Serena Williams reached her eighth Wimbledon semifinal by knocking out defending champion Petra Kvitova in straight sets with another commanding serving performance on Tuesday.Playing underneath the closed roof on Centre Court while rain halted play elsewhere at the All England Club, Williams hit 13 aces — including three in the last game — to beat the fourth-seeded Czech 6-3, 7-5.Kvitova was on an 11-match winning streak at Wimbledon and had not lost here since Williams beat her in the 2010 semifinals en route to her fourth title.“She’s been playing so well on grass,” Williams said. “I had absolutely nothing to lose.”The American four-time champion seized control by breaking Kvitova for a 4-2 lead in the first set and then never gave her opponent a chance to get back in the match. She saved a set point when trailing 5-4 in the second with a hard serve down the middle that Kvitova could return only into the net. That was the only break point the defending champion earned, as Williams won 86 percent of the points on her first serve.Kvitova then led 30-0 in the next game but made four straight mistakes — including netting an easy forehand on break point — to give Williams the opening she needed.Williams, who hit a Wimbledon-record 23 aces in a fourth-round win over Jie Zheng of China, is trying to become the first woman over 30 to win a Grand Slam title since Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon in 1990.
Month: September 2019
During the first quarter of Oklahoma City Thunder‘s game against the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday night, Vince Carter was at the wrong end of a nasty crossover by Kevin Durant.It happened at the top of the key in an isolation play where Thunders’ Durant completely sent Mavericks’ Carter in another direction with a quick crossover. It happened so quickly that neither Carter nor the Mavericks defense could recover in time to stop Durant’s sensational finish.It’s well documented that Durant has some ridiculous “handles,” which is amazing considering he is 6 foot 9 inches.Durant finished with 23 points and 10 assists in the Thunder’s 107-93 win over Dallas.Check out the video above to see the play that nearly shook 36-year-old Carter’s ankles straight into retirement.
The first College Football Playoff game ever played, Thursday’s Rose Bowl between the Oregon Ducks against the Florida State Seminoles, promised to be a classic featuring two Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks. Instead, it was a one-sided romp that saw Oregon outscore Florida State 41-7 in the second half en route to a 39-point victory.Plenty of observers enjoyed the schadenfreude of seeing Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston lose his first game as a college starter, particularly in light of Winston’s off-field comportment. But the blowout loss also amplified questions about whether Florida State should have been granted a playoff berth in the first place.Going into the playoff, there wasn’t much debate over the selection committee‘s top two teams, Alabama and Oregon, but there was plenty of controversy surrounding the admittance of Florida State and Ohio State over TCU and Baylor. In addition to the strange leapfrog Florida State and Ohio State made over TCU in the final edition of the committee’s rankings, a number of oddsmakers suggested both jilted Texas schools would be favored at a neutral field over either the Seminoles or Buckeyes.Some of that second-guessing looks silly after Ohio State beat Alabama in Thursday’s Sugar Bowl, earning a trip to face Oregon in the CFP’s championship game, hours after Baylor blew a 20-point 4th quarter lead against Michigan State to lose the Cotton Bowl. But in conjunction with TCU’s 39-point obliteration of Ole Miss (who placed ninth in the committee’s final rankings) in the Peach Bowl on Wednesday, Florida State’s humiliating loss to Oregon has, predictably, led to calls that TCU should have been in the playoff instead.Statistically, there’s something to that criticism. Going into the bowls, Florida State ranked tenth in ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) rating, which emphasizes per-drive scoring margin and downplays the theory that a team could have a knack for consistently winning close games, rather than just getting lucky. The Seminoles had been 13-0 before their meeting with Oregon, but the Seminoles’ point differential suggested they deserved a record more like 10-3 or even 9-4. The Seminoles’ year of living dangerously finally caught up with them.By contrast, TCU had ranked fifth in the FPI before the bowls, and currently sits at No. 4 behind Oregon, Alabama (who still rank second despite their loss), and Ohio State. Knowing what we know now, and using the historical distribution of actual point margins for a given prediction (based on an FPI-like Elo variant for seasons since the start of the BCS era), there’s a 98.2 percent probability that TCU’s point differential versus Oregon would have been closer than Florida State’s margin of defeat Thursday, and a 54 percent chance that TCU would cover the point spread if they were made a touchdown underdog against the Ducks.Then again, based on the pregame FPI ratings, Oregon’s 39-point win in the Rose Bowl also represented the 98th percentile of all possible outcomes for a game against Florida State at a neutral site. If they were to play again today, FPI’s current data says there’s a 96.6 percent probability the Seminoles would put forth a better showing the second time around.Hindsight is 20/20. So while it’s likely that TCU was, and is, a better team than Florida State, it was difficult at the time to argue for an undefeated Power 5 conference team to be left out of the playoff field, even if their record was out of step with their point differential.And even now, the gulf between the two teams isn’t as wide as it seems after TCU had a 99th percentile performance in the Peach Bowl and Florida State had a 2nd percentile performance in the Rose Bowl. FPI says TCU would be favored by about 4.5 points on a neutral field, meaning there’d still be roughly a 39 percent chance of a Florida State victory even after accounting for the events of the past few days.
Thomas MullerBayern Munich0.43 In qualifying, Rodríguez scored and assisted on more goals than any of his teammates, while also having the most shots and touches of the ball. While he may not have become a Galactico in Madrid, he is indisputably his country’s most important player.Check out our latest World Cup predictions. PlayerTeamExpected Assists per 90 Kingsley ComanBayern Munich0.29 Mario GotzeBorussia Dortmund0.29 Franck RiberyBayern Munich0.29 Leon BaileyBayer Leverkusen0.30 James RodríguezBayern Munich0.30 Fin BartelsWerder Bremen0.27 Mahmoud DahoudBorussia Dortmund0.32 Rodríguez is one of Germany’s top creatorsBundesliga leaders in expected assists in open play (excluding penalty shots and direct free kicks) per 90 minutes, 2017-18 FiveThirtyEight is examining each of the eight groups in the 2018 World Cup, which begins Thursday in Russia. Read about Group A, Group B, Group C, Group D, Group E, Group F and Group G.Group H is potentially the most interesting in Russia this summer. While the average group difference in FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index score between the best and worst teams is about 25, Senegal’s SPI rating of 66.0 is only 14.5 points lower than Colombia’s 80.5. Poland (73.3) and Japan (71.4) are rated very similarly in the middle of the group. On top of this, the teams are filled with exciting attacking players from Europe’s strongest leagues: Poland’s Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Colombia’s James Rodríguez (Bayern Munich), Japan’s Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund) and Senegal’s Sadio Mané (Liverpool) will all be battling to make an impression on the world’s biggest stage.Paper tiger or legit contender?After missing three straight World Cups, Colombia made a big impression in the 2014 World Cup — even without Radamel Falcao, who was unable to recover from injury in time to play. Four years later, Los Cafeteros’ talismanic striker is back, but he is no longer the star of the team: After finishing as the top scorer with six goals in Rio, Rodríguez has become the focal point of an exciting Colombian attack, which boasts a 69 percent chance of making it to the knockout stage.José Pékerman’s squad likes to attack directly in open play — in 41 matches tracked by data firm Opta Sports since the 2014 World Cup, Colombia reached the opposition via playing a string of 10 or more successful passes only 75 times, just less than twice a game. Instead, the side relies more on attacks in which at least 50 percent of the movement is toward the opposition goal, with a ratio of these “direct” to “slow” attacks of 4.2-to-1.8. Defensively, they operate a medium block, regaining the ball in the middle area of the pitch 23.3 times per game — more than any other team in South American qualifying.Poland, marginally the second favorite in Group H with a 55 percent chance of finishing first or second, is even more reliant on its star player, Lewandowski.1Lewandowski and Rodríguez were teammates this season during Rodríguez’s loan from Real Madrid. In qualifying, the towering striker was Poland’s top shot taker and goal scorer, and he also created the most Opta-defined “big chances” for his teammates. With 16 goals, he scored more than any other player in European qualifying, either scoring or assisting on 61 percent of Poland’s goals.Underdog or also-ran? Japan, with a 43 percent chance of getting through the group, is something of an unknown given that it changed manager in April, with Akira Nishino taking charge. The side’s two main attackers, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa, have a wealth of experience representing their country on the international stage, but they have been somewhat ineffective over the past few years, both being dropped by previous managers. With an average age of 28.6, the squad is severely lacking in young talent.Skillful wingers Keita Baldé and Mané offer Senegal’s main threat in attack, while the towering defensive presence of Kalidou Koulibaly makes the spine of the team seem stronger than its 33 percent chance of progression may suggest. Given the relative equality of the group, a strong performance from Senegal in its opener against Poland could dramatically change expectations.Player to watchIn 2014, James Rodríguez was a relative unknown who went on to become the archetype of a World Cup breakout. But after a disappointing move to Real Madrid culminated in a loan to Bayern Munich this year, the left-footed magician returns to the international stage with a point to prove.Rodríguez is coming off the back of a redemptive season in which he was one of the best creators in Germany and played a similarly dominant attacking role: He completed more passes per 90 minutes than any attacker in the Bundesliga to have played more than 25 percent of available minutes. He was also tied for fifth in expected assists per 90 minutes in open play, and he assisted the second most shots per 90 from set pieces. Jadon SanchoBorussia Dortmund0.33 Minimum of 600 minutes playedSource: Football Whispers Karim BellarabiBayer Leverkusen0.35
De’Aaron FoxSAC7.212.0-4.9 Stephen CurryGSW10.115.1-5.0 James HardenHOU11.214.7-3.5 The Philadelphia 76ers have been one of the most interesting teams of the 2018-19 NBA season so far — and that hasn’t always been a good thing. On the court, they’re a fast-paced squad with a ton of young talent, but they haven’t quite made the leap forward people expected after last year’s breakout performance. Off the court, they followed up a crazy offseason with the blockbuster trade of the year to date, snagging Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves. But perhaps predictably, it didn’t take long before reports emerged about drama between Butler and Philly’s coaching staff. Stir in Joel Embiid’s troll tweets and the depressing saga of former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz’s shot, and there’s never a dull moment with these Sixers.Somewhat quietly amid the craziness, though, point-forward Ben Simmons’s shooting has also become a major subplot in Philadelphia’s mercurial ascent. Late in his rookie season, we noted that Simmons had never made a 3-pointer in his NBA career; he’s now 126 games in, and that’s still true — in fact, he hasn’t even attempted one this season. Only 10 percent of Simmons’ shots have even come outside of 10 feet from the basket. Here’s what his highly compressed shot chart looks like this season, according to Austin Clemens’ Swish 2.0 tool: DRE per 36 minutes Kevin DurantGSW9.713.2-3.4 Individually, though, Simmons does have one of the NBA’s largest splits in performance based on the quality of the opponent, and the Sixers have won disproportionately more games against bad teams than good ones. Using data from HoopsStats.com, I broke out the DRE (Daily RAPM Estimate, a useful all-in-one “game score”-type stat from Nylon Calculus) per 36 minutes for every player who logged at least 500 minutes against opponents who are better and opponents who are worse than .500 this season.Many players across the league see a decline in production when facing tougher teams, but Simmons has seen the fourth-biggest drop-off. And while No. 1 on the list belongs to Steph Curry of all players, Curry still does plenty of damage against good teams, ranking eighth in DRE per 36 vs. teams with winning records. Simmons, by contrast, ranks 77th against those same opponents. Which players drop off against good teams?Biggest declines in Nylon Calculus’s Daily RAPM Estimate (DRE) for 2018-19 NBA players against opponents with winning records vs. losing records Nikola JokicDEN9.613.9-4.3 Ben SimmonsPHI7.211.1-4.0 Russell WestbrookOKC7.911.1-3.2 Klay ThompsonGSW5.89.1-3.3 Enes KanterNYK5.99.7-3.9 Victor OladipoIND7.110.9-3.8 It’s like something you might have seen from an NBA star of the 1970s or 1980s — if only we’d had shot charts for players back then. Of course, this hasn’t stopped Simmons from being an extremely productive NBA player: He currently ranks 16th in the league in Win Shares and is tied for 14th in Value Over Replacement Player.But as SB Nation’s Matt Ellentuck pointed out a few weeks ago, Simmons’s unwillingness to shoot could be hampering Philly’s potential against better opponents. “In Simmons’ 11 career games against the Celtics,” Ellentuck wrote, “Boston has outscored Philly by 125 points in 402 minutes with him on the floor, according to StatMuse.” By comparison, that number was somehow 134 points worse than Embiid’s plus-minus against Boston in a comparable number of minutes.1The Celtics have their own problems, but they remain a talented group at full-strength, as well as an ever-present measuring stick for the Sixers after last year’s playoff series. Ellentuck went on to show a similar split for Simmons against other contenders (such as the Toronto Raptors), and more favorable splits against poor teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, although a lot of that is to be expected — obviously a good player on a good team will have a better plus-minus against bad teams than fellow good ones. PlayerTeamvs. .500+vs. <.500Diff Minimum 500 minutes played; 2019 DRE as of Jan. 15.Sources: hoopsstats, Nylon Calculus In addition to Curry, you can also see the maniacally stat-stuffing James Harden and even Curry’s own teammates Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson near the top of the list. So in itself, this isn’t necessarily an indicator of postseason limitations or of players who haven’t yet reached their full potential. But there’s a difference between players who are amazing against all kinds of teams (just playing extra-great against bad ones) and ones who feast on bad opponents in particular.Right now, Simmons is fitting into the latter category. He sees greatly reduced rates of scoring (from 19.2 points per 36 minutes to 15.5), shooting efficiency (from a 60.1 field goal percentage to 54.2) and foul-drawing (from 6.2 free throw attempts per 36 to 5.5) against winning clubs, along with an increase in turnovers (from 3.5 per 36 to 4.0). (Simmons’ rebounds and assists stay roughly stable between each level of competition.) These opponents are the ones best equipped to approach Simmons like Boston did in the playoffs last year, cutting off driving lanes and exploiting the reduced amount of space his shooting range requires them to defend.But there’s also evidence Simmons’s game is adapting in his second healthy season as a pro. According to Second Spectrum tracking data, his drives per game are down from 15.5 last season (sixth-most in the league) to 9.0 (54th-most), and his pick-and-roll ballhandling plays are down from 18.1 to 8.1 — largely due to the arrival of Butler, who commands 10.0 picks per game as a ballhandler and tries 8.6 drives per game. So while Simmons now gets the vast majority of his buckets in transition, which makes sense given his skill set, he’s also ramped up his workload in areas more closely linked to traditional big men, such as rolling off screens and posting up. And more importantly, he’s gradually been taking more jumpers over the past few weeks: In January (through Tuesday’s game), 14 percent of Simmons’s shots have come from outside 10 feet of the basket (with a field goal percentage of 29 percent), compared with only 11 percent of shots (and a 20 percent field goal percentage) in October through December.Simmons still has a lot of work to do in these new parts of his game, but he is at least showing some signs of developing a more diversified offensive profile. And the fact that he’s managed to increase his true shooting percentage and offensive efficiency somewhat significantly while doing so has to be encouraging for the Sixers in the grand scheme of Simmons’s evolution as a player. Although his shortcomings may still leave him vulnerable to good teams for now, that may not always be the case.Check out our latest NBA predictions.
After years of being just a student, senior Malcolm Branson was offered a walk-on spot with the OSU track team, and joined the Buckeyes in September. Branson was discovered by coaches after competing in the fastest-student race at halftime of the 2014 football Spring Game.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo EditorAbout a year ago, senior Malcolm Branson was racing against fellow students, including Ohio State football players, at halftime of the 2014 Spring Game at Ohio Stadium.Now, Branson is racing toward a new finish line.Just months after taking on then-OSU football player Doran Grant in the fastest-student race on April 12, 2014, Branson was contacted by OSU associate head track coach Rosalind Joseph to gauge his interest in trying out for the track program.“I was shocked if anything, and she said, ‘Do you wanna give it a try?’ And I said, ‘Yeah,’” Branson told The Lantern. “I definitely wanted a shot to be an athlete again. I had to jump on it.”Branson tried out in August, but didn’t exactly impress the coaches right away.Karen Dennis, the director of track and field and cross country at OSU, said she wasn’t sure if Branson was going to make an impact at all at first.“I didn’t know if he was going to be able to be a contributor or not,” Dennis said. “He just had no coordination in terms of just being more fluid with his running. He was extremely weak, but he kept coming every day.”Despite Dennis’ skepticism, Branson continued to show up at practice and tryouts, eventually winning Dennis over.“Every day I would say, ‘Malcolm, you’re back?’ Every day. I must have said that for months. And every day he would show back up,” Dennis said. “He has just made improvement in terms of getting stronger and learning sprinting mechanics, getting in the weight room and being able to increase his endurance for sprints.”After years of being just a student, Branson was offered a walk-on spot with the Buckeyes and joined the team in September.Branson said that while he was not offered an athletic scholarship, the decision to accept a walk-on position was pretty easy to make. He missed the competitiveness that he experienced while running track in Massillon Perry High School.“It’s definitely something I sat down and discussed with my family. Basically the decision was all mine and I thought it would be worth it to do it,” Branson said. “I love athletics more than anything. Regardless if it was track or any other sport, I just wanted the chance to be an athlete again.”Branson received his undergraduate degree in criminal justice in December, but continued to pay for classes beginning in the spring so he could continue to compete. He is now taking classes in psychology and plans to apply for jobs with law firms upon leaving OSU.But with the season currently in full swing, Dennis said Branson’s commitment to the OSU track team is unprecedented.“I’ve been doing this nearly 30 years, and I have never known anybody that committed and that impassioned about a sport,” Dennis said. “What he brings along with that is other people recognize his joy for just being a part of this team.”Branson said that while he greatly enjoys the competition, one of the things he has appreciated the most is the camaraderie with his teammates.“They are some of the best characters that I’ve met in my life. They are all funny,” Branson said. “We have a good time together, but we get serious when it’s time to handle business and that’s what I like most about us.”Dennis said even though Branson might have once been an afterthought among his teammates, he now pushes them to improve.One particular instance stands out in Dennis’ mind.“I think he even beat Tim Faust one time. That just surprised (Branson), but at the same time it gave Tim a sense of urgency to improve his own skills,” Dennis said.For comparison, Faust is a senior, a three-time second-team All-American and the 2013 Big Ten indoor champion in the 200 meter.As for the OSU track team as a whole, the Buckeyes are coming off a first-place finish in the All-Ohio championships.In that competition, Branson ran the 100m and finished fourth out of 20 participants with a time of 10.85 seconds. Faust finished first with a time of 10.75.With the outdoor season in full swing, Branson said the team goals are set high for his only season as a member of the Buckeye track program.“Win the outdoor Big Ten’s, for both men and women’s actually. The women are just coming off a indoor Big Ten championship, which is good,” Branson said. “Personal goal, I just really want to score some points for my team and help us win in any way I can.”The next event scheduled is the Virginia Challenge, set for Friday and Saturday in Charlottesville, Va.While the Buckeyes will be out of state, Dennis said that because of Branson’s emergence, she will be paying close attention to the second fastest-student competition set to take place at halftime of Saturday’s Spring Game.“We will look at the football 40 and the football players that run. We want to build our team,” Dennis said. “We want to build our men’s program; we want the best that are on our campus. Our door is open, come on out.”As for Branson, he said the past year has been a “blessing and a privilege,” and is trying to finish out his first and only year strong.“Things like this don’t happen this often, especially the way it happened. I am definitely thankful for coaches just reaching out to me,” he said. “I am thankful for the coaches having me on our team. I am thankful for the team welcoming me with open arms; those guys are the best.”
Class of 2019 four-star point guard Jeremiah Francis will not follow in the footsteps of his father, Jerry Francis, and go to Ohio State as he announced Friday he had accepted an offer to play basketball at the University of North Carolina. Jeremiah is ranked as the top prospect in the state of Ohio in the 2019 class by the 247Sports Composite rankings. The site also ranks the 6-foot-3, 190-pound point as the seventh-best at his position in the country and the 61st-best national player.He received an offer from UNC just nine days ago on Aug. 2, the 12th offer he had received from a school. Ohio State had offered him a scholarship on Feb. 18, 2017 during the Thad Matta era. He also paid Butler an unofficial visit on April 14 when now-Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was the head coach of the Bulldogs.Jeremiah’s father Jerry spent four seasons playing for the Buckeyes from 1985 to 1989. During his career, he totalled 1,486 points, placing him 20th on the all-time scoring leaders list.
Frontlines before and after the battle The impact of the men’s betrayal was serious enough to hamper the assault at the Battle of Cambrai, and in all likelihood led to an unknown number of additional casualties.Mr Taylor told BBC History Magazine: “Because Flesquières wasn’t taken, the cavalry couldn’t go through there, the key Bourlon ridge wasn’t taken on the first day, and the whole operation eventually ran out of steam.”It wasn’t the only setback, but the betrayal of information was key to the Germans being able to repel that attack.”Precisely which of the prisoners betrayed the British operation is unclear, as the German interrogation report does not identify individual informants. German troops inspect a Mark 1 tank after the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917Credit:Bundesarchiv The interrogation report, published in Deborah and the War of the Tanks, by historian John Taylor, notes: “A great animosity prevails towards England, with no interest whatever in her war aims. They [prisoners] say if an uprising takes place in Ireland, they would take up arms against England without more ado.”Adding to the sense of resentment was the fact that men from the Ulster Division had been stationed in No Man’s Land, to divert attention away from the elite 51st Highland Division and tanks massed just yards from the German lines ahead of the assault – leaving them vulnerable to eventual capture. The Ulster Division had been considered one of the most patriotic of the British Army, having grown out of the fiercely Loyalist Ulster Volunteers.But during three years of fighting its strength had been seriously depleted, forcing it to recruit not only from the British mainland, but from Catholic areas of Ireland sympathetic to the burgeoning independence movement.As a result German interrogators appeared to have had little difficulty extracting intelligence from at least some of the captured men. A great animosity prevails towards England, with no interest whatever in her war aims.German interrogation report Organised amid the utmost secrecy the assault on the French village of Flesquières should have been a key element in the first mass tank attack in history.But the plan went awry when the attack was ambushed by the Germans, who managed to delay the British advance.For years historians struggled to explain why the enemy had obtained enough detail of the operation to rush reinforcements to Flesquières ahead of the planned assault.Only now – nearly 100 years on – can it be revealed that the German high command was given notice of the attack by a group of captured British soldiers.The betrayal appears to have been the result of growing hostility to British rule in Ireland – so much so that it led members of the captured unit to reveal secret plans to their interrogators. The operation to breach the formidable German positions near the French town of Cambrai, known as the Hindenburg Line, relied on complete secrecy and involved using more than 350 tanks in a daring experiment, following a series of small scale tank engagements earlier in the conflict.However, in a twist of fate, just two days earlier – on November 18, 1917 – six soldiers from the 36th Ulster Division had been captured by the Germans during a trench raid. Four of the six captured members of the 36th Ulster Division, alongside two of their German captorsCredit:Deborah and the War of the Tanks/Pen & Sword Men of the 16th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles of the 36th Ulster Division moving to the front line on 20 November 1917Credit:Wikimedia Commons Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Two were Ulster Protestants, Corporal George Reginald Ball and and Private James Cope, and two others were English, north Londoner Sergeant William Harold Whitaker and Lance-Corporal Frederick Charles Rowe.But the captured unit also included two Irish Catholics, who Mr Taylor believes may have harboured resentment about the suppression of the Easter Rising by Irish nationalists the previous year.The book reveals that one was Private Neil McCauley, a 28-year-old council labourer from Londonderry, whose cousin had died at Gallipoli.The other was Private Laurence O’Brien, a 26-year-old from County Wicklow, in southern Ireland, who had been injured in the raid and had put up a fight to avoid being captured.“However angry some of the men were about the situation in Ireland, and about their thankless posting, it still seems extraordinary that they could have passed on such sensitive information to the enemy, knowing it would endanger the lives of their own friends and fellow countrymen,” said Mr Taylor. German soldiers with the remains of a British Tank knocked out by artillery fire during German counter attacks near Cambrai Credit:Popperfoto/Getty Images
The RSPCA have launched an investigation after a hedgehog was shot at close range and then had to be put down after suffering extensive and painful injuries.The young hedgehog was shot with an air rifle in South Lynn, Norfolk, and left paralysed and suffering alone for days after being shot.A woman found the wounded creature dragging her legs behind her on Sunday evening and notified the RSPCA.She picked her up and drove her down to their centre in East Winch. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “It’s a small pellet and the person must’ve been quite close in order to penetrate the skin. It’s just disgusting, and there is no reason why anyone should have done that.“The poor thing had probably been in pain dragging her legs around for a little while. It’s absolutely horrible… thank god that lady found her”.Although the hedgehog was found on Sunday, the RSPCA believes she must have been shot a few days previously.The RSPCA is asking for tighter controls on air guns, including better education when purchasing an air rifle. Credit:RSPCA A vet examined the hedgehog, suspecting a spine injury.When she was given an anaesthetic before an X-ray, staff found an air gun pellet embedded in her spine.“The pellet had damaged the vertebrae and the spine, leaving her paralysed,” Alison Charles, from the East Winch centre, told BuzzFeed.“It’s absolutely awful. We were just so upset – who on earth would shoot a hedgehog? It is also asking people who know anything about the incident to contact them with information, to help with the investigation. People who use an air gun to deliberately hurt an animal can face a £5,000 fine or six months in prison under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
More than four in 10 children have not visited an NHS dentist in the last year, according to new figures which reveal stark differences across the country.Experts said the official statistics were “alarming” with tooth decay now the most common reason for young children to be admitted to hospital.The official statistics reveal for the first time the areas where children are most and least likely to be have seen an NHS dentist in the last year.In Hackney, just 31 per cent of children had paid a visit, compared with 82 per cent in South Tyneside, the statistics from NHS Digital show. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. ‘It is appalling that in the 21st century, tooth decay remains the most common reason why children aged five to nine are admitted to hospital’Professor Nigel Hunt, Royal College of Surgeons Just four in ten children saw an NHS dentist in the last year, figures from NHS Digital show Credit:PA ‘This isn’t patient apathy, this is what you get when governments treat oral health as an optional extra’Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, British Dental Association “It is appalling that in the 21st century, tooth decay remains the most common reason why children aged five to nine are admitted to hospital. In some cases, these children undergo multiple tooth extractions under general anaesthetic – despite the fact that tooth decay is almost entirely preventable.Izzi Seccombe, from the Local Government Association, said the figures were “deeply worrying”.”Regular dentist trips can ensure tooth decay is tackled at an early stage, and avoid the need for far more invasive treatment in hospital later on,” she said.The statistics reflect visits to NHS dentists. Experts pointed out that in some areas- such as Kensington and Chelsea – low numbers of visits to NHS dentists might be because families were more likely to pay for treatment.Extractions were most common in South Tyneside and least common in Richmond upon Thames. The data also shows a 20 per cent rise in a year in fluoride varnish treatments for children. This is when a varnish is painted on to the teeth to strengthen the enamel, making it resistant to decay.Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, from the British Dental Association said: “When half of adults – and nearly five million children – fail to see the dentist, ministers have some very serious questions to answer.”This isn’t patient apathy, this is what you get when governments treat oral health as an optional extra. Effective prevention is impossible without regular check-ups, and to date ministers have been unwilling to get that message across.”Dr Sandra White, Director of Dental Public Health, Public Health England, said: “Tooth decay is a largely preventable disease that can lead to dental problems throughout life. For children, tooth decay can cause pain, problems with sleep, days off school and problems eating and socialising. Treatment can involve having teeth removed under general anaesthetic. “Parents and carers can help reduce dental decay by reducing the amount of sugary foods and drinks in their children’s diet and offering just milk and water to drink. Parents should supervise young children and encourage older children to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, especially before bed, and take them to the dentist regularly.” Professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the faculty of dental surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “There is nothing to smile about in these woeful statistics.”With the average five-year-old now eating their own weight in sugar each year, it is alarming that 42.1 per cent of children failed to visit an NHS dentist at all in the last year. NHS guidelines say children should visit a dentist every year, while adults should do so at least every two years.The figures show less than 49 per cent of adults did this in the last two years.