FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: Cam Newton on the up as Manning lives off past glories

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Cam Newton has been on fire recently. (AFP)
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Updated 30 October 2018
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FOUR THINGS WE LEARNED: Cam Newton on the up as Manning lives off past glories

LONDON: As Gridiron grinds toward the playoffs, we take a peek at what happened in Week 8 of the NFL.

MANNING AND WINSTON OUT IN THE COLD

The New York Giants’ love affair with Eli Manning is heading for an acrimonious divorce. His latest outing this weekend, in a 20-13 defeat to the Redskins, was the latest in a long line of ineffective performances spanning two seasons. Surely it will not be long before coach Pat Shurmur benches him. The worrying thing for the Giants is the lack of depth — who would replace him? Alex Tanney hardly inspires confidence. The same problem seems to be emerging at Tampa Bay, too. Troubled Jameis Winston had a shocker at the weekend, throwing for four interceptions, before being replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick, who led an 18-point fourth-quarter drive that nearly rescued the Buccaneers. Manning and Winston might well find themselves in the NFL wilderness sooner rather than later.



BROWNS' MISERY

The sacking of Todd Haley and Hue Jackson at the Cleveland Browns was always on the cards. Anyone who watched this summer’s “Hard Knocks” series, which focused on the fractured franchise, could see how toxic their relationship was. Gregg Williams is an uncompromising coach, but his approach is exactly what the Browns need right now. His biggest job is going to be keeping Baker Mayfield on the roster, and he will hopefully use the very promising quarterback better than his predecessors did. After a lot of summer promise, it is about time the Cleveland Browns had a winning season, for the first time since 2007.



TIGHT, DRAMATIC DIVISIONS

We love a competitive division in the NFL. It is no fun when one team completely decimates its divisional rivals — this season think the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots, (again) — so we are loving the battle unfolding in the NFC East and North divisions. The East has stuttering reigning champions, the Eagles, being pushed all the way by Washington and Dallas, while in the North, who ends up in the playoffs is anyone’s guess with any of the Bears, Vikings, Packers or (dare we say it) the Lions still in the mix. While the likes of the Chiefs and the Saints are practically cruising toward the January shake-up, we will be glued to what happens in those two divisions over the next three months.



A NEW NEWTON

Cam Newton should be very grateful to Norv Turner at the moment. The Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator has been instrumental in getting his career back on track. The man who came to fame calling plays for the Cowboys during their heyday in the early 1990s is helping Newton reach a new level as a quarterback. The Panthers are not a nailed-on playoff team, but with Turner’s instructions in his ear, Newton could drag this underachieving Carolina side back into this year’s post-season. And fans will get to see a great player back at his best — win-win.

 


Refugee swimmer Mardini rising fast after fleeing war

Updated 21 July 2019
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Refugee swimmer Mardini rising fast after fleeing war

  • Mardini’s time was more than 12 seconds slower than that of reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom and 47th overall
  • Mardini famously competed at the Rio Olympics under the refugee flag

GWANGJU, South Korea: Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini, who almost drowned at sea fleeing her war-torn country four years ago, heaved a deep sigh after failing to set a personal best at the world swimming championships on Sunday.
Representing FINA’s independent athletes team, the 21-year-old looked up at the giant scoreboard and winced at her time of 1min 8.79sec in the 100 meters butterfly heats in South Korea.
“I’m not very happy actually,” Mardini told AFP.
“I had some problems with my shoulder but I’m back in training. I still have the 100m freestyle and I’m looking forward to that.”
Mardini’s time was more than 12 seconds slower than that of reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom and 47th overall, but she has come a long way since risking her life crossing from Izmir in Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos in the summer of 2015.
Thirty minutes into that treacherous journey, the motor on their dinghy cut out and the tiny vessel, carrying 20 people rather than the six or seven it was designed for, threatened to capsize.
As the only people who could swim, Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped into the water to push and pull the stricken dinghy for over three hours until they finally reached the shore.
“I arrived in Greece in only jeans and a T-shirt,” said Mardini, who also swims in the 100m freestyle later this week. “Even my shoes were gone.”
Mardini famously competed at the Rio Olympics a year later under the refugee flag.
“In the beginning I refused to be in a refugee team because I was afraid people would think I got the chance because of my story,” said Mardini, who now lives with her family in Berlin.
“I wanted to earn it. But then I realized I had a big opportunity to represent those people — so I took the chance and I never regretted it,” she added.
“Rio was amazing. It was really exciting to see the reaction of people to the team. Now I’m representing millions of displaced people around the world and it really makes me proud.”
It is a far cry from life back in Syria, where rocket strikes would often shake the pool she trained at in Damascus.
“There were bomb attacks sometimes that would crack the windows around the pool,” said Mardini, who has addressed the United Nations general assembly and whose story is set to be told in a Hollywood movie.
“We were scared the whole time.”
Fellow Syrian Ayman Kelzieh was also forced to flee the country before competing at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.
Returning to Korea five years later, the 26-year-old now owns a fistful of national swim records, including the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly.
“When the war started I had just moved to Damascus and I couldn’t get back home to Aleppo,” said Kelzieh, who now lives on the Thai island of Phuket.
“But even in Damascus bombs sometimes even went off at the swimming pool we trained at,” he added after taking a poolside selfie with his idol, South African star Chad le Clos.
“There were even attacks at the hotel I stayed in — I was lucky.”