August 09, 2012
By JOHN PYE |
LONDON (AP) — After leaving the most important decision of her career up to her persuasive mother, Brittney Reese knew there was only one place to start looking when it was time to celebrate her Olympic gold medal in the long jump.
Reese claimed one of the three gold medals the U.S. track and field team won Wednesday night at the London Games, becoming the first American woman to win the Olympic long jump title since Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1988.
“It’s a surreal moment,” she said. “I got very emotional — you do when you’re representing your country.
“My mom and aunt are here, so this is a great moment for me and my family.”
Within the space of a half hour at the packed, 80,000-seat Olympic stadium, Allyson Felix finally won the 200-meter title that had eluded her at Athens and Beijing, Aries Merritt won the 110-meter hurdles gold medal and Reese won the long jump.
The two-time world champion went into the competition with the best jump of the season and put down the best mark in the final with 23 feet, 4 1-2 inches (7.12 meters) on her second attempt. Russia’s Elena Sokolova took the silver medal at 23-2 1-2 (7.07) and Janay Deloach earned the bronze for the United States at 22-7 1-4 (6.89).
It was a major achievement for Reese, who could easily have been lost to track and field. She was considering offers for basketball scholarships when her mother, Carla Young, made a fateful decision for her: Stick with track and field, at the University of Mississippi.
“My mom fell in love with Ole Miss and they were still in contact with me while I was in my community college,” Reese said. “I sat down with her and she told me track is what I needed to do — and Mamma knows best, so that’s what i did.”
Now that she’s the reigning Olympic and world champion indoors and out — and is third all-time in the U.S. behind Joyner-Kersee and Marion Jones in terms of longest jumps — she could be excused for thinking about another career change.
But that’s not likely before the 2016 Games in Rio.
“I feel like this is just the beginning,” the 25-year-old Reese said. “I am going to train four more years and come back and hopefully defend my title.”
She dedicated the London Olympic title to the people of Mississippi and others who are still rebuilding in the wake of the deadly and devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
She does what she can — during the 2011 Thanksgiving season, Reese purchased 100 turkeys to be given away to help the homeless near her hometown of Gulfport, Miss — but the gold medal is special.
Reese lived through the disaster that damaged her house, but was conscious that she got off lightly and wanted to do something significant at the Beijing Olympics four years ago to give her friends and neighbors a boost.
“In ‘08 my goal was to come out there and get a medal. And when I placed fifth, I was devastated and cried the whole way back to the (athletes) village,” she said. “I had the whole Gulf coast behind me. I got a lot of emails, a lot of Facebook and Twitter about my Gulf coast family representing me, being there for me, and I wanted to come out here and do that for them.”
Reese and her family had to sandbag their home to avoid flood inundation during the disaster, but the ceiling of the house collapsed and forced them out.
“We were out of the house for like two months because we had mold and we were living out of mobile homes and trailers,” she said. “It was a tough time and (makes) you realize how blessed you are to have necessities.
“It was a real true eye-opener and my city is now rebuilt and we have most of the stuff back. But we don’t have a lot of the homes back. This was a great way for me to bring something home to them to show that we can all do this together.”
By JOHN PYE Associated Press
Caster Semenya perched herself on a lane marker behind the start of the 800 meters and took a few moments to absorb what it feels like to be an Olympian.
She took some deep breaths, then got up, walked to the stagger start and went straight to work. Making her Olympic debut three years after being forced to undergo gender tests that cast doubt over her future in track and field, Semenya finished second in her preliminary heat on Wednesday morning.
The 80,000-seat stadium was almost full, but she’s used to big crowds. The whole experience, though, was something new.
“It was a very important race,” Semenya said. “It was a tactical race. I wanted the race to be a fast one. To be a good contender, you have to run under 2 minutes.”
This is the Semenya of 2012 — she’s 21 and she’s reserved, almost guarded, and generally restricts her public comments to topics of competition.
And who could blame her?
She was still a teenager when she had no choice but to endure having her most intimate details debated and discussed in the global media.
Semenya was sidelined for 11 months — while track and field’s governing body decided whether or not to allow her to compete — after she won the 2009 world title at age 18, posting a stunning time of 1 minute, 55.45 seconds.
She was tested and eventually cleared to compete in 2010, but she struggled with a back problem for a while before returning to the world championships at Daegu and winning a silver medal.
The backing she has from the South African federation was in evidence when she was selected to carry the flag at the opening ceremonies at the London Games, where she’s a genuine medal contender.
And she wants to return the support.
After posting an Olympic qualifying time at the national trials earlier this year, Semenya said: “I have to win a gold.”
“My dream is to win the Olympics,” she said, “and that’s my plan.”
She will find a fierce rival in defending champion Pamela Jelimo. She said she feels for Semenya, but she has a title to defend and is fit to retain it.
“I know it’s hard,” Jelimo said. “We all train hard, every day. When I am in shape, I am in shape. So why should I care if somebody did not train for the past year?”
Semenya ran her heat in 2:00.71, finishing just behind the 2:00.47 run by American Alysia Johnson Montano, the fastest qualifier from the preliminaries. Jelimo won her heat in 2:00.54 to advance with the second-fastest time.
Semenya ran a controlled race, hanging back with the pack while Montano went out quickly, then relying on a late kick to cut down the gap and secure the second automatic qualifying spot from the heat.
She knows she has to run a sub-2 minutes to be competitive, and appeared to have a lot in reserve after her opening run in the first of the 800 heats.
And even though she’s only new to the Olympic scene, Semenya has recruited a coach with almost unsurpassed experience in Maria Mutola, who retired in 2008 with an Olympic gold medal and three world titles to her credit.
Mutola was among those who tabbed Semenya to break the world record when the young South African burst onto the international scene in 2009. Now they’re working together to achieve it.
And while there’s still plenty of public attention on Semenya, her presence is simple for other athletes to quantify.
“She’s just like any other competitor for us,” said Canada’s Jessica Smith, who also progressed to the next round Wednesday. “The faster she runs, the faster we have to compete with her.”
Like other athletes in the 800, Smith wanted to leave the gender issue to the experts.
“I have confidence in what the IAAF has done to ensure that she’s competing at the right level,” Smith said. “I trust in what they’re doing and hopefully she’s just like any of us.”
August 02, 2012
By Ken Ritter
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is due for release from a Las Vegas jail by the weekend after serving two months in a domestic battery case.
Records show the 35-year-old undefeated champion is due for release August 3 from the Clark County Detention Center.
Las Vegas police Officer Jose Hernandez said on August 1that Mayweather was granted time off his 90-day sentence for work and good behavior.
Mayweather surrendered for jail May 1 after pleading guilty in December to misdemeanour charges in a September 2010 scuffle with his girlfriend, Josie Harris, while two of their children watched.
The plea deal avoided a trial on felony charges that could have gotten Mayweather up to 34 years in prison.
Mayweather promoter Leonard Ellerbe didn’t respond this week to messages.
By KENNETH MILLER
LA watts Times Correspondent
TYSON CHANDLER: The 7’1 starting center on the United States gold medal seeking Olympics basketball team was born in Hanford, California but grew up in Compton starring for the Dominguez High School where he was named USA Today California Player of the Year.
JESSICA CROSBY: A graduate of Reseda Cleveland High School and UCLA, she competed in the Hammer Throw and finished 7th representing African Americans and the United States of America.
ALLYSON FELIX: The Southern California native through and through captured Olympic gold in the women’s 200 meters clocking 21.88. She prepped at Los Angeles Baptist High School and redeemed herself for a fifth place showing in the 100 meters.
JAMES HARDEN: A pivotal reserve performer with the powerhouse Olympics men basketball team. He is a Los Angeles native who attended Artesia High School before starring at Arizona State and now Oklahoma City Thunder. His mother Mona attended Jefferson High School and is the most influential person in his life.
CARMELITA JETER: Captured Olympic Silver in the 100 meters and crossing the finish in 10.78 and then earned a bronze in the 200 meters. A graduate of Bishop Montgomery in Torrance and resident of Gardena. She also attended Cal State Dominguez Hills and is the sister of professional basketball player Pooh Jeter who played in the NBA with Sacramento.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: A rising superstar and among the elite players on the favored United States Olympics basketball team. Attended Leuzinger High School in Lawndale and played for Reggie Morris Jr. before attending UCLA where he became an NBA player after just two seasons.
SERENA WILLIAMS: The colorful of the two tennis star Williams sisters captured Olympic gold on the heels of winning Wimbledon defeating Maria Sharapova in dominating fashion 6-0,6-1. She celebrated her victory performing the C-Walk reminding many of he roots in Compton where she grew up and learn how to play tennis. She also joined with her sister Venus to become the first players to win four consecutive Olympic gold medals in tennis.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Sister Act I didn’t fare well in singles competition, but redeemed herself when joined by Serena to make history winning doubles for the fourth straight Olympics. Born in Lynwood and raised in Compton she is as close to hood as one can get.
By GENARO C. ARMAS Associated Press
Star tailback Silas Redd is bolting Penn State for Southern California.
The 1,200-yard rusher opted Tuesday July 31 to leave a Nittany Lions program facing heavy NCAA sanctions handed down because of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Among the penalties was a four-year postseason ban.
The NCAA gave Penn State players the option to transfer immediately and play for another school this year. Redd visited USC over the weekend and heard coach Lane Kiffin’s pitch to be a key cog for a Trojans team expected to be highly ranked and contend for the Pac-12 title.
Redd is the second player to leave Penn State since the sanctions were announced July 23. The other was backup safety Tim Buckley, who joined North Carolina State on July 30.
“We welcome Silas Redd to the Trojan Family,” USC athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. “He is an outstanding student and athlete.”
“At USC, we’ve seen both sides of this issue, having lost a number of players to transfer due to our NCAA sanctions in 2010. But Lane Kiffin and his coaches would not be doing their job if they did not try to improve our team every single day. There is a specific need here for a player like Silas Redd, so Lane and our coaches recruited him within the guidelines set up in this instance by the NCAA.”
Penn State coach Bill O’Brien and his staff have been working hard to keep the team together despite the sanctions, but Redd was his best offensive player. Backup Bill Belton is a converted wideout.
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