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Lang grateful to be alive after surviving plane crash – TSN

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KINGSTON, Ont. – Rick Lang will never forget the past two weeks of his life. 

The head coach for Northern Ontario’s Team Brad Jacobs arrived at the Tim Hortons Brier in Kingston, Ont., on Saturday, less than a week after surviving a frightening plane crash while returning home from the Scotties Tournament of Hearts where he was the bench boss for Team Krista McCarville. 

“I think we’re very grateful to be alive,” the three-time Brier champion told reporters on Saturday. 

Lang, Northern Ontario skip Krista McCarville, second Ashley Sippala, plus three other passengers and two crew members all survived the crash with minor injuries after their Bearskin Airlines flight went off the runway during takeoff on Monday in Dryden, Ont. 

The near-death experience was just one part of an unbelievable stretch of days for the 65-year-old.

During a stunning upset loss to Nunavut at the Scotties in Moose Jaw, Sask., the week prior, Lang’s daughter Sarah Potts gave birth to twin baby boys named Cohen and Leo, making Lang a grandfather for the first time. Potts is an elite-level curler herself, representing Northern Ontario four times at the Scotties. 

The babies were born at 31 weeks and five days, approximately two months premature. 

Lang says the babies stayed in hospital for a few days and were hooked up to incubators and ventilators but are now back home with their parents happy and healthy. 

“We all know about the Sandra Schmirler Foundation,” said Lang of the organization that raises money for life-saving equipment to help babies born prematurely. “We’ll be donating more money in the future to that for sure.”

Still, at the time Lang was anxious to get home as soon as possible due to the surprise nature of the birth. 

“I was so looking forward to getting home,” he said.

Getting home to Thunder Bay, Ont., was easier said than done, however. Northern Ontario lost to Ontario in the page playoff 3 vs. 4 game last Saturday as Lang and other members of the team were hoping to get a direct flight home out of Winnipeg or Toronto. With the Special Olympics taking place in Thunder Bay, flights out of those cities were booked solid meaning Lang and company needed to take a series of smaller aircrafts through multiple airports to get home. 

“We’ve flown Bearskin before and we wanted to really get home,” said Lang. 

The long travel day was going fine until takeoff at the Dryden Airport. Lang says the plane got about three quarters of the way down the runaway when it veered off to the right and hit a snowbank. The collision with the snowbank wasn’t too awful, recounts Lang, but once the propellers started to slash through the ice, that’s when things got very scary. 

“It got quite violent. They [shrapnel and debris] were coming into the cabin,” said Lang. “I sat in the very front seat because there was a lot of leg room. That was a mistake because there was a propeller here and they were both coming at me.

“My first thought before the violence was ‘sh*t we’re not getting home today.’ I know how bad the girls wanted to get home for all our kids and everything. I can’t describe my thoughts at the time. Things started exploding and I covered my head in my hands. I put my head down. The level of violence was significant.”

Lang suffered the worst injuries on board as pieces of wooden debris impaled his hand, including one shard that went right through. 

“I pulled it out because it was such a big piece of wood. It would hurt to leave it in there,” Lang said. 

Lang, who famously played third for popular skip Al Hackner during his playing days, was treated at hospital and was able to drive home to his family and meet his grandchildren for the first time the next day. 

The coach says he doesn’t know how long it will take to get over this experience but is just thankful he’s still alive. 

“I got together with Krista and Ashley just to compare notes to talk it through. We’re all just feeling the impacts of it. It will be a while before you get over that. I think I’m better everyday. Then I talk to you guys [media] and I’m not so good,” Lang joked. “It was frightening. Absolutely frightening. But, honest to God, so grateful that the girls didn’t get hurt and my injuries are minor. We’re all alive.”

It wouldn’t be surprising to anyone if Lang feared jumping on a plane going forward. But Lang has a job to do at the Brier. Lang, with his son Adam by his side for support, flew direct from Thunder Bay to Kingston for the opening day of the Canadian championship. 

Lang is hoping the intensity of the Brier will be a welcomed distraction. 

“I’m not going to be emotionally impacted here. We can pull this off,” said Lang. “Get on the ice. I’m a curler. I’m a competitor and I think once we start throwing rocks I’ll be thinking about that and be able to move on.” 

Lang says they should know more about the cause of the crash in 10 days or so. For now, Lang is just focusing on winning a fourth Brier Tankard and his first as a coach. 

“I’ve been looking forward to the Brier ever since they won provincials,” said Lang. 

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Novak Djokovic sponsor Lacoste to review Australian events 'as soon as possible' – National Post

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Lacoste, owned by Swiss group MF Brands, signed a multiyear deal with Djokovic as sponsor in 2017

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Leading Novak Djokovic sponsor Lacoste has said it plans to “review” the events that led to the tennis star’s deportation from Australia, highlighting the potential fallout for athletes who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19.

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“As soon as possible, we will be in touch with Novak Djokovic to review the events that have accompanied his presence in Australia,” Lacoste said on Monday.

Lacoste, owned by Swiss group MF Brands, signed a multiyear deal with Djokovic as sponsor in 2017. According to Forbes, the men’s world number one earns $30 million a year from sponsorship tie-ups.

The review comes after Djokovic, who has declined to be vaccinated against COVID-19, said he was “extremely disappointed” that the Australian courts had decided to uphold a government decision to cancel his visa. The ruling means he is unable to compete in this month’s Australian Open tournament.

Djokovic had entered Australia with a medical exemption from a vaccine requirement but had his initial visa cancelled. He had sought to stay in the country to compete for a record 21st grand slam title but his legal challenge was unsuccessful. He has now been deported and returned to Serbia.

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Djokovic’s opposition to mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations highlights the dilemma facing sports sponsors, which must weigh up their approach when athletes raise objections to widely recommended public health measures such as vaccination.

His participation in the French Open, the next grand slam on the tennis calendar, is also in doubt after Roxana Maracineanu, sports minister for France, said that spectators, staff and players would need to show proof of vaccination to enter sports stadiums and other public places. The tournament in Paris is due to start in May.

Other sponsors of Djokovic include carmaker Peugeot, luxury watch brand Hublot and Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank International.

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Raiffeisen, which agreed a tie-up with Djokovic in April last year, said his “high reputation in central and eastern Europe” was its motivation for the multiyear deal and pointed to “his social commitment”.

But it added that the partnership had been agreed “long before the current reporting on Novak Djokovic and his COVID-19 vaccination status, or his participation in the Australian Open”.

Hublot previously told the Financial Times: “Novak Djokovic is his own person. We cannot comment on any of his personal decisions.”

Lacoste, founded by two tennis players in 1933, thanked the organizers of the Australian Open for “all their efforts to ensure that the tournament is held in good conditions for players, staff and spectators”.

Djokovic first voiced opposition to mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in 2020.

© 2022 The Financial Times Ltd

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Athletics Canada CEO David Bedford facing complaints over Twitter posts – CBC Sports

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The CEO of Athletics Canada is apologizing for a series of sexually suggestive Twitter exchanges made over a number of months and posted to his personal account.

Dave Bedford posted the tweets as replies to nearly a dozen different Twitter accounts. The tweets have since been deleted.

“It’s my personal account. It’s not like I was sending out photos or tweets myself,” Bedford told CBC Sports. “In this day and age with all we have been going through, I found some of these things funny so I commented. It’s apparent others didn’t feel the same way so I removed them.”

In his personal Twitter bio, Bedford identifies himself as the CEO of Athletics Canada and provides a link to the publicly funded organization’s website, which — as the national governing body of athletics — represents thousands of elite and amateur athletes across the country.

After receiving a number of internal complaints over the weekend, Athletics Canada’s board chair Helen Manning spoke to Bedford who then deleted the offensive tweets and locked his account.

Emergency board meeting

Athletics Canada will hold an emergency board meeting Monday night to decide next steps. Board chair Helen Manning said confidence in Bedford’s ongoing ability to lead will be a central point of discussion and didn’t rule out asking for Bedford’s resignation.

“There are certainly concerns that have been expressed by some of our membership,” Manning said. “Those types of comments are not something that is in keeping with the policy of how we see our people in the public domain.”

Manning said the organization has done a lot of work with Safe Sport, which aims to eliminate sexual harassment as well as physical and mental harassment among athletic organizations.

“We have spent a great deal of time and effort focused on trying to ensure the safest and most welcoming environment for our athletes and all of our members,” Manning said.

Audrey Giles, a professor at the University of Ottawa and a member of Athletics Canada’s Safe Sport Committee, said Bedford’s behaviour brings his judgment into question.

‘Raises questions’

“If he felt that that sort of public behaviour was acceptable, it raises questions about if he is the right person to be leading an organization through this era of safe sport,” Giles said. “I think it’s just like the hypocrisy of talking about having to hold coaches to a higher account, having to make spaces that are safe for athletes. Yet being somebody who engages in this, frankly, creepy online behaviour with women?

“I recognize that people can have a very diverse and exciting sexual lives. But when you are a leader of an organization, I think that the standards are higher.”

Bedford was hired by Athletics Canada in 2019 and has worked in a variety of leadership roles across Canadian sport, including the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.

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Soccer-Lewandowski and Putellas win FIFA Best awards

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Bayern Munich’s Polish striker Robert Lewandowski won the FIFA Best Men’s Player award for 2021 with Barcelona’s Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas winning the FIFA Best Women’s Player prize at Monday’s ceremony.

The prolific Lewandowski won the award for the second straight year after a season in which he beat Gerd Mueller’s 49-year old record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga campaign.

“Robert is someone special. He is the greatest footballer in the history of our country. The best Polish ambassador and a role model for young people, not only those playing football,” said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Facebook.

The 27-year-old Putellas was at the heart of the Barcelona women’s team which won the Spanish league and the UEFA Champions League.

Chelsea won both the awards for best coach, with Thomas Tuchel winning the men’s award and Emma Hayes named the best women’s coach.

Tuchel had guided Chelsea to the Champions League title after taking over the club in January while Hayes won the Women’s Super League, FA Cup and League Cup treble in England.

The West London club enjoyed further recognition with their Senegal international Edouard Mendy winning the Best Men’s Goalkeeper award.

Chile and Olympique Lyonnais’ Christiane Endler was named The Best Women’s Goalkeeper.

The Puskas Award for best goal of the year was won by Argentine Erik Lamela, now with Spanish club Sevilla, for his goal for Tottenham Hotspur against Arsenal.

The Denmark national team and their medical staff won the Fair Play award for their swift response after Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field during the Euro 2020 game with Finland.

(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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