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Canadian star Ryan Reynolds reveals he’s ‘Bruce’ from viral Ottawa Public Health tweet

Ryan Reynolds has a confession to make: He’s “Bruce” the Ottawa Public Health intern who accidentally sent out a tweet on Super Bowl Sunday that congratulated the winner of the big game without removing the placeholder text. 

At least, that’s according to a tweet from the OPH account.

After the Super Bowl this year, the Ottawa Public Health (OPH) twitter account sent out a post congratulating the winner. 

Just one problem, the name of the winning team was missing, and the tweet seemed to imply that an employee named Bruce may have hit send too early.

The post got thousands of likes and interactions from people who believed that Bruce had really messed up. 

The next day, OPH piggybacked on its popularity with a thread explaining that the post wasn’t a mistake — rather it was a deliberate opportunity to discuss how to think critically about information online.

“Btw, we’re so touched by the outpouring of support for dear Bruce (who doesn’t exist, btw). It’s nice to see such kindness out there. Be critical of what you see online. Misinformation has consequences that go far beyond the wellbeing of ‘Bruce,’ ” read the final tweet in the thread. 

Enter Reynolds, the Golden Globe-nominated star of Hollywood blockbusters like Marvel’s Deadpool franchise, and an active, generous Twitter user.

According to an email from OPH, the actor has been following them since before the pandemic and reached out earlier this week to compliment their work. 

They got to talking and OPH pitched him the idea for a video where he admits to being Bruce the intern. He agreed and shot it for free.

In the video, Reynolds suggests he tweets for OPH from time to time, but simply forgot to finish that particular post.

While he said there’s nothing he can do about his mistake now, what people can do is stick to the COVID-19 basics, such as hand-washing, masking, distancing and getting vaccinated when it’s their turn.

“We were, to say the least, delighted when Mr. Reynolds agreed to participate,” OPH said. “We appreciate that Mr. Reynolds took the time out of his busy schedule to help us share this important public health message.”

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CBC | Health News

Star Citizen Devs Angry, Forced to Work Through Life-Threatening Texas Storm

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The devastating snowstorm that hit Texas in mid-February killed at least 70 people and set record cold temperatures all across the state. Insufficiently winterized power infrastructure failed, plunging millions of people into darkness. Houses burned as homeowners attempted to light fires in dirty chimneys. A number of video game companies reached out to help their employees through the rocky time, including EA, Aspyr, Owlchemy, Certain Affinity, and Activision-Blizzard. Cloud Imperium Games also made public claims about helping to support its employees through a difficult time, but multiple people who work at the company have claimed this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Kotaku spoke with six employees at the company. As the storm moved in, a CIG office manager told employees to plan on working extra-long hours to make up for the shutdown, with “this week/weekend as a first option.” The manager continued, “Assuming roads are clear we also can manage a few people in the studio. If all else fails then enter PTO for whatever time you cannot make up.”

If you asked me to pick a game developer I trusted to understand the difficulty of any given task, Cloud Imperium Games would be at the bottom of my list. Image is of Austin following the February storm, from the ESA. CC BY-SA 2.0

CIG employees report organizing among themselves to share tips on surviving the Texas storm even as the head office made no attempt to do so. The company made no effort to distribute aid or information about where to go and what to do if you found yourself in a precarious and previously uncontemplated survival situation. CIG had no response for what employees who could not take PTO were supposed to do.

“I still felt obligated to check in on teams every couple hours,” said one source. “I just felt like I had to do it, even though most people weren’t talking those days. Everyone was just focusing on surviving.”

“I was talking to some other people in the [Austin] office, and apparently, some of the blowback from the other offices is that they were like ‘Oh, they just want a snow day. Why should we give them a snow day?’” another source told Kotaku.

An Amazing Explanation

CIG’s explanation for why its executives had so completely failed to respond to what was happening in Texas arrived in employee inboxes on Feb. 21, after the storm was over. According to management, the reason executives expected business as usual all week is that none of them had been paying attention to the news coming out of Texas.

This is incompetence or gaslighting in its purest form. It was literally impossible to glance at the news and not see something about the catastrophe in Texas that week. Any given individual might be utterly head-down in a project and working like crazy, but the idea that not a single person in the C-suites or their various assistants had the tiniest idea about the size of a disaster affecting one of its development studios implies either complete disengagement from the day-to-day business of running the company or an equally unacceptable inability to prioritize literal employee survival over the need to get a new spaceship texture turned in by Friday. Chris Roberts eventually sent out an email to the entire company stating that no employee pay would be affected by the storm.

Star Citizen has raised $ 31.3 million dollars since November from crowdfunding.

Star Citizen broke its own fundraising records for 2020. Last June, it announced it had raised over $ 300M. Currently, it’s raised over $ 350M. Here’s their funding graph, showing a monthly intake of between $ 3M and $ 16M per month going back to last August. That’s not everything CIG has ever raised; private investment has accounted for at least an additional $ 62M being pumped into the company over time. One estimate puts the total amount raised by CIG between $ 450M and $ 470M to-date. Star Citizen claims 604 developers and the median wage for a game programmer in Austin according to Glassdoor is $ 50,432 and $ 64,355 according to Salary.com. Giving its employees a week of unexpected time off to deal with an incredibly rare emergency was never going to break the corporate bank. Nor was it going to matter to Star Citizen’s release date, given that neither the single-player nor multi-player version of the game have one.

“While I think the company ultimately came to the right decision…CIG’s slow and hesitant response and general lack of communication hit hard for employees that are already low on morale and feel this company doesn’t care about them,” one source told Kotaku. “With all those things on top of a game that feels like it’s coming closer and closer to a gacha for expensive ships and no actual gameplay, useless features being constantly shoved in and removed, where marketing holds absolute power over any other department, employees start to feel disheartened after awhile.”

Feature image by CIG. 

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Boxing star Claressa Shields is back for a historic card — and she’s fighting a Canadian

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

A Canadian is fighting one of the best boxers in the world

American Claressa Shields rose to stardom at the 2012 Olympics, where she won middleweight gold at the age of 17. She repeated as Olympic champ in 2016 and also won a pair of middleweight titles at the boxing world championships during her stellar amateur career.

Since turning pro in late 2016, Shields has won all 10 of her fights and captured titles in three different weight classes. In addition to being the current undisputed middleweight (160 pounds) champ, the 25-year-old also holds the WBC and WBO women’s light middleweight (154 pounds) belts. ESPN and The Ring magazine both rate her as the second-best pound-for-pound women’s boxer in the world.

On Friday night in her hometown of Flint, Mich., Shields will step into the ring for the first time in 14 months. Her opponent is a Canadian, 34-year-old Marie-Eve Dicaire, who’s 17-0 as a pro and currently holds the IBF light middleweight title. The bout will unify the two fighters’ various light middleweight belts, and the vacant WBA and The Ring titles are up for grabs too.

Shields is also putting herself out there. She and her manager personally put together Friday night’s card, which is being billed as the first-ever all-female pay-per-view boxing event. The Shields-Dicaire main event is the first women’s bout to headline a boxing pay-per-view since Laila Ali (Muhammad Ali’s daughter) fought Jacqui Frazier-Lyde (Joe Frazier’s daughter) in 2001.

As this story by ESPN’s Michael Rothstein explains, Shields decided to go the DIY route after growing increasingly frustrated with her broadcast partner Showtime. She felt the cable network wasn’t offering her the same opportunities as some of its big-name male boxers.

At the same time, she noticed that mixed martial arts does a better job of showcasing its women’s stars (case in point: the co-main event on this Saturday’s UFC 259 card is a women’s featherweight title bout between star champion Amanda Nunes and challenger Megan Anderson). So Shields is becoming a two-sport athlete. She recently signed a deal with the Professional Fighters League that will see her do two MMA bouts this year, and she’s also planning to fight twice in the boxing ring. The bout everyone would like to see is Shields vs. Ireland’s Katie Taylor — the reigning undisputed lightweight champion and the consensus No. 1 pound-for-pound women’s boxer in the world. It’s a bit tricky, though, because Shields would have to drop down in weight quite a bit to make the fight.

As for Dicaire’s chances of ruining Shields’ big night with an upset, well, they don’t look great. The Canadian is a good fighter (The Ring rates her No. 2 in the world behind Shields in the light middleweight division) and her 17-0 record looks impressive. But she’s never fought outside of her home province of Quebec, and now she’s going right into the backyard of an opponent who’s nine years younger and more talented.

As CBC Sports’ resident fight expert Cole Shelton (follow him on Twitter here) noted when we talked about this matchup, outpointing Shields over 10 rounds is a tall order for Dicaire. So a surprise knockout is probably the best path to victory for the Canadian. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to have that kind of stopping power. All 17 of her pro fights have gone the distance. As a result, the current betting odds imply Dicaire has only about a 13 per cent chance of beating Shields. But, win, lose or draw, simply getting the opportunity to fight in the main event of this historic card — and getting to do so against one of the world’s very best — is a big deal for Dicaire and for Canadian boxing.

Canada’s Marie-Eve Dicaire is rated the No. 2 women’s light middleweight in the world. (Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images)


The Raptors will be very shorthanded tonight. Five Toronto players — starters Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby; reserves Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn — plus head coach Nick Nurse and five of his assistants will miss tonight’s game vs. Detroit as part of the NBA’s health and safety protocols. This is just the latest of the Raptors’ coronavirus-related issues, which started last week when Siakam, Nurse and five coaching assistants missed Friday’s game against Houston. Sunday’s game against Chicago was postponed, and Tuesday’s game vs. Detroit was postponed until tonight due to what the league said was “positive test results and ongoing contact tracing within the Raptors organization.” Mercifully, tomorrow night’s game in Boston is Toronto’s last before the all-star break, which lasts a full week. Read more about the Raptors’ problems here.

And finally…

Trivia question: which NHL team holds the record for most goals scored in a game?

Gotta be one of the ’80s Oilers squads, right? Maybe Lemieux’s early-’90s Penguins? Or the legendary ’76-77 Habs?

No, it’s actually the 1919-20 Canadiens, who on this date 101 years ago beat the Quebec Bulldogs 16-3 to set a single-game goals record that has never been matched (hat tip to CBC News’ Morning Brief newsletter for that factoid). Forward Newsy Lalonde and defenceman Harry Cameron each scored four times, and forwards Odie Cleghorn and Didier Pitre also had hat tricks. The legendary Georges Vezina was in net for the Canadiens that night. Quebec star Joe Malone, who about a month earlier had scored seven goals in a game to set an NHL record that still stands, was held to only one goal.

It might surprise you to hear that 1919-20 was the highest-scoring season in NHL history in terms of average goals per game. Montreal also scored 14 and 12 in separate contests that year, and teams averaged 4.79 goals per game (for comparison, last season it was 3.02). It also might surprise you to hear that, to this day, the four highest-scoring seasons in NHL history are still the first four — 1917-18 through 1920-21.

Coming up from CBC Sports

Snowboard cross: Watch the first of two sets of men’s and women’s World Cup races in Georgia on Thursday from 2-3:30 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app. The second set goes Friday at the same time. Canada’s Eliot Grondin is second in the men’s season standings with only one World Cup stop left after this one.

Nordic ski world championships: Watch the women’s cross-country 4×5-km relay Thursday at 7:15 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.

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The father-daughter relationship behind the success of rising Canadian tennis star Leylah Annie Fernandez

Sitting on the living room couch at their Boynton Beach home in Florida, Leylah Annie Fernandez and her father, Jorge, are intently watching All or Nothing: Manchester City.

The pair are huge fans of City manager Pep Guardiola, considered one of the greatest soccer managers the game has known. As the intensely cerebral Spaniard breaks down the patterns he wants his players to exhibit on the pitch, Leylah and Jorge sink their teeth in.

“I love Real Madrid but right now we’re kind of taking a break from them and supporting Man City,” Leylah said. “I like Pep Guardiola, his style is kind of like my tennis game so I’m learning from him.”

Learning to use patience to dictate play. Maximizing angles to go for the kill. That soccer techniques have intertwined with tennis strategies is only fitting. 

Leylah’s coach through her formative years has been Jorge, a former pro soccer player of Ecuadorian descent who played across South America. He never had any association with tennis whatsoever, but took on the challenge when he saw a daughter in need.

The two have already seen some of the ups and downs of pursuing a tennis career. From tennis pro being the answer to what she wanted be at the age of nine to thinking there may be more to life than sports within a year, Jorge has stood alongside her through every decision.

It is a most intriguing relationship the two share as Leylah looks to continue her ascension on the WTA circuit after having struggled for lift-off with her tennis aspirations as a child. Jorge’s gut instincts to coach his daughter have helped Leylah maximize everything within her 5-foot-4, 106-pound frame to put her on the cusp of making her name an unforgettable one in the tennis world.

The past 12 months has gone a long way toward that goal. She delivered a straight-sets win over Belinda Bencic, ranked No. 12 in the world, in February last year in a must-win match for Canada at the Billie Jean King Cup (formerly the Federation Cup). She following that up by reaching the first WTA Tour final of her career in Acapulco shortly after.

The Montreal-born 18-year-old is now ranked No. 89 heading into the Australian Open, which begins Sunday in Melbourne. She will open the tournament Monday against Elise Mertens of Belgium, the tournament’s No. 18 seed. It is the fourth major of her young career.

When Leylah first began playing sports at the age of five, she looked a natural at soccer, and though track and field joined the fray along with volleyball – tennis had her heart. She first started playing in their Laval home driveway where the goal was simply to avoid hitting the family car. She worked on her consistency by hitting a ball against the basement wall for hours on end, a practice that had her mother, Irene, stressing over whether the TV or wall would end up with a hole. As Leylah got older, she and her younger sister, Bianca, would ride their bikes to the tennis courts three blocks away.

“It’s the beauty of it,” Leylah said about why tennis appealed to her more than the other sports. “Every time I would watch tennis on TV, it was so beautiful: the way you can create something out of nothing is what attracted me to it. And then the competition: you’re on your own on the court, you make the decisions and if it goes well you get the win and if it doesn’t you lose. You don’t really need to depend on anybody else, you don’t need to depend on your teammate for the winning shot.”

WATCH | Fernandez wins Junior French Open:

16-year-old Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez beats Emma Navarro 6-3, 6-2, becomes country’s first-ever junior champion at French Open. 1:13

As Leylah’s passion for the sport increased, she found a hero in 5-foot-5-and-a-half Swiss legend Justine Henin on YouTube, inspired by what someone with a relatable frame could do. Henin spent 117 weeks as world No. 1 and won seven Grand Slam titles, including the French Open four times. She also won an Olympic gold medal at the 2004 Games in Athens.

“She’s not the biggest player nor the strongest player but she always found a solution playing against bigger players,” Leylah said. “She had the talent, great hands, slices and drop shots to open up the court where not many could, and that inspired me that I could do it, too, and I want to inspire other kids to believe they can do it, too.”

The modern era has typically favoured taller players in the women’s game. Billie Jean King, at 5-foot-5, won 12 major singles titles and Chris Evert managed 18 at 5-foot-6, but both retired more than a decade before Leylah was born. The likes of Henin have been more the exception than the rule since. Of the 20 highest-ranked players on the women’s tour coming into this season, 16 are listed at 5-foot-9 or taller.

More encouragingly, the other four are world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty (5-foot-5), No. 2 Simona Halep (5-foot-6), and No. 4 Sofia Kenin and No. 8  Bianca Andreescu (both listed at 5-foot-7). They have accounted for half of the previous 10 Grand Slams won — compatriot Andreescu becoming the first Canadian to win a major singles title when she won the U.S. Open in 2019 — and Leylah hopes to join that list sooner than most prognosticators anticipate.

At 5-foot-7, compatriot Bianca Andreescu, right, provides inspiration for Fernandez, who at 5-foot-4 often finds herself battling taller players on the Tour. (Getty Images)

‘Big mountain to climb’

“Finish top 10 in the WTA,” she said when asked about her goals for 2021. “I know that’s a very big mountain to climb but I always think that it’s possible and me, as a player, I can do it.”

Leylah’s parents’ first step to helping her pursue a tennis career began at the age of seven when they enrolled her in a provincial development program in Montreal that was in partnership with the national program. The hope was to help her elevate her game, but they soon saw the challenges of chasing professional aspirations. Leylah, a left-hander, was found to have a flawed forehand technique, was slow on her fitness tests, and struggled with her serve. Losses piled up and before she could realize what hit her, she was cut from the program.

“I thought I was gonna get my weekends back,” Jorge said with a laugh. “She was crying and I’m looking at this little girl, ‘Honey, is this really important for you?’ She said yeah and that she really wanted to play. I said, ‘If you want, I’ll coach you.'”

Honey, is this really important for you?’ She said yeah and that she really wanted to play. I said, ‘If you want, I’ll coach you.– Jorge Fernandez

In the moment, Jorge viewed her fundamental deficiencies as secondary. He may not have known how to be a tennis player, but he certainly knew how to be a professional athlete. He had watched Leylah get coached from the sidelines and could see there were teaching methods she could benefit from. Tennis, after all, has been as traditionalist a sport as any. Perhaps a fresh pair of eyes could be exactly what she needed.

Jorge quickly decided to work on a plan of action, recognizing that if he was going to get the best out of his daughter, he was going to have to stick to his guns. After all, he could relate to the task at hand for Leylah, having signed his first professional soccer contract at the age of 13.

Whether it be coaching or any goal, Jorge’s first step is to write down his objectives and assign timelines. At the top of the list was to make Leylah mentally unbreakable. He knew it was going to require a plan that took not days or weeks or months, but years. By the time she was done her teens, Jorge wanted to ensure he had helped mould someone who could consistently showcase character and spirit.

He also put in time to study parents who have coached their kids to an elite level in tennis. In the women’s game, there’s hardly a better example than Richard Williams, who nurtured his daughters Venus and Serena to a combined 30 Grand Slam singles titles. Serena, with 23 to her name, is arguably the greatest tennis player the women’s circuit has ever seen. Steffi Graf, perhaps her biggest competition in the GOAT debate, finished with 22 Grand Slam singles titles and was also coached by her father, Peter Graf, in the early stages of her career.

Richard Williams hugs Serena Williams, right, after her 2012 Wimbledon championship. Sister Venus, left, is also a Wimbledon champion. (Getty Images)

Steffi and Peter Graf in 1989 after her Wimbledon championship, one of 22 major singles titles the German star won. (Getty Images)

Jorge would spend time watching Venus and Serena’s matches and try to understand game plans not only from each of the two sisters, but their opponents and how they would be countered.

“One of the things [with Richard] was the simplification of the sport,” Jorge said. “I think great salespeople have a way to simplify complexity and just focus on the assets that are going to get you where they’re going to get you. He focused on their power. 

“In the land of the blind the one-eyed-man is king. I had one eye, and I said, OK, since my kids and my wife don’t know better, I’m not going to get criticized too much. I decided we’re going to focus a lot on finesse, mental toughness, and speed. A lot of precision tennis, and every now and again, a knockout punch.”

Leylah’s first taste of Jorge the coach was a rude awakening. She was nine and trying to execute a basic drill of hitting the ball over the net. Unknown to her was a three-strike rule Jorge was going to enforce for repeating the same mistake. As the ball nestled into the net for a third time, she was told to run “suicides,” a high-intensity sprint drill. Leylah was taken aback, but Jorge wasn’t going to have it any other way. He wanted her at what he viewed as maximum output.

You have to be at the red line all the time, and then you find a new red line.– Jorge Fernandez

“You have to be at the red line all the time, and then you find a new red line,” Jorge said, conjuring the markings on a pressure gauge. “You have to be there until the red zone becomes a normal zone, then, the most beautiful thing happens. You become a better player and the mistakes you’re making, you’re no longer making them.

“You have a mental fortitude and what you didn’t think you could do, you now do regularly.”

Jorge recognizes that it’s difficult for kids to grasp the concept of pressure and stress. He felt it was important to convey that in the simple terms kids understand: good gets rewarded and bad gets punished. Leylah would often end up in tears and other coaches would shake their head at Jorge’s methods, but he wouldn’t let up. It was the way he knew best. Having recognized his daughter’s shock, though, he did have a conversation with her immediately after to see how she felt.

“He just wants me to improve, keep correcting, keep competing,” Leylah says now. “He said that’s going to happen a lot, that he’s going to put me in uncomfortable positions during practice and it’s up to me to fight through it and find solutions.

“When I said I wanted to be professional, that’s the place I wanted to go. That’s why he pushes me a little bit more every day, every year.”

While creating a “normal zone” in their coaching relationship, Jorge also wanted to make sure Leylah was never intimidated by the size of her opponent. While Jorge still had the time in Montreal, he played pickup basketball with some friends and decided that he was going to ask one of his muscular 6-foot-4 friends who happened to also play tennis to go up against his nine-year-old daughter.

The instructions for Leylah were to focus on the ball no matter what and just keep the rally going. Jorge watched from her side of the net as the rallies progressed and she was able to keep up. To take the challenge to another level, he walked over to the other side and asked his friend to crank up the power from time to time. Leylah would struggle, but she kept going.

Focus on the yellow fuzz coming at you

Jorge’s message was simple: in tennis, no one can physically hurt you. It’s not soccer where someone can get their cleats stuck into you, or basketball or hockey where someone might take a cheap shot. He felt the key in tennis is to ensure the ball going by you or into the net doesn’t phase you. Leylah left the court that day knowing all she needed to focus on was the yellow fuzz coming at her, not who was hitting it back.

The results speak for themselves. Leylah won her first national tournament, for players 16 and under, at the age of 12. She was soon invited to Tennis Canada’s U14 and provincial program and though she wound up leaving it after just a couple of months, her acceptance into the program gave the family confidence to pursue international tournaments and move to Florida, a renowned hub for tennis talent. Playing in the ITF Juniors, her biggest moment came in 2019 when she was 16, reaching the finals of the Junior Australian Open in January and then winning the Junior French Open a few months later.

Fernandez finished runner-up to Clara Tauson, left, in the Junior Australian Open in 2019. A few months later Fernandez won the Junior French Open. (Getty Images)

“With the help of my dad, him learning with me and my younger sister, too, and also my mom, they were all there and just encouraged me and told me that if I want to stop playing tennis, I can,” Leylah said looking back on her early struggles.

“Tennis is not the only thing in life that’s going to make you happy but, for me, I just kept improving, kept my head down and kept working. With time, a few years later, the results came and more opportunities came my way too.”

For Leylah to fully realize her potential, help with the fundamentals and technical aspect of her game were going to be necessary. In that regard, there was little Jorge could offer. He needed help. He positioned himself more as a head coach, like he knew in soccer, and the right assistants were to be pivotal to Leylah’s growth.

Jorge recruited Francisco Sanchez, a former hitting partner of pros Henin and Kim Clijsters, and coach Robby Menard when the family was still in Montreal. Now it is Frenchman Romain Deridder, who previously worked as the director of ITF team and player development at Proworld Tennis Academy in Delray Beach, Fla.

‘Compliment each other’

“Jorge and I have a really good relationship on and off the court,” said Deridder, who is with Leylah in Australia this month. “I think we compliment each other very well. Obviously, he has been on court with her his whole life so when we started I wanted to learn from him as much as possible and I still do, so I can fit into the team and understand what I can bring and how to approach Leylah.

“We sometimes get into situations that they both lived before and it helps a lot that he knows his daughter better than anyone. Two sets of eyes are better than one.”

Fernandez celebrates winning the second set in her first ATP final at the Mexican Tennis Open last February. She ultimately lost in three sets to Great Britain’s Heather Watson. (Associated Press)

Away from the court, there are movie nights, scarfing down burgers, Leylah making fun of her dad being the most immature person in the room and then both laughing. After dinner, Leylah and Jorge — and more recently sister Bianca — can be found shooting paper towels into a glass to see who can get it in first.

“He actually lets me eat what I want, which is pretty cool that he’s not too strict outside the court,” Leylah said. “The only thing he’s strict about is my schooling, like every parent is, other than that he just says balance your life, you have time to relax and hang out but when it’s time to work, you work. That’s all he wants for me, and to be independent.”

As Leylah has grown and matured, Jorge has stressed the importance of her making her own decisions and being able to live with them. 

He’s not one to control me. I have my opinions, my decisions, he wants me to be independent …– Leylah Annie Fernandez

“He’s not one to control me,” Leylah said. “I have my opinions, my decisions, he wants me to be independent so he teaches me all this stuff but leaves the decisions to me to open up, be a strong, independent woman and live with my decisions, whether it’s a bad one or a good one and dealing with the consequences. At the same time I know he’s always going to be there and be able to support me so that’s great.”

Whenever it’s time to take a break from dad, Irene and Bianca are there for her. Leylah sees her mother’s calming presence and encouraging manner as the perfect complement to her father’s more fiery style. With Bianca, who is pursuing a tennis career of her own and who is also being coached by Jorge, the two can share their experiences together. It was only recently the two stopped sharing a room, but when home, Leylah can be found hanging out with her little sister in her room, extending the closeness that developed.

“She’s the one teaching me sometimes,” Leylah said about her sister. “She has so much energy, we’re always so competitive, every time we’re on the court we’re trying to beat each other or even off the court we want to see who’s better at cleaning or cooking even.”

Leylah opened the 2021 season this past week by losing in the second round of the Grampians Trophy, a tuneup to the Australian Open. She pulled off an impressive 6-3, 6-1 win over 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens in the first round, but then lost to world No. 22 Maria Sakkari in straight sets in gusty Melbourne conditions. 

Every win over the next four months matters even more since a silver lining of the pandemic is that a door has been opened for Leylah to participate in the Tokyo Olympics — an opportunity her ranking wouldn’t have afforded her last year. She entered 2020 ranked 209th. With the one-year delay, qualification for the tennis singles competition has been extended to June 7, 2021, and the top 56 players in the world at that time will be considered eligible.

Olympic dream

“It would mean a lot to me,” Leylah said of Olympic participation. “That was one of my dreams when I was younger, just to represent my family and my country in the Olympics, hopefully get a gold, silver or bronze medal. Obviously, I want the gold medal, but just having that experience would be a checkmark off the book.”

While Leylah has high expectations of herself, Deridder keeps perspective on the Canadian teenager and emphasizes just how much further Leylah can go.

“She is still in development and transitioning from the juniors,” Deridder said. “Her game has so much room for development and improvement in every aspect: mentally, physically and technically. That’s the everyday work and that’s what we are here for.”

Jorge has been spending time more recently working with. It is all part of the process of recognizing that Leylah’s best will steadily come as he slowly lets go and gives more of her to the world. Just as he was the one to bring a fresh approach to her game when she needed it as a child, he is happy for others to keep adding to her repertoire. Leylah may tease him over abandoning her and moving on, but deep down she recognizes why it’s necessary.

“He sees weakness as an opportunity to improve and become your greatest weapon,” Leylah said. “He will always admit his faults, he will always say, ‘I’m not good at this but I can bring someone to mentor you and teach you at the same time so when the time comes and we need to go to a different path…’ 

“He will still know what to tell me, what to teach me, and we’ll keep working together.”

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U.S. holds Jozy Altidore out of game citing transfer interest in TFC star

U.S. Soccer has opted to hold veteran striker Jozy Altidore out of Sunday’s friendly with Trinidad and Tobago, citing transfer interest in the Toronto FC star.

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter told reporters Altidore had recovered from a “very very minor strain” and was in full training Saturday. But he said with the transfer deadline looming and the game so close, “it’s a chance we didn’t want to take with Jozy, so he will not be participating.”

“Throughout the last three weeks you wouldn’t believe the amount of calls I’ve been getting from clubs about different players,” Berhalter said Saturday. “You guys are part of that speculation. But you see it as well and you hear it.

“We’ve gotten calls about a ton of players. Jozy’s another focus of transfer speculation. I don’t think it’s my place to go into details of that. I think that’s a place for his club and Jozy. But there have been a number of clubs interested in Jozy as well as other players in camp.”

Altidore seemed to push back on the transfer speculation in a social media post Saturday evening.

“Don’t believe everything you read. The devil is working overtime,” he tweeted.

Rocky relationship 

The 31-year-old Altidore has spent the last six seasons with Toronto, scoring 58 goals and adding 20 assists in 123 regular-season MLS games.

With 115 caps for his country, he is the most senior player in camp with the US.

Altidore signed a three-year contract extension with Toronto in February 2019

“This is my home, this is where I want to be and this is where I want to keep building,” Altidore said at the time.

He made $ 6.3 million US in 2019 according to the MLS Players Association.

The burly forward has had his issues with the club, however.

In January 2020, he criticized it over its handling of captain Michael Bradley’s ankle injury.

In April 2019, he accused Toronto president Bill Manning of putting his ego ahead of player welfare by banning a valued trainer because of his association of former TFC striker Sebastian Giovinco.

A deal was soon struck to bring the trainer back into the fold and Altidore apologized.

Akinola waiting in the wings

Altidore’s return to the team last season was delayed.

He’d spent much of the lockdown at his Florida home and had to go through quarantine upon coming north of the border.

Away from the field he has a young son and is engaged to U.S. tennis star Sloane Stephens.

After NBA and other teams elected not to play in late August last year in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, Altidore sat out TFC’s game in Montreal for “personal reasons,” according to then-Toronto coach Greg Vanney.

Toronto also has a powerful striker looking to play more minutes in 21-year-old Ayo Akinola.

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Star Citizen Developer Unveils New Roadmap, Cancels Squadron 42 Beta

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Earlier this year, Cloud Imperium Games, makers of Star Citizen, declared that it would publish a new roadmap, laying out both recently completed work and showcasing new goals to be completed over the coming year. In his discussion of the new roadmap, CIG founder and CEO Chris Roberts gave readers some specific guidelines for how much they should rely on the roadmap for accuracy:

Our desire is to show you four quarters of releases, but one critical takeaway is that only the immediate quarter in front of us has a chance to have a release view that will be hardened, as the deliverables that appear on the card for the quarter in front of us will have passed Go/No Go gates or be close enough to completion that we can predict their delivery with a high degree of confidence. You could say at that point that we have a ~90% degree of confidence that this deliverable will make its indicated release quarter. Once you go past the quarter in front of us though, that predictability and confidence for delivery will begin to degrade.

The roadmap, as displayed, is still only a partial document — CIG is showing the work of 20 of its development teams, out of 50 total — but it does establish a basis for concrete improvements that can be used to judge the game’s progression. One thing it shows is that a number of key systems are still quite a while from being ready to deploy, including:

  • Looting and an associated inventory system.
  • Healing (via using items)
  • Hacking
  • Dynamic mission system (allows missions to be tailored to environments)
  • Bounty hunting (said to require “various new backend tech, including Virtual AI, the NPC Scheduler, and Security Service”).

In other words, CIG is still working to integrate what we typically view as core gameplay mechanics. While bounty hunting isn’t a core gameplay mechanic, the features it depends on probably are.

According to the roadmap, the work to “Designing, implementing, and iterating on Chapter 01 of Squadron 42’s single-player campaign” will begin in January 2021. It is unclear if development on the listed chapters of Squadron 42’s single-player campaign began prior to the publication of this roadmap. The roadmap lists 13 chapters out of 27 mentioned in the document, implying that these are either the chapters left to be finished or the first chapters to be implemented over the course of 2021. Roberts only promises a single-year roadmap and no item on this section of the roadmap extends additionally into 2022.

The long-awaited Squadron 42 beta, which was expected to drop this month, has been delayed into the indeterminate future. According to Roberts, “it is too early to discuss release or finish dates on Squadron 42.”

Roberts Pledges Not to Act Like CD Projekt Red Before Acting an Awful Lot Like CD Projekt Red

Most of Roberts’ lengthy update is devoted to laying out the particulars of how the roadmap works, how the company will update the document in the future, and how seriously readers should take the roadmap’s claims. When he gets to the Squadron 42 section, Roberts makes two arguments:

1). The game will be released when it is done, not to make a launch date. Roberts says the game will only be released ” when all the technology and content is finished, the game is polished, and it plays great.” He notes that over the past few years, he’s seen a number of games released before they were ready, and notes that the current holiday season is “no exception” to this problem. He pledges that the game will not be released in the name of making quarterly numbers or the holiday shopping season.

So far, so good.

2). CIG will not be showing any gameplay, locations, or assets related to Squadron 42 until we are much closer to the release window. Since there is currently no given release window, this is CIG’s way of saying it will not be releasing any additional material showcasing the game for the indefinite future.

Roberts goes so far as to say:

It is better to treat Squadron 42 like a beautifully wrapped present under the tree that you are excited to open on Christmas Day, not knowing exactly what is inside, other than that it’s going to be great.

This is spectacularly tone-deaf, given recent events concerning Cyberpunk 2077. The central problem with Cyberpunk 2077 was that the company expected and encouraged gamers to treat the game in the manner Roberts is recommending — namely, as one that’s so big, so fundamentally different, so advanced, it would break or redefine core genre concepts and impact the development of every FPS that comes after it. A game so big, we could all be certain it was going to be great.

Millions of PS4 and Xbox owners got an unplayable garbage game on launch day precisely because the company hid all the warts and problems before putting it on sale. Roberts claims that it is impossible to generate enough assets to show off a narratively-driven game before said title is 6-12 months from launch. This would be a good time to note that there are hundreds, if not thousands of videos currently posted to the Star Citizen YouTube account, most of which serve up small slices of content and explorations of gameplay mechanics.

I counted 720 released over the past four years. There are more — I just quit counting at that point. While I respect that Roberts’ doesn’t want to give away critical plot details, canceling the Squadron 42 beta and telling people they should expect the game to arrive like a beautiful Christmas present is asking a lot. Telling them it’s impossible to market the game because it might set unrealistic expectations when you’ve been aggressively marketing the multiplayer side on YouTube for over four years completely undercuts this argument. If it was acceptable to so thoroughly show Star Citizen, there has to be some Squadron 42 content that falls into the same category.

According to Chris Roberts, development on Star Citizen started in 2010, though it kicked into higher gear after a highly successful Kickstarter. What started as a single-player title with a fixed goal (and a 2016 release date) has since morphed into a “do everything” game, where most of the “do everything” is still under development. Squadron 42 may be released independently from Star Citizen, but it’s built from the same engine and at least some of the same underlying systems.

Roberts and CIG can truthfully point to the ongoing alpha releases as proof that Star Citizen is evolving, but the decision to cancel the Squadron 42 beta, combined with the declaration that the company will not be releasing gameplay videos, trailers, or asset demonstrations until some unknown future date “closer to release” does not inspire confidence in the final product.

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Astronomers Spot Potentially Artificial Radio Signal From Nearby Star

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(Credit: sharply_done/Getty Images)
In 2015, Billionaire Yuri Milner launched the Breakthrough Listen project, an effort to scan the million closest stars for radio signals that could indicate intelligent life. Astronomers working on the project have announced the discovery of just such a signal from Proxima Centauri, which is just 4.2 light years away. We don’t yet know what this signal is, but there’s a (very) small chance it could have alien origins. 

Breakthrough Listen uses radio telescopes like the Parkes telescope in Australia or the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia. These instruments regularly record what look like signals from space but are actually due to local interference from Earth. In April and May of 2019, the team caught something different — a narrow beam transmission around 980MHz that lasted 30 hours. The signal, dubbed BLC1, also appeared to shift in such a way that it could have been coming from a planet orbiting the star.

The team is still preparing a paper that the scientific community can scrutinize, but there are a few reasons to be excited here. Proxima Centauri is the closest star to our solar system, and in 2016, researchers announced the discovery of an Earth-like exoplanet orbiting in the habitable zone. Later, astronomers spotted a second, larger planet farther out in the solar system. So, it’s theoretically possible there’s life on one of those planets, particularly the one in the habitable zone. 

The Green Bank Telescope used by Breakthrough Listen.

However, it’s still far too early to start celebrating the discovery of alien life. BLC1 is a candidate signal that needs to be analyzed, and if we’re being realistic, it’s doubtful that intelligent aliens live in the next solar system over. The Milky Way galaxy has an estimated 300 million exoplanets and is almost 14 billion years old. To find another intelligent species existing at the same time as us just a few light years away would be exceedingly improbable. If said aliens are also using radio frequency technology at the same time as we are, that’s an even bigger coincidence. 

This is not the first signal that could be interpreted as having artificial origins. The famous “Wow” signal detected in 1977 by SETI researchers is another example. That one didn’t pan out, but BLC1 could be the first serious contender in decades. If this isn’t it, well, there are a lot more stars out there. The only way we’re going to find them is to keep looking. 

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Soccer star Alphonso Davies, Super Bowl champ Duvernay-Tardif share Lou Marsh Trophy

Bayern Munich left back Alphonso Davies and Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif are co-winners of the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year.

It is the third tie in the 82-year history of the award, presented annually by the Toronto Star.

Media members across the country voted on the award Tuesday. Duvernay-Tardif and Davies each received 18 votes with one vote going to one of the other finalists — soccer players Christine Sinclair and Kadeisha Buchanan and Denver Nuggets basketball star Jamal Murray.

The most recent tie was in 1983 with wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen and hockey star Wayne Gretzky.

“This year has been a roller-coaster and I’m very happy to be able to share the Lou Marsh with another deserving winner, LaurentDTardif,” Davies said in a tweet. “It hasn’t been an easy year for many Canadians and we hope we were able to bring some happiness to you with our accomplishments this year.”

The 20-year-old Davies became the first Canadian to win a Champions League men’s title.

In June, Davies was named Bundesliga rookie of the year in voting by fans, clubs and the media. Kicker magazine, a German sports magazine that focuses mainly on football, included him in its Bundesliga team of the season.

Recent Lou Marsh Trophy winners

  • 2019 — Bianca Andreescu, tennis
  • 2018 — Mikael Kingsbury, freestyle skiing
  • 2017 — Joey Votto, baseball
  • 2016 — Penny Oleksiak, swimming
  • 2015 — Carey Price, hockey
  • 2014 — Kaillie Humphries, bobsleigh
  • 2013 — Jon Cornish, football
  • 2012 — Christine Sinclair, soccer
  • 2011 — Patrick Chan, figure skating
  • 2010 — Joey Votto, baseball
  • 2009 — Sidney Crosby, hockey

Last week, ESPN ranked Davies as the second-best left fullback in the world, behind Liverpool’s Andy Robertson.

Davies was named the top Canadian male soccer player for 2020 last week.

WATCH | The Breakdown: Alphonso Davies and Canadian soccer:

Joshua Kloke, writer at The Athletic, speaks to CBC Sports about the Canadian’s historic title and if it changes the national soccer landscape.  6:55

Duvernay-Tardif, a McGill University medical school graduate, won the Super Bowl as a starter with the Chiefs before becoming the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A native of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., Duvernay-Tardif chose to volunteer in a long-term care facility in his home province at the height of the pandemic’s first wave.

“Humbled to win the Lou Marsh Award with Alphonso Davies, one of the greatest athletes Canada has ever produced,” Duvernay-Tardif posted on Twitter.

The 29-year-old Duvernay-Tardif was one of five athletes recognized as “Sportsperson of the Year: The Activist Athlete” by Sports Illustrated on Sunday.

The Lou Marsh Trophy has been awarded annually since 1936 with a three-year hiatus during the Second World War.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux on the year that was:

Athletes around the world raised a collective voice in an unprecedented show of power. 5:03

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Howie Meeker, former NHL star and Hockey Night in Canada icon, dies at 97

Howie Meeker, a former NHL player, Hockey Night in Canada icon and legendary personality, died Sunday at age 97 at Nanaimo General Hospital in B.C.

Meeker, who won four Stanley Cups with Toronto and was the oldest living Maple Leaf, was an NHL star who won rookie of the year honours in 1947 after scoring 27 goals and 45 points in 55 games.

A spokesperson for the Maple Leafs, the team that signed Meeker to a free-agent contract on April 13, 1946, confirmed his death earlier Sunday. There was no immediate word on the cause.

Meeker went on to become a broadcaster and was known for phrases such as “Jiminy Cricket,” “Golly gee willikers” and “Stop it right there!” His work with HNIC earned Meeker the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in 1998 after a 30-year career on CBC and TSN.

Born on Nov. 4, 1923 in Kitchener, Ont., Meeker played eight years with the Maple Leafs — winning NHL championships in 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951 — and appeared in three all-star games.

He finished his NHL career at 30 in the 1953-54 season with 83 goals and 185 points in 388 regular-season games while adding 15 points in 42 playoff contests.

Most famously, he passed the puck to Bill Barilko for the 1951 Cup overtime winner against Montreal.

Skated into his 80s

Among Meeker’s other career highlights was scoring five goals in a 10-4 win over Chicago on Jan. 8, 1947, one of only 44 players to tally five or more times in a game.

He continued to play pro hockey on and off for another 15 years at a variety of levels, including the American Hockey League and Newfoundland Senior League, among others.

Meeker retired from playing after the 1968-69 season and kept skating into his 80s.

Dick Irvin, a fixture on HNIC for 33 years, told the Montreal Gazette in 2014 that Meeker was the first television analyst to break down the game and criticize players.

“‘You can’t do that!'” Irvin recalled Meeker saying. “‘See what he did? That was wrong! That guy J.C. Tremblay should never have done that. Tim Horton made a mistake! Look at what he’s doing there!’

Meeker spent two years as a Progressive Conservative member of Parliament while playing for the Leafs. He won the federal byelection in the Ontario riding of Waterloo South in 1951 but didn’t seek re-election two years later.

Ran hockey schools, wrote books

In 2010, he was named a Member of the Order of Canada and inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

Meeker, who also called St. John’s home through the years, ran hockey schools for more than 30 years and literally wrote the book on hockey — 1973’s Howie Meeker’s Hockey Basics.

During the ’70s, he offered up drills and tips during his Howie Meeker Hockey School sessions on CBC.

He later wrote another book called Golly Gee — It’s Me: The Howie Meeker Story. And he never ran short of opinions on how to improve the game he loved.

Meeker had six children with his first wife Grace — they were married for 55 years before she died of cancer. He remarried, living with wife Leah in Parksville on Vancouver Island where they were active in fundraising for the B.C. Guide Dog Services.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

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Absence of World’s Fastest Man will deprive Tokyo Olympics of sorely needed star power

This is a column by Morgan Campbell, who writes opinion for CBC Sports. For more information about CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

If you’ve never seen Christian Coleman run in person I feel sorry for you as a sports fan, because the man is an absolute wonder. I watched from the bleachers as he zoomed away from a world-class field in the early rounds of the men’s 60 metres at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, and sat near the finish line as he won the final in 6.37 incredible seconds.

That time was the second best ever, trailing only the 6.34 Coleman ran at U.S. nationals that year. Those numbers quantify what you see when you watch Coleman blast from the starting blocks and rocket down the track.

He’s faster than 5G wifi. Faster than money running through your chequing account.

He’s faster than any sprinter in the post-Usain Bolt era, and that’s not just my opinion. It’s a point of statistical fact. Last September he won a 100-metre word title in 9.76 seconds, the fastest time in the world since 2015.

WATCH | Christian Coleman runs 9.76 at 2019 World Championships:

Christian Coleman of the United States wins 100m with personal best 9.76 seconds, Andre De Grasse finishes 3rd while fellow Canadian Aaron Brown places 8th. 8:37

Coleman is so fast that the sport’s drug testers can’t keep up with him, and that’s the problem.

This month the Athletics Integrity Unit, which oversees doping control for World Athletics, suspended Coleman for two years after a string of missed out-of-competition drug tests. The ruling means the top performer in track and field’s highest-profile event will miss the Olympics — if they actually happen next summer in Tokyo. Unless Coleman’s last-ditch appeal succeeds, somebody besides the current World’s Fastest Man will win Olympic gold in 2021, and his suspension will leave a long list of losers.

Stench of a doping control violation

First is Coleman’s career, even though he has never tested positive, and even though the AIU’s report specifies that officials don’t suspect him of using performance-enhancing drugs. The stench of a doping control violation will still sour his reputation, and the two-year gap on his resume could prove costly for a sprinter at his level, where appearance fees grow with each Olympic and world championship medal, and where gold in Tokyo could have earned him untold endorsement cash.

But four whereabouts violations in a 12-month span hint that Coleman either doesn’t understand, or simply doesn’t care about the importance of routine paperwork.

In that sense the World’s Fastest Man is like many of us, too busy keeping pace with daily life to sign every paper and respond to every email. I’ve been paying accountants to prepare my taxes since before I could afford it, because even student loan-poor Morgan had less time than money. So if the time drain and tedium of constantly updating his location, just to facilitate unannounced drug tests, simply overwhelmed Coleman, I get it. I empathize. I’ve been there. The world’s fastest human is still human.

But those doping control location forms are just like tax returns, in that failing to keep them up to date will cost you in the long run. If I keep CRA waiting long enough, I’ll earn an audit. If you don’t answer the door when drug testers knock, as happened with Coleman in December, or if you’re in Iowa on a day you said you’d be in Kentucky, as happened last spring, you’re courting warnings and, eventually, suspensions.

And if you’re Coleman, your absence will deprive the sport of your sorely needed star power.

De Grasse the new favourite?

In theory, a Coleman-free Tokyo Olympics elevates Markham’s Andre De Grasse to an early favourite. De Grasse, after all, won bronze at 2019 worlds, finishing behind Coleman and Justin Gatlin, who will be 39 years old next summer.

But it’s still too early to handicap a competition that’s nine months away. In 2016, hardly anyone outside Coleman’s inner circle and a handful of absolute track and field soothsayers, could have said with certainty that he would outrun Usain Bolt in the 2017 World Championship final. And as De Grasse wrapped up the 2014 season, few observers would have known that by the following summer he would shave nearly a quarter second off his 100-metre personal best, and transform from junior college sprint standout to world championship medallist.

The point here is that new contenders emerge every year, and don’t usually warn the mainstream sports world before they do it.

WATCH | The ascension of Christian Coleman, Andre De Grasse:

Despite following similar paths in their careers, Canada’s Andre De Grasse and American Christian Coleman have yet to race each other professionally in the 100 metres.. CBC Sports’ Anson Henry sets up the much-anticipated 100-metre showdown at the upcoming track and field worlds. 1:38

Still, sidelining the most recent world champion in the most-watched event of the summer Olympics hurts both the games and the sport of track and field. Coleman might not have Bolt’s effusive, yet easy-going, made-for-mainstream audiences personality, but he’s American, and that matters.

Among everyday sports fans and media in the U.S., understanding of track and field is about as broad and deep as an ashtray, which explains why several times a year football writers try to explain why NFL players are faster than Olympic sprinters. This month it’s D.K. Metcalf, the Seattle Seahawks receiver who made highlight reels with his coast-to-coast chase-down of Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker last Sunday night. Metcalf’s wearable tech measured his top speed at 22.64 m.p.h., or 10.1 metres per second if you’re fluent in sprinting.

That stat prompted one writer to calculate that Metcalf’s speed, if sustained, converts to 9.88 seconds over 100 metres, except that conclusion assumes Metcalf’s peak speed is also his average — which is impossible. A peak, by definition, isn’t sustained. That’s why it’s a peak. A true 9.88 sprinter likely maxes out north of 11.5 metres per second. Track aficionados understand that distinction, but people raised on U.S. football, and hand-timed 40-yard dashes as the gold standard of speed, often don’t.

Enter Coleman, who went viral in 2016 when he ran a 40 under NFL Combine conditions and clocked 4.12 seconds, a full tenth of a second faster than the best time ever recorded at the combine. That figure might mean little in the track and field world, but it translates Coleman’s speed into a language U.S. sports fans recognize. And so it positioned him as a bridge between a sport that gains mainstream attention for two weeks every Olympic summer, and the massive North American fan base that could make the whole enterprise more lucrative.

Instead, Coleman has a suspension he’ll have to appeal to the Court for Arbitration in Sport, hoping a win will put him on the start line next season. If he loses he’ll have to watch the Tokyo 100 metre final, probably on television or from a safe social distance, one more way the World’s Fastest Man is just like the rest of us.

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