 150-mile races. Dominic Bliss speaks to top ultra-runner Scott Jurek to find out why.

“My brain was on fire. My body was burning up. Death Valley had laid me out flat, and now it was cooking me. My crew was telling me to get up, that they knew I could go on, but I could barely hear them. I was too busy puking, then watching the stream of liquid evaporate in the circle of light from my headlamp almost as fast as it splashed down on the steaming pavement. It was an hour before midnight, 105 incinerating, soul-sucking degrees.” This is ultra-runner Scott Jurek describing in his biography his lowest moments in the 2005 Badwater Ultramarathon. The Badwater is one of the most notorious ultramarathons there is: 135 miles non-stop in mid-summer through California’s infamous Death Valley and over three different mountain ranges, climbing 4,000 metres in all. Scott has won this race

twice plus plenty of other equally gruelling events. Why on Earth does he put himself through such torture? “What keeps me coming back to the sport is the way it gets me into survival mode,” explains the 39-year-old from the Rocky Mountain town of Boulder, Colorado. “When I’m out in the mountains running 100 miles I’m solely reliable on myself to get through the driving rain, the snow, the altitude, the severe heat, whatever the environment throws at me. Ultra-running makes me tap into those animal-like survival instincts; instincts we are slowly losing as we become more and more comfortable in modern life.” Ultra-running sees athletes competing in races longer than the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles, often across rugged, mountainous terrain. As well as the Badwater Ultramarathon, other infamous events include the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run (in Colorado), the Spartathlon (in Greece), the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (in the Alps) and the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (in California). Scott has won the latter a record seven times. Within the sport he’s something of a legend. “If you’re talking about 100-mile races, or longer, on trails, there’s no one in history who comes close to him,” says Don Allison, editor of American magazine UltraRunning. POPULOUS MAGAZINE //


“Ultra-running makes me tap into those animal-like survival instincts; instincts we are slowly losing as we become more and more comfortable in modern life.” Ultra-runner Scott Jurek.

As well as all the physical and mental hardship you’d expect from long-distance running – blisters, muscle fatigue, heatstroke, exhaustion and hallucination from lack of sleep – Scott has also experienced the odd uncomfortable brush with wildlife. In the Western States he has had close encounters with both a brown bear and a rattlesnake. “The bear was standing in the trail staring down another runner,” he remembers. “I hollered at it to get it out of our way and was able to frighten it off. In the same race I once accidentally stepped on a rattlesnake.” Scott has also fallen asleep while he was running. “I started nodding off halfway through,” he recalls of the Spartathlon, a 153-mile race across Greece. “I had to slap my own face to keep me awake.” The longest distance Scott has ever run in one session is a staggering 165.7 miles. This was during the 2010 IAU 24 Hour World Championships where competitors had to run around a 1.4km loop as many times as possible within 24 hours. That may be the longest. But the toughest, in Scott’s opinion, is the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run. “It’s over 10,000 metres of climbing, another 10,000 metres of descent. There are six passes over 4,000 metres high. There’s so little oxygen up there that it’s like breathing through a cocktail straw the whole time. You’re at high altitude for a long period of time and you’re on some of the most rugged mountain trails. Sometimes there is no trail at all.” In 2007 Scott set a course record. What’s this man’s secret weapon? After all, Scott is pushing 40 and at 6ft 2ins he’s much taller than your average elite ultra-runner. He admits he’s “not the perfectbuilt runner and not the fastest”; his personal best on the standard marathon distance is two hours, 38 minutes, a good 23 minutes slower than many of the runners he regularly beats on ultramarathon distances. When it comes to 50-mile races and above, it’s actually Scott’s mind rather than his body that enables him to steal a march over rivals. “Running ultramarathons is 90 per cent mental. Then the other 10 per cent, that’s mental, too,” he says. 20

Ultra-running // Going the distance

Scott Jurek follows a lonely trail on one of his longer races.

“There’s so little oxygen up there that it’s like breathing through a cocktail straw. You’re on some of the most rugged mountain trails. Sometimes there is no trail at all.”

Ultramarathons are staged across all types of terrain.

He believes his psychological strength comes from his very tough upbringing. Born and raised in northern Minnesota, not far from the Canadian border, he spent much of his youth “hunting, fishing, playing in the cold, north woods”. There was extra responsibility on his young shoulders because of his mother’s multiple sclerosis. “At a very young age I was looking after my brother and sister, making meals, splitting wood, picking rocks. I was doing these very repetitive tasks. All that prepares one for ultramarathons.” Not that all ultra-runners are hardy lumberjack types. At the race starting lines you’ll find plenty of entrants who hail from very comfortable city-slicker backgrounds. Scott believes the popularity of standard-distance marathons has acted as a stepping stone into the more hard-core sport of ultra-running. “It doesn’t seem such a big leap to run 50 miles or 100 miles,” he says. “Since marathon running is now so mainstream, runners are looking for the next big challenge. There’s a resurgence of people wanting to do something ancestral, tapping into their ancient instincts to run long distances. After all, the human body is made for endurance, not speed.” He stresses that it’s a very accessible sport, too. “There are a lot of extreme sports where you need to develop specific skills: base jumping or rock climbing, for example. But I firmly believe anyone can run an ultramarathon. If you can walk, you can run an ultramarathon.” Of course, the more weekend amateurs you get entering these races, the more it spurs on the elite runners to crave ever tougher races. Take the Marathon des Sables, for instance – a 156-mile death run across the Sahara desert. Or the 555++ which last year had competitors trudging 421 gruesome miles across the deserts of Morocco. But the most ultra of all the ultramarathons is surely the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race. Staged on the streets of New York City, and requiring 5,649 laps of the same city block, it claims to be the longest footrace in existence. Runners – most of them disciples of the Bengali spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy – have 52 days to complete it, averaging over 60

Hard as nails You’ve got to be as hard as nails to attempt these ultramarathons, some of the toughest anywhere in the world. 6633 Ultra, Canada 352 miles across northern Canada’s Arctic region. Badwater Ultramarathon, USA 135 miles across California’s Death Valley and over three different mountain ranges. Marathon des Sables, Morocco 156 miles across the Sahara desert in Morocco. 555++, Morocco Like the Marathon des Sables, only longer; 421 miles, to be precise. The Jungle Marathon, Brazil 150 miles through the thick Amazonian jungle. La Ultra The High, India 138 miles through the Indian Himalayas (below), with a cumulative ascent of over 4,000 metres. Antarctic 100k Ultra Race A 100-km race across the icy cold wastes of the Antarctic.

miles every day. Each burns off 10,000 calories a day and wears out around 12 pairs of running shoes in the process. “You’re going above and beyond what the mind and body can do,” explains one competitor, Dharbhasana Lynn. “A new creation takes birth, and it comes with so much joy and empowerment. Everybody thinks I’m nuts.” Scott Jurek’s book Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness is out now. POPULOUS MAGAZINE //



Sports sponsorship // My logo, my sport

Red Bull is the rights-holder, meaning the company has the freedom to mould the event to reflect its own brand values. They determine who competes, how they compete and where they compete.

Sports sponsorship // Sponsorship of major sports events is expensive and rarely offers much more than logos on shirts and billboards. Some companies, like Red Bull, choose instead to invent their very own sports. Matt Cutler, editor of SportBusiness International magazine, explains how.

Who said human beings can’t fly? Tell that to Felix Baumgartner, a rather unhinged individual who last year rose on a helium balloon to 24 miles above the Earth and then skydived back down at a speed of over 800mph. He set a new world record in the process. More than eight million people watched his exploits on YouTube, the most popular live video ever streamed on the online channel. The Austrian daredevil (his nationality is significant as you’ll see below) instantly became an international hero. But as he stood in front of the world’s media just minutes after returning to Earth, wearing a full-pressure suit and helmet covered with the logos of drinks manufacturer Red Bull, it became clear the spectacle had an even greater significance beyond one man’s attempt to push the boundaries of human endeavour. The idea for Baumgartner’s brave feat was born in Red Bull’s marketing department at its headquarters in Salzburg, Austria. The eight-year project was funded by a company forever looking at ways to show the world, and both existing and potential consumers, that it is adventurous. For over a decade Red Bull has been blazing a trail in action sports by creating and funding its own spectacles. Events range from the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

(diving from high platforms) to Red Bull X-Fighters (freestyle motorbike stunts) and the Red Bull Air Race (aeroplane stunt flying). Ever since the drink first hit the market in the late 1980s, a key strategy for Red Bull’s growth as a company has been to encourage action-sport athletes to endorse their product and these Red Bull-branded events; not events it has an association with simply through title sponsorship, but events it owns entirely itself and runs through its Red Bull Media House subsidiary. In each case, Red Bull is the rights-holder, meaning the company has the freedom to mould the event to reflect its own brand values. The company, and the company alone, determines who competes, how they compete and where they compete. It also means Red Bull can be innovative in creating brand new sports – as is the case with Red Bull Crashed Ice, an extreme winter-sport world tour that sees skaters, typically ice hockey players, downhill racing against iconic city backdrops. “In content, everything has to do with rights ownership,” says Werner Brell from Red Bull Media House. “If you don’t own the rights, it’s a little more expensive to do things in media. The advantage we have is we own the life cycle from beginning to end. It puts us at an advantage when it comes to creation, production and distribution.” The line between content-makers and brands blurred a long time ago, and most major brands have attempted to build media content around their own brand identities. Take the 2010 FIFA World Cup, for example, where official beer partner Budweiser created the Bud House, an online reality TV series featuring 32 cast members, each representing a team in the tournament. No one, however, has taken the directive quite as seriously as Red Bull, particularly when it comes to action sports. Soft drink Mountain Dew is a player through its title sponsorship of the Dew

Tour, the series of action-sports events held across North America, yet its influence is limited to its title sponsorship. (The Dew Tour is run by Alli Sports, the event organiser formed in 2008 as a joint-venture between broadcasters NBC and MTV.) Sports broadcaster ESPN, too, has become a significant brand in action sports since 1995 through its ever-growing ESPN X Games series, broadcast and promoted on all its major media outlets. However, for Red Bull, everything their Media House does – from establishing the events to distributing them worldwide – is designed to power the brand which, in turn, sells more cans of energy drink. And while other brands show up temporarily and partner major action-sports events by stumping up sponsorship cash, Red Bull has action sport in its very DNA thanks to its own events staged all year long. Importantly, too, a large part of Red Bull Media House’s remit is content distribution, licensing, brand partnerships and advertising sales in its own media, making Media House not only a marketing operation but also a profit-generator for the company. “For all of the athlete projects and events Red Bull has created, which subsequently built this brand, cameras have been there,” Brell explains. “Everything has more or less been put on film. We have been creating media assets from the beginning.” Since the company can boast a recent turnover increase from US$5 billion to $5.7 billion, and when you consider how unforgettable Baumgartner’s exploits are, you can’t deny it’s a strategy that pays dividends. Populous Activate helps global brands communicate and build visibility in sport and entertainment. POP VIDEO... You don’t ever tire of seeing Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking jump from space.



Golf, rally driving & rowing // We meet the crucial yet vastly underappreciated wingmen of professional sport: golf caddies, rally co-drivers and rowing coxes. Ben Cove says we should never underestimate their sporting contributions.


Golf, rally driving & rowing// THE WINGMEN

Sport is known for its heroes, its household names, its megastars and millionaires. They claim the biggest prizes on the highest podia, their images splashed across TV screens and newspapers the world over. But have you ever spared a thought for sport’s unsung and often undervalued heroes? The caddies in golf, for example, or the co-drivers in rally driving or the coxes in rowing. They may spend their careers playing second fiddle – facilitating, strategising and motivating – but surely they, too, long for their moments in the limelight. “It’s never bothered me that I’m not the famous one in the partnership,” says legendary PGA Tour golf caddy Steve Williams and former sidekick to Tiger Woods. “The golfer has the talent, no doubt about it. But not everyone understands the role we play. Modern day

caddies need to be part psychologist, part weather-forecaster, part crowd-controller and part coach. It’s no mean feat.” Williams was just six years old when he first earned pocket money carrying the bags at his local club in Wellington, New Zealand. “I was a decent golfer myself, getting down to a two-handicap by the age of 13,” he remembers. “But I was more fascinated by caddying. My friends thought I was mad choosing to lug a 25kg bag around all day but, if I’m honest, I preferred it to playing golf.” The teenage Williams was soon caddying at professional level, first for the celebrated Australian Peter Thompson, and later for Greg Norman. But it is his 12-year partnership with one Tiger Woods that has firmly etched the Kiwi’s name into the tapestry of the sport.

“Caddying can be very testing at times but I love it,” admits Williams. “There’s the nuts and bolts stuff, like knowing every inch of the golf course, but for me it’s also about having wider skills: being a calming influence and exerting a positive attitude in the heat of battle. The key is knowing when to speak and when not to speak to your player.” Williams is the most successful current PGA Tour bag-carrier and, thanks to his long association with Woods (between 1999 and 2011), his rewards have been plentiful. On golf’s elite tours a caddy is typically awarded 10 per cent of a player’s pay cheque. When you’re carrying the world number one’s bag – as Williams did for more than a decade – that can make you an extremely rich man. So much so that, at one stage, the 49-year-old was New Zealand’s highest grossing sportsman… across all sports.

But whether he can be labelled a sportsman continues to stir debate. A caddy doesn’t collect a green jacket or a claret jug. He doesn’t appear on magazine covers or receive the adulation of the fans. His status is second-class and he is still, to all intents and purposes, the player’s employee. “There can be times when you feel like you can’t win,” says Williams. “If your instruction leads to a good shot then it is the golfer who takes credit for it because it’s his talent. But if your advice leads to a bad shot then you are ultimately at fault.” Williams and the caddying fraternity are not the only sporting wingmen who sometimes find themselves in a no-win situation. “Any slight mistake I make leaves its mark on me,” admits Daniel Elena, one of the most successful co-drivers in the history of the World Rally Championship. “A driver’s

“Modern day caddies need to be part psychologist, part weather-forecaster, part crowdcontroller and part coach. It’s no mean feat.” Golf caddy Steve Williams (LEFT, with tiger woods).



Cox Phelan Hill on international duty.

“You also have to be a mother, aware of how people are feeling. You can’t be over-critical or you’ll lose their trust.” Rowing cox Phelan Hill.


Golf, rally driving & rowing// THE WINGMEN

mistake is one thing but when a co-pilot makes a mistake, of course it is seen as worse. Although I must say there are far fewer navigation mistakes than driving mistakes.” The 40-year-old competes for Citroen and rides shotgun to nine-time world champion Sebastian Loeb. And in a sport that celebrates wingmen more than any other, Elena is respected as one half of rally’s pre-eminent double act. While Loeb is widely regarded as the greatest driver in WRC history, seldom is his success noted without reference to the skill of his co-driver. “With Seb it is a partnership,” Elena explains. “He appreciates what I do. You could compare my job to an administrator’s job: I have to take in a lot of things so that my driver can concentrate 100 per cent on his rally. That means serving as a riding mechanic if anything goes wrong but most

importantly navigating our way around the course, relaying the intricate pacenotes to make sure we avoid the obstacles ahead. It is a high-pressure environment and it is important to have trust between the two of you. This is where the partnership comes into it. It has to be a case of winning together but also losing together, a matter of respect.” Trust and respect are two essential elements for another breed of wingman, this time in the sport of rowing. Traditionally, a coxswain’s role is two-fold: to ensure safety and to take care of steering. But at the very highest level, a good cox’s real value is in his (or often her) motivational techniques, tactical prowess and verbal instruction. Phelan Hill won bronze as coxswain for Great Britain’s eight-man crew at last year’s London Olympics. The 31-year-old insists his role is like combining those of a

super sidekicks These three wingmen – a golf caddy, a rally co-driver and a rowing cox – are arguably the greatest ever in their chosen fields.

Steve Williams Most famous for his time on the bag of Tiger Woods, New Zealander Williams has also tasted success with the likes of Peter Thompson, Raymond Floyd and Greg Norman. He now caddies for Aussie star Adam Scott.

Co-pilot Nick Faldo David withElena his Swedish works with caddy Sebastien Fanny Sunesson. Loeb.

Daniel Elena After cutting his teeth as a driver in the mid-1990s, Monte Carlo’s Elena converted to co-driver and struck up a fruitful working relationship with Sebastien Loeb. The pair has since secured nine world championships and 76 World Rally Championship race wins together.

Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena celebrate another win.

Garry Herbert This Londoner steered Great Britain to victory in the coxed pairs at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. His tears of emotion (below) at the medal presentation, with the taller Searle brothers chuckling behind him, became an iconic image of the Games.

“It has to be a case of winning together but also losing together, a matter of respect.” Rally co-driver Daniel Elena.

jockey, football manager and, occasionally, mother. “Races don’t always go to plan, so you have to make a value judgement, like a football manager would,” he says. “I prefer the jockey analogy, though, because that makes the rowers the horses. If you whip them too hard they get tired before the finish, but if you don’t do it enough they won’t work hard enough. And, like horses, you have to show them who’s boss. But you also have to be a mother, aware of how people are feeling. You can’t be over-critical or you’ll lose their trust.” Hill steers the boat using small handles which attach to a rudder below and behind him. All the while he speaks to the crew via a microphone that connects to loudspeakers by their feet. He also has a cox box, giving him information such as times, speeds and stroke-rates which he must compute quickly and relay to those in his ranks.

“It’s my job to ensure the whole race is engineered like a well-oiled machine,” says Hill. “No matter how strong the athletes in the shell are, brains will always get tired when bodies are tired, so I must be sure I’m clear and concise in my instructions.” Due to current rowing rules, Hill collected the same medal as his crew members at the 2012 London Olympics. He agrees that coxes should be valued equally with rowers. “It is often said that the team which works in the most perfect unison will ultimately win a rowing race, and my role is key to achieving exactly that. My teammates value me as an equal member of the team so there’s no reason why the prizes should not reflect that.” And no reason, therefore, why the wingmen of golf, rally driving and rowing shouldn’t also enjoy their moments in the limelight. POPULOUS MAGAZINE //




“You see Michael Phelps

Pop star //

at the Olympics and you Perseverance is needed to see

think ‘My God! He

architectural projects through to

makes that look so

fruition. It’s a quality Populous’s

easy’. But you know the

Christopher Lee has plenty of, having spent thousands of hours of his youth training in the swimming pool.

guy has trained for thousands of hours. In the same way, you look at great architecture and it looks effortless.”

In the swim

It was thanks to a bloody nose that Christopher Lee initially discovered competitive swimming. He was seven years old and preparing for his first cricket lesson when the coach unleashed a furious bouncer which struck him right in the face and broke his nose. “The first ball I ever faced!” he remembers with indignation. “I thought ‘I’m not having this, I’m off to the pool’. Ever since then I’ve never been into cricket.” Brought up in Australia, Christopher had access to excellent sports facilities at school, including an Olympic pool and accomplished swimming coaches. “We had around 80 kids in the squad,” he remembers. “And you were always in a lane of 10 kids, with the faster swimmers at the front. I remember always having someone’s feet in my face. I thought ‘I want to be at the front. I’m sick of having people’s feet in my face.’” By the time he was a teenager, Christopher had overtaken his rivals and was often at the front of the pack, one of the strongest in his squad. He would train up to 13 sessions a week, regularly notching up

15 kms a day. Eventually he was strong enough to represent his state, Queensland, at national level, specialising in 50m and 100m freestyle. “After I finished school my coach asked me if I was going to go for the Olympics and represent Australia,” he recalls. “It’s one of my regrets that I didn’t. But I suppose, in my heart, I knew I wasn’t at that level.” Instead he studied architecture at university. In the mid-1990s he then joined Lobb, as Populous used to be known. He has been with the company ever since, working his way up to the position of senior principal. While he regrets he has never specifically designed a swimming pool, Christopher was involved in the Nanjing Sports Park, in China, which features an Olympic-standard aquatic centre. Other projects he has worked on include Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium, Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, the Club de Futbol in Monterrey and the Estadio das Dunas in Brazil. At the core of all of these projects is hard work and a lot of perseverance. Christopher

believes his thousands of hours of pool training have prepared him for this. “The discipline of swimming teaches you very early that if you want to achieve something you have to work really hard to get it. I think that’s very much the case in architecture. Nothing comes easy. The first idea for a scheme is never the final one, and you have to continue working really hard. “You see someone like Michael Phelps at the Olympics and you think ‘My God! He makes that look so easy’. But you know the guy has trained for thousands and thousands and thousands of hours to win a race in under a minute. In the same way, you look at great architecture and it looks effortless. But there’s always an enormous amount of work behind it.” While Christopher no longer swims his 15 kms a day, he tries to get in the pool at least once a week. Living in west London with his wife and three kids, he uses a local facility. He finds it relaxing, especially after a tough day at the office. “There is a Zen thing about swimming,” he says. “It’s a form of meditation. I empty my mind. You just watch the black line as you swim and you can’t hear the outside world. You’re just focused on the stroke, the hand work, the pulling through the water. There’s something very liberating about not having any external influence for a period of time.” His plan, now, is to switch from pool swimming to open-water swimming. In June he hopes to compete in the annual Manhattan Island Marathon Swim – a 28.5-mile race circumnavigating New York City’s Manhattan Island. “Open-water swimming has become a really popular sport in recent years. I love the idea of having more space when I swim. Perhaps I’ve spent too many hours in the pool during my life. It’s time for me to get more adventurous.” POPULOUS MAGAZINE //


Gaelic & Australian rules football // International rules football, a strange hybrid of the Gaelic and Australian codes, is played by top footballers from both nations. Despite problems of violence and player availability it looks to have a healthy future, as Sean Moran, from the Irish Times, discovers.

October 2005, in Melbourne, and Aussie rules footballers were taking on Gaelic footballers in something known as international rules football – a strange hybrid of two sports from opposite ends of the globe. Crisis point came 32 minutes into the match, part of the International Rules Series, when the Aussie co-captain Chris Johnson pole-axed Philip Jordan with a clothesline tackle that sent his Irish opponent swivelling up into the air.


Gaelic & Australian rules football // THE ODD COUPLE

Mayhem immediately broke out. Match officials intervened and Johnson was red carded but he decided he might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb. So he landed vigorous punches on both Matty Forde and Anthony Lynch before leaving the field. The Australian media were shocked at the outburst. Back in Ireland the switchboard at the Australian embassy lit up like a Christmas tree as locals, outraged by what they had seen on television or heard about through the grapevine, rang to complain. Violence and indiscipline had crashed back into international rules football. In reality, such problems had never properly been resolved, proof that however close two sporting codes are, a compromise of rules inevitably leads to temper losses. There were also scenes of violence in 2006. The three series played since (2008, 2010 and 2011) have been quite subdued as teams try to suppress their more atavistic inclinations, sometimes at the cost of spectacle. It’s been 30 years since the Australian Football League (AFL) and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) first formalised a hybrid sport contested between the best Australian rules footballers and their Gaelic football

counterparts in Ireland. The two football codes had much in common thanks to their combination of handling and kicking skills and an emphasis on high fielding and man-to-man contests for the ball. Before the International Rules Series, several tours had been organised on a less formal basis, the first in Ireland in the late 1960s. The hybrid grew from a desire by both nations to bring their sports to a wider international audience. Although farcical violence marred the first official test, played in Cork in October 1984, there was enough excitement and cleanly contested football in the second test to enthuse the organisers. Dr Allen Aylett, president of the NFL (the AFL’s previous incarnation) had this to say before the decisive third test: “In this game we have a space-age spectacular if we continue to work on it, a game twice as fast as any other form of football in the world.” Over the decades that followed there have been highs and lows. For most of the 1990s Organisers are confident higher-profile AFL players will be available for the trip to Ireland later this year.

matches weren’t played but in 1998 it returned stronger and on an annual basis. There have been two constant threats to the future of the sport: violent indiscipline and one-sidedness. The former issue is simply a matter of rule enforcement and recently the AFL has agreed for the first time that suspensions in the international game will carry through into domestic competition. Yet, in a way, the damage had already been done. Faced with rising levels of public disquiet about some of the scenes during the 2005 and 2006 series, the GAA pulled out for a year in 2007 and subsequently the series adopted a two-years-in-three cycle. Unfortunately this gap year seems to be draining the series of momentum. Competitiveness has always been an issue simply because there are only two nations involved and if one slips there is no meaningful contest. Overall the statistics are remarkably well balanced, however. Of the 36 tests, Australia have won 17 and Ireland 18, with one draw; the overall series are tied at six each. But beneath that veneer of healthy rivalry lies a reality that in recent times has seen the alternating of very one-sided series rather than consistent competitiveness.

Then there has been the expansion of the AFL into new territories, extending their season and making it more difficult for players to commit to the International Rules Series; even the GAA has found it difficult in recent years to free their best players from club entanglements in order to travel Down Under. Nevertheless, organisers are confident that higher-profile AFL players will be available for the trip to Ireland (Croke Park and another venue yet to be decided) later this year. Ultimately, the sport’s future hinges on public interest. Yes, international series football is an intriguing cultural exchange between two sports enormously popular in their own territories. But neither the GAA nor the AFL is going to divert funds to finance a vanity project. Like any sport, a healthy future depends on ticket sales.

International rules football is a hybrid of Gaelic football and Australian rules football. Organised by the Australian Football League (AFL) and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), it uses the Gaelic spherical ball, the Australian goals with a Gaelic crossbar and net (requiring Australian teams to improvise a goalkeeper) plus outer posts. There is a version of the full-contact Australian tackle, allowing players to be caught between shoulders and hips, plus a restricted number of AFL inter-changes rather than GAA substitutions. The Australian mark is also awarded for a clean catch. Scoring is as follows: six points for a goal (beneath the crossbar and into the net), three points for an over (a shot put over the crossbar and between the goalposts) and one point for a behind (a shot between the goalposts and the outer posts).

Populous has designed stadia for both codes including Croke Park in Dublin and the MCG in Melbourne. POP VIDEO... Watch action from the second test in the 2011 International Rules Series in Australia.



PopUlous in



England take on Argentina indoors on grass. 32


Play sport indoors on natural grass and you would expect to have a sliding roof above you. Except, that is, if you’re competing at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in the New Zealand city of Dunedin. This structure, designed in a joint venture by Populous and Jasmax, is the world’s only indoor stadium with a natural grass pitch.

The first major event played here was at the 2011 Rugby World Cup when England took on Argentina in the pool stage. (There had been an A-League soccer match the month before but with limited attendance.) While the match was no classic – the much-favoured England just managed to scrape a 13-9 win – the stadium

itself has since become one. There have been indoor natural grass playing fields before, notably the Astrodome, in the Texan city of Houston. But none has functioned as well as Forsyth Barr. In fact the grass in the Astrodome later had to be replaced with an artificial surface because a lack of sunlight had caused it to wither.

WINTER OLYMPICS To celebrate Populous’s involvement in next year’s Sochi Winter Olympics we bring you stats from the world’s greatest winter sports competition.

Multiple Winter Olympic host nations

Nations with the most Winter Olympic medals



















1924 Austria

Soviet Union 194 Germany













Switzerland 127


East Germany 110




1952 Switzerland



Winter Olympians with 10 or more medals Bjorn Daehlie (Norway) Cross-country skiing

Ole Einar Bjorndalen (Norway) Biathlon





Raisa Smetanina (Soviet Union) Cross-country skiing

10 medals

Stefania Belmondo (Italy) Cross-country skiing

10 medals

Olympians who have won medals in Winter and Summer Olympics Eddie Eagan (USA) Boxing gold 1920; bobsleigh gold 1932

Jacob Thams (Norway) Sailing silver 1936; ski jumping gold 1924

POPULOUS // THE TEAM We are true individuals – innovative, fun and highly creative architects and designers who enjoy working together to give our clients unique design services. Whether it’s bespoke design, sports stadia, entertainment venues or convention centres, we are passionate about everything we do.

Christa Luding (East Germany) Cycling silver 1988; speed skating gold 1984, gold & silver 1988, bronze 1992

Clara Hughes (Canada) Cycling bronze X2 1996; speed skating bronze 2002, gold & silver 2006, bronze 2010

London 14 Blades Court Deodar Rd London SW15 2NU United Kingdom

Kansas City 300 Wyandotte Kansas City MO 64105 USA

Brisbane Ground Floor 418 Adelaide Street Brisbane QLD 4000 Australia

Tel: +44 208 874 7666 Fax: +44 208 874 7470 Email:

Tel: +1 816 221 1500 Fax: +1 816 221 1578 Email:

Tel: +61 7 3839 9155 Fax: +61 7 3839 9188 Email: THE TEAM //



Marlins Park, Miami, USA. Image: Ohad Ben-Yoseph

Populous - Issue 8  

The magazine from Populous, the world's leading sports and entertainment architects.

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