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Sohail hints at managing Shaheen’s workload during PSL 6
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Karachi: Lahore Qalandars captain Sohail Akhtar has said that they will try to manage Pakistan’s leading pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi’s workload during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season six. While talking to media in a pre-tournament presser, Sohail revealed that the star pacer won’t be overburdened and will be provided rest when needed. “He is an asset for Pakistan and we will try to manage his workload properly by giving him rest whenever it is needed and possible by the team,” he said. Sohail emphasized that in the last season, their spin attack was weak and after Rashid Khan’s arrival in the side, the attack is now strengthened. “Rashid Khan is the top bowler of the world. With his arrival our spin attack has also got some much-needed experience and it has made our bowling attack a top class one,” Akhtar said. Meanwhile, Sohail is confident of doing well this season too as they were the runners-up in PSL 2020. “We played good cricket last year. We came so near to the title but couldn’t finish well. This year, we will try to overcome our all shortcomings and give our best. the Qalandars are positive and focused about the upcoming tournament.” Read: Lahore Qalandars appoint Shaheen Shah as vice-captain for PSL 6 Comments comments Previous articleLahore Qalandars appoint Shaheen Shah as vice-captain for PSL 6
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Ricciardo makes bold prediction for new team
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An Australian hasn't lifted the Formula 1 world championship trophy in 40 years, but Daniel Ricciardo has declared he's on the cusp of breaking the drought in his new colours.The Western Australian's new racing team, McLaren, last night showed off their new car for the 2021 season, in which Ricciardo will make his McLaren debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 29.An Australian hasn't tasted Formula 1 world championship glory since Alan Jones in 1980, and while Ricciardo says he's likely not ready to take the crown this year, the 31-year-old believes his time will come in his three-year stint with McLaren."I truly believe I can (win the world championship) and I believe I can in this next chapter with McLaren," Ricciardo told Nine News."This year is certainly a stretch, and that's not to be pessimistic, but there's probably not enough rule changes happening to swing it massively. I believe in my ability to nudge the car a little bit further up, but I think probably once the new rules come in 2022 we'll get a pretty good picture."I think everything McLaren is doing as a team - for me it looks like they are on the right path to give me that."One of Ricciardo's strongest weapons in his first season with McLaren could be the team's new Mercedes engine.McLaren's use of a Honda engine proved fruitless and their switch to a Renault motor was marred by reliability issues, but McLaren principal Andreas Seidl believes German manufacturer Mercedes could launch his team into an era of dominance."We wanted to get a championship-winning power unit in the back of our car," Seidl told Motorsport Magazine.Ricciardo doubts he will win his maiden Formula 1 world championship title this year because the former Renault driver sees the 2021 season as an experimental phase. Not only is he set to operate with a new motor, he will also have to adjust to McLaren's new aerodynamics."I obviously like to think (I'll have a sneaky chance next year). Probably by the middle of this year we'll have an understanding of how the development for next year is tracking, so I could probably answer it better then," Ricciardo said."But even so, it's probably all speculation until the cars get on track."We might look really good on paper ... but you never know what the other teams are doing. But I think the right people are in place to make this a very successful team."Ricciardo hasn't won a world championship race since conquering the field at Monaco in 2018, a race in which he edged Formula 1 greats Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.Last year he had two podium finishes and was ranked fifth overall.Ricciardo said podium finishes would be his aim in 2021.Daniel Ricciardo driving his Renault at the 2020 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi. (Getty)"I made a big point to get back on the podium (in 2020) and I did that. It was really good to get back up there," Ricciardo said."Starting this year I want to be aiming to be back on the podium. If that happens to be a win as opposed to a second or a third then of course I'll take it, but I'll set the bar at a podium expectation for 2021 and see what that delivers."Australian Formula 1 fans are hoping the next trademark Ricciardo shoey is not far away.For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!
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Daniil Medvedev Finds Another Way of Playing Professional Tennis
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At 23, Rublev is two years younger than Medvedev and grew up playing junior tournaments against him in Russia. For a long time Rublev, seeded No. 8, and Karen Khachanov, 24, the third member of Russia’s latest golden generation, were better than Medvedev. The rise for Medvedev came in 2018 and 2019, when he nearly beat Rafael Nadal in the 2019 United States Open final.“He reads the game really well,” Rublev said of Medvedev. “It’s amazing, the patience he has to stay so long in the rallies, to not rush, to take the time, because in the end these little details, they make him who he is.”Russia is the only country with two players in the top 10. Khachanov gives it three in the top 20. Aslan Karatsev, 27, another Russian ranked No. 114, came out of nowhere to make the quarterfinals here in his first Grand Slam tournament.Medvedev comes into the quarterfinal on perhaps the best roll of his career. He has won 18 consecutive singles matches. He won the ATP Tour finals in London in November, pulling off the nifty trick of beating the world’s top three players — Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Dominic Thiem — in a single tournament. For Russia at the ATP Cup, he beat Alexander Zverev of Germany, a 2020 U.S. Open finalist, in a tight, three-set match in the semifinal round.Medvedev spent his early childhood in Moscow and played few sports other than tennis growing up. He worshiped Russia’s last golden generation, which included Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who were in their prime when he was a young child. He moved to France to train as a teenager and became fluent in English and French.Medvedev could be heard screaming at his coach, Gilles Cervara of France, in French during his third-round match against Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, as he frittered away a two-set lead before recovering to win the final set, 6-0.
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Jalen Green leads Ignite to 4-0 start in NBA G League
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Team Ignite’s Jalen Green. G LEAGUE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — Jalen Green sustained his torrid start to lead Team Ignite’s comeback win over the Iowa Wolves, 97-90, in the NBA G League Tuesday at AdventHealth Arena in Florida. The 6-foot-6 Fil-American fired a career-high 22 points as Ignite stretched its unbeaten run to four games. He has now scored at least 20 points for the third straight game. Green, who also collected six rebounds and five assists, capped off his solid outing with a layup for a 96-90 lead with 12.2 seconds left. #GLeagueIgnite remains undefeated at 4-0 take a look inside its hot start as told by head coach Brian Shaw pic.twitter.com/MVggNlGLR7 — NBA G League (@nbagleague) February 16, 2021 Ignite trailed by as many as 11 early in the fourth quarter before going on a 25-7 run to take control of the game. Donta Hall added 12 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks for Ignite, which still awaits the arrival of Filipino center Kai Sotto. UNCERTAIN However, coach Brian Shaw said he doesn’t have a say yet on whether Sotto will be able to play right away when he returns. “That’ll be something that will be determined by the people that are above my paygrade,” said Shaw during a media availability. Sotto came back to the Philippines hoping to suit up for the national team in the third and final window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers in Doha this month. But the tournament was postponed again with the Philippines back as the host. The 7-foot-3 Sotto is expected to rejoin Ignite in the G League’s bio-secure facility in Orlando as soon as he clears strict quarantine measures. Read Next Don't miss out on the latest news and information. Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000. For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
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European Team of the Week: Ilkay Gundogan and Lionel Messi join hat-trick hero Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
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Every week we pick 22 of the best performing players in Europe’s top five leagues and, with your help, narrow it down to the best XI. Using polls on our Instagram stories, we pit players in each position against each other and let you decide who deserves to make the cut. Follow our Instagram page to get involved. Here’s what our latest European Team of the Week looks like: GK: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa) Earned his 12th clean sheet of the season and Villa a point in difficult circumstances. Brighton were well on top and exerted pressure on his goal, but a stunning nine saves kept them at bay. RB: Matthew Lowton (Burnley) Undoubtedly his best performances of the season, excelling at both ends of the pitch. Lowton made three tackles, three interceptions and five clearances in a fine defensive display but really caught the eye in attack with three key passes and one outstanding volley to score at the end of a superb run. CB: Lucas Martinez Quarta (Fiorentina) Solid at the back and certainly didn’t deserve to end up on the losing side. Stood out with 11 defensive actions in a 2-1 defeat to Sampdoria, including five interceptions and he even managed to hit the woodwork at the other end. CB: Diego Carlos (Sevilla) A rock at the back as Sevilla secured a 1-0 victory at home to Huesca. Made a staggering 11 clearances in the process and was good on the ball, boasting a success rate of 92.7 per cent. LB: Ola Aina (Fulham) Perfect ball across for Josh Maja to score the first goal at the end of a fluid Fulham attack. He put in a shift in defence as well. No one made more than his five clearances during the 2-0 win over Everton. CM: Ilkay Gundogan (Man City) The Premier League’s Player of the Month continued in his rich vein of form. He was excellent in midfield and tormented Tottenham with his well-timed runs forward, bagging a brace. He sat Davinson Sanchez down before slotting home for his second goal. CM: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) Dictated the tempo of the game with his exceptional distribution. The German played 107 passes at 94.4-per-cent accuracy. He picked up an assist for the opener and then passed the ball into the back of the net with ease to get himself on the score sheet as well. CM: Nabil Fekir (Real Betis) Took his goal superbly, showing great strength to hold off the defender before checking back onto his weaker right foot and dispatching the finish with aplomb. He posed a constant threat with a game-high five shots in the 2-1 win at Villarreal. FW: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) Vintage Messi, skipping past challenges and scoring from range. He hammered in his first in emphatic fashion, but his second was a thing of beauty, curling a sublime effort into the corner from the edge of the box with minimal back-lift. He even bagged an assist, by setting up Trincao. FW: Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan) Reached 300 goals for club and country by scoring a brace in a 3-1 win over Lazio that fired Inter to the top of Serie A. He made no mistake from the spot and then took advantage of some suspect defending for his second. He then showed immense pace and power to assist Lautaro Martinez on the break. FW: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) Scored his first Premier League hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Leeds and even hit the woodwork. He cut in expertly to score the opener, converted a penalty and then headed home Emile Smith-Rowe’s cross. Know more about Sport360 Application
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Packers: 3 moves Green Bay can make thanks to David Bakhtiari
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GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – DECEMBER 06: David Bakhtiari #69 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field on December 06, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)Restructuring David Bakhtiari’s contract will give the Packers over $8 million in additional salary cap room in 2021. What will Green Bay do with it?David Bakhtiari isn’t giving any money back to the Packers over the long haul, but his decision to convert a roster bonus into a signing bonus is giving Green Bay approximately $8.3 million more in 2021 cap space to work with. The pressure is now on the team’s front office to use the money to get Bakhtiari and his teammates back to the Super Bowl.Packers fans shouldn’t get too excited. This move won’t permit Green Bay to become massive spenders in free agency. At the moment, they’re still projected to be over the 2021 salary cap. Bakhtiari’s move gives the team some much-needed breathing room, but it won’t be enough to allow them to reel in a big-time free agent.This piece identifies three impactful moves the Packers can now make after the Bakhtiari news. None projects to be an absolute game-changer for Green Bay, but both could be very helpful in the team’s pursuit to give Aaron Rodgers one more shot at winning a Lombardi Trophy.The #Packers recently created about $8.3M in cap space by converting LT David Bakhtiari’s more than $11M roster bonus into a signing bonus and spreading it out over the length of the contract. He’ll make the same as before, but it gives GB some room to operate.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 13, 20213. Make J.J. Watt a competitive offerOver a dozen NFL teams have already expressed interest in Watt after the Texans’ decision to let him go. Predictably, the Packers are one of the interested parties.The $8 million and change saved via the Bakhtiari deal isn’t going to be enough to land Watt, but it gets Green Bay within range to land the veteran edge rusher. It’s unlikely that he’s going to make his decision based purely on money, but Green Bay still needs to make a credible offer if they want to fend off the competition. This move gives the Packers a chance to bring Watt home in free agency.
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Draymond Green calls out NBA double-standard after Cavaliers sit Drummond
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Draymond Green says there’s a double-standard in the NBA that protects teams but alienates players when trade requests are made public. “At some point, we need to be treated with the same respect and have the same rights that the team can have,” Green said Monday after his Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game in which Andre Drummond was benched while the Cavaliers look for a trade for the star centre. Earlier on Monday both the Cavaliers with Drummond and the Detroit Pistons with Blake Griffin made it publically known that those players would not play another game until a trade can be found. The NBA trade deadline is March 25. After watching Drummond sit on the sidelines Monday, Green called the situation “b— s—” and cited numerous examples of players requesting trades and being portrayed as bad apples for doing so — including the January fallout between James Harden and the Houston Rockets — while teams can seemingly operate at will without criticism for their actions. “…As a player, you’re the worst person in the world when you want a different situation. But a team can say they’re trading you, and that man is to say in shape, he has to stay professional and if not, his career is on the line,” Green said. “At some point, this league has to protect the players from embarrassment like that.”
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India pull out of ISSF World Cup owing to quarantine rules
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India is not going to participate in the ISSF (International Shooting Sports Federation) World Cup in Changwon, due to South Korea's mandatory 14-day quarantine rule. India is also set to host a World Cup later on, from March 18 to 29, at the Dr. Karni Shooting Range, in Delhi.Shooting has been India’s forte in multi-sport events in recent times, and the country is expecting a few medals from the discipline in the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympics as well. With few months left for the mega event to kick-off, the shooters are in a race against time to prepare for it, while the upcoming ISSF World Cup was a major part of it. But, as per the recent reports, India will not take part in the meet in Changwon, due to South Korea’s mandatory 14-day quarantine rule, which will not allow the athletes to train during that period."Our shooters are not going to be participating in the World Cup in Korea as there is a 14-day mandatory quarantine. That means they will not be able to train for that period," said a top official of the (NRAI) National Rifle Association of India, as reported by PTI.The ISSF World Cup, in Changwon, which is scheduled to be held from April 16 to 27, is a combined tournament, featuring shooters from rifle, pistol, and shotgun events competing for medals. The organisers have clearly stated that they are not going to exempt the shooters from the mandatory 14-day quarantine rule. India is also set to host a World Cup, from March 18 to 29, at the Dr. Karni Shooting in Delhi.Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .
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Meet America’s 63rd National Park
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As Americans continue to weather the pandemic, the $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and spending bill passed by the federal government in December brought an unexpected and lasting gift: a new national park.The 5,593-page spending package included a raft of provisions authorizing little-known projects — the construction of the Teddy Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota, for one — and giving lawmakers a chance to advance a variety of long-delayed initiatives. Among them was the elevation of the New River Gorge, in southern West Virginia, to the status of Yellowstone, Yosemite and the country’s other most renowned outdoor spaces. The designation of the area — roughly 72,000 acres of land flanking 53 miles of the gorge — as a national park and preserve creates the 63rd national park in the United States and completes a multigenerational effort, started in the mid-twentieth century, to transform a tired industrial area into a national landmark.“Towards the end of this year, with these big bills coming down, I decided to strike,” said Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican and the state’s junior senator, who, along with Senator Joe Manchin III, a Democrat, introduced the New River Gorge legislation in 2019.“This was the right opportunity,” she said.A draw for rafters, kayakers and other outdoor enthusiastsThe gorge and its surroundings have been prized for decades as one of southern West Virginia’s more spectacular natural places.In 1963, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a resolution seeking to designate the New River Gorge as a “national playground,” preparing to send the proposal to President John F. Kennedy, whose primary campaign was lifted substantially through support from West Virginia voters. But momentum to create a national recreation area stalled after Mr. Kennedy’s assassination later that year.Though the gorge remained a curiosity among rafters and outdoor enthusiasts, the area only received federal protection from the Interior Department in 1978, when it was designated a national river.Now, the outdoor offerings in the gorge have come to define the area as a premier destination for adventure sports in the East.The New River plunges 750 feet over 66 miles, resulting in long stretches of violent rapids that can reach a class five level, generally considered the most difficult that can be navigated by white-water boaters. (Licensed outfitters operate in several towns near the river, providing rentals and tours for rafting and kayaking.)The canyon walls, which soar as high as 1,600 feet, offer miles of cliffs that rank among the best in the East Coast for rock climbing. Sheer faces in the gorge made of robust Nuttall sandstone provide both traditional and sport-climbing routes across the difficulty spectrum.Bike routes are scattered throughout the park on both sides of the river, with options for both technical mountain biking and more casual pedaling along former railroad beds.A glimpse back in timeAccording to the National Park Service, geologists believe the New River — its name a misnomer used by early American explorers who often assigned the same name to any river they came upon for the first time — was a segment of the preglacial Teays River. This larger river, which traversed much of the current Ohio River watershed, was later diverted and broken up by glaciers. The age of the Teays is uncertain, but fossil evidence suggests it could be as much as 320 million years old, leaving its remnant, the New River, as quite possibly the second oldest river in the world.Beyond the millions of years of geological history on display, the gorge is also filled with signs of the region’s heritage as a major coal production hub.Miners once capitalized on the easy access to rich deposits of high-quality bituminous coal in the canyon, where the river had already shorn through hundreds of feet of rock. Especially after the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway linked the New River coal fields to markets in 1873, dozens of boom towns popped up along the river’s edge, thriving well into the 1920s.In 1963, a coal mine was still operating in the gorge, said Dave Arnold, a state tourism commissioner who operated a rafting company for more than 40 years.“In ’76 or ’77, if you were in my boat, we’d have been floating down the river and I would have been showing you, ‘here’s an old coal tipple, here’s the old hotel at Caperton, here’s this and that,’” he said.The demand for coal around the turn of the twentieth century was so high that towns existed every half mile along up the river, according to the Park Service. As the industry went into decline, however, by the 1950s many were already abandoned, leaving ghost towns scattered throughout the gorge. Additionally, logging during the late nineteenth century stripped vast portions of the gorge bare, clearing enormous swaths of virgin forest.The park contains the remnants of communities such as Nuttallburg and Kaymoor, which still stand near the riverbank and are accessible from points higher up. Seams of exposed coal are visible along some trails leading into the gorge and its towns, where abandoned mine portals and the foundations of coke ovens remain.Restoring an ecosystem with diverse wildlifeDespite the environmental degradation and pollution that industry unleashed, some unique ecological features make the gorge well-suited to a diverse combination of wildlife, which has slowly reappeared as time has passed.The river lies at the center of a migration corridor where plants and animals that typically range further north or south come together, including several federally endangered and threatened species, such as the Virginia big-eared bat and the Allegheny woodrat.According to Lizzie Watts, the park’s superintendent, the river itself is also notably warmer than surrounding areas, making it a popular warm-water fishing destination with more than a dozen public access points. The river is one of the premier spots for smallmouth bass fishing on the east coast, and muskellunge and walleye are common in the park today.“The next generation will have the opportunity to see what, in the last 150 years, it looks like when an area goes from being logged and mined to left alone,” Ms. Watts said. “The ecosystem has come back to full trees and mature forests.”As federal protections took effect after the Park Service began overseeing the area as a national river in 1978, wildlife has largely recovered, and many see an opportunity to showcase the region’s natural elegance.“To show off our rock climbing, our extreme sports availabilities in that area, is just really exciting,” said Ms. Capito of what she described as a “kind of wild and wonderful part of our state.” ‘The cream of the crop’The National Park Service, created in 1916, oversees more than 400 areas across the country, including national monuments, seashores and battlefields as well as parks, which together total more than 85 million acres.While the new title for New River Gorge does not fundamentally alter the area’s day-to-day operations, both lawmakers and the Park Service tend to view “national parks” as the crown jewels of the park system — a protection granted to some of the largest and most prized tracts of the country.“National Park status is usually considered like the cream of the crop,” Ms. Watts said. “But it really is just another one of those names.”The New River Gorge does not match the scale of many national parks in the western United States, where Death Valley, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone sprawl over more than 1 million acres each.Nevertheless, officials expect the new designation to bring a substantial influx of travelers, boosted in part by a dedicated set of enthusiasts who strive to visit every national park.In typical years, around 1.3 million travelers visit the gorge, according to the Park Service’s tourism data. Based on studies of other areas that received national park status, Ms. Capito said she expects to see visitors increase by as much as 20 percent.“It does feel like the very beginning stages of transformation for the whole area,” said Becky Sullivan, the executive director of the New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I’ll be very, very interested to see where we are in about 10 years.”Maintaining the community and its favored pastimesAs unique outdoor attractions throughout the Appalachian region have gained more national visibility, some concern has grown over the idea of a wealthy and mobile set from out of state trampling the communities adjacent to these places.West Virginia remains the second-poorest state in the country in terms of median household income, according to data collected by the United States Census Bureau. And while tourism has brought a needed injection of wealth to areas all around the gorge, it has also changed the makeup of neighboring communities, as more people have come to visit the park or settle down near it.Interest in the natural offerings around the park has brought slow but measurable change for small towns nearby like Fayetteville. Officials say that the advent of remote work during the pandemic has only hastened a trend of properties in the area being repurposed for vacation rentals and outsiders snapping up second homes.“You cannot find a house for sale in Fayetteville, because they’re just in such high demand,” said Sharon Cruikshank, the town’s mayor. “So that definitely changed the budgeting of the town as well as the county.”When legislation was first introduced to designate the area as a national park, pushback came from some locals. Hunters have long enjoyed access to secluded sections of woods around the gorge, and with hunting prohibited in federal parks, some protested the potential loss of thousands of acres of hunting grounds.In a compromise, more than 65,000 acres of the total area were designated as a nature preserve where hunting can continue as before, and only roughly 7,000 acres directly within the canyon are officially off limits as national parkland. A provision was included to empower the park to acquire more than 3,000 acres of private land around its current boundaries as well, to expand the size of the preserve and add public hunting grounds.In a nod to tradition, the legislation also enshrines the right for visitors to continue to make use of one of the park’s most famous features — the New River Gorge Bridge — at least once a year.BASE jumping, an extreme sport in which jumpers parachute from elevated structures or cliffs, is banned in every other national park.But, since 1980, BASE jumpers have been permitted to plunge from the top of the 876-foot-high bridge and parachute down toward the river once a year, on Bridge Day, held one Saturday in October. The legislation designating the area as a national park allows that tradition to continue.As many as 100,000 people typically come to watch the jumpers plunge, according to Ms. Sullivan, providing a major boost for businesses in the region. The event has only been canceled twice, including last year because of the coronavirus.Bridge Day’s organizers advise jumpers that the only dependable way to touch down safely is to plan to land directly in the river. In normal years, hundreds do so, often multiple times that day, gliding down and softly hitting the New River’s waters.
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Serena hurdles Halep test to reach Australian Open semifinals
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FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 16, 2021. Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates winning her quarterfinal match against Romania’s Simona Halep. REUTERS/Loren Elliott MELBOURNE—Serena Williams came through a huge test of her Australian Open title credentials to reach the last four at Melbourne Park for the ninth time with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Simona Halep in a high quality quarterfinal on Tuesday. The 39-year-old went toe-to-toe with the Romanian second seed over 80 minutes on Rod Laver Arena before she was finally able to move to within two victories of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title. Williams hit some ferocious forehands and moved around the court with a freedom that she has not enjoyed for a good while to set up a semifinal meeting against in-form Japanese third seed Naomi Osaka. "It's so good to see someone [@naomiosaka] that is so inspiring on both things." 💙 Even 7️⃣x #AusOpen champion @serenawilliams draws inspiration from her #AO2021 semifinal opponent 🙌 pic.twitter.com/yzASWfp1Gn — #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 16, 2021 “I think this was the best match I have played at this tournament for sure,” Williams said after celebrating her win to the accompaniment of canned applause as Melbourne’s coronavirus lockdown kept the fans away for a fourth day. “I knew it had to be going up against the number two in the world. I had to be better and I was, so I’m excited.” If any match at this year’s tournament deserved a crowd, it was this. There were nine breaks of serve as two great competitors punched and counter-punched over lengthy rallies. Williams was always in front in the first set but needed to dig deep to wrestle back the momentum after Halep took a 3-1 lead in the second. Eventually, however, Williams broke for 4-3 after a 13-shot rally where she showed incredible athleticism to get to a couple of shots that would have defied most players. Seven minutes later, she wrapped up the contest with a huge forehand, her 24th winner. Williams has not landed one of the game’s major prizes since her seventh title at Melbourne Park in 2017, with Halep’s victory in the 2019 Wimbledon final denying her one opportunity to match Margaret Court’s record. After gaining a measure of revenge for that defeat, Williams has the chance to avenge another when she plays Osaka, who won the 2018 U.S. Open final between the two. “She’s a great player on the court and an inspirational person off it,” said Williams. “I feel this is a great opportunity for me just to do my best in the first Grand Slam of the year.” Read Next Don't miss out on the latest news and information. Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000. For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
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