A sports-mad Welshman, who is embarking on a year-long odyssey to watch 365 different sporting events around the globe, freely admits he’s also a little bit mad in other departments too.
Kieren Blake, a former Welsh international cricketer, and friend Rob Bryers, are currently on day 53 of their epic ‘365 Days of Sport’ journey.
The duo are in Spain today enjoying a spot of Valencian pilota (a variant of handball) following a whirlwind three-week tour of activities on offer in the UAE.
Blake and career musician Bryers were treated to a smorgasbord of sporting treats during their stay in the Emirates, taking in the action at the World Air Games, Formula 1 Powerboat World Championship, Dubai World Superseries Finals and the Women’s World 10-Pin Bowling Championships.
They also enjoyed a weekend at the Dubai Rugby Sevens as well as attending the Etihad Airway Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.
“The Sevens is the sporting event we most enjoyed,” the 41-year-old Blake told Sport360. “Rob’s a Kiwi and I’m Welsh so we definitely enjoyed that. I can safely say it is one of the best atmospheres in world sport. The organisers put on a fantastic show.
“Apart from that the UAE’s been unbelievable. At the Formula One, Rob had a contact in Red Bull and we spent a couple of hours with Daniel Ricciardo. He was very accommodating and friendly.
“It’s amazing for us because we’re just two guys travelling the world so for them to greet us with open arms is amazing. We have loved being in the UAE. We saw 24 different sports in 20 days by the time we left.”
Blake moved to Australia from his native Newport in south Wales in 1996 to pursue his sporting dreams, and it was while living on the Gold Coast that he first dreamt up the wonderfully crazy idea to tour the world to watch as many sporting events as possible.
He started seriously researching the topic three years ago and, in October this year, he quit his job selling astroturf in Melbourne to embark on the trip of a lifetime.
Blake and Bryers, 35, began their world tour on October 24 by watching speedway in Melbourne and they will end it on October 22, 2016, in England, with crazy golf.
In between they will crisscross the globe, visiting Tobago, Mongolia, Vietnam, Japan, Colombia and Hawaii among others to take in the beauty of some of the world’s greatest sporting events, including next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.
Aside from that there will also be the bizarre, such as sheepdog trials, underwater rugby, coffin races, bog snorkelling, Christmas tree throwing, ice turkey bowling and chainsaw racing.
“I’m a little bid mad. Yeah, totally. We get the same thing everywhere we go,” Blake added. “I didn’t tell many people about it originally, then three years ago I thought right, I’m going to do this. If I don’t I’ll just regret it.”
There will be some changes to the schedule as the tour unfolds, but Blake and Bryers are happy to roll with the punches. After every event the duo record their own show to document the day’s activities.
“The show is always positive and light-hearted. We’re there to encourage participation and shed a bit of light on sports you’ve probably never come across,” he said.
“We’re not doing the same thing twice, which really helps, and we meet so many different people.”
The tough-as-teak centre-back has made a name for himself as an astute defender for Premier League club Liverpool and as captain of the Slovakian national team.
Skrtel, who turns 31 today, previously played for Trencin and Zenit St. Petersburg, joined Liverpool for £6.5 million (Dh36m) in January 2008.
There he steadily established himself in the Reds set up and on April 10, 2012, Skrtel captained Liverpool for the first time in the league, leading his club to a 3–2 win over Blackburn.
He has won the Russian Premier League and the English League Cup, as well as being named Slovak Footballer of the Year four times.
Since making his international debut for Slovakia in 2004, Skrtel has earned over 75 caps and represented the country at the 2010 World Cup and will be part of the side for the forthcoming European Championships.
1951: Joe Jordan, Scottish former striker and manager who played for Manchester United (64).
1966: Carl Hooper, former West Indies captain who scored 20 international centuries (49).
1981: Roman Pavlyuchenko, Russia and Kuban Krasnodar striker, formerly of Tottenham (34).
1983: Delon Armitage, Toulon’s ex-England full-back. A twotime European Cup winner (32).
It was an emotional Test for the Indians. They took on England in Chennai just three weeks after terrorist strikes in Mumbai had threatened to derail the tour.
In the match, England held the upper hand for most parts, scoring more than 300 in both innings and setting India a target of 387 in four sessions.
Opener Virender Sehwag set the match up beautifully, carving 83 off 68 balls that left the Indians needing 256 on the final day.
Sachin Tendulkar then took the match by the scruff of the neck, smashing a scintillating century (103 not out off 196 balls) as he teamed up with Yuvraj Singh (85) to help India record the fourth highest chase in Test history.
1973: Sandy Hawley becomes first jockey to win 500 races in one year.
1982: England beat Luxembourg 9-0 in a European Championship qualifier, at the time a record score in the tournament.
2005: Celtic complete the signing of Roy Keane, who had been released from his Manchester United contract.
2009: India eke out a three-run win in the Rajkot ODI against Sri Lanka. India amassed 414 and the target was almost chased down by the visitors with Tillakaratne Dilshan hitting a 124-ball 160.