How did AFL chief fare at the top?

“While his blunt and aggressive style has earned him a reputation as a bully among some clubs, he has at least as many admirers in the football industry for his political ability.” Caroline Wilson on Andrew Demetriou in The Age, May 3, 2003.
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The more things change…

When Andrew Demetriou assumed the mantle of top dog at the AFL in late July 2003, Carlton was playing underwhelmingly under a multiple premiership-winning coach, Richmond was flattering to deceive, and Paul Roos was winning rave reviews for lifting a rag-tag bunch of misfit footballers up the ladder.

As the man Kevin Sheedy labelled “Vlad” for his supposed dictatorial qualities exits stage left, it is worth travelling back to that innocent time – before anyone had heard of the MRP, GWS or AOD – and posing the question: Did Demetriou achieve what he set out to do?

A new 2IC

“My first priority is to find a new football operations manager,” the then 42-year-old declared, knowing the value of a capable second-in-command, having been one himself before taking over from Wayne Jackson.

It took Demetriou four months to find his man, a little-known media and sports lawyer named Adrian Anderson. Like the man who eventually replaced him as deputy, Gillon McLachlan, Anderson was a keen amateur football enthusiast. Arriving with little fanfare, he was at times derided for his staunch defence of the match review panel, but he provided doughty service for the best part of a decade. That’s a tick for Vlad.

Grow the game

His next stated aims were to maintain a 16-team competition and promote national growth. While the AFL is no longer a 16-club competition, it has been expansion rather than dreaded contraction that has prevailed. While financial and on-field turmoil inevitably pervade several clubs at any given time, none has ever seriously teetered on the brink of extinction under Demetriou’s watch. Further to this point, when he realised North Melbourne was too stubbornly resolute to be transplanted to the Gold Coast, Demetriou remained undeterred, and oversaw the foundation of 17th and 18th AFL entities. While their current fortunes differ, the Suns and Giants are truly Demetriou’s legacy, and the league has made abundantly clear its determination to promote the long game up north.

Put the fans first with scheduling

In 2003, Demetriou pushed the mantra of fan-first fixturing. “I think [it goes] a long way towards our relationship with our supporters, which is our most important relationship,” Demetriou said. In that respect the CEO leaves the game on a sour note. 2014 is preparing for a tantalising second half of the season, with as many as seven legitimate premiership contendersyet scheduling is a mess.

One of Demetriou’s proudest achievements is doubtless the glut of money he and and McLachlan acquired in the 2011 TV rights deal. Unfortunately though, the balance has not been struck, and even if Demetriou’s predecessor Wayne Jackson scoffed recently at the suggestion that football was becoming a “TV sport”, the end of Demetriou’s tenure has provided little evidence to the contrary.

Keep the bounce

A traditionalist at heart, Demetriou has stayed true to his word and ensured that the centre bounce remained sacrosanct, even if the footy is now tossed up elsewhere around the ground. The Demetriou era also brought about the sensible amendment whereby poor centre bounces are recalled.

Build a bridge with the MCC

It might seem a long time ago now, but back when he took over, one of the urgent issues Demetriou had to address was an impasse with the Melbourne Cricket Club over the contractual sticking point of an MCG final every week in September, even if a non-Victorian club had earned the right to host the game. While it took until 2005 to sort out and arguably cost the Brisbane Lions a fourth consecutive premiership, the issue was eventually sorted.

Fix the broadcasting “black hole” in NSW and Queensland

Back in 2003, footy devotees in the northern states almost invariably had to wait until 10.30 to watch Friday night footy on pay TV, and often even later on free-to-air television. The advent of secondary digital free-to-air channels and a deal with Foxtel ensured that diehards up north are no longer deprived.

To finish: Moments of humour

One thing you couldn’t accuse Demetriou of was not having a sense of humour. Our take on his top-three moments of levity:

1. The 2008 Brownlow night blunder of starting the count in unorthodox manner: by reading out the round two votes before the round one votes.

2. Meat Loaf’s grand final performance, possibly worse even than Port Adelaide’s effort in 2007.

3. Announcing Robin Nahas’ Brownlow votes by bellowing: “R. Naaaaaarhaaaaas.”

And one not so funny moment: Having a laughing fit live on Channel Seven after hearing that a dwarf entertainer had been set on fire by St Kilda players.

Farewell Vlad, we hardly knew ye.

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Does your club strive for success?

The relevance ladder.Bulldogs bite back
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When big AFL clubs are successful they appear even bigger again. When those clubs are not winning they somehow still seem to appear almost as big and interesting.

When small clubs are winning they become interesting. When they start losing they are prone to become invisible. When the team drops, the club falls off the cliff.

The Western Bulldogs have become invisible. St Kilda is fading. This is in part cyclical – they have stopped winning and they have become less relevant – which is why they have agitated successfully for those structural inequities to be addressed at a meeting on Wednesday of club presidents.

The presidents are expected to agree to a raft of measures that will improve equalisation funding arrangements for the poorer clubs.

The invisibility occurs because suddenly no one wants to watch them any more and they are hidden away in graveyard slots on pay TV. The invisibility also occurs when they cease contributing to the football conversation, to the conversation about them, about others, about the game. They stop telling any story let alone their own.

For the Western Bulldogs, the most prominent narrative about the club over the past year has been about the dry but important issue of equalisation. This is clearly a critical argument to have, but it is not the most engaging story to be told at the club. For fans interested in their team, the storyline has been only one of poor club fighting big club.

Plainly, with an articulate and intelligent president in Peter Gordon, who has been at the centre of equalisation negotiations on behalf of the smaller clubs, this was unavoidably the case. Gordon has given the Dogs a voice in the debate among presidents, and on radio slots and in the broad footy debate that they have needed.

The Dogs have a quiet and measured coach, a captain of a similar, understated approach, but no football manager to talk on football matters. Consequently, there is no one contributing to the conversation about the Bulldogs.

This is not said to criticise coach Brendan McCartney or captain Ryan Griffen, both of whom are good people doing good jobs. But as a club, one senior person in football must be comfortable to contribute to the football discussion to retain some traction in the market and give fans some reason to engage with the club. Bob Murphy, through his columns in The Age and on pay TV, is the most visible Dog.

The Saints have remained more prominent in a football conversation because of the change and unrest that has gone on there in the past 12 months. This, though, has not always been the narrative the club has liked, or needed, about itself.

The newspaper coverage of the Victorian clubs this season tells part of a tale. The Western Bulldogs have appeared on the back pages of The Age or the Herald Sun with a story or a picture fewer times than any other Victorian club. Indeed, if that is broadened to all clubs, Gold Coast has featured on the back pages more often (courtesy, admittedly, of having the best player in the game at the club). The Bulldogs obviously do not make those decisions, but it is neither conspiracy nor coincidence that it is the case.

The Sweeney Sports Report, the authoritative sports marketing analysis used by advertisers and sponsors to measure performance and market penetration of sports and clubs, uses Australian Bureau of Statistics-weighted market surveys to assess the market. It found that of people across Australia who admitted to following AFL as their preferred sport, the Bulldogs were ranked lower than the Gold Coast and above only Greater Western Sydney.

When that filter was refined to AFL followers in Victoria alone, North Melbourne was the least supported team below Melbourne, then the Bulldogs and the Saints. Collingwood and Geelong were equal on top, with Hawthorn next.

These figures are largely unsurprising as they reflect the structural issues that the presidents will be discussing on Wednesday. But sports marketing and communications company Team Epic said the clubs fluctuated in their level of awareness in the market separate to their on-field form, and that their levels of engagement with their members was important in this.

According to sports marketing expert Ben Crowe, who left sports marketing company Gemba this week to launch a new digital sports story website, Unscriptd, the failure to tell your own story was a slippery slope in the sports market.

”If your story does not get told you become irrelevant in the marketplace very quickly and that is the biggest fear any brand has,” said Crowe, who has written business plans for several AFL clubs..

“If you construct a business where you rely on the idea that winning games and on-field success is the only story you have to tell, that is a very fragile approach.”

Crowe said any football club had three stages: success, hope and despair. Only one club a year was able to win the flag, so the idea of selling the club on the basis of success was a wafer-thin approach. Hope was the market all clubs essentially wished to occupy. Despair was nobody’s idea of a place to be.

“Your story does not just have to be about on-field success,” he said. “In fact, you probably do not want to tie your story to what is happening on the field.”

Regardless, a club has to be the one telling that story and you can’t stop talking because your club is not winning.

“Great brands do not make you feel good about the brand, they make you feel good about yourself, and so you want to associate with that brand. That is what sporting clubs do,” Crowe said.

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TOPICS: Sabre Norris shows world how to flip script

SHARP: Olympic swimmer Justin Norris’s daughter Sabre is a hit on YouTube. Picture: Marina NeilWHETHER skating works out or not, nine-year-old prodigy Sabre Norris has a future in broadcasting.
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The daughter of Olympic swimming medallist Justin Norris made national news this week when YouTube footage emerged of her landing a 540 on a skate ramp.

Which makes her just the third female in the world to complete the trick. Topics could barely do it in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on Xbox.

Equally impressive is Sabre’s gift of the gab; she gives better quotes than your average NRL coach.

The pint-sized star told us she practised for a month and felt like giving up. But then . . .

“I could’ve taken the ordinary path and could’ve gave up. Or I could take the champion path, and that was to keep going.”

Blimey. Sabre hopes her sport makes the 2020 Olympics because her dad discovered that the athletes in Sydney got access to an all-you-can-eat buffet.

He got through 97 nuggets, falling ill just short of a sparkling hundred.

“He still ate the last three,” added Sabre.

The advice for skaters her age is to be positive and believe you can do it.

“But don’t get angry, or the rail will get you,” she warns.

“You’ll get hurt.”

The video of the 540 had nearly a million online views at the time of writing. Sabre’s next big trick is the “McTwist”, which is what she just did but upside down.

Snubbed Newcastle The Voice contestant Emily Rex.

ARE we just paranoid, or was The Voice’s snub of two Newcastle singers a kick in the guts?

The family of Cooranbong’s Emily Rex, 25, were fuming that her battle with fellow Team Will hopeful Chita Henneberry didn’t make Monday night’s episode.

Social media was onto it – one tweet, “Wtf? Where is Emily Rex?”, summed it up.

A family member, who asked not to be named, said the Nine show had ample opportunity to show the performances of Emily and Elise Baker, 20, also from Newcastle.

“The fact is the battle rounds were recorded in late February, so they’ve had three months to tweak the show to ensure all contestants are featured,” said the family member.

“Aren’t we good enough for national television? I feel it is not only a personal insult to the girls but an insult to the Hunter region in general, as if we’re just a pack of coalminers.”

The family said Rex and Baker, both eliminated, were bumped to make way for performances by pop starlet Katy Perry and country singer Keith Urban.

Voice executive producer Adrian Swift told Topics he’s lived in Newcastle, and the call to edit out Rex was “an arrow through the heart” for him.

“We make every attempt to show [contestants], but we don’t guarantee for exactly these reasons,” said Swift.

“These things happen in television, and it’s the nature of television.”

Rex’s family say they get the constraints of TV, but Emily was robbed of “her moment”.

Ashley Giles , Iberian overlord. (maybe)

WE never get sick of this story, and the sudden abdication of Spanish king Juan Carlos is just an excuse to retell it.

In the early 2000s, England cricketer Ashley Giles was honoured with a series of souvenir mugs.

“Ashley Giles: King of Spin,” they were meant to say.

And the mugs sold well. Too well. Turned out, a manufacturer’s typo had immortalised the spinner as the “King of Spain”.

Some observed, harshly, that the England left-armer had a better chance of turning out to be the Spanish monarch.

“Juan Carlos’ abdication at last means Ashley Giles formally recognised as King of Spain,” noted someone on our Twitter this week.

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Ex-bishop Michael Malone says evidence misinterpreted

Former Maitland-Newcastle bishop Michael Malone.FORMER Maitland-Newcastle bishop Michael Malone says the inquiry into the Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse cases had misinterpreted some of his evidence.
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Bishop Malone, who served as the Hunter’s most senior Catholic figure from 1995 to 2011, was one of those criticised by Commissioner Margaret Cunneen, who handed down her findings on Friday.

In his evidence to the inquiry, Bishop Malone said that in 2002 the diocese had a file on paedophile priest Denis McAlinden ‘‘so big you couldn’t jump over it’’.

Ms Cunneen ruled that Bishop Malone failed to report McAlinden to police at any stage between 1995 and August 1999. When he handed information to police about allegations made by two victims that year, he withheld similar allegations from another two victims. He was also found to have altered a diary entry ‘‘with the intention of creating a false record to support his version of events’’.

In a statement yesterday, Bishop Malone said he was standing by his evidence and was ‘‘disappointed that the commission has chosen to interpret some matters differently from myself’’.

He said he learned of the diocese’s ‘‘troubled state’’ on his appointment as bishop.

‘‘Immediately on my appointment a priest was arrested, charged with child sexual abuse and jailed.

‘‘This was followed by a number of offenders, at least two of whom were sentenced to jail.

‘‘At the outset I was an inexperienced bishop who revealed his lack of experience in sometimes hesitant and indecisive ways. I felt torn between wanting to support the unfortunate victims of abuse and protecting the reputation of the Catholic Church.’’

He agreed, however, that the commission had rightly shone a light on the diocese’s ‘‘toxic’’ history.

‘‘I renew my deep regret and sorrow that too many innocent people were hurt in that time when we failed to effectively intervene and consequently allowed abuse to continue,’’ he said.

‘‘It takes a big effort to turn a culture around, but I am confident that change had begun in my time, is continuing under Bishop Wright and this report will continue that process.’’

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Catholic Bishop Bill Wright on Church’sshame, regret: poll

BURDEN: Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright carries the heavy weight of a shamed Church. Picture: Jonathan CarrollTHE Hunter’s most senior Catholic has spoken of the shame and ‘‘tremendous regret’’ created by some of his predecessors, but the Church is yet to take any disciplinary action against any of those still alive.
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Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright became a willing but heavily burdened face of the Church on Tuesdaywhen he issued a public response to the special commission of inquiry’s findings that during their time in the diocese, at least seven senior clergy had played a role in covering up the abuse by paedophile priests Denis McAlinden and James Fletcher.

Bishop Wright, who assumed his role only three years ago, acknowledged that his diocese carried a dark history, a ‘‘sad and sorry story of which we can only be ashamed’’.

The commission found that Monsignor Allan Hart and Father William Burston were ‘‘unsatisfactory’’ witnesses and provided ‘‘inconsistent’’ evidence. It also found that Bishop Leo Clarke (now deceased), Monsignor Patrick Cotter, Father Brian Lucas and most recent bishop Michael Malone knew of McAlinden and Fletcher’s offending but failed to notify police and, in some cases, covered up the crimes.

The commission has also referred a senior member of the Church to the Department of Public Prosecutions, but the Newcastle Herald is not yet able to identify the person.

Bishop Wright revealed yesterday that he had asked Monsignor Hart and Father Burston to stand aside from ‘‘any of the official structures of the diocese that advise me’’.

But they will remain in their parishes, he said, because they ‘‘are both very senior men and they are both very well regarded in most respects’’.

There has been no action taken by the broader Catholic Church.

Father Brian Lucas is the currentsecretary-general of theAustralian Bishops Conference.

Bishop Wright noted that his predecessor Malone was instrumental in establishing victim support network Zimmerman Services and was among the ‘‘good people … who give great strength to me’’.

– Bishop Bill Wright

The commission, however, found that while Bishop Malone was the first senior Hunter Catholic to co-operate with police investigations, he was selective in what information he gave them and had deliberately altered a diary entry ‘‘with the intention of creating a false record to support his version of events’’.

Bishop Wright, though, made no defence of ‘‘the failings of our diocese’s former leaders’’ and offered genuine concern for victims and their families.

‘‘It is an appalling story, first of all because many children have been abused, but secondly because it details senior figures in this Church … that were aware at least in part of the offending behaviour of McAlinden around their time, and yet he was never stopped,’’ Bishop Wright said.

‘‘Various efforts that were made to do something about him were ineffective to say the least and were driven by a concern to prevent scandal, or protect the Church’s reputation, and the needs of the victims often ran a very poor second to that.

‘‘Throughout all those decades it’s a sad and sorry story of which we can only be ashamed.’’

He also warned that investigations are ongoing and may reveal even darker days ahead for the Church. The royal commission, he said, ‘‘may in time take an interest in Maitland-Newcastle as well’’, while Strike Force Lantle, the police investigation launched after the Herald revealed the extent of child sexual abuse cover-ups within the Church, was ongoing.

He said the diocese will continue to analyse the commission’s findings for ways in which to improve practices as well as improve services to ‘‘survivors’’ of clergy abuse.

‘‘I also feel a sense of hope,’’ he said, ‘‘based on the fundamental goodness of people, the enduring strength of our Catholic faith and our capacity as a community to learn from our past failings and rise above them.

‘‘Our diocese continues to invest significant resources into systems and personnel designed to protect our children and work with those who have been harmed, to explore new pathways towards healing.’’

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Council’s hardship policy questioned by single mum

Karen Graham of Metford has been told she can’t pay her rates on her own fortnightly schedule, despite Maitland Council having a hardship policy. Picture Dean Osland​Maitland, Cessnock, Singleton to get hefty rate rises
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A METFORD single mother has questioned Maitland City Council’s desire to help ratepayers experiencing financial hardship after she was not allowed to pay her rates fortnightly.

Karen Graham says she has repeatedly contacted the council to try to pay her rates every two weeks, but was told by staff that she could not pay on the fortnight she wanted.

Ms Graham said she explained to the staff that her energy and water providers quickly adapted her payment schedule.

Council corporate services executive manager Graeme Tolhurst said the finance system was limited to accepting fortnightly payments every second Friday – an issue that would be fixed when a new finance system was installed in July 2015.

He said ratepayers could use BPAY through their bank to set up periodic payments for council rates on whatever cycle they chose.

Ms Graham has dismissed this response, saying it was another example of council fobbing her off.

She said she was entitled to a discount on her rates under the hardship policy because she received a Centrelink payment, but the council was also refusing to accept her eligibility.

The Metford mother of two is critical of the council’s rate rise.

Her rates are $1386 a year, which is similar to what her mother pays for a block overlooking the water at Lake Macquarie.

‘‘How are people in Metford, which is traditionally a low income area, going to afford that?’’ she said.

‘‘Metford is a place where young families can get into the housing market, but this rate rise will force them out.

‘‘I know I won’t be able to afford it.’’

Mr Tolhurst said the council’s hardship policy was available online and it existed to help ratepayers in need.

‘‘Council encourages anyone wishing to set up periodic payment of rates to speak to Council’s rates department about the different options available to them,’’ he said.

‘‘Council’s rates staff can also have a confidential discussion about the hardship policy and a ratepayers individual circumstances.’’

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Maitland, Cessnock, Singleton to get hefty rate rises

MAITLAND – one of the council areas that has been approved to ask a hefty rate rise. Council’s hardship policy questioned by single mum
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THREE Hunter councils have won approval for bigger than normal rate increases – with Maitland City Council securing a massive seven-year rise.

Maitland, Cessnock and Singleton councils will introduce their new rates from June this year.

Maitland ratepayers will be hit with seven consecutive increases of 7.25 per cent a year from 2014-15 to 2020-21.

A 9.6 per cent rate rise will occur in Cessnock and a 7.3 per cent increase in Singleton in 2014-15.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal approved the rate rises, which include the rate cap, as permanent.

Some residents opposed the increases, amid concern about councils wasting money and anger that rates would rise above the rate of wage and pension rises.

Tribunal chairman Peter Boxall said the councils had demonstrated ‘‘a clear need for the additional revenue’’ and ‘‘steps to improve productivity and contain costs’’.

Dr Boxall said the tribunal had considered ‘‘the capacity and willingness of ratepayers to pay the requested increases’’.

Maitland will gain an extra $61.2 million above the rate peg over seven years.

The money will be used for capital works, including improvements to roads and community assets.

Extra costs for Maitland residents over seven years would range from $671 to $1080, the tribunal said.

Woodberry’s Jim Crethary, one of 27 residents to make a submission to the tribunal, said he was surprised the council received such a big rise.

‘‘That’s a noose around a lot of people’s necks,’’ Mr Crethary said.

Dr Boxall said the council had ‘‘the discretion not to apply the full increase in any of the next seven years’’ to reduce the effect on ratepayers.

Only four residents sent submissions to the tribunal for Cessnock council’s rate application, with concerns including the ability of pensioners and the unemployed to afford the rise.

‘‘Most incomes in our area would only have increased at the inflation rate, so that should be the rate increase for the council as well,’’ one submission said.

Cessnock will secure an extra $24.8 million over 10 years for road upgrades, Dr Boxall said.

Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent said the effect on Cessnock ratepayers, with an average rise of $39 for residents, would be modest because it would replace an increase charged previously for roads.

Singleton council will receive an extra $8 million above the rate peg over the next decade for road improvements, with extra costs for residents ranging from $3 to $79 a year.

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‘Paleo’ running: the athlete’s foot?

Photo: Geber86Do our ancestors know best when it comes to our footwear as well as our food?A new study provides compelling evidence that going back to the way our ancestors ran – barefoot – can be beneficial.Called the Barefoot Running Project, the study is a collaboration between Osteopathy Australia, sport’s performance consultants BAT Logic, ISEAL and the Victoria University. It explores the effect of footwear and foot-strike on our bodies.”This has never been done before and we have a large testing population which includes an AFL team [and] a number of track and field athletes as well,” says Ed Wittich, an elite performance consultant involved with the study.He says whilst the research is still preliminary, the results are proving positive for the barefoot running/minimalist movement.Using sensors to test stability and impact on the athletes’ bodies while running in various shoes, they have found that “controlling the centre of mass (COM) is critical”.Barefoot running, it seems, has the least impact on COM. When we are barefoot or wearing lightweight shoes, we are more likely to land at the middle or front of the foot.”Forefoot strikers are better at controlling the COM and likely better at agility movements in running due to the COM but we are studying this further with relation to barefoot training effects as well,” Wittich says.Additionally, he says barefoot athletes had more natural shoulder motion when they ran.”This could be a positive for shoulder rehab.”While the results suggest barefoot or minimalist running might be considered a form of treatment and/or rehab, he cautions that those who have not attempted it before show “higher ground-reaction forces”. Cushioned shoes less ‘natural’?Cushioned running shoes are a fairly recent phenomenon, and have only become popular in the past 40 years. When people run in them they tend to strike the ground with their heel first. The impact from the heel reverberates up through the knee.It has been argued that the heel-strike is unnatural and that our shoes, which are there to be a buffer and protect us, may be causing one of the most common sport’s injuries, the aptly named runner’s knee.Unsurprisingly, then, along with the return of the “Paleo” diet has been a move towards a more “natural” way with our footwear too.Hitting the ground at the front of the foot sends the echo of impact sharply back through the ankle, but has long been considered the more natural style.Certainly, when we are in full flight, our whole bodies driving forward, we come onto the ball of the foot. The world’s top sprinters run on their toes.”The role of the foot changes in jogging versus sprinting and so do the muscles and forces involved, even down to the microscopic ways muscles may fire,” Wittich says.To test it is more “natural”, researchers looked to long-distance athletes; athletes who are running rather than necessarily sprinting. They studied the techniques of various African villagers who are renowned as being world-class runners or who come from a culture of running long distances on a daily basis.Some ran with a mid or forefoot strike. Others led with their heel.It was concluded that both styles were “natural”. The running shoes couldn’t be blamed. Necessarily.Shoes: style over substanceThe shoes helping to prevent injury in one person could well create them in the next.Recent studies have found that the forefoot strike, while less likely to lead to knee injuries, increased the likelihood of ankle and Achilles problems.Those who suffer ankle or foot issues might find something more supportive helpful. “There are certainly times where a transition to barefoot or minimalist running may not be advised,” Wittich says.Shoes that provide cushioning for shock absorption and extra support for stability, however, may not help those with a tendency to knee trouble. They may increase the likelihood of injury.This research came with the caveat that if you were changing, particularly to minimal, you should do so slowly to give the new muscles, creating support where the shoe once had, a chance to build up.You may still have to work on the strike of your foot too.This back-to-basics approach, therefore, may not just be about the substance of your footwear, but your style too.In the meantime, the Barefoot Running Project continues.They intend to publish two separate articles on the basis of their research: the lumbo-pelvic effects of barefoot running, and the thoracic spine effects of barefoot running. “We want to link these findings to posture and breathing mechanics which may further influence performance and injury,” Wittich says.According to the research they are conducting, Wittich says running injury is related to: 1) The position of the limb during foot strike.2) How the limb responds following foot strike.3) The state of the biological tissue (muscles/tendons etc) and its ability to respond toloading stresses.4) The body needs to be good at making subtle variations to minimise fatigue and overuse. “There will not be a definitive conclusion until all of the above four issues can be linked to one particular shoe,” Wittich says. “Barefoot running has support because in the long-term, it seems to encourage a foot-strike pattern that will eventually facilitate a desirable set of movement solutions that optimise running performance, but also promote long-term health of the lower-limb – and possibly upper body – structures.”However, in the short-term transition period, the bone structures of the foot will experience unfamiliar stressors, compounded upon by their frequency because of a limited set of adaptable movement solutions that have yet to be learnt by the athlete. The question is: can a shoe protect the foot and also provide desirable movement solutions?”
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Ben Te’o to leave South Sydney at end of NRL season

South Sydney forward Ben Te’o has confirmed he won’t be at the Rabbitohs next year, telling his teammates of his decision to leave the club at the end of this season.
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There has been speculation about Te’o’s future in recent months, linking the Queensland Origin representative to a potential code switch to play rugby union. While it’s unclear where the former Brisbane back-rower will end up next year, he finally admitted he won’t be at the Bunnies.

Following his side’s 29-10 win against the Dragons on Monday night, Te’o admitted his teammates are aware that he won’t be at the club beyond the end of this season. “They know,” he said.

“I didn’t make an announcement or anything like that but they know [I won’t be here]. I’m just going through some things with my manager. I’m pretty close with most of the boys, but that’s just the way it is. It’s always business.”

Te’o had an option in his contract to remain at Souths next year, but has decided against taking up a third season. He’s been linked to European rugby, as well as other clubs in the NRL, but wouldn’t reveal the details of his plans, adamant he wanted negotiations to remain private.

“All the stuff that has come out is not from me,” Te’o said. “My management hasn’t released anything, I haven’t released anything, so everything out there is a rumour. I’ve heard so many different things tossed up. I’m just trying to go through my negotiations privately. I’m not trying to make a big deal out of it. I’m not trying to string anyone along.

“I do enjoy [rugby league]. I’m getting older now [27], so I’m just trying to figure out what’s best for me and which direction I want to go. There are still some good clubs out there that are still interested.”

It is understood Te’o might wait until after the Origin series before announcing a new deal, insisting there was no rush to finalise his future.

“You’d love to get it done early but it’s just not the way things work,” Te’o said. “I can’t control those things. All I can do is play footy and let my manager sort it out. I’d love to get it sorted out soon but it just doesn’t work like that.”

It comes as Te’o’s South Sydney teammate Dylan Walker has been floated as a potential bolter for the Blues centre position vacated by Josh Morris (knee injury) in game one. If Walker was to earn a surprise call-up, he’d likely mark up against Rabbitohs teammate and mentor Greg Inglis.

“Up at the cafe sitting next to him last year I was a bit tentative,” Walker said. “But it’s been pretty awesome now that I can speak to him and he can speak to me with respect. He really gets involved with the young players in the squad. I just left school [last year] and was training with the big boys. Obviously when you’re at school and watching players like Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess and John Sutton, they’re superstars of the game and it’s pretty daunting.

“When we sit down and talk he always talks about backing myself and backing my ability. I take on board how he is as a person off the field. I take it on board. He is very kind, good with the fans and people in general. He treats everyone with respect. That would be pretty hard [tackling him]. He’s a big boy. Just that big right fend. He is a great player. He has done it all before for Queensland and Australia. He is a great player and he will be around for a long time.”

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Lithgow GP Leonie Geldenhuys victim of suspected murder-suicide

Full coverage: Shine a Light
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A respected Lithgow doctor who was found dead in her home by her teenage sons was killed by her husband in a suspected murder-suicide, police believe.

Leonie Geldenhuys’ two sons, aged 13 and 18, woke on Tuesday morning to find their 46 year-old mother fatally stabbed in their Wrights Road home.

The body of her 54-year-old husband, also a doctor, was found on Tuesday afternoon at a property on Wolgan Valley Road, Wolgan Valley.

Police said they were not treating his death as suspicious.

Lithgow Valley Medical Practice manager Nikki Baraz said Dr Geldenhuys was “the most beautiful person you could ever wish to meet”.

The 46 year-old GP migrated from South Africa with her family six years ago in search of a better life.

Dr Geldenhuys had become a well-known and respected doctor in the community and her two sons are high-achievers at a local high school.

Tragically, she came to the regional NSW town believing it would be more secure than her homeland, Ms Baraz said.

“She was, I believe, the best mother and the most compassionate doctor,” Ms Baraz said. “She was the whole package – lovely, smiley, always happy. She was always punctual, always pleasant. She will be irreplaceable.”

She said her colleagues were in disbelief “to see her go in the way she did”.

“It is tragic and so unexpected,” she said.

Homicide Squad detectives are investigating the death and will prepare a report for the coroner.

Detective Inspector Luke Rankin said the couple’s teenage sons were being looked after and were “obviously traumatised and I suppose unimaginably traumatised finding their mother deceased”.

“Then as the day’s gone on we’ve had to inform them that their father’s also been found dead,” Inspector Rankin said.

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