Outside Edge: Liar, liar, pants on fire in the snow


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The Independent Online

Uh-oh. If it's about underwear, David Beckham must be involved.

No, this is the story of Bruno Banani, a Tongan sportsman who is apparently hoping to take part in the luge competition at the next Winter Olympics. It's like the Cool Runnings film about the Jamaican bobsleigh team at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary. It sounded like a charming tale: Princess Salote Mafile'o Pilolevu Tuita, daughter of the late Tongan king Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, is said to have dreamed of one of her compatriots taking part in the Winter Games.

Ah, that's lovely. Why have I got a nasty feeling about all this?

As far as we know, the royal wish is true – as is the fact that Bruno has been steadily improving during training in Germany after suffering a crash in qualifying for the Vancouver Games last year, which gave him concussion. The only problem is that his name is not Bruno Banani at all.

Did the bump on the head cause him to lose his memory?

The reality is much more unsavoury. You see, Bruno Banani is the name of a German underwear manufacturer. And the luger is in fact called Fuahea Semi. He was said to be the son of a coconut farmer, whereas his dad actually grows cassava, which is not quite to evocative. Turns out it was all a marketing stunt by the fashionable underpants company. He even had a new passport and birth certificate issued by Tongan authorities.

It sounds like the young fellow has found himself on a slippery slope.

Maybe not. Fuahea Semi has been training with the German national team, with help from three-time Olympic gold medallist Georg Hackl. The 24-year-old will take part in this week's World Luge Championships in Altenberg, Germany, which happens to be sponsored by a certain underwear company whose name we will never mention again.

This is outrageous. They should give the poor chap his name back.

Well it's not as bad as the Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Ron Artest, who changed his own name to Metta World Peace last year – without a pair of pants anywhere to be seen.

Not so lucky number seven

The sport of kings' promotional body Racing for Change has spent six weeks analysing 9,500 horse races in the UK last year and revealed the following results for the horses' cloths, which punters might find useful:

Most likely to win: No 1, coming home first in 15 per cent of races.

Most likely to be disqualified: No 7, accounting for 20 per cent of all disqualifications.

Most likely to fall: No 2.

Most likely to unseat their rider: No 3.

Most likely to avoid trouble: No 12.

The golden rule is to go for Nos 1, 2 and 3 because they account for more than 40 per cent of all winners. In contrast, horses carrying a No 20 cloth get beaten in 97 per cent of their races.

Saudi eye-opener as women can watch

Last week brought the welcome news that women are to be allowed to watch football matches in Saudi Arabia for the first time at a stadium in Jeddah. The ground-breaking venture will begin in 2014, once purpose-built private cabins and balconies have been built at the venue. The strict interpretation of Islam in the country prohibits unrelated men and women from mingling. But perhaps even more important is the revelation of what is said to be the first football match contested by women in the country, between students of the Prince Muhammad Bin Fahad University in al-Khobar and a team from Riyadh University. "It was a rare event for Saudi Arabia," said the local newspaper al-Watan, "and only women were present in the stands." Good to hear them standing up for themselves.

Relations strained

The women seem to be on top in Milan. The girlfriend of Ghana's Kevin-Prince Boateng, model Melissa Satta, has revealed her man has been sidelined recently because they have sex so often. The former Tottenham and Portsmouth midfielder has been hampered by a succession of minor injuries and Melissa explains: "The reason why he is always injured is because we have sex seven to 10 times a week." She adds: "I hate foreplay, I want to get straight to the point. My favourite position is on top so I can take control." Is that what therapists would call "route one" intercourse?

Leandro's air shot

Take a deep breath, here's some more injury news. The Brazilian defender Leandro is back in action for his club Caldense after being out for two weeks with hiccups. Another injured party is Gareth Wager of Bacup Borough, who was sent off for urinating against Stone. He claims he was stretching his hamstring. But he may be stretching the truth.

Dip a big tow in the water

Ferry impressive. At Macquarie Harbour, near Stahan in Tasmania, 145 hangers-on help to break the world record for the most people to water-ski one mile at the same time – even though another nine didn't manage to last the distance. They were pulled by a 114ft catamaran which normally sees service as a passenger ferry. It had to be equipped with modified propellers and a 308ft aluminium boom to prevent the lines getting tangled up, and the skiers had to hang on to a combined five miles of rope. The record-breakers easily beat the previous mark of 114, set on the same lake two years ago.