Nike is one of Biles’ sponsors. *mouth drop*don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything https://twitter.com/MaryBonoUSA/status/1038189174560452609 …4:32 PM – Oct 13, 2018 By yesterday Biles is among the more than 200 women who have come forward over the last two years claiming they were sexually abused by former team doctor Larry Nassar under the guise of treatment. Biles was critical of Perry for not being vocal enough in support of the survivors.___More AP Sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Bono was appointed Friday to hold the position while USA Gymnastics searches for a permanent successor to Kerry Perry, who resigned under pressure from the United States Olympic Committee in September after spending nine months on the job.Biles responded Saturday to a tweet from Bono last month criticizing Nike following the release of its advertising campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Bono, a former Republican congresswomen, had posted a photo of herself drawing over a Nike logo on a golf shoe.Biles quote-tweeted Bono’s photo and wrote: ”(asterisk)mouth drop(asterisk) don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything.” I regret the post and respect everyone’s views & fundamental right to express them. This doesn’t reflect how I will approach my position @USAGym I will do everything I can to help build, w/ the community, an open, safe & positive environment.9:53 PM – Oct 13, 2018 Bono deleted her tweet about five hours later, saying she regretted the post and respects “everyone’s views & fundamental right to express them.” Mary Bono✔@MaryBonoUSA Olympic champion Simone Biles is upset about an anti-Nike tweet from USA Gymnastics interim president and CEO Mary Bono. Simone Biles✔@Simone_Biles In this Aug. 19, 2018, file photo, Simone Biles competes on the uneven bars at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
8,086 people are talking about this 2,048 people are talking about this Simone Biles✔@Simone_Biles Twitter Ads info and privacy In this Aug. 19, 2018, file photo, Simone Biles competes on the uneven bars at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File) 35.3K *mouth drop*don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything https://twitter.com/MaryBonoUSA/status/1038189174560452609 …4:32 PM – Oct 13, 2018 Simone Biles wants to get this out of the way first. She didn’t return to gymnastics to appease anyone. Not her sponsors. Not her family. And not the organization she represents.This “comeback” — a word the Olympic champion isn’t really a fan of — is about curiosity and self-respect. To see how far she can go. What boundaries she can push. How good she really is. That’s all.The rest of it — from her burgeoning stardom that’s made going to the mall difficult without friends as a buffer, to her unique and increasingly vocal critiques of USA Gymnastics as it tries to plot a way forward amid the fallout of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal — is just details.The 21-year-old insists what she is doing is no big deal. New coach Laurent Landi throws down a challenge and she gives it a shot. She sees something amiss at USA Gymnastics and speaks up, whether it’s the about maddening silence of former president and CEO Kerry Perry or the baffling, botched and brief hiring of former U.S. Representative Mary Bono as Perry’s interim replacement. Asked if she’s aware of the significant influence she wields within her sport as she prepares for a return to the world championships starting Saturday in Doha, Qatar, Biles is matter-of-fact. The three-time world all-around champion and 14-time world championship medalist won’t hesitate to let her feelings be known “as long as it’s in a positive manner.”Some days, it’s telling Perry to start talking publicly because “that’s her job.” Others it’s calling out Bono on Twitter for marking over the Nike swoosh on her golf shoes, Bono’s way of protesting Nike’s decision to have former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick serve as the centerpiece of an ad campaign. Still others, it’s wearing a teal leotard — as she did during the finals of the U.S. Championships — as a tribute to survivors of sexual abuse, herself included.Biles acknowledged in January she was among the hundreds of women who say they were abused by Nassar, a former team doctor at USA Gymnastics now serving up to 175 years in prison for molesting women and girls and possessing child pornography. She remains in treatment as part of her recovery. One of the byproducts is becoming more comfortable in her own skin, a maturity that’s allowed her to embrace her role as an agent of change, albeit in her own unique style.When Biles has something to say, she does it with a “real talk” bluntness that eschews volume and anger for something quieter and more direct.“She relays her message in my opinion in a subtle way,” her mother, Nellie Biles, said. “It’s strong but it’s subtle. But she still knows whatever message she puts out there, everyone gets it.”Biles simply wants USA Gymnastics “to speak up, take ownership and do what’s right” as it tries to dig itself out of the Nassar mess. The organization’s rocky two years since Nassar’s first victims came forward have included a massive overhaul among its national staff and dozens of changes in response to an independent investigation.And while that’s all fine, Biles wonders if USA Gymnastics is now bending too far the other way. The new regulations require athletes attending national team camps to be escorted by a chaperone. Biles traveled by herself while flying from Houston to Bradenton earlier this month.While she understands the need for a culture change, she also thinks the young team she will lead on to the floor at Aspire Academy on Saturday under the guidance of new high performance coordinator Tom Forster could sometimes use a not-so gentle nudge in the right direction.“In reality I think there does need to be somebody to be tough on them so we can do what we need to do,” Biles said. “Not abusive or anything, but someone people are kind of afraid of in a good way.”Here’s the thing though: the one person the team may be afraid of, at least in some small way, is Biles. She is the lone holdover from the team that dominated the 2016 Olympics, winning nearly half of the medals available. Her four gold medals and five overall tied records. Now she finds herself calling girls who have long looked up to her teammates.“I think it is very different (than 2016),” Biles said. “I do feel a part (from the group) in a way. But I feel like we’re trying to work as a team. We’re trying to learn to work as a team. Obviously that’s going to take some time as well.”The process is already underway. The Americans have been in Qatar for the better part of a week, with Biles standing side by side (and sometimes arm in arm ) with 2017 world champion Morgan Hurd, 2016 Olympic alternate and 2017 national champion Ragan Smith, Riley McCusker, Grace McCallum and Kara Eaker.As much as she understands her talent sets her apart, Biles also just wants to feel included.“She has no idea about the perception of others when it comes to her,” her mother says. “Her perception is that she’s Simone and that means nothing because she’s just Simone.”Even if that’s not how others see her, particularly when Biles competes. She’s not the first Olympic champion to make another run at glory. She is among the small group not intent on simply holding on to their previous form but building on it instead. How else to describe the vault she unveiled earlier this month. Oh. My. Goodness. 16.000 for @Simone_Biles at World Selection Camp.6:14 PM – Oct 11, 2018 8,517 Twitter Ads info and privacy USA Gymnastics✔@USAGym The vault — a roundoff, half-twist onto the table, front double full off — requires Biles to land blind. It’s a skill typically only done by men. No matter. She drilled it anyway, though she’s keeping it out of her world championship set as a precaution due to warm-up limits.“That was crazy,” said 2017 men’s national champion Yul Moldauer. “I’m embarrassed to do floor and vault after something like that. … You see Simone do that and she’s smiling the whole time. How does she do that?”And Biles did it despite nursing injured toes on both feet that occasionally make it difficult to walk.“I’m just thriving over here,” she cracked.Biles is also vastly improved on uneven bars, an event she admits she dreaded at times earlier in her career, when she would swing a couple of times and then say simply “this isn’t happening today.”That’s changed thanks in large part to Landi, who took over as her coach last fall and who has a knack for breaking down skills in a way that makes it easier for his star student to digest.“I realized I kind of can’t get out of bars and I might be put in the lineup,” Biles said. “So I guess I’ve learned to hate it less.”And respect her own potential more. Biles’ plan in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics was based on trying to maximize the code of points and do what was necessary to win. Now she does as she pleases. Her routines are designed not so much to win — though her degree of difficulty assures she’s a heavy favorite in Qatar — as much as they are to keep her engaged and see how high she can go.“The fact that she can say, ‘I haven’t maximized my potential and I want to do that,’ I think that speaks volumes,” Nellie Biles said. “Simone doesn’t just … talk the talk. She walks that.”___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Like us at https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Pittsburgh-Courier/143866755628836?ref=hlFollow @NewPghCourier on Twitter https://twitter.com/NewPghCourier NUMBER SIX—Pictured are members of the Super Bowl XLIII (43) winning team, which beat the Arizona Cardinals in comeback fashion after the 2008 season. “MEAN” JOE GREENE, the man who started it all…he was honored at halftime as a member of the Super Bowl XIII (13) team that won the championship after the 1978 season. Greene ended up winning four Super Bowls in all. (Photos by Courier photographer Brian Cook)
United States’ Serena Williams reacts after losing a point to Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill) Sure, both are 37, and they’re showing their age.Yes, both are gone from the Australian Open, each with a loss to a far-younger opponent. Williams exited Wednesday in the quarterfinals against 26-year-old Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic after wasting four match points and a 5-1 lead in the third set; Federer went out Sunday in the fourth round against 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.And, well, there also are these facts to consider:— Federer failed to make it to the final four at any of the past four Grand Slam tournaments (he sat out the French Open), the first such stretch for him since he reached his initial major semifinal all the way back in 2003;— Williams hasn’t won any of the four Slams she has entered since having a baby in September 2017, equaling her longest gap since a six-major drought from 2007-08.Here’s the thing, though, something that statistics can’t account for: As great as these two have been over the years — Williams owns 23 Grand Slam singles titles, Federer 20 — their most impressive quality might very well be the ability to adjust and adapt, to find new ways to win, to stay committed to doing whatever it takes to remain at the top.Federer, for example, went 4½ years without adding to his Grand Slam total, and then won three in a span of four that he appeared in.How? He changed to a larger racket head, began using a flat backhand more often and invented a new way of challenging opponents’ second serves.So count on Federer to come up with something else. As it is, he declared that he’ll return to the clay-court circuit this year and participate in the French Open for the first time since 2015. After all, he’s healthy. So why not? Maybe he won’t win the title there, but it could help him prepare for Wimbledon.A story that Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, told this week is instructive.They began working together in 2012, shortly after the only first-round Grand Slam loss of Williams’ career, which came at the French Open.The next season, Williams told him she really wanted to win the title at Roland Garros, where she’d last been champion in 2002.“We made a plan,” he said, “and she worked incredibly hard.”And, lo and behold, in 2013, she ended her 11-year wait for a second triumph in Paris, just as she’d hoped.After the trophy ceremony, Williams went to stretch and told him to tag along.“She turned to me and said, ‘Now we have to win Wimbledon,’” Mouratoglou recalled. “She was chasing something for 11 years (and) … 10 minutes after, she was already focusing on the next goal. That’s different. There are guys who win one tournament and they celebrate for 15 years.”That last description fits neither Williams nor Federer.Indeed, they are at the opposite end of the spectrum: They fail to win one tournament and rue it.“It’s definitely not easy for me. From Day 1, I expect to go out and, quite frankly, to win. That hasn’t happened. But I do like my attitude. I like that I don’t want to go out here and say: ‘I expect to lose because I had a year off. I’ve been playing for 10 months. I’m not supposed to win.’ I don’t have that attitude,” Williams said about her return after taking time away to have her daughter.“I have the attitude of, like, I’ve only been playing 10 months, but I expect to win, and if I don’t, it’s disappointing. I’d rather think of it that way and know that it’s going to happen sooner or later than making an excuse for myself,” she said. “I don’t like making excuses.”She was asked where she might have the best chance to collect one more major championship to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24.“Right now would be Roland Garros,” came the answer, “because that’s the next one, the next Grand Slam for me.”That’s the right approach, of course.That kind of self-belief is a trait she shares with Federer, another reason not to dismiss their chances to contend on tennis’s most important stages. After all, this hardly would be the first time someone thought Williams or Federer were done.Federer didn’t take kindly to player-turned-TV-talker John McEnroe’s declaration that Tsitsipas’ upset signaled a changing of the guard.“He’s always going to say stuff,” Federer said, before dismissing McEnroe’s contention this way: “I’ve heard that story the last 10 years. From that standpoint, nothing new there.”___Howard Fendrich covers tennis for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich or write to him at email@example.com___More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Tempting as it might be, don’t write off Serena Williams or Roger Federer just yet.
BILL NEAL:10—Simply put, that’s how we roll in the “Foot Hills” AKA Penn Hills. I thought 100 percent sure Aaron Donald, the superior two-time defensive player out of Indian Country by way of Pitt, would lead the LA Rams to Lombardi Gold by doing the one and only thing that can stop the Patriots and that’s…take out Brady! And, it almost was done…I guess almost isn’t good enough. I guess the Rams just weren’t good enough…:09—A shoutout to the latest Locker Room inductee for doing the right thing…reading my column every week. To my new main man “Carmen”…of Duquesne University Connection…You are now in the Locker Room.:08—Speaking of inductions, the great Connie Hawkins was inducted into the Pennsylvania Basketball Club Hall of Fame this past weekend. Joining the elite best of the best in the PA basketball family.:07—Put this on the things that make you wonder list. When I watch Stephen Adams play for OKC and dominate in the paint…I wonder what may have gone differently if Coach Jamie Dixon could have kept him for four years. I wonder???:06—Speaking of wondering and Duquesne University…and I was if you were paying attention. I wonder what “The Heck” the NBA has been thinking all these years not inducting Mr. Chuck Cooper in the NBA Hall of Fame! Are you kidding me? The Jackie Robinson of basketball is not in the NBA Hall of Fame. And I bet you didn’t know that. Well, that may change this year. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted the next couple weeks.:05—A.B. who? If they can trade Babe Ruth they can trade A.B.…who?:04—A shoutout to my friend Fred Crawford…he of local tennis fame. He’s reading “Overtime” on a weekly basis. And you should be reading, too. And not just my column but the New Pittsburgh Courier front to back. Shame on you, if you’re not a subscriber to the oldest Black publication in America. But, it’s not too late, sign up now…no not tomorrow, right now. Don’t make me come back there! Call 412-481-8302, ext. 134!:03—For the record, if Magic Johnson and LeBron can get Anthony Davis to L.A. the Golden State Warriors can get ready to get ready. And if Kyrie Irving decides to eat some humble pie and make nice with King James…The West Coast party is over!:02—If you’re reading this, it’s not too late for you to join us at the fabulous new social spot of the year, “Sugar and Smoke” in Bloomfield for the 4th Annual Dr. Cyril Wecht Western PA Humanitarian Awards honoring Ms. Joy Starzl, Henry Sowell and Company, Andrew Stockey of WTAE-TV, Bruce Schifino, Robin Cole – former Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl Champion, Ms. Dayna Delgado (yes that Dayna) of the New Pittsburgh Courier and others on Saturday Feb. 9, at noon. Keynote Speaker is Olympic Gold Medalist Kevin “Freight Train” Parker. For information call Achieving Greatness Inc. at 412-628-4856.:01—It’s the long-awaited return of the original Magnificent 7. “Champions Live” Sports Talk Show live at the Savoy, Thursday, Feb. 14. Doors open at 5 p.m., free parking, free admission, cash bar, cash kitchen, family friendly, prizes, surprises, live audience interaction and of course the fabulous sensational models. Call Achieving Greatness Inc for information 412-628-4856.:00—GAME OVER. Like us at https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Pittsburgh-Courier/143866755628836?ref=hlFollow @NewPghCourier on Twitter https://twitter.com/NewPghCourier
“I don’t really like attention,” she said. “It’s been a little tough.”Playing a second-round match after an opening bye as the tournament’s top seed, Osaka won only 5 of 27 second-serve points, just 19 percent, and barely half of her first-serve points, 12 of 22.She was broken seven of the nine times she served.Kristina Mladenovic, of France, serves to Naomi Osaka, of Japan, during a match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)Mladenovic came into the Dubai Championships with a record of 0-4 in 2019.Osaka had not competed since winning the Australian Open in January for her second consecutive Grand Slam title, a victory that also allowed her to become the first tennis player from Asia to lead the rankings.Last week, Osaka announced on Twitter that she would no longer work with coach Sascha Bajin, who began coaching her before last season and helped her win the U.S. Open in September.Osaka didn’t offer an explanation for the split at the time, but addressed it during a media availability before the Dubai tournament, saying: “Everyone thinks it was a money-related issue, but it wasn’t. … I think my reason is I wouldn’t put success over my happiness.”Naomi Osaka, of Japan, reacts during her match against Kristina Mladenovic, of France, at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)In other action Tuesday at the hard-court tournament, second-seeded Petra Kvitova — the runner-up to Osaka at the Australian Open — beat Katerina Siniakova 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4; third-seeded Simona Halep — Osaka’s predecessor at No. 1 — defeated Eugenie Bouchard 7-6 (5), 6-4; and No. 4 seed Karolina Pliskova edged Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.No. 7 seed Kiki Bertens lost to Viktoria Kuzmova 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (6), while No. 11 Daria Kasatkina was eliminated by 20-year-old American Sofia Kenin 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.___More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The two-time major champion had trouble with her serve and was beaten 6-3, 6-3 by 67th-ranked Kristina Mladenovic at the Dubai Championships in a little more than an hour on Tuesday.Afterward, Osaka wiped away tears while speaking to reporters and discussing the difficulty of dealing with her new-found spot atop the sport.“I don’t think I necessarily understand what position I’m in, in a way. Because last year, I wasn’t even anywhere close to this ranking. People didn’t pay attention to me — and that’s something that I’m comfortable with,” Osaka said. Naomi Osaka, of Japan, reacts during her match against Kristina Mladenovic, of France, at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili) DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Naomi Osaka lost her first match since moving up to No. 1 in the WTA rankings — and first since splitting from her coach.
FRISCO, Texas – Sam Houston State visits North Dakota State Friday with a spot in the NCAA FCS Championship on the line. The Bearkats and Bison last met in the 2014 tournament, with NDSU capturing that semifinal matchup 35-3 at the Fargodome. This weekend’s game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2. Sam Houston State at North Dakota State, Friday, 7 p.m. CTNational TV:ESPN2Online:http://WatchESPN.comWatchESPN and ESPN appsTalent:Dave Neal, play-by-playMatt Stinchcomb, analyst
This is the second consecutive weekly award for the Lady Demons after Polina Mutel earned the honor last week. The Lady Demons (8-5, 4-0 SLC) remained undefeated in the Southland season, earning a tight 4-3 win over McNeese (7-2, 3-1 SLC) on the road Friday and shutting out Nicholls (8-4, 1-2 SLC) 7-0 Monday in Thibodeaux. Northwestern State hosts Southeastern Louisiana (3-7, 0-2 SLC) on Saturday and New Orleans (6-5, 1-1 SLC) on Sunday. Both matches are slated for 11 a.m. CT starts. Women’s Tennis Player of the Week – Ela Iwaniuk, Northwestern State – So. – Konarskie, Poland Honorable Mention: Trang Dao, New Orleans; Sarah Jurakova, McNeese; Sahaja Yamalapalli, Sam Houston State; Luna Dormet, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Iwaniuk partnered with Emilija Dancetovic to clinch the doubles match point against the Cowgirls with a 6-2 win at the No. 3 slot. They then eased to a 6-0 victory in Monday’s match against the Colonels. In singles play, the sophomore from Konarskie, Poland, earned the first singles point for the team in a 6-2, 6-3 win over Marija Mastilovic at the No. 4 slot. She was a straight set victor on Monday, winning 6-2, 6-3. FRISCO, Texas – Northwestern State’s Ela Iwaniuk is the Southland Conference Player of the Week, the league announced Tuesday. Southland Conference Players of the Week are presented by UniversalCoin.com. Southland weekly award winners are nominated and voted upon by each school’s sports information director. Voting for one’s own athlete is not permitted. To earn honorable mention, a student-athlete must appear on at least 25 percent of ballots.
Gordon was a bronze medalist for Jamaica in the 2015 Pam Am Junior Games in the 100 meter hurdles, and was training to challenge for a place on her native country’s 2020 Olympic team. She was the top-ranked prep hurdler in Florida in 2014. She was runner-up for High Point Scorer honors at the Southland Conference Outdoor Championships in May, scoring 22.5 points by sweeping the 100 and 400 hurdles titles and running the lead leg on the winning 4×100 relay team. She aspired to be an elementary school teacher. She is survived by her parents, Miranda and Deron Gordon of Pompano Beach. “Our hearts go out to Daeshon’s family, and to our track and field family, at this extremely difficult time,” said Greg Burke, NSU’s director of athletics. “There are no words to express the feelings that so many have when a young life ends abruptly and much before its time. As we mourn the loss of @itsDae1k, the NSU Athletic family’s support has been restorative, along with the outpouring of kindness by so many of you. Thanks to all. NSU athletics director Greg Burke reflected on the remarkable person who has passed on – https://t.co/HEdXQTBGh4— NSU Demons Track (@NSUDemonsTF) October 23, 2018 You’re invited Thursday night at 7 to a candlelight vigil celebrating the life and mourning the passing of @itsDae1k, at the Walter P. Ledet Track Complex where she trained for the past 2 years and left a deep impact. Details to follow. pic.twitter.com/aMmpCVNN0K— NSU Demons Track (@NSUDemonsTF) October 23, 2018 Gordon was the 2017 Southland Conference Indoor Women’s Newcomer of the Year. By Doug Ireland, NSU Assistant Athletic Director/Sports Information DirectorNATCHITOCHES, La. – Daeshon Gordon, who was completing studies for her undergraduate degree at Northwestern State after finishing a remarkable collegiate track and field career this spring, passed away suddenly Sunday morning, NSU officials confirmed. At LSU, she earned a pair of All-America awards as a freshman in 2015 in the 100 meter hurdles and in 2016 indoors in the 60 meter hurdles. Her 8.04 mark as a sophomore in the 60 hurdles ranks seventh in LSU history and her 57.24 in the 400 hurdles in her freshman season was 10th on the Tigers’ all-time list. Gordon set the Lady Demons’ school record in the 100 hurdles with a 13.04 time in the NCAA semifinals. She broke the school 60 meter hurdles record indoors in February, clocking 8.15, also a Southland Conference record. She swept the 60 hurdles titles at the Southland championships in her two seasons at NSU and had the seven fastest times in the event in school history. Gordon’s winning 58.83 mark in the 400 hurdles at the Southland Outdoors was the second-fastest time in school history. She was part of a school-record 4×200 relay team in 2017 (1:35.70 at the Texas Relays), while helping the 2018 Lady Demons post the second-best 4×100 relay mark (44.74) at the NCAA East Preliminary Round to punch their ticket to the national meet. Gordon also rank on 4×400 relay combinations that ranked fourth (3:38.82) and fifth (3:39.16) all-time at NSU. She earned two honorable mention All-America honors in June at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, in the 100 meter hurdles and in the 4×100 meter relay, in her final competition for NSU. It was the first time the Lady Demons qualified a relay team for the national meet, which includes the top 24 performers in each event from around the country. Gordon was a two-time All-America hurdler at LSU who transferred to Northwestern State and starred for the Lady Demons in the last two seasons. The 22-year-old education major, a native of Jamaica who lived with her family in Pompano Beach, Florida, was a four-time Southland Conference hurdles champion who also ran on a Southland champion 4×100 meter relay team as a senior. “Daeshon was a fierce competitor and a great teammate. I cherished the connection that she and I had that grew even stronger after she completed her eligibility in June and told me she was determined to be the first female member of her family to earn a college degree. I ask that the NSU Demon family keep Daeshon’s family and our track and field program in their thoughts and prayers.”
Barba was named the man of the match for the Saints in their Super League season opener against Castleford on the weekend and if this performance was anything to go by, we may not have seen the last of the 2016 Cronulla Sharks premiership winner playing in the NRL.Barba not only scored twice, but he also had a hand in most of their attacking raids in the eight-try romp over the Tigers. He also made an astounding try-saving tackle on winger Greg Eden, which led to Barba scoring a short time later.He has signed with St Helens until the end of the 2019 season but told NRL.com he had unfinished business in Australia and would be on the lookout for another opportunity after his St Helens stint.“Yeah of course. Obviously, that’s something that if the NRL allows me to, I’d love to come back,” he said in reference to his 12-week ban for a second positive test to cocaine.”I’m only 28 and if I get the chance after playing over here to be able to play back in the NRL, hopefully someone will take me.”Barba played a handful of games for St Helens at the end of last season after a short-lived stint in French rugby when his time at the Sharks was cut short following his drugs ban.“I’m obviously feeling good and I don’t feel I’m getting to that 30 mark yet. I know if I look after myself and continue to do the right things I’ll be able to perform at a high level for a few more years hopefully,” he said.”As far expectations on myself go, I’m looking to enjoy myself. I’m trying to just keep my footy and my family life separate from everything else and it helps me focus a little better over here.”Not having the media being so attentive with me over in Australia sort of helps me relax and it keeps me in a really good head space.”With the first round now out of the way, does Barba feel the pressure on him has alleviated?“It’s a good way to start but I’m now I’m excited to continue that and get to next week and perform week in and week out,” he said.“Winning man of the match is always good to get but now it gets a little harder as I have to keep that focus switched on every week, but as a marquee player you expect to have the pressure.He put his starring performance against Castleford down to his pre-season dedication.After a stint playing in France for Toulon, Barba said he had to do a lot of fitness work to cope with the demands of rugby league.“It’s been something we’ve all been working towards, not just myself but St Helens as well. On a personal note and a team note, I think we all performed well and it allowed me to play the way I did,” Barba said.“Obviously the stint I had in rugby union I enjoyed very much, but fitness wise, the two games require a different level.“Union is obviously very different and something I didn’t get used to while playing in France. Coming back to league, I knew I had to work hard on my fitness and I knew I had to perform at my best.”St Helens coach Justin Holbrook coach was also pleasantly surprised on Barba’s performance in the post-game press conference.“Ben was really good, especially when we were down to 12 men and he came up with that big tackle. Then, on the very next set he scores a try too. Special players produce special plays and he did two in two minutes. He was fantastic,” he said.“I didn’t predict he would have such a good night but I always said he would produce some of the things he would do. He has had a good pre-season and came back two-and-a-half weeks earlier too. If you do those sorts of things you get the rewards don’t you?And unlike his time living in France where there was a language barrier, Barba is settling in quickly with his new teammates.“There are a couple boys from back home, Dom Peyroux and Zeb Taia. We sort of keep together and keep each other company. Having them around has really made the transition easier,” Barba said.