Monthly Archives: July 2018

Alex Honnold scaled granite-face El Capitan in 3 hours, 56 minutes

A California rock climber has become the first person to conquer Yosemite’s El Capitan without using ropes, USA Today reports. Alex Honnold, 31, scaled the nearly 3,000-foot peak on Saturday going free solo, meaning he didn’t use ropes, harness, or other safety equipment. “This is the ‘moon landing’ of free-soloing,” fellow climber Tommy Caldwell tells National Geographic. It’s a particularly daunting prospect since the Guardian notes the granite peak is ranked as among the most difficult, with some hand-holds the width of raisins. After stunning the climbing world with other rope-free feats, Honnold had quietly trained for his latest exploit for more than a year. After spending the night in his van, Honnold pulled on a red T-shirt, nylon pants, and sticky-soled climbing shoes.

With chalk to keep his hands dry tucked in a bag around his waist, Honnold set off at 5:32am. He made the summit three hours and 56 minutes later. “So stoked to realize a life dream today :)” he tweeted. Caldwell and a National Geographic crew were along for the climb, which they filmed for a documentary. “Alex was on fire,” Caldwell tells the mag, which called the feat the greatest in the history of pure rock climbing. Honnold had ditched an earlier bid to climb El Capitan in November, saying it didn’t feel right. This time around, Honnold confesses he was “slightly nervous” at the bottom. “I mean it’s a freaking big wall above you.” But as he began his ascent, he adds, “the climbing just felt amazing.” (Tense moments when a 1,500-poundrock pinned this climber.)

Sloane Stephens Falls Short Against Alison Riske

 Competing for the first time in 11 months, Sloane Stephens had an unfortunate draw for her opening match at Wimbledon on Tuesday: Alison Riske, a fellow American who is most comfortable on English lawns.

Riske, who is ranked 46th in the world, quickly ended the first stage of Stephens’s comeback from a foot injury with a 6-2, 7-5 win.

“Obviously, it’s a big task to play Ali in the first round,” said Stephens, 24, who has not competed since a first-round loss to Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last summer. Her best surface is grass. I did the best I could. I’m pleased with — I mean, obviously, not that I didn’t win — but that I was able to get out there and I was pain-free.”

Stephens, who has succeeded on all surfaces and has been ranked as high as 11th in the world, said she did not know what to expect in her return.

“I have been practicing and playing practice sets and matches and stuff, but it’s totally different when you get into a match situation,” she said. “It’s been a while, so it was different than practicing with people that I’m comfortable with.”

Riske’s first 13 tour-level wins in main-draw matches, from 2010 to 2013, all came on grass, a remarkable statistic given the small window of the grass season (and the lack of grass courts in her native Pittsburgh). Since then, she has improved on the other surfaces, but this stretch of the calendar remains special to her.

“I definitely have an affinity for it,” Riske said.

Though sure of her footing on a surface that perplexes many, Riske did not know what to expect from her opponent. In fact, until she heard the name of her first-round foe, she thought Stephens would be out until the hardcourt season.

“It was too bad I had to play a fellow American,” Riske said, “and especially because it was her first tournament back, so you weren’t sure exactly what you were going to get.”

Stephens had planned to return at the beginning of this season. She had a full off-season of training, and even traveled to Sydney for an Australian Open warm-up event. But after she felt further pain, a magnetic resonance imaging examination revealed a stress fracture in her left navicular, a bone at the top of the foot near the ankle.

Stephens had surgery in January and had to wear a boot and walk with her left leg propped up on a scooter. During that time, she worked for the Tennis Channel, which she said was a revelatory experience.

“There are so many things that commentators don’t see because, obviously, they are not in the locker room and not physically with us all the time,” she said. “It was just weird to be like, ‘Oh, that’s why they say that,’ or, ‘That’s why they, like, don’t know what’s going on.’”

She said she had thought: “Do you not read the paper? Do you not look at our Instagram?”

Currently No. 336 in the world because of her time away, Stephens entered Wimbledon with a protected ranking, which allows her entry into tournaments based on her old status. Stephens will be able to use the protection at seven events within the next year. She has agreed to play in World TeamTennis for the Philadelphia Freedoms, whose season starts in the middle of this month and ends in early August, and then return to the WTA Tour.

The top of the WTA Tour may be changing soon, with third-ranked Karolina Pliskova in position to claim the No. 1 ranking from Angelique Kerber during Wimbledon. Pliskova won convincingly, 6-1, 6-4, in her opening match against Evgeniya Rodina.

Kerber, who reached the final here last year, needs to do so again to have any chance of retaining the top spot. On Tuesday, she beat the American qualifier Irina Falconi, 6-4, 6-4.

Another past finalist, the ninth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, beat Jelena Jankovic, 7-6 (3), 6-0.

Aside from the Riske-Stephens match, there were two others between American women on Tuesday: Shelby Rogers defeated Julia Boserup, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, and Varvara Lepchenko beat the 28th-seeded Lauren Davis, 6-4, 7-5.

The highest seed to lose Tuesday was No. 16, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who was defeated, 3-6, 7-6 (6), 9-7, by Arina Rodionova, an Australian qualifier.

Rodionova was the only one of the nine Australians in the men’s and women’s singles draws to advance to the second round. Australia’s top woman, the 20th-seeded Daria Gavrilova, lost 6-4, 2-6, 10-8, to a qualifier, Petra Martic of Croatia. Martic recently reached the fourth round of the French Open, also as a qualifier.

Olympic 100-meter swim

Rio Olympics 100-meter freestyle gold medalist Kyle Chalmers has withdrawn from July’s world swimming championships to undergo surgery for a worsening heart condition.

Chalmers has supraventricular tachycardia, or recurrent rapid heartbeat, that is normally not life-threatening but can impact on his quality of life.

“I have increasingly begun to suffer from an abnormally fast heart rhythm during training and competitions, which now requires surgery,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “I have had surgery in the past and, unfortunately, it did not work.”

The 18-year-old Chalmers said it was a difficult decision to miss the world championships in Budapest, but he did so with a longer-term view, setting his sights on the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.

In April, he finished second to Cameron McEvoy at the Australian championships.

Swimming Australia head coach Jacco Verhaeren said athletes’ health and well-being were the priority.

“We are at the beginning of a new Olympic cycle and, for some of our athletes, we need to look at longevity to allow them to stay at the highest level for longer,” he said. “Kyle has our full support and we know he will use this time away from competition positively and to his advantage to return for a home Commonwealth Games in 2018 and beyond.”

Chalmers will have the heart operation within several weeks.

“There is never a good time for this type of procedure, but given I’ve suffered from these symptoms during two of the past three major meets and, following my doctor’s advice, I have made the tough decision to withdraw,” he said.

Victory caps team’s 50th season

Sidney Crosby is bringing the Stanley Cup back home to Pittsburgh for a second consecutive year. Patric Hornqvist scored with 1:35 left and Matt Murray made 27 saves for his second straight shutout as the Penguins became the NHL’s first team in nearly two decades to repeat as champions following a 2-0 win over the Nashville Predators in Game 6 in Nashville on Sunday night. The Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and ’98 were the last champions to defend their title, but the Penguins are the first to do it in the salary cap era, the AP reports. They will cap their 50th season with their names on the most famous silver cup in sports for the fifth time.

It is the third championship for Crosby and a handful of teammates from the 2009 title team, surpassing the two won by the Penguins teams led by current owner Mario Lemieux in the 1990s. “We knew it was going to be tough all year, but we just tried to keep with it,” says Crosby, who won his second Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP. “We had a lot of injuries and things like that. We just kept finding ways. That was really what we did all season, all playoffs. It’s great to be able to do it.” Nashville lost for just the first time in regulation on home ice this postseason. The game coincided with the final night of the CMA Music Festival, bringing more than 100,000 to downtown Nashville.

6th-place Kentucky Derby finisher skipped Preakness, gives trainer 3rd Belmont victory

The road to the winner’s circle in the Belmont Stakes ran through the Kentucky Derby, even if the Derby and Preakness winners skipped the final leg of the Triple Crown. Tapwrit overtook favored Irish War Cry in the stretch to win by two lengths on Saturday, giving trainer Todd Pletcher his third career victory in the Belmont. He won in 2007 with filly Rags to Riches and in 2013 with Palace Malice. The first four finishers all followed a well-worn path: run in the Derby, skip the Preakness and come back fresh for the Belmont. Five of the last nine Belmont winners did just that. Tapwrit finished sixth in the 20-horse Derby after encountering traffic in what Pletcher described as “a sneaky good” race. “We felt like with the five weeks in between, and with the way this horse had trained, that he had a legitimate chance,” said Pletcher, per the AP. “I think that’s always an advantage.

Irish War Cry was 10th after pressing the early pace in the May 6 race. Patch took third in the Belmont after being 14th in the Derby. Gormley, ninth in the Derby, finished fourth Saturday. Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Tapwrit ran 1 1/2 miles in 2:30.02 on his home track. Ortiz’s brother Irad Jr. won the race last year with Creator. “The distance, I was sure he could handle it,” Ortiz said. Tapwrit paid $12.60, $6.50 and $5 at 5-1 odds. Pletcher took two of the year’s three Triple Crown races, having saddled Always Dreaming to victory in the Derby. “The last five weeks have been the ultimate roller coaster,” he said. “We felt really good coming in that both horses were doing very well. We felt like both horses suited the mile and a half distance. Fortunately, it all fell into place.” Tapwrit, a 3-year-old gray colt, was purchased for $1.2 million, making him the most expensive horse in the field.

There will be a rematch

Manny Pacquiao guaranteed a return bout with Jeff Horn Monday night, shelving calls to end a sterling ring career outright.

“There’s a rematch,” Pacquiao said after having late dinner at his mansion here.

Beaten by Horn in their showdown for the World Boxing Organization welterweight crown Sunday in Brisbane,
Pacquiao wants to exact revenge on the Australian, who roughed him up to earn a disputable unanimous
decision.

Horn said during the post-fight conference Sunday that he is willing to give Pacquiao a chance to regain the 147-pound crown anywhere, including the Philippines.

On Monday, however, when Horn was being feted in his hometown, he announced that if ever there will be a rematch, it should be held again n Brisbane.

Owing to the tremendous success of “Battle in Brisbane,” which reportedly enriched the city coffers by $25 million aside from gaining worldwide attention, Brisbane officials have endorsed Pacquiao-Horn II.

Informed of the development, Pacquiao said he won’t mind returning to Suncorp Stadium to seek revenge on Horn.

“Even in Brisbane, no problem,” said Pacquiao, who’s out for revenge. “There will be talks.”

One of the chief concerns is when will the bout be staged.

The original timetable is for Pacquiao to fight in November, but it still hinges on Pacquiao’s work as a senator and how swift negotiations between the Pacquiao camp and Horn’s handlers will be done.

Side issues include the fighters’ purses and the event’s coverage.

In the first fight, Pacquiao reportedly got $10 M and Horn $500,000. ESPN aired “Battle of Brisbane” on free television and posted viewership record.

Back at home with his children, Pacquiao said he would rest for a while the Senate is on break. “I’ll relax first.”

But once the rematch deal is signed, Pacquiao will get to work and put his aging body in the best shape possible.

With his legacy secured, 11-time world champion in an unprecedented eight divisions, Pacquiao said it would be easy for him to walk away.

Closing his career, with a loss however, is unacceptable for Pacquiao. If he retires, it should be on a winning note.