There are bigger names at Glasgow 2014 and there are surer medal prospects, but few can match Northern Ireland tandem rider Dave Readle for overcoming adversity on the way to the Commonwealth Games. Press Association Readle will pilot visually impaired team-mate James Brown in the para-cycling disciplines starting on Friday, marking the culmination of a remarkable journey. He has suffered devastating injuries, long periods out of competitive sport during which he retrained as a psychologist and even now is battling a form of skin cancer, but will line up at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome having achieved an ambition that so often looked impossible. “I began working for British Cycling as a performance psychologist in 2008 and I just started riding, almost at random. I just had a go. “I was that bad they were laughing at me at the track. They actually told me I needed to go away and learn to ride a bike. “But I got back on. It was an unusual start, but I ended up making the 2009 world championships and I won a silver medal (in the tandem 1,000m time-trial).” Despite that success, constraints on time and finances forced Readle to prioritise his psychology career and, at London 2012, he was among the Olympic and Paralympic support staff rather than among the competitors. It was Readle, memorably, who tried in vain to calm Jody Cundy during his infamous meltdown in the velodrome. Then, at the start of this year, he received the call from Brown and invited to make a comeback as his tandem pilot. It was a chance he could not turn down, even if it meant putting back his latest treatment for ongoing skin cancer. “I’ve been undergoing treatment but I decided to defer the latest lot,” he added. “They’ll be coming to cut some more out of me after the Games. “But this was the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s an honour and a privilege to be involved. “Over a lifetime of being told you can’t do things, I’ve learned anything is possible. It’s perseverance, the ability to take knocks and dust yourself down – it’s never giving up. “If the outcome for me is a medal, great. If not, then that’s fine as well because I get the bigger picture. “For me it is more about being able to share and enjoy the Commonwealth Games with all the people who’ve helped and supported me and all the other athletes I’ve worked with over the years.” Liverpool-born Readle was first close to qualifying as a shot-putter for the 2002 Commonwealths in Manchester when he was forced out of contention in brutal fashion. “I ripped my pectoral muscle clean off my chest while bench-pressing before the 2002 Games. At the time, I was well on course to earn a place,” he told Press Association Sport. “It killed, really bad. It’s a really rare injury – only a small percentage of people have done it, but you certainly know about it when it happens. “After that I took a year out, completed my studies in the United States and started working to become a teacher.” A simple life in the classroom was never on the cards for Readle, though, and he soon found an opportunity to put himself to use at a newly expansive British Cycling. Feted sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters was already consulting with the organisation and soon found a willing protege. “I went to Steve and said, verbatim, ‘how do I do what you do?’. I basically said ‘give me a job’,” Readle explained. “If it wasn’t for Steve and his advice, I could never have had the chance to pursue the career I did. He was very supportive.
Senior Maria Sanchez had seen Aeriel Ellis before. As a matter of fact, they’ve sparred against each other numerous times over the last ten years.This time, however, Sanchez would walk away with not one, but two victories against her rival. Her play would help lead the Women of Troy to a 6-1 victory over No. 20 Texas.“There are always subplots to these things,” said USC coach Richard Gallien. “They both know each other, [they’re] both from Northern California, and these things go back a long way. I’m not saying they have a grudge against each other, but it is a hairier sort of deal.” Paired up with freshman Kaitlin Christian, Sanchez staved off a late rally from Ellis and her partner Krista Damico to steal the doubles match early on in the Sunday afternoon showdown with the Longhorns. The Ellis/D’Amico tandem roared back after falling into a 5-0 hole in the match’s only set, only to be beaten 8-6 when Sanchez and Christian finally reclaimed the momentum late in the game. In her singles game, the USC captain overpowered the diminutive Ellis with her strong serve and mighty forehand, winning the only two sets of the match. Despite her impressive display, victory didn’t come at an easy cost for the nation’s No. 3-ranked player, as Ellis continued to battle back throughout the match, taking Sanchez to the brink in the second set before bowing out in a 6-3, 7-5 defeat. Sophomore Danielle Lao stepped up Sunday afternoon, matching Sanchez’s two wins on the day, and dispatching what could be Texas’ most talented player in Krista Damico. Unlike the Longhorn’s volatile junior, Lao played under control and with great pace all afternoon, keeping Damico off balance with low balls to counter her powerful strikes and pressuring her into a plethora of unforced errors.After teaming with senior Lyndsay Kinstler in a dominant 8-2 win over Texas’ No. 3 doubles squad of Juliana Gajic and Caroline Larsson, Lao was able to beat back a Damico rally to take the first set, then needed a furious rally to secure the second set, winning the last four games of the match to close out a 6-3, 6-4 win.“She is a really tough player,” Lao said. “I was down 4-3 and needed to step up and execute, especially on her serve, I really focused and concentrated the last three games and got the win.”Another tough day for junior Allison Ramos once again tested her resiliency and toughness as she had to play a physically imposing opponent for the second game in a row. Similar to her defeat against Loreto Alonso of USF, Ramos had difficulty returning the monstrous serve of senior Maggie Mello and that proved to be the difference in a hotly-contested match that ended in an intense, pressure-filled tiebreaker. Facing adversity for one of the few times this year, senior Cristala Andrews battled back against the Longhorns’ Cierra Gaytan-Leach to steal a victory, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.In another three-set duel, Christian secured her second win of the day beating Gajic 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 in the fourth singles game, while sophomore Valeria Pulido recovered from her doubles defeat earlier to dominate Texas freshman Elizabeth Begley 6-0, 6-1.On the day, the Women of Troy would win seven of nine matches.With an extremely talented UCLA team ahead, this tune-up against Texas helps build momentum and give the team a winning air heading into the meat of their schedule. “We are all feeling very confident and feel we’re in a very good place right now,” Lao said. “It’s all about balance especially in tennis and right now we are really hungry and working hard to compete. We just want it so bad and it’s showing in the results.”
Of course, they’re plugging along right now without Elliott, one of the NFL’s best running backs. He reportedly is in Mexico training and staying in shape as he waits out a new contract.Elliott is set to earn a base salary of $3.9 million for 2019, and the team last month picked up the fifth-year option of his rookie contract that will pay him $9.1 million for 2020.He earned his second rushing title in three years with 1,434 yards on a league-high 304 carries with six touchdowns last season, while adding 77 receptions for 567 yards with three touchdowns.Part of plugging along is plugging the hole Elliott’s absence creates in Dallas’ offense.That, Jones said Thursday, was what signing free agent back Alfred Morris was about, filling the void not sending a negotiating message to Elliott.Morris, 30, played with the Cowboys in 2016 and ’17 and rushed for 547 yards and a touchdown in 2017, a season in which Elliott missed six games because of an NFL-mandated suspension. “You recognize Morris has made some big plays for us in Zeke’s absence. Morris did a good job, so you go get Morris,” Jones said. “In no way is it addressed towards, directing toward a negotiation stance, that’s not the point. What you should be doing is developing an offense. … We have to do this in case Zeke might not be here, period. Without a contract issue and we all know that can happen.”Cowboys executive vice president and CEO Stephen Jones and coach Jason Garrett have fielded questions about their running back’s absence, insisting Dallas is focused only on the players who showed up to training camp. “We are focused on the guys who are here,” Garrett said. “We’re not going to focus on the business of football.”Stephen Jones said: “It’s going to do no good to address this situation every day, but we will be working on (a contract) behind the scenes.”Meantime, Jerry Jones on Thursday said he is confident that Elliott is working hard in his conditioning, which adds to the Cowboys owner/GM’s calm about not if but when his star returns.“Zeke is in my mind, very conscientious about his preparation to play,” Jones said. “I’m not even giving it a second thought to his conditioning which is part of his ability to step right in. Saints’ Michael Thomas on record-breaking deal: ‘I’m trying to earn every penny of it’ “All of that is very easy for my mind to deal with.”The Cowboys open their preseason schedule Aug. 10 at the 49ers. Their regular-season opener is Sept. 8 at home against the Giants. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a famously impatient man, says he’s ready to play the long game on holdout running back Ezekiel Elliott’s contract.Jones was asked Thursday at the team’s training camp in Oxnard, California, about whether he has a timetable for getting the deal done, if there were a point of no turning back or a deadline as Elliott holds out. “I don’t see it that way. I don’t see a point months into the season,” Jones told reporters (via DallasCowboys.com). “I don’t see a point. I’ve done it a lot more than these players have, I don’t want to seem trite or cavalier about it, but I have a little more patience about how things are going to get done and the necessity to have angst when you have it.”Instead, the Cowboys will “just keep plugging along,” he said. Related News NFL Hall of Fame Game 2019: Three takeaways from Broncos’ win over Falcons