The six members of the Refugee Paralympic Team received some words of encouragement Monday from one of the world’s most famous refugee athletes.
Bayern Munich and Canada soccer star Alphonso Davies, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said the six athletes had the power to inspire and change lives in an open letter released the day before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympics.
“Tomorrow it all begins — the greatest Para sport event on earth. Congratulations for being right at the heart of it,” Davies wrote. “You might be nervous now, but that’s expected. When I play for FC Bayern Munich and Canada, I get butterflies before every match.
“Please know this: as you dive into the water, as you prepare to throw, as you step into the arena, know that you are not alone. The world is behind you, including 82 million displaced people, 12 million of whom are living with a disability. “
Davies says he can relate to what the athletes have been through. He was born in a refugee camp in Ghana to Liberian parents who fled the civil war in their home country. He was five when his family was accepted into a resettlement program that brought them to Canada, first to Windsor, Ont., and then Edmonton.
“Not everyone understands the journey you have been on. But I do and that’s an important part of what made me who I am,” he said “I was born in a refugee camp. My family and I fled war. I appreciate it’s sometimes hard to talk about the past. The experiences you’ve had, the things you’ve seen, the discrimination you’ve faced.
“I’ve read your stories and learnt about the journeys you have all been through. You are the most courageous sports team in the world right now.”
Davies says he will be watching when the Refugee Paralympic Team leads the athletes into Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony.
“So, go out and do your thing. Do it like you’ve never done it before,” Davies said. “Give it 100 per cent. Don’t focus too much on the rewards and go out there with a smile on your face, knowing you worked hard to be there. That’s when you’ll be at your best. And welcome to the show – you belong here.”
The members of the Refugee Paralympic Team are:
— Para swimmer Ibrahim Al Hussein, a Syrian refugee living in Athens
— Club thrower Alia Issa, a Syrian refugee living in Athens
— Para taekwondo athlete Parfait Hakizimana, a Burundian refugee living in the Mahama Refugee Camp, Rwanda
— Para swimmer Abbas Karimi, an Afghan refugee living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
— Discus thrower Shahrad Nasajpour, an Iranian refugee living in Phoenix
— Para canoeist Anas Al Khalifa, a Syrian refugee living in Halle, Germany
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 23, 2021.
Watford wins first start as Ticats shut down Mitchell, Stamps – TSN
HAMILTON — David Watford’s first start in the CFL resulted in a win, even though none of his drives resulted in a touchdown.
Taylor Bertolet connected on all five field-goal attempts and Simoni Lawrence scored a 15-yard interception return for a touchdown as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated the Calgary Stampeders 23-17 at Tim Horton’s Field on Friday.
Watford made his first start under centre for the Ticats (3-3) after injuries to Dane Evans (lower-body) and Jeremiah Masoli (ribs), and finished the game with 19 passes on 22 attempts for 149 yards passing. Masoli dressed as the backup up Friday.
Bo Levi Mitchell was 16 for 28 passing for 170 yards and one interception for the Stampeders (2-5). It was the quarterback’s first loss against Hamilton in his career, after winning the previous 12 games against the club.
Both teams struggled to sustain any offence to start.
In the first quarter, Watford went two-and-out on his first drive of the game from Hamilton’s 27-yard line. But the pivot received favourable field position for his next drive that commenced immediately after Calgary’s Richard Leonard fumbled a punt return. Ticats kicker Bertolet hit a 47-yard field goal despite that put Hamilton on the board 3-0.
The Stampeders replied when they recovered a ball off a fumbled punt return by Hamilton’s Frankie Williams. Calgary kicker Rene Paredes hit a 31-yard field goal to tie the game 3-3.
In the second quarter, the Stampeders fumbled their second punt return, this time by Markeith Ambles. Watford managed his longest drive of the half, eight plays for 47 yards. Bertolet completed the drive with an 18-yard field goal to put the Ticats up 6-3 with 35 seconds remaining until halftime.
Hamilton mustered 110 yards of offence in the first half, edging out Calgary’s 107 yards.
The Ticats opening scoring in the second half on the opening drive when Bertolet hit his third field goal of the game from 49 yards out for a 9-3 lead.
On Calgary’s following drive, Luther Hakunavanhu for a 74-yard catch that set up a one-yard touchdown by Jake Maier for the game’s first major.
Paredes converted the point after to give the Stampeders their first lead, 10-9, with 11:14 remaining in the quarter.
The catch by Hakunavanhu was his first reception in the CFL. The fifth-round pick in the 2021 CFL Draft saw more action with starting receiver Hergy Mayala missing the game with a quad injury.
The Ticats replied with their first touchdown of the game, and it came from the defence.
Lawrence picked off Mitchell for a 15-yard touchdown, then Maleek Irons rushed the ball into the endzone for a two-point conversion that gave Hamilton a 17-10 lead over Calgary at 6:35.
Bertolet hit a 19-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that increased Hamilton’s lead to 20-10. He followed that up with 32-yard field goal late in the quarter for a 23-10 lead.
Mitchell was pulled in favour of backup quarterback Maier for the final 2:20 of the game.
Maier connected with Richard Sindani for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds remaining in regulation. The point after cut Hamilton’s lead to 23-17.
The Stampeders attempted an onside kick but were unsuccessful, ending any attempt at a comeback.
Fifteen thousand fans took in the game at Tim Horton’s Field, the maximum allowed under current COVID-19 protocols set forth by the provincial government.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 17, 2021.
Blue Jays need to determine next steps for Ryu after thumping from Twins – Sportsnet.ca
Either way, the veteran lefty has certainly given his team cause for concern. Since a Sept. 6 gem against the New York Yankees, in which he threw six shutout innings and struck out six while allowing only three hits, he’s delivered consecutive duds, getting blistered for 12 runs on 13 hits over 4.1 innings in the process.
The latest thumping came in Friday night’s 7-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins, during which he allowed five runs on five hits in two-plus innings, including back-to-back homers from Jorge Polanco and Josh Donaldson. Put in a wider context, the start marked the sixth time this year he’s allowed more than five runs, with four of them coming in his last eight outings.
“I’ve been leaving a lot of my pitches over the plate too much, more than I’d hope, and that’s resulted in a lot of runs in a single inning,” Ryu said through interpreter J.S. Park. “That’s the struggle this month.”
Mixed into that stretch is a seven-shutout-inning start against the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 21, a 5.2 inning, three-run outing Aug. 31 against Baltimore in which he carried a no-hitter into the sixth and the Yankees gem, which he left early with forearm tightness.
Whether that’s a lingering issue is unclear – Ryu said he felt fine after his rocky last time out Sept. 11 against the Orioles – but with the Blue Jays fighting for the post-season, determining next steps for him is critical.
“Not really in that aspect,” Ryu replied when asked if there was a connection between the arm issue in New York and his subsequent performances. Later he added, “I feel fine. I don’t feel anything different.”
Jose Berrios, who left his outing Tuesday with tightness in his left abdomen, will make his next start Sunday, manager Charlie Montoyo said before the game, with Alek Manoah pushed to Tuesday, as a way to manage his workload. As Sportsnet colleague Ben Nicholson-Smith detailed here, that gives the Blue Jays the option of skipping Steven Matz on Sept. 29 and pitching Berrios and Robbie Ray against the New York Yankees in that crucial series.
That would also keep Ray on turn for a potential wild card game Oct. 5, and Berrios in line for a tiebreaker game Oct. 4, if needed. But such a scenario also calls for Ryu to pitch next Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays and the series opener against the Yankees on Sept. 28, and he made it through just four batters in the third Friday, unable to deliver a shutdown inning after the Blue Jays had given him a 2-1 lead in the second.
Montoyo said skipping a start is “always an option” for any of his pitchers but Ryu “hasn’t complained about anything (physical). His command hasn’t been there and that’s one of the reasons he has struggled.”
“But he’s fine. He’s healthy. He hasn’t complained,” Montoyo continued. “It’s all about his command. If he gets it, he’ll be fine, like he’s always done in the past.”
Ryu’s long track record earns him some rope.
But if something is amiss physically – and even extra rest, a boost that coming into the night lowered his ERA from 5.64 in 12 starts on four days to 2.61 in 10 outings on five days, didn’t help Friday – can the Blue Jays chance it in critical contests?
Friday’s loss dropped the Blue Jays (82-65) a game back of the Boston Red Sox (84-65) for the first wild card and a half game back of the New York Yankees (83-65) for the second.
Montoyo pointed to how much trust he has in his lefty and praised him as “that guy that can make an adjustment just like that from outing to outing.”
Ryu, for his part, isn’t interested in taking a start off.
Asked if he thought that might be beneficial, Ryu replied, “I don’t really want to think about it that way and on top of that, I don’t really want to do that.”
Regaining his usual pinpoint command, the skill which allows him to thrive despite a fastball velocity hovering around 90 m.p.h., was key, he said, and that, “I just need to find myself and try to fight back through this.”
The Blue Jays offence, which got Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s 46th homer of the season and not much else, can’t be expected to bail Ryu as he tries to regain equilibrium, the way they rallied from five runs down to beat the Orioles last Saturday, and the issue isn’t just the result.
To get through Friday’s game, the Blue Jays had to burn through Ross Stripling (who gave up Miguel Sano’s solo shot as he entered the game before throwing three innings), Julian Merryweather (who gave up a Brent Rooker solo shot), Nate Pearson, Ryan Borucki and Adam Cimber.
It’s the type of bullpen usage that usually gets someone optioned, while leaving the relief corps thin for the rest of the series, although Montoyo said his relief corps is fine for Saturday and that several of the relievers actually needed work.
Regardless, a strong outing Saturday from Matz would do everyone a solid with the Blue Jays having started a stretch of 10 straight games without a break.
Berrios can do the same Sunday by showing the Blue Jays that the abdomen tightness issue is behind him, but the rotation stability that has fuelled the club’s recent surge suddenly feels a little unsettled.
It could simply be a brief aberration, one that happens over a long season and something Ryu will soon correct. But if it’s a trend, the Blue Jays don’t have the runway to wait out the struggles until he gets back to normal.
Riders' offence comes to life in win over Argonauts – TSN
REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders ended a frustrating touchdown drought Friday in a 30-16 victory over the Toronto Argonauts.
The Riders entered the game having not scored a touchdown since the third quarter of a 23-10 victory over the Ottawa RedBlacks on Aug. 21. The streak, which included back-to-back defeats against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, ended when Cody Fajardo scored on a quarterback sneak on Saskatchewan’s first possession of the game.
Receiver Brayden Lenius increased Saskatchewan’s lead to 15-3 early in the second quarter when he hauled in 12-yard touchdown pass from Fajardo. Tailback William Powell set up the touchdown with a 33-yard run.
The Riders defence come up with three turnovers in the first half. Elie Bouka and Deon Lacey both forced fumbles that Saskatchewan recovered. The Riders also had a goal-line stand late in the second quarter, stopping Toronto quarterback Nick Arbuckle on a quarterback sneak from the one-yard line and running back John White on the following play.
Toronto trimmed the Saskatchewan lead to 18-9 with a six-play, 66-yard scoring drive to open the second half. Receiver DaVaris Daniels played a big role in the drive, catching three passes for 60 yards including a 21-yard touchdown reception.
Rookie receiver Kian Schaffer-Baker had a breakout game for the Riders, catching nine passes for 99 yards. He scored his first CFL touchdown in the fourth quarter, catching a short pass and breaking a number of tackles en route to a 24-yard score. Fajardo connected with Mitchell Picton on a two-point convert attempt to increase the Riders lead to 26-9.
Arbuckle tossed his second touchdown pass of the game four minutes into the fourth quarter, connecting with Eric Rogers on an 18-yard play. The major narrowed the Riders lead to 27-16.
Powell finished with 122 rushing yards on 21 carries. He had an impressive first half, gaining 86 yards on 13 carries.
Fajardo completed 21-of-31 passes for 212 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also had 58 yards rushing on eight carries.
Riders kicker Brett Lauther was 2 for 4 on field-goal attempts, connecting from 23 and 24 yards while missing from 46 and 41 yards.
Micah Johnson, Deon Lacey, Keion Adams and Jonathan Woodard recorded sacks for the Riders while Nick Marshall had an interception.
Charleston Hughes and Dewayne Hendrix had sacks for the Argos. Crezdon Butler had an interception.
Arbuckle finished with 309 yards passing, connecting on 22-of-33 attempts. He had two touchdown passes and one interception.
Argos linebacker Cameron Judge was injured six minutes into the game after suffering an apparent leg injury.
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