Posted in opinion, Parasport, women in sport on January 18th, 2016 by John Coxon

oscar PISTORIUS medal


South Africa’s National Prosecution Authority (NPA) and now the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) have a vested interest in underplaying the effect of both the country’s unacceptably high intentional and unintentional gun killing statistics and underplaying the rationality of fear of intentional gun crime, a key factor in Oscar Pistorius’s version of events. This despite there being some six million registered guns in a population of sixty million and no doubt the majority choosing to register as the result of fear of crime for personal security reasons.


Alarmingly RSA has the second highest rate of gun-related deaths in the world at 9.4 deaths per 100,000 people, a statistic made worse by the fact that South Africa only has the 16th highest number of guns per 100 people at 12.7. In June 2015 RSA was rated the 8th most violent country in the world, with a violent murder rate of 31 per 100,000 people. Tellingly its annual rate of unintentional shooting deaths per 100,000 of the population is staggering at around 2000.

oscar pistorius at start

Looking at the “judicial” review of Oscar Pistorius’s trial verdict by the SCA on behalf of the NPA, the athlete’s fear of a perceived lethal threat from an intruder was dismissed. Oscar was, we hear, excessively conscious of security and surely that must be related to an increased sense of vulnerability due to his disability (on top of fame and wealth) making him a soft and attractive target and clearly his fears were both rational and understandable  yet the SCA dismissed the athlete’s disability as a factor in his actions that night.

The unintentional tragic killing of Reeva Steenkamp took place in the province of Gauteng. Gauteng, (while national gun death figures are still unacceptably extreme yet slowly decreasing) has a record of gun crime and burglary actually still increasing and, worse,  statistically, is the most dangerous place in the country to live with a staggering 3171 gun deaths recorded between April 2014 and March 2015.

It is clearly a fallacy to presume that without his prosthetics the athlete would be as fearless and confident as he clealry was on track with those blades

It is clearly a fallacy to presume that without his prosthetics the athlete would be as fearless and confident as he clealry was on track with those blades. He is on record to have been constantly anxious, off track, about his personal safety.

Despite living in a relatively secure house in a relatively modest scale gated community with 24-hour guards (very likely not lethally armed guards) he could still did not feel immune from possible attack from a determined armed intruder and routinely kept a lawfully owned firearm at his bedside.

We know too that, because of fear for Reeva’s safety, he had agreed to buy a new very much more secure larger luxury home in Sandton, an affluent suburb of Johannesburg in December 2012 and that is hardly the typical behaviour of a man in an abusive relationship with malicious intent towards his partner.

Despite the prosecution's  unsubstantiated  claims to the contrary ,, no paralympic or able bodied athlete of either gender has ever expressed a view that Oscar was vain, aggressive, dismissive or indeed ever disrespectful to women or in any way a diva.

Despite the prosecution’s unsubstantiated claims to the contrary , no paralympic or able bodied athlete of either gender has ever expressed a view that Oscar was vain, aggressive, dismissive or indeed ever disrespectful of women or in any way a diva.


Las Leonas News -Injury Heartbreak for Carlita

Posted in Argentine Hockey, women in sport on June 25th, 2015 by John Coxon

Carla Rebecchi returned from the World Hockey League in Valencia nursing a serious knee injury which looks likely to put her out of the game for up to three months but will Las Leonas’s now regular use of an innovative portable hyperbaric chamber to aid player recovery also help speed her return to full fitness ? Let’s hope so. las leonas shirt

With a number of talented young débutantes now in the Argentina ( Las Leonas )  squad following the post Olympics departure of a number of experienced players including the amazing Luciana Aymar, getting as much  international experience as possible is of course vital.  But so is the reassuring security and continuity provided by training and playing with  inspirational long-serving key senior  players that remain like Carla.

Carla Rebecchi

As  the promising new squad have weathered the test of the World Hockey League tournament in Valencia recently it is no doubt a  hard blow to find  that their inspirational multi-capped attacking forward, Carla Rebecchi has sustained a serious knee injury which means she will take no part in the next biggie for the team , the Pan American Games, July 13th -25 th. This year it is  to be held in Torronto where they will be hoping to recapture the title from the USA.

But as if , in the match for third and fourth place unluckily failing to beat  the Germans ( in the penalty shoot-out when the two sides drew 1-1 at the end of regular time,) wasn’t hard enough to take ,   ominously the joint leading tournament scorer , ( along with GB’s Sophie Bray), Carla Rebecchi suffered a knee problem that saw her unable to finish the game and her departure, as such a talented attacking forward ,  may have been  critical in the team failing to put that  game to bed in normal time.



This Tuesday past, on arrival back in Argentina with the team, Carla underwent  tests  in the capital to assess the extent of the knee  injury. The Confederación Argentina de Hockey (CAH)  medical staff confirmed later in a  press release  that the Carla has “an osteochondral condition in the loading area of ​​the medial condyle”. ( That essentially is a serious tear in the cartilage of her left knee.)

According to the team doctor  Dr. Javier Lovera, for this kind of  injury to heal requires complete rest from  sports for between  1-3 months depending on how the healing process progresses. As a result Carla will be have no prospect of being  fit to take part in the up and coming Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Please note – This part of my report includes my own translation from a  CAH press release 23/6/2015  in Spanish . The original text  can be found here



Although it is not possible to predict the actual length of time that Carla is going to have to take to make a full recovery this process will very likely be accelerated because   the team doctor and physios have been making regular use of innovative recovery technology which co-incidentally also speeds recovery particularly well with muscle ligament  injuries.

Back in December 2014 the CAH announced that they were the first international  hockey team to implement and make regular  use of a dedicated (highly portable )  hyperbaric chamber mainly to assist players recovery after matches  and first used during the Champions Trophy at Mendoza to aid the squad’s recovery and performance  and as an valuable  addition to the more usual  treatment for the players  with regenerative tasks like ice baths, massage therapy sessions and working with their five dedicated physiotherapists on site.

(“Hyperbaric medicine is based inducing a large increase of the blood oxygen level (Hyperoxia). The oxygen increase is obtained by dissolving this gas in blood plasma, breathing it in high concentrations at an above-normal atmospheric pressure, in chambers specially designed for this purpose. Basically, this process has an anti-inflammatory action and helps tissue regeneration, providing a whole series of benefits to the body and reducing the damage caused by Hypoxia (lack of Oxygen)”      More details of how this process works and benefits to  players can be found in this press release ( place your cursor on the text, right click and select translate into English is you don’t read Spanish !)


You may also like to visit the website of the company who produce and market this innovative medical equipment  used with the Argentina  players  here  REVITALAIR.COM


Las Leonas's #27 defender Noel Barrioneuvo with myself , champion's Trophy press room 2010!

Las Leonas #27 defender Noel Barrioneuvo with myself , Champion’s Trophy press room 2010! ( Image courtesy of my friend & colleague FIH photographer Dr Wolfgang Sternberger )


You may recall that the Las Leonas #27 and drag flick specialist Noey Barrioneuvo suffered a similar injury in the Spring of 2012 in the run up to the Olympics but still travelled to the Riverbank with the squad  when they took part in the four nations Pre-Olympic Invitational . There she watched all the games and supported the team while following specific treatment and an individualised therapy and training programme.





No doubt, because  the coaching and technical staff appreciate the value of senior players being  there to encourage and inspire the talented younger players who are relatively new to the squad , Carla will, I believe ( earnestly hope !)  travel with the squad to Toronto. Of course we are also  used to Carla taking the role of spokesperson for the team for post game interviews / press conferences because of her command of  English & ease with the media.

The Pan Am tournament requires a named squad of 16 (not the 18 required for Valencia) and from that squad Carla but also Sofia Toccalino will not play.  Coach Santiago Capurro confirmed his squad for Toronto earlier todaySofia along with Mariela Scarone, will train with the squad at the Centro Nacional De Alto Rendimiento Deportivo (CENARD) in the Argentine capital  Buenos Aires as reserves.  The squad will resume intensive training together there on July 1st and then fly  to Canada  on the  8th.


Argentina will play in  Group A with Mexico their first opponents Monday 13th July . Later they tackle the hosts on the 15th . The first round ends on Friday 17th when Las Leonas will  take on the Dominican Republic .  (Group B  consists of Chile, Cuba, Uruguay and an ever improving United States in what should no doubt  be a two horse race.

The formidable in nets Belen Succi.

The formidable in nets Belen Succi!

The full squad will be as follows :-

1. Belen Succi (GK)

2. Florence Mutio (GK)

3. Maria del Pilar Romang

4. Noel Barrionuevo

5.  Agustina Habif

6.  Julia Gomes Fantasia

7.  Florence Habif

8. Macarena Rodríguez

9. Rocio Sanchez Moccia

10. Paula Ortiz

11. Josefina Sruoga

12. Jimena Cedres

13. Luciana Molina

14.  Agustina Albertarrio

15. Martina Cavallero

16. Delfina Merino

Reserves –

17.  Sofia Toccalino

18. Mariela Scarone


(my source for squad news and Pan Am Games details is Prensa CAH- originally published on the CAH website  in Spanish 24/06/2015)

ADDENDUM   – Common hockey Injuries ?

Considering the additional demands of the modern game at the highest level in just the last decade or so  particularly in terms of levels of physical fitness and the sheer pace  demanded throughout each game plus usually rigorous virtually full time training most days of the week this inevitably places additional considerable strain on the athletes bodies, especially perhaps the joints. In addition ,  of course the need for players in teams who play the attack minded game  to twist and turn and suddenly accelerate from a standing start (and this on a solid unforgiving surface)  it is remarkable that the number of tear  injuries isn’t far more.

In fact most serious injuries at this level and throughout the game at all levels  are the result of being struck by the ball but the range of potential injuries is actually  broad as this useful factual article from Australian Consultant Physiotherapist John Miller details  for us :-

“Common field hockey injuries 

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