Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts

Mbakwe, Minnesota take down No. 1 Indiana 77-73


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana was starting to settle in again at No. 1 after weeks of shuffling at the top of the national rankings in this wildly unpredictable season of college basketball.


Trevor Mbakwe and Minnesota stepped forward, flexed their muscles and did their best to push the Hoosiers out.


Mbakwe had 21 points and 12 rebounds to help the Gophers take down top-ranked Indiana 77-73 on Tuesday night, the seventh time the No. 1 team in The Associated Press' poll has lost a game this season.


"We're trying to do big things so we have to learn from this mistake, but we have to dust it off real fast," Hoosiers star Victor Oladipo said.


Andre Hollins added 16 points for the Gophers (19-9, 7-8 Big Ten), who outrebounded Cody Zeller and the Hoosiers by a whopping 44-30 and solidified their slipping NCAA tournament bid with an emphatic performance against the Big Ten leader. The fans swarmed the court as the last second ticked off, the first time that's happened here in years.


"We weren't physical enough on the glass. That's the bottom line," Indiana coach Tom Crean said.


Zeller was held to nine points with four turnovers for the Hoosiers (24-4, 12-3), who have held the No. 1 ranking for 10 of 17 polls this season including the last four. Oladipo scored 16 points, but 14 of the 17 points by Jordan Hulls came before halftime.


"Cody's certainly capable of a lot," Crean said, "and I think he'll bounce back just fine."


Mbakwe, a sixth-year senior, posted his conference-leading seventh double-double. At 24 years old, he was a man among boys in many ways in this game, dominating both ends of the court when the Gophers needed him most. Minnesota had 23 offensive rebounds.


"We did need to play with a sense of urgency, play with a little edge," Gophers coach Tubby Smith said. "I think Trevor set that tone for us."


Elliott Eliason, who played every bit as well as Zeller, the slender sophomore in the post on the other side, scored seven straight points for Minnesota to tie the game at 46 shortly after Oladipo's reverse layup had given the Hoosiers a 44-36 edge, their biggest of the game.


Hollins, who missed eight of his first nine shots, scraped off a high screen by Eliason to pull up for a 3-pointer and give the Gophers a 51-48 lead. Mbakwe got a rebound to keep a key possession alive then grabbed another board to set up his off-balance bank shot to make it 56-53 in favor of Minnesota.


"I didn't feel I was playing up to my potential lately. I just wanted to come out and be aggressive," Mbakwe said.


Mbakwe was called for a loudly questioned blocking foul, his fourth, with 4:39 remaining on Zeller's fast-break layup and free throw that put the Hoosiers up 59-58. But Austin Hollins answered with a pump-fake layup that drew a foul for a three-point play and a two-point advantage for the Gophers.


The Hoosiers didn't lead again, and Joe Coleman's fast-break dunk with 2:35 left gave Minnesota a 68-61 cushion, enough of one to withstand a couple of 3-pointers by Christian Watford and one by Hulls in the closing minutes.


Mbakwe, who played for Crean when they were at Marquette in 2007-08, has had some of his better games against the Hoosiers.


This was his best.


He gave the Gophers and their home crowd a double-shot of energy early with 10 points in the first 6½ minutes, plus a jarring block of Zeller's inside shot that knocked the 7-footer to the court.


"He's a high-level, high-energy, tough guy who plays the game at a desperate level," Crean said. "Obviously I'm biased, but there's no shame in that."


Zeller, Indiana's leading scorer and the second-best shooter in the Big Ten behind Oladipo, was 0 for 4 from the field in the first half with two turnovers, two fouls and two points. The Gophers scored only three points in the last 7 minutes of the half, but they trailed only 34-30.


The Hoosiers are still in position for their first outright Big Ten regular season championship since 1993, with a one-game edge in the loss column over Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin. With home games against Iowa and Ohio State, Indiana could still clinch the title before the finale at Michigan on March 10.


For now, though, the Hoosiers have to regroup and re-establish their inside game after the trampling in the paint they endured here.


"They were relentless on the glass. We just didn't do a great job of boxing them out," Oladipo said.


The Gophers were back on their uniquely raised home court, trying desperately to boost spirits that have sagged under the weight of eight losses in their previous 11 games. Smith even had the team meet with a sports psychologist. They hadn't topped 58 points in their previous five games. After being ranked in 11 straight polls, the Gophers didn't get one vote this week.


They'll get a few in the next one.


"We've had a lot of people supporting them, encouraging them. I think they knew how important the game was, but I sensed a very calm, matter-of-fact group of guys," Smith said, adding: "They're very confident about who they are."


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Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP


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Johnson wins 2nd Daytona 500; Patrick finishes 8th


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A big first for Danica Patrick, but an even bigger second for Jimmie Johnson.


Patrick made history up front at the Daytona 500 Sunday, only to see Johnson make a late push ahead of her and reclaim his spot at the top of his sport.


It was the second Daytona 500 victory for Johnson, a five-time NASCAR champion who first won "The Great American Race" in 2006.


"There is no other way to start the season than to win the Daytona 500. I'm a very lucky man to have won it twice," said Johnson, who won in his 400th career start. "I'm very honored to be on that trophy with all the greats that have ever been in our sport."


It comes a year after Johnson completed only one lap in the race because of a wreck that also collected Patrick, and just three months after Johnson lost his bid for a sixth Sprint Cup title to go two years without a championship after winning five straight.


Although he didn't think he needed to send a message to his competitors — "I don't think we went anywhere; anybody in the garage area, they're wise to all that," Johnson said — the win showed the No. 48 team is tired of coming up short after all those years of dominance.


"Definitely a great start for the team. When we were sitting discussing things before the season started, we felt good about the 500," Johnson said, "but we're really excited for everything after the 500. I think it's going to be a very strong year for us."


Patrick is hoping for her own success after a history-making race.


The first woman to win the pole, Patrick also became the first woman to lead the race. She ran inside the top 10 almost the entire race, kept pace with the field and never panicked on the track.


Her only mistakes were on pit road, where she got beat on the race back to the track, and on the final lap, when she was running third but got snookered by the veterans and faded to eighth. That's going to stick with Patrick for some time.


"I would imagine pretty much anyone would be kicking themselves about what they coulda, shoulda have done to give themselves an opportunity to win," she said. "I think that's what I was feeling today, was uncertainty as to how I was going to accomplish that."


There were several multicar crashes, but no one was hurt and none of them approached the magnitude of the wreck that injured more than two dozen fans in the grandstand at the end of the second-tier Nationwide Series race on the same track a day earlier. Daytona International Speedway workers were up until 2 a.m repairing the fence that was damaged in the accident, and track officials offered Sunday morning to move any fans who felt uneasy sitting too close to the track.


Several drivers said the accident and concern for the fans stuck with them overnight and into Sunday morning, and Johnson was quick to send his thoughts from Victory Lane.


"I just want to give a big shout-out to all the fans, and I also want to send my thoughts and prayers out to everybody that was injured in the grandstands," Johnson said.


Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose father was killed in this race 12 years ago, was involved in Saturday's accident but refocused and finished second to Johnson, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate.


"Me personally, I was just really waiting to get the news on how everybody was, how all the fans were overnight, just hoping that things were going to improve," Earnhardt said, adding that he "wasn't really ready to proceed until you had some confirmation that things were looking more positive."


The race itself, the debut for NASCAR's new Gen-6 car, was quite similar to all the other Cup races during Speedweeks in that the cars seemed to line up in a single-file parade along the top groove of the track. It made the 55th running of the Daytona 500 relatively uneventful.


When the race was on the line, Johnson took off.


The driver known as "Five-Time" raced past defending NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski on the final restart and pulled out to a sizable lead that nobody challenged over the final six laps.


Johnson and Keselowski went down to the wire last season in their race for the Sprint Cup title, with Johnson faltering in the final two races as Keselowski won his first Cup championship.


Although it was a bit of an upset that stuck with Johnson into the offseason, it gave him no extra motivation when he found himself racing with Keselowski late Sunday for the Daytona 500.


"As far as racing with Brad out there, you really lose sight of who is in what car," Johnson said. "It's just somebody between you and the trophy. It could have been anybody."


Once Johnson cleared Keselowski on the last restart he had a breakaway lead with Greg Biffle and Patrick behind him. But as the field closed in on the checkered flag, Earnhardt finally made his move, just too late and too far behind to get close enough to the lead.


Earnhardt wound up second for the third time in the last four years. But with all the crashes the Hendrick cars have endured in restrictor-plate races — teammate Kasey Kahne was in the first accident Sunday — team owner Rick Hendrick was just fine with the finish.


"We have a hard time finishing these races. Boy, to run 1-2, man, what a day," Hendrick said. Jeff Gordon, who was a contender early, faded late to 20th.


And Johnson considered himself lucky to be the one holding the trophy at the end.


"Man, it's like playing the lottery; everybody's got a ticket," he said. "I've struck out a lot at these tracks, left with torn-up race cars. Today we had a clean day."


Mark Martin was third in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Keselowski, who overcame two accidents earlier in the race, wound up fourth in Penske Racing's new Ford. Ryan Newman was fifth in a Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing and was followed by Roush-Fenway Racing's Greg Biffle, who was second on the last lap but was shuffled back with Patrick to finish sixth.


Regan Smith was seventh for Phoenix Racing, while Patrick, Michael McDowell and JJ Yeley rounded out the top 10.


Patrick was clearly disappointed with her finish. When the race was on the line, she was schooled by Earnhardt, who made his last move and blocked any chance she had.


Still, Patrick became the first woman in history to lead laps in the 500 when she passed Michael Waltrip on a restart on Lap 90. She stayed on the point for two laps, then was shuffled back to third. She ended up leading five laps, another groundbreaking moment for Patrick, who as a rookie in 2005 became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and now is the 13th driver to lead laps in both the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500.


"Dale did a nice job and showed what happens when you plan it out, you drop back and get that momentum. You are able to go to the front," Patrick said. "I think he taught me something. I'm sure I'll watch the race and there will be other scenarios I see that can teach me, too."


Earnhardt was impressed, nonetheless.


"She's going to make a lot of history all year long. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch her progress," said Earnhardt Jr. "Every time I've seen her in a pretty hectic situation, she always really remained calm. She's got a great level head. She's a racer. She knows what's coming. She's smart about her decisions. She knew what to do today as far as track position and not taking risks. I enjoy racing with her."


Johnson, one of three heavyweight drivers who took their young daughters to meet Patrick — "the girl in the bright green car" — after she won the pole in qualifications, tipped his cap, too.


"I didn't think about it being Danica in the car," Johnson said. "It was just another car on the track that was fast. That's a credit to her and the job she's doing."


The field was weakened by an early nine-car accident that knocked out race favorite Kevin Harvick and sentimental favorite Tony Stewart.


Harvick had won two support races coming into the 500 to cement himself as the driver to beat, but the accident sent him home with a 42nd place finish.


Stewart, meanwhile, dropped to 0-for-15 in one of the few races the three-time NASCAR champion has never won.


"If I didn't tell you I was heartbroken and disappointed, I'd be lying to you," Stewart said.


That accident also took former winner Jamie McMurray, his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, and Kasey Kahne out of contention.


The next accident — involving nine cars — came 105 laps later and brought a thankful end to Speedweeks for Carl Edwards. He was caught in his fifth accident since testing last month, and this wreck collected six other Ford drivers.


The field suddenly had six Toyota drivers at the front as Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing drivers took control of the race. But JGR's day blew up — literally — when the team was running 1-2-3 with Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch setting the pace.


Kenseth, who led a race-high 86 laps, went to pit road first with an engine problem, and Busch was right behind him with a blown engine. Busch was already in street clothes watching as Hamlin led the field.


"It's a little devastating when you are running 1-2-3 like that," Busch said.


Hamlin's shot disappeared when he found himself in the wrong lane on the final restart. He tried to hook up with Keselowski to get them back to Johnson, but blamed former teammate Joey Logano for ruining the momentum of the bottom lane.


Hamlin offered a backhanded apology to Keselowski on Twitter, posting that he couldn't get close enough because "your genius teammate was too busy messing up the inside line 1 move at a time."


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Dozens hurt after Daytona crash debris hits stands


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — At least 33 fans were injured Saturday during a NASCAR race when a car flew into the fence at Daytona International Speedway, hurling a tire and large pieces of debris into the stands.


The accident happened on the last lap of the second-tier Nationwide Series race on the eve of Sunday's Daytona 500, which officials said would go on as scheduled.


The crash began as the field approached the checkered flag and leader Regan Smith attempted to block Brad Keselowski to preserve the win. That triggered a chain reaction, and rookie Kyle Larson hit the cars in front of him and went airborne into the fence.


The entire front end was sheared off Larson's car, and his burning engine wedged through a gaping hole in the fence. Chunks of debris from the car were thrown into the stands, including a tire that cleared the top of the fence and landed midway up the spectator section closest to the track.


The 20-year-old Larson stood in shock several yards away from his car as fans in the stands waved frantically for help. Smoke from the burning engine briefly clouded the area, and emergency vehicles descended on the scene.


Ambulance sirens could be heard wailing behind the grandstands at a time the race winner would typically be doing celebratory burnouts.


"It was freaky. When I looked to my right, the accident happened," said Rick Harpster of Orange Park, Fla., who had a bird's-eye view of the wreck. "I looked over and I saw a tire fly straight over the fence into the stands, but after that I didn't see anything else That was the worst thing I have seen, seeing that tire fly into the stands. I knew it was going to be severe."


Shannan Devine, of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., was sitting about 250 feet away from where the car smashed into the fence and could see plumes of smoke directly in front of her.


"I didn't know if there was a car on top of people. I didn't know what to think. I'm an emotional person and I immediately started to cry. It was very scary. Absolutely scary. I love the speed of the sport. But it's so dangerous," said Devine who was planning to attend her second Daytona 500.


She said many fans got in the way of rescue efforts by trying to take pictures and videos, even jumping over fencing in hopes of getting closer to the scene.


Speedway President Joie Chitwood said 14 fans were treated on site, and 14 others were taken to hospitals. Chitwood didn't give any updates on their conditions. Local officials said 19 fans were taken to neighboring hospitals, including two who were in critical condition but were later upgraded to stable.


The accident happened the day before the Sprint Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 — NASCAR's version of the Super Bowl. Daytona workers could be seen repairing the large section of fence where Larson hit, as well as the wall that was damaged in the accident.


"First and foremost our thoughts and prayers are with our race fans," Chitwood said. "Following the incident we responded appropriately according to our safety protocols, and had emergency medical personnel at the incident immediately.


"We're in the process of repairing the facility and will be ready to go racing tomorrow."


As emergency workers tended to injured fans and ambulance sirens wailed in the background, a somber Tony Stewart skipped the traditional post-race victory celebration.


Stewart, who won for the 19th time at Daytona and seventh time in the last nine season-opening Nationwide races, was in no mood to celebrate.


"The important thing is what is going on on the frontstretch right now," said Stewart, the three-time NASCAR champion. "We've always known, and since racing started, this is a dangerous sport. But it's hard. We assume that risk, but it's hard when the fans get caught up in it.


"So as much as we want to celebrate right now and as much as this is a big deal to us, I'm more worried about the drivers and the fans that are in the stands right now because that was ... I could see it all in my mirror, and it didn't look good from where I was at."


The accident spread into the upper deck and emergency crews treated fans on both levels. There were five stretchers that appeared to be carrying fans out, and a helicopter flew overhead. A forklift was used to pluck Larson's engine out of the fence.


"It's a violent wreck. Just seeing the carnage on the racetrack, it's truly unbelievable," driver Justin Allgaier said.


It was a chaotic finish to a race that was stopped for nearly 20 minutes five laps from the finish by a 13-car accident that sent driver Michael Annett to a hospital, where his Richard Petty Motorsports team said he would be held overnight with bruising to his chest.


The race resumed with three laps to go, and the final accident occurred with Smith trying to hold off Keselowski through the final turn.


"I tried to throw a block. It's Daytona, you want to go for the win here," Smith said. "I don't know how you can play it any different other than concede second place, and I wasn't willing to do that today. Our job is to put them in position to win, and it was, and it didn't work out."


As the cars began wrecking all around Smith and Keselowski, Stewart slid through for the win, but Larson plowed into Keselowski and his car was sent airborne into the fence. When Larson's car came to a stop, it was missing its entire front end. The 20-year-old, who made his Daytona debut this week, stood apparently stunned, hands on his hips, several feet away from his car, before finally making the mandatory trip to the care center.


He said his first thought was with the fans.


"I hope all the fans are OK and all the drivers are all right," Larson said. "I took a couple big hits there and saw my engine was gone. Just hope everybody's all right."


He said he was along for the ride in the last-lap accident.


"I was getting pushed from behind, I felt like, and by the time my spotter said lift or go low, it was too late," Larson said. "I was in the wreck and then felt like it was slowing down and I looked like I could see the ground. Had some flames come in the cockpit, but luckily I was all right and could get out of the car quick."


It appeared fans were lined right along the fence when Larson's car sailed up and into it, but Chitwood indicated there was a buffer. He said there would be no changes to the seating before the Daytona 500.


"We don't anticipate moving any of our fans," Chitwood said. "We had our safety protocols in place. Our security maintained a buffer that separates the fans from the fencing area. With the fencing being prepared tonight to our safety protocols, we expect to go racing tomorrow with no changes."


Larson's car appeared to hit where the cross-over gate — a section that can be opened for people to travel back and forth from the infield to the grandstands — is located in the fence. Previous accidents in which drivers hit crossover gates were severe, but the gates were in the wall and not the fence for Mike Harmon's accident at Bristol in 2002 and Michael Waltrip's at the same track in 1990.


Still, NASCAR senior vice president Steve O'Donnell said it would be studied.


"I think we look at this after every incident," O'Donnell said. "We've learned in the past certain protocols put in place today are a result of prior incidents. Again, our initial evaluation is still ongoing. But it's certainly something we'll look at. If we can improve upon it, we'll certainly put that in play as soon as we can."


Larson had been scheduled to race his sprint car later Saturday night in Ocala, Fla., and even seemed restless to get there during the late stages of the Nationwide race. He pulled out of the event following the accident.


"Honestly, the race itself pales in comparison to the injuries sustained by the fans," said Chip Ganassi, the team owner who has Larson in his driver development program. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the fans that were injured as a result of the crash. As for Kyle, I am very happy that he is OK."


Keselowski watched a replay of the final accident, and said his first thoughts were with the fans. As for the accident, he agreed he tried to make a winning move and Smith tried to block.


"He felt like that's what he had to do, and that's his right. The chaos comes with it," Keselowski said. "I made the move and he blocked it, and the two of us got together and started the chain events that caused that wreck. First and foremost, just want to make sure everyone in the stands is OK and we're thinking about them."


Keselowski said the incident could cast a pall on the Daytona 500.


"I think until we know exactly the statuses of everyone involved, it's hard to lock yourself into the 500," Keselowski said. "Hopefully, we'll know soon and hopefully everyone's OK. And if that's the case, we'll staring focusing on Sunday."


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AP Sports Writers Dan Gelston and Jerome Minerva in Daytona Beach and Associated Press writer Jennifer Kay in Miami contributed to this report.


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Oscar Pistorius gets bail as murder trial looms


PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius walked out of court Friday — free at least for now — after a South African magistrate released him on bail, capping four days of often startling testimony that foreshadowed a dramatic trial in the Valentine's Day slaying of his girlfriend.


But as he was driven away, chased by photographers and cameramen, questions continued to hound the double-amputee Olympian about what actually happened the night he gunned down Reeva Steenkamp inside a locked bathroom in his home.


Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder, and even Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair expressed doubts about his story that he mistook the 29-year-old model for an intruder and fired out of fear.


"Why would (Pistorius) venture further into danger" by going into the bathroom at all, Nair asked.


Cries of "Yes!" went up from Pistorius' supporters when Nair announced his decision to a packed courtroom after a nearly two-hour explanation of the ruling.


Nair set bail at 1 million rand ($113,000), with $11,300 in cash up front and proof that the rest is available. The 26-year-old track star was also ordered to hand over his passports, turn in any guns he owns and keep away from his upscale home in a gated community in Pretoria, which is now a crime scene.


He cannot leave the district of Pretoria without his probation officer's permission and is not allowed to consume drugs or alcohol, the magistrate said. His next court appearance was set for June 4.


Earlier, Pistorius alternately wept and appeared solemn and composed, especially as Nair criticized police procedures in the case and as a judgment in the track star's favor appeared imminent. He showed no reaction as he was granted bail.


Pistorius left the courthouse in a silver Land Rover just over an hour after the bail conditions were set. The vehicle, tailed by motorcycles carrying television cameramen, later pulled into the home of Pistorius' uncle.


"We are relieved at the fact that Oscar got bail today, but at the same time we are in mourning for the death of Reeva, with her family," said Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius. "As a family, we know Oscar's version of what happened on that tragic night and we know that that is the truth and that will prevail in the coming court case."


Dozens of journalists and international and local television crews had converged on the red-brick courthouse to hear the decision — a sign of the global fascination with a case involving a once-inspirational athlete and his beautiful girlfriend, a law school graduate and budding reality TV show contestant.


Nair said Pistorius' sworn statement, an unusual written account of what happened during the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14, had helped his application for bail.


"I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail," Nair said.


Pistorius said he shot Steenkamp accidentally, believing she was an intruder in his house. He described "a sense of terror rushing over" him and feeling vulnerable because he stood only on his stumps before opening fire.


Prosecutors say he intended to kill Steenkamp as she cowered in fear behind the locked bathroom door after a loud argument between the two.


Yet despite poking holes in Pistorius' version of events and bringing up incidents they say highlight his temper, the state's case started to unravel during testimony by the lead investigator, Detective Warrant Officer Hilton Botha.


Botha, who faces seven charges of attempted murder in an unrelated incident, was removed from the case Thursday. His replacement, the nation's top detective, Vinesh Moonoo, stopped by the hearing briefly Friday.


While Nair leveled harsh criticism at Botha for "errors" and "blunders," he said one man does not represent an investigation and that the state could not be expected to put all "the pieces of the puzzle" together in such a short time.


The prosecution accepted the judge's decision without protest. "We're still confident in our case," prosecution spokesman Medupe Simasiku said.


Pistorius faced the sternest bail requirements in South Africa because of the seriousness of the charge, which carries a life sentence if convicted. His defense attorneys had to prove that he would not flee the country, would not interfere with witnesses or the case, and his release would not cause public unrest.


Nair questioned whether Pistorius would be a flight risk when he stood to lose a fortune in cash, cars, property and other assets. Nair also said that while it had been shown that Pistorius had aggressive tendencies, he did not have a prior record of offenses for violent acts.


Anticipating the shape of the state's case at trial, he said he had serious questions about Pistorius' account: Why didn't he try to locate his girlfriend if he feared an intruder was in the house? Why didn't he try to determine who was in the bathroom before opening fire? And why did he venture into perceived "danger" in the bathroom when he could have taken other steps to ensure his safety?


"There are improbabilities which need to be explored," Nair said, adding that Pistorius could clarify these matters by testifying under oath at trial.


Sharon Steenkamp, Reeva's cousin, said the model's family would not be watching the bail decision and had not been following the hearing.


"It doesn't make any difference to the fact that we are without Reeva," she told The Associated Press.


Before the hearing, Pistorius' longtime coach, Ampie Louw, said he hoped to put the runner back into his training routine if he got bail.


"The sooner he can start working the better," said Louw, who persuaded the double-amputee to take up track as a teenager a decade ago. But he acknowledged Pistorius could be "heartbroken" and unwilling to immediately pull on the carbon-fiber running blades that earned him the nickname "Blade Runner."


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AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray contributed to this report from Johannesburg.


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Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP .


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A 1-2 knockout: McIlroy, Woods lose in Match Play


MARANA, Ariz. (AP) — Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods knocked out in the first round of the Match Play Championship? Not many would have given that a snowball's chance in the desert.


Almost as surprising as the freakish snowstorm on Dove Mountain was the sight of golf's two biggest stars heading to the airport, only the second time in the 15-year history of this wild tournament that No. 1 and No. 2 didn't last more than a day.


Shane Lowry of Ireland chipped in twice and drilled a fairway metal to 3 feet to seize control, and then knocked out McIlroy with a bunker shot to 4 feet to save par on the final hole. Just as the shock was wearing off, Charles Howell III came up with kind of shots he's used to seeing Woods make in the clutch — a wedge that stopped inches from the cup on the 15th hole, and a 25-foot birdie on the 16th that carried him to a 2-and-1 victory.


"It's definitely a day I'm going to remember," said Lowry, the third player in the last four years to eliminate the No. 1 seed in the opening round.


"I had nothing to lose," Howell said.


The biggest loser Thursday might have been NBC Sports, which lost the two biggest draws.


Not even Phil Mickelson can save the day. He's not playing this year.


Howell had not faced Woods in match play since he was 17 and lost to him in the third round of the 1996 U.S. Amateur. He said he had never beaten him even in the dozens of casual games they played over the years at Isleworth before Woods moved away to south Florida.


What a time to change that losing streak.


Howell, who qualified for this World Golf Championship for the first time in five years, played a fabulous round in cold conditions. They matched scores 10 times in 14 holes before Howell came through with back-to-back birdies.


"In this format, match play is crazy," Howell said. "He's Tiger Woods. I was lucky to hang in there."


The final matches were played in near darkness, and they could have stopped after 15 holes. Woods wanted to play on, even though Howell had the momentum. Woods was 2 under for the day, and neither of them made a bogey.


"We both played well," Woods said. "He made a couple of more birdies than I did. He played well, and he's advancing."


McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, built a 2-up lead early in the match until Lowry rallied and grabbed the momentum by chipping in for birdie on the par-5 11th to avoid falling behind, chipping in from behind the 12th green for birdie and then ripping a fairway metal to within a few feet for a conceded eagle on the 13th to go 2 up.


Lowry missed a short par putt on the 14th, only for McIlroy to give away the next hole with a tee shot into the desert and a bunker shot that flew over the 15th green and into a cactus. But the two-time major champion hung tough, coming up with a clutch birdie on the 16th to stay in the game.


McIlroy nearly holed his bunker on the 18th, and Lowry followed with a steady shot out to 4 feet and calmly sank the putt.


"Deep down, I knew I could beat him," Lowry said. "There's a reason I'm here, and this is match play."


For McIlroy, more questions are sure to follow him to Florida for his road to the Masters. He now has played only 54 holes in the first two months of the season, missing the cut in Abu Dhabi and losing in the first round at Dove Mountain.


"You want to try and get as far as you can, but I guess that's match play," McIlroy said. "I probably would have lost by more if I had played someone else in the field. It wasn't a great quality match. But it would have been nice to get through and just get another day here and another competitive round under my belt."


The only other time the top two seeds lost in the opening round was in 2002, when Woods and Phil Mickelson lost at La Costa.


Luke Donald nearly made it the top three seeds except for a clutch performance. He holed a 10-foot birdie putt to halve the 17th hole and stay tied with Marcel Siem of Germany. Donald then birdied the 18th from 7 feet to win the match.


Louis Oosthuizen, the No. 4 seed, rallied to get past Richie Ramsay of Scotland.


The opening round was halted Wednesday after 3½ hours because of a freak snowstorm that covered Dove Mountain with nearly 2 inches. It continued to snow at times overnight, and it took nearly five hours to clear snow from the golf course for the tournament to resume.


Turns out, snow wasn't the only surprise.


"I had to play extremely well to have a chance, and I still kept waiting for that Tiger moment," Howell said.


It never came.


Woods missed short birdie chances at the 10th and 11th, but the real damage came on the 15th when he went long of the green with a wedge in hand. Howell also missed a pair of short putts on the back nine, but he came up big with the putt on the 16th.


"Really, I didn't even realize I was 2 up with two to go until I got right to the tee on 17, and it actually threw me for a bit because I never maybe was really in the moment and didn't quite realize how things were," Howell said. "And as far as beating Tiger Woods, it shows you that match play is crazy. I did have to play a good round. But yeah, it's a bit hard to believe I'm sitting here today."


Howell and Lowry will have to wait until Friday to find out their opponents.


Carl Pettersson was 1 up on Rickie Fowler through 17 holes when they stopped because of darkness. The winner gets Lowry, who will be fighting some history. Of the previous three players to beat the No. 1 seed in the opening round, all of them lost in the second round.


Howell gets either Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano or Francesco Molinari, who were all square through 15 holes.


In other matches:


— Ernie Els lost in the opening round for the sixth time. He missed a 3-foot par putt on the 16th hole that would have given him the lead, and he missed a 5-foot par putt on the 18th hole to lose to Fredrik Jacobson.


— Russell Henley, two months into his rookie season, defeated the hottest player in the field when he took down Charl Schwartzel, who had won twice and finished no worse than fifth in his last six tournaments worldwide.


— Rafael Cabrera Bello beat Lee Westwood in 19 holes after Westwood missed a 6-foot par putt on the last hole.


The opening round of the Match Play is typically the best day in golf. This one took two days, and it was unlike any other.


Nearly 2 inches of snow covered Dove Mountain on Wednesday, and with more snow overnight, nothing had changed when players began arriving Thursday morning. There already was a two-hour delay when they arrived.


"There was a guy building a snowman this morning at 8, and they said they were going off at 10:30," Henley said. "I figured it was going to be awhile"


No one had an easier day than Bo Van Pelt.


Having won six straight holes to go 5 up before snow suspended play on Wednesday, Van Pelt finally got back on the golf course and struck all of two shots — an 8-iron and a 45-foot putt. He won the 13th hole with a par to complete a 6-and-5 win over John Senden of Australia.


And then there was Sergio Garcia. He was one putt away from winning when play stopped Wednesday. He three-putted from 12 feet to lose the hole, and on the 18th hole, Thongchai Jaidee made a 6-foot birdie to send the match into overtime.


On the first extra hole, Garcia removed his cap and was putting his golf ball and tees in the bag as Jaidee settled over a 10-foot birdie. The putt ran around the back edge of the cup, giving Garcia life. He made birdie on the par-5 second hole to win in 20 holes.


So instead of hitting one shot Thursday, he had to play 19 of them. Garcia's was the first match of the tournament. It took him about 30 hours to finish.


"It's weirdness, I guess," Garcia said. "I guess at the end of the day, I was pleased to get through."


That's one thing McIlroy and Woods can't say.


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No. 9 Jayhawks nip No. 14 Cowboys 68-67 in 2OT


STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — After he'd missed time and time again all night long, for some reason Naadir Tharpe's final attempt just felt right when it left his hand.


And what a shot it was for No. 9 Kansas.


Tharpe connected on a short jumper in the lane with 16.5 seconds left in the second overtime, lifting the Jayhawks over No. 14 Oklahoma State 68-67 on Wednesday night for a critical win in the Big 12 championship race.


Tharpe had made only one of his first 11 shots, and Kansas (22-4, 10-3 Big 12) hadn't made a field goal in either overtime, before one finally fell through at just the right time.


"I knew I just had to make a play," said Tharpe, who was filling in at the point after starter Elijah Johnson fouled out.


Travis Releford scored 18 points and Jeff Withey had three double-overtime free throws among his 17 points for the Jayhawks, who are tied with No. 13 Kansas State for the conference lead with five games to go. Kansas has had at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title for each of the past eight years, but that streak was in jeopardy against the surging Cowboys.


Markel Brown scored 20 points to lead Oklahoma State (19-6, 9-4), which had won seven straight — including snapping the Jayhawks' 33-game home winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse earlier this month — to move into a three-way tie for the league lead.


"Our whole focus is just to win the Big 12," Releford said. "Teams beat us. We knew we weren't going to run the table and go undefeated.


"Unfortunately, it just happened they beat us at home. We just were focused to come in and try to get a win."


Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State's star freshman, had 16 points but fouled out midway through the second extra period when he slammed into Releford after going airborne on a drive to the basket.


On the winning play, Tharpe isolated against Phil Forte and wiggled his way into the lane before popping in a jumper from the right side. Brown missed a jumper from the left wing with about 7 seconds left, and Releford dove along the sideline in front of Oklahoma State's bench to prevent the rebound from going out of bounds and instead let the final seconds tick off the clock.


"It's a hard pill to swallow," Brown said. "I felt like this game could have went either way. A double-overtime game, it was a tough one out there."


Neither team led by more than six during the classic with championship implications, and both had their chances to win it at the end of regulation and each overtime.


The Jayhawks' best-in-the-nation defense limited Oklahoma State to a season-low 32.8 percent shooting. Kansas missed its first seven shots after regulation, only escaping after Tharpe's play in crunch time.


"Neither team had any offense and he certainly made a huge play there late. Just huge," coach Bill Self said. "Biggest play of his life, I'm sure,"


With so many misses, naturally, each team's star freshman had his share.


Ben McLemore, on pace to replace Danny Manning as the highest-scoring freshman in Kansas history, misfired on his first eight shots before making three in a row in the second half. He had a season-low seven points.


Smart started out 0 for 9 before finally hitting a fallaway jumper along the right side of the lane to cut Oklahoma State's deficit to 53-51 with 3:20 left in regulation. Forte tied it soon after, making a pair of free throws after coming up with a steal.


Smart came out of the game once after hurting his right shoulder and again after tweaking his right ankle in the first half. He then got socked in the face by Withey early in the second half. But it wasn't until he got his fifth foul that he finally couldn't return.


"Marcus is a big key to this team, so once he fouled out, I was like, 'Oh, shoot! We need Marcus out there,'" Brown said. "He brings the toughness out there. He gets stops out there. No matter if he's shooting bad for the night, he still can make that big-time play for you."


The Jayhawks weren't able to close it out in regulation after Releford banked in a tricky scoop shot underneath for a 57-53 lead with 1:49 to play. Smart made one of two free throws at the opposite end and, after Withey missed inside for Kansas, he got out in transition for a 3-pointer to tie it with 1:11 to play.


Johnson crossed over Smart on a drive, getting him to fall down in the lane, but Michael Cobbins came over to the rescue and swatted Johnson's shot into the hands of Self on the Jayhawks' bench. Brian Williams knocked the ball away from Tharpe to give OSU a chance at the win, but Smart missed a wild, off-balance jumper from the right wing and time ran out with the game tied at 57.


Forte drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner with 56.4 seconds left to tie it at 63 in the first overtime. The game went to a second overtime after McLemore air-balled a 3-pointer, Smart came up empty on a drive and Releford missed a driving attempt for Kansas. Smart's desperation shot from three-quarters court grazed the front of the rim.


"It was crazy," Releford said. "We knew it was going to be a tough match. With the crowd on their side and them being at home, we just knew we had to come out and just tough it out, and we did."


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Jerry Buss, Lakers' flamboyant owner, dies at 80


Jerry Buss built a glittering life at the intersection of sports and Hollywood.


After growing up in poverty in Wyoming, he earned success in academia, aerospace and real estate before discovering his favorite vocation when he bought the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979. While Buss wrote the checks and fostered partnerships with two generations of basketball greats, the Lakers won 10 NBA titles and became a glamorous global brand.


With a scientist's analytical skills, a playboy's flair, a businessman's money-making savvy and a die-hard hoops fan's heart, Buss fashioned the Lakers into a remarkable sports entity. They became a nightly happening, often defined by just one word coined by Buss: Showtime.


"His impact is felt worldwide," said Kobe Bryant, who has spent nearly half his life working for Buss.


Buss, who shepherded his NBA team from the Showtime dynasty of the 1980s to the current Bryant era while becoming one of the most important and successful owners in pro sports, died Monday. He was 80.


"Think about the impact that he's had on the game and the decisions he's made, and the brand of basketball he brought here with Showtime and the impact that had on the sport as a whole," Bryant said a few days ago. "Those vibrations were felt to a kid all the way in Italy who was 6 years old, before basketball was even global."


Under Buss' leadership, the star-studded, trophy-winning Lakers became Southern California's most beloved sports franchise and a signature cultural representation of Los Angeles. Buss acquired, nurtured and befriended a staggering array of talented players and basketball minds during his Hall of Fame tenure, from Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy to Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard.


Few owners in sports history can approach Buss' accomplishments with the Lakers, who made the NBA Finals 16 times during his nearly 34 years in charge, winning 10 titles between 1980 and 2010. Whatever the Lakers did under Buss' watch, they did it big — with marquee players, eye-popping style and a relentless pursuit of success with little regard to its financial cost.


"His incredible commitment and desire to build a championship-caliber team that could sustain success over a long period of time has been unmatched," said Jerry West, Buss' longtime general manager and now a consultant with the Golden State Warriors. "With all of his achievements, Jerry was without a doubt one of the most humble men I've ever been around. His vision was second to none; he wanted an NBA franchise brand that represented the very best and went to every extreme to accomplish his goals."


Buss died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said Bob Steiner, his assistant and longtime friend. Buss had been hospitalized for most of the past 18 months while undergoing cancer treatment, but the cause of death was kidney failure, Steiner said.


"When someone as celebrated and charismatic as Jerry Buss dies, we are reminded of two things," said Abdul-Jabbar, the leading scorer in NBA history. "First, just how much one person with vision and strength of will can accomplish. Second, how fragile each of us is, regardless of how powerful we were. Those two things combine to inspire us to reach for the stars, but also to remain with our feet firmly on the ground among our loved ones. ... The man may be gone, but he has made us all better people for knowing him."


With his condition worsening in recent months, several prominent former Lakers visited Buss to say goodbye. Even rivals such as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Clippers owner Donald Sterling hailed the passion and bonhomie of the former chemist and mathematician who lived his own Hollywood dream.


"He was a great man and an incredible friend," Johnson tweeted.


Buss always referred to the Lakers as his extended family, and his players rewarded his fanlike excitement with devotion, friendship and two hands full of championship rings. Working with front-office executives West, Bill Sharman and Mitch Kupchak, Buss spent lavishly to win his titles despite lacking a huge personal fortune, often running the NBA's highest payroll while also paying high-profile coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.


"Jerry Buss was more than just an owner. He was one of the great innovators that any sport has ever encountered," Riley said. "He was a true visionary, and it was obvious with the Lakers in the 80's that 'Showtime' was more than just Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It was really the vision of a man who saw something that connected with a community."


Ownership of the Lakers is now in a trust controlled by Buss' six children, who all have worked for the Lakers in various capacities for several years. With 1,786 victories, the Lakers easily are the NBA's winningest franchise since he bought the club, which is now run largely by Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss.


"We not only have lost our cherished father, but a beloved man of our community and a person respected by the world basketball community," the Buss family said in a statement issued by the Lakers.


"It was our father's often-stated desire and expectation that the Lakers remain in the Buss family. The Lakers have been our lives as well, and we will honor his wish and do everything in our power to continue his unparalleled legacy."


Johnson and fellow Hall of Famers Abdul-Jabbar and Worthy formed lifelong bonds with Buss during the Lakers' run to five titles in nine years in the 1980s, when the Lakers earned a reputation as basketball's most exciting team with their flamboyant Showtime repartee.


The buzz extended throughout the Forum, where Buss turned the Lakers' games into a must-see event. He used the Laker Girls, a brass band and promotions to keep Lakers fans interested during all four quarters. Courtside seats, priced at $15 when he bought the Lakers, became the hottest tickets in Hollywood — and they still are, with fixture Jack Nicholson and many other celebrities attending every home game.


"Anybody associated with the NBA since 1980 benefited greatly from Jerry Buss' impact on the game," Steiner said. "He had a different way of looking at things than I did, and people who had been raised in basketball."


Buss paid the Lakers' bills through both their wild success and his groundbreaking moves to raise revenue. He co-founded a basic-cable sports television network and sold the naming rights to the Forum at times when both now-standard strategies were unusual, further justifying his induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.


"The NBA has lost a visionary owner whose influence on our league is incalculable and will be felt for decades to come," NBA Commissioner David Stern said. "More importantly, we have lost a dear and valued friend."


Showtime couldn't last forever, but after a rough stretch in the 1990s, Buss rekindled the Lakers' mystique by paying top dollar to hire Jackson, who led O'Neal and Bryant to a three-peat from 2000-02. Bryant and Pau Gasol won two more titles under Jackson in 2009 and 2010.


The current Lakers (25-29) have struggled mightily despite adding Howard and Steve Nash in a couple of moves that were typical of Buss' big, brash style. Los Angeles could miss the playoffs this spring for just the third time since Buss bought the franchise.


"Today is a very sad day for all the Lakers and basketball," Gasol tweeted. "All my support and condolences to the Buss family. Rest in peace Dr. Buss."


Although Buss gained fame and another fortune with the Lakers, he also was a scholar, Renaissance man and bon vivant who epitomized California cool his entire public life.


Buss rarely appeared in public without at least one attractive, much younger woman on his arm — at Southern California football games, high-stakes poker tournaments, hundreds of boxing matches promoted by Buss at the Forum — and, of course, Lakers games from his private box at Staples Center, which was built under his watch. With his failing health, Buss hadn't attended a Lakers game in the past two seasons.


After a rough-and-tumble childhood that included stints as a ditch-digger and a bellhop in the frigid Wyoming winters, Buss earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from USC at age 24, and had careers in aerospace and real estate development before getting into sports. With money from his real-estate ventures and a good bit of creative accounting, Buss bought the then-struggling Lakers, the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and both clubs' arena — the Forum — from Jack Kent Cooke in a $67.5 million deal that was the largest sports transaction in history at the time.


Last month, Forbes estimated the Lakers were worth $1 billion, second most in the NBA.


Buss also helped change televised sports by co-founding the Prime Ticket network in 1985, and he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006 for his work in television. Breaking the contemporary model of subscription services for televised sports, Buss' Prime Ticket put beloved broadcaster Chick Hearn and the Lakers' home games on basic cable.


Buss also sold the naming rights to the Forum in 1988 to Great Western Savings & Loan — another deal that was ahead of its time.


Born in Salt Lake City, Gerald Hatten Buss was raised in poverty in Wyoming before improving his life through education. He also grew to love basketball, describing himself as an "overly competitive but underly endowed player."


After graduating from the University of Wyoming, Buss attended USC for graduate school because he loved its sports teams. He also became a chemistry professor and worked in the missile division of defense contractor McDonnell Douglas before carving out a path to wealth and sports prominence.


His real-estate portfolio grew out of a $1,000 investment in a West Los Angeles apartment building with partner Frank Mariani, an aerospace engineer and co-worker.


Heavily leveraging his fortune and various real-estate holdings during two years of negotiations, Buss purchased Cooke's entire Los Angeles sports empire along with a 13,000-acre ranch in Kern County. Buss immediately worked to transform the Lakers — who had won just one NBA title since moving west from Minneapolis in 1960 — into a star-powered endeavor befitting Hollywood.


"One of the first things I tried to do when I bought the team was to make it an identification for this city, like Motown in Detroit," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2008. "I try to keep that identification alive. I'm a real Angeleno. I want us to be part of the community."


With showmanship, fearless spending and a little drafting luck, Buss quickly succeeded: Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar and coach Paul Westhead led the Lakers to the 1980 title. Johnson's ball-handling wizardry and Abdul-Jabbar's smooth inside game made for an attractive style of play, and the Lakers came to define West Coast sophistication.


Riley, the former broadcaster who fit the L.A. image perfectly with his slick-backed hair and good looks, was surprisingly promoted by Buss early in the 1981-82 season. He became one of the best coaches in NBA history, leading the Lakers to four straight NBA finals and four titles, with Worthy, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and A.C. Green playing major roles.


"I was privileged to be part of that for 10 years and even more grateful for the friendship that has lasted all these many years," Riley said. "I have always come to realize that if it weren't for Dr. Buss, I wouldn't be where I am today."


Overall, the Lakers made the Finals nine times in Buss' first 12 seasons while rekindling the NBA's best rivalry with the Boston Celtics, and Buss basked in the worldwide celebrity he received from his team's achievements. His partying became the stuff of Los Angeles legends, with even his players struggling to keep up with Buss' lifestyle.


Johnson's HIV diagnosis and retirement in 1991 staggered Buss and the Lakers, the owner recalled in 2011. The Lakers went through seven coaches and made just one conference finals appearance in an eight-year stretch of the 1990s despite the 1996 arrivals of O'Neal, who signed with Los Angeles as a free agent, and Bryant, the 17-year-old high schooler acquired in a draft-week trade.


Shaq and Kobe didn't reach their potential until Buss persuaded Jackson, the Chicago Bulls' six-time NBA champion coach, to take over the Lakers in 1999. Los Angeles immediately won the next three NBA titles in brand-new Staples Center, AEG's state-of-the-art downtown arena built with the Lakers as the primary tenant.


After the Lakers traded O'Neal in 2004, they hovered in mediocrity again until acquiring Gasol in a heist of a trade with Memphis in early 2008. Los Angeles made the next three NBA Finals, winning two more titles.


Through the Lakers' frequent successes and occasional struggles, Buss never stopped living his Hollywood dream. He was an avid poker player and a fixture on the Los Angeles club scene well into his 70s, when a late-night drunk-driving arrest in 2007 — with a 23-year-old woman in the passenger seat of his Mercedes-Benz — prompted him to cut down on his partying.


Buss owned the NHL's Kings from 1979-87, and the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks won two league titles under Buss' ownership. He also owned Los Angeles franchises in World Team Tennis and the Major Indoor Soccer League.


Buss' children have pledged to continue his commitment to the Lakers' distinctive success, although their efforts haven't been rewarded in the past three years while Jerry Buss ceded many decision-making responsibilities to Jim Buss, the Lakers' executive vice president of player personnel and the second-oldest child. While daughter Jeanie runs the franchise's business side, Jim Buss now has the final say on basketball decisions.


Jerry Buss still served two terms as president of the NBA's Board of Governors and was actively involved in the 2011 lockout negotiations, developing blood clots in his legs attributed to his extensive travel during that time.


"I am blessed with a wonderful family who have helped me and guided me every step of the way," Buss said in 2010 at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. "This support is the best anybody could ever have."


Buss is survived by his six children: sons Johnny, Jim, Joey and Jesse, and daughters Jeanie Buss and Janie Drexel. He had eight grandchildren.


Arrangements are pending for a funeral and memorial service, likely at Staples Center or a nearby theatre in downtown Los Angeles.


___


Associated Press writers Beth Harris and Andrew Dalton contributed to this report.


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Danica Patrick wins pole for NASCAR's Daytona 500


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Danica Patrick has made history before — as a woman and a racer, in Indianapolis and Japan.


The spotlight is nothing new. But never has it been this bright before.


Patrick won the Daytona 500 pole Sunday, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any race in NASCAR's premier circuit. It's by far the biggest achievement of her stock-car career.


"I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl," she said. "That was instilled in me from very young, from the beginning. Then I feel like thriving in those moments, where the pressure's on, has also been a help for me. I also feel like I've been lucky in my career to be with good teams and have good people around me. I don't think any of it would have been possible without that.


"For those reasons, I've been lucky enough to make history, be the first woman to do many things. I really just hope that I don't stop doing that. We have a lot more history to make. We are excited to do it."


Her latest stamp in the history books came with a lap at 196.434 mph around Daytona International Speedway. Patrick went out eighth in the qualifying session, then had to wait about two hours as 37 fellow drivers tried to take her spot.


Only four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon even came close to knocking her off. Gordon was the only other driver who topped 196 mph in qualifying. He locked up the other guaranteed spot in next week's season-opening Daytona 500.


"It's great to be a part of history with Danica being on the pole," said Gordon, who joked that at least he was the fastest guy. "I think we all know how popular she is, what this will do for our sport. Congratulations to her. Proud to be on there with her."


The rest of the field will be set in duel qualifying races Thursday.


However the lineup unfolds, all drivers will line up behind Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet SS.


And she knows her latest achievement will mean more public relations work.


The routine is nothing new for Patrick, who was the first woman to lead laps in the Indianapolis 500. She finished third in 2009, the highest finish in that illustrious race for a woman. And she became the only woman to win an IndyCar race when she did it in Japan in 2008.


Hardly anyone witnessed that victory.


Leading the field to the green flag in NASCAR's showcase event should be must-watch television.


"That's a huge accomplishment," team owner and fellow driver Tony Stewart said. "It's not like it's been 15 or 20 years she's been trying to do this. It's her second trip to Daytona here in a Cup car. She's made history in the sport. That's stuff that we're proud of being a part of with her. It's something she should have a huge amount of pride in.


"It's never been done. There's only one person that can be the first to do anything. Doesn't matter how many do it after you do, accomplish that same goal. The first one that does always has that little bit more significance to it because you were the first."


Even before her fast lap Sunday, Patrick was the talk of Speedweeks. Not only did she open up about her budding romance with fellow Sprint Cup rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but she was considered the front-runner for the pole after leading practice sessions Saturday.


And she didn't disappoint.


She kept her car at or near the bottom of the famed track and gained ground on the straightaways, showing lots of power from a Hendrick Motorsports engine.


"It's easy to come down here in your first or second year as a driver and clip the apron trying to run too tight a line or do something and scrub speed off," Stewart said. "That's something she did an awesome job. Watching her lap, she runs so smooth. ... She did her job behind the wheel, for sure."


The result surely felt good for Patrick, especially considering the former IndyCar driver has mostly struggled in three NASCAR seasons. Her best finish in 10 Cup races is 17th, and she has one top-five in 58 starts in the second-tier Nationwide Series.


She raced part-time in 2010 and 2011 while still driving a full IndyCar slate. She switched solely to stock cars last season and finished 10th in the Nationwide standings.


She made the jump to Sprint Cup this season and will battle Stenhouse for Rookie of the Year honors.


Starting out front in an unpredictable, 500-mile race doesn't guarantee any sort of result, but securing the pole will put her in the limelight for at least the rest of the week.


She also won the pole at Daytona for last year's Nationwide race.


This is considerably bigger.


The previous highest female qualifier in a Cup race was Janet Guthrie. She started ninth at Bristol and Talladega in 1977.


"It's obviously a history-making event that will last a long, long time," Guthrie said, praising Patrick's feat. "It's a different era, of course. Different times. I can't imagine what I would do with a spotter or somebody telling me how to drive. It's rather a different sport now. Back then, there was a much greater difference from the front of the field to the back."


Guthrie received a lukewarm reception from fellow drivers back then.


Patrick was much more welcomed, undoubtedly because of her background and popularity.


She's comfortable being in the spotlight, evidenced by her racing career, her television commercials and her sudden openness about her personal life.


"I think when pressure's on and when the spotlight's on, I feel like it ultimately ends up becoming some of my better moments and my better races and better results," Patrick said. "I just understand that if you put the hard work in before you go out there that you can have a little peace and a little peace of mind knowing that you've done everything you can and just let it happen."


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No. 2 Duke falls to Maryland 83-81


COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — As the final horn sounded and Maryland fans rushed the court to celebrate a rare victory over its bitter rival, weary Duke had just enough energy left to escape the mayhem for the safety of its locker room.


Seth Allen broke a tie by making two free throws with 2.8 seconds left, and the Terrapins stunned the second-ranked Blue Devils 83-81 Saturday night to end a six-game skid in the series.


Coming off a five-day break, Maryland notched its most significant win of the season at the expense of a tired Duke playing its fourth game in 10 days.


The Blue Devils were worn out, and it showed.


Duke was outrebounded 40-20, never led in the second half and got only four points and three rebounds from 6-foot-10 senior center Mason Plumlee.


"This has been an exhausting schedule for our team," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We're playing on fumes and I think you could tell that with Mason. I thought he looked exhausted the whole game. He's been great. Obviously not good tonight."


The Terrapins (18-7, 6-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) did not trail after halftime but never could pull away.


Duke (22-3, 9-3) was down by 10 with 3:39 left but pulled even when Rasheed Sulaimon made three foul shots with 16.7 seconds to go. Quinn Cook then fouled Allen as the freshman guard drove through the lane, and Allen made both shots.


After a Duke timeout, Cook's desperation 30-footer bounced off the back rim. Chaos ensued as the fans immediately rushed the court.


"I thought it was in when I got it off," Cook said of his final attempt.


Alex Len had 19 points and nine rebounds for Maryland, and Allen scored 16. The Terrapins had lost 12 of 13 against Duke, including a 20-point embarrassment last month.


"I told our players before the game, there's a lot of pride in Maryland basketball," coach Mark Turgeon said. "There's also a lot of passion about Maryland basketball. We talked about playing with those two things for us and for our fans. Our fans were just tremendous."


From the end of the Star Spangled Banner to the final buzzer, the crowd never stopped shouting for the Terps, who rewarded their fans with a memorable victory in a rivalry that appears destined to end when Maryland leaves for the Big Ten in 2014.


"I have a great deal of respect for Maryland," Krzyzewski said. "If it was such a rivalry they'd still be in the ACC. Obviously they don't think it's that important or else they wouldn't be in the Big Ten."


Oh, but it's very important to Maryland and its coach.


"This win was for my family and the fans," Turgeon said. "I know what this win means for our fan base, and I really wanted to beat Duke."


The Blue Devils had their six-game winning streak end. Seth Curry scored 25 and Cook added 18. But Plumlee was completely outplayed by the 7-1 Len, who went 6 for 8 from the field and 7 for 8 at the foul line.


"There's so much pressure for Mason to play outstanding," Krzyzewski said. "That wears on you as the season goes on. He just didn't look fresh tonight."


Said Plumlee: "I didn't show up to play today and I let my teammates down. It's all on me."


Maryland committed a whopping 26 turnovers, eight by Allen. The Terrapins shot an impressive 60 percent from the floor and finished with a 40-20 rebounding advantage.


Maryland played without reserve guard Pe'Shon Howard, who was suspended for violating team rules. Despite being demoted from his starting role last month, Howard still leads the Terrapins in assists.


Maryland led 66-63 before Allen scored on a drive. Dez Wells then stole the ball from Cook and went in for a dunk for a seven-point lead with 5:20 left. After the Blue Devils closed to 71-63, James Padgett made a layup for Maryland and Wells made two foul shots for a 10-point cushion.


The crowd increased its volume with every subsequent basket by the Terrapins, whose previous win over Duke came in March 2010, when Greivis Vasquez celebrated Senior Night with a 20-point performance.


In this one, it was 80-72 before Curry made two straight 3-pointers to bring Duke to 80-78 with just under a minute left. After Wells was called for a charge, Curry had a 15-footer bounce in and out of the basket.


It was that kind of night for the Blue Devils.


This score was 39 all before Allen hit a 3-pointer to spark a 10-2 run that included five points from freshman Shaquille Cleare. It was 53-43 before Curry bagged a 3-pointer, Alex Murphy made a layup and Curry drove the lane following Maryland's third turnover in a 60-second span.


That cut the gap to three points, and seconds after a 3-pointer by Cook got the Blue Devils to 55-53.


After the Terrapins went up by six, they committed turnovers on three straight possessions. That enabled Duke to close to 59-57 on a dunk by Murphy, but four straight free throws by Len gave Maryland a 64-59 advantage with 7:20 remaining.


The first half featured two ties, 10 lead changes and ended with the Terrapins up 35-34. Curry (14 points) was one of only four Duke players to score before halftime.


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Different looks for Heat, Lakers at All-Star break


HOUSTON (AP) — If Kobe Bryant's season seems tough, imagine what Dwyane Wade went through five years ago.


"I came to All-Star weekend one year, I think we had won nine games. Seriously," Wade said Friday. "I was looking for my 10th win at the All-Star game."


Things sure have changed for his Miami Heat.


Back where they first teamed up as All-Stars in 2006, Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh return as NBA champions who will start together for the Eastern Conference on Sunday night.


Now the misery belongs to Bryant, Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers, whose season has been so disappointing that Bryant was asked Friday if the All-Star weekend was a "retreat" for him.


"I don't know if it's a retreat, it's just more of an opportunity to get some rest, regroup, put the first half of the season behind us and move on," he said.


As Wade knows, the All-Star break can be just that — a break — from a forgettable season.


He arrived for the 2008 All-Star game with a 9-43 record after the Heat lost on Valentine's Day to the Chicago Bulls, on their way to a 15-win debacle just two years after they won the NBA title.


"I put all that aside though, and I came and I enjoyed the weekend, and when I went back to Miami, it was like, 'Oh my God, we're back in it,'" Wade said. "But All-Star weekend, you just enjoy being an All-Star. You enjoy being around the guys. You can kind of forget about that a little bit, unless you have the cameras and the microphones in front of you asking you questions about it, but besides that you try to enjoy it."


This time, the Heat celebrated Valentine's Day in Oklahoma City with a 110-100 victory over the Thunder, the team they beat in five games last summer for the title. They have won seven in a row, James is playing arguably the best basketball of his career, and they can relax and reminisce as they return to Houston.


"It's really indescribable," Bosh said, "just to not only win a championship with great guys, be in a great locker room, and just to have fun doing it, but just to be an All-Star every year, play with great teammates, I mean to play in front of a lot people in arenas every night. I don't take those things for granted."


James, Wade and Bosh were in their third NBA seasons when they were chosen for the 2006 game, which turned out like so many Heat games these days. James was voted MVP after scoring 29 points and leading a huge East comeback that was wrapped up when Wade made the go-ahead basket with 16 seconds left.


Think about that: James was already the best player that night, and he was nowhere near the player he is today.


"I'm a better player. At that point in time, I wasn't a complete basketball player. I couldn't shoot as well as I can now, I never posted up back then," James said. "More games, more playoff games, more knowledge. You continue to learn each and every day, it makes you a better player. That's what you want, to become a better player. That's what I want. I want to be the greatest of all-time. I try to do whatever it takes to get me in that position.


"Seven years, I've tried to improve each and every year."


He's gotten to the point now where he ran off an NBA-record six straight games with at least 30 points and 60 percent shooting from the field, and seems to be distancing himself from anyone else that can take the MVP award he won last year for the third time in four years.


"He's doing well," Bosh said in a Texas-sized understatement. "That's the best way to put it."


Bosh was chosen as a starter Friday by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who will lead the East. He replaces Boston guard Rajon Rondo, who pulled out with a torn ACL.


Bryant and Howard are still here, away from a Los Angeles season that's been anything but a Hollywood story.


Considered a title contender after acquiring Howard and Steve Nash in the summer, the Lakers fell to 25-29 after they were blown out Wednesday by the rival Clippers, who opened a 13-game lead over them in the Pacific Division standings.


Smiling as he sat with his daughter, Natalia, Bryant laughed that he wished the All-Star break was a chance for the Lakers to "hit the reset button" on what he's said has been a most difficult season.


"Hopefully there's an easy button like in the commercial when we come back in the second half of the season and things are a little easier for us," he said.


Howard has battled injuries to his back and shoulder and has been nothing like the player who has been the NBA's dominant big man in recent years. He said at times he hasn't been having fun and has tried to ignore all the bad news around the team.


"You just try to stay away from the tube and do as much as I can to rehab my back and my shoulder and my mind, and really just get away from everything when I'm not playing basketball," he said.


If he's looking for a chance to enjoy himself this season, it may get no better than the next few days.


"It's a great weekend, it's an unbelievable weekend for the fans to be able to put all their favorite players together in one venue," James said. "We have a great time with it."


___


Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney


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Amputee Olympic star Pistorius charged in slaying


PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee sprinter dubbed the Blade Runner, was charged Thursday in the Valentine's Day slaying of his girlfriend at his upscale home in South Africa, a shocking twist to one of the feel-good stories of last summer's Olympics.


Pistorius buried his face in the hood of his workout jacket as officers escorted him from a police station after his arrest in the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp, a 30-year-old model who had spoken out on Twitter against rape and abuse of women.


Police said she was shot four times in the pre-dawn hours at Pistorius' villa in a gated community in the capital, Pretoria. Officers found a 9 mm pistol inside the home and arrested Pistorius on a murder charge.


What sparked the shooting remained unclear, but police said they had received calls in the past about domestic altercations at the home of the 26-year-old athlete, who has spoken publicly about his love of firearms.


A police spokeswoman, Brigadier Denise Beukes, said the incidents included "allegations of a domestic nature."


"I'm not going to elaborate on it, but there have been incidents," Beukes said. She said Pistorius was home at the time of Steenkamp's death and "there is no other suspect involved."


Pistorius made history in the London Games when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympics. He didn't win a medal but did make the semifinals of the 400 meters and became an international star.


Thursday, companies quickly removed billboards and advertising featuring Pistorius, a national hero in South Africa who also inspired fans worldwide with the image of his high-tech carbon-fiber blades whipping through the air.


Kenny Oldwage, Pistorius' lawyer, told reporters the athlete was "emotional" after his arrest, "but he is keeping up." He said he planned to seek bail for Pistorius at a preliminary hearing Friday.


Pistorius has had troubles in the past in his personal life, which often featured fast cars, cage fighters and women.


In February 2009, he crashed a speedboat on South Africa's Vaal River, breaking his nose, jaw and several ribs and damaging an eye socket. He required 180 stitches to his face. Witnesses said he had been drinking, and officers found alcoholic beverages in the wreckage, though they did not do blood tests.


In November, Pistorius was involved in an altercation over a woman with a local coal mining millionaire, South African media reported. The two men involved the South African Police Service's elite Hawks investigative unit before settling the matter.


Pistorius' father, Henke Pistorius, said Thursday: "We all pray for guidance and strength for Oscar and the lady's parents."


A spokeswoman for Pistorius at Fast Track, an international sports marketing agency in London, said the athlete was assisting with the investigation and there would be no further comment "until matters become clearer."


The sprinter's former coach, Andrea Giannini, said he hoped the shooting was "just a tragic accident."


"No matter how bad the situation was, Oscar always stayed calm and positive," Giannini told The Associated Press in Italy. "Whenever he was tired or nervous, he was still extremely nice to people. I never saw him violent."


Firearms captivated Pistorius, the subject of an online Nike advertisement that featured him with the caption: "I am a bullet in the chamber." In November 2011, he posted a photograph on Twitter of himself at a shooting range, bragging about his score. "Had a 96% headshot over 300m from 50shots! Bam!" he wrote.


Linked to a number of women by the South African media, Pistorius and Steenkamp were first seen together publicly in November. She was named one of the world's 100 Sexiest Women for two years running by the men's magazine FHM.


The leggy blonde with a law degree also appeared in international and South African ads and was a celebrity contestant on "Tropika Island of Treasure," a South African reality show filmed in Jamaica.


While known for her bikini-clad, vamping photo spreads, she tweeted messages urging women to stand up against rape. Her tweets also focused on Pistorius, with one of her last messages noting her excitement over Valentine's Day.


"What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow?" she wrote. "It should be a day of love for everyone."


Police have not publicly named Steenkamp as the victim, saying only that a 30-year-old woman was killed. Steenkamp's publicist, however, confirmed in a statement that the model had died.


"Everyone is simply devastated," the publicist, Sarit Tomlinson, said. "She was the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth and will be sorely missed."


Police arrived at Pistorius' home after 3 a.m., and paramedics tried unsuccessfully to revive Steenkamp, police spokeswoman Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale said.


Officers later took Pistorius to a hospital so doctors could collect samples for DNA testing and check his blood alcohol content.


Pistorius had both legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday because of a congenital condition, and campaigned for years to be allowed to compete against able-bodied athletes.


He was initially banned because of his carbon fiber blades — which critics said gave him an unfair advantage — before being cleared by sport's highest court in 2008.


He was a last-minute selection to South Africa's Olympic team, competing in the 400 meters and the 4x400 relay. He later retained his Paralympic title in the 400 meters.


South Africa's Sports Confederation, its Olympic committee and the International Paralympic Committee all had no comment on the shooting.


Shock rippled across South Africa, a nation of 50 million where nearly 50 people are killed each day, one of the world's highest murder rates. U.N. statistics say South Africa also has the second highest rate of shooting deaths in the world, behind only Colombia.


"The question is: Why does this story make the news? Yes, because they are both celebrities, but this is happening on every single day in South Africa," said Adele Kirsten, a member of Gun Free South Africa.


"We have thousands of people killed annually by gun violence in our country. So the anger is about that it is preventable."


___


Gerald Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa. Associated Press writers Michelle Faul and Ed Brown in Johannesburg contributed to this report.


___


Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.


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Plumlee leads No. 2 Duke past UNC, 73-68


DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — With its star big man on the bench with foul trouble, Duke went small to beat its top rival — and one of its smallest players came up big.


The run that propelled the second-ranked Blue Devils to a 73-68 victory over North Carolina on Wednesday night started when Mason Plumlee sat down and backup guard Tyler Thornton warmed up.


"I think the hero for us this game was Thornton," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "He would not let us lose."


Plumlee finished with his usual big numbers — 18 points, 11 rebounds — while Quinn Cook scored 18 points and Rasheed Sulaimon finished with 13 for the Blue Devils (22-2, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference).


But the contributions of Thornton couldn't be overlooked.


Thornton finished with nine points on three 3-pointers — or, as many points as he had in his previous three games combined — and two of those 3s came during the run midway through the second half that completely flipped the game's momentum.


"It's just the heart and the will to want to win," Thornton said. "Especially coming down the stretch, you've got to go all out and leave it on the floor, and I think we did that."


Duke shot 44 percent — 52 percent after halftime — and erased a slow start with that timely run and win its sixth straight this season and sixth in eight meetings in college basketball's fiercest rivalry.


P.J. Hairston matched a career high with 23 points and Reggie Bullock had 15 points with four 3-pointers for North Carolina (16-8, 6-5), which led for the first 26 minutes but went on to lose its second straight.


The Tar Heels were 13 of 23 from the free-throw line and missed 7 of 10 during a critical late stretch while falling to 1-4 this season against ranked opponents.


"If I knew how to fix the blessed thing, I would have fixed it," coach Roy Williams said of his team's struggles at the line. "The bottom line is, we didn't make free throws today. We're not a good free-throw shooting team in games."


Still, they trailed just 65-61 in the final minute and appeared to have gotten a stop by forcing Thornton to miss a long 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down. But Bullock fouled Sulaimon on the rebound, and the freshman hit both free throws with 37.5 seconds left.


Hairston hit a free throw on North Carolina's next possession to cut it to 67-62, but Plumlee countered with two free throws with 30.3 seconds left to make it a three-possession game.


Seth Curry scored 11 points in his sixth straight double-figure performance against North Carolina.


The win was a nice present for Krzyzewski, who was celebrating his 66th birthday.


And an unorthodox move — putting one of the best big men in the nation on the bench, however briefly — wound up putting Duke ahead for the first time in this one.


Plumlee picked up his third foul 31 seconds into the second half and uncorked an untimely 20-foot jumper a few minutes later, prompting Krzyzewski to burn a timeout. He went to a smaller lineup, sitting Plumlee in favor of two power forwards, Amile Jefferson and Josh Hairston.


"I thought he was playing like he had three fouls," Krzyzewski said. UNC's James Michael "McAdoo was just going at him so that McAdoo was either going to score, or Mason was going to foul him."


The move freed up some space for the Duke guards and immediately led to six quick points to start the 19-7 run that put the Blue Devils ahead to stay.


Duke outscored North Carolina 11-3 during the 4-minute stretch with Plumlee on the bench and took their first lead when Curry swished a 3 from in front of the bench to make it 42-41 with 14 minutes left.


Thornton — who had missed 12 of 14 3-pointers during his previous eight games — hit two of them from the same spot in the right corner, capping the spurt with his second that made it 50-45 with 12½ minutes to go.


Curry eventually stretched the lead to 59-51 with another 3 with 5 minutes left.


"They started knocking down shots in the second half, open 3-pointers," Bullock said. "I think our team played great, we played with better sense of urgency, we played with better effort, we were more involved in the game and what's happening. But they started knocking down shots and they started gaining momentum, and we wasn't connecting when we were open."


Dexter Strickland added 14 points but McAdoo was held to nine on 4-of-12 shooting for North Carolina, which came in as a written-off, double-digit underdog after a 26-point loss at No. 3 Miami that marked its worst loss of the season.


But the Tar Heels were aggressive early and methodically built a double-figure lead, the third straight year they came into Cameron and went up by 10. Bullock's third 3 of the half with about 6:45 left put North Carolina up 28-18.


"The intensity tonight was better than it has been all year long," Williams said.


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Body slam for wrestling: Sport cut from Olympics


LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — For wrestling, this may have been the ultimate body slam: getting tossed out of the Olympic rings.


The vote Tuesday by the IOC's executive board stunned the world's wrestlers, who see their sport as popular in many countries and steeped in history as old as the Olympics themselves.


While wrestling will be included at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, it was cut from the games in 2020, which have yet to be awarded to a host city.


2004 Olympic Greco-Roman champion Khasan Baroev of Russia called the decision "mind-boggling."


"I just can't believe it. And what sport will then be added to the Olympic program? What sport is worthy of replacing ours?" Baroev told the ITAR-Tass news agency. "Wrestling is popular in many countries — just see how the medals were distributed at the last Olympics."


American Rulan Gardner, who upset three-time Russian Olympic champion Alexander Karelin at the Sydney Games in an epic gold-medal bout known as the "Miracle on the Mat," was saddened by the decision to drop what he called "a beloved sport."


"It's the IOC trying to change the Olympics to make it more mainstream and more viewer-friendly instead of sticking to what they founded the Olympics on," Gardner told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Logan, Utah.


The executive board of the International Olympic Committee reviewed the 26 sports on its summer program in order to remove one of them so it could add one later this year. It decided to cut wrestling and keep modern pentathlon — a sport that combines fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting — and was considered to be the most likely to be dropped.


The board voted after reviewing a report by the IOC program commission report that analyzed 39 criteria, including TV ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors.


"This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It's not a case of what's wrong with wrestling; it is what's right with the 25 core sports."


According to IOC documents obtained by the AP, wrestling ranked "low" in several of the technical criteria, including popularity with the public at the London Games — just below 5 on a scale of 10. Wrestling sold 113,851 tickets in London out of 116,854 available.


Wrestling also ranked "low" in global TV audience with a maximum of 58.5 million viewers and an average of 23 million, the documents show. Internet hits and press coverage were also ranked as low.


NBC, which televises the Olympics in the U.S., declined comment.


The IOC also noted that FILA — the international wrestling federation — has no athletes on its decision-making bodies, no women's commission, no ethics rules for technical officials and no medical official on its executive board.


Modern pentathlon also ranked low in general popularity in London, with 5.2 out of 10. The sport also ranked low in all TV categories, with maximum viewership of 33.5 million and an average of 12.5 million.


FILA has 177 member nations, compared to 108 for modern pentathlon.


Modern pentathlon, which has been on the Olympic program since the 1912 Stockholm Games, was created by French baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement.


It also benefited from the work of Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., the son of the former IOC president who is a UIPM vice president and member of the IOC board.


"We were considered weak in some of the scores in the program commission report but strong in others," Samaranch told the AP. "We played our cards to the best of our ability and stressed the positives."


Klaus Schormann, president of governing body UIPM, lobbied hard to protect his sport's Olympic status and it paid off in the end.


"We have promised things and we have delivered," he said after Tuesday's decision. "That gives me a great feeling. It also gives me new energy to develop our sport further and never give up."


The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC session, or general assembly, in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for 2020, but it is extremely unlikely that it would be voted back in so soon after being removed by the executive board.


The other sports vying for a single opening in 2020 are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu, a martial art.


"Today's decision is not final," Adams said. "The session is sovereign and the session will make the final decision."


Wrestling featured 344 athletes competing in 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman at last year's London Olympics, with Russia dominating the podium but Iran and Azerbaijan making strong showings. Women's wrestling was added to the Olympics at the 2004 Athens Games.


Karelin noted in an interview with Vyes' Sport that Russians and Soviets have won 77 gold medals.


"It's understandable that a lot of people didn't like this," Karelin said. "I'm not a supporter of conspiracy theory, but it seems to me that the underlying cause here is obvious."


Tuesday's decision came via secret ballot over four rounds, with 14 members voting each time on which sport should not be included in the core group. IOC President Jacques Rogge did not vote.


Three sports were left in the final round: wrestling, field hockey and modern pentathlon. Eight members voted against wrestling and three each against the other two sports. Taekwondo and canoe kayaking survived the previous rounds.


"I was shocked," said IOC board member Rene Fasel of Switzerland.


"It was an extremely difficult decision to take," added IOC Vice President Thomas Bach of Germany. "The motivation of every member is never based on a single reason. There are always several reasons. It was a secret vote. There will always be criticism, but I think the great majority will understand that we took a decision based on facts and for the modernization of the Olympic Games."


Wrestling was featured in the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896. Along with Russia's Karelin, it has produced such American stars as Gardner, Bruce Baumgartner, Jeff Blatnick and Jordan Burroughs.


U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun also expressed surprise at the IOC decision, citing "the history and tradition of wrestling, and its popularity and universality."


"It is important to remember that today's action is a recommendation, and we hope that there will be a meaningful opportunity to discuss the important role that wrestling plays in the sports landscape both in the United States and around the world," Blackmun said in a statement. "In the meantime, we will fully support USA Wrestling and its athletes."


FILA said in a statement that it was "greatly astonished" by the decision, adding that the federation "will take all necessary measures to convince the IOC executive board and IOC members of the aberration of such decision against one of the founding sports of the ancient and modern Olympic Games."


It said it has always complied with IOC regulations and is represented in 180 countries, with wrestling the national sport in some of them.


The federation, which is headed by Raphael Martinetti and based in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, said it would meet next week in Thailand to discuss the matter.


Gardner cited wrestling's worldwide popularity and urged a campaign to keep it in the Olympics.


"It just seems like wrestling — if we don't fight, we're going to die," he said. "At this point, it's time for everybody to man up and support the program."


The decision hit hard in Russia, which has long been a power in the sport.


Mikhail Mamiashvili, president of the Russian Wrestling Federation, suggested FILA had not done enough to keep the sport in the games.


"We want to hear what was done to prevent this issue from even being discussed at the board," he said on the Rossiya TV channel.


In comments carried by ITAR-Tass, Mamiashvili added: "I can say for sure that the roots of this problem is at the FILA. I believe that Martinetti's task was to work hard, socialize and defend wrestling's place before the IOC."


Alexander Leipold, a 2000 Olympic champion from Germany and former freestyle German team coach, said he was shocked.


"We are a technical, tactical martial sport where the aim is not to harm the opponent," he said. "Competing at the Olympics is the greatest for an athlete."


Wrestling's long history in the Olympics has featured some top names and moments:


— Karelin won the super-heavyweight gold in Greco-Roman over three straight Olympics — 1988, 1992 and 1996 — until his streak was ended by Gardner, who beat him for the gold in 2000.


— Baumgartner won four Olympic medals, including golds in 1984 and 1992.


— Blatnick overcame cancer to win gold in Greco-Roman at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, bursting into tears after the match. Blatnick died last year at age 55.


— Burroughs emerged as the star of the sport in London, where he won the 74-kilogram gold.


The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio.


Among those in Lausanne were the leaders of the recently created World Baseball Softball Confederation. The two sports agreed last year to merge in a joint bid to return to the games.


Don Porter, the American who heads international softball, and Riccardo Fraccari, the Italian who leads baseball, are working out the final details of their unified body ahead of their presentation to the IOC in May.


A major hurdle remains the lack of a commitment from Major League Baseball to release top players for the Olympics.


Porter and Fraccari said they hope to have another meeting with MLB officials in April in Tokyo.


"The next thing is to sit down with them and see how they can help us," Porter said. "It all depends on the timing, the timing of the season. It's not an easy decision to allow players a week off."


___


Associated Press writers Lynn Berry in Moscow and Luke Meredith in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this story.


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