Outside Edge

Click to follow
The Independent Online

So Russian fans have been advised to drink lots of whisky when they visit Wales for a World Cup qualifier, to ward off the ravages of swine flu. But their players must be more careful, if Freddie Ljungberg's excuse is to be believed. He says he missed the crucial penalty in a shoot-out after the MLS All-Stars' game against Everton due to a migraine bought on by eating food cooked in red wine. And consider the plight of Emma Jane Brown, the British Olympic showjumping hopeful who has been at the top of her sport for 25 years but has contracted an allergy to, er, horses. Mind you, it didn't stop Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was allergic to grass. He did spend a lot of time on the bench, though.


Number of hours per year the average English football fan spends watching his team, including on TV, and travelling to and from games. Meanwhile, men wile away 259 hours a year staring at women, less than a third as much time.

Switch hitter of the week

In this column we celebrate women boxers but what about transgender pugilists? Southport's Rob Newbiggin, a light-middleweight with three wins in 15 fights, has decided to have a sex-change and wishes to be known as Mercedes. He even plans to apply for a woman's licence. The father of three says: "It doesn't matter whether I'm a mother or a father, as long as I'm a good parent." His kids might beg to differ in the playground. Perhaps they can enlist the help of Chris Morgan of Wolverhampton, named last week as Britain's strongest schoolboy. At 17 he weighs 19st 10lb and can lift his mum's car. "We can't afford holidays due to the cost of all his food," says Debbie. But she's not nagging.

Good week for

Sarah Outen, first woman to row solo across Indian Ocean and, at 24, the youngest to row across any ocean... Eli Manning, a six-year, £57.4m contract makes New York Giants' quarter-back the NFL's highest-paid player... and four Guantanamo detainees, released to work on the Port Royal golf course in Bermuda ahead of the PGA Grand Slam.

Bad week for

Sheikh Mohammed, banned from long-distance racing for six months after his horse Tahhan failed a drugs test – his wife Haya is president of the sport's governing body FEI and is leading a campaign against doping... Ross Brawn, Formula One team owner faces ban for speeding at 100mph on a dual carriageway... and Benson, the UK's biggest common carp at 64lb 2oz, dies aged 25 of toxic bait poisoning at Bluebell Lakes in Cambridgeshire.

Flippin' loony of the week

Walking on water isn't easy, so Ashrita Furman will try to break the world record for running the fastest mile while wearing flippers. The 54-year-old from New York holds the world record for holding world records – he has 97 entries in the Guinness Book of Records and has broken 236 in all. His first, in 1979, consisted of 27,000 standing star jumps, while the longest-held is 12 miles 390 yards of continuous somersaults. On the Great Wall of China he performed the fastest mile on a Space Hopper; at Stonehenge he stood on a Swiss ball for two hours 16 minutes two seconds. And he balanced a milk bottle on his head for 80 miles. Now that's beyond the pail. His stomach must have been churning.