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Wikinews interviews Australian wheelchair basketball player Tina McKenzie

Friday, January 3, 2014

Preston, Victoria, Australia —On Saturday, Wikinews interviewed Tina McKenzie, a former member of the Australia women’s national wheelchair basketball team, known as the Gliders. McKenzie, a silver and bronze Paralympic medalist in wheelchair basketball, retired from the game after the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. Wikinews caught up with her in a cafe in the leafy Melbourne suburb of Preston.

Tina McKenzie: [The Spitfire Tournament in Canada] was a really good tournament actually. It was a tournament that I wish we’d actually gone back to more often.

((Wikinews)) Who plays in that one?

Tina McKenzie: It’s quite a large Canadian tournament, and so we went as the Gliders team. So we were trying to get as many international games as possible. ‘Cause that’s one of our problems really, to compete. It costs us so much money to for us to travel overseas and to compete internationally. And so we can compete against each other all the time within Australia but we really need to be able to…

((WN)) It’s not the same.

Tina McKenzie: No, it’s really not, so it’s really important to be able to get as a many international trips throughout the year to continue our improvement. Also see where all the other teams are at as well. But yes, Spitfire was good. We took quite a few new girls over there back then in 2005, leading into the World Cup in the Netherlands.

((WN)) Was that the one where you were the captain of the team, in 2005? Or was that a later one?

Tina McKenzie: No, I captained in 2010. So 2009, 2010 World Cup. And then I had a bit of some time off in 2011.

((WN)) The Gliders have never won the World Championship.

Tina McKenzie: We always seem to have just a little bit of a chill out at the World Cup. I don’t know why. It’s really strange occurrence, over the years. 2002 World Cup, we won bronze. Then in 2006 we ended up fourth. It was one of the worst World Cups we’ve played actually. And then in 2010 we just… I don’t know what happened. We just didn’t play as well as we thought we would. Came fourth. But you know what? Fired us up for the actual Paralympics. So the World Cup is… it’s good to be able to do well at the World Cup, to be placed, but it also means that you get a really good opportunity to know where you’re at in that two year gap between the Paralympics. So you can come back home and revisit what you need to do and, you know, where the team’s at. And all that sort of stuff.

((WN)) Unfortunately, they are talking about moving it so it will be on the year before the Paralympics.

Tina McKenzie: Oh really.

((WN)) The competition from the [FIFA] World Cup and all.

Tina McKenzie: Right. Well, that would be sad.

((WN)) But anyway, it is on next year, in June. In Toronto, and they are playing at the Maple Leaf Gardens?

Tina McKenzie: Okay. I don’t know where that is.

((WN)) I don’t know either!

Tina McKenzie: (laughs)

((WN)) We’ll find it. The team in Bangkok was pretty similar. There’s two — yourself and Amanda Carter — who have retired. Katie Hill wasn’t selected, but they had Kathleen O’Kelly-Kennedy back, so there was ten old players and only two new ones.

Tina McKenzie: Which is a good thing for the team. The new ones would have been Georgia [Inglis] and?

((WN)) Caitlin de Wit.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah… Shelley Cronau didn’t get in?

((WN)) No, she’s missed out again.

Tina McKenzie: Interesting.

((WN)) That doesn’t mean that she won’t make the team…

Tina McKenzie: You never know.

((WN)) You never know until they finally announce it.

Tina McKenzie: You never know what happens. Injuries happen leading into… all types of things and so… you never know what the selection is like.

((WN)) They said to me that they expected a couple of people to get sick in Bangkok. And they did.

Tina McKenzie: It’s pretty usual, yeah.

((WN)) They sort of budgeted for three players each from the men’s and women’s teams to be sick.

Tina McKenzie: Oh really? And that worked out?

((WN)) Yeah. I sort of took to counting the Gliders like sheep so I knew “Okay, we’ve only go ten, so who’s missing?”

Tina McKenzie: I heard Shelley got sick.

((WN)) She was sick the whole time. And Caitlin and Georgia were a bit off as well.

Tina McKenzie: It’s tough if you haven’t been to Asian countries as well, competing and…

((WN)) The change of diet affects some people.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah. I remember when we went to Korea and…

((WN)) When was that?

Tina McKenzie: Korea would have been qualifiers in two thousand and… just before China, so that would have been…

((WN)) 2007 or 2008?

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, 2007. Maybe late, no, it might have been early 2007. It was a qualifier for — Beijing, I think actually. Anyway, we went and played China, China and Japan. And it was a really tough tournament on some of our really new girls. They really struggled with the food. They struggled with the environment that we were in. It wasn’t a clean as what they normally exist in. A lot of them were very grumpy. (laughs) It’s really hard when you’re so used to being in such a routine, and you know what you want to eat, and you’re into a tournament and all of a sudden your stomach or your body can’t take the food and you’re just living off rice, and that’s not great for anyone.

((WN)) Yeah, well, the men are going to Seoul for their world championship, while the women go to Toronto. And of course the next Paralympics is in Rio.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, I know.

((WN)) It will be a very different climate and very different food.

Tina McKenzie: We all learn to adjust. I have over the years. I’ve been a vegetarian for the last thirteen years. Twelve years maybe. So you learn to actually take food with you. And you learn to adjust, knowing what environment you’re going in to, and what works for you. I have often carried around cans of red kidney beans. I know that I can put that in lettuce or in salad and get through with a bit of protein. And you know Sarah Stewart does a terrific job being a vegan, and managing the different areas and countries that we’ve been in to. Germany, for example, is highly dependent on the meat side of food, and I’m pretty sure I remember in Germany I lived on pasta and spaghetti. Tomato sauce. Yeah, that was it. (laughs) That’s alright. You just learn. I think its really hard for the new girls that come in to the team. It’s so overwhelming at the best of times anyway, and their nerves are really quite wracked I’d say, and that different travel environment is really hard. So I think the more experience they can get in traveling and playing internationally, the better off they’ll be for Rio.

((WN)) One of the things that struck me about the Australian team — I hadn’t seen the Gliders before London. It was an amazing experience seeing you guys come out on the court for the first time at the Marshmallow…

Tina McKenzie: (laughs)

((WN)) It was probably all old hat to you guys. You’d been practicing for months. Certainly since Sydney in July.

Tina McKenzie: It was pretty amazing, yeah. I think it doesn’t really matter how many Paralympics you actually do, being able to come out on that court, wherever it is, it’s never dull. It’s always an amazing experience, and you feel quite honored, and really proud to be there and it still gives you a tingle in your stomach. It’s not like “oh, off I go. Bored of this.”

((WN)) Especially that last night there at the North Greenwich Arena. There were thirteen thousand people there. They opened up some extra parts of the stadium. I could not even see the top rows. They were in darkness.

Tina McKenzie: It’s an amazing sport to come and watch, and its an amazing sport to play. It’s a good spectator sport I think. People should come and see especially the girls playing. It’s quite tough. And I was talking to someone yesterday and it was like “Oh I don’t know how you play that! You know, it’s so rough. You must get so hurt.” It’s great! Excellent, you know? Brilliant game that teaches you lots of strategies. And you can actually take all those strategies off the court and into your life as well. So it teaches you a lot of discipline, a lot of structure and… it’s a big thing. It’s not just about being on the court and throwing a ball around.

((WN)) When I saw you last you were in Sydney and you said you were moving down to Melbourne. Why was that?

Tina McKenzie: To move to Melbourne? My mum’s down here. And I lived here for sixteen years or something.

((WN)) I know you lived here for a long time, but you moved up to Sydney. Did your teacher’s degree up there.

Tina McKenzie: I moved to Sydney to go to uni, and Macquarie University were amazing in the support that they actually gave me. Being able to study and play basketball internationally, the scholarship really helped me out. And you know, it wasn’t just about the scholarship. It was.. Deidre Anderson was incredible. She’s actually from Melbourne as well, but her support emotionally and “How are you doing?” when she’d run into you and was always very good at reading people… where they’re at. She totally understands at the levels of playing at national level and international level and so it wasn’t just about Macquarie supporting me financially, it was about them supporting me the whole way through. And that was how I got through my degree, and was able to play at that level for such a long time.

((WN)) And you like teaching?

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, I do. Yeah, I do. I’m still waiting on my transfer at the moment from New South Wales to Victoria, but teaching’s good. It’s really nice to be able to spend some time with kids and I think its really important for kids to be actually around people with disabilities to actually normalize us a little bit and not be so profound about meeting someone that looks a little bit different. And if I can do that at a young age in primary school and let them see that life’s pretty normal for me, then I think that’s a really important lesson.

((WN)) You retired just after the Paralympics.

Tina McKenzie: I did. Yeah. Actually, it took me quite a long time to decide to do that. I actually traveled after London. So I backpacked around… I went to the USA and then to Europe. And I spent a lot of time traveling and seeing amazing new things, and spending time by myself, and reflecting on… So yes, I got to spend quite a bit of time reflecting on my career and where I wanted to go.

((WN)) Your basketball career or your teaching career?

Tina McKenzie: All the above. Yeah. Everything realistically. And I think it was a really important time for me to sort of decide sort of where I wanted to go in myself. I’d spent sixteen years with the Gliders. So that’s a long time to be around the Gliders apparently.

((WN)) When did you join them for the first time?

Tina McKenzie: I think it was ’89? No, no, no, sorry, no, no, no, ’98. We’ll say 1998. Yeah, 1998 was my first tournament, against USA. So we played USA up in New South Wales in the Energy Australia tour. So we traveled the coast. Played up at Terrigal. It was a pretty amazing experience, being my first time playing for Australia and it was just a friendly competition so… Long time ago. And that was leading into 2000, into the big Sydney Olympics. That was the beginning of an amazing journey realistically. But going back to why I retired, or thinking about retiring, I think when I came home I decided to spend a little bit more time with mum. Cause we’d actually lost my dad. He passed away two years ago. He got really sick after I came back from World Cup, in 2011, late 2010, he was really unwell, so I spent a lot of time down here. I actually had a couple of months off from the Gliders because I needed to deal with the family. And I think that it was really good to be able to get back and get on the team and… I love playing basketball but after being away, and I’ve done three Paralympics, I’ve been up for four campaigns, I think its time now to actually take a step backwards and… Well not backwards… take a step out of it and spend quality time with mum and quality time with people that have supported me throughout the years of me not being around home but floating back in and floating out again and its a really… it’s a nice time for me to be able to also take on my teaching career and trying to teach and train and work full time is really hard work and I think its also time for quite a few of the new girls to actually step up and we’ve got quite a few… You’ve got Caitlin, and you’ve got Katie and you’ve got Shelley and Georgia. There’s quite a few nice girls coming through that will fit really well into the team and it’s a great opportunity for me to go. It’s my time now. See where they go with that, and retire from the Gliders. It was a hard decision. Not an easy decision to retire. I definitely miss it. But I think now I’d rather focus on maybe helping out at the foundation level of starting recruitment and building up a recruiting side in Melbourne and getting new girls to come along and play basketball. People with… doesn’t even have to be girls but just trying to re-feed our foundation level of basketball, and if I can do that now I think that’s still giving towards the Gliders and Rollers eventually. That would be really nice. Just about re-focusing. I don’t want to completely leave basketball. I’d still like to be part of it. Looking to the development side of things and maybe have a little bit more input in that area would be really nice though. Give back the skills I’ve been taught over the years and be a bit of an educator in that area I think would be nice. It’s really hard when you’re at that international level to… you’re so time poor that it’s really hard to be able to focus on all that recruitment and be able to give out skill days when you’re actually trying to focus on improving yourself. So now I’ve got that time that I could actually do that. Be a little bit more involved in mentoring maybe, something like that. Yeah, that’s what I’d like to do.

((WN)) That would be good.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah! That would be great, actually. So I’ve just been put on the board of Disability Sport and Recreation, which is the old Wheelchair Sports Victoria. So that’s been a nice beginning move. Seeing where all the sports are at, and what we’re actually facilitating in Victoria, considering I’ve been away from Victoria for so long. It’s nice to know where they’re all at.

((WN)) Where are they all at?

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, dunno. They’re not very far at all. Victoria… I think Victoria is really struggling in the basketball world. Yeah, I think there’s a bit of a struggle. Back in the day… back in those old times, where Victoria would be running local comps. We’d have an A grade and a B grade on a Thursday night, and we’d have twelve teams in A grade and B grade playing wheelchair basketball. That’s a huge amount of people playing and when you started in B grade you’d be hoping that you came around and someone from A grade would ask you to come and play. So it was a really nice way to build your basketball skills up and get to know that community. And I think its really important to have a community, people that you actually feel comfortable and safe around. I don’t want to say it’s a community of disabled people. It’s actually…

((WN)) It’s not really because…

Tina McKenzie: Well, it’s not. The community’s massive. It’s not just someone being in a chair. You’ve got your referees, you’ve got people that are coming along to support you. And it’s a beautiful community. I always remember Liesl calling it a family, and it’s like a family so… and it’s not just Australia-based. It’s international. It’s quite incredible. It’s really lovely. But it’s about providing that community for new players to come through. And you know, not every player that comes through to play basketball wants to be a Paralympian. So its about actually providing sport, opportunities for people to be physically active. And if they do want to compete for Australia and they’re good enough, well then we support that. But I think it’s really hard in the female side of things. There’s not as many females with a disability.

((WN)) Yeah, they kept on pointing that out…

Tina McKenzie: It’s really hard, but I think one of the other things is that we also need to be able to get the sport out there into the general community. And it’s not just about having a disability, it’s about coming along and playing with your mate that might be classifiable or an ex-basketball player. Like I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and she’s six foot two…

((WN)) Sounds like a basketball player already.

Tina McKenzie: She’s been a basketball player, an AB basketball player for years. Grew up playing over in Adelaide, and her knee is so bad that she can’t run anymore, and she can’t cycle, but yet wants to be physically active, and I’m like “Oooh, you can come along and play wheelchair basketball” and she’s like “I didn’t even think that I could do that!” So it’s about promoting. It not that you actually have to be full time in the chair, or being someone with an amputation or other congenitals like a spinal disability, it’s wear and tear on people’s bodies and such.

((WN)) Something I noticed in the crowd in London. People seemed to think that they were in the chair all the time and were surprised when most of the Rollers got up out of their chairs at the end of the game.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah.

((WN)) Disability is a very complicated thing.

Tina McKenzie: It is, yeah.

((WN)) I was surprised myself at people who were always in a chair, but yet can wiggle their toes.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, it’s the preconceived thing, like if you see someone in a chair, a lot of people just think that nothing works, but in hindsight there are so many varying levels of disability. Some people don’t need to be in a chair all the time, sometimes they need to be in it occasionally. Yeah, it’s kind of a hard thing.

((WN)) Also talking to the classifiers and they mentioned the people playing [wheelchair] basketball who have no disability at all but are important to the different teams, that carry their bags and stuff.

Tina McKenzie: So important, yeah. It’s the support network and I think that when we started developing Women’s National League to start in 2000, one of the models that we took that off was the Canadian Women’s National League. They run an amazing national league with huge amounts of able bodied women coming in and playing it, and they travel all over Canada [playing] against each other and they do have a round robin in certain areas like our Women’s National League as well but it’s so popular over there that it’s hard to get on the team. They have a certain amount of women with disabilities and then other able bodied women that just want to come along and play because they see it as a really great sport. And that’s how we tried to model our Women’s National League off. It’s about getting many women just to play sport, realistically.

((WN)) Getting women to play sport, whether disabled or not, is another story. And there seems to be a reluctance amongst women to participate in sports, particularly sports that they regard as being men’s sports.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, a masculine sport.

((WN)) They would much rather play a sport that is a women’s sport.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, it’s really hard. I think it’s about just encouraging people, communicating, having a really nice welcoming, come and try day. We run a… like Sarah [Stewart] actually this yeah will be running the women’s festival of sport, which is on the 30th of January. And that’s an amazing tournament. That actually started from club championship days, where we used to run club championships. And then the club championships then used to feed in to our Women’s National League. Club championships used to about getting as many women to come along and play whether they’re AB or have a disability. It’s just about participation. It’ll be a really fun weekend. And it’s a pretty easy weekend for some of us.

((WN)) Where is it?

Tina McKenzie: Next year, in 2014, it’ll be January the 30th at Narrabeen. We hold it every year. And last year we got the goalball girls to come along and play. So we had half of the goalball girls come and play for the weekend and they had an absolute brilliant time. Finding young girls that are walking down the street that just want to come and play sport. Or they have a friend at high school that has a disability. And it’s just about having a nice weekend, meeting other people that have disabilities or not have disabilities and just playing together. It’s a brilliant weekend. And every year we always have new faces come along and we hope that those new faces stay around and enjoy the weekend. Because it’s no so highly competitive, it’s just about just playing. Like last year I brought three or four friends of mine, flew up from Melbourne, ABs, just to come along and play. It was really nice that I had the opportunity to play a game of basketball with the friends that I hang out with. Which was really nice. So the sport’s not just Paralympics.

((WN)) How does Victoria compare with New South Wales?

Tina McKenzie: Oh, that’s a thing to ask! (laughs) Look I think both states go in highs and lows, in different things. I think all the policies that have been changing in who’s supporting who and… like, Wheelchair Sports New South Wales do a good job at supporting the basketball community. Of course, there’s always a willingness for more money to come in but they run a fairly good support and so does the New South Wales Institute of Sport. It’s definitely gotten better since I first started up there. And then, it’s really hard to compare because both states do things very differently. Yeah, really differently and I always remember being in Victoria… I dunno when that was… in early 2000. New South Wales had an amazing program. It seemed so much more supportive than what we had down here in Victoria. But then even going to New South Wales and seeing the program that they have up there, it wasn’t as brilliant as… the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, cause there there good things and there were weren’t so great things about the both programs in Victoria and in New South Wales so… The VIS [Victorian Institute of Sport] do some great support with some of the athletes down here, and NSWIS [New South Wales Instituted of Sport] are building and improving and I know their program’s changed quite a lot now with Tom [Kyle] and Ben [Osborne] being involved with NSWIS so I can’t really give feedback on how that program’s running but in short I know that when NSWIS employed Ben Osborne to come along and actually coach us as a basketball individual and as in group sessions it was the best thing that they ever did. Like, it was so good to be able to have one coach to actually go and go we do an individual session or when are you running group sessions and it just helped me. It helped you train. It was just a really… it was beneficial. Whereas Victoria don’t have that at the moment. So both states struggle some days. I mean, back in 2000 Victoria had six or seven Gliders players, and then New South Wales had as many, and then it kind of does a big swap. It depends on what the state infrastructure is, what the support network is, and how local comps are running, how the national league’s running, and it’s about numbers. It’s all about numbers.

((WN)) At the moment you’ll notice a large contingent of Gliders from Western Australia.

Tina McKenzie: Yes, yes, I have seen that, yeah. And that’s good because its… what happens is, someone comes along in either state, or wherever it may be, and they’re hugely passionate about building and improving that side of things and they have the time to give to it, and that’s what’s happened in WA [Western Australia]. Which has been great. Ben Ettridge has been amazing, and so has John. And then in New South Wales you have Gerry driving that years ago. Gerry has always been a hugely passionate man about improving numbers, about participation, and individuals’ improvement, you know? So he’s been quite a passionate man about making sure people are improving individually. And you know, Gerry Hewson’s been quite a driver of wheelchair basketball in New South Wales. He’s been an important factor, I think.

((WN)) The news recently has been Basketball Australia taking over the running of things. The Gliders now have a full time coach.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, which is fantastic! That’s exciting. It’s a good professional move, you know? It’s nice to actually know that that’s what’s happening and I think that only will lead to improvement of all the girls, and the Gliders may go from one level up to the next level which is fantastic so… and Tom sounds like a great man so I really hope that he enjoys himself.

((WN)) I’m sure he is.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, I’ve done some work with Tom. He’s a good guy.

((WN)) Did you do some work with him?

Tina McKenzie: Ah, well, no, I just went up to Brisbane a couple of times and did some development days. Played in one of their Australia Day tournaments with some of the developing girls that they have. We did a day camp leading into that. Went and did a bit of mentoring I guess. And it was nice to do that with Tom. That was a long time before Tom… I guess Tom had just started on the men’s team back them. He was very passionate about improving everyone, which he still is.

((WN)) Watching the Gliders and the Rollers… with the Rollers, they can do it. With the Gliders… much more drama from the Gliders in London. For a time we didn’t even know if they were going to make the finals. Lost that game against Canada.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, that wasn’t a great game. No. It was pretty scary. But, you know, we always fight back. In true Gliders style. Seems to be… we don’t like to take the easy road, we like to take the hard road, sometimes.

((WN)) Apparently.

Tina McKenzie: It’s been a well-known thing. I don’t know why it is but it just seems to happen that way.

((WN)) You said you played over 100 [international] games. By our count there was 176 before you went to London, plus two games there makes 178 international caps. Which is more than some teams that you played against put together.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, I thought I’d be up to nearly 200. Look, I think it’s an amazing thing to have that many games under your belt and the experience that’s gained me throughout the years, and you’ve got to be proud about it. Proud that I stayed in there and competed with one of the best teams in the world. I always believed that the Gliders can be the best in the world but…

((WN)) You need to prove it.

Tina McKenzie: Need to get there. Just a bit extra.

((WN)) Before every game in London there was an announcement that at the World Championships and the Paralympics “they have never won”.

Tina McKenzie: No, no. I remember 2000 in Sydney, watching the girls play against Canada in 2000. Terrible game. Yet they were a brilliant team in 2000 as well. I think the Gliders have always had a great team. Just unfortunately, that last final game. We haven’t been able to get over that line yet.

((WN)) You were in the final game in 2004.

Tina McKenzie: Yep, never forget that. It was an amazing game.

((WN)) What was it like?

Tina McKenzie: I think we played our gold medal game against the USA the first game up. We knew that we had to beat USA that day, that morning. It was 8am in the morning, maybe 8:30 in the morning and it was one of the earliest games that we played and we’d been preparing for this game knowing that we had to beat USA to make sure that our crossovers would be okay, and knew that we’d sit in a really good position against the rest of the teams that we would most likely play. And I think that being my first ever Paralympic Games it was unforgettable. I think I’ll never, not forget it. The anticipation, adrenalin and excitement. And also being a little bit scared sometimes. It was really an amazing game. We did play really, really well. We beat America by maybe one point I think that day. So we played a tough, tough game. Then we went into the gold medal game… I just don’t think we had much left in our energy fuel. I think it was sort of… we knew that we had to get there but we just didn’t have enough to get over the line, and that was really unfortunate. And it was really sad. It was sad that we knew that we could actually beat America, but at the end of the day the best team wins.

((WN)) The best team on the court on the day.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, absolutely. And that can change any day. It depends where your team’s at. What the ethos is like. and so it’s… Yeah, I don’t think you can actually say that every team’s gonna be on top every day, and it’s not always going to be that way. I’m hoping the Gliders will put it all together and be able to take that way through and get that little gold medal. That would be really nice. Love to see that happen.

((WN)) I’d like to see that happen. I’d really like to see them win. In Toronto, apparently, because the Canadian men are not in the thing, the Canadians are going to be focusing on their women’s team. They apparently didn’t take their best team and their men were knocked out by Columbia or Mexico or something like that.

Tina McKenzie: Wow.

((WN)) And in the women’s competition there’s teams like Peru. But I remember in London that Gliders were wrong-footed by Brazil, a team that they had never faced before. Nearly lost that game.

Tina McKenzie: (laughs) Oh yes. Brazil were an unknown factor to us. So they were quite unknown. We’d done a bit of scouting but if you’ve never played someone before you get into an unknown situation. We knew that they’d be quite similar players to Mexico but you know what? Brazil had a great game. They had a brilliant game. We didn’t have a very good game at all. And it’s really hard going into a game that you know that you need to win unbeknown to what all these players can do. You can scout them as much as you want but it’s actually about being on court and playing them. That makes a huge difference. I think one of the things here in Australia is that we play each other so often. We play against each other so often in the Women’s National League. We know exactly what… I know that Shelley Chaplin is going to want to go right and close it up and Cobi Crispin is going to dive underneath the key and do a spin and get the ball. So you’ve actually… you know what these players want to do. I know that Kylie Gauci likes to double screen somewhere, and she’ll put it in, and its great to have that knowledge of what your players really like to do when you’re playing with them but going into a team like Brazil we knew a couple of the players, what they like to do but we had no idea what their speed was like or what their one-pointers were going to do. Who knows? So it was a bit of an unknown.

((WN)) They’ll definitely be an interesting side when it comes to Rio.

Tina McKenzie: I think they’ll be quite good. And that happened with China. I’ll always remember seeing China when we were in Korea for the first time and going “Wow, these girls can hardly move a chair” but some of them could shoot, and they went from being very fresh players to going into China as quite a substantial team, and then yet again step it up again in London. And they’re a good team. I think its really important as not to underestimate any team at a Paralympics or at a World Cup. I mean, Netherlands have done that to us over and over again.

((WN)) They’re a tough team too.

Tina McKenzie: They’re a really tough team and they’re really unpredictable sometimes. Sometimes when they’re on, they’re on. They’re tough. They’re really tough. And they’ve got a little bit of hunger in them now. Like, they’re really hungry to be the top team. And you can see that. And I remember seeing that in Germany, in Beijing.

((WN)) The Germans lost to the Americans in the final in Beijing.

Tina McKenzie: Yes. Yeah, they did.

((WN)) And between 2008 and 2012 all they talked about was the US, and a rematch against the US. But of course when it came to London, they didn’t face the US at all, because you guys knocked the US out of the competition.

Tina McKenzie: Yeah, we did. It was great. A great game that.

((WN)) You won by a point.

Tina McKenzie: Fantastic. Oh my God I came. Still gives me heart palpitations.

((WN)) It went down to a final shot. There was a chance that the Americans would win the thing with a shot after the siren. Well, a buzzer-beater.

Tina McKenzie: Tough game. Tough game. That’s why you go to the Paralympics. You have those tough, nail-biting games. You hope that at the end of the day that… Well, you always go in as a player knowing that you’ve done whatever you can do.

((WN)) Thankyou very much for this.

Tina McKenzie: That’s alright. No problems at all!

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Vandals deface family crypt of Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A woman in the tiny farming community of Saint-Rémi, Quebec, south of Montreal visited the local cemetery Saturday and received a rude shock. Graffitied on former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Eliott Trudeau’s family crypt were “FLQ“, the initials of the Front de libération du Québec and the French words for “traitor” and “bastard” in black spray-paint.

“It’s very sad,” said Pierre Sauriol, whose organization maintains the graveyard. “He made errors and good decisions like everyone, but he was one of the prime ministers of Canada, and he should rest in peace.”

Trudeau, who served as Canada’s prime minister from 1968-79 and again in 1980-84, was a controversial figure in the history of Quebec.

During the FLQ crisis in October 1970, Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act after a British diplomat, James Cross and a provincial cabinet minister, Pierre Laporte were kidnapped, leading to arrests of any individuals the police thought to be separatists, and to their detentions without bail. Laporte was later strangled to death by the FLQ.

Trudeau, who died in September 2000, is entombed in the grey-stone mausoleum with his parents and 11 other family members.

Mr. Sauriol said this was the first time vandals have left their mark on the crypt.

Police believe the tomb was vandalized sometime on Friday night or early Saturday morning.

The Trudeau crypt, which stands taller than any monument in the cemetery, was cordened off Saturday using orange police tape tied to tombstones.

Provincial police are searching the area in the hope of finding any clues. They have also measured and taken photos of the graffiti, which was applied to every wall of the structure. The letters “FLQ” on the front of the crypt covered a pair of names on a plaque posted by the door. As of now, there have been no arrests or suspects.

The crypt is located a few metres from a major road and many residents from the town of 6,000 slowed to see the damage as they passed by in their vehicles.

Trudeau’s family could not be reached for comment but the head of a prominent nationalist group gave his opinion on the matter, calling the vandalism “extremely deplorable.”

“It isn’t acceptable,” said Jean Dorion of the Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montreal. “Of course we disagree with the Constitution that has been imposed forcibly on Quebec – this is not acceptable. But it’s not a reason to desecrate a burial place.”

Environment Minister John Baird, who is responsible for Parks Canada, said in a statement that his department would remove the offensive graffiti.

“It is important to protect the historic resting places of former prime ministers, and these places should at all times be given the respect and honour they deserve,” Baird said.

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US ‘Black Friday’ shoppers gather hours, even days before some stores’ openings

Friday, November 29, 2013

With the US retail tradition of ‘Black Friday’ already underway early Thursday evening, some shoppers began gathering outside retail stores as much as 53 hours prior to these special sales events. This, according to a Texas man who told Wikinews that he and his companions had started gathering at their local Best Buy store at 1:00pm on Tuesday, awaiting the 6:00pm Thursday opening. Target retail stores opened across the country at 8pm (local time) on Thursday evening. At 8:45pm Thursday evening, approximately 500 cars were parked at the Target store in Tyler, Texas.

At least four camping tents were set up outside the Best Buy store in the Dallas, Texas area, during pre-dawn hours on Thanksgiving morning. Years ago, it was seen as something special for retail stores to open at 6am on the so-called ‘Black Friday’ following Thanksgiving Day; that time would be considered “late” by modern standards. Many retailers use barricades to organize those who gather at their storefronts. For the first time ever, a shopping mall in Las Cruces, New Mexico will open at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day and will remain open for 25 consecutive hours, closing at 9pm Friday evening.

In recent years, several significant injuries have occurred during the melee that often ensued when stores opened their doors for Black Friday events. In 2011, a woman shot pepper spray at 20 people who were waiting to purchase the newest Xbox system.

Oil leaking container ship might cause environmental catastrophe

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Oil leaking container ship might cause environmental catastrophe
Author:

25 Oct

Sunday, January 21, 2007

In the United Kingdom, an anti-pollution operation is under way after the stricken ship MSC Napoli started to leak dangerous heavy fuel oil.

The heavy fuel oil that is leaking from the beached Italian ship is extremely dangerous for the environment. Fear of pollution increased after the ship was further damaged during storms last Thursday. MSC Napoli was beached by Devon coastguards after it suffered heavy structual damage in the gale force storms of Thursday, 18 January 2007, that wreaked havoc across Northern Europe. The ship, which contains 160 containers of hazardous chemical substances, is listing at 35 degrees.

The entire 26-man crew was rescued by navy helicopters Thursday after severe gales. Cracks were found on both sides of the ship, but the current oil leak was not expected.

Around 2,400 containers were carried by the 62,000 tonne ship, some of which contain potentially dangerous hazardous chemicals.

The Coastguards have reported that up to 200 of the containers carrying materials such as perfume and battery acid are loose from the ship and they are looking for missing containers. South African stainless steel producer Columbus Stainless confirmed on Friday that there was at least 1,000 tonnes of nickel on board MSC Napoli.

A hole in the ship flooded the engine room and there’s now fears that the ship will break up. Saturday MSC Napoli was towed to Portland when a ”structural failure” forced the salvage team to beach it. As the storms have continued MSC Napoli has been further damaged.

The authorities have warned people about the pollution, which already has reached the beaches at Devon, but many want to see it on their own. Police have closed Branscombe Beach as more than 20 containers have broken up scattering their contents along the beach.

Sky News reported Sunday that the costs of the accident might be very high as thousands of pounds worth of BMW motorbikes, car parts, empty oak barrels and perfume might get lost in flooding containers.

Wikinews interviews Frank McEnulty, independent candidate for US President

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Wikinews interviews Frank McEnulty, independent candidate for US President
Author:

25 Oct

Saturday, February 16, 2008

While nearly all cover of the 2008 Presidential election has focused on the Democratic and Republican candidates, there are small political parties offering candidates, and those who choose to run without a party behind them, independents.

Wikinews is interviewing some of these citizens who are looking to become the 43rd person elected to serve their nation from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

First off is Long Beach, California’s Frank McEnulty (b. 1956), a married father of two with an MBA (Venture Management) and BS (Accounting/Finance).

Oakland, California record release party catches fire

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Oakland, California record release party catches fire
Author:

25 Oct

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A fire broke out at a record release party in Oakland, California late on Friday night. Nine were confirmed dead the following morning with the death toll rising to 24 the next day.

The warehouse, known as Ghost Ship, was hosting a party for the release of the newest album by Joel “Golden Donna” Shanahan. It is in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, a mix of commercial and residential buildings nestled together. The structure is one block away from Fire Station No. 13 and at least 55 firefighters spent four hours containing and stopping the fire which began at approximately 11:30 p.m.

Firefighters and police cordoned off the block to spectators. The two-story, mixed-use structure also housed the artist collective Satya Yuga who hosted the show and is being searched by firefighters. Out of approximately 50 attendees, at least 25 were declared missing. Shanahan was among the survivors.

Efforts to rescue partygoers were compounded by the roof caving in during the inferno as well as the stacks of furniture, art pieces, and supplies which turned into obstacles for first responders.

Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf:

Quote

Last night’s fire was an immense tragedy. I am grateful to our first responders for their efforts to deal with this deadly fire. Our focus right now is on the victims and their families and ensuring that we have a full accounting for everyone who was impacted by this tragedy. We are fully committed to sharing as much information as we can as quickly as possible.

The structure is owned by Chor N. Ng, who is also the proprietor of several other buildings in the East Bay. On November 13 Ng was cited by the city for having stacks of garbage in and around the warehouse. Most fatalities were reported to have occurred in the upstairs portion of the building where escape was hampered by unstable stairs and miscellaneous art pieces lying in the way. The building lacked any smoke detectors and sprinklers; fire extinguishers were found outside of the premises.

Rapper Kanye West denounces Bush response, American media at hurricane relief telethon

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Rapper Kanye West denounces Bush response, American media at hurricane relief telethon
Author:

24 Oct

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Grammy award-winning rapper/producer Kanye West appeared on a live on-air telethon simulcast on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and PAX for Hurricane Katrina victims. Live on air, West said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” after saying “America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible.” He also said “the Red Cross is doing everything they can,” and stated that he was going to see what the maximum amount of money he can donate is. West criticized government authorities and stated that “They’ve given them permission to go down and shoot us.”

West first deviated from the script he and comedian Mike Myers were using by commenting on the recent uproar over differently captioned photos for black and white people in the aftermath of the hurricane: “I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they’re looting. See a white family, it says they’re looking for food.”

Though a several-second delay was in place, the comments were let through uncensored on the EST live broadcast as the person in charge “was instructed to listen for a curse word, and didn’t realize he had gone off-script,” according to an NBC spokeswoman.

NBC has released a statement after the broadcast: “Tonight’s telecast was a live television event wrought with emotion. Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks. It would be most unfortunate if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person’s opinion.”

The sponsor of the event, the American Red Cross, also issued a statement on the telethon, stating: “During the telecast, a controversial comment was made by one of the celebrities. We would like the American public to know that our support is unwavering, regardless of political circumstances. We are a neutral and impartial organization, and support disaster victims across the country regardless of race, class, color or creed.”

BDSM as business: An interview with the owners of a dungeon

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BDSM as business: An interview with the owners of a dungeon
Author:

18 Oct

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Torture proliferates American headlines today: whether its use is defensible in certain contexts and the morality of the practice. Wikinews reporter David Shankbone was curious about torture in American popular culture. This is the first of a two part series examining the BDSM business. This interview focuses on the owners of a dungeon, what they charge, what the clients are like and how they handle their needs.

When Shankbone rings the bell of “HC & Co.” he has no idea what to expect. A BDSM (Bondage Discipline Sadism Masochism) dungeon is a legal enterprise in New York City, and there are more than a few businesses that cater to a clientèle that wants an enema, a spanking, to be dressed like a baby or to wear women’s clothing. Shankbone went to find out what these businesses are like, who runs them, who works at them, and who frequents them. He spent three hours one night in what is considered one of the more upscale establishments in Manhattan, Rebecca’s Hidden Chamber, where according to The Village Voice, “you can take your girlfriend or wife, and have them treated with respect—unless they hope to be treated with something other than respect!”

When Shankbone arrived on the sixth floor of a midtown office building, the elevator opened up to a hallway where a smiling Rebecca greeted him. She is a beautiful forty-ish Long Island mother of three who is dressed in smart black pants and a black turtleneck that reaches up to her blond-streaked hair pulled back in a bushy ponytail. “Are you David Shankbone? We’re so excited to meet you!” she says, and leads him down the hall to a living room area with a sofa, a television playing an action-thriller, an open supply cabinet stocked with enema kits, and her husband Bill sitting at the computer trying to find where the re-release of Blade Runner is playing at the local theater. “I don’t like that movie,” says Rebecca.

Perhaps the most poignant moment came at the end of the night when Shankbone was waiting to be escorted out (to avoid running into a client). Rebecca came into the room and sat on the sofa. “You know, a lot of people out there would like to see me burn for what I do,” she says. Rebecca is a woman who has faced challenges in her life, and dealt with them the best she could given her circumstances. She sees herself as providing a service to people who have needs, no matter how debauched the outside world deems them. They sat talking mutual challenges they have faced and politics (she’s supporting Hillary); Rebecca reflected upon the irony that many of the people who supported the torture at Abu Ghraib would want her closed down. It was in this conversation that Shankbone saw that humanity can be found anywhere, including in places that appear on the surface to cater to the inhumanity some people in our society feel towards themselves, or others.

“The best way to describe it,” says Bill, “is if you had a kink, and you had a wife and you had two kids, and every time you had sex with your wife it just didn’t hit the nail on the head. What would you do about it? How would you handle it? You might go through life feeling unfulfilled. Or you might say, ‘No, my kink is I really need to dress in women’s clothing.’ We’re that outlet. We’re not the evil devil out here, plucking people off the street, keeping them chained up for days on end.”

Below is David Shankbone’s interview with Bill & Rebecca, owners of Rebecca’s Hidden Chamber, a BDSM dungeon.

Contents

  • 1 Meet Bill & Rebecca, owners of a BDSM dungeon
    • 1.1 Their home life
  • 2 Operating the business
    • 2.1 The costs
    • 2.2 Hiring employees
    • 2.3 The prices
  • 3 The clients
    • 3.1 What happens when a client walks through the door
    • 3.2 Motivations of the clients
    • 3.3 Typical requests
    • 3.4 What is not typical
  • 4 The environment
    • 4.1 Is an S&M dungeon dangerous?
    • 4.2 On S&M burnout
  • 5 Criticism of BDSM
  • 6 Related news
  • 7 External links
  • 8 Sources

Navy helping New Orleans pets

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Navy helping New Orleans pets
Author:

17 Oct

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Spanish word “tortuga” means “turtle.” But in the wake of the New Orleans disaster, the USS Tortuga is helping other animals.

For nearly two weeks now, sailors from Tortuga’s repair division have devoted much of their time during this disaster relief operation to ensure the health and comfort of displaced pets.

September 4th, just after the ship moored to a pier at Naval Support Activity (NSA) New Orleans, HT1(SW) Mark Hanley and DC1(SW) Antony Graves gathered materials from the repair shop on board to construct a kennel along the levee. The facility they made soon became a popular shelter for the homeless animals of the storm.

Tortuga’s search and rescue team brought aboard more than 170 displaced citizens during this past week, providing them with food, water, medical aid and a place to sleep.

Tortuga’s makeshift kennel, named ‘Camp Milo & Otis,’ has housed as many as 90 dogs, eight cats, one rabbit, one guinea pig, a pair of parakeets and a flightless pigeon during the past week of operation.

Currently, there are 14 dogs that remain in Tortuga’s care, as many of the other pets have been taken to animal shelters in the area for extra medical attention, or been claimed by their owners upon arrival to Tortuga. The pets that Tortuga has registered have all been in the hands of professional veterinarians assigned to provide expert medical attention to the members of Camp Milo & Otis.

Dr. Kelly Crowdis and Dr. Latina Gambles, both from Tuskegee University and Christian Veterinary Missions, have treated many of the pets for infection, dehydration, malnourishment and broken bones at the Camp during the past week.

“The animals were bathed and assessed before physical interaction with the sailors,” said Dr. Crowdis. “They’ve been given immunizations, antibiotics and medications based on their medical needs.”

Dr. Crowdis added, “What these sailors have done on their own has been such a heart-warming thing. As an animal lover, it is so comforting to know that everyone cares about the animals in addition to the human lives rescued from the storm. I’m very pleased with these guys for taking the initiative to construct this kennel.”

Graves, Hanley and other members of their division have consistently bathed, fed, walked and given special attention to every dog, every day.

“We play with them,” said Hanley. “We take them out of their kennels to give them attention every day. And we’ll continue to do that for as long as our ship’s mission keeps us here.”

September 11th, the Agricultural Center at Louisiana State University donated supplies to “Camp Milo & Otis” in support of Tortuga’s efforts to help the animal victims.

”We got medical supplies, bowls, food, cages, leashes, collars, toys, cat litter and cleaning supplies from these people yesterday,” said Graves. “It’s nice to know that so many people out there have heard about what our ship is doing, and responded by donating so much to support us the best they can.”

A photo gallery of unclaimed pets is on the USS Tortuga’s web site.

As part of disaster plans, the Department of Homeland Security has also deployed Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams to provide medical care to pets and livestock, as well as provide any needed veterinary medical care for search and rescue dogs.

There are over 3,850 animals being sheltered around the state. If someone is looking for a pet they should contact their nearest Humane Society or go online to http://www.petfinder.org// . More information is also available at http://www.vetmed.lsu.edu//.

Whoopi Goldberg to take Rosie O’Donnell’s spot on ‘The View’

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Whoopi Goldberg to take Rosie O’Donnell’s spot on ‘The View’
Author:

6 Oct

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Actress, Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award winner, Whoopi Goldberg will be taking Rosie O’Donnell’s place as co-host of The View.

It was confirmed by the shows host Barbara Walters on Wednesday’s show who said that Goldberg will begin to co-host on September 4, the shows season premiere. Shortly after the announcement, Goldberg made an appearance on the show.

“I love this show! I love coming on it. I love hanging out with you guys,” said Goldberg who also said that she does not plan to have a feud with any of the other co-hosts.

“Who knows? Anybody could say ‘I don’t like her.’ That’s OK. I just won’t come to your home,” added Goldberg.

When O’Donnell co-hosted The View, she sparked a feud with Donald Trump after O’Donnell called Trump a “pimp” in her personal blog by saying that Trump “has no right to be the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America.”

Goldberg has starred in such films as The Color Purple (1985), Ghost (1990) and Sister Act One and Two (1992 & 1993)