Its Been the Americas World Cup

Before the World Cup began, FiveThirtyEight’s projections, which are based on ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI), were higher for teams from South America and lower for teams from Europe than other ratings systems’.So far, that’s looked like a reasonably sharp assessment. And if we extend the analysis from continents to hemispheres — with teams from North America and South America in one group, and those from Europe, Africa and Asia in the other — it looks like we may even have underestimated teams from the Americas.First, let’s look at the results by continental confederation. The table below evaluates each confederation’s results so far and compares them with the FiveThirtyEight/SPI forecast before the tournament. It includes results through Friday afternoon’s game between Costa Rica and Italy, and excludes games (such as the France-Switzerland match that I’m watching now) between teams from the same confederation.Before the tournament, our projections expected South American teams to have compiled 5.7 wins, 2.0 losses and 2.3 draws through this point in the World Cup. In fact, their record is 7-2-1. Not a huge difference, but the South American teams have more than held up their side of the bargain.Teams from Europe, by contrast, are 5-6-2 in games played against other confederations, compared with an expected record of 5.1 wins, 4.6 losses and 3.3 draws. Pretty close, although a pinch worse than expected.It’s teams from North America’s CONCACAF federation, instead, that have produced the largest discrepancy. They’re 4-1-1 so far, much better than their meager expected record of 1.4 wins, 3.1 losses and 1.5 draws. Meanwhile, teams from Asia and Africa, although not expected to be much good, are struggling with a combined record of just 1-8-4 so far.A still more striking result comes when you combine the continents into hemispheres (counting Europe along with Asia and Africa in one hemisphere and the Americas in another). In inter-hemisphere matches so far, the Americas have 10 wins against just two losses. The rest of the world has the opposite record: 2-10-0.What accounts for the differences? The least sexy explanation might be luck: We’re not talking about all that large a sample of matches. We’ll have to see whether the pattern holds through the rest of the tournament.But travel distance could also play a role. The FiveThirtyEight match projections include a very modest adjustment for east-to-west travel distance (north-to-south distance seems to matter much less, perhaps because it doesn’t produce as much jet lag). The adjustment is calibrated based on the results of highly competitive soccer matches since 2006. However, there’s evidence that the home-continent advantage had been higher in the past. No European team has ever won a World Cup played in the Americas.It’s also possible that the effect has something to do with the stadium atmosphere. Teams such as Chile and Colombia have received raucous support in their matches so far; in the game I attended at Estádio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, perhaps 90 percent of the crowd was pulling for the Chileans. Because partisan crowds seem to affect officiating decisions in soccer, that could mean these teams are getting a bit more slack from the officials. Chile, for example, spent much of the second half of its win against Spain lying on the pitch with exaggerated injuries but received no sanction for time-wasting.A final theory might be that teams from the Americas are fresher. The major European leagues just completed play in mid-May after beginning their season last August. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, played in 51 matches for Real Madrid since the start of last summer, including the Champions League final a few weeks ago. The best teams from the Americas, like Brazil and Argentina, also have plenty of stars in the major European leagues. But others, such as Costa Rica and Mexico, are less reliant on such players. That could serve to mitigate the talent advantage that the European teams might have and reward the countries with disciplined and tactical team play. read more

Michael Johnson Relates Slavery To Superior Athlete Gene

Four-time gold medalist Michael Johnson apparently is faster on his feet than his brain, for Johnson actually said for public consumption that he believes the question of why black athletes dominate Olympic sprint competitions is because of slavery.The eight men who ran in the 100-meter finals — all African-American or African-Caribbean — in the Beijing Olympics are believed to have been descended from slaves, according to the documentary. But, what’s the surprise there?“Difficult as it was to hear,” Johnson contended, “slavery has benefited descendants like me. I believe there is a superior athletic gene in us.”Johnson, who recently had his lineage traced back to West Africa as part of a British documentary, told the Daily Mail that slavery has “left an imprint through the generations.”The Daily Mail wrote that some scientists believe a combination of selective breeding by slave owners and appalling conditions meant that only the strongest slaves endured, creating a group predisposed to record-breaking athletic performance.African slaves underwent a rigorous selection process and only the fittest were transported on ships.Johnson’s views on the genetics of slavery and his allusions to eugenics have been mostly ignored in the United States. The interview with the Daily Mail was published last Wednesday and barely made ripples on this side of the pond.Well, the remarks have finally arrived, and they make Johnson seem like a dumb jock. He totally discounts the work ethic and training involved to be a world class athlete. He does not address why every black person walking around is not 0f Olympic status if blacks have a “superior athletic gene.”Comments like these got jimmy (The Greek) Synder fired years ago. that they would arise again, in 2012, by a black athlete in particular, is, well, silly — and sad. read more

3 Big Questions Heading Into The NBA Finals

From ABC News: TORONTO — We’re finally reaching the end of what’s been a long, somewhat bizarre, landscape-shifting NBA season. And somehow, it feels as if we’re still not fully realizing just how crazy these finals could potentially be.The Warriors, in most people’s eyes, will enter as favorites — something that’s understandable given their talent, their history and the ease with which they reached this stage. The challengers, meanwhile, are the Raptors, who have home-court advantage and likely the most lethal two-way talent in the league. The Raptors also figure to benefit from the absence of reigning back-to-back finals MVP Kevin Durant — whom we still don’t know when to expect back, if he returns at all.While TV executives may be less than thrilled about Toronto replacing a LeBron James-led club in the title round, there’s plenty to analyze that could swing the series in one direction or the other. Here are the three biggest things we’ll be watching as the NBA Finals kick off here Thursday night. Check out our latest NBA predictions. Who’s guarding Kawhi? And how will Toronto deal with Steph?We saw in the Eastern Conference finals how big a game-changer it can be when one superstar begins defending another. Kawhi Leonard began taking defensive responsibility of likely league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 3 of the series against Milwaukee, limiting him in half-court scenarios while getting support from teammates, who helped wall off the paint.But who’s going to answer that call against Leonard for the Warriors, particularly without Durant? Our guess would be versatile wing Andre Iguodala, who generally took the role of guarding James in previous installments of the finals.The regular-season matchups between these two teams took place in November and December; lineup weirdness and roster changes since then make it hard to extrapolate those games to this series: Kawhi missed one of the games, while Stephen Curry missed the other, and Toronto made a trade-deadline deal for Marc Gasol. Golden State primarily used Durant to defend Leonard in the lone matchup the Toronto star suited up for, and Durant is of course out for at least Game 1. For what it’s worth, Kawhi dominated offensively that game, much like he always does in matchups against the Warriors, scoring 37 points on 14-of-24 shooting from the field.Draymond Green, a former defensive player of the year, could end up being the best bet to stop Leonard. The numbers certainly suggest that: In his three head-to-head matchups with Leonard since the start of the 2016-17 season, Green has rendered Leonard inefficient, holding him to just 28 points per 100 possessions, on a whopping 39 shot attempts per 100 possessions, according to data from Second Spectrum. By contrast, Kawhi has scored about 35 points per 100 possessions against Iguodala and Klay Thompson and nearly 49 points per 100 possessions against Durant.But Warriors coach Steve Kerr may treat that move as a “break in case of emergency” option. If Draymond takes that assignment for long stretches, it could leave the Warriors vulnerable at the rim, where Green does much of his best defensive work during the playoffs.On the flip side, it’s also fair to wonder who will handle defending Curry for Toronto. While it wouldn’t be shocking to see Leonard end up defending him here and there because of an occasional switch, expect the Raptors to show plenty of faith in backup guard Fred VanVleet, who has fared very well against Curry in the past.It’s almost certain that more attention will be given to VanVleet’s offense in this series. After all, he’s coming off arguably the greatest three-game perimeter-shooting stretch in postseason history — and all in the wake of the birth of his son. But his determination to stay glued to Curry while on defense — something the Cavaliers simply couldn’t do in last year’s finals — stands out on film. On several occasions, that resulted in the ball swinging to the other side of the floor:Video Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The numbers tell the story even more clearly: VanVleet limited the two-time MVP to a measly 10 points per 100 possessions during their matchup this season, per Second Spectrum.No, it wouldn’t be wise to assume that he can keep Curry under wraps to that extent in the finals. But even when you increase the sample size and start with the 2016-17 season, VanVleet has still surrendered just 21 points per 100 plays to Curry. So there are indications that he may be able to slow Steph down. And that’s big. The less Toronto has to run a second defender at Curry, the better the Raptors can protect the rim against Green’s short rolls, which annihilated the Blazers because of how decisive the fiery forward was in that series.Can Toronto limit the Warriors in transition?So many clubs have been overtaken by the Warriors’ debilitating runs over the years, and nothing fuels those infernos like a parade of missed shots and live-ball turnovers. But the Raptors are incredibly cautious about both, which figures to give them a decent chance in this series.During the regular season, Toronto was the most efficient defense in the NBA after missing a shot on the offensive end, allowing just 105 points per 100 possessions after a misfire, according to the data site Inpredictable. The Raptors excelled in this regard during the conference finals: They abandoned efforts to crash the offensive glass at times, realizing the greater importance of thwarting Antetokounmpo’s transition opportunities.Toronto also doesn’t turn the ball over much. The team’s 12.2 percent turnover rate this postseason would have ranked as the NBA’s best during the regular season. This is one area in which Kawhi’s elite one-on-one skills become even more useful: He can do so much on his own, without having to pass the ball, and those sorts of plays limit the likelihood of a turnover while also slowing the game down.Playing at a controlled tempo can help a great deal against the Warriors, particularly in these first two games before Golden State returns to Oracle Arena, where they often play considerably faster.How will the series change if and when Durant returns?Depending on the state of the series at the time, Durant’s return has the potential to be a sports talk radio host’s dream. If the Raptors play solidly at home, it wouldn’t be shocking for them to jump out to an early series lead. Should that happen, and then Durant comes back and helps the Warriors tie the series in Oakland, it would point to the obvious: that for however talented the Dubs are, they still need Durant — at least in certain spots, as a cushion — to get by certain opponents in tough situations.There’s an alternate universe in which the Warriors could jump out to a 2-0 lead of their own in Toronto before heading home to Oakland. Perhaps the most fascinating development possible would be if Durant is then cleared, and Golden State struggles to reincorporate him on offense. (The first two games could also result in a split, in which case maybe more nuanced takes would emerge upon Durant’s return and offer less breathless hyperbole about his value to the team.)In any case, there’s no doubt about what the Warriors’ preference is in all this. They view Durant as both a defensive option on Kawhi and as someone on whom Leonard would have to expend energy himself. (Durant had a season-high 51 points against Toronto earlier this year, and Leonard was his primary defender that night.) Not having someone in your lineup who can do both those things — especially given that Leonard is far and away the best player the Raptors have — could be incredibly costly in a series like this one.Kerr has had to dig deep into his bench — using Alfonzo McKinnie and Jonas Jerebko for longer stretches — to fill in as the team coped with Durant’s absence (and an injury to Iguodala). That worked well enough against Portland. But the Blazers weren’t as stingy or as adaptable as the Raptors, who have posted the league’s most efficient defense following a switch this postseason.It may all end up being academic. Perhaps the Warriors’ original core is talented enough to make it where none of this — including Durant’s return — ultimately matters. But more likely than not, Toronto will at least hold its own by playing the sort of hard-nosed, challenging defense that the Warriors haven’t seen in a while. And if that happens, we may finally get an answer to how badly Golden State did, or didn’t, need Durant in order to win an NBA championship. read more

March Madness Has Weaponized The Zone

Gonzaga803.610.7-2.9 Source: Synergy Sports Oregon88748.69869.5+20.9 UCF31515.82417.9+2.1 Iowa67132.2%8160.0%+27.8 Buffalo50.200.0-0.2 Ohio State814.054.1+0.1 Maryland301.53423.6+22.1 UC Irvine1888.73527.1+18.4 Tennessee1959.121.5-7.6 LSU673.100.0-3.1 Florida1698.52418.0+9.5 Villanova1708.9108.1-0.8 Oklahoma1808.62015.3+6.7 Virginia Tech251.332.3+1.0 Kentucky221.100.0-1.1 Regular SeasonTournament Liberty150.810.8+0.0 Wofford653.310.8-2.5 Texas Tech1758.675.4-3.2 TeamZone Plays% ZoneZone Plays% ZoneDiff. Teams are going zone in the big danceAmong the final 32 teams in the men’s NCAA tournament, the rate of zone used in the regular season vs. the tournament in rounds 1 and 2. Michigan90.400.0-0.4 Baylor84641.02922.1-18.9 Purdue30.200.0-0.2 Kansas582.743.2+0.5 Minnesota482.310.8-1.5 Auburn1607.71611.9+4.2 Michigan State50.200.0-0.2 Houston30.100.0-0.1 Florida State1196.010.8-5.2 Virginia110.600.0-0.6 Washington201895.413391.7-3.7 Duke1054.81713.0+8.2 North Carolina813.610.8-2.8 There was a time when the thought of a Krzyzewski team using a zone was unthinkable. From the 2009-2010 season until 2013-14, Duke played zone on 1.62 percent of defensive possessions. Known as an unusual defense used to compensate for a gap in talent, the zone was often unnecessary for the most athletic teams in the country (read: Duke)But Krzyzewski has changed over time, employing zone on 14.3 percent of possessions in 2014-15, then 23.5 percent the next year. Last season, Duke played zone on about half of its possessions, including 92.2 percent from Feb. 11 on, throwing off basketball fans everywhere.This year, with a new batch of freshmen in tow, the Blue Devils have shifted way back to 4.91 percent. But they still break out the zone in a pinch — a 2-3 half-court set or a full-court zone press — which is more than they could say five years ago. A Washington Post story earlier this month described how Krzyzewski learned parts of the 2-3 zone from the master of it, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, when Krzyzewski became the head coach of the U.S. men’s national team. Boeheim told The Post he sees hints of Syracuse’s zone in Duke’s defenses today. “I don’t think Coach K should be allowed to play zone,” Boeheim joked to reporters last season.Zone defense appealed to teams big and small in the tournament’s first weekend. Some were double-digit seeds like Iona, Colgate and Gardner-Webb who needed the zone to try to level the playing field against more athletic teams. But there was also Maryland, which played as many possessions of zone Sunday against LSU (34) as it had all season until that point.Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon has not used much zone during his eight seasons in College Park — only on 2.7 percent of possessions. But after his technical foul put the Terrapins behind 46-31 with 16 minutes left, he called for a 3-2 zone that baffled LSU the rest of the way. Maryland averaged .95 points allowed on 38 man-to-man possessions and .59 points allowed on 34 zone possessions, erasing the 15-point deficit before losing on a go-ahead layup with less than two seconds left.Turgeon’s strategy tweak was stat-driven. He knew LSU was one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the tournament at around 32 percent. “That’s low,” Turgeon told reporters after the loss. “So everything told us to guard that way. We weren’t going to guard Belmont that way, obviously. And so we told the guys yesterday morning when they woke up, we’re going to zone, don’t know when, but we’re going to zone.”Added LSU interim coach Tony Benford: “We knew they were going to run the 3-2, and we had worked on it. But when you don’t have but one day to prepare, it’s tough.”In the first round on Friday, UC Irvine turned to its zone defense to fluster Kansas State and earn the tournament’s biggest upset by seed. “We knew they’d play zone, and I was just hoping, I told them to attack with confidence, not to act like we’ve never been there, because we’ve played against a bunch of people, bunch of zones,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said after the game. “But obviously we just didn’t get enough.”The worst 3-point shooting team left in the tournament is Duke at 30.7 percent, a troublesome mark because a good zone defense could force the team to take threes. UCF stayed in Sunday’s game by mixing in a zone at times. That might hint at a blueprint for a team to take down the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed — that is, if that team can figure out Duke’s zone first. Murray State874.496.2+1.8 With 10:39 left in a second-round game Sunday, Mike Krzyzewski did something you don’t think of Mike Krzyzewski doing against a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament. No. 1 Duke was more talented and more established than Central Florida. The Blue Devils started four top-15 freshmen, all future pros, led by the star of this college basketball season, Zion Williamson. And yet, locked in a 54-54 tie far earlier in this tournament than anticipated — FiveThirtyEight’s model gave Duke a 91 percent chance of winning before the game — Krzyzewski needed a spark. He called for the Blue Devils to play some zone defense.It started on a baseline out-of-bounds play for UCF. “Duke is in a zone — no, a matchup, a matchup zone,” Grant Hill called out on the CBS telecast. “They did this one trip against Virginia Tech,” Bill Raftery recalled. Guards Tre Jones and Jordan Goldwire made up the front line of the 2-3 zone. Williamson stood in the paint. Out of that baseline play, UCF drilled a go-ahead 3-pointer. But the zone was enough for Duke to hold off Johnny Dawkins’ team for a while, even if it took a last-minute Duke put-back and a last-second missed UCF tip-in to seal the win.In all, Duke deployed the zone for 11 possessions, more than in all but three of its games this season. The key second-half stretch lasted eight possessions, of which UCF scored on only three. Mostly, the zone stunted UCF’s rhythm, forcing five 3-point attempts and often pushing the Knights to the end of the shot clock.The fact that Duke needed a late defensive adjustment at all was a surprise. But a team in its position going to zone was not — it has become a popular strategy in the NCAA men’s tournament, where even brief momentum swings can change games and seasons. Coaches tend to be more apt to use their full playbook to gain an edge. And opponents sometimes have less than 48 hours to prepare for new defensive looks. In other words, the zone can function like an off-speed pitch for opposing offenses who didn’t expect to see it coming.This season, 12 tournament teams played zone on more than 15 percent of defensive possessions entering the Big Dance, according to Synergy Sports. But 19 teams have played zone on more than 15 percent of their defensive possessions in the tournament1Through the round of 32.. read more

Ohio States Logan Stieber captures 2ndstraight national championship

For the second year in a row, Logan Stieber can call himself a national champion. The No. 1-seeded Ohio State redshirt sophomore wrestler defeated Iowa redshirt junior Tony Ramos, 7-4, to capture the 133-pound NCAA title Saturday evening at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. “We are so blessed this small-town kid from Ohio chose to be a Buckeye,” said OSU coach Tom Ryan in a press release. “He exemplifies the very best version of what we can accomplish when we dream big and fight consistently to be the best. We are so proud of him.” The win comes almost two weeks after knocking off Ramos, 3-1, for a consecutive Big Ten championship on March 10 in Champaign, Ill. Both of Stieber’s (27-0) conference titles have come against Ramos. For the 2012 crown, Stieber bested Ramos, 5-2, for his first first league championship. In his relatively young career as a Buckeye, Stieber is now 5-0 against Ramos and 65-5 overall. Last season, Stieber took down Oklahoma State’s Jordan Oliver, 4-3, for the 2012 national title. In the tournament’s overall team rankings, OSU finished sixth with 59.5 points while fellow conference member Penn State won its third-straight national championship with 123.5 points. read more

Womens Basketball Ohio State searches for rebound opportunity against No 23 Rutgers

Former Ohio State guard Sierra Calhoun drives to the basket after her team’s 82-57 win against Rutgers in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament on March 2 in Indianapolis. Credit: Alyssia Graves | Former Assistant Sports DirectorThe Ohio State women’s basketball is coming off its biggest loss of the season since UConn put up 85 in a 31-point defeat on Nov. 11.The 78-52 loss to Iowa was the Buckeyes’ second in their past five games and fourth in their past 10 after starting 4-8.For freshman guard Janai Crooms, it is all about moving forward and learning from the mistakes.“Yeah we lost. We still have plenty more games ahead of us,” Crooms said. “I feel like our energy wasn’t as well as it usually is, and some of our starters struggling, but I mean hey, it happens, like everyone, we all have those bad games.”Two of Ohio State’s starters, redshirt senior guards Carmen Grande and Carly Santoro, where both held scoreless in a combined 48 minutes of time and 0-of-8 shooting, something head coach Kevin McGuff hopes was a one-time thing.“Hopefully that was an anomaly and we’re gonna see them back to being their normal self,” McGuff said. “We’re gonna need that on Thursday for sure, we need them leading the way for us to be successful against Rutgers.”Projected StartersOhio State (10-12, 6-7 Big Ten)G — Carmen Grande — Redshirt senior, 7.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.8 apgG — Janai Crooms — Freshman, 7.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apgG — Carly Santoro — Redshirt senior, 11.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.3 apgF — Dorka Juhasz — Freshman, 11.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 0.8 apgF — Makayla Waterman — Redshirt senior, 8.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.8 apgNo. 23 Rutgers (17-6, 9-3 Big Ten)G — Sierra Calhoun — Redshirt senior, 4.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.6 apgG — Charise Wilson — Redshirt senior, 7.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.6 apgG — Ciani Cryor — Redshirt junior, 8.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 5.1 apgF — Stasha Carey — Redshirt senior, 12.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.1 apgC/F — Victoria Harris — Senior, 4.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 0.9 apgRutgers comes in on a two-game losing streak after winning 17 of its first 21 games to start the season.On the year, the Scarlet Knights hold the top defense in the Big Ten and No. 20 in the NCAA, allowing 56.1 points per game, while holding opponents to 35.3 percent shooting, also the best in the conference and No. 16 in the country.“They’re a really tough physical team, so we’re gonna have to make sure that we can match that physicality and toughness around the basket,” McGuff said. “Really athletic, talented team, they play great defense, one of the best defensive teams in the country, and also very talented, so really tough road game for us on Thursday night.”The defense is a mismatch for Ohio State, who score 61.5 points per game, the lowest in the Big Ten.Crooms said the defense ahead doesn’t matter as much as playing the right offense on Thursday.“They’re a pretty good defensive team, but we’re just looking at it as just come in there and playing our game how we play,” Crooms said. “We’re not gonna let their pressing or their defense distract us from what we do and how our style of play is.”On the other end, the Scarlet Knights’ offense is not as strong. Their 63.8 points per game is second-worst in the conference, only ahead of the Buckeyes. Redshirt senior forward Stasha Carey leads the team with 12.3 points per game.The matchup will bring the return of redshirt senior guard Sierra Calhoun, who played for Ohio State the previous two seasons before transferring to Rutgers for her final year of eligibility.In her final year at Ohio State, Calhoun averaged 11.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game while starting all 35 games.“I hope she’s doing well,” McGuff said. “Outside of just watching film, I don’t know how it’s going but hopefully it’s going well for her, she’s a nice kid, and like I said, hopefully it’s working out.”Ohio State takes on No. 23 Rutgers at 7 p.m. on Thursday. read more

Police animals do not need to be given same legal status as

first_imgWe are putting police dogs and horses on the same level as police cars and riot vansConservative MP David Mackintosh The proposed Finn’s law is named after a Hertfordshire police dog who needed surgery after being stabbed several times while chasing an armed suspect.Responding to the petition the Home Office said those who assault animals can already receive a penalty of up to 10 years in jail.  A statement said: “Under some circumstances assaults on support animals could be treated as criminal damage, allowing for penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.”An additional offence dealing specifically with attacks on police animals may not result in more prosecutions or increased sentences.”But Conservative MP David Mackintosh, who is presenting the debate on Monday as he sits on the Petitions Committee, said the law should reflect the status “of our brave and courageous animals”.He said: “When you look at their current status, assaults on police dogs and horses are treated in the same way as criminal damage. “We are putting police dogs and horses on the same level as police cars and riot vans, and I think that’s wrong.”This should be looked at in a way that reflects the status of our brave and courageous animals who help us fight against criminality.”In some parts of the US attacks on dogs are treated the same as attacks on their human handlers.Mr Mackintosh said ministers should look at giving greater protection to animals, although he said there would be problems giving them the same status as humans. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Police animals do not necessarily need to be given the same legal status as officers who are injured on duty, the Government has suggested ahead of a parliamentary debate on the issue on Monday. The proposed law, which would cover police dogs and horses, is set to be debated after more than 100,000 people signed a petition. Under current rules criminals who attack police animals are prosecuted for causing criminal damage, but campaigners want the creatures to be given the same status as injured officers.last_img read more

Newly restored Spitfire to pay tribute to the men who risked all

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Tommy Wheler, one of NH341's wartime pilots, with the aircraft during restoration Mr Wheler, who is now 96, was honoured with a flypast by the RAF Red Arrows when he returned to Britain in 2015.During his sortie in NH341 on 24th June 1944 several German mechanised transports were destroyed.  Later in the war he was shot down and, in what became known as ‘Wheler’s walk,’ successfully escaped captivity three times to return to his unit.Flt Lt Antony ‘Parky’ Parkinson MBE, who is due to captain NH341’s forthcoming maiden flight, said: “It symbolises so much of the war years and there aren’t many people in the world who don’t think the Spitfire is the most impressive plane to have flown in our history.”Pilots that were shot down by other planes wanted to be shot down by a Spitfire.” Yesterday, in preparation for that commemorative event, the newly-restored plane, which took part in 27 combat missions during World War II, was showed off for the first time at the Imperial War Museum’s Duxford Aerodrome, one of the most RAF’s most important wartime bases.There were gasps of delight from assembled veterans and aircraft aficionados as the plane made its way out of its hangar and onto the runway.Gerry Abrahams, 94, a former Lancaster pilot who served in the 75 squadron between 1944 and 1945, was among those who had gathered to watch.”Hearing the engine start made my heart flutter, that is the best part of a Spitfire,” he said. “We can’t forget what happened in the war. So many soldiers lost their lives and young people don’t realise that, but they should.”Ron Dearman, 93, who flew a DC3 Dakota with the 267 Pegasus squadron during the war, added:  “The Spitfire looks smashing. Everybody should know about these planes which helped us fight in the war.” Among the other men who flew her were  Flt Lt, later Squadron Leader, H C ‘Charlie’ Trainor and Flt Lt A B ‘Bruce’ Whiteford. Warrant Officer James “Jimmy” Jeffrey, who was shot down in NH341 in 1944, but survived and evaded capture with help from the French Warrant Officer James "Jimmy" Jeffrey, who was shot down in NH341 in 1944, but survived and evaded capture with help from the French Trainor, who received the Distinguished Service Order (DSC) DFC and Bar, claimed ‘Ace’ status after achieving eight victories over German aircraft, including two ME109s, in NH341.Whiteford flew NH341 more times than any other pilot and the personalised markings ‘EO’ and ‘Elizabeth’, in honour of his wife, have been recreated on the aircraft.Only one of the Canadian airmen who flew Spitfire NH341 in battle is still alive today – Flg Off T R ‘Tommy’ Wheler. WO Jeffrey survived the war and returned home to Canada and his wife Jean.Three years ago the badly damaged body of NH341 was bought by Keith Perkins, the owner of Aero Legends, a firm which offers the public the chance to fly in vintage planes such as the Tiger Moth, Harvard or Spitfire.It took dozens of craftsmen and engineers and a lot of patience to restore NH341 to its current state, able to take to the skies once more.Mr Perkins said: ” When I acquired this aircraft as a restoration project I was totally unaware of the history that surrounded it and it has been a fascinating journey of discovery, with new information becoming available all the time. In its short but eventful operational life NH341 it touched many lives.”center_img Jimmy Jeffrey with some of the French resistance fighters and villagers who helped him escape capture by the Germans after his Spitfire was shot down in 1944 Nearly three quarters of a century ago a group villagers risked their lives to rescue Canadian pilot Jimmy Jeffrey from the clutches of the Nazis after his Spitfire crashed in Normandy, one of hundreds of allied airmen assisted by the French during the war.This summer the very plane he flew will dip its wings over the site near Orbec where he crashed in July 1944, to pay tribute to all those brave men who took to the skies to defend Britain from invasion and those who helped them on the ground.The flight will be the result of an extraordinary £3 million project to recover and rebuild Jeffrey’s Spitfire NH341. Spitfire NH341 was flown by nine pilots of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 411 Grizzly Bear Squadron, including Warrant Officer Jeffrey, before it was shot down after engaging in a dogfight with a Focke-Wulf 190 near Caen.The squadron was part of 126 Wing, the highest scoring allied Air Force Wing of World War Two –  claiming 336 enemy aircraft destroyed – and NH341 is credited with shooting down two Messerschmitt 109s.WO Jeffrey managed to bale out when the plane was hit, before being taken in by the Soetards, a local farming family.With the help of the French resistance – who brazenly took him into a local town for a haircut and to buy cheese under the noses of the Germans – he managed to return to his unit at the airfield of Beny-sur-Mer, occupied by the Allies following the D-Day invasion. Spitfire NH341 undergoing restoration  Tommy Wheler, one of NH341’s wartime pilots, with the aircraft during restoration Spitfire NH341 undergoing restoration  Jimmy Jeffrey with some of the French resistance fighters and villagers who helped him escape capture by the Germans after his Spitfire was shot down in 1944last_img read more

Hairdressers and beauty salons warned they face £20000 fine for offering free

first_imgOfficers warned that businesses could face a £20,000 fine if they are caught. Owners could also face up to six months in prison. Inspector Paul Prenter, head of the force’s licensing department, said police wanted to continue to have a “positive relationship” with businesses.But he added: “Providing alcohol to customers without a licence is a breach of section 136 of the Licensing Act and is a criminal offence. “Please ensure your business is not giving alcohol to customers, otherwise our licensing officers will be in touch and it could result in a hefty fine for your business. “Alternatively if you do wish to continue the practice, please contact your local council.” Martyn Brindley, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s strategic manager for public protection, urged owners who were unsure of their business’ status to call an advice line.  “It is very important that all businesses are aware of the laws regarding serving alcohol on their premises and that they abide by them,” he added. The advice was met with some ridicule on social media. One user wrote on Facebook: “At the end of the day more important things are or should have priority in these troubled times.”Another said: “With everything going on in the UK right now… this is what you resort to concentrating on?”It comes after a barber shop in Dorset was urged by a council last year to stop handing out free beers to customers. The owners of the Blind Barber in Poole were told to stop handing out “stubby” beers along with the “odd bowl of nuts” by the Borough of Poole Council.   Providing alcohol to customers without a licence is a breach of the Licensing ActInspector Paul Prenter Hairdressers and beauty salons have been warned by police that offering complimentary glasses of bubbly to their customers could cost them up to £20,000. Staffordshire Police issued the warning to businesses amid concern some are offering free drinks of wine or champagne as part of treatment packages without a proper licence. While the force admitted that the offers are “well intentioned”, it insisted the offers were still illegal if the business does not have a licence.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more