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Olympic gymnastics live updates: Suni Lee, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey compete in event finals

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On Sunday, newly crowned Olympic all-around champ Suni Lee will compete for the gold medal on bars. She could do it — but it should be a very hotly contested final.

With Saturday’s news that Simone Biles is out of both the vault and bars finals, the vault final will now be wide open, with Americans MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey in an epic battle for the podium. On the men’s side, U.S. gymnast Yul Moldauer will compete on floor and Alec Yoder on pommel horse.

It all starts at 4 a.m. ET — and we’ve got all the action below with live updates throughout.

Which events, how does it work and what’s the schedule?

Sunday is the first day of individual event finals, and it will be a combination of men’s and women’s events. The top eight highest-scoring gymnasts from qualifying advanced on each event, with a maximum of two per country. The prelims scores are now erased, however. The highest score on Sunday wins.

The schedule — you might want some coffee for this one:

4 a.m. ET: men’s floor
4:45 a.m. ET: women’s vault
5:45 a.m. ET: men’s pommel horse
6:27 a.m. ET: women’s uneven bars

Who will win each event?

Men’s floor: Israeli gymnast Artem Dolgopyat was the top qualifier with a 15.200, but third-place gymnast Korea’s Ryu Sunghyun had a 15.066, and with the highest difficulty score (6.9), it could give him the edge if everyone hits. American Yul Moldauer qualified in sixth, but with the lowest difficulty score of the field, it’ll be a stretch for him to end up on the podium.

Women’s vault: With the withdrawal of defending Olympic vault champ and two-time world vault champ Simone Biles, women’s vault could be very suspenseful. American MyKayla Skinner is taking Biles’ spot, and she and fellow American Jade Carey were tied for the highest difficulty totals in qualifying. Either could win gold, though Skinner’s execution scores were lower than Carey’s in the preliminary round. All-around silver medalist Rebeca Andrade scored between Carey and Skinner in qualifying, and should be considered a favorite as well.

Men’s pommel horse: The American men’s best hope for an Olympic medal comes on this event, with Alec Yoder, a pommel horse specialist, who qualified in fourth. It should be noted, though, that the top three qualifiers (Chinese Taipei’s Lee Chih-kai, Ireland’s Rhys McClenaghan and Japan’s Kohei Kameyama) all tied with a 15.266, and Yoder scored a 15.200. It could be anyone’s gold here.

Women’s uneven bars: Suni Lee was second in preliminaries, and has a real chance at the gold here, especially since she didn’t perform her full difficulty on that day. Unfortunately, she was drawn to compete first, which is considered a disadvantage in scoring. Watch to see if she connects all of her early release moves. If she does, she has the highest difficulty score in the group.

Belgium’s Nina Derwael was the top qualifier, is a two-time world champion on bars, and is probably Lee’s biggest competitor on the event, but top to bottom this entire line-up is stacked. Biles had qualified in the final spot, and will be replaced by France’s Melanie de Jesus dos Santos. — Amy Van Deusen

Can you tell me more about the Americans?

Why yes, we can. You’ve probably heard of Suni Lee by now, but even if you haven’t, check out this story on her impressive all-around win on Thursday. Bonus: There is a must-see video of her and her dad doing back flips. Trust us and go take a look.

Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner both qualified to Tokyo as individual competitors, and both have had wild rides during this Olympics. Skinner thought her Olympic experience was over after the qualifying rounds, while Carey took Simone Biles’ spot in the all-around when Biles withdrew.



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Hong Kong’s Olympic successes expose deep political fissures

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Tokyo Olympics updates

The Hong Kong Olympics team’s future as a separate entity from that of mainland China is secure, the territory’s Games chief Timothy Fok said, despite political tensions exposed by his squad’s historic achievements over the past week.

Siobhan Haughey, a Hong Kong swimmer, won a second silver medal in Tokyo on Friday, cementing the Games as the city’s most successful ever. Fencer Cheung Ka-long won the city’s first gold medal since its 1997 handover from the UK in the foil event.

But the euphoria over their victories quickly became politicised when crowds in the territory celebrating Cheung’s gold booed and shouted “We are Hong Kong” over the Chinese national anthem, which played as he accepted his medal on the podium in Tokyo this week.

Police have launched an investigation and said on Friday they had arrested a 40-year-old person, who also waved Hong Kong’s colonial-era flag at the scene, for insulting the national anthem.

The display of resistance was a stark reminder of a strong lingering undercurrent of discontent in the Asian financial centre, despite a crackdown on dissent by Beijing after anti-government protests in 2019.

China last year imposed a tough new security law last year on Hong Kong, with the first person to be convicted under the legislation, a former waiter who rode a motorbike into a police line last year, given a nine-year jail term on Friday.

Hong Kongers celebrated after swimmer Siobhan Haughey won a silver medal © AP

But Fok, president of the national Olympic committee of Hong Kong, said he had urged athletes to ignore the controversies. There was an understanding in China that Hong Kong had “a separate identity” to the mainland and there were no plans to integrate the city’s team with that of its bigger neighbour, he said.

“They have [1bn] people, we only have 7m. I am very proud with this new encouragement and success. Sport will be a very important part of the development of Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong authorities are keen to demonstrate the crackdown has not had an impact on the city’s vibrancy. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said last week that arts and culture in the city were “booming” and there had been no weakening of people’s freedoms.

The city was promised a high degree of autonomy and freedom of expression after 1997. This autonomy was symbolised by Hong Kong’s right to have its own Olympics team, although it was also agreed that China’s national anthem would be played at medal ceremonies for the territory’s athletes.

Shushu Chen, a lecturer in sport policy at the University of Birmingham, said the mainland had shown significant support for elite sport development in Hong Kong

“I don’t think the Chinese government will advocate in future Olympics that Hong Kong athletes should be integrated under the main PRC flag,” she said. “That will lose the sense of identity of Hong Kong . . . I don’t think that is what the Chinese government is trying to do.”

Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s sole delegate to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, the permanent body of China’s parliament, said that any change was unlikely under “one country, two systems”, the Chinese government policy governing Hong Kong’s autonomy from the mainland since the handover.

Hong Kong’s only other gold medallist, windsurfer Lee Lai-shan, accepted her medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games under the British Hong Kong colonial flag as “God Save The Queen” played.

Cheung, whose parents were both Chinese national league basketball players, is a cat lover who often posts pictures of his family’s American shorthair Zimba. “It means a lot to show to the world we can do it,” he said. “We are not only a city. We can fight for victory.”

While Cheung made no political comments after his win, pro-democracy groups were quick to seize on the victory. During the 2019 protests, anti-government demonstrators sang their own anthem “Glory to Hong Kong” in shopping malls. After Cheung’s ceremony, netizens substituted the Chinese anthem for the song in viral videos showing Cheung on the Tokyo podium.

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Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing camp also generated controversy when a lawmaker Nicholas Muk criticised one of the territory’s top badminton players for wearing a black T-shirt — a colour favoured by the 2019 protesters — without displaying the Hong Kong flag.

After Muk accused him of supporting the pro-democracy movement, the player, Angus Ng Ka-Long, wore a different shirt to try to calm things down as he also came under attack from Chinese netizens.

Even though he was the eighth seed in the men’s singles competition, Ng was beaten by Guatemalan shuttler Kevin Cordon, who was ranked 59th, leaving many supporters blaming Muk for distracting Ng.

“It is probably not true that there was no impact. I have been trying hard to calm down and I want to focus on the competition,” Ng said after losing. “But how can I forget it completely.”

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UFC Fight Night and Bellator 263 live results and analysis

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The MMA world will feature elite action from Inglewood, California, and Las Vegas on Saturday night as Bellator and the UFC share the combat spotlight.

Patricio “Pitbull” Freire will take on A.J. McKee at The Forum in one of the biggest bouts in Bellator history. The fight is the finale of the promotion’s Featherweight World Grand Prix, and it features two stars who established themselves in Bellator, instead of being fighters who signed as free agents after stints in other promotions. The winner will win $1 million and be considered by some to be the best featherweight in the world, although UFC champ Alexander Volkanovski, among others, would argue that point.

What had been a respectful lead-up to the fight got heated Thursday during media activities as the fighters tried to get at each other.

The Fight Night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas will be headlined by a pair of middleweights on four-fight win streaks as UFC No. 8-ranked Uriah Hall takes on No. 11 Sean Strickland. The winner will be looking to climb in the rankings and potentially face a top-5 opponent next.

Marc Raimondi will be on hand at the Forum to provide results and analysis while Brett Okamoto will cover the events unfolding at the UFC Apex.

Watch the UFC card on ESPN+.


UFC:

Fight in progress:

Welterweight | Phil Rowe (7-3, 0-1 UFC) vs. Orion Cosce (7-0, 0-0 UFC)


Still to come:

ESPN/ESPN+, 9 p.m. ET

Uriah Hall vs. Sean Strickland | Middleweight
Cheyanne Buys vs. Gloria de Paula | Strawweight
Jared Gooden vs. Niklas Stolze | Welterweight

ESPN/ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET

Melsik Baghdasaryan vs. Collin Anglin | Men’s featherweight
Bryan Barberena vs. Jason Witt | Welterweight
Chris Gruetzemacher vs. Rafa Garcia | Lightweight
Danny Chavez vs. Kai Kamaka | Men’s featherweight
Jinh Yu Frey vs. Ashley Yoder | Strawweight
Zarrukh Adashev vs. Ryan Benoit | Men’s flyweight


Bellator lineup:

Showtime, 10 p.m. ET

Patricio Freire vs. A.J. McKee | Men’s featherweight
Mads Burnell vs. Emmanuel Sanchez | Men’s featherweight
Usman Nurmagomedov vs. Manny Muro | Lightweight
Brent Primus vs. Islam Mamedov | Lightweight
Goiti Yamauchi vs. Chris Gonzalez | Lightweight

YouTube pages of Bellator and Showtime, 7 p.m. ET

Vanessa Porto vs. Ilara Joanne | Flyweight
Gadzhi Rabadanov vs. Daniel Carey | 150-pound contract weight
Khasan Magomedsharipov vs. Jonathan Quiroz | Men’s featherweight
Johnny Cisneros vs. Joshua Jones | Welterweight
Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Kiefer Crosbie | Lightweight
Brian Moore vs. Jordan Winski | Bantamweight

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Transfer Talk: Saul set to leave Atletico amid Liverpool, Man Utd interest

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Euro 2020 and the Copa America are over and the summer transfer window is open, leaving Europe’s biggest clubs clear to make a splash in the market. Check out the latest gossip below, and see all official deals here.

TOP STORY: Saul set to leave Atletico amid Prem interest

Representatives of Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez are set to fly to England to discuss a move to the Premier League next week, reports the Mirror.

The 26-year-old has been linked with a move away from Atletico in the past few weeks, namely a deal with Barcelona, however one of Liverpool or Manchester United are in line to sign the highly rated midfielder instead.

The Spain midfielder is said to be available for between £35-£40 million despite a £125m buyout clause in his current contract. It is said that Attletico are willing to accept a lower offer in order to offset the financial troubles caused by the pandemic.

Reports suggest that Manchester United are in pole position to sign Saul in an attempt to bolster their squad that has already seen the arrival of Jadon Sancho and the nearly completed deal for Raphael Varane.

As for Liverpool, they are looking to fill the void left by Georginio Wijnaldum, who left on a free at the end of his contract last month. The midfielder was a key part of the Champions League and Premier League winning side but the two parties couldn’t agree a new deal, resulting in the Netherlands international leaving for Paris Saint-Germain.

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PAPER GOSSIP

Wolves are eyeing a move for Aaron Ramsey, according to Calciomercato, with Juventus willing to let the midfielder go. The 30-year-old has been linked with a move back to the Premier League as Juventus ramp up their efforts to raise funds. Whilst Wolves have enquired about his services, the Wales international is said to be unconvinced by the move and will resist a move away from the Serie A side.

Internazionale have identified Joaquin Correa as a potential replacement for striker Lautaro Martinez if he is to leave this transfer window. Mundo Deportivo reports that the 26-year-old is of interest to the Serie A club following 11 goals and 6 assists last season with fellow Serie A club Lazio. The link comes as Martinez looks closer and closer to an exit from the Nezazzuri with reports saying Arsenal are interested in the forward.

– There could be a re-uniting of Swiss forces this summer as new Bordeaux boss Vladimir Petkovic is eyeing a move for Switzerland international Ricardo Rodriguez, according to Calciomercato. The two worked together at Euro 2020 this summer, with Petkovic guiding the team to a quarterfinal loss to Spain on penalties. Since then, the manager has stepped down from the international stage and taken over at the Ligue 1 side. In one of his first moves at the club, he is hoping to lure left-back Rodriguez from Torino with the club open to moving him on.

West Ham United and Everton have been linked with a move for Flamengo forward Gabriel Barbosa, according to the Mirror. The 24-year-old Brazil star has impressed since moving to Flamengo from Inter Milan in January 2020. It is believed a fee of around £40m could be enough to secure Gabigol’s services, who has 15 goals in 17 appearances so far this season.

Crystal Palace are looking to add Arsenal youngster Reiss Nelson to their squad, according to the Sun. Arsenal legend Patrick Viera has overseen a transition with his new Palace squad this summer, filling key positions and lowering the average squad age considerably. Next on his shortlist is 21-year-old Nelson, who already has top flight experience while on-loan at TSG Hoffenheim. The winger is reportedly not a part of Mikel Arteta’s immediate plans at the Emirates whilst a loan move to Palace would leave some transfer budget for new boss Viera to add a striker to his squad.

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Rivera warns WFT after more added to COVID list

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RICHMOND, Va. — Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera issued a warning to his team after two more players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, giving his players a what-if scenario: If this had happened the day before their season opener, it would impact their first two games.

Washington now has six players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff, who was placed on it Saturday along with reserve tackle David Sharpe. Receiver Curtis Samuel is another starter who already was on the list, as is key reserve defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis.

Washington ranks next-to-last in terms of vaccination rate, having just climbed above 70 percent of players having at least one shot. One team remains below 70 percent. The overall player percentage in the NFL is 89.4 with 22 clubs over 90 percent and nine above 95 percent.

As of Saturday morning, only Arizona has more players on the reserve/COVID list with nine. Being on the COVID list does not mean a player has the virus. It could just be based on contact tracing. But even that would cost a player five days.

As Rivera pointed out to his players after practice Saturday, if this had been the day before the opener vs. the Los Angeles Chargers then Scherff and Sharpe would also have missed the second game because it occurs on Thursday.

“Those guys would not be eligible, so, to me, it brings the reality of what the rules are,” Rivera said, “and I hope it helps. But these young men have to make their decisions.”

For now, Rivera said, it makes it hard to fully evaluate various players or units with players missing. Washington has wanted to use second-year lineman Saahdiq Charles at guard, for example, but with both Sharpe and fellow tackle Cornelius Lucas on the list, they’ve mostly kept him outside.

“That’s part of the problem, to be very honest,” Rivera said. “That’s going to make things difficult, and that’s the thing we have to be aware of. It’ll make it difficult in terms of everybody working together, difficult on us as coaches with our evaluations and scouts, and it’ll be difficult on the player because having time off, not really getting an opportunity to work and develop and grow and learning. That’s the downfall and that’s the downside.”

Rivera said they’ve set up appointments for some players to get a shot Sunday, which is their day off. He said he’s talked to a number of his players about their hesitation over getting the vaccine. Rivera said he tries to provide them with information he has about how the vaccine was developed.

“There is some deep thought going on from some of these guys,” Rivera said. “It’s a matter of these guys being educated and understanding because it’s fair when you sit down and talk to these guys and listen to them and listen to their true concerns. Some guys just don’t know and I’ve gotten a sense that there are a few who are dug in so hard, so much that they’re not going to back down. That’s the part to me that’s concerning because I care about all these guys. You do worry that somebody might catch it and go home and pass it on to a family member.”

On Friday, Scherff, wearing a mask and 12 feet from the media, spoke about the vaccine.

“It’s a personal decision for me; it’s a personal decision for everybody,” he said. “Nobody’s made a deal of it. You know, we’re all here to play football and that’s what we’re doing.”

On Tuesday, Rivera said he was “beyond frustrated” with the teams slow pace of vaccinations. He also said he was immune deficient after dealing with cancer last fall.

“I think just making the statement that I’m immune deficient hopefully is part of their conversation, part of their thought process,” Rivera said.

“It’s a personal thing, but we can sway them hopefully.”

Washington had no players on their 53-man roster go on the COVID list last regular season. Two players, Ioannidis and running back Javon Leake, both went on the list but Ioannidis was on injured reserve and Leake was on the practice squad.

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Berhalter, USMNT look to top Mexico in another final

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LAS VEGAS — When the U.S. men’s national team and Mexico meet in Sunday’s 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, it will be the second time in 56 days that the longtime rivals have faced each other with a continental title on the line. And yet the two matches could not be more different in terms of the relative stakes involved.

Back on June 6, the sides met in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League final, and it was the U.S. in desperate need of a win because, for the entirety of manager Gregg Berhalter’s tenure, there had yet to be a victory that confirmed that the team was back on an upward trajectory.

A statement was needed, not only to generate some confidence in the coach’s methods but also to give this generation of players something tangible to go with its undeniable talent. And, regardless of the wild sequence of events that took place during the game, the collective group stepped up, absorbed the pressure — and a bottle or two to the head — to ultimately walk away with a 3-2 win after extra time.

As for Mexico, while the loss stung — they always do against the U.S. — there was a belief that Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s men had played well enough to win, having led twice and with the chance to make it 3-3 but for Ethan Horvath to save Andres Guardado‘s penalty. As it stood, El Tri would be back to fight another day.

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So what has changed heading into Sunday’s encounter at Allegiant Stadium? In a word: expectations.

The U.S. came into this tournament with an intentionally youthful, inexperienced roster, with one fundamental reason the desire to give presumptive first-team regulars — Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Giovanni Reyna and others — rest ahead of what is expected to be a busy season for both club and country.

But there was also a need to get a better idea of how impactful up-and-coming members of the player pool could be at the international level. This is especially important given that triple-fixture windows dot the horizon for World Cup qualifying, which begins in September, and depth will be tested.

Expectation-wise, this left the U.S. in a bit of a conundrum. Berhalter has said from the beginning that the goal was to win the tournament, regardless of roster construction. And yet there have been times when the team’s youth has been trotted out as an explanation for shaky performances.

A 1-0 group-stage win against Canada, who had a slight edge in experience but also fielded some new faces in the absence of stars such as Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, was seen as a case in point, yet it was not so much the young players who let the U.S. down that day but rather veterans who did not step up.

In Thursday’s semifinal win, Qatar looked a cut above in the first half but were unable to find a way past the impressive Matt Turner in goal, which allowed the Americans to rally late in the game and seal victory through an all-important Gyasi Zardes goal.

That this U.S. squad has reached the final speaks well of its ability to adapt, grow and grind out results. Moreover, while injuries to the likes of defender Walker Zimmerman, midfielder Paul Arriola and defender Reggie Cannon have limited options, they have also given Berhalter data points on players like Shaq Moore, Miles Robinson, James Sands and Matthew Hoppe.

Given those developments, the U.S. would seem to be playing with house money on Sunday. Its objectives have largely been achieved and little is expected against the pre-tournament favorite. Yet Berhalter wants his side to be greedy and finish the job.

“We’re not done, and that was the message to the team,” the U.S. coach said after the semifinal. “It’s nice to make the final, but we want to win the final. Our No. 1 goal is to win the Gold Cup. We said that before the Gold Cup, and we’ll say it again.”

By contrast, the stakes for Mexico could not be more different. This is a game it dare not lose, even if it almost cannot win; beating a short-handed U.S. team to claim a 12th Gold Cup title would prove little, even if there are a players absent like Raul Jimenez and Hirving Lozano.

But in the event of defeat, pressure would increase and doubts would be raised heading into World Cup qualifying. Would it even be enough to cost Martino his job?

There has certainly been that impulse at times in the past, but the tenure of predecessor Juan Carlos Osorio is instructive. The Mexico Football Federation stuck by him after a 7-0 thrashing by Chile in the 2016 Copa America Centenario quarterfinals, and that patience and emphasis on stability was rewarded with World Cup qualification and a famous victory over holders Germany in Russia.

This Mexico team has found a way to get results, even if the actual play has sometimes fallen short of its lofty standards. Jonathan dos Santos has been rallied around following the death of his father, and one would expect that its experience edge all over the field, but especially in a midfield led by Hector Herrera, will tell at some point.

Berhalter noted how poor his side was in terms of winning duels against Qatar, with just 42.7%, while the tackle success was even worse at 30%. If that happens again, the likes of Rogelio Funes Mori should benefit and make it a long night for a back line that has performed so well.

But the very nature of this long-standing rivalry means that another drama-filled chapter seems inevitable. Given the mental fortitude shown over the past few weeks by the U.S., as well as the must-win nature of the game for Mexico, expect another compelling encounter.

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Gamesmanship and booing – the Hamilton-Verstappen dynamic has changed

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BUDAPEST, Hungary — The intensity of the title battle between Mercedes and Red Bull shows no sign of waning.

In the first competitive session since Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen collided at Silverstone, the feud between F1’s top two teams boiled over to the grandstands with boos ringing out over the pit straight as Hamilton completed TV interviews after taking pole position at the Hungaroring.

The seven-time world champion shrugged off the booing, saying it would only act as motivation to convert pole position into victory on Sunday, but took exception to suggestions he had deliberately held up the Red Bulls ahead of their final qualifying laps to try and stop his title rival from getting a clean final lap.

Ahead of the final qualifying attempts in Q3, the Mercedes and Red Bulls were lined up one after the other as they left the pits. Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who will start the race from second on the grid, led the pack of four, with Hamilton second on the road, Verstappen third and Perez fourth.

Hamilton and Bottas approached their outlap in the knowledge that their first attempts were faster than the two Red Bulls, so if no one improved they would start on the front row. Clear air is key to a quick lap at the Hungaroring and as Bottas started his lap he made space to the car in front. That, in turn, backed up Hamilton, who backed up Verstappen, who backed up Perez.

The four cars accelerated out of the final corner one after another, but as the session clock ticked down, Perez was timed out and missed out on starting his final lap. The suggestion, and perhaps the motivation for some of the booing, was that the two Mercedes cars attempted to stop the Red Bulls from crossing the line in time for their lap.

“It’s a bit of gamesmanship,” Red Bull boss Christian Horner said after the session. “Lewis has got a hell of a lap in the bank and then obviously he’s just backing things up and obviously doesn’t want to give our cars a clean run.

“But it’s his right to do that, he’s got the track position, so we haven’t got a major issue. It’s all about tomorrow now.”

Mercedes later revealed that Hamilton’s outlap was the third fastest of the five he did in qualifying, meaning it was bang average for what the drivers behind could expect. When it was put to Hamilton that he might have been playing games, he flatly denied the suggestion.

“I mean, it’s so silly man,” Hamilton said on the subject. “Everyone was going slow – did you not watch everybody else? I don’t understand.

“Do you think I could’ve gone quicker and then been just closer to Valtteri?

“Everyone was doing a slow out-lap. It was no different, really, to any other lap.

“Of course, each time we’re going out we’re trying to prepare the tyres and keep them cooler because they get so hot throughout the lap.

“I weren’t playing any tactics. I don’t need to play no tactics, man. I know what I’m doing in the car and it’s fast enough, we don’t need to add tactics.

“So, those that are making the comments really don’t clearly know anything about the job that we’re doing here, which is probably why they’re not driving here.”

Is the pressure getting to Verstappen?

Verstappen, who will start third on the grid behind Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, has not been shy of voicing his opinion on the Silverstone accident in the past week, but in Hungary called for an end to questions on the issue.

Naturally, F1’s fan base is keen to see what will happen the next time Hamilton and Verstappen end racing wheel to wheel, but when he was asked about the possibility on Sunday, he cut short a question from press conference host Tom Clarkson on the subject.

Clarkson said: “There’s been a lot of talk about what happened on the opening lap at Silverstone, but if you two do end up wheel to wheel after the start tomorrow…”

At this point, Verstappen sighed, shook his head and interrupted.

“Can we already stop about this? Because have had so many f——questions about this,” Verstappen said in response.

“It’s just ridiculous. The whole Thursday we have been answering this stupid s— all the time, so can we just stop please? We are racers, so of course we will race hard but fair. We just keep pushing each other.”

Asked about the booing, which came from fans dressed in the orange of his home country, Verstappen responded: “What do you want me to say? It’s not correct of course but at the end of the day we are drivers, we shouldn’t get disturbed by these kind of things.

“You should just focus on what you have to do and that’s to deliver in the car. Luckily we wear helmets so when you are driving when it matters, you don’t hear anything. That’s where we are different to other sports, so we are probably quite lucky with that.

“But like I said, it’s not nice but it shouldn’t influence any of us. We’re all professional and know what we have to do anyway.”

Advantage Mercedes?

After Red Bull dominated F1’s double header in Austria in June and July, it seemed as though this year’s championship might be Verstappen’s to lose. Yet the events of Silverstone and qualifying in Hungary suggest Mercedes and Hamilton are not going to roll over and surrender.

Mercedes not only goes into Sunday’s race with the advantage of locking out the front row of the grid, it also has both of its cars starting on the more durable medium compound tyres to Verstappen’s softs. That should present more strategy options to Mercedes over the course of the race, although Bottas could come under attack from Verstappen into Turn 1 if the Red Bull makes a faster start on its stickier tyres.

That’s not to say Verstappen doesn’t stand a chance of winning from third on the grid, but the odds are stacked in Mercedes favour after qualifying. If Hamilton wins the race with Verstappen third, he will retake the lead of the championship heading into F1’s three-week summer break.

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Sources: Rays ace Glasnow facing Tommy John

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Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery next week, sources told ESPN, after attempts to rehabilitate a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow left him still in pain.

While there remains a possibility that Dr. Keith Meister, who will examine Glasnow next week, will recommend against the procedure, the likelihood is that the ace of the Rays’ pitching staff will miss the remainder of the 2021 season — and perhaps all of 2022 as well.

When healthy, Glasnow, 27, has been a star for Tampa Bay. In 37 starts over the past three seasons, he is 16-4 with a 2.80 ERA and 290 strikeouts in 206 innings. Injuries have vexed him since 2019, however, and the hope is that the elbow procedure will allow him to reach his elite potential long term.

At 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, Glasnow cuts an imposing figure on the mound — and his raw stuff is even scarier. His four-seam fastball averaged 97 mph this season and regularly touches 100 mph, and he added a hard slider this season to complement a dastardly curveball that he used as his strikeout pitch.

The diagnosis of the partial tear in Glasnow’s UCL came soon after Major League Baseball said it planned to enforce its foreign-substance rule. Glasnow was critical of the on-the-fly implementation of the rule, saying his inability to use a grip agent forced him to hold the baseball differently, leading, he believed, to the injury.

Though some pitchers have continued to play with partially torn UCLs, the majority wind up undergoing Tommy John surgery, a procedure in which a surgeon takes a tendon from inside the body or from a cadaver to hold the elbow together. Over the course of the rehabilitation process, the tendon morphs into a ligament and stabilizes the elbow, which bears the brunt of strain and stress during pitching.

Pitchers typically take a minimum of 12 months to return from Tommy John, and the timing of Glasnow’s leaves open the possibility that he could return to the Rays for the pennant race next season. If he does choose to avoid surgery at this point, Glasnow could continue rehabbing for the next few months and reassess over the winter. Going into the 2023 season healthy, however, is an imperative for Glasnow and the Rays. It will be the last season before he hits free agency.

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LATEST TECHNOLOGY NEWS

Unicorns are ready for a haircut – TechCrunch

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The digitization of your haircut may not have been on your 2020 bucket list, but 2021 has an even more surprising line item: Tech-powered barbershops are now a business proposition valued at nearly a billion dollars.

Squire is a back-end barbershop management tool for independent businesses. I first covered it in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The startup raised millions of dollars days before its key clientele — barber shops — were shut down across the country. The company eventually went from defense to offense in its growth strategy, finding itself as a key partner for any barbershop that needed to start offering contactless payments, digital appointment booking and a more seamless customer experience built for a generation used to doing everything online.

This week, Squire tripled its valuation thanks to a Tiger-Global-led round. The company is now worth $750 million, after being valued at around $75 million when we first spoke to them.

When I spoke to co-founder Dave Salvant, who launched the company with Songe LaRon in 2016, he explained how the company is now in a spot to expand into other barbershop-specific value propositions — either through acquisitions or partnerships. This week, for example, Squire announced that it launched a payment processing arm with Bond, a venture-backed fintech infrastructure company. The company also partnered with Gusto to bring on HR services for its clientele. Salvant noted how the progress of tech, especially financial services, lets them offer up a strong product without needing to build everything in-house.

While these are partnerships for now, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Squire begin to scoop up companies that can unlock value from its existing datasets of how barbershops function and what kind of capital comes in and out of those doors.

Behind the numbers:

It’s a company to watch that fits into the narrative of pandemic rocked, then proven startups looking to expand with fresh capitalization. Less common, though, is that Squire is now en route to becoming a historical and unfortunately still rare Black-led unicorn. More data points, the better.

In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll discuss Robinhood’s public debut and why a CEO thinks everyone needs to be them for a day. You can find me on Twitter @nmasc_.

Robinhood sells Robinhood

illustration of robinhood feather logo spraypainted on a brick wall

Image Credits: TechCrunch

The long-awaited Robinhood IPO is no longer long-awaited. After pricing at the lower end of its range, the consumer investing and trading app’s shares went down sharply, teetering between 8% to 10%.

Here’s what to know: IPO expert and fellow Equity co-host Alex Wilhelm gave us two reasons as to why Robinhood’s stock went down. After all, we’re used to pops in the consumer-facing tech company world.

Robinhood made a big chunk of its IPO available to its own users. Or, in practice, Robinhood curtailed early retail demand by offering its investors and traders shares at the same price and level of access that big investors were given. It’s a neat idea. But by doing so, Robinhood may have lowered unserved retail interest in its shares, perhaps reshaping its early supply/demand curve.

Or maybe the company’s warnings that its trading volumes could decline in Q2 2021 scared off some bulls.

You get to be a CEO, you get to be a CEO!

Burst balloons and party streamers on wooden floor

Image Credits: Richard Drury (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Now that free beer is no longer a company perk, the next best one may have emerged: Let anyone in your company become CEO for a day. Vincit CEO Ville Houttu implemented this program at his company in 2018 and said that the initiative has paid off “tenfold.”

Here’s how it works, per the company:

The program gives our employee the reins for 24 hours with an unlimited budget. The only requirement? The CEO must make one lasting decision that will help improve the working experience of Vincit employees. Whatever the CEO of the Day decides, the company sticks with. They can purchase something for the company, change a policy, update a tool we use … Really, anything that they come up with can be done.

You can see the resulting policies in our story, but in my humble opinion, the end result is definitely better than free beer.

Around TC

  • The TechCrunch Disrupt Agenda just went live. It’s a must-read line up and a must-attend event. Some standouts:
    • Pot, Pottery and Beyond with Seth Rogen (Houseplant), Haneen Davies (Houseplant) and Michael Mohr (Houseplant)
    • Breaking the Bank with Brian Armstrong (Coinbase)
    • Speaking SPAC with Chamath Palihapitiya (Social Capital)
    • Dogmatic Design with Melanie Perkins (Canva)
  • Shout out to Amanda Silberling, a recent addition to the TechCrunch team who has been absolutely crushing her consumer tech beat. Follow her on Twitter if you don’t already!

Across the week

Seen on TechCrunch

For more public market news, subscribe to The Exchange by Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim.  

Seen on Extra Crunch

Talk soon,

N



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LATEST SPORTS NEWS

Georgian athletes’ access revoked for sightseeing

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Two Georgian athletes have had their accreditation revoked from the Tokyo Olympics after they were spotted leaving the athlete village to visit friends in Japan.

On Saturday, Olympics organisers said they had revoked accreditation of Games-related people for leaving the athlete village for sightseeing which is a violation of measures imposed to hold the Olympics safely amid the pandemic. Later, the Georgian Olympic Committee confirmed that two of its athletes — who had already completed their events — had left the Olympic compound.

The athletes have since returned home, in line with organisers’ rules which state athletes must return to their home country within 48 hours of competing in their final event.

A Georgian official told AFP news agency the two athletes are Judo silver medallists Vazha Margvelashvili, 27 and Lasha Shavdatuashvili, 29.

“No-one stopped them at the exit, so they thought that they could go outside. They wanted just to have a bit of open air, to relax after a tough day of competition, after a tough lockdown period,” the official said.

Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya said: “We took away accreditation as we believe going out of the athletes’ village for sightseeing is something that should not happen.”

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.

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