400m world record
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400m world record
He has said it himself: "Le Coq Sportif is family." It's true. We feel like we watched Joakim Noah grow up. Like his grandfather, a professional soccer player, and his dad the tennis genius, Joakim's a tireless worker. Before becoming a star with the Chicago Bulls basketball team, he spent countless hours shooting hoops on New York City's playgrounds. He won two consecutive NCAA college titles with his Florida Gators team. His father gave him his taste for hard work, but Joakim Noah is his father's son in many other ways. Like his dad, he looks well beyond the sports arena for ways to express his humanity.
Joakim Noah knows how lucky he was to grow up the way he did. Now he wants provide the same kind of opportunity to kids who aren't so lucky. Joakim Noah and his mother, Cecilia Rhodes, created the Noah's Ark foundation to promote sports participation in poor neighborhoods and Le Coq Sportif is a major backer. Every year, for instance, the foundation organises a basketball tournament in the rough-and-tumble neighborhoods of Queens, New York. But it's not just about sports. There are also artistic activities for kids at courtside.
He wanted to play soccer (football) but he grew up in Toulouse, the heart of rugby country. So naturally, he and his friends spent their days playing with an oval rugby ball. As it turns out, Michalak was born in exactly the right place. It was written in the stars that Michalak should play rugby. He's simply one of the best. Whether as a star on the Toulouse rugby team or playing for the French national squad, Michalak can turn an entire match around with one deft play. He's got the natural instinct, the work ethic and the team spirit that we love. And off the field, he channels his desire to give back into many projects.
In 2008, Frederic Michalak took a year off from his duties at Toulouse to spend a season playing for the Natal Sharks of Durban, South Africa's best rugby club. The team won the Currie Cup that year. On the side, Michalak spent some of his free time coaching the Ses'Khona Rugby Clup from the poor black township of Kwamashu. It was the first time a white player had volunteered to help the black community. He managed to convert more than a few soccer (football) fanatics into die-hard rugby fans. He didn't walk away when the year was up, either. Today, Michalak is the unofficial godfather of the Ses'Khona Rugby Clup, and Le Coq Sportif is right there with him. We furnish the uniforms and the equipment for all the kids on the club.
In a country of soccer fanatics, Italy's Marco Bortolani opted for rugby. He was a born leader, and a leader he remains. He's been collecting laurels since he started playing. He was named captain of his local club, Padua, when he was only 15. At 21, he took charge of the Italian national team. Same story at Narbonne. He entered the record books when he became the first Italian to captain an English squad upon joining Gloucester. Back in Italy, he is still a captain, currently of the Parma Herons.
Milan, 1954. Cesare Ghezzi founds the first Milanese rugby club and introduces Italian boys to the rigors of the sport. Ghezzi understood rugby better than he understood English, and for some reason decided to name his team the Chicken Rugby Club. For over 60 years, it has remained Italy's foremost academy of the art of the oval ball, but it teaches more than that. "The Chickens" also transmits a strong sense of social responsibility, hard work and loyalty. These are the same values that inspire Marco Bortolani, Chicken Rugby Club's presiding spirit. Those same values explain why Le Coq Sportif does its part in helping the club's little chicks develop into fighting cocks on the field.
If the playing field of life isn't level, neither is the tennis court. A young black man named Arthur Ashe discovered this early growing up in segregated Richmond, Virginia in the 1950s. So Ashe learned to play tennis on the streets. He went on to become the first black tennis player to win the U.S. Open in 1968. That didn't stop South Africa from denying Ashe a visa to play in the South African Open. In what would prove to be a lifetime of outspoken political engagement, Ashe called for South Africa to be expelled from the professional tennis circuit. He went on to win 72 titles, including the Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975, when he defeated Jimmy Connors in the final.
Arthur Ashe didn't wait for the twilight of his career before extending his hand to other boys in need of the kind of help he never got. He was just 25 when he set up his first social program. On a trip through Cameroon a year later, he spotted the young Yannick Noah, and pushed the French Tennis Federation to take the gifted youngster under its wing. Throughout his too-short life, Ashe fought as hard against apartheid and for Haitian refugees as he did against his adversaries on the other side of the net. As he himself said, "I believe I was destined to do more than hit tennis balls." Ashe contracted HIV from a tainted blood transfusion and spent his final years raising money for Aids research. He died from the disease in 1993 at the age of 49. His widow Jeanne continues his work today through the Arthur Ashe Foundation, which provides educational and sporting opportunities for children all over the world. Le Coq Sportif is part of this work with its support of the Foundation's Learning Center in New York.
He turned France into a nation of tennis fans on June June 5, 1983 when he won his unforgettable victory on the red clay of Roland Garros. But he had already been a member of the Coq Sportif team for several years. Yannick Noah has been our roving ambassador for thirty years now, because he embodies the values of our brand. This gifted warrior, always true to himself, manages to transmit his passion and his deep feeling to everybody who crosses his path.
Yannick Noah was raised in Cameroun at a time when the whole country had only eight tennis courts. If Arthur Ashe hadn't spotted him as a youngster, his fabled career might never have come about. France, by contrast, has 50,000 tennis, but they're not always in places where less fortunate kids can take advantage of them. So in 1996, Noah got the idea for his Fete le Mur foundation, which lets kids from poorer neighborhoods discover the game of tennis. From the beginning, Le coq sportif has thrown its support behind Noah's project. Fifteen years later, it's fair to say our gamble has paid off. The foundation backs over 25 tennis centers where nearly 3000 youngsters play every year.