Why sports so important to high school experience

I just love this video.

Today my son’s basketball team won a thriller in double overtime in the semifinal at the Ontario high school championships – OFSAA – in Pembroke.

They now go on to the gold-medal game tonight.

The students at Mother Teresa high school in Northeast London had a chance to watch the game, thanks to a livestream provided by media studies students at Pembroke, where the OFSAA tournament was held.

It is the first time the school has had a boys basketball team at OFSAA.

Even if you don’t play sports, the win was a big one for the school and student body, who celebrated wildly.

These kids will remember this game winning shot as time ran out by Oren Rusagara for the rest of their lives.

Check it out on Twitter.

Sentence handed down in stabbing death

adelaide street

Almost three years after 19-year-old Londoner Jared McKnight was stabbed to death, the man responsible was handed his sentence.

It was not the sentence McKnight’s family had hoped for.

While the Crown was asking for nine years, Perry Eggett Jr., 25, received an eight-year sentence. For time already served, he’ll be eligible for release in three years and seven months. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to manslaughter.

In her ruling, Justice Helen Rady told the court Tuesday Jared’s death was, “An utterly senseless death that shouldn’t have happened.”

Eggett stabbed McKnight in the chest on May 12, 2012 – after he mistook him for his younger brother Jordan McKnight.

On Monday, Eggett told the court that he regretted what he had done saying, “I wish it never happened and I could take it back.”

Jared’s mother, Lori Scott, who has left comments on this blog, said, “I just want to see [Eggett] never see the light of day, the same way my son is. That’s basically what I would want to see as a mother, but it won’t happen.”

I came upon the scene shortly after the stabbing on Adelaide Street near Hamilton Road.

I talked to people on site and broke the news that Eggett had been the perpetrator.

Here’s one of my earlier stories.


I wish to offer condolences again to the family. After waiting so long for the case to wrap up, it seems the wait behind bars for the man who killed McKnight isn’t nearly long enough.

And CTV London’s coverage from Monday:


Aaron Yoon was a model prisoner

I cultivated a source in Mauritania over the past few months to get information about Londoner Aaron Yoon, who was imprisoned there on terrorist-related charges.

The prison he was in is located three km north of Nouakchott.

My source said that Yoon was in a comfortable cell there. The prison has sports equipment and a library.

He said Yoon requested a lot of books and was studying Muslim theology. He also said he read the Koran a lot.

He told me before it happened that  Yoon would be released from prison, even though prosecutors had wanted his sentenced lengthened to 10 years.

Yoon is back living in London.

I’m sure the Canadian government has questioned him at length.

Do we have a right to know what really happened when he and his two friends (now both dead) travelled overseas and allegedly got involved in terrorism? Or is that information best kept in the hands of the government?

What would you do with $17 million?

Here’s my CTV story about a London couple that struck it rich with Saturday’s $17.4 million jackpot.


What would be the first thing you’d do if you won so much?

I think I would have a helluva party first and then wait a while until I am clearheaded and can make some wise decisions.

Some money would go a children’s charity, to help abused and neglected children.

And some would probably go to a vacation in Hawaii. That’s my dream trip.

This couple said they will have a party for their neighbourhood.

Angry Chan wins on night of mistakes, while freedom fighter inspires silver medallist

The Miley Cyrus song, Everybody Has Those Days; Everybody Makes Mistakes, was running through my head at Budweiser Gardens Friday night.

And I don’t even like that song.

But as one after another competitor in the men’s free skate messed up, it was just ringing too true.

It would have been wonderful to continue the amazing skating that’s been on display all week at the World Figure Skating Championships.

But as the men upped the ante trying to include more quads, the house of cards fell flat at the Bud, which was a near sellout.

Chan did complete two quads, but missed two triples, and downgraded a couple of planned combination jumps. He was hitting himself on the forehead in frustration afterward.

“The more you fall, the more tired you are,” he told reporters. “I am angry at myself.”

Denis Ten of Kazakhstan won the silver and Javier Fernandez of Spain took bronze.

Ten had the best free skate of the night with another personal best of 174.92. Chan scored 169.41 on the long program, with 267.78 overall. Ten nearly caught him, finishing at 266.48.

An emotional Ten got down on his hands and knees at centre ice after his skate and kissed the ice. He touched his heart and blew kisses to the audience. Two Kazakhstan flags were seen in the crowd. Later he had one of them as he skated around the arena.

But he didn’t skate clean either, missing a triple flip. Still, the list of jumps he mastered was looong: quad toe, triple axel, triple toe, triple lutz, triple toe, double toe, triple salchow, triple loop, double axel. WOW.

And then there was his elastic flexibility, wonderful choreography and interpretation of The Artist and the towering height he achieved on those jumps.

Ten, 19, said he was extremely nervous. “I couldn’t sleep for two nights.”

He calmed himself down by pretending he wasn’t in medal contention. “I said to myself, ‘Imagine if you already lost…and you can just go and skate with freedom.’

“This is still the best skate I’ve done in four years.”

And speaking of freedom, thoughts of Ten’s ancestor, Korean freedom fighter General Min Keung-Ho (who sacrificed his life for Korea’s independence), brought courage to the skater.

“I wish I could meet with him and talk to him because I know how strong he was. All this helps me when I realize my great-great-grandfather was such a great man. Sometimes I skate and I think that he watches at me and I have no chance to fail him, to disappoint him. It’s sort of an additional responsibility to me.”

I was able to catch a quick moment with France’s Brian Joubert, who had a solid program, which included two quads and a triple axel right off the bat, but only received 148.09 from the judges. The crowd booed when his marks were displayed, hoping for higher.

Joubert, who finished ninth, said the marks were disappointing but he was pleased with his efforts. “That’s the judgement. For me, the most important was the feeling on the ice, the audience, my coach. I did my job. I have no regrets.”


NDP leader Thomas Mulcair presents flowers to Patrick Chan on the podium amidst a sea of purple.

Twizzles lack sizzle – Virtue and Moir second after short

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Victoria Kavaliova and Yurii Bieliaiev of Belarus used borrowed skates during their ice dance short program Thursday night at Budweiser Gardens after theirs were lost in transit.

Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue still have a chance to win gold in ice dancing at the World Figure Skating Championships but they’ll have to perform a remarkable free dance Saturday.

The local duo had trouble with both their synchronized twizzles – that didn’t synch – and in the no-touch step sequence, they were also off.

It was enough to leave them more than three points behind American rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who set a world record with 77.12.

“It only takes a millisecond to get out of control,” Moir said.

“We’re further behind than we’d like to be,” Virtue added.

Virtue and Moir’s  program was still impressive, though.

Davis and White performed a superlative routine to Giselle Thursday night before a crowd with tons of American flags.

They were smooth and composed throughout the program.

It was well rehearsed and felt like a theatrical production on blades, so inventive and magical.

Even the U.S. team was surprised at their excellent performance.

“We’ve sort of impressed ourselves,” White said. “There’s a certain maturity that comes along with experience.”

Canadian teammates Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were charming in their short dance performed to The Sound of Music soundtrack and scored a solid 67.54, despite Weaver coming back quickly after suffering a broken fibula in December. “The sky’s the limit,” she told the media after the routine. They are in sixth place.

The crowd gave an especially long ovation to Belarus couple Viktoria Kavaliova and Yurii Bieliaiev, who barely made it to London and then had to compete with someone else’s skates.

“At first we didn’t get our Visa in time. We only got it Monday last minute and flew Tuesday from Minsk to Frankfurt, but a lot of flights were cancelled because of snowfall. We were re-booked on a different airline,” Kavaliova said.

“We just made the plane last minute but our luggage didn’t get here. We arrived Wednesday morning in London, but had no luggage.”

Volunteer Adam Jones gave Bieliaiev his skates and Paul Moir (Scott Moir’s uncle) lent his daughter’s skates to Kavaliova.

Bieliaiev’s skates were single blade, though. “They are longer and have a toe pick and I didn’t have enough time to adapt. I was five or six years old the last time I skated in this kind of boots.”

Still, they were pleased to be on the ice, they said.

Interviews, egg salad sandwiches and face mask

figure skaters

A ghost appears to go by as Sue Reeve takes a photo of 83-year-old coach Gordon Linney at the World Figure Skating Championships Monday.


The first day of the World Figure Skating Championships ran smoothly at the Western Fair practice rink.

Volunteers were in place, the shuttles were ready, fans had lots of seat choices and there was tons of parking!!

(More importantly, however, was the food provided for the media. I had a lovely egg salad sandwich.)

I did two interviews today with U.S. skaters, Max Aaron and Ross Miner.

The early bird gets the worm, they say, and I was able to do the interviews one-on-one in the mixed zone. I was to the rink by 8 a.m. and there were few media members around then.

In the mixed zone after the practice, where a fence separates the athletes from the rest of the world, it was all  quiet.

This is unusual. At most events, there’s jostling by the media to get close to the boundary. At the 2006 Olympic figure skating competition, you would often be so far away from the athletes you couldn’t even hear them. A communications manager would record the athlete and then walk down the line afterward letting reporters hear what was taped.

I also had a great interview with Gordon Linney, who has been coaching for 56 years. More on him later in the week.

Also today I saw a Japanese TV crew member wearing a face mask inside the rink. I guess it’s a habit.

One more day of practices then the competition begins Wednesday.