National Reconciliation Week: Remembering Oombulgurri

Our final instalment for National Reconciliation week 2022 – please read Ciaran O’Mahony’s investigation into the tragic closure of the remote Indigenous community of Oombulgurri.

‘A very tragic history’: how the trauma of a 1926 massacre echoes through the years

Ciaran O’Mahony

Located on the banks of east Kimberley’s Forrest River, with a scenic cliff face at its entrance, Oombulgurri boasts rare natural beauty. Few would believe this peaceful, isolated spot – only accessible by boat – has experienced so much trauma, and so recently.

Until 1969 Oombulgurri was a punitive Anglican mission called Forrest River. In 1926 tensions between Aboriginal people on the mission and residents of the nearby Nulla Nulla station, on their ancestral lands, came to a bloody head.

Some of them returned to the station and speared some cattle. Then Nulla Nulla’s co-owner Frederick Hay was murdered by an Aboriginal man named Lumbia, for the rape of his wife, Anguloo.

Police constables Graham St Jack and Denis Regan led a posse of 13 police and local white people to find Hay’s killer, taking along an arsenal of Winchester rifles, 500 to 600 rounds of ammunition, 42 horses and shotguns. They inflicted ruthless reprisal attacks on Aboriginal men, women and children at Forrest River.

You can read the rest of this article here.

3 reasons why Nadal beat Djokovic at RG ’22

Ciaran O’Mahony

Just three days shy of his 36th birthday, Rafael Nadal added another important chapter to his legacy, with his 11th Grand Slam victory over Novak Djokovic.

Although Nadal has enjoyed many victories over the Serbian in Paris, this was one of the sweetest, given that Djokovic had beaten him soundly at last year’s French Open.

In 2021, Djokovic seemed to have finally cracked the code. He used his forehand to push Nadal out wide, creating sharp angles that pinned the Spaniard to his backhand side.

With Nadal forced to hit more groundstrokes from his weaker wing, and unable to dictate the play with his heavy forehand, Djokovic picked him apart. He took control of key rallies, forcing the King of Clay to hit backhands “on the run” – over and over again.

Djokovic prevailed in 4 sets that day, en route to his his second French Open crown.

“I never thought he was unbeatable [on clay],” the World No. 1 declared in the aftermath.

Nadal seemed even more beatable this time, arriving at the tournament with little match practice and huge injury concerns. He even had his personal doctor sitting in the front row of his coaches’ box.

But as soon as this highly anticipated rematch began, it was clear that Nadal had no intention of playing “retriever” again.

Here are three key reasons why Nadal got his revenge at Roland Garros.

1. Avoiding Djokovic’s Forehand

Nadal clearly understood that Djokovic’s success last year was built around his forehand. It was the weapon that had driven him into the “double’s lines” of the backhand corner, or even off the court altogether.

Nadal kept the ball away from the Serbian’s forehand as much as possible, hitting a high percentage of his backhands down the line, rather than cross-court. Even when he found himself out of position, Nadal would send his backhand up the middle of the court. This limited the cross-court exchanges that Djokovic has often used to trap him and break his backhand down.

Djokovic’s only significant period of success on the forehand, came during the 2nd set, when he hit far more of his own backhands down the line. But he reverted back to his familiar cross-court patterns in sets 3 and 4.

For his part, Nadal made almost every forehand opportunity count, directing many of his biggest ones down the line, and maintaining a dominant court position.

2. Superior Endurance

There were serious questions about Nadal’s ability to go toe-to-toe with Djokovic over 5 sets after a marathon 4th round clash with Felix Auger-Alliassime. Djokovic arrived as the fresher player, having breezed through his first four matches, yet it was Nadal who appeared to have the stronger legs.

Both players set an unsustainable pace in the first 2 sets. The power and intensity of the rallies was staggering, but with both men pushing 36, it was never going to last. As their levels dropped in the final 2 sets, Nadal was more willing to extend the rallies and grind the match out. A huge surprise given Djokovic’s legendary fitness and the question marks over Nadal’s.

3. Out-serving Djokovic

It’s normally an extremely consistent and reliable tool, but Djokovic’s serve completely abandoned him at key moments in this match.

His first serve percentage dipped from his tournament average(prior to this match) of 71% to a measly 45%. Nadal’s, on the other hand, rose from his average of 65% to 71%.

The vast majority of Nadal’s serves targeted Djokovic’s backhand, particularly on the deuce side of the court. This forced the World No. 1 to go for low-percentage returns – either an “inside-out” backhand or a backhand down the line. When Djokovic struggled to execute these returns, Nadal either received an easy error or an offensive opportunity on his forehand. Both relieved a significant amount of pressure from his service games.

National Reconciliation Week: Remembering the Warrigal Creek massacre

It’s National Reconciliation Week and as we reflect on the many injustices perpetrated against Aboriginal peoples, The Jaded Newsman is taking the opportunity to spotlight the Warrigal Creek massacre.

Confronting the darker elements of Australian history is crucial to fostering unity and healing, so we hope you’ll take the time to read two articles written by Ciaran O’Mahony on the shocking events at Warrigal Creek.

These articles were published by The Guardian as part of its landmark “Killing Times” project, which can be viewed here.

Living on a massacre site: home truths and trauma at Warrigal Creek

Ciaran O’Mahony

Elizabeth Balderstone leads a lifestyle that many city dwellers fantasise about, on a farm in Victoria’s Gippsland, surrounded by friendly sheep, with a humble little creek just 60 metres from her house.

But that creek, Warrigal, has seen unimaginable horrors.

You can read the rest of this article here.

The Scottish explorer who became the butcher of Gippsland

Ciaran O’Mahony

Once revered as a pioneer, the Scottish explorer Angus McMillan is now known as “the butcher of Gippsland”.

This reversal of reputation – from virtuous Presbyterian to cold-blooded killer – is the work not just of the people he wronged but of his own relations and the descendants of his closest friends.

You can read the rest of the article here.

“Beat them at their own game”: A First Nations couple’s legacy of resilience

By Ciaran O’Mahony

James Noble became Australia’s first Aboriginal Deacon at the height of the frontier wars.

Whilst Aboriginal people were being routinely murdered, dispossessed and enslaved, Noble found himself an unlikely, yet respected religious figure.

So how did he get there?

It might seem unusual for a traditional Aboriginal man to work for the Anglican Church, but Noble’s Great Granddaughter says he didn’t have much choice.

Badtjala and Bidjara woman, Tabatha Saunders, says “the colonials were hell bent on indoctrinating the ‘savages’” back then.

“I think he saw the way of the ‘whites’ as a portal for him to win what was really a losing battle for our people,” she says.

“If he could glide under the radar, and ‘assimilate’, he would be able to help communities in his own way.”

Rev. James Noble performing a christening at the Forrest River Mission a year before the massacre, 1925. From the State Library of WA collection, courtesy of Wilma and Harry Venville

Noble did just that, spending his youth working as a stockman in Riversleigh in the early 1890s, before moving with his employer to Invermien, New South Wales.

“He was well regarded as a good worker and as a teenager he asked to be educated. The people who owned the cattle station sent him to school. From there, he ended up in Invermien and was given private lessons,” Saunders says.

He was baptised at St Luke’s Anglican Church (NSW) in 1895, before moving back to Queensland to work as a Missionary for Revered E.R. Gribble.

As a Missionary and a Reverend (ordained in 1925), he travelled to Aboriginal communities from Palm Island to Broome, working tirelessly to help them build a brighter future. But he couldn’t do it alone.

During his travels, he was fortunate to meet a Badtjala woman named Angelina Bradley at Yarrabah Mission, Queensland.

Angelina’s journey to Yarrabah was a harrowing one. Born in K’Gari (Fraser Island), she was removed from her traditional homeland and sent to Cherbourg Mission.

Sadly, at just 14 years of age, Angelina was abducted by a horse dealer, who took her to various parts of Queensland and sexually abused her, according to Saunders.

“She was kidnapped, disguised as a boy and used as a sex slave by a pedophile,” says Saunders.

She shudders at the thought of her Great Grandmother’s ordeal – “[Being] stolen and then taken all around Queensland by this kidnapper. She was a kid for God’s sake”.

Eventually, Angelina and her captor were discovered by Police in Cairns, who freed her and sent her to Yarrabah – where she met James.

Angelina Noble (far left) with Rev. Noble (2nd from the right) and their family at the Forrest River Mission, 1925. From the State Library of WA collection. Photographer: Wilma and Harry Venville.

Angelina thrived at the Yarrabah school and would later marry and travel the country with James.

Together, they helped to found churches throughout Northern Australia and assisted the Mitchell River and Roper River Missions. They constructed houses, sheds and horse yards, delivered supplies, and cared for the sick and livestock.

Saunders feels that her Great Grandparents “beat them [white settlers] at their own game” by “keeping [Aboriginal] communities together” and spreading compassion and understanding.

Although their connection to the Church gave them some freedom and standing, the Nobles’ work and travels were not without risk.

Such was the disregard for Aboriginal life at the time that an anonymous column in the Sunday Times (March 30, 1902) noted there were “cut-throat” men throughout the Kimberley who felt “the taking of a n*****’s life was of no more consequence than the drowning of a superfluous kitten.”

Politician George Simpson even declared at the WA Legislative Council that “…it will be a happy day for Western Australia and Australia at large when the natives and the kangaroo disappear.”

Historian Dr Chris Owen confirms that “it is clear in voluminous historical records that the white colonists really didn’t even see them as human.”

Tabatha Saunders, James and Angelina Noble’s Great Granddaughter. Photograph: Provided.

Nevertheless, James and Angelina persisted – and prevented many acts of violence that would have led to Aboriginal slaughter.

In The Reverend Ernest Gribble and Race Relations in Northern Australia, historian Christine Halse describes Rev. Noble as a dignified leader, whose reassuring presence was sorely needed at punitive Anglican Missions. Although he was not the Superintendent, Aboriginal residents saw Noble as the Mission’s “boss”.

“James’ ability to hold the Aborigines’ attention made him an invaluable preacher,” Halse writes. He was “admired and appreciated by the local tribes” and helped to prevent multiple incidents of violence between settlers and First Nations people, by communicating empathetically with both sides.

An Aboriginal woman called Lovie Kiuna told Halse of one such incident, where Noble, his wife Angelina, and a group of white missionaries, came upon an Aboriginal clan at a creek near Yarrabah:

“The river… [was] just black with Aboriginals…just watching them. Wild people…They didn’t want to see those white people cause they never saw white people in all their lives. Then [James] got up and stood at the fore of that boat. When they saw him they all put their spears down. That was that and they were all calm when they saw this…black man and he told them ‘my wife is black too but she’s half-caste’…They were satisfied with the wife too…and they all put down their spears…”

A portrait of Rev. Noble. Source: Tabatha Saunders FB page.

Angelina, was also instrumental in overseeing the daily care and wellbeing of Aboriginal residents at each mission. She was an important role model for young girls too, enjoying an independence that was extremely rare for Aboriginal women at that time.

In his book White Christ, Black Cross, Historian Noel Loos says Angelina’s role has sometimes been underestimated by historians.

“Because of the male domination of the Anglican Church during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Angelina’s role was often overlooked. She has been seen as James Noble’s support.”

“She was much more than that. Missionary women as nurses, teachers and housekeepers, interacted generally at greater human depths with Aboriginal people than most male missionaries,” he writes.

Angelina knew at least 5 Aboriginal languages and up to 14 different dialects, making her indispensable as they assisted displaced Aboriginal peoples across the country.

Her linguistic abilities also proved vital during their time at the Forrest River Mission – in WA’s East Kimberley.

Indeed, in 1926, a young woman named Loorabane arrived at the mission with a bullet wound in her leg and eyewitness testimony of police shootings of her mother and numerous Aboriginal people. She and her brother, Kangaloo, had managed to escape and sought refuge at the Mission.

These killings were carried out after the spearing of pastoralist Frederick Hay by an Aboriginal man called Lumbia, whose wife Anguloo, had been raped by Hay.

Police constables Graham St Jack and Denis Regan led a group of 11 armed locals in deadly shootings of anywhere between 30 to 100 Aboriginal people who lived at the Mission.

Angelina translated Loorabane’s and other residents’ accounts of the shootings to the head of the Mission, Reverend E.R. Gribble.

Gribble sent Rev. Noble  – his best tracker – to investigate.

The stories were true. Noble followed a series of horse tracks and footprints from a small site in the East Kimberley ravine country, to a mound of ashy sand, where he uncovered numerous, charred human remains.

He also found makeshift ovens nearby, which had been dug up to burn Aboriginal victims’ bodies, and contained further bone fragments.

Noble’s discovery forced a Royal Commission into the killings, now known as the Forrest River massacre, with Angelina serving as the official translator at the trials.

Significant tampering with witnesses and evidence meant that the perpetrators ultimately walked free. Prosecution of Aboriginal murders was extremely rare and an Aboriginal couple being so prominent in the process was unprecedented. But it would have been little comfort to the Nobles after witnessing a great miscarriage of justice.

Rev. Noble’s House at the Forrest River Mission in 1925. Source: Frank Bunney Collection, State Library of Western Australia.

Still, as they had done throughout their turbulent lives, they pressed on. There was much more work to be done.

A year after the Royal Commission, 24 buildings, most of which had been built by James, stood proudly at Forrest River Mission. Many of these buildings still stand today.

Angelina taught the children and cooked for residents and staff, as the Mission’s population grew to 170.

The couple eventually returned to Yarrabah in 1934 as James’ health began to fade. He died on 25 November, 1941, while Angelina died much later on 19 October, 1964. They were survived by two sons and four daughters.

The Church where Rev. Noble preached at the Forrest River Mission, 1925. Frank Bunney Collection, State Library of Western Australia.

Tabatha Saunders feels the pride and strength of her ancestors every day, but she feels their resilience and resourcefulness, which is shared by many other Aboriginal Australians, is not highlighted enough.

Instead, harmful stereotypes persist. “I just find it sad that the racism against us is so ingrained. That we are lazy, we are alcoholics et cetera,” she says.

“It is hard as an Aboriginal person, to walk on this land and through its many countries and cities and still feel like an outsider. Fear is actually what I feel when I walk through this country,” says Saunders.

“I don’t always take on board the filthy stares and the sideward racism. But I feel them nonetheless.”

She plays her part in breaking down these stereotypes as the co-host of a radio program called “SoulJah Sistars”. The program raises awareness of the achievements of Aboriginal people and people of colour more generally, in politics, the arts and sport.

While there is still work to do, she is optimistic that a “rising tide of unity” is building.

6 biggest moments in NBL history

Ciaran O’Mahony

It’s no secret that we love our basketball at The Jaded Newsman. We’ve been walking on air since the Boomers’ heroic performance in Tokyo and we’ve shamelessly jumped on the Tasmanian JackJumpers bandwagon this season.

It’s safe to say that Australian basketball is flying and none of this would be possible without the NBL. To celebrate our great league, we’d like to reflect on some of its most important formative moments. Here are six, in no particular order, that stood out to us.

1. The inaugural 1979 season

The NBL’s debut season may not have been broadcast on tv or radio stations, but it was a seminal moment in the rise of Australian Basketball. The 10-team competition was so enthralling that the NBL was expanded to 12 teams the following season. But it was the St Kilda Saints who captured the first title, edging the Canberra Cannons in a thrilling Grand Final: 94-93. CJ Bruton’s father, Cal Bruton, was the NBL’s leading scorer that season, averaging over 33 pts per game.

2. Introduction of the three-point line

The NBL’s sharp shooters received a huge boost when the three-point line was introduced in 1984. Brian Goorjian, Darryl Pearce and Mark Gaze made the most of this new feature, wowing crowds with their long-range shooting that season. Future legends like Andrew Gaze and Bryce Cotton took three-point shooting to even greater heights in the ensuing years.

3. Emergence of Andrew Gaze

The 1984 season also marked the emergence of the Melbourne Tigers and a young man named Andrew Gaze. Now a member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, Gaze won rookie of the year with a season average of 29 pts per game. He would go on to set almost every NBL record imaginable. He has played the most games, scored the most points and provided the most assists – to name just a few. He has also competed in a record five Olympic games, becoming the highest scorer in Olympic Basketball history.

4. Larry Kestelman assumes ownership of the NBL

From 2010-2014, numerous NBL teams found themselves in financial peril and the league itself was struggling to survive. Melbourne businessman Larry Kestelman proved to be the NBL’s saviour, taking ownership of the league and investing $7 million into its future. This was the spark that Australian basketball desperately needed and it led to a huge spike in crowd attendance, sponsorship and TV coverage. Unlike the temporary rise of basketball fever in the 1990s, the NBL has managed to sustain this success and is now widely considered one of the best basketball leagues in the world.

5. Historic Broadcast Deal

The NBL’s great revival reached its pinnacle in July last year when it scored a historic $45 million broadcast deal with ESPN, Foxtel and Newscorp. The deal means that Foxtel, ESPN and Kayo Sports will air every NBL game, including the finals. Newscorp also agreed to provide the NBL with dedicated reporters, extra content and game analysis. By mid-August, Channel 10 had also bought a piece of the action – purchasing free-to-air rights for two games every Sunday on 10 Peach and 10 Play.

6. Exhibition games against NBA teams

The historic preseason games between Sydney vs Utah, Brisbane vs Phoenix and Melbourne United vs Oklahoma City – are the ultimate compliment to the NBL’s quality. These games were held in 2017 and although the pandemic got in the way for a couple of years, the NBL plans to send teams to the US again in 2022/23. The strength of Australian talent in the NBA, combined with our success on the international stage, has ensured the quality of the NBL is respected around the globe.

Wimbledon stripped of ranking points due to Russian/Belarussian ban

Ciaran O’Mahony

Tennis’ governing bodies have stripped Wimbledon of its tour ranking points, following the All England Club’s (AEC) decision to ban Russian and Belarussian players from this year’s championship.

Players will no longer be able to earn or defend ranking points at Wimbledon, which could effect their overall position on the tour.

The ATP and the WTA released statements describing Wimbledon’s Russian/Belarussian ban as a breach of their rankings agreements, and confirming their penalisation of the tournament.

“The recent decisions made by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban athletes from competing in the upcoming UK grass court events violate that fundamental principle, which is clearly embodied in the WTA rules, the Grand Slam rules, and the agreement the WTA has with the Grand Slams,” said the WTA in a statement.

The ATP said Wimbledon’s decision undermines “the integrity of the ATP Ranking system” and “the ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination.”

“Absent a change in circumstances, it is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP Ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022,” they said.

The AEC has expressed “deep disappointment” with these measures, but re-affirmed its stance on the matter.

“Given the position taken by the UK Government to limit Russia’s global influence, which removed automatic entry by ranking, and the widespread response of Government, industry, sport and creative institutions, we remain of the view that we have made the only viable decision for Wimbledon as a globally renowned sporting event and British institution, and we stand by the decision we have made.”

The British Government had previously expressed concern that a Russian victory at Wimbledon could become a powerful propaganda tool during the country’s illegal occupation of Ukraine.

World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, would have been among the favourites at Wimbledon, if not for the ban. Photo: Matthew Stockman via Getty Images.

However, the ATP noted that there were no government mandates in place, and the participation of Russian and Belarussian players, remained at the AEC’s discretion.

“We greatly value our long-standing relationships with Wimbledon and the LTA and do not underestimate the difficult decisions faced in responding to recent UK Government guidance. However, we note that this was informal guidance, not a mandate, which offered an alternative option that would have left the decision in the hands of individual players competing as neutral athletes through a signed declaration.”

While the ATP and WTA’s decision reverberates around the world, players of all nationalities have been permitted to compete in the French Open, which starts on Sunday.

Listen to the findings of Ciaran O’Mahony’s Forrest River investigation on The Guardian’s “Full Story” podcast

The Guardian has concluded the final stage of its landmark investigation into massacres of Aboriginal peoples on the Australian frontier.

The “Killing Times” project, which collated data in partnership with the University of Newcastle team, has detailed over 270 frontier massacres perpetrated across the country between 1788 and 1928 – many of which had gone unacknowledged.

The Guardian’s Indigenous Affairs Editor, Lorena Allam, joined Laura Murphy-Oates on the “Full Story” podcast, to debrief after a harrowing, but groundbreaking, five-year project.

This included an in-depth discussion of a special feature on the Forrest River massacre, which was produced by The Jaded Newsman’s Editor-in-Chief, Ciaran O’Mahony.

Mr O’Mahony’s investigation into this atrocity, which occurred in WA’s East Kimberley, detailed an Aboriginal man’s discovery of charred bone fragments at numerous sites along the banks of the Forrest River.

Reverend James Noble found just a fraction of the remains of victims who were slain in the massacre, and the evidence he delivered would eventually trigger a Royal Commission into these crimes.

Rev. Noble’s Great Granddaughter, Tabatha Saunders, was a central voice in the feature, generously sharing her reflections on the story and the lasting intergenerational trauma her family, and many others, have carried for almost 100 years since.

You can listen to Lorena Allam’s summary of O’Mahony’s work on Full Story here, and the full feature can be found here.

The Forrest River piece is the latest in a series of award-winning articles by O’Mahony, including coverage of the descendants of the Warrigal Creek Massacre, a family living by a massacre site, and the closure of the remote Indigenous community of Oombulgurri.

All the winners from NBL Awards 2022

Ciaran O’Mahony

After two consecutive seasons on the throne, Bryce Cotton surrendered his MVP crown to Jaylen Adams, in one of the closest voting counts in years.

In the end, Adams’ league-leading assists tally and his growing reputation for clutch play, were enough to squeak past Cotton by 105 votes to 94. Jo Lual-Acuil finished third in the race with 62 votes.

Adams said this “tremendous honour” had been a “quiet goal” he’d set for himself prior to his debut season in Australia.

“I’m thankful for my coach, the front office and the ownership for bringing me here, the fans for their love all season and my teammates,” said Adams.

“It’s a special accomplishment.”

But now that he’s captured the coveted Andrew Gaze trophy, the Sydney Kings star has set his sights on Game 1 of the playoffs against the Illawarra Hawks.

Adams missed the final two games of the regular season with an illness, but he confirmed that he will be ready for the Kings’ quest for championship glory.

“I’m feeling good,” he said.

“I know how important this game is, I’m going to be prepared for it.

“It’s an opportunity for our team to come out and show what we’ve worked so hard for all year, show what we’re capable of doing.”

Who were the other winners?

Vic Law (Perth Wildcats) and Antonius Cleveland (Illawarra Hawks) joined Adams (Sydney Kings), Cotton (Perth Wildcats) and Lual-Acuil (Melbourne United) on the All-NBL First team, while Kai Sotto (Adeliade 36ers) clinched the Fans MVP award. Cleveland also won Defensive Player of the Year.

Rising star Bul Kuol (Cairns Taipans) won Rookie of the Year, while Keanu Pinder (Cairns Taipans) was deemed the league’s Most Improved Player.

Scott Roth was unsurprisingly named Coach of the Year after spearheading the Tasmanian JackJumpers’ incredible first season. The New Zealand Breakers’ Simon Edwards, won Executive of the Year.

Finally, Matthew Dellavedova leads the All-NBL Second team, which also features Josh Adams (Tasmania JackJumpers), Chris Goulding (Melbourne United), Mitch Creek (South East Melbourne Phoenix) and Xavier Cooks (Sydney Kings).

Congratulations to all of the winners.

Wimbledon bans Russian and Belarussian players from 2022 championships

Ciaran O’Mahony

The All England Club (AEC) has officially banned Russian and Belarussian tennis players from competing in the 2022 Wimbledon Championships.

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, the AEC has described the ban as a “sad”, but necessary stand against the country’s “illegal actions” abroad.

The participation of the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Victoria Azarenka, has been in doubt ever since UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston stated that they would need to provide “assurances that they are not supporters of Vladimir Putin”, before a House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee in March.

World No. 2 Medvedev, was one of the favourites to win the Championships. Photo: Matthew Stockman via Getty Images.

The AEC has now gone a step further, banning them outright in a bid to “limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible,” as outlined in a statement released yesterday.

“In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with the Championships,” it said.

“It is therefore our intention, with deep regret, to decline entries from Russian and Belarusian players to The Championships 2022.”

Men’s Tennis’ Governing Body, the ATP, has condemned the decision, describing it as discrimination that will set a harmful precedent.

“We believe that today’s unilateral decision by Wimbledon and the LTA to exclude players from Russia and Belarus from this year’s British grass-court swing is unfair and has the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game,” the ATP said.

“Discrimination based on nationality also constitutes a violation of our agreement with Wimbledon that states that player entry is based solely on ATP rankings.”

The ATP has indicated that it is exploring any potential means of overturning the ban.

“Any course of action in response to this decision will now be assessed in consultation with our board and member councils.”

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has also stated that it is “very disappointed in today’s announcement by the AELTC and the LTA to ban individual athletes who are from Russia and Belarus from competing in the upcoming UK grass court events.

“A fundamental principal of the WTA is that individual athletes may participate in professional tennis events based on merit and without any form of discrimination. That principle is expressly set forth in our rules and has been agreed to by both AELTC and LTA. Prohibitions against discrimination are also clearly expressed in their own rules and the Grand Slam rules,” says the WTA.

“The WTA has consistently stated, individual athletes should not be penalized or prevented from competing due to where they are from, or the decisions made by the governments of their countries. Discrimination, and the decision to focus such discrimination against athletes competing on their own as individuals, is neither fair nor justified.”

The Russian/Belarussian ban has drawn significant criticism on social media, with Novak Djokovic, Martina Navratilova and the Belarussian Tennis Federation (BTF), also criticising the AEC’s actions.

The BTF, in particular, is said to be aggressively pursuing international legal action to overturn the ban.

“Such destructive actions in no way contribute to the resolution of conflicts, but only incite hatred and intolerance on a national basis,” the BTF said in a statement.

“Throughout the history of tennis, armed conflicts have occurred in the world – in Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Yugoslavia and other countries – but never until now have tournament organisers suspended athletes from the United States, Great Britain and other countries.

“Illegal decisions of international tennis organisations in relation to our athletes undermine the reputation of these organisations.”

Despite the criticism and potential legal ramifications, Chairman of the All England Club, Ian Hewitt, said “we recognise that this is hard on the individuals affected, and it is with sadness that they will suffer for the actions of the leaders of the Russian regime.

“We have very carefully considered the alternative measures that might be taken within the UK Government guidance but, given the high profile environment of The Championships, the importance of not allowing sport to be used to promote the Russian regime and our broader concerns for public and player (including family) safety, we do not believe it is viable to proceed on any other basis at The Championships.”

While they will not be able to compete at Tennis’ biggest event, Russian and Belarussian players will still be permitted to compete at both ATP and WTA events, under a neutral flag, throughout the year.

Business bodies call for changes to close-contact rules in VIC and NSW

Ciaran O’Mahony

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and Business NSW (BN) have appealed to their State Governments for changes to the isolation requirements of household close-contacts.

In both states, household contacts of a Covid-19 case must isolate for seven days before returning to their workplace.

But the VCCI and BN say these rules are having a detrimental effect on Australia’s two largest economies, and are proposing changes that would allow business to thrive, without sacrificing safety.

The business bodies argue that if household contacts take daily Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) before leaving their homes, and test negative, they should be allowed to “attend work as normal”.

“We need to release the handbrake and enable businesses to operate at the maximum capacity possible and lead our economic recovery,” says VCCI Chief Executive Paul Guerra.

Allowing staff who have tested negative, and feel well, to return to work, will ease the staffing difficulties that have plagued businesses under the current requirements, according to Mr Guerra.

“Access to staff continues to be a major issue for business and the current isolation requirements are making it difficult for them to provide service for customers and maximise their business opportunities.

“We are seeing other parts of the world moving ahead with revised requirements, and we can use that experience to our advantage.”

BN Chief Executive Daniel Hunter says Victoria and New South Wales’ high vaccination rates and clear capacity to live with Covid-19, mean businesses should be allowed to pursue economic recovery more freely.

“NSW and Victoria are Australia’s biggest economies and the current isolation rules are providing a barrier to businesses as healthy people are forced to isolate unnecessarily,” Mr Hunter says.

“With NSW airport workers currently having an exemption to the household contact rules, there is inconsistency and unfairness – this needs to be fixed so that all businesses can have fair access to workers in the current tight labour market and be open for business.

“Business needs certainty and we know that they are already struggling with supply chain issues and staff shortages. Let’s give them the opportunity they need to continue their recovery and let’s give it to them now.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, has indicated that changes will indeed be made to household contact requirements, declaring that Omicron cases have likely peaked in his state.

“The seven-day average, very pleasingly, is coming down. So that says to me that the peak has come and gone,” Andrews said at a press conference.

“We just have to wait and see that those few days of data turns into a trend that we hope it is.”

At the same event, Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley said “positive announcements” were coming soon.

“We’ll get down to very, very few rules very soon,” Foley said.

“That’s good for business, good for communities and fundamentally a reflection of the amazing thing Victorians have done.”

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is also expected to scrap seven day isolation periods in the coming days.

Power Rankings: Greatest MMA fighters with a Taekwondo base

Ciaran O’Mahony

Taekwondo has shaped some of MMA’s greatest champions and truly iconic moments.

Every fan loves a head-kick KO, but few realise how many of them have been delivered by fighters with a black belt in the Korean Martial Art.

This isn’t surprising given that MMA analysts continue to underrate, and even ignore the discipline, fixating on the skills of Wrestling, Kickboxing and Muay Thai.

Few, if any broadcasters, have highlighted the advantages that Taekwondo’s dynamic footwork and aerial kicks can provide inside the octagon.

Nevertheless, some of the sharpest and deadliest strikers in MMA history were forged in Taekwondo classes.

Below is a list of The Jaded Newsman’s five greatest MMA fighters who fit this description.

5. Benson Henderson

A highly decorated UFC and WEC champion, Henderson’s mother kick-started his fighting career at the age of 9, when she took him to Taekwondo classes. He obtained a black belt, before adding further skills to his game and defeating the likes of Frankie Edgar, Glibert Melendez, Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz.

4. Rose Namajunas

Former UFC Strawweight Champion, Rose Namajunas, started Taekwondo at the age of five, gaining her black belt by the age of nine. Her stunning head-kick KO of then-champion, Weili Zhang, was a brilliant demonstration of her traditional martial arts background.

3. Valentina Shevchenko

Arguably on her way to becoming the greatest women’s fighter of all time, Shevchenko’s combat sports journey also began in a Taekwondo school at the age of five. She became a black belt, before perfecting her skills in Muay Thai and Kickboxing – disciplines in which she obtained multiple world titles. “The Bullet” is the reigning UFC Flyweight champion and looks set to dominate the division for years to come. If this KO doesn’t scream Taekwondo to you – nothing will!

2. Anthony Pettis

Another fighter who started Taekwondo at – you guessed it – the age of five. Pettis held a 3rd-degree black belt by time he was 18, before adding a BJJ black belt to his arsenal. One of the Great Lightweights of his era and a UFC and WEC Champion, Pettis is perhaps best known for his “Showtime Kick” on Benson Henderson. Grab your popcorn and check it out below.

1. Anderson Silva

Widely considered one of the greatest, if not THE greatest fighter of all time, Mr Silva needs no introduction. He holds the record for the most finishes in UFC title fights and in the history of the UFC Middlweight division. His 16-fight winning streak is one of the most dominant runs in MMA history.

Honourable Mentions:

Yair Rodriguez

Rodriguez’s flashy style and ability to spring unique kicking attacks from almost any angle, have made him a huge fan favourite. The Taekwondo black belt recently came agonisingly close to defeating former UFC champion, Max Holloway, in a “fight of the year” contender. Many believe “El Pantera” has the potential to become champion himself one day.

Edson Barboza

In January 2012, Edson Barboza sent Terry Etim into orbit with perhaps the most vicious head-kick UFC fans had ever seen. Many believe that thunderous wheel kick remains unmatched. Although Barboza never quite reached the pinnacle of the sport, he has been a top contender for years, and people know they’re in for a kicking masterclass whenever he fights.

Ciaran O’Mahony among AIPS’ top sportswriters in the world

Jaded Newsman staff

Ciaran O’Mahony’s sports reporting for The Jaded Newsman has earned him a place on the International Sports Press Association’s (AIPS) prestigious list of the best sportswriters in the world.

O’Mahony was shortlisted in two AIPS Sports Media Awards 2021 categories (Best Columnists and Best Writers Under 30) for his investigative projects on pre-Olympic doping tests during Covid lockdowns and the rise of Rwanda’s first female football coach.

“I’m blown away,” said O’Mahony, The Jaded Newsman’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief.

“This is a huge honour and I’m so grateful to the AIPS for all of the work they’ve put into running a global competition and providing a platform to acknowledge all of the hard work that sports journalists do around the world.”

“Sport has always been my greatest passion in work and in life. Telling the stories of so many important figures in the industry and then having that work recognised internationally, means so much to me.”

The AIPS Awards are one of the highest international accolades in sports media, honouring the world’s best sports storytellers across video, audio, photography and writing.

Over 1730 journalists from 133 countries entered the 2021 edition of the awards, which were judged by an esteemed panel of 40 judges from 35 countries.

O’Mahony’s column on doping revealed exclusive WADA statistics that showed enormous dips in athlete drug testing during emergency lockdowns. The Presidents and CEOs of international doping bodies, and Olympians who had been denied medals by dopers in the past, were interviewed for further insights on the issue.

He was named amongst the top 50 sports columnists in the world for this deep-dive.

“It was a very competitive field and I’ve followed many of the writers on that list for a long time. I really admire their work,” O’Mahony said.

“It’s a great feeling to be listed alongside them.”

O’Mahony’s special feature on Grace Nyinawumuntu, the first Rwandan woman to become a professional football coach, was also highly regarded by the international panel of judges.

Nyinawumuntu was orphaned by Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and this trauma sent her into deep despair. But a football for women’s rights initiative created by IOC member, Felicite Rwemarika, offered her a pathway out of isolation and into Rwandan sports history.

O’Mahony was ranked in the world’s top 20 sportswriters under 30 for this story and he believes it sends a powerful message about the impact sport can have on society.

“The feature on Grace Nyinawumuntu was part of a special collaboration with the very talented Bianca Roberts. I have to say a huge thanks to Bianca because she was a huge part of bringing that piece to fruition.

“We produced a series of articles and a podcast on the impact of Felicite Rwemarika’s AKWOS (Association of Kigali Women in Sports) football program on women’s rights in Rwanda.

“Ms Rwemarika changed so many lives and led an important movement for social change in her country. Ms Nyinawumuntu was one of the most inspiring participants in that program, rising above unimaginable grief and loss to become the country’s first female professional referee and coach.”

The AIPS rankings have capped off a fantastic debut year for The Jaded Newsman, which was also recognised for its reporting on homelessness at the Victorian Homelessness Media Awards in November 2021.

The independent publication continues to grow in popularity and an increasing pool of experts are recognising the quality of the coverage it is providing readers on important social and sporting issues.

“I’m delighted as both a writer and an editor,” O’Mahony said.

“Starting a new publication with modest resources is a challenging and daunting task. There is so much more involved than writing engaging feature articles. It has been a huge learning curve as far as website design, promotional and social media campaigns are concerned. But I think we’re starting to reap the rewards.”

“Achieving so much in the first year is really humbling and it’s made me hungry to push The Jaded Newsman to even greater heights.”

“Our readers are the real winners because they have access to a publication that is not only turning heads, but also free from any financial or political bias. That’s very rare in this day and age.

“We’re starting to mix it with the world’s best and I don’t think we look out of place. We’re just getting started and I hope readers will continue to join us on the journey.”