Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 592

4 4 10 MARCH 202 2 SPORT Weekend is printed on certiäed, 100% recycled äbres, produced from sustainable sources in the UK Clare Balding Photography: Hamish Blair/Getty Images SPORT PICKS OF THE WEEK RUGBY UNION 11 March Six Nations, Wales v France, Principality Stadium, Cardiff Renowned for åair, France will try and beat Wales and continue their charge to the Grand Slam. WINTER PARALYMPICS 13 March Final day, Beijing The last day of competition offers the chance for Menna Fitzpatrick to add to her record medal haul as she defends her slalom title. Millie Knight will also be hoping for a top-three änish. HORSE RACING 15 March Cheltenham Festival The best week of jump racing in the world starts with the Champion Hurdle as the highlight on day one. Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore will be warm favourites. I can’t have been the only one to shout ‘what?!’ at the radio last week, when I heard of ShaneWarne’s death. He was box o ce for cricket, transporting it froma committed but limited audience to global entertainment. With his bleach-blonde hair, white chapstick and dab of white on his nose, he always stood out in a crowd. When he had ball in hand, no one could domore in a couple of steps and a flick of the wrist. Away from the pitch too, Warne was the life and soul of every event. I first met himwhen I was a rookie radio reporter looking to prove I could stretch beyond equestrian sport. In 1997, I got access to the Australia teamduring the Ashes, when they played a warmup match against the Earl of Carnarvon’s XI at Highclere Castle. I arrived withmy bulky recording device and a list of questions for any players whomight agree to talk tome. My palms were sweating, I was so nervous. “Alright there?” Came a voice from the bar. “D’ya wanna a drink?” I accepted a Diet Coke and ShaneWarne sat down oppositeme, then he asked what I was doing. I told him I was hoping to interview players for BBCRadio. “Ah, the BBC,” he said, in amock British accent. “You don’t look like a BBC reporter. What’s the story?” I said I was a trainee sports reporter and we talked about horse racing (he loved a day out at the races) and then he said, “So, d’ya wanna interviewme?” I spent the next half hour listening to Shane explain the art of spin bowling and what it meant to play for Australia. He was charming, eloquent, funny and engaging. He didn’t generally trust the press, but he knew I was not on the hunt for a scoop, nor was I going visual impairment, courtesy of Neil Simpson with his guide and brother Andrew. The 19-year-old has been hailed as a ‘once-in-a-generation’ star by the head of GB Snowsport Pat Sharples, who oversees the Olympic and Paralympic teams. He is hoping the success of the Simpson brothers will inspiremore people with visual impairment to try snow sports. Along with Menna Fitzpatrick (nowTeamGB’s most successful Winter Paralympian) andMillie Knight, these Games have highlighted the continued success of the British programme in developing VI skiers. As a sporting nation, Ukraine has long embraced the Paralympic movement and is one of the few countries to consistently feature in the top five for winter and summer games. With three goldmedals on the opening day of theseWinter Paralympics, Ukrainian athletes sent amessage of strength to their compatriots at home. OksanaMasters, one of the highest-profile Paralympic sportswomen in the USA, also showed this solidarity. Born inUkraine three years after the Chernobyl disaster, she had various physical challenges caused by radiation exposure. She was adopted, aged seven, froman orphanage by an American professor and by the age of 14, had had both legs amputated. As a result, it gave her freedom to try various sports. She has now won gold in rowing, cycling, cross-country skiing and now biathlon (for which she won gold this year on the second day of competition). TheWinter Paralympic Games show us in somany inspiring ways how human beings cannot and should never be limited. All we need to prove our versatility is opportunity. @clarebalding to ask awkward questions about his fitness or behaviour. I was thrilled when he went on to play a starring role in Australia beating England 3-2 to win back the Ashes. Yes, he had his faults andmademistakes, but he was a warm-hearted human who wanted to share his love of cricket and wanted others to succeed. Even die-hard England fans couldn’t help but love him. His mesmeric, magical talent made Test cricket interesting and his personalitymade himpopular the world over. Whenever I think of Australia, I will see Shane’s smile and feel his zest for life. I also thank him for helpingme prove tomyself and others that I could survive in the fairly intimidating world of sports media. I will be at Crufts this week for Channel 4, so not involved in coverage of theWinter Paralympics. But I’ve enjoyed watching Ade Adepitan lead a teamof onscreen presenters who all have a disability. It’s the first time in TV history that such a statement has beenmade of visibility and representation. Great Britain was on the leaderboard early with a goldmedal in themen’s super-G for skiers with a aussie rule Shane Warne was known as the king of spin Cricket will miss the wonder of Warne