Sunaya Sapurji

  • Canada's Andre De Grasse earns second Pan Am gold medal in record time

    Sunaya Sapurji at Eh Game 5 days ago

    Coming into the 2015 Pan Am Games, Andre De Grasse was hardly a household name for many Canadians. In fact many weren’t even sure how to correctly say his name.

    “A lot of people before this didn’t know how to pronounce my last name, they used to say De Grassi, but now I think everybody knows my name is (pronounced De Grass),” said De Grasse. “It feels really good that people know my name and I’m making an impact in the track and field world.”

    That would be an understatement.

    On Friday, De Grasse won his second gold medal of the Pan Am Games with a stunning victory in the men’s 200-metre. He finished with a time of 19.88, setting a Pan Am and Canadian record in the process. The 20-year-old also became the first Canadian to run the 200-metres with a sub-20 second time.

    “It feels amazing,” said De Grasse after the race. “The first Canadian to run under sub-20 seconds, it doesn’t get any better than this. It just feels like an unreal moment right now.”

    At first, he wasn’t even sure he had won the race since it was a tight finish with Jamaica’s Rasheed Dwyer (19.90), who won silver, and Panama’s Edward Alonzo, who claimed the bronze.

  • Damian Warner comes full circle by breaking Canadian decathlon record at Pan Am Games

    Sunaya Sapurji at Eh Game 6 days ago

     

    “Before my first decathlon I had big dreams,” said the 25-year-old. “I thought I was going to be a world record holder from the start, but I kind of learned about patience and I continue to teach myself about patience and let things come where they may and do my best.”

    On Thursday, Warner made history when he broke the 19-year-old Canadian points record set by Michael Smith ( 8,626) back in 1996. He finished with 8,653 and set a new Pan Am record in the process.

    “I knew I wanted the Canadian record so bad,” said Warner. “I didn’t think there was a better place to have it here at home.”

    It was at the old track and field centre on the grounds of York University that Warner competed in his first ever competition. So it was a sort of homecoming for the London, Ont., native.

    “It’s kind of come full circle and I’m so grateful of it,” said Warner.

    Heading into the final event – the men’s 1,500-meters – Warner needed to finish with a time below 4.29, which would match his personal best. He finished with a time of 4:24.73.

    Prior to the race, he spoke to Kurt Felix – the eventual silver medallist – about the kind of pace they wanted to set for their run.

  • Passion, crowdfunding helps get Canadian handballers to Pan Am Games

    Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago

    When Dan Devlin stepped on the court for Canada’s inaugural match against Brazil, it marked the third time he had worn the Maple Leaf in the sport of handball at the Pan Am Games.

    It also marked the third time he had to pay his own way to get there.

    Such is life for athletes in niche sports trying to make headway in Canada, where the biggest challenge is often not on the field of play, but in trying to find funding.

    Devlin, like many of his handball teammates male and female, has been forced to crowdfund in order to represent Canada internationally.

    “A lot of us crowdfunded to be here which was fantastic because it eased a lot of the stress we had to do for work,” said the 31-year-old medical school student.“Typically when we’re at home we’re working, trying to live our lives, but we’re also working trying to have money available so we can continue to play handball. That’s one of the hardest things.”

    Having money for handball means paying for things like plane tickets and ancillary travel costs, gym time, physiotherapy and other expenses which come out of their own pockets.

    “The reason why we still do it? Like most of the guys on our team, we love to play the game.”

     

  • Legendary Don Cameron calls it a career as the voice of Kitchener Rangers

    Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports 21 days ago

    It was back in 1956 that Don Cameron made his first life-changing decision. He was just out of high school in his native Summerside, PEI, and he had to make the choice to either go to university or take a job in radio.

    “It was my life-long ambition to get into broadcasting and do play-by-play for hockey,” said the 79-year-old. “I used to do it as a kid playing road hockey, I say, ‘I’m not going to play anymore, I’m going to broadcast the game.’ Then I’d sit up on a fence and broadcast the game.”

    It’s no surprise: He took the radio job.

    He parlayed that gig calling games for the Summerside Aces – in the local senior league – into a job in St. Catharines, Ont., doing play-by-play for the Jr. A Teepees. That, too, was a big decision considering Cameron had spent his whole life on the Island.

    “Boy, were my eyes ever opened when that plane landed in Toronto,” said Cameron. “I took my first drive on a four-lane highway.”

    From there he moved to Kitchener, broadcasting games for the Dutchmen before becoming the play-by-play voice of the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers when the city first landed the team in 1963.

    The one thing he’ll miss the most? His interactions with the players.

  • Rocky's ready to rumble as head coach of Windsor Spitfires

    Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports 26 days ago

    Rocky Hockey is coming to Windsor and the Spitfires better be ready. On Friday, the OHL team announced they had hired former Edmonton Oilers assistant coach Rocky Thompson as head coach, replacing Bob Boughner.

    “We want to play fast and we want to play aggressive,” said Thompson of his new team. “We want our system to definitely be more aggressive than the Windsor Spitfires have played in the past.

    “I’m a family oriented individual it means everything to me and I know the culture has been great there, but I’m going to build on that foundation and there’s going to be trust in our locker room. Individuals are going to have success, but they’re going to want to be a part of the group. That’s something I can bring – bringing people together, teaching them the game and getting the most out of them.”

    “The type of people that we are we’re all very similar personalities,” said Thompson, a former third-round pick of the Flames in 1995. “The way we were able to succeed in the game was with hard work and determination because we weren’t the skilled guys out there. We had to come in the back door and come up the hard way which is always a good way because you feel good after a hard day’s work.”

  • General managers hoping their gambles pay at CHL import draft

    Sunaya Sapurji at Buzzing The Net 29 days ago

    There were lots of gambles taking place on Tuesday as the Canadian Hockey League held their annual import draft. Many big names – including players taken last weekend at the NHL entry draft – were in the mix as 120 players had their CHL rights picked up.

    Going first overall to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan was Russian forward Vladimir Kuznetsov. The 17-year-old won a gold medal with Russia at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge last year and played the regular season with his hometown Yekaterinburg in the MHL, Russia’s junior league. He finished with 12 points in 43 games. He won't be eligible for the NHL draft until 2016.

    Russia lead the charge at the draft with 19 players selected followed by the Czech Republic (12) and Finland and Sweden tied at nine players a piece.

    One of the biggest names taken on Tuesday was Swedish defenceman Oliver Kylington, a second-round pick of the Calgary Flames. The 18-year-old was one of the biggest surprises last weekend when he fell late in the second round – 60 th overall – despite being projected as one of the top European skaters for the entry draft in Sunrise, Fla.

     

  • Paul Bittner forges his own path from hockey-mad Minnesota to the NHL Draft

    Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    There was never a dull moment in the Bittner household. It was in the small town of Crookston, with a population just under 8,000, in northwest Minnesota, that Jon and Jo Bittner raised their three rambunctious boys. There was Mark, the oldest; Ryan; and the baby, Paul – all two years apart.

    He might have been the youngest, but Paul was the most independent and headstrong of the three boys. When he tried skating as a two-year-old, he refused any help from his brothers or his parents and would often be found on their backyard rink, lying flat on the ice.

    “He wanted nothing to do with any of us,” said Mark, now 22. “He’d say, ‘No! I’ll do it myself,’ so he’d rub his skates on the ice and just lay there in the middle of the ice. When we would play we’d only have one goalie on our outdoor rink so we’d have skate around him and avoid him.

    “One day he was up and skating with us and from then on we were all skating together.”

    That big backyard rink would host shinny games for all the neighbourhood kids. It would feature Jon’s favourite polka hits blasting from the speakers, much to the chagrin of the younger crowd.

    The town was in shock. Why would Bittner leave?

     

  • NHL Scouts Poll: The class of 2015 is average beyond the top 10

    Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    The 2015 NHL entry draft has been fastidiously churning in the hype machine for more than a year now. That’s to be expected with the likes of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel eligible to walk down the draft floor in Sunrise, Fla., on Friday evening.

    Both players have been labeled as potential generational talents and dissected to their fullest – McDavid since he was a 14-year-old and Eichel following in the spotlight a few years later. But there are other familiar names, too. There’s Boston College defenceman Noah Hanifin and forwards Dylan Strome of the Erie Otters, Lawson Crouse of the Kingston Frontenacs and Mitchell Marner of the London Knights.

    The top-end talent has given the impression that this year’s draft could be as good – if not better – than the draft class of 2003, in which every single player drafted in the first round (led by first overall pick Marc-Andre Fleury) played, at the very least, a handful of games in the NHL.

    So, what do the experts think?

    The general consensus is that this year’s draft is great at the top, but the high-end talent will taper off in the middle of the first round.

    Is there a player you think is rated lower in the (NHL) rankings than he should be?

  • Leafs hiring Oshawa's D.J. Smith opens up another CHL job vacancy

    Sunaya Sapurji at Buzzing The Net 1 mth ago

    The junior hockey job market continues to heat up as teams across the CHL fill the vacancies that opened up once the regular season ended. In the interim, many of those jobs for head coaches and general manager have been filled. However, with the Toronto Maple Leafs NHL scooping up many of the CHL's best and brightest, there are still a few openings to be filled. 

    The latest vacancy opened up on Tuesday afternoon when the Leafs hired Oshawa Generals head coach D.J. Smith to join Mike Babcock's coaching staff as an assistant. Smith led the Generals to a 51-11-2-4 record which culminated in an OHL title and a Memorial Cup victory last month.

    “I would like to thank (owner) Rocco Tullio and the entire Oshawa Generals organization as well as our great fans for supporting myself and my family over the past three seasons,” said Smith in a press release. “I am excited to begin a new chapter with the Maple Leafs and work alongside Mike Babcock, Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer.”

    Both Hiller and Brewer had worked as assistants to Babcock in Detroit with the Red Wings.