What to Watch For in the NBA Finals

For all the talk this season about conference imbalance in the NBA and the inequity of its playoff structure, things seemed to have worked out just fine. Measured by point differential, we’ve ended up with the best teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences in the finals, and fans everywhere get the chance to watch a rarity in pro basketball: an NBA Finals rematch.Who’s going to win? The old adage is that defense wins championships, but this matchup is all about the offenses.The San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat have had the two best offenses in these playoffs and, surprisingly, both have been more efficient than they were in the regular season. Their offensive systems are different, but they have the same basic goal: Create good shots. With that in mind, here are some things to watch for:Spurs movementIn April, a study by two members of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective found that, after controlling for time of possession, the Spurs’ offense had more movement and more passing than any other offense in the league, and by a wide margin. Indeed, according to the NBA’s SportVU Player Tracking Statistics, the Spurs’ offense has featured more movement during the playoffs than the other three conference finalists.Movement Per Minute of PossessionPassing and ball movement are not perfect proxies for offensive effectiveness, but in the Spurs’ case, they are symptomatic of an offense that is working well. San Antonio doesn’t have any player as individually brilliant as Miami’s LeBron James to consistently pull good shots out of thin air, so the Spurs rely on their collaborative system. The distance traveled is of particular importance. On average, the five players on the floor for the Spurs cumulatively travel nearly 500 feet farther per minute of possession than the players for the Heat. That’s 500 extra feet of screening, rolling and cutting, searching for seams in the defense and open space on the perimeter.The Heat’s defense plays at a frenetic pace, aggressively trapping pick-and-roll ball-handlers and flying around the perimeter in a series of rotations to cover shooters. It can be devastating when done well, but the Spurs are uniquely suited to turn this aggression against the Heat.Shot selectionWhile a key indicator of the Spurs’ offensive health is the movement and passing they use to create shots, the key for the Heat is simply the location of their shots.The Heat spent most of the past two weeks burying the Pacers with 3-pointers. These outside shots buoy Miami’s offensive efficiency, but the Heat’s 3-point shooting is also a reflection of how easily James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat’s other ball-handlers get into the lane and collapse the opponent’s defense.In his NBA Finals’ preview at Grantland, Zach Lowe pointed out some of the methods the Spurs used to defend the Heat in last year’s playoffs, and how they resulted in a slew of mid-range jump shots. If we look at the breakdown of the Heat’s true shot attempts (which includes field goal attempts and trips to the free-throw line) we can see just how far last year’s pattern was from what the Heat have just done.Miami Heat Shot SelectionFor the Heat, 3-point attempts are tied to their ability to get inside the defense. James, Wade, Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers were able to get into the lane with ease against the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals, and the result was that nearly 30 percent of Miami’s true shot attempts in that series were 3-pointers (which they made at an obscene 40.8 percent clip).In last year’s finals, however, by walling off the paint and offering up mid-range jump shots to the Heat, the Spurs were able to keep them away from the rim, off the free-throw line and inside the 3-point line. The Heat will surely have some adjustments ready this year, and we should be able to tell a lot about how they are working just by looking at the locations of their shots.LineupsThe offensive systems each team employs to create good shots revolve around lineups. The Heat would prefer to play small, arraying three and sometimes four shooters around James. The Pacers were loathe to change gears and try to match up with them, but the Spurs may be more willing. They have more depth than any of the teams the Heat have played in these playoffs, and San Antonio is much more comfortable using that depth in a variety of arrangements.A big issue in last season’s finals’ matchup was the way the Heat’s small lineups forced the Spurs to separate Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan. The Spurs used that pairing for about 20 percent of their regular-season minutes, then just over 11 percent in the finals. But Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich has been more aggressive this season about experimenting with different lineups.It is tricky to parse statistics for the Spurs between big and small lineups because of the big and small skill set of Boris Diaw. When he’s playing power forward for the Spurs, the “big” or “small” nature of the lineup depends on the matchups and what he’s being asked to do. But having him on the floor allows the Spurs to have their cake and eat it, too.Back to the NBA’s SportVU Player Tracking Statistics: Diaw was third on the team in touches per game, at 49.2, during the regular season. While Diaw is capable of scoring in a variety of ways, he averaged just 9.1 points per game because his role in the Spurs’ offense often called for him to be a facilitator. He averaged 38.9 passes per game; about 79 percent of his touches involved moving the ball to another player. This usually worked out well for the Spurs, as Diaw is among the best big man passers in the game. His assists created an additional 6.7 points per game for the Spurs during the regular season.In the Spurs’ Game 6 victory to close out the Oklahoma City Thunder, Diaw saw a lot of extra touches by virtue of playing some extra minutes, but it was what he did with those touches that made the difference.The Boris Diaw StoryIn Game 6, Diaw’s touches accumulated nearly 50 percent more points for the Spurs than they did during the regular season or in the series to this point. This increased output from Diaw was needed, with the Spurs struggling to hit 3-pointers and Tony Parker sitting out the second half with an ankle injury.Diaw’s ability to shift between big and small defensive assignments, and scoring and facilitating roles on offense, may allow the Spurs to sidestep a lot of the matchup land mines the Heat have waiting for them.MarginsThese teams are incredibly talented, well-coached and, ultimately, evenly matched. Each has a series of counters available for every obvious advantage the other will try to exploit. That’s why this series will be won at the margins and in the minutiae. Little things — the Spurs forcing the Heat to make one extra defensive rotation, the Heat getting the ball to a 3-point shooter instead of settling for a seemingly open jump shot around the free-throw line, and the tiny in-game matchups that shift the rotations — will be the deciding battles. read more

With 2 OSU Dline starters out in Fiesta Bowl Joey Bosa to

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was hoping to strike a deal with Urban Meyer about where Ohio State junior defensive end Joey Bosa would line up Friday when the two teams square off in the Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes are missing both their starters at defensive tackle, which has given birth to the possibility of Bosa spending more snaps at the interior spots, rather than his usual place at the end. “If (Bosa) comes inside, that would be awesome,” Kelly said. “If we could make an agreement before the game that he was going to play the 3-technique then we would be very happy.”Kelly said he asked Meyer about inking such an agreement, and he got the kind of response many would predict.“He was noncommittal,” Kelly said, laughing, of Meyer’s response to his proposition. But about 45 minutes later, while addressing the media to kick off OSU’s media day, Meyer offered a more concrete answer to Kelly’s inquiry.Meyer was rattling off some of the names of some relatively unknown players expected to fill in for injured senior Tommy Schutt and suspended senior Adolphus Washington, such as sophomore Michael Hill and redshirt sophomore Tracy Sprinkle, before mentioning a more well-known guy.“Then, obviously, Joey Bosa will be playing some on the inside,” Meyer said. Based off that, Kelly, it appears, will be getting his wish. Exactly how much time Bosa spends there is unclear, but regardless, whenever the two-time All-American slides inside, Kelly will be happy.Bosa, though, doesn’t understand exactly why the coach feels that way. “I don’t know,” Bosa said, chuckling. “I have no idea because I think 3-technique is easier, honestly, to be disruptive.” The occasional migration to playing defensive tackle is something Bosa has done before this season, but mainly on third-down passing situations. But with Washington and Schutt sidelined, he will likely be there in scenarios outside of the previously mentioned one. “It’s nothing completely new,” Bosa said. There are similarities between his familiar role as a 4- and 5-technique end, Bosa explained, but the main differences are in the run fits and the size of pass-rush lanes. Bosa said he likes being on the inside because he can, usually, rush the passer on both sides of his blocker, rather than being on the outside where he typically tries to beat the tackle on the edge.As for why Kelly might want him on the inside, Bosa later suggested he thinks the coach might find it easier to double team him that way. That is nothing new to the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native, though, as he has faced a barrage of blocking combinations this year attempting to slow him down. “Something that’s not going to go away,” Bosa said. Regardless of which technique Bosa plays, he said he knows it will be a challenge against the Notre Dame offensive line, as he called it “one of the best, if not the best, we’ve played this year.”That unit is led by senior left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who many consider to be a sure-fire first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Bosa said the opportunity to go up against fellow elite talent is something he values highly, and Stanley fits that bill. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Stanley echoed Bosa’s view. “I mean, if you want to be the best you’ve got to go up against the best,” Stanley said. “We’re both really good at our positions. I’m sure we’re both really excited to go up against each other. “That’s what competitors want to do.” Guard Quenton Nelson said the Fighting Irish aren’t going to change what they have been doing all season just because they’re playing against Bosa. The redshirt freshman labeled him an “incredible player,” but Nelson said Notre Dame will stick with its base concepts to try and impede Bosa. Those concepts include frequent double-teams of opposing defensive ends, which the team used against Texas and Virginia, Nelson said. But, Nelson added, the Fighting Irish trust the ability of their own players to match up one-on-one with the opposition. That means Stanley and Bosa, two first-round talents, might go mano-a-mano during the Fiesta Bowl. “I’m sure that’s going to happen,” Stanley said, cracking a smile.Junior right tackle Mike McGlinchey said no matter what Bosa is doing and where he’s doing it, the talent around No. 97 poses a difficult task for the offensive line, even with Washington and Schutt out of the lineup. “They’re all good players, I mean Ohio State is stacked,” McGlinchey said. “There is not much letdown.” Which is why Bosa said he doesn’t feel too much added pressure from losing two starters. All season long, he said, Sprinkle and Hill, as well as redshirt senior Joel Hale and sophomore Donovan Munger, have had the reps in practice to prepare them for this moment. “We all trust them,” Bosa said, “to go in there and do their job.”   As for Bosa, who is potentially playing his final game in scarlet and gray, he will likely keep doing the job he’s been doing so well since arriving in Columbus. Kelly might be so optimistic about Bosa playing inside because he doesn’t have to block him. But McGlinchey, who does have to block him, said he knows Bosa will be effective wherever he plays. “No matter where he plays we’re going to be accounting for him,” McGlinchey said. Although Kelly’s wish might come true, Bosa said he thinks Kelly might be selling his ability on the inside short. “Yeah,” Bosa said, squeaking out a smile, “a little bit.” OSU players and coach Urban Meyer addressed the media about the upcoming BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 30th in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo Editor read more

Reds infield could be major strength

It’s difficult for the fans of a tradition-rich franchise like the Cincinnati Reds to accept their role as a little fish in the big sea of Major League Baseball.Due to the financial limitations of small-market teams under the current MLB system, which does not feature a salary cap, Reds fans enter each season knowing that they’ve started at a disadvantage.When competing with deep-pocket teams like the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox each year, Reds management has to be creative to be successful under the constraints placed upon them by their economic reality.However, the average Reds fan doesn’t want to hear that. In a city that hasn’t seen a World Series title since 1990, they just want results.Walt Jocketty, Reds general manager and president of baseball operations, has taken a big step towards assuaging those concerns with the signing of shortstop Orlando Cabrera to shore up the middle of the infield.“We are very excited. We talked about trying to improve at shortstop but didn’t think we’d be able to do it,” Jocketty said. “Acquiring a player of his ability and stature, that when you look at his career and the winning clubs he’s been on, he’s a winner.”The Reds freed up the money for Cabrera by trading center fielder Willy Taveras and infielder Adam Rosales to the Oakland Athletics for utility-infielder Aaron Miles. He is slated to make $2.02 million this season with a $4 million mutual option for 2011.Cabrera spoke about being the newest addition to an already solid infield.“Defensively, I think we have a great infield,” Cabrera said. “We know we’ve got guys who can catch the ball.”That’s an understatement.The addition of Cabrera brings the total of Gold Glove awards for the Reds’ infield to 10 – seven for third baseman Scott Rolen, two for Cabrera and one for second baseman Brandon Phillips.Cabrera also brings a more than capable bat. Last season, he hit .284 with nine home runs and 77 RBI for Oakland and the Minnesota Twins. He is a career .275 hitter.He will add to the nexus of veteran players like Rolen and Phillips to complement younger, budding stars like first baseman Joey Votto and right fielder Jay Bruce.“They have a great group of guys,” Cabrera said of his new teammates. “With Rolen, Phillips and the pitching staff, I think we’ve got a great chance this year if we stay healthy.”Initial reports indicate he will hit from the No. 2 spot in the batting order, an area of need in seasons past.Along with his glove and stick, Cabrera also appears to bring a sense of humor and knowledge of other Cincinnati sports figures to town with him.When discussing his willingness to do whatever it takes to win, Cabrera alluded to the city’s highest profile athlete and wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, Chad Ochocinco.“I’m going to do everything I can,” Cabrera said. “Even if I have to change my name to Uno Ocho.” read more

Ruling is further evidence of NCAA tightening stranglehold on college athletes

If “Tattoogate” has truly resulted in any inking, it’s colored Ohio State’s student-athletes black and blue — by the NCAA. The NCAA’s ruling has put OSU’s hopes for a strong run next season into jeopardy. It not only forces five impact players to sit out the first five games of the season — including non-conference games at home against Colorado and on the road against Miami (Fla.) — but also has seemingly put the early nails in the coffin for  quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s Heisman campaign next season. In fact, the ruling suddenly has diminished Pryor’s prospects for even returning to the gridiron his senior season. Despite all that, the bigger issue involved here is the NCAA hammering its soulless, iron fist. In what’s now being called “Tattoogate,” five OSU football players — Pryor, Daniel “Boom” Herron, Mike Adams, DeVier Posey and Solomon Thomas — must sit the first five games of the 2010–11 football season and repay between $1,000 and $2,500 to charity. All because they sold their personal belongings and traded autographs for tattoos. None of these players was taking payouts from agents, receiving free Hummers or partying on private yachts with rappers. Instead, Pryor sold his things to help out his mother, Pryor’s high school coach Ray Reitz told ESPN. The reality of life is that sometimes people need to sell their things to get by, even if they’re cherished. We don’t know what sentimental value these players placed on the rings, awards and jerseys they sold, but if these players truly were in financial need, is it really appropriate for the NCAA to punish them so harshly? Few people actually want to sell their wedding ring, but sometimes it’s necessary to help make ends meet. Buckeye fans might feel a little stung that Pryor sold a Big Ten championship ring and his Gold Pants, but if Pryor truly was trying to help out his family, can we really be that upset with him? And is trading a tattoo for an autograph really so bad? It’s not like these players were trading tattoos for an all-expense-paid vacation to a party at the Playboy Mansion. Erik Kuselias of ESPN’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning” makes a good point: These athletes can receive hundreds of dollars in free merchandise for playing in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, but trading an autograph for a tattoo is worthy of a five-game suspension? Great logic, NCAA. Great logic. Let’s not forget the NCAA’s inconsistency, either. Earlier this year, the NCAA ruled that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was eligible to play, despite reports that his father was shopping him around to universities for six-figure payouts. However, according to the NCAA, an investigation is still ongoing. The NCAA also took several years to reach a verdict in the Reggie Bush case at USC, where Bush received $300,000 in illegal benefits. Bush played at USC from 2003-05, and it wasn’t until June 2010 that the NCAA placed the program on four years probation, forced them to vacate victories and stripped them of scholarships. Being angry with these players for making a mistake might not be the best way to direct our aggression. Instead, we should be more upset with the NCAA for its ridiculous stranglehold on the lives of student-athletes. We should also push the OSU athletic department to educate student-athletes more thoroughly on rules violations. Athletic director Gene Smith even admitted Thursday in a statement that OSU didn’t do a sufficient job educating its student-athletes about these types of violations. And remember that report in The Lantern saying that OSU has an allocation of about $500,000 set aside to help student-athletes in financial need? Perhaps OSU should do a better job of letting these players know they aren’t going to be totally hung out to dry if their wallets are running on empty. It’s not known for sure what the intentions of the players were yet or what the money was spent on, but if the players truly had only good intentions, the NCAA’s ruling is just another case of the NCAA exploiting its embarrassing and illogical stranglehold on each and every move student-athletes make. read more

Ohio State offensive linemen changing for the better

Ohio State quarterbacks were protected from contact during Saturday’s Spring Game, but they still saw their fair share of pressure. Rising sophomore Braxton Miller and rising redshirt junior Kenny Guiton saw 11 plays blown dead for “sacks,” though the players weren’t actually tackled during the Scarlet team’s 20-14 victory against the Gray team. Despite the sacks allowed by the Scarlet and Gray teams’ offensive linemen, OSU remains confident in that position group. Redshirt junior Jack Mewhort saw limited action for the Scarlet team during the game, but saw his side concede seven sacks by the end of the game. Mewhort credited some of the Scarlet offensive line’s dysfunction to the player draft for the Spring Game, which separated players who were used to playing next to one another. “I thought guys battled really well. I don’t know if we’re necessarily getting beat up,” Mewhort said after the game. “You know, we weren’t the cohesive unit that we are. Guys were playing next to different guys than usual. I was proud of the way the guys went out and battled. I think guys competed.” Throughout spring ball, senior defensive lineman John Simon said he was impressed with how the group of linemen has come together. Simon also said he expects the offensive linemen to be an area of strength for the Buckeyes by the fall. “As an (offensive) line, you can’t really pick one guy,” Simon said. “It’s more, O-line has to play cohesive, and I think they do that. They really learned each other and they’re really comfortable with each other and, you know, a lot of guys that are just very sound at blocking in general. “I think our O-line is going to be tremendous and a strong point of our team this year.” First-year OSU coach Urban Meyer said he has seen the unit progress since he took over the program. “I had three or four miss my first team meeting,” Meyer said. “Unfortunately, we had a couple miss my second team meeting.” With spring ball having come and gone, Meyer said the unit begun positive trends in key areas. “Their bodies are changing a little bit,” Meyer said, “and their attitudes are changing.” OSU opens its 2012 season Sept. 1 against Miami (Ohio) at Ohio Stadium. read more

Ohio State womens soccer back from 02 start to season

A slow start might have been disastrous for the Ohio State women’s soccer team. But senior forward Tiffany Cameron said the team’s early morning wake-up calls helped the Buckeyes recover from losses in each of their first two games. “We started off the season pretty slow, and then we got punished for that and we had to wake up at 6 a.m. for practice, it was crazy,” Cameron said. “Coach wanted to show us the will to win and what it takes to win and we just snapped out of it.” OSU has won the last seven of eight games and coach Lori Walker is pleased with the team’s growth and thinks they are improving a little more every day. “Our goal is to get a little bit better every single day and so I would say we have made a lot of progress,” Walker said. “The challenges we are presented with game to game are different because the opponents present different challenges, and we’ve finally gotten to a place where we are reading problems as they are thrown to us on the field and doing a much better job of solving them.” Similarly, junior midfielder Danica Wu said she thinks they are doing a great job connecting as a team. “We are getting better every game and we are connecting much better,” Wu said. “We give it our all and learn from our games and hopefully we keep doing that.” Cameron said the team’s biggest strength has been its will to win. “We have came out to every game ready to play and work our hardest,” Cameron said. “We are at a really good place right now.” Cameron, a Mississauga, Ontario, product, has scored nine of the team’s 14 goals this season. The hot start puts her at 28 goals and 68 points in her career, which stand seventh and tied for 6th, respectively, in OSU history. “I set a goal for myself to score at least 20 goals this season,” Cameron said. “I want to break the record and I can’t do that without our team and coming out hard everyday and practice.” As the Buckeyes prepare for their 8 p.m. game Thursday against Penn State, Cameron said the strategy against the Nittany Lions is to keep the team connected. “This practice we worked on being on the same page and finding open space because they play with three back,” Cameron said. “We need to have a lot of wide space to expose them.” Walker said the game will be a back-and-forth battle. “You need to contain your opponents’ top personalities and certainly Penn State has many and we need to make sure we have our attack as well,” Walker said. “The piece about Penn State is that they are scoring a lot of goals but they are also vulnerable and giving up some goals.” Cameron, a senior, said she’s especially ready for this year’s contest. “It’s my senior year, we always come out to battle and they are the best in our conference besides us,” Cameron said. “We always give them a run for their money.” The Buckeyes’ matchup against the Nittany Lions at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium will be televised live on Big Ten Network. read more

Ohio State earns bid to Orange Bowl set to play Clemson

Coach Urban Meyer and the football team wait to enter the stadium. OSU lost to Michigan State, 34-24, at the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Dec. 7. Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editorThe Ohio State Buckeyes are headed to the Sunshine State.One day after getting their dreams of playing for a BCS National Championship dashed by No. 4 Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game, OSU is set to travel to Miami, Fla., to take on the No. 12 Clemson Tigers (10-2, 7-1) in the Discover Orange Bowl Jan. 3, 2014 after earning an at-large bid.“On behalf of our players, staff and The Ohio State University, we are honored to accept the invitation to play in the Discover Orange Bowl,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said Sunday evening on the Orange Bowl teleconference. “We look forward to representing Ohio State down in south Florida.”The Buckeyes (12-1, 8-1) dropped to No. 7 in the BCS Standings after falling to the Spartans, 34-24, Saturday. With a win, OSU likely would have had a chance to face off against No. 1 Florida State in Pasadena, Calif., but instead are scheduled to play in another BCS bowl against an ACC opponent.Meyer said he did not meet with the team Sunday, and that he does not think the team will have any problems getting up to play Clemson after missing out on a chance to play for the national title.“We had a good conversation after the game last night,” Meyer said. “They’re heartbroken, but they’re also competitors and I think the fact that they’re playing in a BCS Bowl against Clemson, that’s going to wake you up real fast … There’s not doubt in my mind that we’ll be excited to go play in this bowl game.”It is the ninth time OSU has been selected to play in a BCS bowl, tied for the all-time ever with Oklahoma, according to a press release.The Tigers and Buckeyes have only met one other time, in the 1978 Gator Bowl, a memorable affair that cost former OSU coach Woody Hayes his job.Trailing 17-15 with just over two minutes remaining, OSU quarterback Art Schlichter was intercepted by Clemson’s Charlie Bauman to all but end the game. Following the play, Hayes punched Bauman through the face mask after he got up on the OSU sideline.Hayes was fired by OSU the next day.The 2013 version of the Tigers, who lost in their regular season finale Nov. 30 to then-No. 10 South Carolina 31-17, sport a high-powered offense, ranked 12th in the country with 502.9 yards per game. Led by senior quarterback Tajh Boyd, the Tigers are tied for 11th in the country in scoring at 40.2 points per game.OSU junior linebacker Ryan Shazier, who is from Pompano Beach, Fla., said it will be nice to play the final game of the season in his home state.“It will be really cool to be able to play Clemson in Florida in the Orange Bowl game … in front of my family and friends,” Shazier said in an OSU press release. “It will be nice to be able to play the last game of the season in my home state. It will mean a lot.”Buckeye senior left tackle Jack Mewhort said he has not yet turned his thoughts to the bowl game, but said he is going to enjoy getting the opportunity to play in a BCS bowl in his final game at OSU.“I think it means a lot for us to go back and play in a BCS bowl game,” Mewhort said in the release. “To get a win in a big time bowl and at the same time show some resiliency would be a great way to go out. I couldn’t ask at this point for anything more than to play in a BCS bowl game, and getting to go to battle with these guys I’ve been fortunate to play with for the last four or five years will be great.”Kickoff between the Buckeyes and Tigers is set for 8:30 p.m. at Sun Life Stadium. read more

Soaring to new heights the 26yearold easyJet flight captain

first_imgMiss McWilliams recalled that when she was growing up she “never even thought it could be an option” to become a commercial pilot, saying that she “didn’t know any I could ask for advice”.Last year easyJet announced an initiative to double the proportion of female new entrants to 12 per cent over two years.Julie Westhorp, chairwoman of the British Women Pilots’ Association (BWPA), said she hopes Miss McWilliams’s progression inspires more women to consider pursuing a career in aviation. She began flying aged 13 in the air cadets before embarking on a training programme at CTC Aviation in Southampton on her 19th birthday.In May 2011 she joined easyJet as a first officer and recently took up the rank of captain after passing the airline’s command course.An easyJet spokeswoman said the Luton-based airline has carried out research which leads it to believe she is the youngest commercial airline captain in the world. When I tell them I’m 26, most people are pleasantly surprised and impressed with my achievement at such a young ageKate McWilliams 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. With women making up just five per cent of commercial pilots, Miss McWilliams, originally from Carlisle, said she gets quizzed about her age by cabin crew and passengers almost every day.”Personally I don’t think my age matters. I’ve been through the same training and passed the same command course as every other captain so I’ve proven myself capable regardless of my age,” she said. Miss McWilliams flew last week from Gatwick to Malta alongside Luke Elsworth, who earlier this year became the UK's youngest pilot at 19 years old Miss McWilliams flew last week from Gatwick to Malta alongside Luke Elsworth, who earlier this year became the UK’s youngest pilot at 19 years oldCredit:PA While many wish to write “young high-flyer” on their CV, for Kate McWilliams it’s simply a matter of fact.Aged just 26, the easyJet pilot is believed to be the youngest in the world to become a commercial airline captain.On one recent flight, she and her co-pilot had a combined age of just 45.The recently-promoted Miss McWilliams flew last week from Gatwick to Malta alongside Luke Elsworth, who earlier this year became the UK’s youngest pilot at 19 years old. Miss McWilliams said: “I do now get asked how old I am on an almost daily basis which didn’t used to happen when I was a first officer.”Usually that question comes from the cabin crew but sometimes passengers ask too.”When I tell them I’m 26, most people are pleasantly surprised and impressed with my achievement at such a young age.”Miss McWilliams, who lives in Reigate, Surrey, flies Airbus A319 and A320 planes to around 100 destinations, such as Reykjavik, Tel Aviv and Marrakesh.”With Gatwick having such an extensive route network my roster is very varied so I rarely fly to the same place twice in the same month,” she said. “That keeps things interesting.”last_img read more

Lily Allen hints at legal action in Twitter row about migrants with EDLs Tommy

first_imgThe former EDL leader wrote: “Our countries (sic) responsibility 1st & foremost is the safety & security of OUR people, not people in the Middle East.” Singer Lily Allen has appeared to threaten English Defence League co-founder Tommy Robinson with legal action in a Twitter row over migration.Allen and Robinson exchanged barbs online after she criticised the use of the word “migrant” in an article about the Turkish nightclub attack, which she said was “racism”.Robinson said that Allen was “virtue signalling” by speaking out about racism, and said that she does not care “about the dead people”, to which she replied:  Another Twitter user replied: “You know what, the police should just lock up all white males as it seems we do everything evil in this world.”The London-born pop star wrote: “That’s a bit strong, but restricting their movement on a global scale could be a good idea.”Robinson also attacked Allen’s stance on wanting to help refugees. On Tuesday Robinson accused Allen of not reporting the assaults to police before she wrote in a tweet to him: “you will be hearing from my legal team in the coming days. You’ll have no choice but to defend yourself. Get fundraising !”She later added: “we’ll debate alright. With lawyers for a few months, then mediation,then the courts.” @TRobinsonNewEra don’t see you mourning too much for the innocent in Aleppo Tommy. pic.twitter.com/sK3r7aVgjX— lily allen (@lilyallen) January 1, 2017 Founder of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson (L) talks to a man with a cat outside the High Court Founder of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson (L) talks to a man with a cat outside the High CourtCredit:Leon Neal/Getty Images .@Barson078 @TRobinsonNewEra we’ll debate alright. With lawyers for a few months, then mediation,then the courts.— lily allen (@lilyallen) January 3, 2017 Allen replied: “Where does it say that?”Allen later responded to a message from another Twitter user who accused her of being racist.”If your (sic) trying to educate people that a race isn’t at fault for everything why would you do that by blaming another race? @lilyallen £Racist,” the post read.Allen replied: center_img 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. I’ve only ever been sexually assaulted by white males so I feel slightly biased. https://t.co/jaiCZ8sWeV— lily allen (@lilyallen) January 1, 2017 .@TRobinsonNewEra you will be hearing from my legal team in the coming days. You’ll have no choice but to defend yourself. Get fundraising !— lily allen (@lilyallen) January 3, 2017 The row comes three months after Allen was criticised for apologising on behalf of the UK during her visit to the Jungle, where she volunteered in a warehouse where donations came in before being distributed to the thousands of migrants and refugees living there.In scenes that aired on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, she broke down in tears while meeting a 13-year-old boy from Afghanistan who said his father lives in Birmingham but who himself had camped at the Jungle for two months.In late October Allen also said she and her daughters were turned away from a black cab by the driver after being told to “find an immigrant” to give her a ride instead. .@GrahamDickens trying to point out that sexual deviants and murderers operate within every culture,regardless of religious persuasion— lily allen (@lilyallen) January 2, 2017 She said at the time she felt like she had a “glimpse of what it feels like to be discriminated against”.A representative for Allen declined to comment. Robinson later wrote to Allen about her October visit to former refugee migrant camp the Jungle in Calais: “Have you ever met or spoke (sic) to a victim of the Muslim grooming gangs, you don’t need to go Calais to hear horror stories.”She responded: last_img read more

Brexit will cut shopping bills by £300 a year says former minister

first_imgHe says that once Britain is “free of the dead hand of the EU” people will benefit from “cheaper food” and a “genuine green revolution”. However critics will likely warn an expected rise in inflation and the possibility of new tarrifs on EU goods – including food – could have the opposite effect. David Cameron warned food prices could soar families during the referendum campaign last year. “Because so much of our food is imported, you could see the impact on a typical family of £220 a year,” Mr Cameron said just weeks before the vote. “And when you take all these things into account, all these economic dangers, you really have to ask yourself, ‘Is it worth taking this risk?’”Mr Paterson, who once served in Mr Cameron’s cabinet and campaigned to leave the EU, offers a different view eight months after the vote. He writes: “Once we leave the EU we can leave the Common Agricultural Policy behind and start afresh. By leaving the Customs Union we will escape the Common External Tariff.“Economists estimate that food prices will fall, saving the average household over £300 a year. This will benefit every single citizen and potentially provide an £8 billion boost to the economy. We then have to think how this affects our own food producers.” British households could save up to £300 on their annual shopping bill after Brexit because a tariff on non-EU goods will no longer apply, a Eurosceptic campaign group has said. New Zealand lamb chops will cost around £1.45 less and Thailand prawns 36p less, according to analysis from Leave Means Leave. The price of imported breakfast staples are also estimated to fall, with certain honeys becoming 17 per cent cheaper and peanut butter becoming 13 per cent cheaper. Owen Paterson, the the former Tory environment secretary, uses a piece in Sunday’s Telegraph to say the average household could save £300 a year.   Mr Paterson adds: “Freed of the dead hand of the EU and by leaving the Customs Union, we escape the Common External Tariff and every citizen will benefit from cheaper food. A genuine green revolution lies ahead of us. This new rural policy will work for everyone.”John Longworth, the co-chair of Leave Means Leave, said: “Brexit will bring huge gains for hardworking British families. “Many people do not realise that we are currently subject to significant tariffs when importing goods from outside of Europe because of our membership of the EU.  “The EU has been completely incompetent at securing free trade deals with the rest of the world so Brexit offers Britain a huge opportunity. “Britain will now be able to secure free trade deals with the rest of the world and get a better deal for British families when they are shopping for food and drink, clothes, cars, electrical goods.” shopping British households could save up to £300 on their annual shopping bill after Brexit, says Eurosceptic campaign group.Credit:Simon Dawson/Bloomberg/Simon Dawson/Bloomberg shopping Shopping could cost £300 less after Brexit, campaign group claimsCredit:PA/PA Show more 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.last_img read more

Homeless Manchester hero charged with theft from bombing victim

first_img 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 spokesman for the crowdfunding site said: “We’re monitoring the situation closely.“We are in full control of the funds and all donors are completely protected by the GoFundMe Guarantee. Anyone concerned about their donation should contact us at gofundme.com/guarantee.” A man hailed as a homeless hero following the Manchester bombing has been charged with stealing a bank card from the arena on the night of the terror attack.Greater Manchester Police said Chris Parker, 33, of no fixed abode, had been charged with two counts of theft relating to a bank card being stolen from the arena on the evening of May 22.He is due to appear at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.Following the attack, rough sleeper Parker had described witnessing the blast and tending to the injured. Twenty-two people died when suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated a device as crowds left an Ariana Grande concert at the arena. Speaking at the time, he said: “It knocked me to the floor and then I got up and instead of running away, my gut instinct was to run back and try and help.“There was people lying on the floor everywhere.”He told how he had wrapped an injured girl in a T-shirt and tending to a woman who passed away in his arms.More than £50,000 was raised for him on the GoFundMe website following reports of the help he had given.last_img read more

Political cartoonists 1987 murder reinvestigated as police hope shift in allegiances will bring

first_imgThe gun used to kill Naji Salim Hussain Al-Ali, which was found almost two years after his murderCredit:Metropolitan Police/PA Detectives said the decision to re-investigate the case was partly down to a possible shift in allegiances from those who may have known the identity of Mr Al-Ali’s killer, as well as a second suspect who was later seen driving away from the scene.Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter terrorism command, said: “The brutal murder of Mr Al-Ali devastated his family and 30 years on they continue to feel the loss.”We have previously reviewed this case and followed a number of lines of inquiry which have not resulted in us identifying these two men.”However, a lot can change in 30 years – allegiances shift and people who were not willing to speak at the time of the murder may now be prepared to come forward with crucial information. He was wearing a stonewashed denim jacket and dark trousers, police said. Witnesses described seeing the suspect close to Mr Al-Ali, holding a black automatic handgun.A witness reported seeing another man – also of Middle-Eastern appearance – crossing Fulham Road into Lucan Place and getting into the driver’s seat of a silver-grey left-hand drive Mercedes shortly after the incident. Cold case detectives believe changes in allegiances may hold the key to solving the murder of a political cartoonist.Naji Salim Hussain Al-Ali was fatally shot as he walked to his office in Knightsbridge, west London, on July 22 1987.The 51-year-old, whose provocative cartoons were deemed critical of the Palestinian regime when they appeared in Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas, died on August 29 that year in hospital from his injuries.Witnesses at the time said Mr Al-Ali was pursued for around 40 seconds by the suspected gunman before he was shot in the back of his neck. An artist’s impression of what man who shot Naji Salim Hussain Al-Ali could look like nowCredit:Metropolitan Police/PA  the gun used to kill Naji Salim Hussain Al-Ali  an artist's impression of the man who shot Naji Salim Hussain Al-Ali A lot can change in 30 years – allegiances shift and people who were not willing to speak at the time of the murder may now be prepared to come forward with crucial informationDean Haydon, Metropolitan Police He was seen running with his left hand inside the right side of his jacket as if he was concealing something.The gun – a 7.62 Tokarev pistol – was found on the Hallfield Estate in Paddington almost two years after the murder. 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. “We remain open-minded about the motive for Mr Al-Ali’s murder and we believe there are people somewhere who have information that could help us bring those responsible for his murder to justice.”In the moments leading up to Mr Al-Ali’s murder, he parked his car on Ixworth Place, walked down into Draycott Avenue and onto Ives Street.Witnesses reported seeing him being followed by the suspected gunman, who they described as being of Middle-Eastern appearance and aged about 25, with collar-length thick black hair that was wavy at the back.last_img read more

Rod Stewart says Elton Johns farewell tour is dishonest and stinks of

first_img“Talking about retirement, I’ve never spoken about retirement, and if I do retire, I won’t make an announcement. I’ll just fade away.”I don’t think this big deal: ‘I’m going to retire’, it stinks of selling tickets.”When Cyndi Lauper, who is touring with Stewart this summer and also appeared on the show, joked that it “wasn’t a bad idea” and that they too could plug their tour in the same way, Stewart said: “It’s dishonest It’s not rock and roll.” Rod Stewart has criticised Elton John’s retirement tour and branded it a “dishonest” ploy to make money.The Maggie May singer said he didn’t believe in retirement tours, and that the 300 date ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ world tour “stinks of selling tickets”.Stewart, 73, said that he has never talked about retiring and that the decision by Elton, 70, was “not rock and roll”.Stewart was in a jocular mood during an appearance on a US chat show when asked about Elton, who has been friends with for 50 years. But his comments about retirement seemed rather more pointed.Stewart was appearing on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen when a fan called in to ask him what he thought of The Rocket Man’s planned retirement.Stewart said: “I did email her [Elton] and said: ‘What, again dear?’ And I didn’t hear anything back. Sir Elton announced earlier this year that he was retiringCredit:Isabel Infantes/PA Sir Elton announced earlier this year that he was retiringcenter_img Stewart and Elton have enjoyed a good natured rivalry for years and have in the past texted each other to compare album sales.During their conversations they pretend to be a married couple and Stewart calls himself Phyllis while Elton is Sharon. 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.last_img read more

Campaigners warn against sale of fields and green spaces which save NHS

Fields in Trust suggests that the UK's parks save the NHS more than £100 million every year Fields in Trust suggests that the UK’s parks save the NHS more than £100 million every yearCredit:Steve Parsons/PA Martin Brommell, chair of the Mapledurham Playing Fields Action Group, said: “The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is just selecting whichever site it chooses and going after it regardless of planning laws.“They bought this land for a song and clearly saw it as an easy, soft target.“If this development goes ahead, other councils will get the message that they don’t have to give up valuable development land if they can give up trust land instead.”The ESFA has pledged £1.36m to mitigate the loss of amenity and enhance the remaining facilities but the campaigners claim it will not compensate for the loss of sports pitches, recreation ground and playground.The Fields in Trust report found that green spaces save the NHS at least £111 million every year, enough to pay for more than 3,500 nurses.The figures are based solely on the number of GP visits they prevent and do not include savings from non-referrals for treatment or prescriptions, meaning the actual savings to the taxpayer would be significantly higher. The research represents the first time wellbeing benefits associated with parks and green spaces have been calculated so comprehensively.It valued such green land at £974 per person – the equivalent of approximately nine days average pay.Green spaces and parks are increasingly at risk, from both a lack of investment and the ongoing trend of selling them off by cash-strapped local authorities.Official figures suggest that the Department for Education allowed 194 playing field disposals since the Conservatives came to power almost eight years ago.Helen Griffiths, chief executive of Fields in Trust, said: “This report clearly demonstrates the economic and wellbeing benefits that parks and green spaces bring to people across the UK.“At a time when parks and green spaces are under threat this is valuable evidence that the loss of green space is hugely damaging to people’s welfare.“The research also confirms that any decision by a public body to remove a park or green space is completely short-sighted – and will in fact likely cost more money than is saved.”The research was undertaken using Treasury-approved methods that calculate the value of something by asking people how much they would need to be paid to compensate them for the loss and how it affects various things including physical and mental health.As part of its new Green Spaces for Good strategy, Fields in Trust is committing itself to protecting more green spaces, with the aim of 75 per cent of the UK population being within a 10 minute walk of a protected park or green space by 2022. It said the current figure, which it is currently calculating, is “significantly lower”.The Duke of Cambridge, president of the charity, said parks “quite simply make us happier”. Parks and green spaces save the NHS more than £100 million a year, new research has found.They provide wellbeing benefits worth a total of £34 billion annually, according to the Fields in Trust charity, which has urged the Government to ban local councils from selling school playing fields.Its report, the first of its kind, warned that the sale of such valuable land was “completely short sighted” and would likely cost more money than is saved.It came as campaigners warned that a council’s decision to approve the planning application for a new free school to be built on fields it holds in trust could pave the way for similar moves to be made up and down the country.An action group has called for a public inquiry into Reading Borough Council’s decision to develop the land originally bequeathed in charity trust for recreation only.  Objectors include Sports England, the Football Foundation, Fields in Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England amongst others. 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. read more

Property lawyer gets to keep home extension despite having no planning permission

Philip Galway-Cooper outside High Court Mr Justice Ouseley said expert engineering evidence revealed the likelihood that any restored wall “would fail”, that the construction job would be “exceedingly difficult” and it was “more likely than not that it could not be done”.The judge said he had “considerable sympathy for the predicament faced by the council” in dealing with a breach of planning control, and that the prospect of the unauthorised extension remaining in place was “troubling”.The council was ordered to pay Mr and Mrs Galway-Cooper’s £20,000 legal costs bills. Philip Galway-Cooper outside High CourtCredit:Paul Keogh At Highbury Corner Magistrates Court last year, the couple were acquitted in a criminal prosecution after claiming it was impossible to do the work demanded by the council.They argued that restoring the wall would mean removing a steel frame from the back of the building with potentially catastrophic consequences and the house, built on notoriously unstable London clay and sand, was already noticeably leaning, the court heard, raising fears of subsidence. The work, even if feasible, would have also cost over £360,000, and putting in pilings to support the house would add another £150,000 to the bill.The couple, who also have a home in Rutland, were acquitted after a district judge found that there was nothing they could do to comply with the notice – a decision now supported by the High Court. A barrister has been able to keep a three-storey extension to his £1.85m home despite having no planning permission after a judge ruled removing it could bring the house down.Property specialist, Philip Galway-Cooper, and his wife Wendy, were prosecuted for failing to demolish the three-storey extension.But a judge at the High Court has confirmed their innocence after the London Borough of Camden took them to court for failing to comply with an enforcement notice.Mr and Mrs Galway-Cooper have owned their detached Victorian house in Gayton Crescent, Hampstead, since 2007 – which they later extended.When the council demanded the couple completely demolish the extension in 2014, while also ordering them to restore the part of the rear wall to which the extension is attached to its original condition, the couple didn’t comply with the order. 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. read more

Drones potential to save lives must be harnessed

A drone company in Rwanda is delivering life-saving blood in the world’s first national drone delivery network. Drones also have a key role to play in search and rescue operations and disaster response, said the report. But volunteer drone operators must co-ordinate with professional emergency responders, as well as consult existing guidelines and professional codes of conduct.Ms Soesilo said that in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake in 2015 well-meaning good Samaritans turned up with newly-bought drones, with the intention of helping the rescue efforts.“These people must be trained and they must be co-ordinated very closely with official rescue operations. You can ground all the helicopters in an area if there’s an unregulated drone flying somewhere,” she said. From delivering life-saving drugs to mapping sites for refugee camps, drones have massive potential for global health. A new report from the Foundation for Responsible Robotics says that, despite their reputation for invading privacy and endangering aircraft, drones could benefit society in many ways as long as they are used appropriately.  Worldwide, drone sales are booming, totalling $13.1 billion in 2016, says the report. And the global drone industry has been estimated at around $127.3 billion.The report says that use of drones in global health falls into two categories: data acquisition and cargo delivery.  Noel Sharkey – the foundation’s co-director and professor emeritus of robotics and artificial intelligence at Sheffield University – characterised the regulations governing the use of privately-owned drones as “chaos”, whether that is in Europe, the United States or the developing world.And he warned that inappropriate use could lead to a public backlash.“We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater. It is now clear that the responsible use of this technology could be enormously helpful to humanitarian work and environmental protections. When we have natural disasters, starving people in conflict or emergency need for medicines, drones can come to the rescue,” he said. Protect yourself and your family by learning more about Global Health Security  Drones must be operated by skilled operators, the report authors warn Drones must be operated by skilled operators, the report authors warnCredit:Niall Carson /PA 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. Aimee van Wynsberghe, co-director of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, highlighted the concept of “disaster tourism”.”People are using drones to go to an area of a disaster, whether it’s a fire or an emergency, and tracking what’s going on,” she said. But Dr van Wynsberghe added that drones, even when used by official agencies, could also cause psychological harm and more research was needed in this area.“It would be irresponsible to proceed with drones on a massive scale without knowing the psychological consequences,” she said. Speaking at a press conference to launch the report, the authors called for the responsible use of drones.Denise Soesilo, co-author of the foundation report, said: “There’s a potential to do truly good things with this technology but there’s also the potential to get it wrong. The private sector cannot lead these discussions [on proper drone use]. They have to come from civil society and the public.”The report highlighted the work of  various organisations including Unicef, the World Food Programme and Médecins Sans Frontières, which used drones to map an area in Malawi partially cut off from floods but for which there were few detailed maps. The organisation then used the data it had retrieved to work out where people were living and what assistance was needed.  read more

Southgate Tube station explosion Man arrested over blast that left five injured

A police cordon outside the station on Tuesday eveningCredit:darrenyarlett/Twitter Mayor of London Sadiq Khan praised emergency services for “a swift and professional response” to the incident.British Transport Police (BTP) confirmed the incident was not believed to be terror-related. He said the flames were “six foot plus” and everyone “legged it”.Mr Ayton said: “It wasn’t a bang. It was like a very rapid whooshing sound.” There were reports on social media that residents living nearby were being asked to evacuate buildings as officers continue to assess the level of threat. Transport officials outside Southgate Tube stationCredit:Tolga Akmen/LNP  He said the escalator was “packed”, adding: “The Tube had just unloaded. The escalator was full.”Mr Ayton said: “A few people got trampled on on the escalator. There was screaming. Emergency services at the scene at Southgate Tube on Tuesday night Credit:Victoria Jones /PA Emergency services at the scene at Southgate  London Ambulance Service said two people had been taken to hospital and three others were treated at the scene in north London for minor injuries.A spokeswoman said: “We have treated three patients at the scene for minor injuries and have taken two people to hospital.”The Metropolitan Police said: “It appears at this stage that the cause of the explosion was a battery short circuit.”The Met Police and BTP (British Transport Police) are working together to establish the full facts.” Police at the scene after several people were injured in an explosion at Southgate Underground stationCredit:Henry Nicholls/Reuters “An old woman got trampled on. I had to carry a woman up the stairs. I think she was in shock to be honest. She couldn’t walk, shaking.”He said he saw a Tube worker pick something up that was on fire and extinguish it but he added: “I think that was secondary rather than the cause.” Emergency services arrive at the scene Police at the scene after several people were injured in an explosion at Southgate Underground station A spokesman said he has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.They added: “The incident, which left five people with minor injuries, is believed to have been caused by a faulty drill battery.”Tube passenger James Ayton, 34, from Southgate, was on the escalator when he saw a “quick burst” of flames at the top. A man has been arrested over an explosion at Southgate Underground station that left five people injured when passengers fled in mass panic.The 23-year-old was held by police on suspicion of “doing an act likely to cause an explosion to injure or damage property” on Tuesday night.British Transport Police said on Wednesday morning that the small blast at the Tube station in north London is believed to have been caused by a faulty drill battery.Officers were called to reports of people running at the station at shortly after 7pm. One man on a “packed” escalator said some people had been “trampled” in the commotion.Police said the arrested man, from Enfield, was detained “on suspicion of doing an act likely to cause an explosion to injure or damage property, and endangering safety on the railway.” Reports of a minor explosion inside Southgate Tube Station Transport officials outside Southgate Tube station Stuck in an Indian restaurant opposite #Southgate station because of a suspect bomb going off inside (the station) #PHEX @salamanderpumps #SaladAndAmanda pic.twitter.com/iGuazeEJr2— Salamander Sean (@Salamander_Sean) June 19, 2018 City worker Darren Yarlett, 36, said: “The police moved us on, but they said there was an explosion in the station.”There must be around 50 or 60 police, an ambulance, fire arms and dog units.” Emergency services at the scene outside Southgate Tube station Credit:Victoria Jones/PA 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. read more

More funding needed to encourage new tennis talent says rising Wimbledon star

A rising British star handed a ‘wildcard’ for this year’s Wimbledon says the lack of official funding for junior players is stymying the search for new home-grown talent.Jay Clarke, the 19-year-old British No 5, said the lack of official funding for juniors has made it difficult for British youngsters to compete in big tournaments and afford professional trainers.Clarke began receiving funding from the LTA as part of its Player Pathway programme when he turned 18, but before that he had to rely on coaching from family members and donations from friends to allow him to pursue his dream of reaching the highest level of the sport.Following a series of strong results Clarke was last week given a Wimbledon wildcard for the championships by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), along with fellow Britons Liam Broady, Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart, Katy Dunne, Naomi Broady, Gabriella Taylor and Katie Swan.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––He told The Sunday Telegraph that the sport’s pool of talent is being limited because young players from poorer backgrounds still find it harder to fund their progress into the higher levels of the game.Clarke said: “Tennis is obviously a very wealthy sport and without the sponsor I have now I wouldn’t be playing. Without having a lot of money you can play to a certain level, but to actually take it seriously you need a lot of money. That’s why it’s not a big sport in this country. Jay Clarke in action at the Queen’s Club, LondonCredit:Steven Paston/PA Wire He has also had to put up with racist abuse on social media, revealing last week after his defeat to fellow Brit Cameron Norrie at the Nature Valley International, that “it is almost normal now” to be targeted by online trolls.“The first time it happened, I was quite taken aback but now you ­almost expect it,” he said.Clarke is hoping to put the abuse behind him as he looks forward to making a national name for himself after spending most of his career playing challenger and futures events.He has received support from Andy Murray who chose him as a hitting partner after he trained with the British Davis Cup team last year.Scott Lloyd, the newly appointed chief executive of the LTA, has said that tennis continues to suffer from the perception of being “inaccessible, elitist, expensive”.The LTA said it funded players who were judged to have the best prospects of success from the age of 18.An LTA spokesperson said: “Jay is one the best players in the world for his age and currently on our Pro Scholarship Programme (which offers support to our highest potential players for up to five years).  It is important to note that our resources are finite, however we do invest heavily in these players to enable the likes of Jay to have a world class team and necessary support around them. Since being selected for the PSP, Jay has made tremendous strides, improving his ATP ranking 500 spots in 18 months to his current position of 236. Jay has also been invited to the Davis Cup squad during this time and received wild cards into LTA events.” Jay Clarke congratulates fellow Brit, Cameron Norrie, after their men's single match on the sixth day of the Nature Valley International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne  He added: “I had a sponsor a few years ago and basically when they stopped funding me I had to stop playing for a few months because I couldn’t go to tournaments. So, I was just training on my own every day, it was brutal.”Clarke was born into an inner-city family in Derby, and from an early age was encouraged to play tennis with his older siblings, who all embarked on a career in the sport.After making impressive early strides, his talent became obvious, but his family faced a constant struggle to find the money needed to turn his natural ability into a profession. As a 17-year-old, Clarke had to walk three miles to practice because his parents did not own a car and he depended on his sister Yasmin – a former British No 18 – to coach him.She has previously questioned why youngsters from working class backgrounds are not encouraged with official funding.To boost his hopes of becoming a top professional Clarke decided to move to Sweden, where he knew some of the coaches.But without financial backing from the LTA the youngster missed out on the prestigious Orange Bowl in Florida in 2016 because the fare was too expensive. Without the intervention of family friend who stepped in and became a sponsor, Clarke’s dream of one day sharing the stage with Rafael Nadal may have been cut short. CLARIFICATIONAn earlier version of this story did not make clear that concerns around funding for tennis players related to Jay Clarke’s time as a junior player. We are happy to make this clear. Jay Clarke congratulates fellow Brit, Cameron Norrie, after their men’s single match on the sixth day of the Nature Valley International at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne Credit:Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images Jay Clarke in action at the Queen's Club, London 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. read more

Drink driver escapes jail for fourth time after blaming abortion and dyslexia

A drink driver escaped jail despite four convictions in three years after she blamed her behaviour on an abortion and a dyslexia diagnosis.Naomi Kaneko, 31, was found slumped at the wheel of her BMW 320 with her mobile phone in her hand and a bottle of wine in the footwell after police were called to reports of an “intoxicated female” one evening in March. A breath test reading showed 120mg, when the legal limit is 35mg.Officers said Kaneko, who was just 380 yards from her apartment in Hale, near Altrincham, Greater Manchester was ‘very very incoherent’ as they asked her to get out of the car.She also had slurred speech and was unsteady on her feet with tests showing she was more than three times the alcohol limit.Manchester Magistrates Court heard that the therapist, who is studying an Msc in psychology at Salford University, claimed she had been drinking after attending an abortion clinic to end an unexpected pregnancy at the request of her boyfriend. She also said she was suffering stress after being diagnosed with dyslexia.The court heard she was convicted of drink driving three times in 2015 but was spared imprisonment on each occasion. The judge told Ms Kaneko if she breached her sentence she would "be brought back to court and your feet will not touch the floor" The judge told Ms Kaneko if she breached her sentence she would “be brought back to court and your feet will not touch the floor”Credit:Ricky Champagne/Cavendish Press A probation report said: “She said at the time of the offence she was experiencing a lot of extreme trauma following the termination of her pregnancy and she was dealing with that at the time of the offence. 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. “For that reason I will suspend your sentence. But let me make it abundantly clear, if you breach your sentence by the commissioning of another offence, you will be brought back to court and your feet will not touch the floor.”Kaneko was also ordered to complete 150 hours unpaid work and pay £200 costs. She was banned from driving for five years. “She felt she should have looked for assistance instead of turning to alcohol. Her partner did not wish for her to keep the baby, and she felt she should have taken more time to decide.”She was also diagnosed with dyslexia and this has added to stresses. She understands the consequences of what could have happened.”The court also heard that Kaneko has a nine-year-old with her ex-husband, where there was said to be some domestic abuse.”She does have previous convictions for drink driving but she suffers with anxiety and has since been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Syndrome,” the report continued.”She has been referred to counselling, and due to long waiting list on the NHS, she pays privately for it.”She volunteers once a week in the detoxification ward of a hospital in Prestwich. She also works as a support worker where she helps others with their own issues.”Passing sentence District Judge James Hatton told Kaneko: “Unfortunately for you, your record of previous convictions is disgraceful. There were three separate offences of drink driving in 2015 and these are offences were custody would be appropriate.”But I have seen many letters to suggest you’re getting help for your personal circumstances. Those alone would not be sufficient to persuade me against a custodial sentence but my main concerns are about your daughter and what will happen to her should you be sent to prison. read more

Barry Chuckle was fighting secret bone cancer battle when he died brother

Barry (left) and Paul Elliott were on TV for decades Mr Patton said he was “amazed” his brother performed in panto last year despite being ill.He said Mr Elliott’s death had been particularly hard on his comedy partner Paul.”Paul was closest to Barry you see and he is devastated, we all are – it’s very sad,” he told The Sun. 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. Barry (left) and Paul Elliott were on TV for decadesCredit:Yui Mok/PA Entertainer Barry Chuckle was diagnosed with bone cancer but kept it secret from his fans, his brother claimed.The veteran entertainer, real name Barry Elliott, died at the weekend at the age of 73. He found fame performing alongside his brother Paul Elliott as the Chuckle Brothers, in BBC comedy show ChuckleVision, which ran for 21 series from 1987 to 2009.Mr Elliott’s eldest brother Jimmy Patton said the TV star had been suffering from bone cancer which had spread to his lungs, but kept news of the disease private.Mr Patton told The Sun: “We are all devastated. Barry had bone cancer which had spread to his lungs.”He was ill for years, but kept it hidden. We knew about it, but kept it quiet, and all the family are really hurting right now.” read more