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Canada’s Olympic athletes to return Tuesday and Wednesday

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Aug 23rd, 2016

Several members of Canada’s Olympic team — including multi-medallist and closing ceremony flag-bearer Penny Oleksiak — are scheduled to return home early Tuesday.

Oleksiak and the other returning athletes are set to arrive to Toronto’s Pearson Airport at about 5:30 a.m., with a second round of athletes scheduled to arrive at the same time early Wednesday.

Most of the buzz surrounds 16-year-old Oleksiak, who won four swimming medals at the Rio Games, including Canada’s first gold. The Canadian Olympic Committee says she is the country’s youngest ever gold medal winner at an Olympic Games.

Residents in Oleksiak’s east-end Toronto neighbourhood are planning a celebration for her return, tentatively planned for Aug. 28.

Johanna Carlo, a board member of the Beach Village Business Improvement Area, says the group has applied for a permit to hold a big party for Oleksiak and other athletes who have lived in the neighbourhood.

Carlo says they’re planning on having live music, and she’s hoping people will bring home-made signs and wear red and white.

Blue Jays option pitcher Aaron Sanchez to minor leagues

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Aug 22nd, 2016

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez throws against the Houston Astros during the first inning of their American League baseball game in Toronto, Saturday August 13, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Thornhill

Aaron Sanchez is being sent to the minor leagues as the Toronto Blue Jays skip a start to limit his innings.

Toronto optioned the 24-year-old right-hander to Class A Dunedin on Sunday, and the Blue Jays plan to recall him to start against Baltimore on Aug. 31.

Sanchez is 12-2 with a 2.99 earned-run average, fifth-best in the AL. He has made 24 starts and thrown a career-high 156 1/3 innings. He likely will not pitch in the minors.


Related stories:

Sportsnet: Sanchez says being optioned is all part of the plan


“We’ve talked a lot about this over the year,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. “Not just over the last month, but as good as Aaron has become, we all along thought at some point we’ll have to manage his workload. That’s what this is about. He’ll come right back in the rotation.”

Sanchez has struck out 132 and opponents are batting .230 against him. Left-hander Aaron Loup was recalled from triple-A Buffalo and will pitch out of the bullpen.

Sanchez pitched three hitless innings Saturday, then allowed Cleveland to tied the score with a five-run fourth and was pulled.

“Making this move was something we tried to stay away from, talking about innings being a concern,” Sanchez said. “I still have to get ready. It’s not like my season’s over. It’s normal work when I go down there. Nothing changes for me.”

“The last few starts have been on seven or eight days (rest),” he said. “As a pitcher there’s adjustments you have to make. I don’t think I’ve forgotten how to pitch.”

The Blue Jays front office planned on keeping Sanchez to a hard innings cap at the start of the season to prevent long-term wear on his arm.

In early August Toronto changed course and opted for a six-man rotation after acquiring veteran left-hander Francisco Liriano in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Loup has a 6.00 ERA over six inning this season for the Blue Jays. He has a 3-0 record with a 1.00 ERA over 16.2 innings with 23 strikeouts this season in Buffalo.

Rio bids 2016 Olympic Games goodbye

Peter Prengaman and Mauricio Savarese, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Aug 22nd, 2016

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Brazil and the world bid farewell Sunday to the first Olympic Games in South America, a 16-day spectacle that combined numerous highlight reel moments with ugly and even bizarre episodes that sometimes overshadowed the competitions.

Thousands of fans braved strong winds and sporadic rains to watch the closing ceremony in iconic Maracana Stadium, a finale meant to be both one last bash and to take care of some business, namely signal the transition to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.

Canada's Penny Oleksiak, from Toronto, holds up her four medals, a gold, silver and two bronze, she won at the 2016 Summer Olympics during a news conference Sunday, August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Oleksiak will carry the Canadian flag into Maracana Stadium for tonight's Olympic closing ceremony.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Penny Oleksiak carried the flag for Canada at the ceremony, capping a breakout Games for the 16-year-old swimmer from Toronto.

Oleksiak grabbed national attention back home early in the Games by winning four medals, including Canada’s first gold.

Canada won an impressive 22 medals in Rio to equal the total from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the high-water mark for a non-boycotted Games.

“During the past 19 days, Canadian Olympians, both veterans and newcomers, produced many memorable Olympic moments,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

“Canadians, especially our young women and girls, were incredibly inspired by our female Olympians who were a force to be reckoned with throughout the Games. I know the impact of our athletes’ accomplishments will live on and be replayed in playgrounds and on sport fields for many, many years to come.”

Canadian athletes celebrate during the closing ceremony in the Maracana stadium at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

The governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, accepted the flag from International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, signalling the end of the 2016 games and the transition.

There’s widespread expectation that the games in Tokyo, one of the world’s richest, most recognizable, cosmopolitan cities, will run more smoothly than they have in Rio. But there’s also worry in Japan over whether the Olympics will eventually further drag down an economy that has been struggling for decades.

Whatever the future holds, Sunday’s party was all about Brazil, a final party designed to be more low-key than the opening, which focused heavily on Rio. The ceremony opened with original footage of Alberto Santos Dumont, the man that Brazilians recognize as the inventor of the airplane. Brazilians also believe he is the first to ever wear a wristwatch, an invention made by a friend so he could see the time in flight.

The show widened its lens beyond the postcard city of Rio to greater Brazil, a massive country with a land mass slightly larger than the continental United States.

The theme of the show was “Brazilians can do with their bare hands,” a nod to the emerging economy of the world’s fifth most populous nation.

Dressed in colorful feathers, dozens of dancers formed in the shape of the arches of Lapa, a popular area of Rio akin to Roman ruins, then morphed to make the shape of iconic Sugarloaf before quickly changing again, this time to the official 2016 symbol.

Samba legend Martinho da Vila, whose tunes make their way into many popular telenovelas, sang “Carinhoso,” or “Affectionate.”

Then the athletes poured in under light rain, waving their flags while many shook their bodies to samba-infused pop that made the stadium feel like a Carnival parade.

Britain’s athletes wore shoes with soles that lit up in changing colours of red, white and blue, while Tongan taekwondo athlete Pita Taufatofua danced onstage in a grass skirt as a DJ performed, reprising a moment that captured attention when he carried the flag for his country during the opening ceremony.

Artists perform during the closing ceremony in the Maracana stadium at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

There was a tribute to cave paintings of some of the first inhabitants of the Americas, in Serra da Capivara, in Northeastern Brazil, today the nation’s poorest region.

Spectators got to see performers shake it to frevo, a frenetic dance that, if it’s even possible, makes high-octane samba seem like a staid ballroom affair. Holding a small umbrella, the dancers jumped up and down, seeming to march and incorporate acrobatics at the same time.

They shook it to “Vassourinhas,” which means “small brooms,” a popular song that was also the name of a famous club in the northeastern city of Recife.

The show also built performances around “saudade,” which means anything from longing for someone to sadness to remembering good times. It is one of the most important words in Brazilian Portuguese.

Lights flashed translations for the word in many languages, and a group of women sang “Mulher Rendeira,” or “Lace-making Woman,” a nod to the country’s African heritage. Brazil was the last country in the Americas to outlaw slavery, in 1888.

The games had many memorable moments, both for Brazilian competitors at home and athletes from around the world.

Soccer-crazed Brazil got partial payback against Germany, winning gold two years after a 7-1 World Cup final shellacking that left many in Latin America’s largest nation fuming. American gymnast Simone Biles asserted her dominance with four golds, swimmer Michael Phelps added five more to up his staggering total to 23 and the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, put on his usual show with three golds just days before turning 30 years old.

But there were also ugly episodes, like American swimmer Ryan Lochte’s fabricated story about a harrowing robbery that was actually an intoxicated-fueled vandalism of a gas station bathroom, and bizarre issues like Olympic diving pools going from crystal blue to gunky, algae green, at a time when Rio’s water quality in open waters is one of the biggest local environmental issues.

Flags are carried into the closing ceremony in the Maracana stadium at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Many people, from Brazilians to International Olympic Committee members, will spend time analyzing how things went for the Rio Games in the months ahead. But on Sunday, one strong sentiment was relief, that despite some problems, overall the games went well.

That wasn’t a given going in. The Zika virus scared away some competitors and tourists, rampant street crime in Rio and recent extremist attacks around the world raised fears about safety and Brazil’s political crisis, and the economic angst behind it, threatened to cast a pall over the competitions.

Downie calls out to Trudeau, highlights the North, during final show of tour

David Friend, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Aug 22nd, 2016

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Like a shooting star streaking across the Canadian sky, Gord Downie gave the country one exuberant burst of energy before bowing out.

With a delirious sold-out crowd at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ont., hanging on his every word — and countless more fans watching on TV at home or at public screenings — the Tragically Hip frontman delivered what many fear was his final performance.

While the band was careful not to definitively say that their now-concluded “Man Machine Poem” tour would be their last, the recent revelation that Downie is battling terminal brain cancer gave the hometown Kingston concert an aura that was both celebratory and sombre.

Downie, who exuded manic energy throughout the nearly three-hour-long, 30-song concert, poured his heart into the unforgettable live show while paying tribute to fans who encouraged him on.

“Thank you, people, for keeping me pushing and keeping me pushing,” he told the audience, dressed in one of the sparkling metallic leather suits now forever linked to the tour.

The crowd responded with a chant of “Gordie!”

It was one of countless moments throughout the sweltering evening when Downie seemed to feed off the energy and gratitude of his emotional fans, who often fought back tears.

Some came dressed in Hip-themed hockey jerseys, while others mimicked Downie’s new look with their own variations on his shiny suits, feathered hats and prints of the “Jaws” t-shirt he wears on stage.

Before the Hip took the stage, the crowd ushered in their performance with an impromptu rendition of O Canada.

Moments after cameras witnessed Downie hugging and kissing his bandmates backstage, the group launched into “Fifty Mission Cap,” followed by “Courage (for Hugh MacLennan),” “Wheat Kings” and “At the Hundredth Meridian,” all off the album “Fully Completely.”

The Hip then covered all the bases, playing songs from their latest album, “Man Machine Poem,” and fan favourites from “Music @ Work,” “Road Apples,” “Phantom Power,” “Up To Here,” “Day For Night” and “Trouble at the Henhouse.”


Related stories:

Viewing parties held across Canada for Tragically Hip’s last show
Trudeau says final Hip concert powerful moment for all Canadians
Crowds descend on Kingston to celebrate final Tragically Hip show


Fans ate up every musical morsel, singing along to each track and throwing their hands in the air to emphasize all the right moments.

At other times, the energy would ease off a bit and some in the crowd would go silent, staring blankly at the stage — perhaps absorbing the likelihood they were witnessing the grand finale of the Hip’s storied musical journey.

Usually a man of few words, Downie used the national platform of the televised concert to campaign for Canada’s North. He twice praised Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was in attendance.

“Thank you to the prime minister for coming to our show, it really means a lot to all of us,” said Downie, who was pictured by Trudeau’s photographer before the concert embracing the prime minister.

“We’re in good hands, folks, real good hands. He cares about the people way up North, that we were trained our entire lives to ignore, trained our entire lives to hear not a word of what’s going on up there. And what’s going on up there ain’t good.”

He added: “It’s maybe worse than it’s ever been, so it’s not on the improve. (But) we’re going to get it fixed and we got the guy to do it, to start, to help.”

Downie took other breaks to show his lighter side. He extinguished a debate that has raged between Hip fans this tour by revealing that the scarf adorning his neck for most of the evening was actually two colourful socks linked together.

“A singer needs to keep his or her voice always warm,” he said, briefly undoing the sock to reveal its heel before tying it back onto his neck.

Downie also recalled the band’s humble beginnings on the streets near the arena. He joked about how they struggled early on, but also how they appreciated the support of their female fans, in particular.

Saying goodbye for the first time, Downie left the stage with brief acknowledgment of the artificiality of inevitable encore performances. Still, he played along and waited for the crowd to cheer him back for three more songs.

He made the crowd work a little harder for the second encore, and by the third one, the audience’s cheers for more reached a new peak as people banged the arena seats and chanted his name.

Downie closed the show out with their biggest hit, “Ahead By A Century.”

The band — rounded out by guitarists Rob Baker and Paul Langlois, bassist Gord Sinclair and drummer Johnny Fay — put down their instruments, stood arm-in-arm as the crowd screamed their goodbyes, and then walked off stage for good.

It’s CNE time in Toronto, amid a jam-packed event-filled weekend

Patricia D'Cunha and Amber LeBlanc | posted Friday, Aug 19th, 2016

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One of the last hurrahs of the summer is upon us. The Canadian National Exhibition gets underway on Friday, and for many, it is the highlight of the season.

Aside from The Ex, there are plenty of other events taking place in the city, from watching movies on the beach and tracking butterflies at a park, to taking over the streets for outdoor fun and yet another food festival.

And for Tragically Hip fans, the band will be in Kingston, Ont., on Saturday, to perform what’s expected to be their final show. The CBC will be broadcasting it live, and fans can also watch a screening at various locations in the GTA.


Summertime at the CNE

It’s that time again – let’s go to The Ex! The 138th edition of the CNE starts Friday and runs until Sept. 5.

Canada’s largest fair features so many fun things for people of all ages including the craziest foods (bugs are featured this year), and a brand new program on Lake Ontario with extreme water-skiing and the Wakeboard World Championship.

All your favourites return including the gondola ride, the dog show, the funnel cake and the midway. Some of the musical acts at The Ex this year include Randy Bachman, Jefferson Starship, Headstones, Tyler Shaw and Walk Off The Earth.

Click here for tickets.

Pedestrian freedom
Parts of the Bloor and Yonge area will be shut down to traffic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday forOpen Streets TO, the city’s outdoor festival aimed at improving physical activity.

Bloor Street, from Dufferin to Parliament streets, and Yonge Street, from Bloor to Queen streets, will be transformed into “paved parks” where people can jump rope, cycle, take a stroll or rollerblade.

Although some areas will be free of cars, pedestrians have to obey traffic lights at several intersections, to allow drivers to cross Bloor and Yonge streets.

There will also be activity hubs on the route. Click here for a list of locations.

Celebrate the dragon
The 16th annual Chinatown Festival takes place this weekend on Spadina Avenue between Sullivan and St. Andrew streets.

This year’s theme is the ‘Legend of the Dragon,’ which according to event organizers is the “most significant mythical creature in Chinese culture.”

The event features international street food, dragon races, martial arts and other entertainment.

Movies at the beach
“When I was your age, television was called books,” the grandfather tells his grandson as he begins the story of Buttercup and Westley in the classic movie ‘The Princess Bride,’ based on the novel of the same name.

If you haven’t watched the 1987 movie or if you have seen it hundreds of times, you catch it Saturday at Sail-in Cinema at Sugar Beach.

People gather at Sugar Beach to watch movies at the Sail-in Cinema in 2015. PORTSTORONTO
People gather at Sugar Beach to watch movies at the Sail-in Cinema in 2015. PORTSTORONTO

 

The other movies being shown are ‘Hook’ on Thursday and ‘Jumanji’ on Friday. The movies start at 8 p.m. but gates open at 6 p.m. And the best part (as if you needed another reason) is that admission is free.

The movies are shown on a two-sided floating screen set up on a barge in the harbour, so they can be watched on land or from a boat.

Hot and spicy
There’s a family event at Harbourfront Centre this weekend especially for food lovers, and admission is free.

The Hot & Spicy Food Festival runs from Friday through to Sunday. Everyone is encouraged to come savour the spicy cuisine of the Lower Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico, along with enjoying live music from the region. There’s even a chili cook-off for children.

Maple Leafs vocalist search
Attention Maple Leaf fans: Those who have some singing talent could score the gig of a lifetime.Auditions are being held for vocalists to be the official anthem singer for all home games during this centennial season.

Fans pass a flag before a game between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 6, 2013. GETTY IMAGES/Claus Andersen
Fans pass a flag before a game between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 6, 2013. GETTY IMAGES/Claus Andersen

 

Come and show your stuff this Saturday and be prepared to sing both the English and French versions of ‘O Canada’ and the American national anthem.

The tryout starts at 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre (enter through Gate 1).

Migrating butterflies
If you love butterflies, especially the monarch butterfly, you need to flutter around Tommy Thompson Park on Saturday for the Butterfly Festival.

A monarch butterfly on a flowering plant. GETTY IMAGES/Ryan Fullerton/EyeEm
A monarch butterfly on a flowering plant. GETTY IMAGES/Ryan Fullerton/EyeEm

 

Between August and November, this type of butterfly migrates to Mexico for the winter, so now is the best time to catch a sighting of them.

At the festival, people can take guided nature hikes and bike tours, and learn about the more than 55 species of butterflies and moths that have visited the park.

Outdoor yoga
One of the most relaxing events of the year takes over Yonge Dundas Square from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

It’s the fifth annual Yogathon Toronto, which turns the downtown space into an outdoor yoga studio. Money is being raised for the charity Care for Children, a program dedicated to providing free education to rural youth in India.

Road closures

Open Streets TO: Bloor Street, from Dufferin to Parliament streets, and Yonge Street from Bloor to Queen streets, will be closed on Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Drivers will be able to cross Bloor at Dufferin Street, Ossington Avenue, Grace, Christie and Bathurst streets, Spadina Avenue, Avenue Road, Bay and Church streets, Ted Rogers Way, and Sherbourne and Parliament streets. They will also be able to cross Yonge at Wellesley, College, Gerrard, Dundas, Shuter and Queen streets.

Chinatown Festival: The southbound lanes of Spadina Avenue will be closed from St. Andrew to Sullivan streets from 12:01 a.m. on Saturday to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.

Taste of Manila: Bathurst Street from Wilson Avenue to Laurelcrest Avenue will be closed from 12:01 a.m. on Saturday to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.

Road work

Ongoing work

Shuter Street, from Yonge to Sherbourne streets, will be reduced to one lane in both directions until Oct. 28 for watermain replacement and road work.

Drivers will encounter lane reductions on Bayview Avenue from Rosedale Valley Road to Pottery Road to build a multi-use trail and for other road work. The closure is expected to last until Nov. 30.

Gerrard Street, from University Avenue to Elizabeth Street, is reduced to one lane until Oct. 15 for watermain and other road work.

Richmond Street West is reduced to one lane of traffic between Church and York streets until Nov. 30 for TTC track work, watermain replacement, and road and sidewalk repairs.

One lane of Queen Street West between Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street is closed in both directions for watermain replacement and reconstruction work until around Oct. 8.

Lochte apologizes for not being more ‘candid’ about Rio incident

Peter Prengaman, Mauricio Savarese and Luis Andres, The Associated Press | posted Friday, Aug 19th, 2016

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U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte has apologized for his behaviour surrounding a late-night incident at a Rio de Janeiro gas station, saying he should have been more “careful and candid” about how he described what happened.

Lochte said in a lengthy post on Instagram Friday that he was apologizing for his role in taking the focus away from other Olympic athletes.

“This was a situation that could and should have been avoided,” Lochte said. “I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned some valuable lessons.”

The 12-time gold medallist reiterated his view that a stranger pointed a gun at him and demanded money to let him leave. Lochte had called it a robbery; Brazilian police said he and three other swimmers vandalized a gas station bathroom and were confronted by armed security guards.

“Regardless of the behaviour of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself and for that am sorry,” Lochte said.

Lochte, who was silent about the situation after he returned to the United States earlier this week, said he wanted to wait to share his thoughts until the legal situation was addressed and his teammates were allowed to come home.

Two of the other swimmers, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were on their way home Friday after being held in the country to testify. The fourth swimmer, Jimmy Feigen, made a deal with a Brazil judge to make a $10,800 payment and be allowed to leave the country later Friday, his lawyer said.

“We accept and appreciate his apology,” said Mario Andrada, spokesman for the local organizers of the Rio Games.

The drama surrounding the alleged robbery – and the ever-changing descriptions of it by the swimmers – has shocked and deeply angered Brazilians, who said it cast a false negative shadow on their city and their Olympics at a time the country is eager to prove it can host the games safely. The story also dominated Olympic headlines, overshadowing the worthy accomplishments of athletes who trained for years just to get to Rio and set records during their performances. The saga was an enormous embarrassment for the U.S. Olympic team, which has dominated in the medal count.

The rapid-fire developments early Friday came hours after police announced that Lochte and three of his teammates had not been held at gunpoint after a night of partying, as Lochte claimed. Instead, Brazilian police said the men, while intoxicated, vandalized a gas station bathroom and were questioned by armed guards before they paid for the damage and left.

“No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed,” Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso told a news conference.

As Bentz and Conger, were whisked through airport security and onto a plane home Thursday night, their attorney insisted they had nothing to do with Lochte’s story. Lochte himself left the country earlier this week.

Bentz and Conger “were heard only as witnesses. This has to be made very, very clear,” lawyer Sergio Riera told The Associated Press. “They did not make any untruthful testimony. They did not lie in their statements.”

A lawyer for another swimmer, James Feigen, said early Friday that the athlete reached an agreement with a judge in which he planned to donate 35,000 Brazilian reals (around Cdn$10,800) to an “institution” and leave the country later in the day.

Attorney Breno Melaragno said under the agreement, Feigen will make the donation, get his passport back and depart.

Melaragno did not specify where the money will go, but his use of the term “institution” can be taken to mean a charity. He said that under Brazilian law, a donation can be made to avoid criminal prosecution for minor offences, but did not say what charge was being contemplated.

Though police appear mostly finished with their probe, the case may be far from settled. Police have said authorities are considering charges of falsely reporting a crime and destruction of property, both of which can carry up to six months in jail or a fine.

Lochte’s attorney, Jeff Ostrow, has insisted the story wasn’t made up and told the New York Times the surveillance video corroborated the “primary elements” of Lochte’s version of events.

“There was a uniformed person with a gun who forced them to hand over their money,” Ostrow told the newspaper.


Related stories:

Brazilian police say Lochte, U.S. swimmers were not robbed

U.S. swimmers in Rio robbery probe pulled off plane

Ryan Lochte, 3 other US swimmers robbed by armed men in Rio


The saga began when Lochte said he and Conger, Bentz and Feigen were held at gunpoint and robbed several hours after the last Olympic swimming races ended. That claim started unraveling when police said that investigators could not find evidence to substantiate it.

Then security video reviewed by police confirmed the athletes vandalized parts of the gas station, leading to an encounter with station employees.

The video shows one of the swimmers pulling a sign off of a wall and dropping it onto the ground. A gas station worker arrives, and other workers inspect the damage. Veloso said the swimmers broke a door, a soap dispenser and a mirror.

The swimmers eventually talk with station workers and their cab leaves. In another sequence, the swimmers appear to briefly raise their hands while talking to someone and sit down on a curb.

After a few minutes, the swimmers stand up and appear to exchange something – perhaps cash, as police said – with one of the men.

The footage doesn’t show a weapon, but a police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, said two guards pointed guns at the swimmers. Veloso said the guards did not use excessive force and would have been justified in drawing their weapons because the athletes “were conducting themselves in a violent way.”

A station employee called police, and the guards and employees tried to get the swimmers and the taxi driver to stay until authorities arrived, some even offering to help interpret between English and Portuguese, Veloso said. But he said the athletes wanted to leave, so they paid 100 Brazilian reals (about Cdn$33) and $20 in U.S. currency and left.

Police said the swimmers had been unable to provide key details in early interviews, saying they had been intoxicated. The police official said officers grew suspicious when video showed the swimmers returning to the athletes village wearing watches, which would have likely been taken in a robbery.

Bentz and Conger told police that they felt Lochte had lied about the situation in media interviews, according to text of the statements released by Rio police.

“We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over,” Lochte told NBC’s ‘Today’ the morning after the incident. “They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground – they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so – I’m not getting down on the ground.

“And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet – he left my cellphone, he left my credentials.”

The debacle prompted both wild speculation and social media mockery, which quickly turned to scorn after the official account went public.

David Fleischer, a political scientist at the University of Brasilia, said the incident touched a nerve in Brazil because of the country’s history and cases of people committing crimes while impersonating police.

“The story did have some sense of validity but it didn’t bear out and it made them look bad worldwide,” he said.

That outrage was evident Thursday, as onlookers shouted “liars” and “shameful” at Bentz and Conger as they left a police station where they gave statements.

While he’s medaled often, Lochte’s accomplishments have long been overshadowed by teammate Michael Phelps – the most decorated Olympian in history. Lochte, a 12-time medallist, won a gold in Rio in a relay race alongside Phelps.

Lochte and the other swimmers could face sanctions from USA Swimming, including fines or suspension. The group, as well as Olympic officials, publicly expressed disappointment and said they would further examine the matter.

“We apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence,” the U.S. Olympic Committee said.

The Associated Press reporters Cristiana Mesquita, Beth Harris, Chris Lehourites, Pauline Arrillaga and Renata Brito in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.

Two American swimmers leave Rio, but robbery scandal not over

PETER PRENGAMAN, MAURICIO SAVARESE AND LUIS ANDRES HENAO, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 19th, 2016

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United States’ Ryan Lochte checks his time in a men’s 4×200-meter freestyle heat during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 9, 2016. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Michael Sohn

Twenty-four hours after being pulled off a plane by law enforcement, two American Olympic swimmers were on their way home Friday after testifying about an alleged robbery that shocked and then deeply angered Brazilians when police said the story was made up.

Their departure came hours after police announced that Ryan Lochte and three of his teammates had not been held at gunpoint after a night of partying, as he claimed. Instead, police said the men, while intoxicated, vandalized a gas station bathroom and were questioned by armed guards before they paid for the damage and left.

The saga – which became the biggest spectacle outside of the Olympic gates – was an embarrassment for American Olympians, who had otherwise dominated the games. It also deeply wounded a country eager to prove it could host the first games in Latin America despite concerns it could not keep athletes and spectators safe from rampant street crime.

“No robbery was committed against these athletes. They were not victims of the crimes they claimed,” Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso said during a news conference.


Related stories:

Brazilian police say Lochte, U.S. swimmers were not robbed
U.S. swimmers in Rio robbery probe pulled off plane
Ryan Lochte, 3 other US swimmers robbed by armed men in Rio


As two of the swimmers, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger, were whisked through airport security and onto a plane Thursday night, their attorney insisted they had nothing to do with Lochte’s story. Lochte left the country earlier this week.

Bentz and Conger “were heard only as witnesses. This has to be made very, very clear,” lawyer Sergio Riera told The Associated Press. “They did not make any untruthful testimony. They did not lie in their statements.”

Another swimmer, James Feigen, was hoping to get his passport back to leave the country as soon as possible. A decision on his departure was pending.

Though police appear mostly finished with their probe, the case is far from settled. Police have said they are considering charges of falsely reporting a crime and destruction of property, both of which can carry up to six months in jail or a fine. Lochte’s attorney has insisted the story wasn’t made up – but neither he nor Lochte commented on the police account after it unfolded.

The saga began when Lochte said that he and Conger, Bentz and Feigen were held at gunpoint and robbed several hours after the last Olympic swimming races ended. That claim began to unravel when police said that investigators could not find evidence to substantiate it.

Then, security video reviewed by police confirmed the athletes vandalized parts of the gas station, leading to an encounter with station employees.

The video shows one of the swimmers pulling a sign off of a wall and dropping it onto the ground. A gas station worker arrives, and other workers inspect the damage. Veloso said the swimmers broke a door, a soap dispenser and a mirror.

The swimmers eventually talk with station workers and their cab leaves. In another sequence, the swimmers appear to briefly raise their hands while talking to someone and sit down on a curb.

After a few minutes, the swimmers stand up and appear to exchange something – perhaps cash, as police said – with one of the men.

The footage doesn’t show a weapon, but a police official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing said two guards pointed guns at the swimmers. Veloso said the guards did not use excessive force and would have been justified in drawing their weapons because the athletes “were conducting themselves in a violent way.”

A station employee called police, and the guards and employees tried to get the swimmers and the taxi driver to stay until authorities arrived, some even offering to help interpret between English and Portuguese, Veloso said. But he said the athletes wanted to leave, so they paid 100 Brazilian reals (about US $33) and $20 in U.S. currency and left.

Police said the swimmers had been unable to provide key details in early interviews, saying they had been intoxicated. The police official said officers grew suspicious when security video showed the swimmers returning to the athletes village wearing watches, which would have likely been taken in a robbery.

Bentz and Conger told police that they felt Lochte had lied about the situation in media interviews, according to text of the statements released by Rio police.

“We got pulled over, in the taxi, and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over,” Lochte told NBC’s ‘Today’ the morning after the incident. “They pulled out their guns, they told the other swimmers to get down on the ground – they got down on the ground. I refused, I was like we didn’t do anything wrong, so – I’m not getting down on the ground.

“And then the guy pulled out his gun, he cocked it, put it to my forehead and he said, ‘Get down,’ and I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.’ He took our money, he took my wallet – he left my cellphone, he left my credentials.”

The debacle prompted both wild speculation and social media mockery, which quickly turned to scorn after the official account went public. #LochteGate trended on Twitter, with users sharing video footage and posting comments about white privilege and rude Americans.

David Fleischer, a political scientist at the University of Brasilia, said the incident touched a nerve in Brazil because of the country’s history and cases of people committing crimes while impersonating police.

“The story did have some sense of validity but it didn’t bear out and it made them look bad worldwide,” he said.

That outrage was evident Thursday, as onlookers shouted “liars” and “shameful” at Bentz and Conger as they left a police station where they gave statements.

While he’s medaled often, Lochte’s accomplishments have long been overshadowed by teammate Michael Phelps – the most decorated Olympian in history. Lochte, a 12-time medallist , won a gold in Rio in a relay race alongside Phelps.

Lochte and the other swimmers could face sanctions from USA Swimming, including fines or suspension. The group, as well as Olympic officials, publicly expressed disappointment and said they would further examine the matter.

“We apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence,” the U.S. Olympic Committee said.

AP reporters Cristiana Mesquita, Beth Harris, Chris Lehourites, Pauline Arrillaga and Renata Brito in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.

Olympic Roundup: Wiebe wins gold; De Grasse wins silver

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 19th, 2016

medal-winners
Canadian medal winners (from top left to right) Meaghan Benfeito, Andre De Grasse, Damian Warner and Erica Wiebe

Andre De Grasse kept adding to his and Canada’s medal totals on Day 13 of the Rio Olympics.

The sprint star from Markham, Ont., won the silver medal in the men’s 200-metre final on Thursday night for the second medal of his Olympic debut.

The 21-year-old De Grasse finished the race in 20.02 seconds, just behind Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, who took gold for the third consecutive Olympics in 19.78. France’s Christophe Lemaitre was third in 20.12 seconds.

De Grasse became the first Canadian to win two individual track medals in the same Olympics since 1932.

“I’m really happy with two medals, but my race today could have been better,” De Grasse said. “I couldn’t really tell what happened. I came off the bend and tried to do something, tried to go, but maybe I used up too much energy in the semifinal yesterday.”

Canada’s tied with South Korea for 10th in the overall medal standings with four gold, three silver and 11 bronze. The Canadians are targeting a top-12 finish when the 2016 Summer Games end Sunday.

De Grasse could add a third medal in the 4×100 relay final, where Canada is looking for redemption after a lane violation four years ago in London cost them a bronze medal.


Related stories:

Archives: Athlete of the Week Andre De Grasse, but not as a sprinter


De Grasse wasn’t the only Canadian to claim hardware on the track as Damian Warner, of London, Ont., took bronze in the decathlon.

Warner finished the 10-discipline competition with 8,666 points and matched Dave Steen from the 1988 Seoul Games for the best-ever Canadian finish in decathlon.

Defending champion Ashton Eaton of the U.S. won gold with 8,893 points while France’s Kevin Mayer took silver with 8,834 points.

“I’m tired right now, but I’m very happy I was able to pull it out,” Warner said. “I had pretty strong goals coming into these Olympics, and I wanted to challenge for that gold spot, but there’s many ups and downs within a decathlon, and I’m proud of myself and the work that my coaches have put in.”

WRESTLING

Canada reached its largest gold medal tally in 24 years earlier in the day after Erica Wiebe won the 75-kilogram wrestling crown. Canada won seven medals at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Wiebe, from Ottawa, was dominant in her match against Guzel Manyurova of Kazakhstan, winning 6-0, and bringing Canada its fourth gold in Rio.

“I didn’t think about who I was wrestling, I didn’t think about what they were,” she said. “I just thought about what I needed to do in that moment and I still don’t really believe it.”

Wiebe is Canada’s third-ever gold medallist in wrestling, following Daniel Igali at the 2000 Games in Sydney 2000 and Carol Huynh in Beijing in 2008.

Her win also keeps Canada’s streak in women’s wrestling alive, one that dates back to the 2004 Athens Olympics when the discipline made its debut.

DIVING

Canadian diver Meaghan Benfeito capped off her Rio run in style after winning her second bronze and first individual medal.

The 27-year-old from Laval, Que., finished with an overall score of 389.20, behind Ren Qian and Si Yajie of China. She had contemplated retirement, but said she has decided to stick around.

“I’ve always said that if I became a double Olympic medallist, I would stop diving,” Benfeito said. “But I want to continue and my decision (to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Games) had already been made.”

Benfeito’s teammate Roseline Filion, 29, also from Laval, placed sixth with 367.95. The duo won bronze together in the 10-metre synchronized event, defending the medal they won at the 2012 London Games.

GOLF

Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., made her move in the second round of women’s golf at the Olympics after five consecutive birdies to finish 7-under 64. Henderson shot up the leaderboard into a tie with Britain’s Charley Hull for third in the event, closing in on South Korea’s Inbee Park and American Stacy Lewis. Hamilton’s Alena Sharp (69) is tied for 32nd at one under.

What other Canadians did on Day 13:

ATHLETICS

Men’s 1,500 – Nathan Brannen, Cambridge, Ont., finished 11th overall in the semifinal round (3:40.20) and earned a berth in Saturday’s final; Charles Philibert-Thiboutot, Quebec City, was 17th (3:40.790) – 0.54 seconds short of advancing.

Men’s 4×100 relay – Canada (Akeem Haynes, Calgary; Aaron Brown, Toronto; Brendon Rodney, Brampton, Ont.; and Mobolade Ajomale, Richmond Hill, Ont.) posted the fourth-fastest time in qualifying (37.89) to earn a berth in Friday night’s final.

Men’s shot put – Tim Nedow, Brockville, Ont., did not advance with a best toss of 20.00 metres in the qualifying round.

Women’s 800 – Melissa Bishop, Eganville, Ont., finished second in her semifinal (1:59.05) to earn an automatic berth in Saturday’s medal race.

Women’s 4×100 relay – Canada (Farah Jacques, Gatineau, Que.; Crystal Emmanuel, Toronto; Phylicia George, Markham, Ont.; and Khamica Bingham, Brampton, Ont.) placed seventh overall in qualifying in a season-best 42.70, and will race in Friday night’s final.

Women’s high jump – Alyxandria Treasure, Prince George, B.C., earned a berth in Saturday’s final with a mark of 1.94 in qualifying.

CANOE/KAYAK (SPRINT)

Men’s K2 200 – Ryan Cochrane, Lac Beauport, Que., and Hugues Fournel, Dorval, Que., finished eighth in the final (33.767).

CYCLING (BMX)

Men – Tory Nyhaug of Coquitlam, B.C., won his quarter-final group (first, 35.958 seconds; first, 35.035; and second, 38.754) and advanced to Friday’s semifinal round.

MODERN PENTATHLON

Women’s fencing – Melanie McCann, Mount Carmel, Ont., was third in the ranking round with 238 points; Donna Vakalis, Toronto, was fourth (232).

TRIATHLON

Men – Tyler Mislawchuk of Oak Bluff, Man., finished 15th overall in one hour, 47 minutes and 50 seconds; Andrew Yorke, Caledon East, Ont., was 42nd (1:52:46).

WRESTLING

Women’s 56 kilogram freestyle – Jillian Gallays, Saskatoon, lost 11-0 in her qualification match to Myong Suk Jon of North Korea.

Women’s 63 kg freestyle – Danielle Lappage, Olds, Alta., suffered an injury during her opening-round bout against Yulia Tkach Ostapchuk, Ukraine, did not advance.

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