The Taliban’s firm focus is now on Afghanistan’s cities. The situation is fluid but Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province where many US and British soldiers lost their lives, looks the most vulnerable right now. Pro-Taliban social media accounts have uploaded videos of their fighters in the heart of the city.
The US Centers for Sickness Control and Prevention (CDC) in an internal paper warns that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is more lethal and can also be transmitted by vaccinated people. Furthermore, the paper stated that unvaccinated people had a greater chance of becoming seriously ill or dying than those who had been vaccinated.
In other news, as a result of a UK government minister’s apparent support for ‘no jab, no job’ policies, Britain’s equality watchdog Equality and Human Rights Commission has called on companies to be ‘proportionate’ and ‘non-discriminatory’ adding that they must make provision for those, who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
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In an internal paper, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that Delta COVID-19 strain can be passed on even by those who have been vaccinated, and that it can cause more serious illness than previous coronavirus strains.
UK’s equalities watchdog has issued a warning to employers nationwide to be ‘proportionate’ and non-discriminatory after a government minister appeared to support ‘no jab, no job’ policies.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has slammed Beijing for taking a “hypocritical stance” after the Chinese government accused the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) of broadcasting “fake news” about the flood in Henan, China.
According to official media on Friday, the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has caused a sudden surge in cases in China, with clusters of positive cases reported in 15 cities, including Beijing.
Israel’s foreign minister blamed Iran for the attack on a petroleum product tanker off the coast of Oman that killed one Brits and one Romanian on Thursday, in an incident he said deserved a harsh response.
A majority of women lawmakers, from both the opposition and treasury benches in Pakistan’s National Assembly, on Friday unanimously demanded the execution of rapists to curb the rising number of complaints of abuse against women and children.
A proposed-class-action settlement of C$13.375 million ($10 million) will benefit the hundreds of victims of a disgraced Canadian fertility doctor, including more than a dozen children conceived using his sperm.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Seven outstanding contributors to Mountaineer athletics make up the 31st class of honorees in the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame, announced today by Director of Athletics Shane Lyons.
The 2021 class includes Keri Bland (cross country/track), Nicco Campriani (rifle), Noel Devine (football), Dale Farley (football), Mike Fox (football), Lajuanda Moody (gymnastics) and Olayinka Sanni (women’s basketball). This class brings the total number of inductees to 215.
Induction ceremonies will take place Saturday, Oct. 30, prior to the West Virginia-Iowa State football game. Due to COVID-19, there was no induction ceremony for the 2020 class. Induction ceremonies for the 2020 class will take place Saturday, Sept. 18, prior to the West Virginia-Virginia Tech football game.
Keri Bland earned nine All-America honors in cross country and track from 2006-11, leaving her name in the record books as one of the most decorated athletes in WVU cross country and track and field history.
In 2007, Bland helped guide the Mountaineers to their first Big East title in cross country and the highest team finish (ninth) at the NCAA Championships. At the national meet, she finished 23rd (20:58) to earn first team All-America honors. Bland and Marie-Louise Asselin earned All-America honors, marking the first time WVU’s cross country program had multiple All-Americans in the same year.
Bland was an essential part of the cross country team in 2008, leading WVU to its most successful season in school history with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. WVU also finished first at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals and second at the Big East Championship. Bland finished 14th at the NCAA Championships with a time of 20:20. During the 2008 indoor track season, Bland was part of the distance medley relay team that set a school record and earned All-America honors with a fourth-place finish. She finished the 2008 outdoor season by earning All-America honors in the 1,500 meters to become the first female in WVU history to earn All-America accolades in three sports in the same year.
The Fairview, West Virginia, native earned All-America honors at the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships by leading WVU to a sixth-place finish and marking the third straight season WVU finished in the nation’s top 10. Bland, along with Asselin, became the only Mountaineers in school history to earn All-America honors for three seasons in cross country.
In 2009, Bland secured two All-America honors during the indoor track season, placing eighth in the mile and as part of the distance medley relay team. In the outdoor track season, Bland earned her fourth All-America citation of the year in the 1,500 meters, marking the second consecutive year she earned All-America honors in three sports in the same year.
In her final season in 2011, Bland earned third team All-America honors in the 1,500-meter run with an 18th-place (4:24) finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Bland captured NCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region honors in cross country from 2006-09, was the Big East Indoor Outstanding Track Performer in 2009, was the Big East individual indoor champion in 2008 in the 1,000 meters and 2009 in the mile and was an ECAC outdoor champion in 2009. In the classroom, Bland earned CoSIDA Academic All-America Third Team honors in 2011.
Bland, who is married to Ben Richardson and has one son, received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s degree in education. She teaches at North Marion High, where she serves as the mathematics department chair and coaches the girls and boys cross country and track teams.
Nicco Campriani was a national champion and four-time All-American from 2010-11 before winning three Olympic Gold medals following graduation from WVU.
A native of Florence, Italy, Campriani captured the air rifle national title at the 2011 NCAA Championships, becoming the first Mountaineer to win the discipline crown since 1996. He helped the Mountaineers to a second-place team finish in 2011, and a third-place finish at the 2010 NCAA Championships.
Campriani helped the Mountaineers win their first conference championship since 2000, capturing back-to-back GARC (Great American Rifle Conference) Championship titles in 2010-11. He won two GARC smallbore titles and two GARC air rifle titles in 2010 and 2011. Campriani is one of five Mountaineers to shoot 600 in air rifle in program history and is the only WVU athlete to hit the mark twice. WVU went 22-2 over his two-year career.
He was a two-time All-American in air rifle and a two-time All-America selection in smallbore. Campriani also was a four-time All-GARC First Team selection, the 2011 GARC Shooter of the Year, 2011 GARC Outstanding Senior and 2011 GARC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In the classroom, he earned CoSIDA Men’s At-Large Academic All-America First Team honors in 2011 and was a second team selection in 2010.
Following his WVU career, Campriani became a three-time Olympic Gold medalist as a member of the Italian National Team. He captured his first Gold medal in the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions at the 2012 Olympics in London, as well as a Silver medal in the men’s 10m air rifle. Campriani won a Gold medal in the men’s 10m air rifle and men’s 50m rifle 3 positions at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Campriani was the first WVU rifle athlete to win two Gold medals at one Olympic Games, and overall, with his three Gold and one Silver, he is considered the most successful rifle shooter in Olympic history. He also competed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
He won the Gold medal at the 2009 European Championships in the 10m rifle and then captured Gold at the 2010 Shooting World Championships in the 10-meter rifle, becoming the first Italian world champion in shooting. For his career, he has won eight Gold medals, five Silver medals and two Bronze medals at ISSF World Cups.
Campriani earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from WVU in 2011. Prior to coming to WVU, he attended the University of Firenze for two years. He managed to combine his engineering background with his sport passion by developing a new air rifle design. His first prototype was produced in 2013 and was the same one he used to win his Gold medal in Rio 2016.
Following his retirement from the sport, Campriani joined the International Olympic Committee as Senior Sport Intelligence Manager, working on a variety of projects from the Athlete Career Program, focusing on dual career and career transition, to other public facing programs within the Olympic movement. In 2019, he founded ‘Make a Mark’, a personal initiative that offers retired Olympians an opportunity to identify and mentor refugees and forcibly displaced people for elite level sport to help transform their lives. This project, which relied on crowdfunding and donations, resulted in two of his athletes qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the 10m air rifle event, further contributing to the Refugee Olympic Team.
Noel Devine was a three-year starter at running back from 2007-10 and became WVU’s career all-purpose yardage leader (5,761 yards).
The Fort Myers, Florida, native ranks third on WVU’s career rushing chart and No. 4 in Big East history with 4,315 yards. He is WVU’s all-time running back receptions leader with 98 and third in yards with 710. Devine ranks sixth on WVU’s all-time rushing touchdown list (29) and 10th on WVU’s all-time scoring chart (186) by a position player.
Devine had 19 career 100-yard rushing games with 12 career runs of 50 yards or more, 28 runs of 30 yards or more and 36 runs of 25 yards or more. He played in four bowl games: 2008 Fiesta, 2008 Meineke Car Care, 2010 Gator and 2010 Champs Sports.
As a senior in 2010, Devine registered 1,254 all-purpose yards, giving him 1,000 or more yards all four years. He led WVU in rushing with 934 yards on 208 carries and six touchdowns. Devine was WVU’s third-leading receiver with 34 receptions for 258 yards and a touchdown. He sustained a toe bruise at LSU and an ankle injury at Louisville that slowed him for most of the season.
In 2009, Devine was a unanimous All-Big East First Team selection and was one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, signifying the top offensive player in the nation. He led the team in rushing with 1,465 yards and 13 touchdowns. Devine was named West Virginia’s Gator Bowl MVP against Florida State after he registered a game-high 168 yards on 16 carries. Devine had a career-high 220 yards rushing against Colorado, and a career-best three rushing touchdowns against Auburn.
As a sophomore, he was named to the All-Big East Second Team, leading the Mountaineers in rushing with 1,289 yards and four touchdowns. He tallied 188 yards against Syracuse, including the second-longest run (92) in school history against the Orange. Devine set the school record with a run of 79 yards for the longest non-touchdown run vs. Louisville.
In 2007, Devine was the third-leading rusher on the team with 627 yards on 73 carries. He became the fastest WVU player to rush for 100 yards in a game on just two carries at Maryland.
Devine signed a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011. He played for the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League in 2011, the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League in 2012-13 and the Edmonton Eskimos in 2014. Devine participated in The Spring League in 2017 and played for the West Virginia Roughriders in 2019, helping guide them to the league championship.
He graduated from West Virginia with a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree in December 2019.
Devine owns and runs DevineSpeed LLC, a speed training business where he trains numerous athletes from different sports. He enjoys giving back to the community, doing camps in North Fort Myers and Satellite Beach, Florida, and in West Virginia. He works as a substitute teacher in North Fort Myers and as a guest teacher in the Lee Court District. He also assists with coaching football at North Fort Myers High School, where his son, Andre, plays, and coaching in the Cape Junior Football League, where his son Noel Jr. plays.
Devine and his wife, Candace, have been together since high school. They have five children, Desirae (16), Andre (15), Destyni (13), Noel Jr. (9) and Noah (5).
Desirae is heading into her junior year of high school and plays softball. Andre is heading into 10th grade and plays football, where Noel had his retired jersey reinstated for his son in 2020. Destyni, who runs track, will be in eighth grade and is currently getting ready for the Junior Olympics. Noel Jr. is going into the fourth grade and plays football, basketball and runs track.
The late Dale Farley was a tremendous three-year linebacker from 1968-70, playing for coaches Jim Carlen and Bobby Bowden.
A native of Sparta, Tennessee, Farley teamed with All-America middle guard Carl Crennel during his junior year in 1969 to give the Mountaineers the nation’s 12th-best defense, allowing just 241 yards per game.
West Virginia, that year, held four opponents to a touchdown or less and produced shutout victories over VMI and William & Mary on the way to a 10-1 record and a 14-3 victory over ACC champion South Carolina in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
Farley’s late interception against Syracuse in 1970 helped seal WVU’s big 28-19 victory over the Orange, and his absence in the Pitt game earlier that season was a major factor in the Mountaineers’ stunning 36-35 loss at Pitt Stadium when the Panthers overcame a 35-8 halftime deficit.
He was selected to play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, and was named to the All-East and All-South teams. The Mountaineers posted a record of 25-7 during his career. Farley is a member of the WVU All-Time Team from 1970-79.
Farley was named a First Team All-American by The Sporting News in 1970 and was selected in the third round of the 1971 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins (74th pick overall). He played one season for the Dolphins in 1971 before being traded to Buffalo, where he joined Mountaineer teammate Jim Braxton with the Bills. Farley played two years there and spent one season playing for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League before returning to work on his family farm in Sparta.
Farley passed away on June 13, 2019, in Cookeville, Tennessee. He was survived by his wife, Karen, and son, Brandon, along with grandchildren Branson Farley, Dalton Stallings and Kaytlyn Franklin. Farley was preceded in death by his daughter, Brittany Ann Farley Johnson.
Mike Fox was an outstanding defensive tackle from 1986-89 at WVU and had a nine-year career in the NFL.
A native of Akron, Ohio, Fox was a two-year starter at tackle, earning 1989 Gator Bowl Most Valuable Player honors with seven tackles. In his final season, he led the team in quarterback sacks with 10 and posted 78 tackles. Fox was named an honorable mention All-American by The Sporting News, First Team Associated Press All-East and All-ECAC.
Fox had nine tackles, two sacks and two tackles for loss versus Ball State, had eight tackles, including two sacks and two TFLs, against South Carolina, had nine tackles, including eight solo stops and a sack against Virginia Tech, posted seven tackles and a sack at Penn State and had nine tackles, including a pair of sacks and two tackles for a loss, in the Syracuse game.
As a junior, he started every game and was named AP All-East in 1988. His big play that season was a blocked punt at Pitt. The WVU defense helped pave the way to the 1989 Fiesta Bowl for college football’s national championship against Notre Dame. He also started four games in 1987, helping the Mountaineers to the 1987 Sun Bowl.
Fox finished his WVU career with 142 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, two forced fumbles and four pass breakups.
He was selected in the second round (51st overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, and was part of the Super Bowl XXV-winning team. Fox finished his career with the Carolina Panthers from 1995-98.
In the NFL, he played in 133 games, starting 84, while recording 17 sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He finished his career with 233 tackles, including 122 solo stops. Fox started every game he played from 1993 through 1996.
Fox earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from WVU in 1990.
Lajuanda Moody became WVU gymnastics’ second All-American during her career from 1991-94.
The Bridgeport, Connecticut, native was the first WVU gymnast to qualify for the NCAA Championships as an individual on three occasions (1991, 1993 and 1994), all of which were in the all-around competition.
Moody registered the school’s first perfect 10.0 on the floor exercise on Feb. 27, 1994. She is tied for third in school history with 47 career all-around meets and holds the school record for points in a season (570.05 in 1992). Moody also ranks third in program history with 1,933.7 career points.
She led the Mountaineers to their first three Atlantic 10 Championships in 1992, 1993 and 1994. Moody is the only gymnast in school history who has won three conference all-around championships (1991-93). She also owns six event conference titles, including the uneven bars (1992-93), balance beam (1992, 1994) and floor exercise (1991-93).
Moody earned Second Team All-America honors on the balance beam in 1994, becoming WVU’s first All-American since Shari Retton in 1982. She earned Atlantic 10 Gymnast of the Year honors in 1992 and Atlantic 10 Outstanding Freshman Gymnast in 1991. Moody was named Atlantic 10 All-Conference on vault (1991 and 1993), balance beam (1991-94), floor exercise (1991, 1992 and 1994) and all-around (1991, 1993 and 1994). She was WVU’s Most Valuable Gymnast in 1992 and 1994 and won the Joseph Medrick Award for having the highest all-around scoring average all four years of her career.
Moody graduated from WVU in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising. She has a son, Langston, and is currently a teacher in New Haven, Connecticut.
Olayinka Sanni played in 129 games, starting 111, during her outstanding four-year women’s basketball career from 2005-08.
Sanni, a native of Chicago Heights, Illinois, finished with 1,602 career points (12.4 ppg), 773 rebounds (6.0 rpg), 170 steals (1.3 spg), 77 assists (0.6 apg) and a career 55.7 field goal shooting percentage. Overall, Sanni ranks in WVU’s top 10 in multiple categories: second in field-goal percentage (55.7), third in offensive rebounds (364), sixth in field goals made (663), ninth in games started (111) and 10th in games played (129). She ranked 11th in total points (1,602).
During Sanni’s tenure at WVU, the Mountaineers knocked off nine ranked Associated Press top-25 opponents, including a 63-54 win over No. 4 Rutgers on Jan. 29, 2008. She also was part of the program’s first ranked team in 15 seasons. Additionally, she was a member of the 2005 WNIT Runner-Up squad and two NCAA Tournament teams in 2007 and 2008. Sanni is a member of the WVU Women’s Basketball 2001-14 All-Time Team.
In her final season, Sanni picked up All-America Honorable Mention status from the Associated Press and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Additionally, she was named to the WBCA All-Region 1 and All-Big East First teams. Sanni was named the Big East Player of the Week after scoring 22 points in a win over St. John’s on Jan. 19. She capped her career with numerous top-10 marks for a Mountaineer senior: first in offensive rebounds (115), second in field goal percentage (58.8%), fourth in field goals made (227), sixth in points (583), eighth in points per game (16.2) and ninth in rebounding average (7.1 rpg).
Sanni garnered her first conference accolades during her junior campaign. She finished with 449 points (14.0 ppg), 214 rebounds (6.7 rpg) and shot 55.3% from the field (178-of-322). She was tabbed an All-Big East First Team selection and was named the Big East Player of the Week after scoring 26 points in a win over DePaul on Jan. 13. Sanni finished 25 games in double-figure scoring and helped the Mountaineers to an NCAA Tournament berth. She scored 20 points in WVU’s first-round victory over Xavier.
As a sophomore, Sanni collected 384 points (12.4 ppg), 164 rebounds (5.3 rpg), 36 steals (1.2 spg) and shot 58.3% (162-of-278) from the field in 31 games. She made a school-record 13-of-13 from the field against Kennesaw State, finishing with 28 points in the win against the Owls. She scored double figures in 20 games, including nine consecutive from Nov. 19 to Jan. 1. Sanni helped the 12th-seeded Mountaineers reach the 2006 Big East Championship game with wins over Louisville, St. John’s and 6th-ranked Rutgers before falling to 7th-ranked Connecticut. Sanni’s 58.3 field goal percentage set the record for a Mountaineer sophomore.
Sanni played in 33 games as a freshman and finished with 236 points (7.2 ppg), 162 rebounds (4.9 rpg), 29 steals (0.9 spg) and 20 blocks (0.6 bpg). She scored a season-high 18 points in the win over Providence (Feb. 22) and helped the Mountaineers to the WNIT Championship game after WVU toppled Maine, St. John’s, Wake Forest and Kentucky to face Southwest Missouri State in the title game.
Sanni became the third Mountaineer drafted by a WNBA team as a second round, 18th overall pick by the Detroit Shock in 2008. In her rookie season, she helped the Shock to a WNBA Championship. After two seasons in Detroit, she spent the 2011 campaign with the Phoenix Mercury. She also played internationally for 10 years, including six years in France, and with the Nigerian National Team.
She is a software analyst for Bank of America and is the Founder of Picnics in the Chi.
Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media breaks down the biggest trades in the MLB and discusses the top stories out of the Tokyo Olympics, from Simone Biles’ withdrawal to Suni Lee’s gold medal victory.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
And now it’s time for sports.
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SIMON: Katie Ledecky – golden again at the 800-meter freestyle. Caeleb Dressel wins another gold and makes a world record. But Simone Biles opts out of the vault and uneven bars finals. And Major League Baseball Augusta (ph) trades, deals and fan heartbreak. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media joins us. Howard, thanks so much for being with us.
HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. Are you – have you been staying up all night with – I think it’s the 14-hour time difference from Tokyo?
SIMON: No, but I bet you have, my friend.
SIMON: But we were going to start with Major League Baseball, OK? Big moves – Red Sox, Giants, Mets, Dodgers, Padres, Nationals. What teams do you think did the best?
BRYANT: Well, the winners are clearly trying to win. And I think that the – starting this season, the National League West was going to be the place to watch. The – it was going to be the Padres, and it was going to be the Dodgers. And all of a sudden, these San Francisco Giants – they’re one of the best teams in baseball, and they’ve spoiled the party for one of them – great team, lot of great moves. To get Kris Bryant, National League – former National League MVP from the Cubs, is a huge move for them. They’re clearly trying to win. They’re not going to play the Cinderella this year. I think the Dodgers, obviously, with all of Trevor Bauer’s problems, knowing – clearly, getting Max Scherzer was a sign that he’s not coming back. And I think, obviously, the Padres are going to do everything they can to hang in there. You’ve got a three-team race there. The Mets are trying to win as well. And the Red Sox, who had a terrible year during the pandemic last year, also, they get another one of your Cubs, Kyle Schwarber. And they’re trying to hang in there with the Tampa Bay Rays, who are an outstanding team trying to defend their National League – I mean their American League pennant.
SIMON: Have – you have nicely averred Cubs magic is suddenly sweetening the entire major leagues. I’ve written a poem, OK?
SIMON: Or I’ve redone one from Franklin P. Adams. Ready?
SIMON: These are the saddest of possible words. Bryant, Baez and Rizzo were traded, trio of bear cubs fleeter than birds. Why couldn’t the Cubs be dissuaded?
SIMON: Yeah. Get a grip, Howard, yeah.
BRYANT: I’m getting emotional right now, Scott.
SIMON: Thank you. OK.
BRYANT: I’m just getting emotional, that’s all.
SIMON: Craig Kimbrel, their big reliever, was also traded. And Rizzo began with a homer for the Yankees last night, which…
BRYANT: Yes, yeah. This is the hard part. You go back, and you look at the magic of 2016, when the Cubs came and winning the first – you know, their first World Series in more than a century. And I think that that core – it’s not just the fact that the Cubs broke up the core. They demolished it. They – it wasn’t one by one. It was, OK, 2016 is just a memory now. And it’s really, really difficult because as much as people talk about the winning, it’s not the winning. It’s the winning and the association with these individual players. And for Cubs Nation, this was a tough goodbye. But it is the business, and the team hadn’t really been performing. But people are going to remember what they did in 2016. I’ll never forget that.
SIMON: The Olympics – Simone Biles has withdrawn now from a number of events, has been on everyone’s mind. Maybe a big breakthrough has been made for the importance of mental health. And, of course, Suni Lee has rocketed to a gold medal victory.
BRYANT: And wonderful for her, a high – you know, from high school to a gold medal. These are the reasons why we watch the Olympics, these stories. While we’re focusing on all the major four sports – you concentrate on, you know, on the Celtics and the Lakers and football and everything else, but look at these stories. And it’s just such a wonderful story for Suni Lee. And then also, Simone Biles – I’m not exactly sure I understand any of the controversy that goes on. We talk about all these athletes, and we talk about them as if we own them. But if there’s one thing that you cannot say when you’re watching these world-class athletes, especially Simone Biles, is I could’ve done that. No, you couldn’t have.
BRYANT: She clearly knows her body and knows her mind better than everybody else. And if she is not in a position to compete and she came and said so, then she’s doing absolutely the right thing by not competing. And by the way…
BRYANT: …Hasn’t she done enough already?
SIMON: Yeah, well said. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media, thanks so much for being with us, my friend. Talk to you soon.
BRYANT: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you, Scott.
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NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.
On Her Turf
With each passing year and new athletic evolutions, the Olympics have evolved to reflect those changes. Sports have been added, new venues have been built and safety precautions have been increased to protect the health of all those involved. But there are areas where the Olympics — and sports in general — still need to make progress. Hosts M.J. Acosta-Ruiz and Lindsay Czarniak welcome journalist Britni de la Cretaz and professional triathlete Rach McBride to the podcast to have a conversation about how the structure of sporting events and the language used to describe them can be changed to more actively include athletes who identify as transgender or non-binary.
Before the roundtable begins, bronze medalist Mackenzie Brown joins On Her Turf for a quick chat about how she got started in archery, the experience of competing with Brady Ellison in the Olympic debut of mixed team archery and what it takes to be an Olympic archer.
Acosta-Ruiz and Czarniak then open the floor to de la Cretaz and McBride, discussing why sports are divided by sex and the lack of evidence supporting the validity of testing testosterone levels.
McBride addresses the argument that excluding transgender women from competing in women’s sports will somehow protect cis-gender female athletes and lists the changes that can be made in and around sports to include athletes of all gender identities. One step they emphasize is respecting all athletes’ pronouns and being sure to not misgender them.
The group then turns its attention to the transgender and non-binary athletes who are in Tokyo. Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand is the first and only transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics, while Canadian soccer player Quinn and American skateboarder Alana Smith are non-binary.
De la Cretaz takes a moment to celebrate these three athletes. “It’s a huge deal to be able to see queer and trans athletes competing,” they say, adding that Smith’s “pure trans joy emanating from them as they competed on the biggest stage in sports with their pronouns on their grip tape of their skateboard” was a moment worth remembering when talking about trans inclusion.
Both McBride and de la Cretaz wrap up the talk with suggestions of what to do if someone gets mistakenly misgendered and how to show the utmost respect when referring to someone’s identity.
Acosta-Ruiz closes the episode by saying her farewell to the On her Turf podcast, which you can listen to on Apple Podcasts or below:
Very Olympic Today is SI’s daily Olympics newsletter. You can receive each issue for free in your inbox by subscribing here. To continue reading the newsletter at SI.com every day, along with the rest of our Olympics coverage, readers can subscribe to SI.com here.
It was a historic day at the Tokyo Olympics (aren’t they all?) but not just because of performances like Caeleb Dressel’s world record in the 100-meter butterfly.
Five events made their Olympic debuts. Try to see if you can spot the pattern:
The 4 x 400-meter mixed team relay (track), 4 x 100-meter medley (swim), mixed team triathlon, mixed team judo and mixed team trap shooting.
That’s five different events in which men and women competed together on the same teams for the same medals. This is not a new idea in the Olympic program (they played mixed doubles tennis at the 1900 Games in Paris, though the event disappeared from 1928 through 2008), but it’s clearly become more of an emphasis.
I’m sure plenty of people reading this newsletter tuned into the swimming in prime time and watched that relay, with Dressel swimming the anchor for a U.S. team that failed to medal. But you may not have noticed it’s part of a much larger trend. Equality between men’s and women’s sports has been a goal across the Olympics—we’ve seen several sports eliminate men’s weight classes and add women’s brackets in an effort to make those numbers more even—and adding these events appears to be a separate, though related, initiative.
I liked what I saw, and I’ll give you two reasons.
First, I like the strategy element, with countries considering different ways to build teams and order their athletes. In both the swimming and running relays, we saw teams try different orders, which led to certain teams getting out to big leads and trying to hold on. (Pat Forde has a column from the pool about the U.S.’s disaster on this front.)
Second, I just like the idea of having more opportunities to see the top athletes in action. It’s one more time we get to see Caeleb Dressel in the pool. Katie Zaferes won bronze in the women’s triathlon, and that would normally be all we get to see of her. But we got to see her in action again, trading legs of a relay with male and female teammates as the U.S. won another silver medal. Judo is a sport where you can lose a match within seconds and be knocked entirely out of the bracket. French heavyweight legend Teddy Riner (who won gold in London and Rio) lost on Friday and took home a bronze medal individually. But I turned on the France vs. Israel mixed team judo quarterfinal, and got to see him not just competing again, but actively involved in cheering on his teammates as they competed with him. (Just FYI: The team judo involves a series of individual matches. It is not a six-on-six judo battle royale. I don’t want to get your hopes up too high.) France made it to the finals, giving Riner a fifth medal in his fourth Olympics.
I imagine these events are here to stay, and we will likely only see more like them in time. I’d call that a good thing. In the era of superteams and super leagues, most people just want to see the best athletes as much as possible. The Olympics are a TV show designed to get ratings. If they already have so many of the best athletes in the world all together, they might as well give us more ways to watch them.
Speaking of that team relay, the U.S. was disqualified for an illegal baton transfer in the morning heats. I recommend watching the video of the whole race 1) to see an example of what I wrote above, as Nigeria sends a man out for the third leg against all women and he builds a huge lead that evaporates and 2) to watch the U.S. team learn in real time that it had been DQ’d.
(Lynna Irby took it in stride like a champ, but the team was reinstated on appeal anyway.)
After the race, Sha’Carri Richardson, the sprinter who was disqualified from the Olympic team because she tested positive for marijuana after winning the 100-meters at the U.S. trials, tweeted: Missing me yet?
The tweet got mixed results.
What’s left to say about Katie Ledecky? She won her third straight Olympic gold in the 800-meter freestyle, and here are some of my favorite stats in the aftermath.
Before the race, the TV broadcast showed that she had the top 23 times in the world in the event. Australian Ariarne Titmus won silver by swimming the fastest 800 ever by a woman other than Ledecky, a distinction previously set in 2008. As The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman put it, Ledecky set the record as a 16-year-old, Ledecky beat that mark 23 more times and Titmus is the first woman ever to beat 16-year-old Ledecky.
Ledecky now has 10 Olympic medals, seven of which are gold. Six are individual gold, which is the most by any female swimmer (behind only Michael Phelps’s 13). She is the 15th Olympian with 10 medals, and she is the third woman to win gold in the same event in three straight Olympics. And keep in mind that she would have more medals, and more golds, if the women’s 1,500-free had been an Olympic race her whole career.
She also told the world in her post-race interview that she’s not done.
This is not unexpected at this point, but it is news: Simone Biles is officially out of the vault and uneven bars individual finals.
As we saw with Suni Lee’s all-around gold, Biles’s absence creates opportunities for her teammates. Here’s what Biles tweeted when it looked like MyKayla Skinner was done competing at the Olympics.
And here’s Skinner after finding out she gets to compete in the vault finals.
Group play is now over, so it’s time for a big-picture look. The headline: All four U.S. teams advanced into the knockout stage.
On the women’s side, both U.S. teams—April Ross and Alix Klineman; and Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil—went 3–0 to win their respective groups. They are on opposite sides of the bracket and would not have to meet each other until the gold-medal game.
On the men’s side, Jake Gibb and Tri Bourne went 2–1 to finish second in their group; and Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser went 2–1 but finished third. They are on the same side of the bracket and would face each other in the semifinals if they were to advance that far.
While You Were Sleeping
The rugby is over, and I am sad. If anyone out there runs a rugby sevens fantasy league in non-Olympic years, please hit me up. Location and time of day matches are played would not be deal-breakers.
The U.S. women’s team beat China to reach the fifth place game, but fell to Australia to finish sixth. New Zealand beat France for the gold medal, and Fiji topped Great Britain to win the bronze.
I caught some of the women’s 3-meter springboard semifinals, and two divers from Team USA qualified for the finals. One is Krysta Palmer, who came in fifth. The other is Hailey Hernandez, who came in 10th. Palmer has been on the scene for a while and won a bronze medal at the 2017 world championships. But Hernandez just turned 18 in March and was supposed to be diving at the junior national championships this week in Indianapolis. Instead, she qualified for Tokyo and then made it all the way to the Olympic finals. I’m sure she and her family (and all the competitors at the junior national championships in Indianapolis!) are very happy.
Brady Ellison, the No. 2 seed in the men’s archery competition, lost his quarterfinal match against Turkey’s Mete Gazoz. That ended a disappointing Olympics for Ellison, who did not medal in individual, team or mixed team. Gazoz was seeded No. 10, but went on to win gold, so clearly he got hot at the right time. For what it’s worth, the bracket did not come close to following all chalk. Silver medalist Mauro Nespoli was No. 24 and bronze medalist Takaharu Furukawa was No. 46. Ellison beat fellow American Jacob Wukie in the round of 16 for his final win. And all credit to Gazoz, who ripped off three straight 10s in the fifth set to get past Ellison.
Archery is over, but I’ll be recommending it three years from now. It’s a sport that lends itself well to TV, with cameras zooming in on their faces as they, how shall we put this, smoosh part of the bow against their faces to steady themselves; with the slo-mo replays showing the arrows gently wobble through the air; and with the dramatic cuts to the target before those arrows arrive.
The U.S. men lost to Hungary 11-8, dropping the team to 2-2 in group play. That makes two straight losses, though the team still has a plus-15 goal differential, thanks to a blowout win against South Africa. Four out of six teams advance out of the group into the quarterfinals, so the team’s medal hopes are still alive.
It was a rough night for the U.S. women’s indoor team, not just losing in straight sets to the ROC, but suffering an injury in the process. Jordan Thompson had been the team’s leading point-scorer, but landed hard on her ankle early in the second frame. It’s too early to know if/when she’ll be back.
Yeah, a windsurfing update! Because I watched some at 1:30 in the morning. One thing I am always reminded of during the Olympics is that even if there is something you do not have strong feelings about, or particularly know much about, there are always people out there who care a great deal about it.
Competitive sailing is a world I have just had very little exposure to. But I always enjoy tuning into sports for at least 15 minutes just to hear what’s going on and the way they’re talked about. The commentator on this night was talking about how the style of boards they use in the Olympics has evolved over time (useful info). And he was also talking about how the windsurfing community was worried the sport would be voted out of the Olympics in 2012, but it survived (another good fact).
I guess what I’m saying is, when you listen to the top analysts in the world in a given sport, you get the best commentary:
Nigerian sprinter is out of the Olympics after testing positive for HGH.
Remember Sam Kendricks, the pole vaulter who tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of the Olympics? USA Today’s Tom Schad has a story about Matt Ludwig, his replacement, who went from packing a bag in Ohio to competing in Tokyo in 48 hours.
Two judokas from Georgia were ejected from the Olympics for leaving the athletes’ village to go sightseeing. They had finished competing already, but given the COVID-19 numbers in Japan, it’s important for everyone to follow the rules.
It’s been a while since I updated everyone on the quadrathlon, my competition against colleague Dan Gartland, in which we drafted teams in five sports with no U.S. team in the picture. With group play over in field hockey, it’s time for an update. And the update is: I know how to pick field hockey teams.
I adopted both Australian teams. The men are 4–1. The women are 5–0. As for Gart’s teams: India went 4–1 (losing to my Kookaburras) and the Argentinian women went 3–2.
All four teams are in the knockout stage, which will make for some fun stakes in the single-elimination tournament.
All four of our handball teams (Norway’s men and Spain’s women for me; Sweden’s men and ROC’s women for him) are currently projected to make the knockout stage, but group play hasn’t concluded yet.
I have a slight advantage overall, but am at a disadvantage with Argentina’s failure to get out of group play in men’s soccer. (He has Mexico.)
Here’s our Google Doc with the schedule and standings, if you want to follow along.
What to Watch
Friday night and Saturday morning, all times ET.
Golf: The final round of the men’s tournament starts at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The leaders tee off at 10:09 p.m.
Track and field: The Saturday night session starts at 8:10 p.m., and the only medal event is the women’s shot put. The morning session picks up at 6:10 a.m. Sunday with medals in men’s high jump, women’s triple jump and the men’s 100-meters at 8:50 a.m. Usain Bolt won the event three Games in a row, but a new Fastest Man in the World will be crowned at the Olympics for the first time since 2004.
Cycling: The women’s and men’s BMX park final starts at 9:10 p.m. Saturday
Swimming: It’s the final night of indoor swimming! Starting at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, all races are finals: men’s and women’s 50-meter free, men’s 1,500-meter free, women’s and men’s 4×100-meter medley
Sailing: Men’s and women’s one-person dinghy medal races start at 1:33 a.m. Sunday
Diving: The women’s 3m springboard final starts at 2:00 a.m. Sunday
Tennis: Three gold-medal matches start at 2:00 a.m. Sunday: women’s doubles gold (Czech Republic vs. Switzerland), followed by men’s singles (Germany’s Alexander Zverev vs. ROC’s Karen Khachanov) and mixed double’s gold (two ROC teams).
Gymnastics: The individual events begin at 4:00 a.m. Sunday with the men’s floor exercise, women’s vault, men’s pommel horse and women’s uneven bars.
Fencing: Men’s team foil medal matches start at 5:30 a.m. Sunday
Weightlifting: Women’s 76kg at 6:50 a.m. Sunday
Badminton: Women’s singles medal matches start at 7:30 a.m. Sunday
Beach volleyball: Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil are in the round of 16 against Canada at 8:00 p.m. Saturday. The men’s schedule won’t be finalized until after competition Saturday morning.
Wrestling: We get our first taste of Olympic wrestling at 10:00 p.m. Saturday. Two members of Team USA are in action on the first night: Ildar Hafizov and Adeline Gray.
Boxing: Duke Ragan fights Ireland’s Kurt Anthony Walker at 10:30 p.m. Saturday
Boxing: Richard Torrez Jr. fights Cuba’s Dainier Pero at 6:06 a.m.
Table tennis: The U.S. women’s team plays against Chinese Taipei at 6:30 a.m.
Equestrian: Eventing cross country team and individual starts at 6:45 p.m. Saturday
Volleyball: U.S. men vs. Argentina at 8:45 a.m.
Baseball: Team USA’s upcoming schedule depends on a game being played Saturday morning against South Korea. Check listings elsewhere when that game ends.
Caz’s Medal Picks
Every day Brian Cazeneuve will give us a few medal predictions for some upcoming events.
Cycling, Men’s BMX Freestyle Park
Gold: Logan Martin (Australia)
Silver: Rim Nakamura (Japan)
Bronze: Justin Dowell (U.S.)
Martin won the X Games in 2018 and 2019. Dowell built his own skate park in Virginia Beach and is known for his signature trick, The Twix.
Gymnastics, women’s uneven bars
Gold: Nina Derwael (Belgium)
Silver: Suni Lee (U.S.)
Bronze: Angelina Melnikova (ROC)
The inventive Derwael has debuted two versions of a Tkatchev release skill. Belgium has never won gold in Olympic gymnastics.
Diving, women’s 3-meter springboard
Gold: Han Wang (China)
Silver: Shi Tingmao (China)
Bronze: Jennifer Abel (Canada)
At 29, Abel is competing in her fourth Olympics. Chinese divers have won this event at the last eight Olympics.
Track and field, men’s high jump
Gold: Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar)
Silver: Ilya Ivanyuk (ROC)
Bronze: Maksim Nedasekau (Belarus)
Barshim won bronze in London and silver in Rio. He started out as a long jumper.
• Friday’s SI Daily Cover: The medals keep piling up, but at what cost? Lauren Green’s in-depth look at the culture of USA Gymnastics.
• Avi Creditor wrote about the USWNT’s dramatic win over the Netherlands in penalty kicks to reach the women’s soccer semifinals. This game was in progress when Friday morning’s newsletter went out.
• And Michael Rosenberg on the heroics of goalie Alyssa Naeher.
• Here’s Pat Forde on USA Swimming’s struggles in the relays.
• And Forde on Caeleb Dressel’s big night, swimming three races.
The weekend is here, and we’re halfway through the Olympics. Hopefully I have the math on the 13-hour time zone difference figured out by now
Thanks for reading.
The Delta variant of Covid-19 is a warning to the world to suppress the virus quickly before it mutates again into something even worse, the WHO said Friday.
The highly-transmissible variant, first detected in India, has now surfaced in 132 countries and territories, the World Health Organization said.
“Delta is a warning: it’s a warning that the virus is evolving but it is also a call to action that we need to move now before more dangerous variants emerge,” the WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan told a press conference.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added: “So far, four variants of concern have emerged — and there will be more as long as the virus continues to spread.”
Tedros said that on average, infections increased by 80 percent over the past four weeks in five of the six WHO regions.
Though Delta has shaken many countries, Ryan said proven measures to bring transmission under control still worked — notably physical distancing, wearing masks, hand hygiene and avoiding long periods indoors in poorly ventilated, busy places.
“They are stopping the Delta strain, especially when you add in vaccination,” he said.
“The virus has got fitter, the virus has got faster. The game plan still works, but we need to implement and execute our game plan much more efficiently and much more effectively then we’ve ever done before.”
– Price of vaccine inequity –
The UN health agency has consistently called for vaccines to be distributed evenly around the world and has branded the drastic imbalance a “moral outrage”.
More than four billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have now been administered globally, according to an AFP count.
In countries categorised as high income by the World Bank, 98 doses per 100 people have been injected.
That figure drops to 1.6 per 100 in the 29 lowest-income countries.
If the four billion doses had been administered equally to people aged over 60, “we basically could have gotten two doses into everybody at highest risk of severe consequences when we got to a strain like Delta”, said Bruce Aylward, the WHO’s frontman on the Covax scheme which aims to get donor-funded jabs to poorer countries.
Instead, those nations, “in the face of the Delta variant — they’re going to pay a very, very different price as a result”.
– ‘No magical solutions’ –
The WHO wants every country to have vaccinated at least 10 percent of its population by the end of September; at least 40 percent by the end of this year, and 70 percent by the middle of 2022.
“We are a long way off achieving those targets,” Tedros lamented.
He said that just over half of the 194 WHO member states have fully vaccinated 10 percent of their population; less than a quarter have vaccinated 40 percent; and only three countries have vaccinated 70 percent.
Meanwhile the WHO says Burundi, Eritrea and North Korea are the only remaining member states yet to start Covid-19 vaccination campaigns.
The novel coronavirus has killed at least 4.2 million people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, while nearly 196.6 million cases have been registered, according to tallies from official sources compiled by AFP.
Tedros said that on current rates of infection, the 200 million known infections mark will be surpassed within the next two weeks, although the true figure will be much higher.
“There are no magical solutions,” said Ryan. “The only magic dust we have is vaccination. The problem is we’re not sprinkling that evenly around the world and we are working against ourselves.”
They are expected to remain at Fort Lee, about 230 miles south of Washington, for a week.
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In a statement, President Joe Biden said the arrivals were “an important milestone as we continue to fulfill our promise to the thousands of Afghan nationals who served shoulder-to-shoulder with American troops and diplomats over the last 20 years.”
“These arrivals are just the first of many,” he said.
“I want to thank these brave Afghans for standing with the United States, and today, I am proud to say to them: “Welcome home.””
The newly arrived Afghans, who primarily worked as interpreters, and their families qualified for visas under the special immigrant visa program set up to help those who risked their lives for U.S. troops over two decades of war.
The Taliban have threatened and targeted Afghans who helped U.S. forces, and the former interpreters face a growing risk of retribution with U.S. troops scheduled to depart by the end of August.
The Biden administration says it plans to evacuate about 2,500 Afghans, including the 200 who arrived Friday, directly to the U.S. Officials said that the Afghans’ visa applications were nearly complete and that they had passed security checks.
The evacuees had undergone Covid-19 tests and completed rigorous background checks, Russ Travers, senior deputy homeland security adviser on the White House National Security Council, said at a briefing.
“The administration expects to continue to relocate more [Afghans] over the course of the next few weeks,” he said.
Another 4,000 are due to be evacuated to third countries or to U.S. military bases overseas. The administration has yet to announce further details.
With Taliban forces gaining ground by the day, advocacy groups say the walls are closing in on Afghans with links to the U.S. or NATO allies.
Lawmakers from both parties, veterans and refugee advocates have appealed to the White House to fly out all of the about 20,000 Afghans who have applied for special immigrant visas.
The evacuation Friday marked a shift for an administration that came under bipartisan pressure from Congress and advocacy groups demanding urgent action.
“Their arrival demonstrates the U.S. government’s commitment to Afghans who put themselves and their families at great risk by working side-by-side with our service members and diplomats to build a better future for Afghanistan,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said “We have spoken many times about the moral obligation we have to help those who have helped us, and we are fully committed to working closely with our interagency partners to meet that obligation.”
Kim Staffieri, a co-founder of the Association of Wartime Allies, a nonprofit organization that has pressed for a large-scale evacuation, said it was a “bittersweet moment” for the Afghans arriving in the country, as they had escaped danger but had left behind relatives and “the only home they had ever known.”
Refugee organizations said the planned evacuation of a total of 2,500 Afghans to the United States represented a small fraction of the tens of thousands those who met the criteria for entering the United States due to their work for the U.S. government in Afghanistan.
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, welcomed the arrival of the first group of evacuees but expressed fears for their compatriots in Afghanistan.
“We are grateful the first group of our allies and their families will be brought safely to Fort Lee, and we look forward to welcoming them into our communities as neighbors and friends as they begin their new lives in the United States,” Vignarajah said. “At the same time, however, we are deeply concerned for our allies who remain in grave danger in Afghanistan, uncertain of their fate. These courageous individuals risked their lives for the U.S. mission. They deserve evacuation to U.S. soil, where their safety, dignity, and human rights will be protected.”
The United States has expressed “deep concerns” with what it called increasingly harsh surveillance, harassment, and intimidation of US and other foreign journalists in China, after correspondents of several international media outlets were reportedly heckled and booed on the streets of Henan province while covering floods.
In a statement, the US State Department said that Beijing claims to welcome foreign media and support their work but in reality, its “harsh rhetoric” toward any news it perceives to be critical of Chinese policies, has provoked negative public sentiment leading to tense, in-person confrontations and harassment, including online verbal abuse and death threats of journalists simply doing their jobs.
“Foreign journalists are increasingly refused visas to enter or remain in the PRC, severely limiting the quantity and quality of independent reporting on important issues. We call on the PRC to act as a responsible nation hoping to welcome foreign media and the world for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games,” the state department.
Recently, after Chinese state media hit out at foreign media for their coverage of floods in Chinese cities, citizens harrassed correspondents for several international media outlets on the streets of Zhengzhou city of Henan province over the weekend.
According to a report in Hong Kong Free Press early this week, the Chinese social media platform Weibo was filled with angry posts criticising the coverage of foreign correspondents as Chinese cities witnessed heavy downpours and flooding.
The criticism was mainly aimed at BBC’s China Correspondent Robin Brant for a report that questioned government policies after a dozen people die in a train carriage amid the flooding.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under President Xi Jinping rules China with an iron fist. The media in the country is tightly controlled and journalists, who are deemed as anti-government, are punished and jailed.
According to Reporter Without Borders, China continues to be the world’s “biggest jailer of press freedom defenders”, with more the 120 currently detained in the country, “often in life-threatening conditions”.
In recent months, China has been targeting foreign journalists for highlighting the atrocities of the Chinese Communist Party and the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At least 20 journalists have been expelled or forced to leave China since last year, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China has said.
The club says Beijing deploys “intimidation” tactics as part of efforts to obstruct the work of foreign reporters.
But while the arrival of the Carrier Strike Group in the region has provoked some angry words from Beijing, Rusi’s Research Fellow for Naval Power, Sidharth Kaushal, points out that when it comes to naval standoffs, “China’s actions have been calibrated as being well below the threshold of anything that would start a shooting war”.