Friday, January 18, 2008

Hula Hoops (Richard Knerr) and Bowls (Ceriann Davies)

Two stories caught my eye in today's in-flight reading.

Richard Knerr died on Monday 14th in Arcadia, California, aged 82. It's unlikely you'll have previously heard of his name, but you will be familiar with some of the products his company introduced to the world.

According to today's Independent, Wham-O was a garage-based start-up in Pasadena.

"In 1957, Knerr and [university buddy Arthur 'Spud'] Melin bought the rights to a plastic flying disc that had been developed by a former air force pilot named Fred Morrison after he watched students at Yale university throw pie tins to one another. Thus was born the 'Pluto Platter', soon to be renamed the Frisbee."

They sold 100 million over the next 30 years. And after "an Australian business acquaintance brought a rattan hoop to Los Angeles and showed them how to whirl the device around their hips" they introduced the Hula Hoop to the mass market.

The Wham-O DIY fall-out shelter (retailing for $119) was a lot less successful!

Richard Knerr who successfully produced and marketed the Hula Hoop

I usually avoid the sports section of newspapers - but one story escaped ...

Bowler Ceriann Davies

Twenty nine year old Ceriann Davies was today due to step onto the bowling rink again at the World Indoor Championships. She made history last Saturday when she "became the first woman to win a match at an event that has been almost solely male territory since its inception 29 years ago" (The championships are as old as Davies!)

Having reached the last 16, she's due to play the current world champion Alex Marshall - who's never played a woman before! Her advice to him was to "just get your head down and play a normal game".

Amidst the fuss over her success, Davies reflects "I suppose it is one for the girls ... but I'd rather be talked about for the quality of the bowls". She added, "the qualifiers are open to every man, woman and beast to play ... I'm the beast."

(I'll update the post with the results of the match and a link to the articles when I'm properly online later in the weekend.)

Update: She lost on a tie-break. You can read a blow-by-blow account over in Saturday's Independent. Some quotes from the press conference afterwards.

"That was the most enjoyable game I've ever played, and I lost," said Davies. "I don't think I could have played any better. I didn't do anything wrong. But I've learned so much. I hope that for future years I've done enough so that people will think, rather than being that token chick in the tournament, I was a player to be reckoned with."

"Jesus, what a match," said Marshall, wiping his perspiring brow. "She was absolutely brilliant. She wasn't just getting one shot in, she was getting three up. I was expecting a hard game against her, but she was absolutely awesome. I didn't have a clue what length to play. Every time I changed it I was losing it. It's probably the toughest game I've ever played."

"I like him even more now," Davies said. "I wish he was an arsehole, but he's not. It's just a pity I couldn't live up to the hype. Sorry."

She did manage to win the world mixed title on Sunday with her bowls partner David Gourlay, and is progressing though the rounds of the Ladies World Bowls Championship too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Only yesterday I was listening to a programme on BBC Radio 4 about Hula Hoops and Frisbees. I think they were trying to reintroduce them to children.