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It would have been close. Alex Gordon might have scored, particularly if he’d been in the mindset to do so all along. Or maybe not. I’m sure there will be Zapruder-film-type breakdowns, and I’ll look forward to seeing them. It would have been one hell of a moment: Gordon, 220 pounds, who looks like he could have been a strong safety at the University of Nebraska, bearing down on Buster Posey, the catcher whose season-ending injury in 2011 helped inspire baseball’s home-plate collisions rule.Your browser does not support iframes.Game 7 will leave us with that sense of what might have been. Partly because it involved the Kansas City Royals, who were making their first World Series appearance since 1985. But mostly I’m referring to that penultimate play: When Gordon hit what was officially scored as a single and wound up on third base because of defensive miscues by San Francisco Giants outfielders Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez. It seemed to take an eternity — it was actually just 13 seconds — but I was surprised that Gordon wasn’t rounding third base by the time the TV cameras returned to the infield.Here’s what I know: Gordon should have tried to score even if he was a heavy underdog to make it. It would have been the right move if he was safe even 30 percent of the time.Between 1969 and 1992 — I’m using this period because it better approximates baseball’s current run-scoring environment than the offensive bubble of the 1990s and aughts — a runner scored from third base with two outs about 27 percent of the time, according to the tables at Tangotiger.com. We should probably round that down a bit in this example. The Royals had Salvador Perez at the plate — a league-average hitter — and the light-hitting Mike Moustakas due up after that.More importantly, they were facing Madison Bumgarner. That Bumgarner had been so dominant in the World Series is not as relevant as you might think. There’s extremely little evidence for a “hot hand” in pitching: In-game performance tells you next to nothing about how the pitcher will fare in future at-bats. Instead, you should look toward longer-term averages. Still, I feel comfortable asserting that Bumgarner was an above-average pitcher at that moment: Certainly not the first guy you’d want to have on the mound if you were the opponent. So let’s round that 27 percent down to 25 percent.So, Gordon should have tried to score if he had even a 25 percent chance of being safe?It’s just a touch more complicated than that. With the Royals down 3-2, Gordon represented the tying run rather than the winning run. If he’s thrown out at home, the game’s over; it forecloses on the possibility of Perez scoring as the winning run, like with a walk-off homer. What was the probability of that? Perez homered in about 3 percent of his plate appearances this season, but he could also have scored in other ways — by doubling, for example, and then scoring on a base hit by Moustakas. We can turn to Tangotiger’s tables again, which suggest that a league-average batter has about a 6 percent chance (I’m rounding down slightly) of eventually scoring from home with two outs.So, after Gordon holds at third, he has a 25 percent chance of scoring. Six percent of the time, Perez (or pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson?) also scores, and the Royals win outright. The other 19 percent of the time, Gordon is the only Royal to score in the ninth and the game goes to extra innings. If we assume the Royals are even money to prevail in an extra-inning game, their chances of winning at that point are:6% + (19% * 50%)That works out to 15.5 percent. Not coincidentally, this matches FanGraphs’ in-game win probability for the Royals (after Gordon held at third) almost exactly.What if Gordon rounds third and tries to score? If he’s successful even 30 percent of the time, the Royals’ win probability is at least 15 percent — a 30 percent chance of Gordon scoring, multiplied by a 50 percent chance of the Royals winning in extra innings. But it’s slightly higher than that. The 30 percent of the time that Gordon scores, Perez still has his 6 percent chance of scoring the winning run in the ninth. That brings the Royals’ overall win probability up to about 16 percent.We’re splitting hairs. The point is that if even Gordon had been a 2-to-1 underdog to score, he should have tried.These decisions can be counterintuitive. Sometimes a strategy that’s successful less than 50 percent of the time — like splitting eights in blackjack — is still the right move because the alternative is even worse. In this case, the alternative involved trying to score against Bumgarner with your catcher at the plate and two outs, and then having to prevail in extra innings.It would have made for one of the best plays in baseball history. We’re talking about the tying run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7 of the World Series: Even a sacrifice fly can be thrilling under those circumstances. But this would have been in a league with Bill Mazeroski and Kirk Gibson and Bill Buckner: under serious consideration for the greatest play of all-time. (The play already had a little Buckner in it, with Blanco’s and Perez’s misplays in the outfield.)Unlike any of those moments, it would have involved an incredibly gutsy decision. It’s an extraordinary play if Gordon scores. It’s an extraordinary play if there’s a collision at home plate — and baseball needs to decide whether to invoke the “Buster Posey Rule.”And if Gordon were thrown out, it would have been the most extraordinary way to lose a game in the history of baseball.CORRECTION (Oct. 30, 11:14 a.m.): A previous version of this article misstated the first name of a Kansas City Royals catcher. He is Salvador Perez, not Santiago Perez.
Late NCAA Bracket Submissions Show Were A Nation Of Procrastinators
At CBSSports.com, the surge came even later. Bracket submissions to the site peaked at 11:59 a.m., according to spokeswoman Annie Rohrs. Deadlines are powerful motivating forces for journalists, tax filers, eurozone negotiators — and bracket pickers. The number of men’s NCAA Tournament brackets submitted per minute by ESPN.com users peaked at 11:51 a.m. EDT on Thursday, mere minutes before the 12:15 p.m tipoff of the first-round opener and the deadline to enter picks, according to data provided by our colleagues at ESPN.com.1Per their request, we’re sharing only the relative magnitude of submissions, not absolute numbers. The maximum rate of bracket submissions per minute on Thursday was more than three times the high of the day before and about five times the max on Monday and Tuesday. All told, even counting the wee hours in the U.S., there were more brackets submitted in just half of Thursday than in all of Tuesday. Not everyone waits until the last minute, though. At ESPN.com, there was an earlier, although lesser, spike in online bracket submissions just after the bracket went up. For every three people who were madly filling in chalk and upsets in their entries just before noon on Thursday, there were two hitting submit on theirs eight minutes after the first Tournament Challenge bracket was submitted at 7:12 p.m. on Sunday.Maybe it’s my bias as a journalist showing, but I think the procrastinators had the right idea: They could benefit from forecasts like ours.Check out FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 March Madness Predictions.
Tiger Woods May Not Get A Better Shot At Another Green Jacket
2016Danny Willett—————— Masters winners do their best work from tee to greenStrokes gained rankings by category for Masters Tournament winners during the seasons they won, 2004-18 As the world’s greatest golfers convene in Augusta, Georgia, this week for the Masters, it’s time for every sports fan’s annual rite of spring: wild speculation about whether Tiger Woods can add a fifth green jacket to his closet. Picking Woods used to be a trendy bet; then it began to feel like a totally futile exercise. Well after he last won the event in 2005, there was a period when Woods was in the news constantly for everything except golf success. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that Woods’s relevance as a winning golfer seemed finished, along with his bid to chase down Jack Nicklaus’s record for all-time majors won.But that all changed last season, when Woods put everything back together again to finish eighth on the PGA Tour money list and win the season-ending Tour Championship in September. Now Woods is back, in his best position in years to win another Masters. According to VegasInsider, Woods has the third-best odds of any player to win this weekend; he’s also playing even more inspired golf than he did during last year’s comeback campaign. But at age 43, will this be one of Woods’s last chances to win at Augusta before his days of being a viable champion are over?Certainly, Tiger has been outplaying many of his much younger rivals these past few seasons. Since the end of his lost 2017 campaign, Woods ranks sixth among qualified1Minimum 30 total rounds measured by ShotLink, the PGA Tour’s real-time scoring system. PGA Tour players in total strokes gained per round, trailing only Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood. He’s mostly regained his old mastery of irons on approach shots and still has some of the game’s best feel for shots around the green. In terms of strokes gained, Woods is picking up 1.67 shots (relative to the average player) per round so far in 2019, an even better mark than the 1.60 he posted last season — which itself was easily his best performance in five years.One of the most impressive aspects of Woods’s early play this season has been improved accuracy off the tee. According to the PGA Tour, Woods has hit 65.2 percent of possible fairways on his drives this season, which ranks 54th out of 214 qualified players. That might not sound amazing, but by Woods’s standards, it is ultraprecise accuracy. Last year, he hit only 59.4 percent of fairways, which ranked him 127th, and he struggled to break 55 percent over the four injury-plagued seasons before that. (Even during his really great pre-scandal/injury seasons, hitting fairways was an Achilles’ heel. In 2007, when he made the most money playing golf of his career, Woods ranked 152nd in driving accuracy and failed to hit 60 percent of fairways.) When Woods is scuffling, the first indication is often a wayward drive that requires subsequent artistry just to make par.With the help of that improved accuracy, Woods now ranks 72nd in strokes gained on drives this year — he was 100th last year — and ninth in strokes gained from the tee to the green, picking up 1.48 shots per round before ever setting his spikes on the putting surface. Classic Tiger was always a tee-to-green monster, ranking either first or second in the category every healthy season from 2006 to 2013, so his strong performance in that category this year is another signal that Woods is returning to vintage form.It’s also a very good sign for his chances at Augusta. That’s because, as Todd Schneider wrote about for FiveThirtyEight a few years ago, the Masters often comes down to a player’s skills with the long clubs — contrary to the tournament’s reputation for being a putting contest.Great PGA Tour players generally assert themselves most on approach shots and drives anyway, gaining about 4 strokes relative to average from tee to green for every extra shot they pick up on putts. But the recent history of Masters winners also suggests that a great long game is the true prerequisite for winning the green jacket. The average winner since strokes gained was first tracked in 2004 (excluding the 2016 and 2017 winners, Danny Willett and Sergio Garcia, because they lacked enough PGA Tour rounds to qualify for official leaderboards) ranked only about 86th in putting performance per round but 35th in strokes gained off the tee, 32nd in strokes gained on approach shots and 18th in total strokes gained from tee to green. 2008Trevor Immelman116501131191113 2018Patrick Reed104742297224 Strokes gained tee-to-green was the top category (or tied for the top) for 46 percent of the Masters winners over that span,2No other category was above 38 percent. and 62 percent of winners ranked among the Top 10 in the statistic — like Woods does this year. (This is consistent with my previous research that driving distance and approach accuracy are the two secret weapons players can possess at Augusta, causing them to play better in the Masters than their overall scoring average would predict.)I haven’t mentioned Tiger’s putting numbers yet, and with good reason. Woods used to be the greatest putter in the world, but so far this season he ranks just 74th in strokes gained with the flatstick, adding only 0.19 shots above average per round. Last year, he was better — 48th on tour — though he still wasn’t the putting maestro who once showed me and countless others the fundamentals of a great stroke. However, Augusta has frequently seen putters who rank far worse than Woods win during the era of detailed PGA Tour tracking data. (In fact, more than half of qualified Masters winners since 2004 have ranked worse than 78th in putting.) Putting performance is so random from year to year — much less from tournament to tournament or even round to round — that it’s a lot easier for a good tee-to-green player to get hot on the green for a weekend than for a good putter to suddenly have an uncharacteristically amazing weekend off the tee.Because of all this, it’s not hard to understand why Woods is a strong 12-to-1 bet to win the Masters. But it’s also not hard to imagine that this could be the 43-year-old’s last, best chance to win another green jacket. Using our research on historical major winners from a few years ago, here’s what the aging curve for championship golfers looks like: 2017Sergio García—————— 2015Jordan Spieth15117492 2007Zach Johnson613016460513 2013Adam Scott21677510811 2012Bubba Watson1598431606 2011Charl Schwartzel224564199620 Average34.531.970.018.486.121.2 2009Ángel Cabrera3748169636351 2014Bubba Watson2476371098 2005Tiger Woods44128451 YearMasters WinnerOff TeeApproachAround GreenTee to GreenPuttingTotal 2006Phil Mickelson124664405 PGA Tour Rank 2010Phil Mickelson66532513312 Garcia and Willett didn’t play enough rounds to qualify for the PGA Tour’s rankings during their Masters-winning seasons.Source: PGAtour.com 2004Phil Mickelson7224351289 That spike in wins for players in their early 40s came from 42-year-olds Ernie Els, Darren Clarke, Payne Stewart, Tom Kite and Gary Player, and it was the last actual uptick on the chart — and Woods is now on the wrong side of it. Jack Nicklaus famously won his final major at age 46, but most great golfers are largely done winning by their early to mid-40s. And the game has only gotten younger in the twilight of Woods’s career; while the average major-winner in our data set above (through 2014) was 31.9, that number is just 29.6 in the years since. With his own early career dominance and popularity, Woods has inspired a younger generation of gifted golfers that he now must do battle with.Woods is a special talent and in the conversation for the greatest golfer ever.3Even though most fans still give Nicklaus the nod. He’s playing as well heading into Augusta as he has in a long time and excelling in exactly the right categories. But between aging effects and his own injury history, he may never have a better shot at winning another Masters than he does right now. Once upon a time, Tiger was legendary for pouncing on every opportunity left in front of him. We’ll just have to see if he can summon that ability yet again.
We Rate Alabama The Strongest Team In College Football History
Share on Facebook For many of the teams on the list above, their peak Elo moment also coincided with the end of their schedule (and, usually, a national championship celebration). Alabama, however, still has some hurdles left to clear before it can become the best end-of-season Elo team ever. Specifically, the Tide need to beat both Washington and the Clemson-Ohio State winner to finish the year as national champs — and if they don’t, they’ll have peaked too soon. A loss to Washington, for instance, would instantly drop Alabama to No. 4 on the historical end-of-season Elo list if it comes by a field goal, and No. 10 if by a touchdown. It’s really hard to stay at the pinnacle of the game.For now, though, Nick Saban can toss another honor on his enormous pile of coaching accomplishments. His 2016 Crimson Tide are the strongest team in modern college football history. The SEC championship game on Saturday saw Alabama beat Florida to win the conference, as well as a spot in the College Football Playoff. Lower down the list of accolades was one we’d been following over the past month or so: The Crimson Tide became the greatest college team of the past 80 years, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Elo power rating.’Bama needed to beat Florida by 11 or more points to pass the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers for No. 1. And in actuality, they won by a lot more than that, whipping the Gators by 38. That did the trick, pushing the Crimson Tide ahead of any team since the AP poll era began in 1936.
Somehow Rafael Nadal Got Better On Clay
But Nadal isn’t just winning matches on the surface he loves; he’s dominating them. Nadal’s dominance ratio, which is the measure of a player’s winning percentage when returning serve versus the opponent’s winning percentage on serve return points, is at the highest it’s ever been over the past two years. Essentially, his opponents are never safe on the court — Nadal can win any point at any time. In Barcelona this year, Martin Klizan lost his first set against Nadal at love, but he broke Nadal’s serve in the second set and led 5-3. Nadal held serve and then saved three set points against him to tie up the set at 5-5. Nadal proceeded to win the next two games to close out the match. Tennis has never seen a player who excels more on a single surface than Nadal. His career on clay boggles the mind. He owns a record that, in tennis, doesn’t compute — it shouldn’t be possible. His overall record on clay is 401-35: Yes, that’s 92 percent. In the Open era, which began in 1968, no other star in tennis has come close to that on any surface. The next highest winning percentage on clay comes from Bjorn Borg, who won 86 percent of his clay court matches — and he played far fewer matches than Nadal (294 in all on clay). The best players on other surfaces don’t match Nadal, either. Roger Federer has won eight Wimbledon titles, an all-time record, and 87 percent of his matches on grass, in 188 attempts. Pete Sampras, a seven-time Wimbledon winner, won 84 percent of his 121 total matches on grass. And Djokovic, winner of six titles at the Australian Open and two at the U.S. Open, has an 84 percent winning percentage in his 609 hard court matches. When Rafael Nadal arrives in Paris this season with a chance to win his 11th French Open title, he could be there in a way no one expected: better than ever on clay.Nadal, who will be 32 years old in June, should have been finished by now, especially on clay. It’s rare for players older than 30 to win the French Open, and Nadal had been on a downward trend. He didn’t win the tournament in 2015 or 2016, and he won just two clay tournaments in 2015. Even worse, he lost to Novak Djokovic that year in the French Open quarterfinals, a sure sign that he was no longer invincible. (Djokovic won in straight sets, including a deadly 6-1 in the third.) A year later, Nadal left the French Open after winning two rounds because of a wrist injury. Even at his best in those two years, he looked well behind Djokovic, who beat Nadal seven times in a row without losing a set, including three on clay.But instead of crumbling, Nadal has climbed back and become more dominant on clay than ever before. He’s done it with more powerful strokes, a stronger serve and more volleys — and, most important, the confidence that seemed to escape him several years ago. Since the start of last year’s French Open, Nadal hasn’t lost a set on clay in three tournaments plus two Davis Cup matches. That’s an all-time record of 46 clay court sets in a row, smashing the former record of 35 consecutive clay wins by Guillermo Coria. Nadal has come close to this before, too: Four other times in his career he won 30 or more consecutive sets on clay, according to the ATP World Tour. For all his dominance, the only accomplishment Nadal has yet to achieve is going undefeated in the four premier clay court tournaments1The Monte Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open, the Madrid Open and the Italian Open. and then winning the French Open in a single season. The closest he came was in 2013, when he lost the Monte Carlo final to Djokovic and then won his next four clay events, including the French Open. Last year was similar for Nadal: He won four clay tournaments but lost in the quarterfinals at the Italian Open, in straight sets to Dominic Thiem. He later thumped Thiem in straight sets in the French Open semifinals, finishing the match with a 6-0 set.For Nadal to win in Madrid and Italy this year, he’ll need to stay healthy and play as few taxing games as possible, as he has done so far. But no matter what happens in those tourneys, unless he’s hurt, he’ll be the heavy favorite to win the French Open, where his record is 79-2. Don’t be surprised if that turns into 86-2 come June.
Womens Tennis Is Still Anyones Game Just Look At The French Open
FiveThirtyEight Embed Code More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed The women’s side of the French Open has seen plenty of upsets. Only three of the 10 top-ranked players made it through the third round, with high-profile competitors such as No. 1 Naomi Osaka and No. 10 Serena Williams among them. After her loss to 20-year-old American Sofia Kenin, Serena Williams, who has battled persistent injuries this season, was asked if she still would have entered the Open had she known the outcome. She said she would never have believed that she would be out in the third round. We’ll look at how Serena’s expectations fair against the growing parity in women’s tennis and how sharply this contrasts with the predictable cast of characters on the men’s side.The MLB draft is underway, and as Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen describes the experience, “the draft is very risky — it has always been risky.” The Hot Takedown team breaks down how this draft differs from other major sports, plus the strategies and trends exhibited in the early rounds.Finally, our Rabbit Hole of the Week looks at the Women’s College World Series. A dive into the key players and their professional pursuits lands us deep into the surprising world of Olympic demonstration sports.Here’s what we’re looking at this week:Justine Henin, the last “Queen of Clay.”Last year, our colleague Tom Perrotta wrote about the increased parity in women’s tennis, and it’s never felt more timely.ESPN’s Jeff Passan breaks down the convoluted MLB draft.Some MLB hopefuls are opting to play abroad rather than participate in the draft.Rachel Garcia’s impressive performance in the semifinals against the University of Washington.You won’t want to miss these videos of skijorning and korfball.
Sika realizes dream after donning scarlet and gray
It’s pretty fitting that a guy like senior offensive lineman Scott Sika would be from a town called Strongsville, Ohio. But not just for the obvious reasons one would expect. Sika was able to walk on to the Ohio State team because of his heart and work ethic. But he is a pretty strong guy, too. Putting on the scarlet jersey and silver helmet was a lifelong dream for Sika. Nearly every member of his family went to OSU. He remembers watching every Buckeye game on Saturdays when he was growing up with his father, who went to optometry school at OSU. “He’s been a big influence in my life. He’s one of the main reasons why I chose to walk on too, because he would always tell me ‘you could play here,’ but you always have doubts in the back of your mind,” Sika said. “But once you get here you realize, as they say, fathers know best. Just his influence has helped me.” Choosing to walk on to OSU’s team did not come without any risks. He would not be guaranteed a scholarship, like he had been offered from smaller programs. Nor would he be guaranteed any playing time. But Sika never had a problem focusing on the positives. “I couldn’t pass up the chance. I really wanted to go to college here. Why not give it a try and play. It’s turned out really well for me,” he said. Sika said the rigors of playing for the scout team were difficult at first, but he always maintained a team-first mentality. “When I started I knew I was going to be on the scout team. Basically I’m here to help the team. Granted, I wish I could play as much as possible, but I’m just doing what I have to do to help the team,” Sika said. “It’s coaches’ decision, whether it’s playing scout team or playing with the twos, I just do what I do and I’ve enjoyed it.” While Sika’s father, brother, sister and mother all attended OSU, his uncle wore navy and maize as a football player for the Michigan Wolverines. “It was pretty ironic,” he quipped. “We always gave each other a hard time. Every week he says he roots for us, aside from when we play Michigan obviously. We go at it, but the last couple years I’ve easily had the upper hand and he hasn’t been able to say much. It’s a fun relationship, we go back and fourth but he just wants the best for me.” The memories of multiple BCS games, including a couple National Championship games and the Rose Bowl, will stay with Sika, But he said aside from all the obvious big stages he’s seen, it’s been the relationships he’s built with his teammates that he’ll remember most. Sika will be graduating with a degree in sports management. He plans on using everything he’s learned as a football player at OSU and the connections he’s made to help him in the professional world. But no matter what, he’ll always remember the feeling he had when he first realized he was a Buckeye. “It was surreal,” he said. “As I tell a lot of people, you don’t really understand it when you’re doing it. Sometimes you sit back and say to yourself ‘wow, I’m playing for the second ranked team in the nation.’ “You get to play where Orlando Pace and Eddie George played. It’s just an honor and you don’t realize it when you’re here but once you’re gone … it’s just memories and I’m so thankful to have had an opportunity.”
Amir Williams getting it done for Ohio State mens basketball
Junior center Amir Williams (23) walks down the court during a game against Morgan State Nov. 9 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 89-50.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorThough a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school in 2011, Ohio State junior center Amir Williams’ first two seasons as a Buckeye were a bit of a disappointment.A four-star prospect and McDonald’s All-American before donning the Scarlet and Gray, Williams at times seemed a step slow, tentative and unsure of his talents in his first two seasons in Columbus. He averaged just 2.6 points over those two seasons, despite seeing action in 66 games and starting 26.That all took a back seat Wednesday, when Williams posted a career-best 16 points and collected seven rebounds against American University. He scored six of OSU’s first eight points of the game, keeping the ship afloat as his teammates struggled, prompting praise from coach Thad Matta.“Thank goodness Amir got us off to a pretty decent start there and was making some shots,” Matta said about OSU’s early shooting struggles against the Eagles. The Buckeyes (4-0, 0-0) only shot 25.9 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes.Williams is averaging 9.5 points over his team’s four games this season, and he said the difference has been the result of hard work.“I’ve just been working my tail off in the offseason and during practice as well,” Williams said following his big night against American (1-3, 0-0). “(I) try to have some go-to moves in the post and it’s looking like it’s finally starting to come alive.”A few of those go-to moves were useful against American, as Williams knocked down baby hook shots with both his right and left hands — something that wasn’t seen out of him last year, but Matta had been expecting.“I’ve seen Amir — really he’s been more energized, more aggressive. He’s been practicing very well. He’s been dominant in practice,” Matta said after the game. “You saw him (against American), he was catching the ball, he was making his reads, he knew where guys were supposed to be and going and making his moves. I thought his patience was really good as well.”Williams’ improvement has not gone unnoticed by his teammates either.“What we saw the other night (against American) is the Amir we’ve been seeing for the last five, six months, however long it’s been since the end of last season,” junior forward Sam Thompson said Sunday. “Amir’s put a ton of work in, put countless hours in the gym working on every aspect of his game, (and he’s) really looking to improve on the season that he had last year. Early on this season, it’s been evident by the work that he’s done.”Williams has also been a force on the defensive side of the ball, using his 85.5-inch wingspan to his advantage to block nine shots already in four games.“That’s something I like, him plugging the middle down there,” Matta said Sunday. “He’s got, as we’ve seen for two and a half years now, he’s got very good timing and a sense of where the ball is (defensively).”Williams’ activity on that side of the ball has stemmed throughout the rest of his game, allowing him to grow into more of a leader, Thompson said.“Amir’s been aggressive. Amir’s been active. Amir’s been getting it done,” Thompson said. “Amir’s really been the guy yelling at a lot of us and he’s really emerged as a leader on this team.”The growth in production from Williams early in the 2013-14 season has partly been because of a growth in confidence in his own ability.“I’m starting to feel a lot more confident and making moves in the post and I just hope I can keep the confidence up and continue to make those moves,” Williams said. “Continue to make those baskets down low for my team so I can just try to help them night in and night out.”Williams and the Buckeyes are slated to continue their non-conference schedule Monday when they play host to the Wyoming Cowboys (4-1, 0-0). Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.
Ohio State mens volleyball takes 2 against Grand Canyon
Freshman outsider hitter Miles Johnson (13) attempts to spike the ball during a match against Grand Canyon Feb. 21 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 3-0.Credit: Jonathan McAllister / Lantern photographerThe Buckeyes were successful at their chance for revenge against the Grand Canyon Antelopes, finishing with a clean sweep.The No. 14 Ohio State men’s volleyball team took down Grand Canyon 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-20) Saturday and 3-0 (25-18, 31-29, 25-23) Friday in Columbus.The Buckeyes (7-6. 4-2) were preparing their offense all week prior to the match against the Antelopes (6-9, 0-6), said coach Pete Hanson. OSU put the offensive practice to work and averaging 45 kills during the two matches against Grand Canyon.“If the offense is producing at a very high level, it can erase some of your bad spots that you are trying to cover up … If we can get our offense to play at a steady level, we are going to have the chance to be successful night in and night out,” Hanson said.During Saturday’s match, redshirt-freshman middle blocker Driss Guessous had a match-high 11 kills for OSU and finished the match with a .474 attack percentage. Freshman outside hitter Miles Johnson added nine kills and two solo blocks, while junior middle blocker Dustan Neary and redshirt-junior opposite Andrew Lutz each totaled eight kills. Freshman setter Christy Blough had a match-best 37 assists and chipped in two solo blocks and two kills.Senior middle blocker Jonathan Newton said winning the match came down to stopping the Antelopes early.“We knew that to be able to control the game, we had to stop their (Grand Canyon) momentum from the beginning,” Newton said.Lutz led the squad with 13 kills Friday, while Johnson added a career-best 11. Guessous and junior outside hitter Michael Henchy finished with nine and eight kills, respectively. Blough had a match-best 40 assists Friday night.Henchy said Saturday the Buckeyes are on the cusp of reaching the level of play they have been striving to acheive.“We are coming more and more into form and we’re not too far away from being a great team,” Henchy said.OSU is set to close out its five-match home stand as it hosts No. 13 Ball State Wednesday. The No. 14 Buckeyes and the Cardinals are scheduled to face off at 7 p.m. in St. John Arena.
Mens volleyball Ohio State advances to conference semis
Ohio State senior setter Christy Blough sets the middle for redshirt sophomore Blake Leeson against Quincy on April 15 at St. John Arena. Credit: Aliyyah Jackson | Lantern reporterThe No. 2 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (28-2, 17-0 MIVA) is headed to the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Semifinals after downing Quincy University (7-22, 2-14 MIVA) in straight sets. After meeting three times, Saturday’s win was OSU’s first sweep of the Quincy Hawks this season.In OSU’s shortest match of the season, OSU’s offense was aided in large part by junior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen. Szerszen, who was named MIVA Player of the Year on Tuesday, led the team with 13 kills on 19 errorless attempts. “I think that Nic Szerszen playing like the player of the year kind of really helped us step up and win it in three,” senior middle blocker Driss Guessous said. “I think when he has a good game, it’s a lot easier for all of us to play better.”After stringing together four straight points to begin the first set, the Buckeyes controlled the lead throughout the set. The Hawks were only able to score back-to-back points on one occasion in the first frame, losing 14-25.The Hawks struggled to get points on offense, with the team hitting at a rate of .045 in the set. On the other side of the net, the Buckeyes had a .522 attacking efficiency. Senior opposite Miles Johnson and Szerszen combined to give the Buckeyes three aces in the set. “I commended Nicolas after the match,” head coach Pete Hanson said. “I thought Nicolas was the guy who set the tone in that regard that he just played, I thought, a relentless match tonight.”Much like the first set, the Hawks never saw a lead in the second set, trailing by as much as six points midway through the second set. A 5-1 run helped the Hawks battle back make the score 13-15, but they ultimately fell to the Buckeyes 20-25.In the second set, the Buckeyes improved their attacking rate to .526 and stuffed the Hawks on six occasions. Senior setter Christy Blough accounted for two blocks on his own. The Hawks hit better in the second set as well with the team improving to a .263 hitting rate.“What we talked about in the locker room or what I asked them to do was to play as hard and with as much energy as we could from the time the whistle blew to the time the play was over,” Hanson said. “Whether we made a mistake or not was kind of immaterial, but it was about our effort. It was about our commitment to making a lot of plays.”After a short intermission, OSU led 11-3 with Quincy’s only points coming from Buckeye service errors. The rest of the set mirrored the beginning and OSU took the third frame 25-15.The Hawks were unable to find an answer on offense in their final set of the season. The team paired six kills with six attacking errors. OSU, on the other hand, had 13 kills and two attacking errors to close out the match.With the win, the Buckeyes move on to the MIVA Semifinals and face either No. 11 Ball State University or No. 12 Loyola University, Chicago. First serve is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in St. John Arena.
Wrestling No 2 Ohio State ends regular season with top10 matchup against
Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder runs out of the tunnel prior to his match in the the dual-meet against Iowa on Jan. 21 in the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThe No. 2 Ohio State wrestling team (13-1, 8-1 Big Ten) concludes its regular season Sunday when it travels to Raleigh, North Carolina, to take on No. 6 North Carolina State (14-1, ACC 4-0) at 4:30 p.m. The Buckeyes are coming off of an 18-15 victory against No. 4 Michigan on Feb. 11 despite senior No. 2 heavyweight Kyle Snyder suffering his first collegiate loss since March 2015. Each team won five matches, with the Buckeyes gaining bonus points from senior Nathan Tomasello and sophomore Kollin Moore. “Other than [Tomasello and Moore], I think we were a little flat,” Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan said. “We’re more excited about postseason, facing off with Penn State in the Big Tens and nationals than we were in the moment in that dual meet.”North Carolina State wrestles against No. 8 Virginia Tech at home Friday night, before getting a shot versus the Buckeyes two days later. The Wolfpack are undefeated in ACC matches and have just one loss overall, which came against fellow perennial championship contender No. 3 Oklahoma State at a naval base in Naples, Italy. It was the first overseas meet in NCAA history. North Carolina State’s success this season has put the Wolfpack at No. 6 in the nation, but Ryan said he thinks it might be better than that ranking.“Up and down the line this is a really good team,” Ryan said.Moore bounced back in his bout against Michigan’s No. 12 Kevin Beazley at 197 pounds after losing to unranked Anthony Cassar of Penn State in the previous meet. Now Moore faces No. 7 Michael Macchiavello of the Wolfpack.“There’s no undefeated season on the line or anything like that, so I can just focus on my wrestling again, you know not protecting anything,” Moore said. “There’s nothing to protect now.”In the aftermath of Snyder’s first collegiate loss since 2015, he will match up against No. 10 Michael Boykin. As rare as it is for Snyder to lose, it would be unexpected to see one loss affect him going forward other than providing him with motivation. He and No. 1 Adam Coon of Michigan are likely to meet again at the Big Ten championships in March.“I was just surprised by the way he acted after the match. He wasn’t super down on himself,” Ohio State junior Myles Martin said.Martin’s match in the North Carolina State meet against No. 3 Peter Renda is one of the showcase matchups of this dual. Martin is still ranked second and is 23-1, while Renda is 18-0 this season. The two last met at the Midlands Championships on Dec. 29, 2016. Renda beat Martin, 9-2. Martin said he freestyle wrestled against Renda this past summer.There are plenty ranked matches within the meet, including No. 4 Tomasello versus No. 5 junior Sean Fausz. No. 7 Joey McKenna of the Buckeyes and No. 2 senior Kevin Jack will face off in a key match at 141 pounds.No. 7 Micah Jordan will wrestle at 157 pounds against No. 3 Hayden Hidlay, a freshman who is 18-0 this season for North Carolina State. Other matchups between ranked wrestlers include No. 3 Luke Pletcher against No. 12 Tariq Wilson of the Wolfpack, and Ohio State’s No. 5 Ke-Shawn Hayes taking on No. 13 Beau Donahue.
Heaviest lobster to be found in UK waters in 85 years is
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The heaviest UK-landed common lobster is settling into his new home.Weighing in at nearly 17lb (7.65kg), he is the heaviest common lobster to be discovered in UK waters since 1931.The lobster, which was initially called Lionel, was discovered earlier this month in waters off Lannacombe Beach, north Devon, by free diver Joe Pike.It was taken to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth to be weighed and checked over by vets. The lobster has now joined the Aquarium’s Plymouth Sound tank with a brand new name, JJ – in honour of British Olympic silver medal-winning boxer Joe Joyce, a super heavyweight.Aquarium curator James Wright said: “After weighing JJ in at 7.65kg, it does indeed look like he is the heaviest common lobster to be discovered in UK waters since 1931.”It is however, very hard to age a lobster, especially at this size due to the frequency with which they moult, and growth is affected by all kinds of factors, but we estimate he is around 50 to 70 years old.”As JJ had experienced a significant amount of time out of the water, we needed to make sure that no long-term damage had been imposed.”He has spent some time with our husbandry team who have been monitoring his progress very closely and we’re happy to report he has been feeding well and is on the road to recovery.” We’re happy to report he has been feeding well and is on the road to recoveryaquarium curator James Wright The lobster was discovered in waters off Lannacombe Beach, north DevonMr Wright added: “JJ now has pride of place welcoming visitors to the first display they see in our Plymouth Sound exhibit.”Once he’s made a full recovery, he will be moved to our Eddystone Reef exhibit, where he will join other native marine species, such as bass, pollock, greater spotted catsharks and smoothhound sharks.” Europe’s biggest ever common lobster was caught off Fowey in Cornwall in 1931 and weighed nearly 20lb (9kg).Common lobsters are dark blue in colour with yellowish spots and can measure up to 3ft (1m) in total length.
Tories pledge to hold inquiry into how a God complex surgeon was
Frances Perks, one of Paterson’s victims, hopes he ‘rots in hell’Credit:Andrew Fox The trial heard that Paterson, of Altrincham, Greater Manchester, who treated thousands of patients during his career, exaggerated or invented cancer risks and claimed payments for more expensive procedures in some cases.The Government inquiry – involving senior doctors – would examine how the surgeon was able to practice for years, even though he had been repeatedly warned by NHS managers not to use techniques which left women at risk of cancer.Mr Hunt said: “The conviction of Ian Paterson, and recent disclosures about the seriousness and extent of his malpractice, are profoundly shocking. A highly qualified medical professional, with a duty of care for his patients, totally neglected that duty and instead performed unnecessary procedures on a huge number of women.“As a result I have agreed that, if returned to Government, we will hold a comprehensive and focused inquiry to ensure that any lessons are learnt in the interests of ensuring patients are protected in future.”The inquiry will be an early priority for a Conservative Government, sources said.The Health Secretary said: “We will take any testimony from those affected, their families, and others who may wish to come forward.”Some patients have called for a full public inquiry into how the malpractice went unchecked for years.But Government sources said there was concern that lessons were learned quickly and changes made to prevent rogue surgeons slipping through the net.The Crown Court trial heard accounts from 10 victims – representing a sample of those Paterson treated – operated on between 1997 and 2011 at the privately-run Little Aston and Parkway hospitals in the West Midlands.Jurors were not told Paterson had carried out hundreds of unnecessary operations on NHS patients, with Heart of England Trust, paying out almost £18m in damages and legal costs.The surgeon, who qualified in 1981, carried out “extensive, life-changing operations for no medically-justifiable reason” Nottingham Crown Court heard. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Jeremy Hunt said the case of Ian Paterson was ‘shocking’Credit:PA His motives were “obscure” but may have included a desire to “earn extra money” jurors heard.Paterson routinely lied to and manipulated patients, colleagues and his bosses while carrying out disfiguring, dangerous procedures, the court heard.The surgeon, who lives in Altrincham, Gtr Manchester, had been suspended from another trust, the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, when he started working for Heart of England in March 1998.As a result of his work, he owned a luxury home in Birmingham’s Edgbaston area, numerous properties in Cardiff and Manchester and a holiday home in the U.S. The surgeon carried out more than 1,200 experimental “’cleavage saving mastectomies” for the NHS. Since having the operations, which failed to remove suffiicent tissue, 675 of the patients have died. Other women underwent needless and botched procedures.Frances Perks, who endured nine needless operations and 27 biopsies after being given a false diagnosis branded him “a psychopath” while another left mutilated said he had a “God complex”.A teenage girl told how she was left looking as if she had been in a “car crash” after having a mastectomy she did not need. Paterson faces prison when he will be sentenced next month. Jeremy Hunt has pledged to hold a major inquiry into the “profoundly shocking” malpractice by a “God complex” surgeon who butchered hundreds of women.The Health Secretary said that if the Government is returned to power, it will open an investigation into the conduct of breast surgeon Ian Paterson, 59, who was allowed to operate for more that a decade after concerns were raised.The inquiry would take testimony from hundreds of patients and bereaved families, in an attempt to establish how the rogue surgeon was allowed to prey on women for decades, carrying out hundreds of needless and botched operations.Paterson was last week convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding involving 10 patients, and awaits sentencing.The NHS has already settled more than 250 claims, but lawyers believe the total number of victims at private and NHS hospitals is likely to exceed 1,000.
Three teenagers winched to safety from Dorset cliffs
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Dramatic footage shows three teenagers being rescued from Lulworth Cove, Dorset on Monday after they attempted to scale a 200ft cliff without safety equipment.Video by Manuel Cavazza
New laws on van hire may be needed to counter terror says
Ms Dick voiced her concerns over the easy availability of vans to be used as potential weapons two days after a hire van was ploughed into a group of men and women leaving the Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park, leaving one man dead and 11 other people injured. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has suggested that the hire of vans may have to be regulated to prevent them being used in a terrorist attack.Cressida Dick said new laws may be be required to control the ability of people to hire vans at short notice in order to weed out potential attackers, such as the man alleged to have mowed down Muslim worshipers in Finsbury Park and the London Bridge terror gang.She told the London Assembly on Wednesday that the police are currently reliant on information from van hire firms to monitor who is trying get hold of a vehicle for sinister purposes.Ms Dick said: “How can you, it’s very hard, but how can you deal with van hire? We’ve sent a message to the hire community, please be careful, think who it is, if there’s anything suspicious let us know.”She added, however, that more may need to be done to make the job of gathering intelligence on the hire of vehicle easier for the police.“Should that be regulated in any way? There’s a whole big review to be done. It might require some legislation. I don’t know. It might require some tweaking of legislation,” she told the assembly’s Police and Crime Committee. The Commissioner, who was only promoted to the top job in Scotland Yard just over two months ago, said the past few weeks have seen unprecedented pressure placed on her officers, with the Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and Finsbury Park attacks following in quick succession – along with the attack on the Manchester Arena and last week’s Grenfell Tower fire which killed at least 79 people.She admitted a number of criminal investigations have had to be paused or put on the back burner in order to free resources to deal with the recent spate of critical situations.The Grenfell Tower disaster alone has seen 260 detectives seconded to the investigation into the cause and culpability for the blaze.Ms Dick said: “The Counter Terrorism network is currently stretched. They’ve had four major incidents to deal with and have disrupted five other plots. Those all take a great deal of backward-looking investigative resource and it takes potentially away from the proactive and forward-looking intelligence work.”She added: “We’ve supplemented the national Counter Terror network from some of our crime resources nationally and in London and we’re shifting resources and people across the Met.“This does have have an impact for example on investigations. We have had to pause some, we have had to slow down some and that’s just a necessity.” Darren Osborne, 47, was dragged from the vehicle by the crowd and is under arrest on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism, including murder and attempted murder.Mr Osborne, from Cardiff, is suspected of hiring the van from the Pontyclun Van Hire firm in south Wales before driving to north London.There have been calls for a time delay to be introduced before individuals can drive off with a hired van or lorry to allow for background checks to be carried out.A hire van was also used by the London Bridge attackers Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba when they mowed down pedestrians on the bridge before attacking people in cafes and bars around Borough Market, killing eight and injuring 48 others.The attacks were indicative of the trend towards low-level terror attacks requiring the use of everyday and commonly available materials, such as vehicles and household kitchen knives – making them harder for counter terrorism forces to detect and disrupt.Ms Dick emphasised the vital role of information from the public in the fight against terror and urged people to continue reporting anything which made them suspicious.She told the committee: “When you’re dealing with lone actors, to know when something has changed in their head – so that they are now prepared not just to express views you and I would say are vile, but actually to do something violent and murderous and they are happy to be killed – is very hard.” But despite the wave of major incidents the force remained “steely in its determination”, Ms Dick added. Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick attends a vigil outside Finsbury Park Mosque, close to the scene of the van attackCredit:ISABEL INFANTES/AFP Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Oxford professor of Islamic studies Tariq Ramadan charged in France with rape
Sources close to the investigation said women who have testified anonymously during three months of preliminary investigations might now also file rape complaints.The claims against Ramadan, a Swiss citizen whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, emerged in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the United States.He has denied them, claiming he is the victim of a smear campaign. The accusations have sparked furious online exchanges between supporters of Ramadan, who commands a following of more than two million fans on Facebook, and his opponents.Despite his leave of absence from Oxford, Ramadan continues to head the Islamic Institute for Ethical Training in France.Ms Ayari was placed under police protection in November after receiving death threats. During three hours of testimony in Paris on Thursday, the woman – using the pseudonym “Christelle” – repeated her allegations to the judge in Ramadan’s presence.She also revealed that Ramadan had a small scar on his groin that would not have been noticed except in the case of close contact.Rejecting her testimony, the scholar refused to sign the official summary of the account, sources close to the case said.During three months of investigations since the allegations emerged, police have interviewed dozens of people close to both Ramadan and the two women, and examined email and social media exchanges between them.In November, Oxford University said Ramadan was taking a leave of absence from his post as professor of contemporary Islamic studies, “by mutual agreement”.He has also denied allegations of sexual misconduct against teenage girls in the 1980s and 1990s published in the Swiss media, denouncing them as “a campaign of lies launched by my adversaries”.Lawyers for Ramadan have accused Ms Ayari of slander and suggested the women colluded to try to disgrace him.As part of his defence, he has presented investigators with Facebook conversations in which a woman identified as Ayari allegedly made explicit advances towards him in 2014, two years after the alleged rape. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Critics of the Muslim scholar have long claimed that despite his moderate stance he preaches a more radical line when addressing Muslims in Arabic.Ramadan is the most high-profile figure to be held in France in connection with allegations of sexual assault and harassment which have emerged as part of the “Me Too” campaign.Ms Ayari, a feminist activist who previously practised a conservative strain of Islam, described being raped in a book published in 2016, without naming her attacker.But in October, she said she had decided to name Ramadan publicly as the alleged perpetrator as a result of the “Me Too” campaign, using the French hashtag “Balance Ton Porc” (Expose your pig).She claimed that Ramadan, a married father of four, raped her in his hotel room, telling Le Parisien newspaper: “He choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die.”She lodged a rape complaint against Ramadan on October 20.Several days later an unidentified disabled woman, a Muslim convert, also accused the academic of raping her in a hotel room in the southeastern city of Lyon in 2009.Vanity Fair magazine, which met the woman, said her lawsuit against Ramadan described “blows to the face and body, forced sodomy, rape with an object and various humiliations, including being dragged by the hair to the bathtub and urinated on”. The prominent Muslim scholar and Oxford professor of Islamic studies Tariq Ramadan has been charged with rape, following claims by two women that he assaulted them in French hotel rooms..Ramadan, who was arrested by French police on Wednesday, was charged on Friday with connected charges of rape and rape of a vulnerable person in 2009 and 2012.After two days of questioning by investigators, the 55-year-old professor was brought before three magistrates, in a move which suggests he is facing an extensive investigation, judicial sources said.The decision to charge Ramadan was welcomed by the lawyer representing Henda Ayari, 41, the first of the women to accuse him.Jonas Haddad said: “If there are other victims in France or elsewhere, they now know that the justice system will respond to what has happened to them.” French writer and feminist activist Henda Ayari told Le Parisien newspaper she was raped by RamadanCredit:Joel Saget/AFP
Bird flu outbreak kills some of the Queens swans in Windsor
Officials are investigating a suspected outbreak of bird flu after a number of wild swans thought to be owned by the Queen reportedly died in Windsor.Seven birds are feared to have died from H5N6 avian influenza, according to the Sun.The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed it was investigating a suspected outbreak of the deadly strain in Berkshire, with results expected early next week.It did not confirm the number of birds potentially affected or the number reported to have died.Bird flu has been detected in 75 wild birds so far in 2018, including a number of mute swans, Defra’s records show.Recently, two mute swans tested positive in Greater London. Currently no bird flu has been detected in poultry or kept birds.All unmarked mute swans on the River Thames, which runs through Windsor, are owned by the Queen as part of a tradition dating back to the 12th century. The Queen’s official Swan Marker David Barber told the paper: “We are deeply saddened by the loss.”This time last year, two swans died after 12 birds were shot with an air weapon and slingshot near to Windsor Castle. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Public school entrance exam is harming pupils mental health and should be
Entrance exams at top public schools should be scrapped because it harms children’s mental health, a leading headmistress has warned. “We are worried about children’s mental health and well-being,” Ms Fleming told The Daily Telegraph. “The idea of pre-testing in Year Six and then the pressure to do Common Entrance which is 13 or… She said that many private schools have started to introduce “pre-tests” for 11-year-olds in addition to the common entrance tests two years later. Alison Fleming, head of the £19,000-a-year Newton Prep school in London, said the Common Entrance used by some of Britain’s independent schools are “dull”, “turgid” and fail to equip children for life in the 21st century.
British engineer was so angry about Manchester terror attack he travelled to
Mrs Lyndon, a nurse, said she had been told he went into a house in Raqqa to check after an elderly man and his daughter had been concerned about booby trap bombs.She added that another volunteer told her “he and Ollie were going through the house, they kept saying to each other ‘Look out, look out’ and two minutes later there was an explosion, he shouted out ‘Oliver, Oliver’ but there was no sound”.Pathologist Brett Lockyer said Mr Hall died of multiple trauma injuries likely to have been caused by two bombs.Coroner David Horsley recorded a narrative verdict saying Mr Hall died “on active service with Kurdish forces. He gave his life to protect the safety of others”.He added: “He was someone who felt deeply about the world and its problems and resolved to do something about it himself to bring an end to terrorism and repression. He also should be an outstanding example of courage and self-sacrifice to whoever hears his storyCoroner David Horsley “He said ‘I love you Mum’ and I said ‘I love you’, and that was the last time I saw him,” she said.Describing him as having a strong personality, she said he was angered by terrorist attacks in the UK and Europe and his belief the Government was not taking action.She said: “I knew he was mad about them but we had no idea he felt so strongly.” Ollie’s mother Jane Lyndon said her son had not told her of his plans until he had arrived in the Middle East.She said that on the day he left, he gave her £20 to pay for a taxi to get home from work. A British engineer was so angry about the Manchester terror attack he travelled to Syria to fight Isil, and inquest has heard. Ollie Hall, 24, who was killed searching for booby trap bombs in Syria, was described as an “outstanding example of courage and self-sacrifice” by the coroner in Portsmouth. The telecoms engineer left for Iraq via Germany on August 18 last year and met up with the Kurdistan People’s Protection Units (YPG), attending its training academy in Rojava, northern Syria, for five weeks before working to clear mines and explosives in Raqqa, where he died on November 25.Friend Jonathon Duncan said Mr Hall had been planning to go to Syria for about six months and had given up smoking and drinking and got fit before leaving.He said recent terrorist attacks in the UK had inspired him to volunteer and added: “The one in Manchester was a bit too close to home. Europe is close but as soon as as the attacks came over here, if anyone isn’t going to do anything we have to do it ourselves.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “So deep was his commitment that he gave up the secure and comfortable life in his family home.”His actions have made him a hero in the Kurdish community. He also should be an outstanding example of courage and self-sacrifice to whoever hears his story.”
Isil teenager youngest female terrorist to be jailed for life after plotting
Boular was finally arrested on April 12 last year. But Boular went on to discuss the plans with her sister Rizlaine Boular, 22, and mother Mina Dich, 43, using coded language based on an Alice in Wonderland-themed Mad Hatters tea party.Picking up where Safaa left off, Rizlaine and Dich carried out reconnaissance visits around landmarks in Westminster and bought knives and a rucksack.On April 27 last year, fearing the attack was imminent, armed police moved in and, during the raid in Willesden Green, north-west London, Rizlaine was shot and injured.Rizlaine was jailed for life with a minimum term of 16 years, having admitted preparing acts of terrorism. Boular, one of the youngest women to be convicted of terrorism offences in the UK, betrayed no emotion as she was jailed.In mitigation her barrister, Joel Bennathan QC, said she had been “groomed” into radicalism when she was 15 but had since shunned Islamist extremism and no longer follows the Muslim faith.He said: “The environment in which this young woman became drawn into radical Islamist terrorism was a family which had the combination of a neglectful mother and an older, very radicalised sister,”Mr Bennathan said she is “no longer that type of person”, adding: “That’s the point about teenagers, they can change dramatically and fast.”Following the trial police said they feared this might not be the last terror plot to be masterminded by women in this country.Dean Haydon, the Metropolitan Police’s senior national co-ordinator for counterterrorism, said: “It’s difficult to say whether there will be others. But looking at what’s happened in other countries, there probably will be.” Her mobile phone, which she was using to contact her “husband” in Syria, was seized. She had downloaded videos of women wearing suicide belts.Boular began plotting to carry out a terrorist attack on the British Museum using the code words “tokarev” and “pineapple” for guns and grenades.She took delivery of a replacement phone hidden inside a heart-shaped chocolate box and using encrypted messages contacted 32-year-old Hussain from her sixth-form lounge and her bedroom. After Hussain was killed in a US drone strike Safaa discussed her plan with two undercover secret service officers posing online as extremists. Boular was first stopped by police on Aug 16 2016, on return from a holiday in Morocco. She admitted she wanted to go to Syria to marry Naweed Hussain, an Isil fighter. Her passport was seized, but since there was no evidence she planned to commit an offence she was allowed to return to her home in Vauxhall, south London. A heart-shaped box which contained a secret phone given to Safaa BoularCredit:Metropolitan Police/PA Boular’s ‘husband’, IS fighter Naweed HussainCredit:Metropolitan Police /PA An Old Bailey judge has jailed a teenager who was part of Britain’s first all-woman terror cell for life after rejecting claims she had renounced her Jihadist views.Sentencing Safaa Boular to a minimum of 13 years in prison Judge Mark Dennis QC said that despite being groomed by an Isil fighter the 18-year-old remained responsible for her actions.Boular was found guilty in June of two counts of preparing terrorist acts after she plotted with her sister and mother to attack tourists and Londoners at targets around the capital, including the British Museum and Palace of Westminster.Judge Dennis said: “In my view there’s insufficient evidence upon which it would be safe to conclude at this stage that the defendant is a truly transformed individual and the serious risk that she has posed hitherto has now evaporated.”Her views were deeply entrenched. However much she may have been influenced and drawn into her extremism, it appeared she knew what she was doing and acted with open eyes.” Court artist sketch of Safaa Boular appearing at the Old Bailey during her trial on terrorism offencesCredit:Elizabeth Cook/PA Dich, 44, was imprisoned for six years and nine months with an additional five years on licence for helping her. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.