HUNTER HEALTH KICK: Couple kick on

CHANGED: Carmel Loughland and Michael Daley. Picture: Dean OslandA YEAR after they began the Hunter Health Kick that helped them shed a combined total of nearly 40 kilograms, Michael Daley and Carmel Loughland are ready to roll again.

The 10-week campaign is a familiar adventure for the pair after the 2014 edition began a year of new ones and an entirely new lifestyle for the Georgetown couple.

Mr Daley, who estimates he has lost about 17 kilograms in the past year, said the Newcastle Herald campaign delivered a guide on how to become healthier at the moment he and his wife decided to make a change.

Please enable Javascript to watch this video‘‘It came along at a perfect time for us, and we were looking for something,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve changed our life basically in the last year.’’

Dr Loughland said the past 12 months had been a matter of sticking to the habits formed through the Hunter Health Kick, including regularly pounding the pavement in the free Newcastle Parkrun on Saturday mornings.

But the fortitude to stay strong enough to shed about 22 kilograms came from a simple mental change to looking at things positively, she said.

‘‘We always ate well I think but in the past we’d always be looking at what to cut,’’ Dr Loughland said.

‘‘The change for us was really about what we could introduce, what we could have instead of what we had to take away, so it wasn’t about deprivation.’’

Dr Loughland said while she occasionally has a ‘‘a be kind to Carmel day’’ when she can’t face her regime, the trick is in getting back into it after a rejuvenating rest.

She said wearing her Hunter Health Kick gear on the track also helped, often turning strangers she passed into a support network cheering her on.

‘‘I don’t know those people [I see when running] but I had their back and they had mine,’’ she said.

‘‘I feel like a new person, it’s given me a lot more confidence and I feel happier in my own skin.’’

While both plan to lose more weight, Mr Daley said exercising more and eating ‘‘cleaner and greener’’ had helped them enjoy more aspects of their lives.

‘‘Once you start doing it, you meet other people who are doing it and they become a new circle of friends,’’ Mr Daley said.

‘‘Definitely give it a go, put your heart and soul into it and you will reap the benefits.’’

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Sebastian Coe dodges walker drug claims

Reticent: Sebastian Coe declined to comment on Russian doping scandals. Photo: Brendan EspositoIAAF vice-president Sebastian Coe has refused to be drawn on Australian concerns about widespread doping in Russia which had denied Australians medals at world and Olympic games.

Russia is confronting two doping scandals – one the wide-spread doping among race walkers after five more walkers were recently banned for doping, including those who had beaten Jared Talent into first place and denied him a gold medal.

Australia has protested to the IAAF about the situation with Russian race walkers and has raised the matter at the Oceania Area Congress on the Gold Coast.

Athletics Australia president David Grace has queried whether the Russian city of Cheboksary remains the appropriate host of the next two World Race Walking Cups.

Coe would not comment on that approach. He said only that athletics was the most drug-tested sport in the world and, consequently, with more tests came more positive results.

Now Russia and the IAAF are facing a far bigger doping scandal with the son of IAAF president Lamine Diack forced to stand down from IAAF roles and the president of the Russian athletics federation also forced to step aside amid allegations that authorities helped Russian athletes avoid doping bans in return for cash.

Papa Massata Diack, an IAAF marketing consultant, and Valentin Balakhnichev, the president of the Russian athletics federation and the IAAF’s treasurer, both stood down in December as an investigation is undertaken into the claims.

Three documentaries broadcast on German television station ARD alleged150 athletes between 2006 and 2008 recorded suspicious blood samples but were not subsequently target-tested.

Further it was claimed that prominent Russian athletes had paid large amounts of money to avoid doping bans.

It has further been alleged that Papa Massata Diack, who holds the marketing rights for the IAAF for some countries, had tried to obtain a payment of $US5 million ($6.4 million) during Doha’s bid for the 2017 world championships.

“These are all allegations and they are being investigated,” Coe said.

“We have an ethics committee looking at it, an ethics committee which I was in large part instrumental in putting together, and given we are into that process it would be wrong of me to make comment.

“There is also a supplementary review by WADA.”

Coe has long advocated that there needs to be full independent testing of athletes under a wholly independent system.

Separately Coe acknowledged the two reports conducted into Athletics Australia after the Commonwealth Games athletics fiasco, which culminated in coach Eric Hollingsworth being sent home, but said AA was on the correct path.

“I know [AA president] David Grace very well and I think he has a coherent vision for where the sport can go and I am not always sure that has been as present as it should have been in the last decade,” Coe said in apparent reference to Grace’s predecessor as president, Rob Fildes.

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Premier Mike Baird backs his ‘mate’ Tony Abbott in leadership battle

“Mates”: NSW Premier Mike Baird and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Daniel MunozNSW Premier Mike Baird has backed his “mate”, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, ahead of a potential leadership spill when the federal Liberal party room meets on Tuesday.

Mr Baird said people had criticised and underestimated Mr Abbott his entire career, including his ability to lead the Liberals, be an effective Opposition Leader and then become Prime Minister.

“All along the way he has proven his doubters wrong,” Mr Baird said. “My hope is that that’s exactly what he does. That, despite the current circumstances, he proves the doubters wrong.”

Mr Baird was speaking on Friday amid speculation about Mr Abbott’s leadership, shortly before Western Australian Liberal MP Luke Simpkins announced he would put forward a motion to spill the position at Tuesday’s party room meeting in Canberra.

Asked if he backed Mr Abbott, Mr Baird said: “Tony and I are mates. In that sort of context I obviously feel for him being in a difficult position at the moment.”

However, Mr Baird was quick to point out that despite their closeness, he and Mr Abbott had their policy differences.

“Not least of which is health funding, which is in the current state unsustainable,” he said. “The burden of health funding that has been shifted to the states in the last federal budget [is] something that needs to be rectified.”

In last year’s federal budget, Treasurer Joe Hockey announced $2 billion would be cut from funding to health and education in NSW over the next four years.

At the time NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance said the state was being asked to find an extra $1.2 billion in health funding alone.

Labor is likely to attack the NSW Coalition in the leadup to the March 28 state election over its failure to convince its federal colleagues to reverse the cuts.

Following the disastrous Queensland election result for the Liberal National Party, there has been speculation about how the plight of the Abbott government would effect the NSW poll.

Mr Baird conceded Mr Abbott’s unpopularity was “something that is obviously generating interest both in media and across the community”.

“My job is to focus on what we are managing and responsible for,” he said. “And I strongly believe that’s where the election will be fought.”

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Caleb Ewan claims stage two to make it a pair on the trot for Orica-GreenEDGE

Man of the moment: Caleb Ewan celebrates after winning Friday’s stage. Photo: Tony PrytzOrica-GreenEDGE has rebounded royally from a lean summer by claiming two victories in two days after Caleb Ewan notched his maiden UCI stage win in the first season he has started as a professional.

Through a winless national championships, barren Tour Down Under and yet another runner-up placing in last week’s Cadel Evans one-day race, Australia’s only World Tour team – clearly missing an injured Simon Gerrans – found itself settling for second best again earlier this week in the prologue of the Jayco Herald-Sun Tour.

Cameron Meyer put an end to the trend with a breakthrough opening stage win on Thursday. Then, with 20-year-old Ewan following suit less than 24 hours later after negotiating an eventful bunch sprint finish into Nagambie, suddenly it seemed winning had become infectious. Meyer was even bold enough to forecast a trifecta, nominating Ewan as the man to beat in Saturday’s third stage.

A crash ruined the day of Drapac speedster Brenton Jones, who left the course in an ambulance rattled and bloodied, after tangling with Sam Witmitz (Budget Forklifts and third in the stage) while travelling an estimated 70km/h within metres of the finish line.

But things could not have gone better for Orica-GreenEDGE on the 118km route that left Meyer on top of the general classification with a four-second buffer.

The race was ridden aggressively – cyclists including multiple world track champion Meyer and young gun Ewan remarked on how stressful the frenetic early attacks had felt – soon after leaving Bendigo.

American Tyler Farrar (MTN-Qhubeka), a stage winner in each of world cycling’s three grand tours and one of the top names in the event, managed to break away with prologue winner Will Clarke (Drapac) and Briton Michael Cuming (JLT Condor) around 40 kilometres in. The dangerous trio managed to put around 3 minutes, 30 seconds between themselves and the peloton before Cumming was dropped and Farrar and Clarke were caught by the bunch with six kilometres to go.

By finishing in the group of 77 riders that Ewan led through, Meyer retained his lead in the general classification and has good back up with teammates Simon Clarke, the defending champion, and Damien Howson behind him at 19 and 23 seconds respectively (fourth and sixth overall).

“I am aiming for five or six wins in UCI races this year, so it’s good to get one on the board,” Ewan said after capitalising on a strong lead out from his teammates with about 300 metres to go.

“After you win one stage, your confidence lifts a fair bit, and I know I can beat all of the guys here in the sprint now, so going into the next stage I will be a lot more confident.”

Jones, in contrast, was left battle-scarred. Though after originally being listed as the sixth finisher, he was elevated to fifth by judges who ruled that his skidding body had crossed the line before his bike – and the nearest competitor – thereby earning him a promotion.

“Obviously there was a gap and he [Witmitz] decided to come underneath me, and my left cheek just got taken out by his right-hand shifter, so I hit the deck after that,” a flat Jones said afterwards.

“The ribcage and chest and back and neck are quite sore from the hard impact, so we’ll see how they pull up … and assess from there. It’s a big season and I want to continue to get results for the guys, so if it doesn’t mean tomorrow, I’ll be back next race.”

Stage three commences at Mitchelton winery, an estate co-owned by Orica-GreenEDGE owners Gerry and Andrew Ryan. After some tough climbing in the Strathbogie Ranges, the stage finishes again with a flat run into Nagambie.

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Australia wanting one-day wins when they matter the most

‘I believe the team winning the World Cup is the No.1 team in the world’: Michael Clarke. Photo: James AlcockAustralia’s peerless record of victories over the past four years will, their captain hopes, be the basis for the type of success in the World Cup that has eluded them in the past two major one-day tournaments.

Since India won the 2011 World Cup – having eliminated Australia in the quarter-finals – Australia have won a world-best 57.8 per cent of their 83 matches, just ahead of India’s 57.6 per cent. Their record is even better since the 2013 Champions Trophy, in which India also triumphed, having won 64.7 per cent of their matches. That is more than South Africa (60 per cent), Sri Lanka (54.4 per cent), India (54 per cent) and New Zealand (50 per cent), and the rest. England have won just 37.1 per cent.

Despite that record, and occupying the top one-day ranking for the majority of time since the 2011 World Cup, captain Michael Clarke said he placed greater stock in what happened when results mattered most: in the World Cup.

“I believe the team winning the World Cup . . . is the No.1 team in the world,” he said on Friday.

Australia have been the defending champions in the past two ICC tournaments – the 2011 World Cup and 2013 Champions Trophy – yet not made the semi-finals of either. They finished last in their group in the latter, losing to England and Sri Lanka, and had their match against New Zealand washed out. Since then they have won five of their seven series, with the exceptions being the 3-2 away loss to India in late 2013 and falling to South Africa in the final of last year’s tri-series in Zimbabwe.

Clarke said he hoped Australia’s positive recent record “helps us with momentum and confidence going into a major tournament”.

“You need to build momentum through the tournament, but you [also] need to have consistent success,” he said. “Hopefully [because of] how we’ve performed over the past couple of years we can take that confidence into this tournament. But we need to be at our best.”

The captain predicted if Australia could be the best fielding team in the World Cup, that would “go a long way to having success”.

He gave no hint as to who would partner Mitch Starc bowling at the death for Australia for the duration of James Faulkner’s absence with injury, other than to say he thought the team’s all-rounders – Shane Watson, Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell – were all contenders.

“I think they’ve all had experience, especially in the shorter format, the Twenty20 stuff,” he said. “We’ve got the talent there, that’s for sure. It’s just about practice now, plenty of work on our death stuff and execution.

“I’m confident any of the guys – all-rounders or the specialist bowlers – can play that role [in the batting powerplay and late in innings].”

Clarke also said he was not reading much into India’s failure to reach the final of the recent tri-series. He reckoned having spent more than two months in Australia will benefit them, as will their status as defending champions.

“I think they’ll see it as a fresh start [after the Tests and tri-series],” Clarke said.

“They’ve had success in major tournaments, so they’ll take confidence from that.

“I’ve no doubt India are going to be one of the toughest teams in this competition to beat.”

Australia and India meet in a day-night practice match at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

ONE-DAY WONDERSWinning percentages of ICC full members in 50-over matches since the completion of the 2013 Champions Trophy. 64.7% – Australia: 34 matches, 22 wins, 9 losses, 0 ties, 3 no result. 60% – South Africa: 40 matches, 24 wins, 14 losses, 0 ties, 2 no result. 54.4% – Sri Lanka: 57 matches, 31 wins, 24 losses, 0 ties, 2 no result. 54% – India: 50 matches, 27 wins, 18 losses, 1 tie, 4 no result. 50% – New Zealand: 32 matches, 16 wins, 12 losses, 1 tie, 3 no result. 43.6% – Pakistan: 39 matches, 17 wins, 21 losses, 1 tie, 0 no result. 41.9% – West Indies: 31 matches, 13 wins, 17 losses, 1 tie, 0 no result. 38.1% – Bangladesh: 21 matches, 8 wins, 12 losses, 0 ties, 1 no result. 37.1% – England: 35 matches. 13 wins, 21 losses, 0 ties, 1 no result. 16.7% – Zimbabwe: 24 matches, 4 wins, 20 losses, 0 ties, 0 no result.

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