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That was tense: Canada is back in medal round for Olympic soccer after winning nail-biter over Brazil in penalty kicks

Canada will play either the Netherlands or the United States in the semifinal on Monday in Kashima. Canada are two-time defending bronze medal winners from the past two Olympics

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Canada is heading to the medal round for the third consecutive women’s Olympic soccer tournament.

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Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe made two saves in a penalty shootout to defeat Brazil in the opening quarter-final at the Miyagi Stadium on Friday.

Labbe stopped Brazilians Andressa and Rafaelle for a 4-3 win in the shootout after the teams were scoreless through regulation and 30 minutes of extra time.

“I’m really, really proud of the resilient performance that the group put in; it went right to the very end,” said Canada head coach Bev Priestman. “The whole tournament I’ve said big players step up in big moments and Steph, I had no doubt in my mind when that (last) penalty was taken, it was going to be saved.

“Now we have to move on quickly and go into that semifinal ready to win. It’ll be a tight turnaround, but I’m just over the moon, it was a really great Canadian performance and Canadian moment.”

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Jessie Fleming, Ashley Lawrence, Adriana Leon and Vanessa Gilles scored from the penalty spot for Canada after Christine Sinclair missed her attempt to start the shootout.

Marta, Debinha, and Erika countered for Brazil, who led in the shootout until Labbe stop its final two shooters.

“The emotions are high right now, but what a performance by the team,” Labbe said. “Defensively, we were solid against some of the best strikers in the world. Then attacking-wise, I thought we put in a good shift, we had some great opportunities and that’s what the Olympics are about; these tight games that bring out performances that make us really proud.

“I’m so proud of the team in front of me today, and for me, I think to be able to do my part and be able to help this team come away with the win is a really proud moment for me as well.”

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Canada will play either the Netherlands or the United States in the semifinal on Monday in Kashima.

Australia and Sweden will meet in the other semifinal. Australia defeated Great Britain 4-3 in extra time in the second quarter-final at the Ibaraki Kashima Stadium, while Sweden defeated Japan 3-1 at the Saitama Stadium.

The United States and Netherlands concluded the quarter-final stage at the International Stadium in Yokohama later this morning.

Canada are two-time defending bronze medal winners and went into Tokyo looking to improve on its performance in London and then Rio. A win in the semifinal would guarantee Canada at least a silver medal.

“It was a really difficult game and I know that Brazil will be disappointed,” Priestman said. “They have some unbelievable players, but I’m really proud, we never underestimated how good that Brazil team was, and now we need to move on quickly.”

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The quarter-final proved to be a battle of attrition as neither team was able to take control of the contest, but both had plenty of opportunities to score through 120 minutes, played in temperatures hovering near 30C.

Canada’s best chance to score came in the second half when Gilles headed a free kick off the crossbar in the 59th minute.

Brazil also had its chances, but could not beat Labbe, who made a handful of outstanding saves in the game.

Labbe made a lunging stop on Debinha with five minutes left in the first half after Gilles gave it up deep in her own half. Debinha went in alone, but Labbe charged off her goal line and was able to make the save.

“I thought Brazil would be a podium-threat team and I think they’ve looked the best they have been for a while,” Priestman said. “They are more organized and we knew the front four at the top would be the biggest threat for Brazil and we had to contain that, and our players did.”

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Canada had a handful of other chances throughout the game as well.

Midfielder Quinn came close in the 12th minute with a shot from the top of the penalty area, which sailed high.

Midway through the first half, Ashley Lawrence whipped a cross into the box, which Sinclair was unable to control and the ball bounced off her to Brazil goalkeeper Barbara.

In the second half, Labbe made a good save on Andressinha in the 54th minute, on a shot heading towards the roof of the net.

Labbe then stopped a shot from Debinha in the 70th minute, diving to her left to knock the ball away from the net.

Deep into extra time, Labbe made another outstanding save, getting a hand on a header from defender Erika, which took the game into the penalty shootout.

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Sinclair was stopped by Barbara on the opening shot and Brazil took the early advantage by scoring on its first three attempts.

Canada scored on its next four attempts, while Labbe stopped Brazil’s final two to pull out the win.

A few hundred fans were allowed in the stadium to watch the game as COVID-19 restrictions were eased for the contest.

“We’ve been playing in empty stadiums and training in empty stadiums so for us, to see fans come out there was incredible,” Labbe said. “Also to see the Canadian flags out there and to feel their support, we did our best to acknowledge them and send our best to them, but it was so special to finally have fans in the stands.

“In games like this that go 120 minutes and into penalty shots, that little bit of energy can help push a team over the top.”

Email: dvandiest@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

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Why TV audiences are not into the Tokyo Olympics

Broadcasters will not be taking home any gold medals for how many people have watched the Tokyo Olympic Games so far

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Broadcasters will not be taking home any gold medals for how many people have watched the Tokyo Olympic Games so far.

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In several major markets around the world, the TV audience has fallen since 2016, as viewing becomes more fragmented and athletes compete in Japan when audiences are mostly asleep in the United States and Europe.

Ratings data from the opening ceremony and first few nights of events indicate that the Tokyo Games are currently the least watched Olympics in recent history across Europe and in the United States. However, TV viewership is up in Australia and Japan.

Comparisons with previous Olympic Games are imperfect given the different times zones, the COVID pandemic and fewer streaming options in past Games, but a downward trend is clear.

The opening ceremony last Friday drew 16.9 million TV viewers in the U.S., the smallest audience for the event in the past 33 years, according to Nielsen data provided by NBCUniversal.

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That audience declined 36 per cent from 2016, when 26.5 million people watched the Rio de Janeiro Games opener, and 58 per cent from 2012, when 40.7 million people watched the London ceremony.

U.S. TV viewership hit a high of 19.4 million on Sunday night but has been downhill since then, dropping to 15.7 million on Tuesday.

In a call with analysts on Thursday, Jeff Shell, the chief executive officer of NBCUniversal – which paid $7.65 billion to extend its U.S. broadcast rights for the Olympics through 2032 – attributed record-low ratings to several factors.

“We had a little bit of bad luck, there was a drumbeat of negativity, we got moved a year, no spectators,” Shell said. “And that has resulted in a little bit of linear ratings being probably less than we expected.”

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As NBCUniversal and other media companies are trying to offer more of the Games at more hours and on more platforms and devices, viewers have had a harder time finding content they want to watch.

NBCUniversal is airing the Games across two broadcast networks, six cable networks, and multiple digital platforms including its Peacock streaming service. But that scope has led to confusion: It did not stream the opening ceremony on Peacock, for example. And while all of Peacock’s Olympics programming is available to stream for free, viewers need to pay for the $4.99 premium tier to watch men’s basketball live.

“The viewing experience needs to be streamlined,” said credit analyst Patrice Cucinello. “It’s confusing from a user experience, to go: ‘Wait a second. Do I have to watch it on the NBC app? Can I watch it on Peacock? When am I going to watch it? Why can’t I watch it on demand?’ You need a simplified user experience or people get frustrated.”

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VIEWERSHIP UP IN AUSTRALIA, JAPAN
Viewership has also declined across Europe where – like the United States – the time zone in Japan presents a challenge for broadcasters. Over the first three days of the Games, 769,000 viewers tuned in on one of France’s three public TV channels, not including Discovery Inc-owned broadcaster Eurosport, according to data from audience measurement company Mediametrie.

That audience represents a 17.4 per cent decline from the same period during 2016’s Rio Games and a 74% decline from the 2012 London Games.

The Olympics are being aired in Germany on two public channels – ARD and ZDF – as well as Eurosport. The opening ceremony attracted 2.07 million viewers on ZDF, according to ratings compiled by research firm GfK, a 73% decline from the TV audience that watched the opener of the Beijing Olympics that aired at a similar time of day.

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Britain’s publicly owned broadcaster, the BBC, says it had a peak live audience of 2.3 million, and 944,000 online streams, for the opening ceremony on Friday, which started around lunchtime UK time. That’s a 39.4% decline from the BBC’s peak live audience for the Rio opening ceremony, and a 61% decline from the BBC’s peak live audience for the 2008 Beijing opener.

At least two major markets saw an uptick in opening ceremony viewers compared to previous Games. In Australia, where the Games are being broadcast on Seven Network’s Channel 7, sister channel 7mate and streaming service 7plus, 2.7 million viewers watched the opening ceremony nationally on Seven Network, the company said in a press release, up 20% from the TV audience for the Rio opener. That audience declined on both Saturday and Sunday evenings, by 11% and 7%, respectively, the Seven West Media-owned company said.

In the host country of Japan, where the majority of the public has opposed hosting the Games during the pandemic, the opening ceremony was watched by more than 70 million people and was the most watched event in the last 10 years, Yiannis Exarchos, CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Services, said on Monday.

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Rosie MacLennan hurt her ankle weeks before Tokyo Olympics. For her, fourth place is still impressive

Everyone else was wondering if Canada’s Rosie MacLennan could complete the three-peat. She was wondering if she could compete, period

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TOKYO — Everyone else was wondering if Canada’s Rosie MacLennan could complete the three-peat.

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She was wondering if she could compete, period.

Moments after Friday’s fourth-place finish at Tokyo 2020, the end of her run as the two-time reigning Olympic trampoline champion, MacLennan revealed she was on crutches as recently as six weeks ago due to an ankle injury.

“I had a bad landing in training, nine weeks ago to the day,” she said. “I tore multiple ligaments completely and partially tore another one and had multiple bone bruises. So obviously it was a question mark for a few weeks whether I’d get back in time.

“It was about three weeks ago, two days before I left, that I was able to put routines together for the first time. So the preparation wasn’t what I was hoping for.”

As MacLennan was sharing that secret in the mixed zone, the Olympic Hymn was playing in the background — a sign the podium ceremony was about to start.

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In both London and Rio, she’d been the focal point of that presentation. In fact, she is the only Canadian to successfully defend an individual title at the Summer Games.

She nearly claimed a third medal in Tokyo but ultimately missed out on bronze by less than three-tenths of a point. The 32-year-old told reporters afterward that she “travelled a bit too much” during her final routine and immediately figured those minor mistakes would cost her a shot at the hardware.

“I was really hoping to have the opportunity to stand on the podium for Canada again and obviously didn’t quite get there, but I’m so happy for the athletes who did,” said MacLennan, who scored 55.460 in Friday’s final at Ariake Gymnastics Centre. “It was always going to be really tough and there were a lot of really strong competitors in this field.

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“Yeah, I wish I could have done a bit more. But the other side is, six weeks ago I was on crutches in a boot. So the fact I was able to get here, compete, represent Canada in the sport that I love and do as well as I did, I know I have to be happy with that.”

Would MacLennan have medalled if not for that untimely injury? We’ll never know.

Her longtime coach, Dave Ross, estimated her ankle was at about 85 per cent and added that “she wouldn’t be able to bounce without taping it.” He made reference to former figure-skating star Elvis Stojko, saying they copycatted his decision to keep a groin injury hush-hush prior to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.

“We didn’t want to tell the world that she was injured because if the judges think that she’s an injured athlete, they won’t see her as a potential winner, right?” Ross said. “She looked as good as if she wasn’t hurt, she was just jumping a little bit lower. So that three-tenths lower is the difference between fourth and third right there, even without the other mistakes.”

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MacLennan moved into top spot after her final routine Friday but because she was fourth in qualifying, that left three other high-flyers with an opportunity to bump her from the podium.

They did just that. When her near-miss became official, the class act from King City, Ont., beelined for the medalists — China’s Xueying Zhu and Lingling Liu won gold and silver, respectively, with Great Britain’s Bryony Page claiming bronze ­— to be among the first to offer hugs and words of congratulations.

Chatting with reporters a few minutes later, she seemed upbeat despite the close-call. Nearby, Japan’s Megu Uyama was sobbing as she fielded questions about her fifth-place finish.

MacLennan was asked if she had any regrets about not going out on top after her back-to-back trampoline triumphs in London and Rio.

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There wasn’t a blink of hesitation. No.

“I love this sport,” she said. “Obviously, we’re always trying to push ourselves to be the best. Obviously, I really did want to come out here and win a medal for Canada. But at the end of the day, my experience in sport, there’s so much depth to it. There’s so much that I’ve learned through sport that I can take with me for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything else. I love the people. I love the team. I love the opportunity to push myself. Every piece of it, I love it.”

So, see you in Paris in 2024?

She laughed.

MacLennan, a four-time Olympian already, is not ready to look past a weekend get-together with her loved ones back in Ontario. She hasn’t seen some of her relatives in nearly two years.

“Let me just go home and hang with my family first,” she smiled.

Fair enough.

If this was it, MacLennan will bounce as one of Canada’s greatest Olympians of all-time. Three-peat or not, that much was already guaranteed.

“I feel really sorry for the Japanese girl,” Ross said of Uyama. “She had a bad day so she feels like she let her whole country down. Rosie has already brought the country up twice.”

wgilbertson@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/WesGilbertson

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Airlift begins for Afghans who worked for U.S. during long military campaign

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WASHINGTON — Some 200 Afghans were set to begin new lives in the United States on Friday as an airlift got under way for translators and others who risk Taliban retaliation because they worked for the U.S. government during its 20-year war in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said.

The operation to evacuate U.S.-affiliated Afghans and family members comes as the U.S. troop pullout nears completion and government forces struggle to repulse Taliban advances.

The first planeload of some 200 evacuees were expected to be bused to Fort Lee, a U.S. military base in Virginia, for final paperwork processing and medical examinations.

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The Afghans who worked for the United States are being granted Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) entitling them to bring their families. As many as 50,000 or more people ultimately could be evacuated in “Operation Allies Refuge.”

The first group is among some 2,500 SIV applicants and family members who have almost completed the process, clearing them for evacuation, said Russ Travers, President Joe Biden’s deputy homeland security adviser.

The Afghans were expected to remain at Fort Lee for up to seven days before joining relatives or host families across the country.

The evacuees underwent “rigorous background checks” and COVID-19 tests, Travers added. Some were already vaccinated, and the rest will be offered jabs at Fort Lee.

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The surging violence in Afghanistan has created serious problems for many SIV applicants whose paperwork is in the pipeline amid reports – denied by the Taliban – that some have been killed by vengeful insurgents.

Some applicants are unable to get to capital Kabul to complete required steps at the U.S. embassy or reach their flights.

“We do lack the capacity to bring people to Kabul from other parts of the country or to house them in Kabul,” Tracey Jacobson, State Department coordinator of the operation, told reporters.

The SIV program has been plagued by long processing times and bureaucratic knots – which the Biden administration and Congress are working to undo – that led to a backlog of some 20,000 applications. The State Department has added staff to handle them.

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“The U.S. has had 20 years to anticipate what the withdrawal would look like,” said Adam Bates, policy counsel for the International Refugee Assistance Project, which provides legal aid to refugees. “It’s unconscionable that we are so late.”

Kim Staffieri, co-founder of the Association of Wartime Allies, which helps SIV applicants, said surveys the group has conducted over Facebook show that about half of SIV applicants cannot reach Kabul, including many approved for evacuation.

Congress created SIV programs in 2006 for Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who risked retaliation for working for the U.S. government. (Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman)

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Doctors, lawyers want B.C. to track injuries after record heat wave

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VANCOUVER — Two groups focused on environmental issues are calling on the British Columbia government to come up with a plan to track “heat dome injuries” following record-setting temperatures that are also linked with 570 deaths in the province over a one-week period.

Representatives of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the West Coast Environmental Law Association said thousands of people across the province sought medical help for conditions like heat stroke, dehydration and even brain injury but there’s no way to track the extent of the problem.

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Doctors submit a billing and diagnostic code based on a patient’s condition so they can be paid by the province, but no code exists for illness related to heat waves.

Dr. Melissa Lem, incoming president of the physicians’ group, said she was using a code for headache for some of her patients suffering from the effects of heat in late June, but it didn’t include symptoms linked to temperatures hitting 31.7 C in Vancouver and into the high 40s elsewhere in B.C.

She said while the B.C. Coroners Service tracked deaths related to the heat, no one was tracking severe illness associated with the “heat dome” — where high pressure parks over an area and warm air sinks — that covered the province.

“I saw more heat-related illness than I had ever seen in my career. For example, healthy 20-year-olds who were at the beach all day and unable to cool off when they returned home to their apartments,” said Lem, a family doctor in Vancouver.

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“I can think of one patient who had developed heat stroke within an hour of being at home and she said her mother actually drove her around to different clinics trying to get her to be seen, but because of the pandemic very few people were seeing people in person.”

Lem said the patient called her a few days later and showed multiple symptoms including dizziness, headache and fatigue, resembling a concussion.

Doctors should be directed to use a specific billing and diagnostic code for heat illnesses so accurate data are collected to support patients, Lem said, adding Doctors of BC, the medical association for the province, instructed physicians to use a code for any services related to COVID-19, for example.

“We shouldn’t just be tracking deaths, we should also be tracking heat injuries,” she said.

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The B.C. Health Ministry said the province “is developing a plan to prepare and adapt to climate change” that builds on steps it has already taken to protect public safety.

“The province is also working to better understand climate change impacts and published a provincial climate risk assessment that is informing the development of climate preparedness and adaptation strategy,” it said in an email.

Lem estimates nearly 10 people suffered some kind of heat-related sickness for every person who died in B.C., amounting to between 5,000 and 6,000 visits to doctors’ offices and emergency rooms after 911 callers overwhelmed paramedics.

“I think we need to get better at tracking that as climate change warms our coast and it warms our province,” she said. “We just need to have the data so we can better prepare on a systemic level, from ambulances to hospitals to establishing cooling centres to getting alerts out to vulnerable people like elders who are in their apartments and don’t necessarily have access to air conditioning.”

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In some cases, brain injury occurs when a rise in body temperature by even two or three degrees sets off inflammation and cell death, Lem said.

“That, left unabated, can lead to longer-term brain damage. In very basic terms, it’s like cooking your brain. Our brains are composed of protein, fluid, cells, and they need to be at a proper temperature.”

Some heat-related conditions can start with a headache, confusion, loss of consciousness and lead to death, she said.

Andrew Gage, a staff lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law, said it’s long been known that climate change is driving extreme weather conditions like heat waves, but it’s time for the government to systematically look at how people’s health is being affected.

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He called on the province to start educating citizens on ways to cope with extreme temperatures, especially older people who made up the majority of those who died during the heat wave and lived in the areas covered by Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions.

Andreanne Doyon, an assistant professor at the school of resource and environmental management at Simon Fraser University, said municipal governments could take steps like planting more trees to cool down temperatures around buildings, many of which have large windows and no air conditioning.

Satellite imaging after a heat wave in B.C. in 2017 showed lower-income neighbourhoods in Vancouver, including the Downtown Eastside, had fewer trees compared with other parts of the city, she said.

“The problem, though, that the city and other regions are facing is that maintaining the existing tree population is not as easy as it sounds,” she said. “A lot of the tree species that we have are not meant to withstand this kind of heat.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2021.

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Carlos Carrasco set for Mets debut vs. Reds

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The New York Mets have waited more than half a season for Carlos Carrasco to make his Big Apple debut. However, when he takes the mound Friday night, he may not even be the most notable recent addition to the Mets’ roster.

The trade deadline will be freshly in the rearview mirror when Carrasco throws his first pitch for the Mets in the opener of a three-game series against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

Carrasco (3-4, 2.91 ERA in 2020) is slated to oppose Sonny Gray (2-6, 4.50 ERA in 2021) in a battle of right-handers.

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Both teams played matinees Thursday.

The host Mets fell to the Atlanta Braves 6-3, while Joey Votto continued his historic home run surge to lead the Reds past the host Chicago Cubs 7-3.

Carrasco was expected to slot into the No. 2 spot in the Mets’ rotation when he was acquired from the Cleveland Indians on Jan. 7 along with shortstop Francisco Lindor. However, Carrasco tore his right hamstring during spring training — the first of a litany of injuries sustained by New York starting pitchers.

Eight starters have spent time on the injured list, and that is where three members of the Mets’ season-opening rotation — two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom as well as left-handers David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi — currently reside.

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The Mets, who have led the National League East for 83 consecutive days, acquired Rich Hill from the Tampa Bay Rays on July 23.

Even so, with Hill and Carrasco both likely to be on pitch counts for the remainder of the season — Hill is the majors’ oldest active pitcher at 41 years old while Carrasco threw just 6 2/3 innings over three rehab starts — New York has been linked to almost every starting pitcher on the market as it looks to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

On Thursday afternoon, though, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso was more excited about the return of Carrasco than the possible arrival of anyone else.

“It’s going to be awesome,” said Alonso, who insisted he didn’t know the trade deadline was Friday. “We’re kind of banged up right now, obviously, and to be able to get a starting pitcher back, it’s going to be awesome — not just for us but it’s going to be really special for him.”

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Votto is in the midst of one of the most special stretches of a stellar career. He has homered in six straight games — a record for the Reds, whose history dates back to 1869 — and has eight homers during the streak.

Votto’s infield single in the sixth inning Thursday was his first hit that wasn’t a homer since his streak began last Saturday.

“I’m trying to homer,” Votto said with a deadpan grin. “That’s the difference.”

The Reds have also been active leading up to the trade deadline.

Cincinnati, which sits five games behind the San Diego Padres in the race for the second National League wild-card and seven games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, acquired relievers Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson from the New York Yankees for a player to be named on Wednesday.

Gray took the loss Sunday, when he gave up eight runs on eight hits over 3 1/3 innings as the Reds fell to the St. Louis Cardinals 10-6.

Carrasco is 4-0 with a 3.43 ERA in seven career games (six starts) against the Reds. Gray is 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in two career starts against the Mets.

–Field Level Media

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Phillies, Pirates unsettled as they start weekend series

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If things had gone as planned earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Pirates might be facing former teammate Tyler Anderson this weekend as the Philadelphia Phillies visit.

But a potential trade Tuesday that would have sent Anderson to the Phillies fell through at relatively the last minute, apparently because of an issue with one of the Philadelphia prospects involved.

Late that night, the Pirates pivoted and traded Anderson to Seattle for a couple other prospects.

That has left the Phillies scrambling to try to add a starter before Friday afternoon’s trade deadline, especially with Zach Eflin dealing with tendinitis in his right knee.

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“We can always use starters,” said Philadelphia slugger Bryce Harper, who left the second game of a doubleheader Thursday because of back tightness but promised to be ready to play Friday. “Starting pitching wins games — pitching and defense. … Timely hitting, of course, but pitching and defense will always be king in this game.”

Phillies starter Zack Wheeler — who took the loss in the first game Thursday as Philadelphia split against Washington — would like some help in the rotation. “That’s out of my hands, but hopefully so,” he said.

First baseman Rhys Hoskins also left Thursday’s second game, because of a groin issue, and is day to day, Phillies manager Joe Girardi said.

Philadelphia enters the series potentially buoyed by its comeback from a seven-run deficit Thursday in the second game against the Nationals.

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Pittsburgh, in rebuilding mode, has been active with three deals since Sunday. The Pirates are collecting prospects while shipping out members of the active roster. That has not translated well to what is happening on the field.

Pittsburgh is coming off a series sweep at home by Milwaukee and was outscored 28-3 in the three games, with two shutouts.

Pirates manager Derek Shelton was emphatic that his club did not falter because of emotional fallout from the trades.

“I think we ran into a hot team,” Shelton said. “We did not play well, but I’m not taking anything away from the Brewers.”

Still, Shelton is looking forward to getting past the trade deadline so he can get a look at what his roster will be going into the Phillies series and beyond.

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“You do get some finality to it,” he said. “Once we get through it, kind of regroup, that’s important because the trade deadline is difficult for any team.”

Barring any moves that might change things, the pitching matchup for Friday is scheduled to be Philadelphia right-hander Vince Velasquez (3-5, 5.54 ERA) against Pittsburgh right-hander Wil Crowe (2-5, 5.89).

On Saturday against Atlanta, Velasquez made it just 2 1/3 innings, allowing six runs and five hits in taking a loss. He is 1-1 with a 6.06 ERA in three career starts against the Pirates.

Crowe, who has never faced Philadelphia, snapped a four-game losing streak Saturday and struck out a career-high nine at San Francisco, giving up two runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings, with one walk.

–Field Level Media

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Hot and cold first day for Canadian track and field in blistering Tokyo

High jumper Django Lovett, steeplechasers Matt Hughes and John Gay and sprinter Crystal Emmanuel all advanced in the crushing Tokyo heat

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Ups and downs were the order of the day for Canada as the Olympic athletics meet kicked off at Tokyo’s National Stadium on Friday morning.

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High jumper Django Lovett, steeplechasers Matt Hughes and John Gay and sprinter Crystal Emmanuel all rose up to advance in the crushing Tokyo heat and humidity.

Canada’s Django Lovett competes in the men’s high jump qualification during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 30, 2021.
Canada’s Django Lovett competes in the men’s high jump qualification during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. Photo by BEN STANSALL /AFP via Getty Images

On the downside, veteran 800-metre runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu ran a pedestrian 2:02.11 to finish fourth in her heat — well off her personal best of 1:57.01 in 2017 and season best of 1:58.36 — and failed to advance to the semifinals, as did Lindsey Butterworth of North Vancouver and Madeleine Kelly of Pembroke, Ont.

Bishop-Nriagu, a 32-year-old from Eganville, Ont., was the fourth-place finisher in the final at the Rio 2016 Olympics but has struggled to find that form in the past couple of seasons following the birth of a daughter.

Melissa Bishop-Nriagu of Canada in action.
Melissa Bishop-Nriagu of Canada in action. Photo by ALEKSANDRA SZMIGIEL /REUTERS

Lovett, a 28-year-old from Surrey, B.C., cleared 2.28 metres in men’s high jump qualifying to join a dozen other men in Sunday’s Olympic final. Lovett’s teammate Mike Mason was not one of them, as the 34-year-old from Nanoose Bay, B.C. stalled at 2.25 metres and did not advance.

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Lovett had jumped the qualifying heat of 2.33 metres at the Canadian trials in June, while Mason managed 2.30 metres in May and made it into the Olympics based on his world ranking. The defending Olympic champ, Derek Drouin, had to withdraw from the Canadian trials because of a lingering injury, and did not compete Friday.

Matthew Hughes of Team Canada competes during round one of the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase heats on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Matthew Hughes of Team Canada competes during round one of the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase heats on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Matthias Hangst /Getty Images

In the steeplechase, Hughes of Toronto ran a season best of 8:13.56 in heat two after Gay of Vancouver posted a fabulous personal best of 8:16.99, and both advanced to the final.

“Shout out to John, that’s a huge PB for him,” said Hughes. “It’s awesome to see that because he’s done so much work solo through the pandemic so I’m really happy for him. For me personally, it was just about qualifying (automatically) in third or getting a place. Early on in the race I just tried to put myself in the back of the pack and relax.”

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Gay had clearly studied the form charts for his event and had a race plan.

“I was excited to be going into the first heat. Typically it’s the fastest one. In the research I’ve done looking back at the last championships, worlds, Olympics going back as far as Beijing in 2008, historically the first heat has been the quickest and historically if you can run 8:20 or better you should have a pretty good chance of advancing to the final,” Gay said.

“I knew I was capable of running 8:20, that’s what I ran to make this team in the first place and I figured that if I could just replicate that performance — cometh the hour, cometh the man — hopefully improve upon it with a deeper field to race against and pull the best out of me, then I set myself up as well as I could. … I’m pleased with how composed I was able to stay. … Ultimately pleased to have run brave and done Canada proud.”

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(From L) Morocco’s Mohamed Tindouft, Canada’s John Gay, Italy’s Ala Zoghlami, USA’s Mason Finley and Germany’s Karl Bebendorf compete in the men’s 3000m steeplechase heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 30, 2021.
(From L) Morocco’s Mohamed Tindouft, Canada’s John Gay, Italy’s Ala Zoghlami, USA’s Mason Finley and Germany’s Karl Bebendorf compete in the men’s 3000m steeplechase heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC /AFP via Getty Images

In women’s qualifying for the 100 metres, perennial Canadian champ Crystal Emmanuel of Toronto ran a solid 11.18 seconds to finish third in her heat and qualify automatically for the semifinals.

“My execution was kind of shaky but I got to the semifinals so we’ve got some work to do,” she told CBC following the heat. “I came with goals in mind, shoot for the stars and hope for the best, and I’m one step closer to that and I’m happy with it.”

Khamica Bingham of Canada reacts after competing.
Khamica Bingham of Canada reacts after competing. Photo by LUCY NICHOLSON /REUTERS

Brampton, Ont. sprinter Khamica Bingham ran 11.21 seconds, finished fourth in her heat and had to wait to find out her fate.

“It wasn’t the cleanest race, I know I have way more in me so I’m hoping the time is good enough to get me to the semifinals and that is where I’m going to be able to execute and deliver.”

The day ended on the upside for Canada, as Bingham joined Emmanuel and made it through to the next round.

dbarnes@postmedia.com 

twitter.com/sportsdanbarnes

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MLB Standings | National Post

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Jul 30 (Stats Perform) – Standings from the MLB games on Thursday

American League

East Division

W L PCT GB

1. Boston Red Sox 63 41 .606 —

2. Tampa Bay Rays 61 42 .592 1 1/2

3. New York Yankees 53 48 .525 8 1/2

4. Toronto Blue Jays 51 48 .515 9 1/2

5. Baltimore Orioles 35 66 .347 26 1/2

Central Division

W L PCT GB

1. Chicago White Sox 60 43 .583 —

2. Cleveland Indians 50 49 .505 8

3. Detroit Tigers 50 55 .476 11

4. Kansas City Royals 45 56 .446 14

5. Minnesota Twins 43 60 .417 17

West Division

W L PCT GB

1. Houston Astros 63 40 .612 —

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2. Oakland Athletics 57 46 .553 6

3. Seattle Mariners 55 48 .534 8

4. Los Angeles Angels 51 50 .505 11

5. Texas Rangers 36 66 .353 26 1/2

National League

East Division

W L PCT GB

1. New York Mets 54 47 .535 —

2. Philadelphia Phillies 51 51 .500 3 1/2

3. Atlanta Braves 51 52 .495 4

4. Washington Nationals 47 55 .461 7 1/2

5. Miami Marlins 44 58 .431 10 1/2

Central Division

W L PCT GB

1. Milwaukee Brewers 61 42 .592 —

2. Cincinnati Reds 54 49 .524 7

3. St. Louis Cardinals 51 51 .500 9 1/2

4. Chicago Cubs 50 54 .481 11 1/2

5. Pittsburgh Pirates 38 64 .373 22 1/2

West Division

W L PCT GB

1. San Francisco Giants 64 38 .627 —

2. Los Angeles Dodgers 62 42 .596 3

3. San Diego Padres 59 45 .567 6

4. Colorado Rockies 44 58 .431 20

5. Arizona Diamondbacks 32 71 .311 32 1/2

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Friday, July 30 schedules (EST/GMT)

Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates (1905/2305)

Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals (1905/2305)

Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays (1907/2307)

Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers (1910/2310)

New York Yankees at Miami Marlins (1910/2310)

Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets (1910/2310)

Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays (1910/2310)

Milwaukee Brewers at Atlanta Braves (1920/2320)

Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers (2005/0005)

Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox (2010/0010)

Minnesota Twins at St. Louis Cardinals (2015/0015)

Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels (2138/0138)

Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks (2140/0140)

Houston Astros at San Francisco Giants (2145/0145)

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Colorado Rockies at San Diego Padres (2210/0210)

Saturday, July 31 schedules (EST/GMT)

Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays (1507/1907)

Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels (1605/2005)

Houston Astros at San Francisco Giants (1605/2005)

Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers (1810/2210)

New York Yankees at Miami Marlins (1810/2210)

Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays (1810/2210)

Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates (1905/2305)

Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers (1905/2305)

Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals (1905/2305)

Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox (1910/2310)

Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets (1910/2310)

Minnesota Twins at St. Louis Cardinals (1915/2315)

Milwaukee Brewers at Atlanta Braves (1920/2320)

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Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks (2010/0010)

Colorado Rockies at San Diego Padres (2040/0040)

Sunday, August 1 schedules (EST/GMT)

Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates (1305/1705)

Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals (1305/1705)

Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays (1307/1707)

Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers (1310/1710)

New York Yankees at Miami Marlins (1310/1710)

Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets (1310/1710)

Milwaukee Brewers at Atlanta Braves (1320/1720)

Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox (1410/1810)

Minnesota Twins at St. Louis Cardinals (1415/1815)

Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers (1435/1835)

Houston Astros at San Francisco Giants (1605/2005)

Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels (1607/2007)

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Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks (1610/2010)

Colorado Rockies at San Diego Padres (1610/2010)

Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays (1908/2308)

Monday, August 2 schedules (EST/GMT)

Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays (1507/1907)

Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees (1905/2305)

Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals (1905/2305)

New York Mets at Miami Marlins (1910/2310)

Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays (1910/2310)

Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers (2005/0005)

Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers (2010/0010)

San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks (2140/0140)

Tuesday, August 3 schedules (EST/GMT)

Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees (1905/2305)

Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals (1905/2305)

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Article content

Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays (1907/2307)

Minnesota Twins at Cincinnati Reds (1910/2310)

Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers (1910/2310)

New York Mets at Miami Marlins (1910/2310)

Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays (1910/2310)

Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers (2005/0005)

Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox (2010/0010)

Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers (2010/0010)

Atlanta Braves at St. Louis Cardinals (2015/0015)

Chicago Cubs at Colorado Rockies (2040/0040)

San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks (2140/0140)

San Diego Padres at Oakland Athletics (2140/0140)

Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers (2210/0210)

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Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

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Penny Oleksiak doesn’t reach podium in 100-meter freestyle final, placing fourth

The Canadian swimmer’s hunt for her seventh Olympic medal remains a possibility in the Tokyo Games

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TOKYO • Penny Oleksiak finished fourth in her signature event on Friday morning at Tokyo 2020, pushing back her quest to break the Canadian record for career Olympic medals.

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Oleksiak finished in a time of 52.59, just seventh hundredths of a second behind Australia’s Cate Campbell for the bronze medal. Emma McKeon of Australia won gold and Siobahn Bernadette Haughey of Hong Kong took the silver.

Oleksiak was swimming for her third medal at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, coming after a relay silver on Monday and a bronze medal in the 200-metre freestyle on Wednesday, which would have pushed her past of the six career medals of speedskater Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes, who was a medallist in both cycling and speedskating.

The 21-year-old from Toronto was the breakout star of Rio 2016, where she won four medals in the pool including a gold in the 100-metre freestyle at just 16 years old.

That performance surprised even her coaches and trainers at Swimming Canada, who expected her to be on track to be a medallist in Japan, not Brazil. The sudden success came with its challenges, and Oleksiak’s formed dipped in between Olympics. She switched coaches and spent more than a year away from the national swim program and did not approach her times from Rio despite reaching what is generally a more competitive age.

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Her success was “something no one was really expecting and it was weird to deal with for the first time,” she told Postmedia’s Rob Longley before Tokyo. “I guess I am mentally strong enough because here I am now. But it was definitely a really tough time over the last five years.”

Team Canada’s medal total remains at 11 for Tokyo 2020, with the women’s eight rowers collecting a gold earlier on Friday. The team has won at least one on every day of competition so far other than the first day they were handed out, last Saturday. It’s a sharp turn from the summer Games at which Team Canada often went several days without putting a medal on the board.

Oleksiak and her swim teammates have medal chances still to come, including in Sunday’s relays.
Postmedia News

Canada’s Penny Oleksiak reacts after swimming to take the bronze medal in the women’s 200m freestyle final event during the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, Wednesday, July 28, 2021.
Canada’s Penny Oleksiak reacts after swimming to take the bronze medal in the women’s 200m freestyle final event during the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, Wednesday, July 28, 2021. Photo by Frank Gunn /The Canadian Press
Silver medallists (from R) Canada’s Penny Oleksiak, Canada’s Kayla Sanchez, Canada’s Rebecca Smith and Canada’s Margaret Macneil pose on the podium after the final of the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 25, 2021. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)
Silver medallists (from R) Canada’s Penny Oleksiak, Canada’s Kayla Sanchez, Canada’s Rebecca Smith and Canada’s Margaret Macneil pose on the podium after the final of the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 25, 2021. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP) Photo by ODD ANDERSEN /AFP via Getty Images