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Welcome to fro-town

ACT Brumbies winger Henry Speight is sporting an afro that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Jackson Five. Although look at this old photo of Wallabies greats Mark and Glen Ella, maybe the hairdo is fitting of an Australian Wallabies representative. Speight, born in Fiji, is still awaiting a ruling from the IRB on his eligibility for Australia. There is a deeper meaning behind the style though. Speight started growing his afro as part of Fijian tradition, growing his hair for 100 nights as a tribute to his cousin Malachi, who died after a battle with cancer last year. Speight took it a step further and kept his fro for the Super Rugby season. Speight’s even got his own hand-carved, Fijian fro comb to keep it all intact. Speight and Brumbies teammate Joe Tomane, who’s also avoided the clippers in the off-season, have now been dubbed the fro bros.

A round for the ages

Yowani golfer Tom Harding not only blitzed his handicap of 11, but made a mockery of his age with a rare round last Saturday. The 78-year-old achieved one of golf’s great feats, beating his age easily with a round of 75 off the stick. Even more impressive, he shot it on Yowani’s championship layout. ‘‘I needed a bogey on the last hole, but I birdied it,’’  said Harding, who’s been playing golf for 70 years. Asked if he was getting better with age, Harding replied: ‘‘No, I’m getting calmer.’’ Indeed, he almost shot his age three weeks earlier, playing the front nine in 34. ‘‘Then I had a triple-bogey and double-bogey on the other nine and missed a six or seven foot putt on the last hole  to miss out by one shot. I was kicking myself. I’ve always wanted to do it. Twice last year I was one over, so I was getting close.’’ A retired accountant, Harding was the ACT’s 1994 Vets champion.

Replacement looms

The Brumbies are a step closer to finding a new chief executive, narrowing their search to six candidates who will be interviewed this week. The Brumbies’ selection panel met on Tuesday to go through 63 applicants for the job vacated by long-time boss Andrew Fagan. Hopefuls from the NRL, AFL and other high-performance sports expressed interest and the Brumbies’ sub committee of chairman Sean Hammond, club great Joe Roff and board member Carmel McGregor cut the list to six. Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has started contract negotiations with some of his stars, but won’t be able to sign any new deals until there’s a new chief executive.

The heat is on

Canberra United officials asked to have the club’s clash against Adelaide United on Sunday moved from its 3pm timeslot to avoid the hottest part of the day. But Football Federation Australia torpedoed the request. United, Canberra Capitals and Canberra Raiders doctor Wilson Lo was keen for the match to be moved earlier or later to ensure the players didn’t suffer heat-related illnesses. Canberra experienced scorching temperatures last week, which forced United to move its training sessions from 5pm to 7pm. The temperature is expected to drop to 32 degrees on Sunday. Apparently the FFA said no to moving the game because they wanted the half-time score on their live ABC television coverage and Adelaide flies home on Sunday night. Surely player safety takes priority.

Alive and walking

Olympic medallist Jared Tallent was back in Canberra last week to spend time in the AIS altitude house. The world-class race walker relocated to Adelaide last year when Athletics Australia overhauled its scholarship program. But the trip back to Canberra has been to initiate his plan for gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016. The three-time Olympic medal winner is planning a reconnaissance mission to Rio next year with Athletics Australia officials. He also said the AIS nutritionists were setting a plan for him. Tallent has been using the altitude house in preparation for the national titles. It means he’s stuck indoors for almost every hour of the day, giving him time to catch up on television. His favourite show - The Walking Dead.

Powell’s easier ride

The re-opening of the Narrabundah velodrome next month is music to the ears of Paralympic gold medallist, Sue Powell, who has been selected to represent Australia at the paracycling world championships on Mexico in May. Powell has been doing the seven-hour return trip to Sydney to conduct two-hour training sessions on the Dunc Gray Velodrome, missing the convenience of the Narrabundah track. The track has been shut down since April last year, but will re-open after $1.5million of improvements. It’s just in time for Powell to cram in some sessions before the worlds. ‘‘It will certainly make life a lot easier,’’ Powell said. ‘‘As you get closer to competition you want to spend a bit more time on the track, so to avoid all that travelling will be helpful.’’


Gungahlin’s new home

Work commenced last week on the new Woden synthetic athletics track, which is scheduled for completion in about May. But the new Gungahlin Enclosed Oval facility is also coming along nicely, with a gala open day scheduled for March 29. The Gungahlin facility will the be new home to the Bulls in the Canberra Raiders Cup rugby league, the Eagles in the ACT Rugby union, Canberra City in the Premier League soccer and Jets in ACT AFL. The new facility is already ear-marked as a back-up training facility for teams during next year’s Asian Cup soccer tournament.