The best part has been seeing the athletes, who are even more impressive in real life than they are in ESPN’s Body issue. Ryan Lochte’s recently bleached hair looked more blue than blond against a backdrop of the blue Olympics logo, and Claressa Shields — the first female boxer in the U.S. to win gold — is ridiculously jacked and startlingly soft-spoken. It was jarring to hear such a delicate voice come out of a body that could rip you in two.So far, everything has been pretty great for me in spite of concerns about infrastructure (the traffic is unreal) and security (the Brazil Ministry of Justice fired its security team less than a week ago and put the local police in charge). I’m here for three weeks; I get to see the spectacle and be in a beautiful city, and then I get to go home. The larger issues that have been thrust into the spotlight because the Olympics are taking place in Brazil will still be here — the people who have been displaced, the workers who haven’t been paid, the sewage polluting the waters. But on the ground, Rio isn’t the apocalyptic hellscape from the media hype cycle so much as it is a city that has overextended its resources and is trying to keep its rougher edges just out of view.I left the press center and walked a few hundred yards to find a home, still inside Olympic Park, with a big sign on it that reads in Portuguese, “Amendment 74 Area of Special Social Interest. We have the right to live here. It remains to be seen if there are any morals left in the justice system or if it’s all corrupt. Not everyone has a price!” We’re on the ground in Rio covering the 2016 Summer Olympics. Check out all our coverage here.RIO DE JANEIRO — For a lot of FiveThirtyEight sports stories, there’s not much need to be watching live. We’re trained to ignore hot takes from announcers, to remember that fluke plays can be meaningless. Most of what we know and understand about the games we love is gleaned from careful analysis after the game is over.During the 2014 World Cup, we came to understand Lionel Messi’s greatness by looking at how efficient a shooter he was (the ninth-most-efficient overall, but the best shooter when we adjusted for the shots he took) — that helped us contextualize just how abnormal it was for him to miss this sitter in the final. But his stats don’t necessarily capture the discombobulated, cracked-earth sensation of Messi not being Messi. After he missed that shot, how many Brahma beers were hurled by fans in the sky-blue jerseys of La Albiceleste? His national-team disappointments have been noted statistically, but what does the weight of national expectation sound and smell and feel like in a stadium of 75,000 screaming maniacs?That’s why I wanted to come to the Olympics. I’ve never covered an event of this magnitude, for this long — and I’m overwhelmed and scared and excited! I wanted to be here for the tactile data: to understand how different countries handle winning and losing, to see whose fans are the loudest and which stadiums are silent — and maybe to share some weird anecdotes about the things I’m doing and seeing along the way.Before I left, fears about Zika virus were rampant, or maybe they were just especially high at the Upper West Side location of AdvantageCare Physicians. My doctor prescribed the CDC-recommended typhoid vaccine, along with some anti-diarrhea pills (that I haven’t had to use!) and an outfit best described as Ph.D.-student-about-to-ride-a-bike, which was assembled using notes such as “keep your pant legs tucked into your socks.” At the risk of coming off like Hope Solo, here you go: I did this only once before realizing that it was overkill. I haven’t seen many bugs, but I know the concern is not about quantity of bugs but which ones carry Zika. I spent time at Guanabara Bay, the main site for the Olympic sailing events, with some of the U.S. sailing team and staff, and they told me that the water seemed a little better since runoff sewage had been closed off from dumping into the bay. The Associated Press reported this week that at a lagoon where Olympic rowing will take place, adenovirus (which can cause fever, diarrhea and pink eye, among other symptoms) readings were lower than they were in March 2015 but still at “hair-raising” levels. From where I was, on the shores of Guanabara Bay, the water appeared clean, if not downright beautiful, with Sugarloaf Mountain in the background. But I didn’t swim in it. Over at the main press center at Olympic Park, some journalists have complained about the lack of free coffee and food options. THERE’S A PRESS CENTER WITH FREE COFFEE. It’s packed, and the free stuff runs out. But there’s another place to buy food. As a first-timer, I can’t contextualize just how good or bad things really are; people have told me “it’s better than Sochi” and “it’s so much worse than London.” Once, when I peed, the entire toilet paper holder came free of the wall. But I just set it down and got some toilet paper. On the other side of the city, more than an hour away from Olympic Park and the families it has pushed out, I waited in line to take a picture with the Olympic rings on the tourist-filled Copacabana beach. It was crowded but semi-orderly, as people took turns exchanging phones to take photos of one another. I always think selfies turn out better, so I flipped the camera around on my face only to catch a woman dressed all in gold holding a novelty torch. “What you can’t get from TV, and what I came to really love about the Olympics, were the little shavings on the factory floor, the curious byproducts of an event that brings together so many people from so many places in such narrow quarters,” reflected one reporter after the London Olympics. I’ll be here for the next few weeks, trying to find as many data-y things on the factory floor to share, but I’m eager to hear what you are seeing at home too. So leave me a note in the comments, tweet me, email me! I’ll try my best to deliver the same data-driven reporting we always provide, along with a sober, skeptical eye on the narratives the rest of the sports writing world is selling.
In case you forgot, the Boston Celtics had an impressive season in which they locked up the East’s No. 1 seed and then won two playoff rounds. This all happened before they got absolutely decimated1They trailed by 20 points or more at some point in four of the five games. by LeBron James and the Cavs during the conference finals.Two things became pretty clear in the aftermath of that beatdown. First, Boston obviously needed a second star to lessen the burden on its undersized leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas.2Thomas missed the last three games of that series with a hip injury. And secondly, even if the Celtics managed to land that player, it still might not be enough to get past the Cavs in 2018. After all, Cleveland held a lead of 16 points or more in 46 percent of the minutes played in their lopsided series.Boston has to feel good about successfully addressing the first issue. Gordon Hayward, the All-Star forward who was departing the Utah Jazz as a free agent, confirmed on Tuesday night that he was joining the Celtics, which makes them a bit more formidable at a time when the Cavs have their own organizational challenges in front of them.VIDEO: Hayward may still not be enough for the Celtics Judging by national TV ratings, it’s safe to assume that a large swath of casual NBA fans haven’t seen much of Hayward and don’t know what makes him special. And yet his statistical production3Almost 22 points, more than five rebounds and nearly four assists per game while shooting a highly efficient 47 percent from the floor. and the sheer level of attention his decision generated — though confusion over whether he was having a change of heart on Tuesday certainly ratcheted up the media frenzy — may lead some to expect that he’ll become the team’s No. 1 option, or that the offense will run through him. But neither development seems likely, barring Brad Stevens — Hayward’s college coach at Butler — making big alterations to Boston’s playbook.Hayward is one of the more organic scorers in the NBA and doesn’t need to dominate the ball to make an impact. His 27.6 percent usage rate was one of the lowest among players who managed 20 points per game last season. And despite being Utah’s primary option, his usage didn’t increase much in clutch situations (28 percent). This pattern is much different from that of Thomas, whose usage skyrocketed to 46 percent in the clutch from 34 percent in general.Hayward gets his offense in other ways. He excels in transition (only Jimmy Butler outscored Hayward’s 1.38 points per transition play, per Synergy Sports4Among those with 100 plays in transition.) and figures to have more fast-break opportunities as a Celtic because Boston plays at a much faster pace than Utah, which has finished dead last in tempo each of the past three seasons.The 27-year-old also gets to the line frequently. Hayward, like many other NBA guards, has nearly perfected the art of drawing fouls as a jump shooter (he drew calls 19 percent of the time when the defender tried to go over his screen in pick-and-rolls, which is the NBA’s 11th-highest mark, according to Synergy5Minimum of 200 such plays.). He’s gotten far better at finishing through contact, not only shooting 69 percent at the rim, but also finishing the season with more and-1s6Meaning a play where he scores and gets fouled. than shots rejected. To give that context, consider that only three other wing players showed a similar ability to hit and-1s more than they got blocked, per Basketball-Reference.com: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron.7Minimum of at least 30 and-1 playsThat’s part of the reason that Hayward figures to fit so well with Boston. He can comfortably play off the ball — per Synergy, he draws shooting fouls almost 23 percent of the time when he cuts to the basket, and he’s a solid spot-up shooter — and the Celtics assist each other at a much higher rate than the Jazz did last season. Boston currently designs many of their sets around Thomas’s quickness — they use handoffs more than any other team because he excels at them — and there’s nothing about Hayward that suggests that will change.If there’s a clear downside in all this for Boston, it’s that the club still has to make room under the salary cap for Hayward and his max contract, and that means shedding players. In addition to unloading Kelly Olynyk, there’s a very good chance the Celtics will have to trade solid, defense-minded guard Marcus Smart. Presumably they hope to trade in some of their assets — whether it’s sophomore Jaylen Brown, future picks, or both — for yet another star to put alongside Hayward, Thomas and Al Horford, who signed in free agency last summer.Hayward is best known for what he does on the offensive side of the ball, but he’s no slouch on defense. He held his own for the Jazz, who had one of league’s best defenses last season and, like the Celtics, used versatile, wing-heavy lineups that could switch their defensive assignments at will. To some extent, that strategy8Which falls a little flat compared to what Utah did defensively because Thomas is so short and can’t switch his assignments as easily. is the one Boston will have to use on the Cavaliers — both to contain James and to get out to Cleveland’s stable of perimeter shooters.As ESPN’s Kevin Pelton noted, the Hayward signing itself may not yield more regular-season wins right off the bat. Last season’s team collected 53 wins, which is five more than the Celtics’ point differential suggested they should have finished with.But at this point, regular-season win totals and playoff seedings aren’t the target anymore; the Cavs are. And as long as the Hayward acquisition makes them a more legitimate threat to Cleveland, this pickup can only be viewed as a considerable success.
Three of the younger stars of men’s tennis broke through this season to reach the Top 10 in the rankings and qualify for the exclusive, lucrative, year-end tournament in London. But so far at the ATP World Tour Finals this week, several of the older men in the sport have been asserting their dominance, often winning in blowouts.Only the top eight healthy players in the world qualify for the tour finals. The injured No. 3, Rafael Nadal, skipped the tournament, so the other eight men in the top nine of the rankings entered. Then Thursday, No. 8 Milos Raonic withdrew with an injury, so David Ferrer stepped in to play Raonic’s last match.The tour finals provide a useful benchmark for the state of the sport. Since 1970, they’ve gathered the best players in the world around the end of the season to compete for big stakes in prize money and, since 1990, ranking points. The details have changed often: the host city, the format, the number of players and matches. But as far as the tumultuous history of pro tennis goes, the tour finals have been a relatively stable showpiece for top stars.This year, the state of the game appears to be one of change: 23-year-old Milos Raonic, 24-year-old Kei Nishikori and 26-year-old Marin Cilic — members of the sport’s “second line,” as Cilic called them at the U.S. Open — all broke through to reach their first tour finals. These days in tennis, even 26 is young.But the other five, who have played in the tour finals before, all are a year older than they were last year. So their sticking around increases the average age of contestants. This year, it’s 28 years, three months — down by just a month from last year’s record high and more than five years older than the youthful class of 1993. (The average age climbed when the 32-year-old Ferrer stepped in as an alternate, but would have been about the same if Nadal had been healthy enough to play, bumping both Raonic and Ferrer.)The young-ish debutantes also haven’t done much winning. Cilic won just six games in his two defeats. (“His debut in the World Tour Finals has gotten [the] best out of him in terms of his nerves,” Novak Djokovic said after beating Cilic, 6-1, 6-1.) Raonic suffered two straight-sets losses before withdrawing. Nishikori has won twice, including over the 32-year-old Ferrer on Thursday, but was routed by Roger Federer two days before.“The usual guys that everybody knows for a long time still enjoy the game and like to be out on center court, as well, accepting the challenge of the young guys,” Federer said after defeating Nishikori. He predicted his main rivals would continue troubling the upstarts for years to come.The tournament looks even grayer when factoring in who’s doing the winning. The average age of winners five-sixths of the way into the round-robin stage has been 29 years and 1 month, more than a year older than last year and older than at every other tour finals since the very first tournament, the elder-dominated event of 1970.Not only have the oldsters mostly held their ground, but they’ve done it in dominating fashion. Only one of the tournament’s 10 matches through Thursday even went to three sets: Nishikori’s defeat of Ferrer. On average, the loser has won just 5.1 games, and the winner has won 71.1 percent of games. If those figures hold up, they’ll be the lowest and highest, respectively, in completed matches in the history of the round-robin portion of the event (which was skipped from 1983 to 1985).
Alabama vs. Auburn, Florida vs. Florida State, Michigan vs. Ohio State. Those are the types of college football rivalries from which sports legends are made. This weekend on the northern tip of Manhattan in New York City (known for having the lowest percentage of college football fans in the nation), a different type of history will be produced. The 0-8 Cornell Big Red will visit the 0-8 Columbia Lions. It’s a game sure to be memorable not because the two teams are so good, but because both of them are so bad.I’m a Columbia Lions football fan. I listen to their games on WKCR-FM. I’m attending Saturday’s game against Cornell. I went to every home game from 1994 to 2000, and I treasure an autographed photo with then-Lions and later NFL star Marcellus Wiley.But Columbia enters the game with statistics that resemble those of a peewee football team dropped into the NFL. Columbia has scored more than seven points in only one game this season. Last week against Harvard, the Lions suffered the ultimate embarrassment: getting shut out 45-0.The away team hasn’t been much better. Only against Princeton has Cornell put up more than 16 points in a game, and the Big Red still managed to score fewer points in that game, 27, than Columbia’s highest point total this year (28). Last week, Cornell went down 42-7 against Dartmouth, and that wasn’t even their worst defeat of the season so far.Not surprisingly, of the 121 teams in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS, formerly known as Division I-AA) for which the NCAA provides statistics, Columbia is dead last in offensive points per game at 8.6. Cornell is not far behind, at No. 113, scoring only 12.9 points per game. In point differential (points scored minus points allowed), Columbia ranks No. 118 with -31.2. Cornell is ranked No. 114 with -21.5.The wretchedness goes beyond the scoreboard, though. In each facet of the game, these two teams have been exceptionally awful.The Lions rank last in the FCS with 51.3 rushing yards per game (YPG). Cornell comes in at No. 117 with 88 YPG.When it comes to passing, Columbia and Cornell are deceptively bad. Columbia has passed for 221.6 YPG (good for a rank of No. 52), while Cornell has passed for 179.3 YPG (good for No. 88). Of course, both teams have almost always been behind, so they have to pass in an effort to catch up. Passer efficiency, which takes into account pass attempts, completions, interceptions, touchdowns and yards, places Columbia No. 120 out of 121 and Cornell just slightly better at No. 103.The defenses aren’t much better. Columbia has given up 273.8 YPG on the ground (No. 120). Cornell has done better, at 189.1 YPG, but that still ranks only 84th. In passing defense, Columbia ranks No. 100 with 246.9 YPG, and Cornell lags at No. 106 with 262 YPG. In passer efficiency defense, Columbia comes in at No. 100 and Cornell at No. 118.Finally, there’s special teams. Both teams have made only two field goals all year, and both of those came in the same game for each team. Columbia and Cornell rank No. 111 and No. 112, respectively, with just 16.96 and 16.91 yards per kickoff return. In yards per punt return, Columbia ranks No. 75 with 6.80, and Cornell ranks a pathetic No. 118 with just 2.29.All hope is not lost, however. The two teams excel in one notable category: punting. Columbia has punted an amazingly high 7.25 times per game, and Cornell has done so 6.63 times per game. Those are good enough to rank No. 6 and No. 16, respectively! And perhaps because they have gotten so much practice, Columbia has averaged 34.83 yards per punt, and Cornell 36.34. Those averages rank in the top half of the FCS, at Nos. 60 and 25.So, if you live in the New York metro area, are a big fan of punting and want to see two teams that cannot score or stop anyone else from scoring, you’re in luck. It’s sure to be a riveting affair in a city that just doesn’t care.
HOUSTON — The NBA Finals are the crown jewel of the playoffs for obvious reasons, but it’d be hard to argue with anyone who views this vaunted Western Conference finals matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, which opens Monday night, as this year’s main event.The Warriors have two of the best three players in the world in their starting five, have won two of the past three titles and appeared borderline annoyed by having to face questions about whether they’re concerned to be starting a series without home-court advantage for the first time in their recent championship era. The Rockets won an NBA-best 65 regular-season games, have likely MVP James Harden and future Hall of Famer Chris Paul in their backcourt and possess a group of sweet-shooting teammates who stretch the floor as if it’s made of Play-Doh.The offensive firepower — Golden State and Houston finished No. 1 and No. 2 in offensive efficiency and virtually averaged the same number of points per 100 possessions — guarantees we’ll hear plenty about how well these teams score. But because of that, something else about the Rockets and Warriors may fly beneath the radar: The NBA’s two best clubs are even further ahead of the curve on defense. In a league that’s more reliant than ever on the pick-and-roll offense, these defenses are unmatched when it comes to their versatility and ability to switch assignments on the fly.Houston defended a screen-and-roll by switching on 1,406 possession chances during the regular season, while Golden State orchestrated 1,075 switches of its own, according to data from Second Spectrum and NBA Advanced Stats. These teams — which more than doubled the switch totals compiled by 20 other squads — were outliers: The Lakers were the only other club that broke 800 switches during the 2017-18 season.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/rox.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.And it isn’t just that the Warriors and Rockets switch a lot. They also use the strategy to fuel their high-octane offenses. Houston forced 3.5 turnovers per 100 switches, while Golden State forced 2.4, the best rates in the league, according to Second Spectrum.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/warriors.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.That ability — having two similarly sized players trade their defensive responsibilities quickly enough during a pick-and-roll that the offense doesn’t gain an edge — speaks to the length and versatility these Western Conference foes have. And it takes on added importance in a matchup like this, in which the Warriors and Rockets use an array of screens (albeit differently1The Warriors use fewer pick-and-roll plays than any other team in basketball, while the Rockets use more direct screens than any team, according to Second Spectrum data. That said, Golden State, seeking to free up Klay Thompson, sets more off-ball screens than any club.) to free up their most lethal shooters beyond the 3-point line.“You have to cover more ground than ever before. It’s amazing: Sometimes I’ll turn on the classic sports channel and find Lakers-Celtics games from the 1980s — some of the best games ever — and the game is played in this tiny little radius. Now it’s way out on the perimeter,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Every possession was, you dump it into the post, a double comes, and you might see six or eight threes taken in a game. But everything was different. The rules were different. The talent is different. Very few low-post players anymore. The league’s adapted. Coaches have adapted. Things are ever-changing. And you have to change along with that.”Anyone who’s followed the Warriors’ dominance these past few years knows a huge chunk of that success stems from Golden State’s ability to go small and play Draymond Green — who may not even be the ideal height for a traditional small forward — at center. That alignment, with the addition of Andre Iguodala, gives the Warriors four long-limbed clones who are laterally quick enough and strong enough to cover almost anyone. With that defensive speed, Golden State can gamble a bit more on that end; it knows the opposing offense generally won’t be able to find mismatches, even if a switch has taken place.“At the end of the day, it’s really just another way for us to cut off the other team’s options with our versatility,” said Green, the league’s reigning defensive player of the year, who sometimes calls an audible — and moves a teammate out of the way — before a screen occurs to be in position to thwart the play.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/dray.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Houston has also made life difficult for opponents with its versatility on defense. By and large, the Rockets have been far more successful on defense than most would have guessed, jumping to sixth in defensive efficiency this season after ranking 21st in 2015-16 and 18th in 2016-17. Adding the sticky-handed Paul certainly factored into that improvement, but plugging free-agent signings Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker into the lineup likely did even more for the defense.“Their ability to guard 1 through 5 makes it so much easier for us. That’s why we’re so much better on defense this year,” Houston guard Eric Gordon said of the duo, which sometimes shares the frontcourt despite neither standing taller than 6-foot-8. (Nonetheless, the lineup pays dividends: Houston, trailing by 14 heading into the fourth quarter at Portland in December, came back to win by 7 while using Mbah a Moute and Tucker at the 4 and 5 for the entire period.)Mbah a Moute, in particular, has become a vital piece. According to a defensive dashboard created by Nylon Calculus contributor Krishna Narsu, the wing’s versatility was highly unusual. This season, he was one of just seven players to spend at least 15 percent of his time guarding each of the following positions: point guard, shooting guard, small forward and power forward.Unsurprisingly, the Rockets struggled in his absence during the middle of the campaign, enduring a season-long five-game losing streak. The Rockets’ 101.2 defensive rating with Mbah a Moute on the court this season would have ranked best in the league on a team scale, while their 105.4 rating without him would have had them just slightly above average, at No. 12.Above all else, Mbah a Moute and Tucker carry so much importance because they make Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni — one of the game’s brightest offensive minds who was never really known for switching with his defenses — more comfortable utilizing this style of play.“To even have a chance against a team like Golden State, you have to make a point of not being put into rotations. They’ll kill you that way. So I’m just happy we have a roster full of guys to where it makes sense to be able to switch the way we do,” he said.To be sure: Neither team is breaking from decades of tradition with this strategy on defense, even if they are using it far more often than everyone else. On some level, this is no different from what the LeBron James-era Miami Heat did when it rode small ball to a championship in 2012. (Kerr would be the first to tell you that he never envisioned Green playing the rim-protector role when he took the Warriors job. “We didn’t know Draymond was Draymond yet,” he told me.) Beyond that, it wouldn’t be fair to gloss over how unbelievably dominant these teams are on offense, given how big a role scoring plays in their success.Yet there are reasons to think that creative, well-timed switches will heavily factor into this series as the chess match of hunting for what each team perceives to be mismatches unfolds.The Warriors have made no secret of the fact that they like to post up Kevin Durant when they spot him being guarded by Paul following a screen.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/durant.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Meanwhile, Harden and the Rockets are even less shy about attacking Stephen Curry; they’ll often run multiple pick-and-rolls until they get him on an island for a 1-on-1 matchup. In fact, they used this tactic six times in a seven-possession span during the final four minutes of the teams’ last regular-season meeting Jan. 20, a 116-108 Houston win.“We’re just gonna watch film and find ways to attack them offensively,” Harden said when I asked about that sequence. “We’ll take our shots, play unselfishly. Pretty simple.”Curry thinks this will mean isolating him in the same way this series. “I hope it’s every single play,” he told The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “If you look at the ‘Hamptons Five’ lineup that’s out there, I would probably do the same exact thing if I was coaching against me. You’ve got Klay (Thompson), Andre, Draymond and KD out there. I embrace those opportunities to get stops and try to make it tough in those iso situations … and just do my job.”The likely MVP seeking out a former MVP for a 1-on-1 matchup, for the right to play in the NBA Finals. A pretty cool outcome, all thanks to how these juggernauts force and handle switches on defense.Check out our latest NBA predictions.
No. 6 Ohio State will wear 1916 throwback uniforms versus No. 9 Nebraska on Nov. 5. Credit: @darrenrovellThe No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes’ primetime matchup versus No. 9 Nebraska in Ohio Stadium on Saturday is a golden opportunity to prove in front of a national audience that they’re one of college football’s premier teams. Based on their uniform choice, the Buckeyes are already coming into the game with style.The Scarlet and Gray will have a different look this week, wearing 1916 throwback uniforms to honor late, great OSU running back Chic Harley, who played at OSU from 1916-17 and 1919. He spent the 1918 season in the military, which is the reason OSU chose this week — the military appreciation game — to wear replica jerseys from 1916 in respect for Harley’s sacrifices.Ohio Stadium is sometimes referred to as “The House that Harley Built.”Darren Rovell of ESPN tweeted out the full look the Buckeyes will be donning on Saturday in the ‘Shoe.FIRST LOOK: Ohio State Nike uniforms, commemorating 100th anniversary of undefeated 1916 team, to be worn vs Nebraska this week pic.twitter.com/fJacfs2VwX— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) November 1, 2016
Senior Jaine VanPutten preforms on vault in St John Arena on Feb. 4. Credit: Megan Russell | Lantern reporterWith both OSU and Penn State sitting 2-2 in the in the Big Ten, the Ohio State women’s gymnastics team is preparing this week for a tough meet on the road against Penn State this coming Saturday.The Buckeyes had a record-breaking meet two weekends ago at Minnesota, earning the 10th-best score in program history of 196.600, and although the team saw a win against Rutgers in this most recent meet, the Buckeyes posted a comparably lower final score of 195.775. The team is looking to change their practice routine to cater to their coming meet against Penn State. “As coaches, we look back at some of our weeks’ training plans and then look ahead at the meets, and the meets we performed really well, we obviously go back and try to replicate some of those workouts,” said OSU coach Carey Fagan. “Obviously, Minnesota was a great meet, so we’re molding this week’s practice kind of off of the week leading into Minnesota.”Similar to the week leading up to the Minnesota meet, the OSU team added a third floor-focused practice on Monday, in addition to the two regularly scheduled practices on Tuesdays and Fridays.The extra time dedicated to floor serves the dual purpose of helping the coaches determine who is performance-ready for the coming meet and helping the athletes build confidence in their routines.The team is also practicing in small group assignments for the week as another method to help the girls mentally prepare. Sophomore Jamie Stone is one of the athletes on the team who finds this practice method useful.“I kind of like the group assignments,” Stone said. “It’s a lot more challenging. I feel like it makes us more competition ready, because if I hit one, they have to or vice versa.”Although the Buckeyes placed first in every event against Rutgers this past Saturday, they also saw many minor injuries during the meet that will potentially change the floor lineup this coming Saturday.“Olivia’s (Aepli) ankle is pretty sore, so we’re probably going to rest her on floor,” Fagan said. “And then Taylor Harrison is still coming back from her hip. You know, she’s progressing, but she’s not quite at 100 percent in training, so we’ll have to make some last minute lineup changes again as we get closer to Saturday.”With Penn State posting a 195.925 in their last meet against Michigan State, the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions will potentially have a very close meet in their weekend matchup.How the OSU athletes perform in practice this week will affect the overall lineups, especially the lineup for floor, according to Fagan, and will play a contributing role in determining which team will come out with the victory.
Facing the Minnesota Golden Gophers (24-23, 13-11 Big Ten) in a Big Ten Tournament elimination game, the Ohio State baseball team (26-27, 14-11 Big Ten) fell, 9-4, on Friday. Illinois took the championship and automatic conference bid for the NCAA Tournament. This was Greg Beals’ first season as coach of OSU, after replacing Hall of Fame coach Bob Todd. The team finished one game below .500, marking the first time the Buckeyes had a losing record since 1987. Beals did lead OSU back to the Big Ten Tournament, however, after Todd’s team missed the cut last season. Beals said he was proud of how far the team came in his first year at OSU. “Of all the great teams in Ohio State baseball history, this team, this year, was the first team to sweep Michigan at home in Bill Davis Stadium,” Beals said. “This was the first team to go up and at Minnesota, and win a series on the road at Minnesota — first in history.” Freshman outfielder Tim Wetzel said the team had a lot of guys fitting into new roles and that they all matured over the year. “We all found our roles pretty early in the season, and then we all really stuck to that,” Wetzel said. “I think, in a game like this, that’s going to take us a long way.” Beals said the players knew who they were and fought their “tails” off. “I’ll remember these kids for the fight they had,” Beals said. “Whether they were as good or better or not as good, they just fought, and they fought, and they fought.” The Buckeyes will lose seven seniors, including three everyday starters. This includes two starting pitchers and two relief pitchers, one of whom was Drew Rucinski, a second-team All-Big Ten selection. Beals said the team has eight incoming players signed to national letters of intent and seven verbal commitments. “I’m looking forward to next year, playing with all these guys — except for those seven seniors that will be gone,” sophomore catcher Greg Solomon said. “They did a hell of a job this year.” Beals said the bar has been set high for OSU baseball and that, in the future, the team needs to take care of business so chances to make the Big Ten Tournament are not in jeopardy. “Playing baseball the right way and maximizing the game of baseball is what me and my coaching staff are going to push every day in this program,” Beals said. “It was something that was an absolute necessity for this season, and it’s something that I think for great baseball, where we want this program to go, it’s going to be a necessity in the future also.”
The squeaking of brand new Nikes against polished hardwood fills the expansive interior of an empty Schottenstein Center. Bouncing basketballs, blowing whistles and exhausted grunts combine to form the soundtrack of a Buckeye basketball practice. Some of the members of the Ohio State men’s basketball program stand drenched in sweat, hands on their hips and watch as others participate in drills. These spectators and participants combine to comprise an indisposable crew on the floor, but they aren’t the basketball team. They’re the seven members of the Ohio State men’s basketball managerial staff. While the actual team wins the games and earns the headlines, the staff supporting the team is happy to sit behind the bench on game days, out of the spotlight. They’re OK with the idea that the outside world has no clue how important they were to coach Thad Matta and his teams’ preparations for victory. “A lot of people just think we’re all ‘water and towels’ and just kind of there,” said Weston Strayer, manager and a fourth-year in marketing. “But they don’t understand just how much time and work we put in each week to the program.” Their contributions are noticed by those who pay attention though. “The managers do everything you really don’t want to do, and they do it with a smile on their face,” said senior forward Evan Ravenel. “They’re one of the key components to our team, and we wouldn’t be half as good without those guys.” A typical OSU student gets up, goes to class, maybe goes to work afterward and then juggles homework with a social life. The managers have those same obligations, but in addition to their school obligations, they deal with between 35 and 40 hours a week of unpaid work for basketball activities. They show up for 10 a.m. practice an hour before to set up. They stay two hours after to rebound for players who want to get extra shots up or to run errands for coaches. It can end up being a five-hour shift. On game days, they’re there for the pre-game shootaround five hours before tip-off and will stay at the arena for the next eight hours, through the pre-game team meal and the game itself. During the games, they take advanced stats for the coaches, set up chairs on the court for the team during timeouts and manage Matta’s play-calling whiteboard. “Once the game starts, nothing we have done is going to change anything, but preparation-wise, we definitely help them out where we can,” Strayer said. “We try and do our best to help them prepare and make everything a little bit easier for them.” The man in charge of the managers is David Egelhoff, director of basketball operations. He’s been on the OSU staff for 10 years and in his current position for seven. In addition to handling the day-to-day, off-court activities of the basketball team, he handles the application and hiring process of the team’s managers and serves as their boss. It’s a position his past has qualified him for. Egelhoff served as a student manager for OSU’s basketball team from 1998 to 2002 under former OSU coach Jim O’Brien. He said his times as a manager make up some of his favorite college memories. “I’ve made lifelong friendships, not only with the managers but the coaching staffs and players I’ve worked with as well,” Egelhoff said. “We had a really enjoyable time doing a lot of things … those experiences we had were pretty special to me.” The sheer quantity of time the managers spend with each other has allowed them to form a special bond. “It’s a great group of guys, we joke and mess with each other and it’s a lot of fun,” Strayer said. “We kind of joke when we walk out of the tunnel (during home games), they announce the ‘three-time defending Big Ten champions’ and then we all kind of just come out before everyone, so I always wonder what people think when they see us in the suits walking out by the team.” Evan Kurt, a third-year manager and a fourth-year in marketing, said the experiences of going to the Final Four and to different venues around the country have made managing the “best time” of his life. While the managers know they will never make the game-winning shot, they also are aware that their weeklong contributions before the 40-minute games are vital. “There’s a lot that goes on at practices that people don’t see. If you don’t know all about what goes on behind the scenes, you don’t really understand,” Kurt said. “Game to game, it’s players and coaches who determine success, but behind the scenes, it’s us helping everybody improve and helping everybody get better.” The managers’ reward for the hours upon hours of dirty work isn’t fame, money or recognition. It’s something less tangible, but something the managers say is much more important. “The sense of being a part of the team,” Strayer said. “It’s one thing to be a fan, but to be emotionally involved, and to be with the team all the time and to be a part of the team is something I’ll never forget.” Ravenel, a player who has played on three Big Ten championship teams and a Final Four team, expressed the team’s gratitude for its managers. “A program like ours wouldn’t be able to be successful without guys like our managers,” Ravenel said. This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: April 17, 2013 An earlier version of this story stated that Evan Ravenel played on two Final Four teams for OSU. In fact, he played on one.
Columbus Crew forward Jairo Arrieta (middle) shoots the ball during a game against the Philadelphia Union March 22 at Crew Stadium. The Crew won, 2-1.Courtesy of MCTThe best start to a season in franchise history has come to a halt for the Columbus Crew.After a strong start to its 2014 campaign, the Crew (3-1-0) suffered its first defeat of the year Saturday, falling 2-0 to Toronto FC (3-1-0) at Crew Stadium.U.S. Men’s National Team star and Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley scored in the 11th minute, his first Major League Soccer goal in nine years after playing in the Netherlands, Germany, England and Italy.Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said after the match that a poor performance during the first 20 minutes led to his team’s downfall.“We had a horrendous start to the game. It was sloppy in every sense of the word,” Berhalter said. “To me, it’s something where we got complacent and that’s the worst thing a team like us can do because we need to keep fighting. We need to keep pushing and we’re not there yet.”Crew midfielder Hector Jimenez had a similar impression of the team’s level of play early.“Those first 20 minutes were crucial, giving up that early goal, and it was hard for us to come back from that,” Jimenez said.Defender Josh Williams said the team tried to play wide, but couldn’t get the right delivery of the ball into the box.“It was just poor service. I think that played right into them,” Williams said. “They’ve got some big guys in the middle, you know, I think they kind of let us play out wide and cross the balls in and those guys were waiting for us.”Berhalter said the team’s failure to capitalize on its few chances was its downfall.“A couple chances, a couple cross bars, a couple things that hit the post and it didn’t work out,” Berhalter said. “But I attribute this loss to two things: Bad start to the game and a very well organized Toronto FC.”Toronto midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran added a second goal in the 85th minute, triggering some Crew fans’ exit to the aisles as a tight 1-0 deficit suddenly doubled and extinguished any hopes for a comeback.Columbus had been riding a three-game winning streak before Saturday’s loss. The team’s home opener win over Philadelphia — bookended by road wins over D.C. United and Seattle — made for a perfect March.Williams said the drama and emotion of winning in Seattle March 29 on a 94th minute goal by Columbus’ Justin Meram could have played a role in the complacency against Toronto and that the players take responsibility for the loss.“You know, Gregg is going to take the blame. He already came in here and tried to take it but the players know, that’s just a good coach, him being him,” Williams said. “Practice felt a little lackadaisical this week, for whatever reason, I don’t know. Maybe it was just the high of Seattle. But it definitely wasn’t Gregg’s fault, and as players, we take responsibility for that … this week we’ve got to come out and train harder, prepare harder.”The Crew has a long week to shake off the loss, as the team is slated to travel to San Jose, Calif., to take on the winless San Jose Earthquakes Sunday at 3 p.m. The Black and Gold are set to return to Crew Stadium April 19 against D.C. United, and kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Steve Miller has officially signed on to join the Ohio State men’s ice hockey coaching staff as associate head coach under Steve Rohlik, the school said Friday. Miller spent the past two seasons with Air Force as the director of hockey, and was an assistant coach on the gold medal-winning Team USA at the 2017 World Junior Championships — a team that featured Ohio State sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski.“Steve is one of the most respected coaches in college hockey,” Rohlik said. “He is outstanding at developing players and brings a great deal of championship experience to our team. We are thrilled to have him as a Buckeye. We can’t wait for the season to start.”A coaching veteran with 28 years of experience under his belt, Miller was rewarded in 2008 with the American Hockey Coaches Association’s Terry Flanagan Award, an honor recognized to an assistant coach for a career’s worth of coaching success.The bulk of Miller’s career was spent coaching the University of Denver where he spent 20 seasons, the first 17 of which as an assistant coach and latter three as associate head coach. While working with the Pioneers, Miller helped guide the team to back-to-back NCAA National Championships in 2004 and 2005, three Western Collegiate Hockey Association titles and four WCHA tournament titles. Regarded as a premier player-developer in the nation while at Denver, Miller coached 41 players to selections in the NHL draft, 55 All-WCHA honorees, 15 All-Americans and a pair of Hobey Baker Memorial Award Winners (given to the player deemed the best men’s collegiate hockey player in the nation).Miller began his coaching career with his alma mater, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota after playing three seasons of varsity hockey for the program. As a coach, Miller’s team immediately found success as it won the 1989 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference playoff championship and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament that year.He then spent two years at Miami under George Gwozdecky — whom he followed to Denver — where he helped the program win its first Central Collegiate Hockey Association title. After his time spent at Denver, he worked at Providence as an associate head coach during the 2014-15 season when the Friars won the NCAA Championship.Miller brings his history of success to an Ohio State program on the rise after finishing 21-12-6, earning an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009. “I am honored and humbled to join such a prestigious institution and build on what Coach Rohlik and the student-athletes have achieved,” Miller said. “There are great things on the horizon for this program. I am excited to get going.”Miller’s careerOhio State associate head coach: 2017 – presentAir Force director of hockey: 2015-17Providence associate head coach: 2014-15University of Denver associate head coach: 2011-14University of Denver assistant coach: 1994-2011Miami University graduate assistant coach: 1992-1994St. Mary’s Univeristy of Minnesota: 1989-1992
Ohio State second basemen Emily Clark makes an off-foot throw to first during the Sep. 24 gameagainst Wright State. Credit: Gretchen Rudolph | For The LanternOhio State came away with three wins and one loss at the Friends of Jaclyn tournament. The Buckeyes recorded a home run in every game, and a shutout in two of the four. The second game against Ole Miss at 9:30 a.m. Sunday was cancelled due to weather. George MasonOhio State blanked George Mason 7-0 in its season opener. The Buckeyes have won their season opener in the past five seasons. The Buckeyes opened the scoring in the bottom of the third with a triple from senior shortstop Lilli Piper, the fourth of her career, and a sacrifice fly from senior second baseman Emily Clark. Ohio State took a 7-0 lead with six runs on six hits along with three errors by George Mason. Clark recorded a two-run home run, her first of the season.Ole MissOhio State continued its winning ways, defeating Ole Miss 4-2. This was the first time the two teams have ever played against each other. The Rebels got off to an early 2-0 lead at the beginning. However, The Buckeyes sparked a comeback in the bottom of the third with freshman center fielder Meg Otte’s bunt single, senior left fielder Bri Beschel’s walk, Piper’s fielder’s choice leaving the bases loaded.Clark finished on the opportunity, and hit a grand slam, pushing the lead to 4-2, a lead the Buckeyes would hold the rest of the game. Senior pitcher Morgan Ray pitched a complete game for Ohio State, allowing three hits and two runs, finish four batters off with strikeouts.With the victory, head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly has recorded her 200th career win during her time at Ohio State.North FloridaThe Buckeyes blanked North Florida with a 3-0 shutout victory. Freshman third baseman Ashley Prange recorded the first home run of her career, getting the first run in the second inning by driving the ball over the left field fence. Senior pitcher Katya Duvall gave Ohio State its second complete game of the weekend, finishing the game with a career-high 10 strikeouts and holding North Florida to two hits and a walk.In the third inning, junior left fielder Andi Farrah doubled to left field and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Sophomore designated hitter Kallie Boren then singled to the right, helping to push the lead to 2-0. Senior second baseman Emily Clark added an insurance run on a two-out single in the fifth inning to secure the three-run win.. UCFOhio State suffered its first loss of the season, 3-2, against UCF. Ohio State went up 2-0 in the fourth inning off a home run by sophomore catcher Claire Nicholson, the first home run of her career and junior left fielder Andi Farrah’s RBI single through the left side. However, UCF turned the table in the bottom of the fifth inning.The Golden Knights scored three unanswered on a wild pitch and a two-run double by sophomore infielder Jazmine Esparza, giving UCF a 3-2 lead it would hold on to for the remainder of the game.Ohio State will take part in the ESPN Elite Invitational Feb. 15-17, facing Florida State, LSU, Utah and Notre Dame in Clearwater, Florida.
It is going to be quite different to what we have had of late, there are no two ways about thatEmma Sharples, Met Office Rod Dennis, a spokesman for the RAC, said: “Anyone towing a caravan this weekend or driving on exposed coastal routes will need to be extra alert – while temperatures will hold up, motorists could be taken by surprise by the mix of gusty winds and heavy showers. “Take extra care when overtaking high-sided vehicles not to get buffeted of course, and reduce your speed accordingly.”Emma Sharples, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said south west England and south Wales – areas popular with tourists at this time of year – would experience the strongest winds. Gusts of up to 45mph will also hit those inland.“It is going to be quite different to what we have had of late, there are no two ways about that,” she said. “There is going to be a lot more cloud, rain and quite strong winds.” High pressure dominates at the moment but by Saturday a deep area of low pressure brings wind, rain & cooler temps pic.twitter.com/IA6eergHq8— Met Office (@metoffice) 16 August 2016 The RAC warned of severe travel disruption, with thousands expected to have their journeys delayed as they set off ahead of the Bank Holiday next week.Holidaymakers and outdoor activities will also be affected and people camping or towing caravans should be particularly careful, the Met Office said. The sudden change in weather signals the start of an “early autumn”, experts claimed, with heavy, blustery showers expected and up to 20mm of rain falling in places.The weather will intensify on Saturday as temperatures drop to 11C overnight. The low pressure system will spread north east across the UK, with the rain and wind continuing overnight on Saturday and into Sunday.“The wind will be really quite strong in some areas as the weather intensifies,” the forecaster added. “We warn for impact and given that we are in the middle of the holidays, the potential for impact is higher than usual.”The system is expected to move away by Sunday night. The weather is expected to stay unsettled next week, with heavy showers continuing. The south will see some bright spells. Rewind just a few weeks and Britons were flocking to beaches as the country basked in temperatures more familiar to those who live in the Mediterranean.But, as perhaps we have come to expect, the Great British summer has already come to an abrupt halt – with a 1,500-mile-wide storm due to hit the country on Friday night.A severe weather warning coming into effect at 7am on Saturday has been issued by the Met Office as unseasonably strong winds – gusting at up to 60mph – are expected to batter the coast. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Speaking about his previous struggle with writer’s block, he advised budding songsters to ride out the dry spell.He said: “You’ve just got to be patient, if there’s a song you believe in. Don’t write anything second-hand – if you’re not satisfied with it, don’t sing it. The lyrics do come eventually, you’ve just got to wait.”Sir Rod will meet the Queen later at a reception at the Royal Academy of Arts – her first public engagement in London since returning to Buckingham Palace after spending the summer at her Scottish residence. Sir Rod is receiving his knighthood in recognition of his services to music and charityCredit:Gareth Fulller/PA Wire Wearing tartan trousers, Stewart said of meeting the Duke: “We talked about music and he said ‘It’s great that you’re still going’ and I said: ‘I have to – I’ve got eight children!’.”He congratulated me on my long career – and I said how happy this made me. I just wish my mum and dad had been here to see it.”Fans could expect a “fantastic night” from his upcoming UK tour, the Maggie May singer said.He joked that there were seven women in his new band – “more than there are in the White House”. The singer disagreed with comments from Liverpool’s first black footballer, Howard Gayle, that the word “Empire” should be removed from honours titles, saying: “The Empire’s not quite as big as it used to be, but it’s still there, so I’m all for keeping the Empire”.The 58-year-old player, who was born in Toxteth, turned down an MBE, posting on Facebook that accepting it would be a “betrayal to all of the Africans who have lost their lives, or who have suffered as a result of Empire”. Veteran singer Sir Rod Stewart arriving at Buckingham Palace in London, with his wife, Penny Lancaster and children Alastair and AidenCredit:Gareth Fulller/PA Wire Singer Sir Rod Stewart has said he wished his parents were there to see him receive a knighthood, as the Duke of Cambridge congratulated him at Buckingham Palace.The 71-year-old, accompanied by his wife, Penny Lancaster, and their two sons, Alastair, 10, and five-year-old Aiden, was given the honour in recognition of his services to music and charity.He said he was “on cloud nine” after receiving the award from William on Tuesday. Sir Rod and his wife Penny LancasterCredit:Gareth Fulller/PA Wire Meanwhile, British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo was given an OBE for his services to drama.The Queen Of Katwe star said he was proud of the acknowledgement and “proud to be British” after receiving the accolade.Some 86 recipients attended the ceremony at Buckingham Palace, proudly watched by 265 guests including family and friends.Songs including Imagine by John Lennon and Abba’s Mama Mia were played by the background orchestra to accompany the service.Others honoured include Vanessa Kingori, first black female publisher of British GQ, who was given an MBE for services to the media industry, and Professor Nick Webborn, who received an OBE for services to paralympic sports medicine and the British Paralympic Association.Irene and Michael Cullen, a couple from Lynemouth in Northumberland, who have fostered more than 100 children, were also recognised. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Challenged on whether he had a “change of tune”, he told the broadcaster: “Yes, in many respects I have.”It came as the Labour leader was accused of planning to “bankrupt Britain” with a manifesto that would ramp up debt by £250 billion and stage the biggest tax raid the country has ever seen.Yesterday Mr Corbyn announced plans for £48.6 billion of extra annual spending commitments paid for by high earners and businesses that would saddle the country with its biggest tax burden since 1950. “Of course, since then Labour have launched their manifesto, it’s a fantastic manifesto, a manifesto for workers, for ordinary working people, a manifesto that will change Britain for the good. Len McCluskey Credit:RUSSELL CHEYNE “The response that we’ve had from Unite members has been incredible, that’s why I was checking our polls that we do, constant rolling polls, and the response has been like something we’ve never seen before.“So I’m now full of optimism. If I was having that interview today I wouldn’t be making those comments.“I think also the Labour campaign has been brilliant, it’s outshone the Tories, Jeremy Corbyn has come across as a real man of the people and a real leader. And I’m now full of optimism as to what will happen in the next two to three weeks.” Mr McClusky told Politico: “The scale of the task is immense. People like me are always optimistic … things can happen. But I don’t see Labour winning. I think it would be extraordinary.”I believe that if Labour can hold on to 200 seats or so it will be a successful campaign.”It will mean that Theresa May will have had an election, will have increased her majority but not dramatically.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. One of Jeremy Corbyn’s key union allies has been forced to insist he is “confident” the opinion polls will start to change in Labour’s favour just 24 hours after he wrote off the party’s chances of winning the election.Len McCluskey, the Unite boss, said holding on to 200 seats – a loss of 29 seats and its worst result since 1935 – would constitute “a successful campaign”.He said the task for the party is “immense” ahead of June’s vote and admitted “I don’t see Labour winning”. However, speaking to the BBC this morning, the leader of the country’s biggest trade union said he would not “be making those comments” now and was very much “up for the fight”.He said: “The interview I did with politico was a conversational piece and it was against the backdrop of ‘if the opinion polls are to be believed’ that I made those comments. His manifesto pledges were immediately picked apart by one of the country’s leading economists, who suggested the tax plans might only raise £20bn, leaving a £28.6bn annual shortfall.
The Queen meets school children as she and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at Slough stationCredit:Andrew Matthews/PA Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (behind) arrive at Paddington StationCredit:Chris Jackson/Getty The Queen and Duke made the trip from Slough to Paddington on a prototype intercity hybrid train, accompanied by descendants of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Sir Daniel Gooch, who drove the original train.They were the first members of the Royal family to travel on a brand new bi-mode train, completing the journey six minutes faster than the Queen’s great-great-grandmother Victoria. After arriving at London Paddington, The Queen took part in a naming ceremony to mark the 175th Anniversary. pic.twitter.com/4pi2oemgsj— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) June 13, 2017 The Queen steps off the Great Western trainCredit:ANDY RAIN/EPA Boarding the new train a few minutes around midday, the Queen sat next to Mr Thomas and diagonally opposite Gillian White, great-great-granddaughter of Gooch.Mr Thomas, a 53-year-old typographic designer, and Mrs White, the 87-year-old daughter of the 4th baronet of Clewer Park, had never met before today, despite their shared family history. Writing in her diary on June 13, 1842, Victoria recorded: “It took us exactly 30 minutes going to Paddington, & the motion was very slight, & much easier than the carriage, also no dust or great heat – in fact, it was delightful and so quick.”Newspaper reports at the time claimed the journey was in fact “precisely” 25 minutes long. On June 13, 1842, Queen Victoria became the first British monarch to travel by rail, proclaiming the journey “delightful and so quick” despite her nerves.Though the intervening 175 years have seen a world change beyond recognition, one thing remained reassuringly familiar today as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh recreated the journey for a new generation. In Queen Victoria’s day, the journey to London was on a locomotive named Phlegethon, with Sir Daniel Gooch driving and Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the engineer, on board. Mrs White, who lives in Devon, said she had not travelled on the Slough to Paddington line before, adding: “I’m very proud of my great-great-grandfather and what he did.”It’s an honour to be here to meet the Queen and for Brunel and Daniel Gooch to be remembered by her.”At London Paddington, the Queen unveiled one of the train’s engines, named Queen Elizabeth II. The rear engine is named for Queen Victoria.The train, which has a top speed of 125mph, is designed for use on new electric lines, but has a small diesel engine which can also run on older lines before they are upgraded. The Queen beams as she follows in Queen Victoria’s footstepsCredit:Samir Hussein/WireImage The Intercity Express upgrade will be the first major fleet to be introduced to the UK rail network in 20 years, and is due to roll out from the autumn of this year in an effort.Mr Thomas said after the journey: “The Queen was interested in the technology and the electrification and the effects of diesel. While the Duke is known for his interest in science and engineering, the Queen was also said by fellow passengers to have been deeply knowledgeable about the railways, saying she loved them for making travel so easy.Isambard Thomas, the great-great-great-grandson of Isambard Kingdom Brunel who sat next to her en route to London, said: “It was fascinating how much interest she has in trains and in train journeys.”He joked: “Obviously it’s a different thing if you’re the monarch; you’re not sat in second class, queuing for the buffet.” The Queen and Duke were cheered by primary school children at Slough station, and praised art work held up for their inspection.Given a potted history of Great Western Railway, they appeared absorbed in conversation about developments between its 1832 beginnings and the modern day. The Duke of Edinburgh at Paddington “I think it’s remarkable that she and the Duke of Edinburgh agreed to do this.” Queen Victoria had been persuaded on board by Prince Albert, a veteran of rail travel fascinated by the new technology.Today’s trip took 19 minutes, departing Slough at 12.01 and travelling at an average speed of 60mph.Great Western Railway staff said the journey had taken longer than the usual 14 minutes from Slough to Paddington, because the train had taken a slightly different route to avoid disrupting the normal timetable.While Queen Victoria famously refused to travel at more than 40mph, stopping entirely for food, yesterday’s journey took place on a line designed for speeds up to 100mph. The Queen and Isambard Thomas, Brunel’s great-great-great-grandson Mrs White said of the Queen: “She loves trains because they are an easy way of travelling, such a lovely way of setting around.”She added: “We talked about trains, there was a senior manager with us who was pointing things out as we travelled.”But I was dying to have a nice conversation because she was lovely, but we didn’t really get to talk about anything else but trains.” The Queen meets schoolchildren at Slough station Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
West Bromwich Police Station Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. A driver has appeared in court charged with the murder of man who he allegedly then took to a police station by car.Sukhwinder Singh, 40, is accused of killing Harish Kumar after his body was discovered in the front passenger seat of the BMW on Thursday morning.Wearing a grey t-shirt and matching jogging bottoms, Singh, who was escorted into Walsall Magistrates Court on Friday morning by two guards, needed a Punjabi translator for the five-minute hearing.The defendant was then ordered to remain standing for the preliminary appearance. Asked via the translator to confirm his name, age and acknowledge the charge, he replied ‘yes’ in Punjabi.It is alleged Singh, from Tividale, West Mids, had parked outside West Bromwich police station in his BMW at about 10.20am on Thursday with the dead body in the passenger seat.He was then arrested and the station’s front office closed, as part of the scene cordon.The victim who was named in court on Saturday for the first time as Harish Kumar will now undergo a post-mortem examination.The defendant was denied bail and will appear at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Tuesday.
Jordan Worth was convicted of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate relationshipCredit:SOUTH BEDS NEWS AGENCY When paramedics were called, they noted injuries to his hand and burns to arms and legs, which were being self-treated with cling film.He was taken to Bedford Hospital’s acute clinical unit and then to Addenbrookes Hospital. Miss Syed said: “Five per cent of his total body surface was scalded.” Days later, Worth was arrested. A university graduate is believed to be the first woman convicted under new domestic abuse laws after scalding her boyfriend with boiling water, stabbing him and keeping food from him.Jordan Worth, 22, banned her partner from their bed, decided what clothes he could wear, isolated him from friends and family and even took over his Facebook account.She was jailed for seven-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to the offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate relationship, introduced in 2015, as well as wounding with intent and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.Worth, who came from a loving and supportive family, made her boyfriend’s life a misery, exercising control over him and deciding what he could wear shortly after they moved in together, Luton Crown Court heard.Raised in Ridgmont, Herts, she had been a high performer at school and was a trained gymnast. Judge Madge told Worth that as well as the violence she had carried out on her partner she had refused him adequate bedding and food.He said she would “belittle” her partner and discouraged him from contacting friends and his family.“”She accepts that she has in the past, on a number of occasions, used blunt objects and implements to strike him and that he suffered injuries as a result of her doing so,” he said.“She accepts using boiling or hot water to cause injury to him. She accepts that she has in the past used a knife to cause injury to her partner.“He suffered from hydrocephalus and had a vulnerable head and he became increasingly isolated.”Worth, who is now in a new relationship, was made the subject of a restraining order which prevents her from contacting her ex for an indefinite period. Worth and her partner had met at college in 2012 when they were both 16, Maryam Syed, prosecuting, told the court.She became violent towards the man, who suffered from hydrocephalus (caused by a buildup of fluid inside the skull) that made him vulnerable. She used blunt objects to strike him, wounded him with a knife and didn’t help him get to hospital for treatment.For nine months he was not permitted to sleep in the same bed as her, the court was told. The charge of controlling or coercive behaviour covered a period from April of 2016 to June 2017, when police were called to the couple’s home.Neighbours said they often heard them arguing and the sounds of things being thrown in the house, Miss Syed said.The victim was heard by his neighbours shouting at Worth: “Get off me, you are hurting me.” He was seen on occasions with black eyes and to be limping and with his arm in sling.Once Worth was seen at window by a neighbour “armed” with a screwdriver or hammer, the court heard.Another neighbour heard the victim shouting “Get off me. Get off my head. Don’t keep doing that to my head.” She gained a 2:1 Honours Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Hertfordshire and had been volunteering for an animal charity but wanted to become a teacher.She had also raised money children in Africa.But Judge Nic Madge heard that there were two sides to petite Worth, who controlled every aspect of her partner’s life at their home in the village of Stewartby in Bedfordshire. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
This kind of undermining essentially for commercial gain is really debilitating for our Armed ForcesLord Dannatt Fellow solicitor Ms Crowther was cleared of four, including an allegation of destroying a key document, and the firm was exonerated of 11 counts.The firm had worked alongside disgraced human rights lawyer Phil Shiner to represent Iraqi clients whose claims of abuse were later found to be deliberate lies. Mr Shiner was struck off earlier this year at a similar tribunal.Mr Day said afterwards: “We are pleased that the tribunal has cleared us of all the charges, and confirmed our view that we did not act improperly or dishonestly in these legal claims against the Ministry of Defence.” Anna Crowther, Martyn Day and Sapna Malik at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in London last yearCredit:Philip Toscano/PA Wire “This kind of undermining essentially for commercial gain is really debilitating for our Armed Forces.”The MoD said in a statement: “While valid claims should be compensated, false or exaggerated allegations make it harder for justice to be served.”A Leigh Day spokesman: “These cases taken against the MoD were ‘stayed’ awaiting the judgment from the High Court last year, these are not new cases, the MoD has been aware of them for at least five years.“The findings in the High Court case, that Iraqi civilians had their human rights breached whilst in detention, meant these 250 cases could be taken forward. We have asked the MoD for further information on around 200 claims to help determine their validity. We welcome the MoD statement that valid claims should be compensated.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. A source told The Sun that the latest cases were the “final salvo” following a deadline for new cases that was set at a meeting between Leigh Day, the MoD and the High Court.”It’s still a sizeable caseload that could come with a hefty price tag,” the source added. “But when these are done, it’s over.”Lord Dannatt, the former Army chief, said: “Here we go again - it’s ridiculous. I’d like to see the detail in the allegations and to know who’s making them. In June last year, lawyers accused of wrongly pursing British troops with false accusations of abusing and murdering Iraqi civilians were cleared of a string of professional misconduct charges.Law firm Leigh Day, its co-founder Martyn Day and his colleagues Sapna Malik and Anna Crowther, were cleared of any wrongdoing in alleging the mistreatment of captives after the Battle of Danny Boy in May 2004.Mr Day and Ms Malik were each cleared of 16 misconduct charges at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Lawyers have lodged hundreds of claims of wrongdoing by British troops in Iraq, it has been reported.Leigh Day, the law firm, has submitted 250 cases relating to alleged mistreatment by UK service personnel to the High Court. It is said to be considering the submission of another 200 cases, depending on information it receives from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).The claims, which follow accusations of a “witch hunt” against British troops who served in Iraq, come after Leigh Day won a test case over the treatment of four Iraqis who said they had been wrongly detained. Mr Justice Leggatt ruled in December that they were due compensation under the Human Rights Act. One of the Iraqis received £30,000. At the time, legal experts predicted the case would open up possibilities for hundreds more cases.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.Credit:Heathcliff O’Malley The Archbishop of Canterbury has taken a swipe at Jeremy Corbyn as he praises Labour’s decision to accept anti-Semitism definition “without caveats”.During a discussion with the Chief Rabbi, the Most Rev Justin Welby said it was “excellent” that MPs and peers in the party had accepted the international definition of anti-Semitism “without any riders or caveats of any kind”.Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had wanted the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) to endorse a statement that said it should not be regarded as anti-Semitic to “describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist because of their discriminatory impact”.On Tuesday, the NEC adopted all of the examples of anti-Semitism as described by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). However, the ruling body also issued a statement that said the party will ensure the changes do “not in any way undermine freedom of expression” on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.But in a blow to the party leadership, Labour MPs and peers voted by 205 to eight on Wednesday to adopt the full IHRA definition and all its examples without any additional statements or caveats into the Parliamentary Labour Party’s standing orders. Visiting Ephraim Mirvis at his home to mark Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, Mr Welby said: “You’ve gone through in the last few months a very demanding, stressful time…with the increase in anti-Jewish attacks across the country, on synagogues, on cemeteries, on individuals and the unspeakable trolling through social media.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The Chief Rabbi said the Jewish community’s position has “deteriorated” over the last year.”What we’ve found particularly upsetting is that after three years of inaction during which we have waited for the Labour Party to show they are actually serious about tackling anti-Semitism, now we have found during the past summer they haven’t even known where the starting blocks are, how do you define it.”Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl said: “I would like to express my thanks to the Archbishop of Canterbury for his important intervention in advance of Rosh Hashanah. This moral leadership is warmly welcomed by our community and is a shining example of faith communities uniting against hate”.