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Study looks at sexy long-distance running

Male long-distance runners are not only fitter than most – they may also find it easier to attract women, researchers say.


People who are better at running half marathons are likely to have been exposed to high levels of the sex hormone testosterone before birth, researchers from the University of Cambridge have found.

This means they not only have better cardiovascular efficiency but also a strong sex drive and high sperm count – suggesting they have historically been chosen by women as more desirable mates.

Dr Danny Longman, from the university’s division of biological anthropology, said: “The observation that endurance running ability is connected to reproductive potential in men suggests that women in our hunter-gatherer past were able to observe running as a signal for a good breeding partner.”

Pre-birth exposure to testosterone has previously been found to give men an evolutionary advantage.

The latest research focussed on half marathon competitors and found the faster runners also tended to also have longer ring fingers – a signal of hormone exposure in the womb.

Researchers say the finding suggests females may have selected mates for athletic endurance.

This may be because ‘persistence hunting’ – exhausting prey by tirelessly tracking it – was a vital way to get food.

The team analysed 542 runners at the 2013 Robin Hood half marathon in Nottingham by photocopying hands and taking run times and other key details just after runners crossed the line.

They found that the 10 per cent of men with the most masculine finger ratios were, on average, 24 minutes and 33 seconds faster than the 10 per cent of men with the least masculine digits.

Dr Longman said that while training and muscle strength were more important than hormone exposure in running performance, the size of the study meant the findings were “conclusive” evidence of a predisposition.

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Tennis megaplex in central Florida to help sport and region grow

Scheduled to open in late 2016, the complex is intended to anchor an envisioned cluster of sports businesses in a fast-growing section of Orlando that is also seeking to position itself as a major medical hub.


The tennis facility will feature a mix of red and green clay courts, as well as hard courts and a show court to be used for collegiate tournaments. The complex also includes a lodge to house up to 32 youth players.

The U.S. Tennis Association is leasing 63 acres for $1 per year in Lake Nona, a community developed by Tavistock Group, a Bahamas-based private-equity firm, which recruited the tennis organisation to relocate from White Plains, New York.

Tavistock aims to build a sports-oriented mega-complex modelled after the adjacent 650-acre health sciences cluster that it began developing in 2005.

Adding the tennis complex is “not a game changer but it should serve as a catalyst” for regional growth, said Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo Economics Group, who is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Lake Nona Medical City was launched around a new medical school at the University of Central Florida and has grown to include a half-dozen medical research and treatment facilities.

The development has been a significant driver of urban growth in Orlando, long known for its theme parks. A new commuter rail line launched last year in the region, now also home to a major league soccer franchise.

The non-profit U.S. Tennis Association, with 715,000 members, owns the U.S. Open, one of the sport’s leading international tournaments.

(Editing by Letitia Stein and Mohammad Zargham)

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Dugan versatility could work for NSW

Josh Dugan’s versatility could emerge as a trump card for NSW in this year’s State of Origin series following a a series of injuries which have hit at the Blues’ outside backs.


Dugan successfully transferred from centre to fullback in the Blues’ drought-breaking series win last year.

He was keen to stay in the frontline for St George Illawarra in 2015, but was moved back to fullback by coach Paul McGregor.

The 24-year-old has been a key figure in the Dragons’ three successive victories to kick-start their premiership campaign and remains well and truly in NSW coach Laurie Daley’s plans ahead of Origin I in Sydney on May 27.

Daley said Dugan is in line to replace Jarryd Hayne in the Blues No.1 jersey as they chase back-to-back series wins for the first time since 2005.

He’s not the only contender for that role however, with Manly’s Brett Stewart and Penrith’s Matt Moylan also catching Daley’s eye this year.

The hamstring injury to Brett Morris has put a dent in Daley’s plans with the Canterbury fullback sure to have been one of the first picked on the right wing.

Parramatta’s versatile back Will Hopoate, who scored a try on debut from the wing in 2011, looms as a possible replacement.

But this is where Dugan’s versatility comes in.

In the event of injury or poor form, he could cover for Josh Morris and Michael Jennings in the centres, play at fullback or even on the wing, even alternating during games.

“I have always loved playing fullback,” Dugan said.

“I was excited about playing in the centres because I felt I could improve there a lot more.

“But fullback is my position and I will keep centre for the back pocket too.

“I guess it goes to show I have a bit of versatility and I can play a few positions

“It definitely doesn’t hurt it is just another feather in the cap.”

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Coutinho goal sends Liverpool into FA Cup semi-final

Brendan Rodgers’s side, who came into the game after back-to-back Premier League defeats that all but ended their hopes of a top-four finish, will face Aston Villa in a Wembley semi-final.


They came out on top at Ewood Park having dominated possession but struggled to break down the hosts who got men behind the ball and restricted Liverpool to very few sights of goal.

The breakthrough came in the 70th minute when Coutinho exchanged passes with Jordan Henderson from a corner, drove into the box and drilled the ball low into the bottom corner.

“From start to finish, I thought we were brilliant tonight,” Liverpool’s captain on the night Jordan Henderson told BT Sport.

“Now we have a tough game against Villa at Wembley, but it gives the club a good lift.”

The victory kept seven-times Cup winners Liverpool on course to win Rodgers’s first trophy for the club after a disappointing league campaign that has left them out of the Champions League qualification places.

Rodgers had said winning the FA Cup would represent progress for his side despite failing to make any impact in the league after last season’s second-place finish.

It was far from a convincing performance from Liverpool, however, who looked like the confidence had been knocked out of them by consecutive losses to Manchester United and Arsenal.

With the bone-hard and bobbly playing surface making possession difficult, Liverpool, who lost defender Mamadou Sakho to injury early on, spent the first half probing at a pedestrian pace with little success.

Blackburn were rolling their sleeves up and keeping numbers in defence, the tried and tested formula for lower league teams hoping to cause a cup upset.

Liverpool had little more than glimpses of goal in the first half, with Coutinho prodding an effort that was saved by Simon Eastwood and Daniel Sturridge trying his luck with a speculative effort that drifted a fraction too high.

The hosts had two efforts saved by Simon Mignolet at the start of the second half, with the Liverpool keeper tipping Tom Cairney’s 25-metre effort over the bar and palming Ben Marshall’s firm header on to the post.

Liverpool maintained their stranglehold of the ball, however, and Coutinho’s moment of class proved the difference.

(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Ed Osmond)

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Boston bomber Tsarnaev found guilty, may face death penalty

Tsarnaev, 21, was convicted of all 30 counts against him, with 17 of the charges carrying the death penalty.


The same U.S. District Court jury will now decide whether to sentence him to death or life in prison without possibility of parole.

Tsarnaev silently looked down, occasionally fidgeting, as the lengthy verdict was read. The courtroom was packed with survivors of the attack, the parents of 8-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest fatality, and law enforcement officials, including former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.

Jurors spent just over 11 hours evaluating Tsarnaev’s guilt in two days of deliberations, following 16 days of testimony.

The amount of time spent in the jury room suggests the jurors were thorough in considering the charges, said David Weinstein, an attorney in private practice who in prior jobs as a state and local prosecutor brought death-penalty cases.

“If this was a fait accompli, they would have been out in the amount of time it takes to shuffle through 30 pieces of paper,” Weinstein said. “Sentencing deliberations are likely to take longer.”

Defense lawyers began the trial by admitting that Tsarnaev carried out the April 15, 2013, bombing but said he did so at the bidding of his older brother Tamerlan, 26, who died following a gunfight with police in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Prosecutors laid out evidence that the defendant, an ethnic Chechen who immigrated from Russia a decade before the attack, had read and listened to jihadist materials, and wrote a note in the boat where he was found hiding suggesting the bombing was an act of retribution for U.S. military campaigns in Muslim-dominated countries.

The blasts killed restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu, 23, and Richard. Tsarnaev also was found guilty of the fatal shooting of Massachusetts of Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 26.

Federal prosecutors detailed jihadi writings, including a copy of al Qaeda’s “Inspire” magazine with an article on bomb-making found on of Tsarnaev’s computers, describing that as evidence that he was an extremist who wanted to “punish America.”

Dark memories for Boston

The trial, which began in early March after a two-month jury selection process, dredged up some of worst memories in living memory in Boston. The twin pressure-cooker bombs ripped through the crowd of spectators at the race’s finish line, setting off a mad rush to save the hundreds of people wounded, many of whom lost legs.

Three days later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released images of the Tsarnaev brothers, saying they were the suspected bombers and seeking information on their identities. That set the stage for 24 hours of chaos as the duo fatally shot Collier in an unsuccessful attempt to steal his gun and went on to carjack a Chinese entrepreneur before police found them in the suburb of Watertown.

The pair fought a desperate gunfight with police, throwing a smaller pressure-cooker bomb similar to the ones they used at the race, as well as smaller pipe bombs. When Tamerlan Tsarnaev ran out of bullets in the rusty Ruger handgun his brother had borrowed from a drug-dealing friend, he charged Watertown police officers who were trying to wrestle him to the ground. Dzhokhar then hopped into the carjacked Mercedes SUV and sped toward the group, running over his brother and dragging him.

The city’s mayor, Marty Walsh, said he was glad to see the trial moving toward a conclusion.

“I am thankful that this phase of the trial has come to an end and am hopeful for a swift sentencing process,” Walsh said. “I hope today’s verdict provides a small amount of closure for the survivors, families, and all impacted by the violent and tragic events.”

(Additional reporting by Tim McLaughlin; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)