Double-amputee will run at world championships

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Double-amputee will run at world championships

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 8, 2011

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius was chosen by South Africa's athletics federation to join this month's world championships.

Pistorius called the selection a culmination of his dream to compete at the highest level against able-bodied athletes. He will be the first amputee athlete at the worlds when he represents South Africa in Daegu, South Korea, as its only runner in the 400 meters. He was also chosen for the 4x400 relay.

The 24-year-old Pistorius was part of a group of 26 athletes picked by Athletics South Africa after he smashed his personal best last month at a meet in northern Italy. He made the qualifying time for the worlds and next year's London Olympics.

"I have dreamt for such a long time of competing in a major championships and this is a very proud moment in my life," Pistorius said in a statement. "It is an honor to be representing my country at such a prestigious event and I hope to do my best at the competition for South Africa."

"If I manage to make it through the heats, I would be thrilled," he added. "A good performance for me would be to be consistent through the heats. If I ran anywhere close to my PB (personal best), I would be delighted."

Women's 800-meter world champion Caster Semenya was also included and will defend the title she won in 2009 amid a storm of controversy over gender tests.

Eleven of South Africa's athletes will be going to the world championships for the first time, including Pistorius, who had to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to be allowed to compete in able-bodied events on his carbon fiber blades.

The International Association of Athletics Federations had banned the multiple Paralympic gold medal winner from able-bodied competition, saying the blades gave him an unfair advantage.

Pistorius was cleared to compete in 2008, but failed to qualify for that year's Beijing Olympics and the 2009 worlds in Berlin.

But, needing to run 45.25 seconds to make this year's world championships, Pistorius clocked 45.07 last month in Lignano, Italy, his final race before the qualifying cutoff. He had never run faster than 45.61.

"The IAAF is a world-class governing body for our sport and I am grateful to have the chance to run in their events," Pistorius said. "It will be a great day for me when I set out on the track in Daegu and I hope to do my country proud. This will be the highest-profile and most prestigious able-bodied event which I have ever competed in and I will face the highest-caliber of athletes from across the planet."

New Athletics South Africa President James Evans said there was no concern on the part of the national federation over renewed criticism -- after Pistorius ran his 45.07 -- that the blades were unfair for other athletes.

"He has been cleared by CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport)," Evans told The Associated Press, "and this has been dealt with by the courts already. The IAAF have accepted his entry (for the world championships) and there is no reason for us not to pick him."

The world championships will take place Aug. 27-Sept. 4.

Semenya was cleared to run last year after an 11-month layoff because of the gender tests, but has had an erratic buildup to her title defense. She struggled with a back injury and then failed to come anywhere near the devastating pace she showed in winning the 800 as an 18-year-old two years ago.

"Hopefully she will reproduce that form," Evans said. "She hasn't had the greatest run-up to the world championships, but it is the world championships. We'll do everything we can to help her."

Men's 800 world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and 400-meter hurdler LJ van Zyl were also named to the team, as was Khotso Mokoena, the 2008 Olympic and 2009 world silver-medalist in the long jump.

Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

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Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

There is no shortage of blame to go around for the Atlanta Falcons’ collapse in Super Bowl 51.

The Falcons built a 28-3 lead in the middle of the third quarter and let it slip away, ultimately falling to the New England Patriots, 34-28, in overtime.

Matt Ryan voiced one previously undisclosed factor in the collapse this week in an interview with Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, pointing the finger at the new coach of the 49ers.

Kyle Shanahan has been the focus of a lot of the blame, but critique from the league MVP was a new one.

The Falcons quarterback faulted his former offensive coordinator for taking too much time to relay the play calls. Ryan said he did not have enough time to change any of the plays – presumably checking out of called pass plays to run the ball.

Here’s what Ryan told Prisco:

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in. As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

The 49ers can point to mismanagement of the clock for their own Super Bowl heartbreak. The 49ers’ offense had the perfect play call at the perfect time against the Baltimore Ravens late in Super Bowl XLVII.

But with the play clock striking :00, coach Jim Harbaugh was forced to call a timeout from the sideline. A split-second later, the ball was snapped and it appeared the quarterback run would have easily ended up with Colin Kaepernick in the end zone.

Much like after the 49ers’ loss, the Falcons left plenty of room for second-guessing.

Two of Shanahan’s plays calls, which directly led to the collapse, will forever be scrutinized.

The first came with 8:31 remaining in regulation and the Falcons holding a 28-12 lead. On third and 1 from the Atlanta 36, Shanahan did not remain conservative with an expected run play. He swung for the fence.

Receiver Aldrick Robinson, whom the 49ers added this offseason as a free-agent pickup, was breaking free past the Patriots secondary for what could have been a touchdown. But just as Ryan was unloading, New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower hit him and forced the fumble. Running back Devonta Freeman whiffed on blitz pickup, which would have provided Ryan with enough time to target Robinson deep.

Ryan’s explanation does not appear applicable on this play, though. In watching the replay, the Falcons broke the huddle with more than 25 seconds remaining on the play clock and the snap occurred with :15 to spare.

The other questionable sequence came after the Falcons – leading by eight points -- got to the New England 22-yard line with less than five minutes to play. The Falcons lost 1 yard on a run play on first down.

On second down, Ryan was sacked for a 12-yard loss. Before that play, the Falcons broke the huddle with :19 on the play clock. The snap occurred with :04 remaining. The game clock was running, so the Falcons had reason to attempt to burn as much clock as possible.

In the fourth quarter, the Falcons never seemed rushed to get off a play. The closest they came to delay-of-game penalties were when they snapped the ball with :04 on the one play and :03 another time. The majority of their snaps occurred with :10 or more seconds to spare.

If the Falcons were guilty of anything when it came to the play clock, it was that the offense did not waste more time. After New England pulled to within 28-9 late in the third quarter, the Falcons ran only six offensive plays while the game clock was running.

On those six plays, the Falcons snapped the ball with :13, :09, :14, :20, :13 and :04 remaining on the play clock. If they’d snapped the ball with one second remaining each time, they could have shortened the game by 1 minute, 7 seconds. The Patriots scored the game-tying touchdown with :57 remaining in regulation.

Headed for 100 losses, Giants quietly give up on "Don't Stop Believin'" tradition

Headed for 100 losses, Giants quietly give up on "Don't Stop Believin'" tradition

SAN FRANCISCO — At some point over the last month, the Giants quietly stopped playing “Don’t Stop Believin’” in the late innings of games they trail. 

It’s unclear exactly when it started, or who made the decision. A number of team employees, surveyed over the past week, had noticed. But nobody knew the exact details. Perhaps the longtime staple of AT&T Park was shelved on July 9, when FanGraphs dropped the playoff odds to 0.00 percent for the first time in a lost season. Maybe it was during a bad loss before that or a bad loss after that. You can take your pick. This season has been filled with so many of them it’s hard to keep track. 

Friday’s stood out, in part because this was the kind of night where Journey briefly made sense. The Giants gave Jeff Samardzija a 4-0 lead in the first inning against a Padres team that spent the early innings kicking and throwing the ball all over the field and making mistakes on the bases. It was 5-1 after three innings. By the sixth, the Padres had tied it. By the seventh, they had the lead. By the eighth, it was a three-run lead. 

Before the bottom of the eighth, the in-stadium crew played Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” for a crowd of a few thousand. Last weekend, Huey Lewis was the fill-in for Journey. On Wednesday, a game the Giants actually came back to win, the scoreboard played a singalong game to “Happy Together” by The Turtles. 

On this night, the Giants actually would come back. Conor Gillaspie hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth, tying the game and sending it into extras. The Giants had trailed by three with one out remaining, but the momentum provided by Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Gillaspie was just a blip. The Padres scored three in the 11th off George Kontos, who has pitched five times over the last eight days and was supposed to get a night to rest. 

Kontos was the last to give up runs in a 12-9 loss, but hardly the only one. Samardzija took blame after failing to get through five with a big early cushion. That put pressure on the tired bullpen, and the relievers blew it over and over again. The Padres scored runs in six consecutive innings at one point and had 20 hits. 

“We couldn’t stop them,” Bruce Bochy said, shaking his head. 

Nothing can apparently stop this skid. The Giants are 37-61 and six games behind the Padres. They are much closer to the No. 1 draft pick than they are to fourth place in their division. 

“Don’t Stop Believin’” survived the 2013 season. It survived 2015 and the second half of last year. Nothing can survive this season.