Population: 16,807Public lands: Catawba Meadows Park, Steele Creek Park and Campground, Lake James State Park, South Mountain State ParkOutdoor Highlights: mountain bike Back Creek, South Mountain Loop, Table Rock Loop or Yancey Ridge, South Mountain Trail
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.
Follow Aubrey on Twitter @aubreykragen Following three consecutive home games, USC hits the road this weekend, traveling to Tempe, Ariz. to face off against Arizona State. The Sun Devils dropped out of the Top 25 rankings this week after a 42-28 loss to Stanford, but pulled off the upset against Wisconsin the week before.Tough going · USC junior wide receiver Marqise Lee and the rest of the Trojan offense have been unimpressive to start the season. Lee has 23 catches for 293 yards and one touchdown so far in 2013, well behind last year’s pace. – Ralf Cheung | Daily TrojanDeadly DevilsThe Sun Devils’ offense features a number of potent offensive weapons. Quarterback Taylor Kelly is currently ranked sixth in the nation in passing yards, averaging 339.7 yards per game, while completing 59.9 percent of his attempts. Last week, the Trojans’ defense effectively shut down Utah State’s quarterback Chuckie Keeton, but Kelly has a more impressive group of receivers to rely on.Wide receiver Jaelen Strong, standing tall at 6-foot-4, is coming off a career-high 168-yard receiving performance in the loss to Stanford, and is averaging 110 yards per game.“This will be a matchup issue for us,” USC head coach Lane Kiffin said Monday in his weekly YouTube video. “We’re gonna have to play really well with him, be very aggressive with him at the line of scrimmage and take him out of his game.”Senior running back Marion Grice has also been effective in receiving and rushing so far this season. Through three games, he leads the nation in scoring, with 16 points per game on eight touchdowns (six rushing, two receiving).“[Grice is] really tough to bring down for the first guy,” Kiffin said. “So we’re gonna have to tackle really well.”Arizona State’s dynamic offense is averaging 469.3 total yards per game, which will certainly put USC’s No. 4-ranked defense to the test.Sights on SuttonOn the defensive side of the ball, one name stands out for Arizona State: Will Sutton. The senior defensive tackle, weighing in at 305 lbs., is the reigning Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year after helping the Sun Devils lead the country in tackles for loss per game in 2012.This season, Sutton earned a spot on multiple preseason award watch lists, including the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s best defensive player, and the Walter Camp Award, given to the most outstanding college player of the year.Surprisingly enough, he has had a somewhat quiet season so far, with just nine tackles and no sacks on the season. Still, Kiffin is preparing his team for Sutton’s dominant play.“[Sutton] just has taken over games at times,” Kiffin said. “On the road, at home, no matter where it is.”Redshirt junior defensive end Carl Bradford, who was also named to the Bednarik Award watch list after an impressive 2012 season, has started slowly as well, allowing senior linebacker Chris Young to lead the team with 19 tackles on the season.On the road againAfter the season opener at Hawai’i, the Trojans played three consecutive games at home, but the crowd’s boos didn’t create much of a home-team advantage — Kiffin joked after the loss to Washington State that the fans’ hostility in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum prepared the players for the atmosphere on the road.The Trojans won’t be taking this weekend’s trip to Tempe lightly, since the last time they played there, the Sun Devils handed USC one of only two losses of the 2011 season by a score of 43-22.Kiffin emphasized the importance of preparing the players, especially the underclassmen, for the first big away game of the year.“We’re always concerned about young players going on the road into a place like this and making sure they’re really composed and they play well,” Kiffin said. “We’ve learned over the years about young players making mistakes in their first big road games, so we’ll help those guys through the week and get our veterans to play really well around them.”