Disgraced Olympian quits the sport


Disgraced Olympian quits the sport

From Comcast SportsNet
LONDON (AP) -- A Chinese badminton star is apparently quitting the sport after she was one of eight players disqualified from the doubles tournament at the London Olympics for trying to lose. A comment on a verified account for Yu Yang on the Tencent microblogging service late Wednesday read: "This is my last game. Farewell Badminton World Federation. Farewell my dear badminton." Yu's retirement could not be immediately confirmed with Chinese badminton officials. In China, the lives of top athletes are closely controlled by sports officials, including decisions on retirement. Yu and Wang Xiaoli were one of four doubles teams which appeared to play poorly on purpose to secure a more favorable position in the next phase of the event. Two teams from South Korea and another from Indonesia were disqualified from competition but allowed to stay at the games -- a step lighter than expulsion, the penalty for positive drug tests. It appeared to be the first mass disqualification in Olympic history. The feeble play was obvious to fans who attended the matches Tuesday night at Wembley Arena -- they chanted, "Off! Off! Off!" -- and to incredulous television broadcasters and viewers watching around the world. "They're serving fault and fault! They are just hitting the ball into the net!" the BBC's David Mercer said in disbelief. "They are both trying to lose, and that is unforgivable. This is the Olympic Games." The Chinese players set off a domino effect when they tried to rig the draw after China's second-seeded pair unexpectedly lost to a Danish team in the morning. The South Koreans and Indonesians, wanting to avoid a tough opponent as well, followed suit in later matchups. Teams blamed the introduction of a round-robin stage rather than a straight knockout tournament as the cause of the problem. The round-robin format can allow results to be manipulated to earn an easier matchup in the knockout round. None of the players was made available for interviews. Yu went on state television in China to apologize "to all the badminton fans and friends over yesterday's game, because we did not comply with the Olympic spirit, and did not deliver a match with our true level to the audience, the fans and the friends." In a statement released to Xinhua, the Chinese Olympic delegation criticized its players' actions. "The behavior by Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli on court violated the Olympics ideal and the spirit of fair play. The Chinese delegation feels distressed over this matter," the delegation said. Xinhua also reported Chinese badminton coach Li Yongbo apologized and accepted blame for the scandal. "As the head coach, I owe the fans and the Chinese an apology," Li said. "Chinese players failed to demonstrate their fighting spirit of the national team. It's me to blame."

Bruins recall Subban, Khudobin leaves practice early


Bruins recall Subban, Khudobin leaves practice early

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- The B’s goaltending carousel continued on Monday with young netminder Malcolm Subban getting recalled by the NHL club on emergency recall after Zane McIntyre was sent back down to the P-Bruins on Sunday. Subban started on the ice with the rest of the team at Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena along with Anton Khudobin, but the Russian backup goalie departed the ice early from Monday’s practice presumably with some kind of issue.

Subban has been pulled from two of his four starts for Providence this season, and the former first round pick is 0-3-1 with 4.50 goals against average and .846 save percentage after coming back from last season’s fractured larynx injury.

Tuukka Rask was once again absent from the practice ice, and hasn’t skated with the team since last playing in Thursday night’s win over the New Jersey Devils while clearly dealing with a lower body injury. So the Bruins ended Monday’s practice with only Subban between the pipes, and a swiss-cheese-like blue shooting tarp covering the other net for the B’s shooters.

With that in mind, here are the line combos and D-pairings for Monday’s practice with the Minnesota Wild coming to town on Tuesday:







Liles-C. Miller



Khudobin (left early) 

Belichick: Kickers are like golfers; have to hit driver, sand wedge, 5-iron


Belichick: Kickers are like golfers; have to hit driver, sand wedge, 5-iron

In searching for answers on what might be going on with Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, coach Bill Belichick was asked on Monday if there was any chance that Gostkowski's mechanics on kickoffs may be affecting his field goals. With the new touchback rule encouraging the Patriots to use more "pop-up" kicks to the goal line this season, might Gostkowski's swing have been altered?

Belichick said that the two plays are separate and that the Patriots expect Gostkowski to be able to execute a whole series of different types of kicks as part of his job.

"Well, I think they’re definitely different," Belichick said on a conference call. "I don’t think there’s any question about that. I mean, it would be like a golfer. You’ve got to be able to hit a sand wedge. You’ve got to be able to hit a five-iron. You’ve got to be able to drive. You’ve got to be able to putt.

"That’s what kickers and punters do. There’s plus-50 punts, there’s field goals, there’s kickoffs, there’s backed-up punts, there’s punts against a heavy rush, there’s punts against a six-man box where the gunners both are getting double-teamed. And just like golf, there’s wind conditions and not wind conditions and so forth. So it’s not like like you’re standing out there in a driving range and just banging the ball away every time. Especially on place kicks, you’re dealing with a center and a holder and timing on the play. It’s not like you’re just placing the ball down there on a tee and kicking it like you are a golf ball or a kickoff.

"Yeah, they’re definitely different, and whether it’s a punter or a kicker you’re talking about, they have to master different skills, different kicks, different types of kicks, different things that are specific to their position, just like every other player and every other athlete, for the most part, has to do. If you’re a basketball player, you just can’t shoot free throws. You’ve got to be able to make some other shots, too. That’s part of the position, being able to do the things that are required of that position, and they’re not all the same. I don’t think they’re all the same for anybody."

Belichick was also asked about how Gostkowski is coached. There are position-specific coaches with every NFL franchise, but when it comes to special teams, there is typically a special-teams coordinator and little else. There is no kicking coach, generally, nor a position coach dedicated to punting or snapping. 

Belichick said that he feels the team has enough support in place, starting with special teams coach Joe Judge, in order to help Gostkowski through his difficult stretch.

"I think Joe’s very knowledgable about the techniques of kicking," Belichick said. "I know when I became a special teams coach and coached special teams for many years as an assistant coach, and I continue to be involved with it as a head coach, that’s one of the things I had to learn. I had to learn how to coach those individual specialists, the snappers, the kickers, the punters, the returners. I don’t think it’s any different than coaching any other position. Things you don’t know, you need to learn. The things you do know, you need to be able to teach to the players, however you acquire that information.

"Some of that certainly comes from the players, especially when you coach good players at the position that you’re coaching, you can learn a lot from them, just like I learned a lot from many of the players that I coached. Going back to people like Dave Jennings as a punts or Carl Banks or Lawrence Taylor or Pepper [Johnson], guys like that, as linebackers with the Giants. However you acquire that information, you acquire it and you have to be able to convey it and teach it to the players and recognize technique or judgment.

"There’s a whole host of things that go into performance, but all the things that are related to those; be able to figure out which ones are the most important and which ones need to be corrected and so forth. I think Joe’s very knowledgeable on that, as was Scott O’Brien. I have a lot of experience with that myself. That’s what coaching is. You don’t know, then you’ve got to find out. Nobody knows everything. No coach knows everything about every position. Maybe a guy’s played it for a decade, he might be well-versed in that position. But I’d say for the most of the rest of us that haven’t done that, things you don’t know, you’ve got to learn, you’ve got to find out, you’ve got to figure them out."