Kelvin Sampson, the former coach of Indiana, has taken over as interim Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale, who took a leave of absence on Saturday to deal with a family matter.Sampson said McHale called him Saturday afternoon and asked him to coach the team.”Hopefully whatever the family matter is, it gets taken care of,” Sampson said. ”That’s the most important thing.”There is no timetable for the return of the second-year coach and Hall of Fame player.Rockets general manager Daryl Morey didn’t provide any further details on the specifics of the situation, but expressed his concern for McHale.”Kevin is a devoted family man who is needed back home in Minnesota at the moment,” Morey said. ”The Rockets organization will keep Kevin and his family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”Sampson said he addressed the players in a film session Saturday afternoon and that he hopes they can use this setback as a positive.”Oftentimes in life we have things happen to us, and we have to make decisions on how we’re going to react to them,” Sampson said. ”This is one of those times. We lost our leader. I think we can use this as a catalyst to bring us together and fight for him.”Sampson was thinking more about McHale than worrying about his task of coaching Houston against the Pistons before Saturday night’s game. He said the fact that there weren’t high expectations for the Rockets entering this season makes stepping in easier.”I don’t think it’s that challenging,” he said. ”We have a young team and we have a new team. I think it would be a lot more challenging if we were … the No. 1 ranked team in the league. That might be a little more challenging. We’re still growing.”Sampson is in his second season with the Rockets after spending three years as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks.
TeamThenNowDiff.ThenNowDiff.ThenNowDiff. Japan5638-183226-663-3 China3257+251017+7110 How the odds have changedOdds of advancing in the Women’s World Cup before the tournament started and after the group stage Norway3534-11313021-1 Italy14%43%+293%10%+70%0%0 France8077-35440-142019-1 Cameroon316+1314+3000 England6584+194150+9109-2 Spain3922-17147-6220 Germany7291+193552+171115+4 Nigeria129-332-1000 Australia6566+13133+275-2 Make QuartersMake SemifinalsWin World Cup Below the top three, it’s a bit of a crapshoot. England won all of its group-stage matches but is scoring less than xG suggests it should be. And it will have to contend with a Cameroon side that advanced to the knockout stages in dramatic fashion on Thursday thanks to a stoppage time goal from forward Ajara Nchout. The Netherlands won all of its group-stage matches and is the current European champion, but the Dutch are scoring more goals than xG suggest they should be and will have to beat a Japanese team that has underperformed so far.Australia’s World Cup has been a bit of a mixed bag, but the Matildas boast one of the best players in the world in Kerr. Canada has Christine Sinclair — who’s just two goals shy of tying Abby Wambach’s all-time international goal-scoring record — but it has to beat a very strong Sweden side next. All of this indicates that this tournament has already lived up to its billing as the most competitive in Women’s World Cup history, and we expect more of the same going forward.Still, the marquee potential matchup remains the U.S. vs. France next Friday. If both teams do what’s expected of them in the round of 16, the eventual World Cup champion might be decided by a quarterfinal at the Parc des Princes in Paris next week.Check out our latest Women’s World Cup predictions. USA7178+7464601824+6 Netherlands4762+152847+1979+2 Canada4359+152529+467+1 Brazil5323-29227-1642-2 Sweden5141-102217-443-1 The U.S. women’s national team faced its most difficult test at this World Cup so far in its match Thursday against Sweden, and it wasn’t much of a test at all. The 2-0 scoreline doesn’t reflect it, but the Americans dominated the Swedes from the first whistle to the last. They possessed the ball 61 percent of the match and created 13 scoring chances.1According to data from Opta Sports. Sweden, on the other hand, created just four chances and rarely looked threatening otherwise.Judging the U.S. women’s probability of winning the World Cup after their first two matches was tricky. They obliterated newcomers Thailand 13-0 and then handily swept Chile to the side 3-0, but neither opponent was expected to advance beyond the group stage, let alone make a run. The Americans were always favored to win those matches with ease. But Sweden entered the tournament with a chance — albeit a small one — of winning the whole thing, and the team has been a thorn in the USWNT’s side in the past.Blowouts in the first two matches didn’t say much about what the USWNT is capable of against top competition (although Norway, which won the World Cup in 1995, proved that blowout wins in the group stage can be a good omen). But the assertive performance against Sweden proved that the USWNT is ready for all comers.2Swedish coach Peter Gerhardsson rested some starters, notably defender Nilla Fischer.Having finished atop Group F, the Americans will play Group B second-place finishers Spain in the round of 16. The FiveThirtyEight model gives the Spanish a 22 percent chance of beating the Americans and advancing to the quarterfinals. Spain’s defense has been stingy — it has conceded just two goals in three group-stage matches — but the team has struggled to find the back of the net. The Spanish are scoring just one goal per 90 minutes — 1.2 goals fewer than their expected goals (xG) tally suggests they should be scoring.The upside for the Spanish: They are creating chances. The downside: They’ll be going up against an American side that hasn’t given up a goal and has conceded exactly zero big chances in their first three matches, according to data from Opta Sports. If Spain hopes to pull off the upset of the tournament, Jennifer Hermoso will have to capitalize on whatever chances she gets. The forward scored twice in the group stage, but her mark of 0.67 goals per 90 minutes is below what xG suggests she should have. If Hermoso can’t cash in, the Americans will probably advance to the quarterfinals.The USWNT’s likely opponent in the quarterfinals is host nation France. Les Bleues won all three of their group-stage matches — although one of those wins came as the result of a *cough* controversial VAR decision *cough* that gave star defender Wendie Renard two shots at scoring from the penalty spot against Nigeria — and the FiveThirtyEight model gives them a 77 percent chance of beating Brazil in the round of 16.But France might have preferred an opponent that didn’t include Marta. At 33, the Seleção legend is decidedly past her prime. But she’s the all-time leading goal scorer in the history of the World Cup — men’s or women’s — for a reason, and she’s still capable of inspiring awe. And Magic Marta isn’t alone: Brazil forward Cristiane Roziera has four goals at this World Cup, which places her one behind Australia’s Sam Kerr and the U.S.’s Alex Morgan in the race for the Golden Boot. If Cristiane draws level with — or overtakes — Kerr and Morgan, the quarterfinal match everyone is anticipating might not even happen. That said, Brazil has to be the least happy of any team with its draw. According to our model, its odds of making the quarters dropped by 29 percentage points, the most of any team remaining.The Americans and the French might be the two most likely teams to win the tournament, but that doesn’t mean anyone should sleep on Germany. The Germans won all of their group-stage matches with relative ease and, along with the Americans, conceded the third-fewest shots on goal per 90 minutes. Not coincidentally, the Germans, like the Americans, didn’t concede a goal in the group stage. Our model gives them a 91 percent chance of beating Nigeria to advance to the quarterfinals and the third-best chance of winning the tournament.Indeed, the group stage didn’t end up telling us a whole lot that we didn’t know entering the World Cup. The top of our model looks a lot like it did before the tournament began. On June 7, it gave France the best chances of winning, the U.S. the second-best and Germany the third-best. France and the U.S. have since flip-flopped — the U.S. chances to win jumped from 18 percent to 24 percent, while the French chances to win fell to 19 percent from 20 percent. Germany’s chances to win jumped from 11 percent to 15 percent, but its chances to advance to the quarterfinals jumped by an astounding 19 percentage points to 91 percent.
SA2008-1115Kawhi Leonard17.027.4 DET1994-973Grant Hill18.126.3 Despite those odds, plenty of teams manage to look smart in the draft every year. The Warriors themselves had a terrific series of drafts between 2009 and 2012, when they picked up Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in rapid succession. That group generated about 25 more points of VORP than they should have based on where they were picked, giving Golden State one of the shrewdest four-year stretches of drafts in the lottery era: DET1985-8827Dennis Rodman12.828.6 NO2002-054Chris Paul24.728.4 CLE1985-887Kevin Johnson12.934.7 Early in the draft, the curve is steep. The average No. 2 pick is worth only about 80 percent as many VORP in his first five seasons as the average No. 1, and players only get less valuable from there. Each additional pick produces a lot less than the slot before, emphasizing how costly every random tumble in the lottery can be.But let’s say our theoretical team gets its hands on a collection of valuable draft picks. What are the odds that it will take the right player at each slot? According to my research, there’s about a 70 percent chance that a team won’t take the best player available with any given pick at or near the top of the draft. Of course, the haul is still usually decent even if a team doesn’t nail its pick perfectly — but at the same time, “decent” doesn’t really help build a Warriors-killer.VIDEO: Why the No. 1 pick is such a valuable crapshoot Only at the most extreme edge of young talent, where the sample of historical examples is limited, do we see the potential upside usually associated with a group of highly drafted prospects playing together. (Think of the 2009-10 Oklahoma City Thunder, one of the greatest collections of pure talent ever assembled, coalescing into an NBA finalist within a few seasons.) Short of that, it’s tough to improve more than normal reversion to the mean would predict by simply stocking up on a bunch of kids with raw draft pedigree. Future stardom is unpredictable (again, see teams’ lack of consistency in getting better-than-average return on picks), and young players in particular tend to amplify one another’s flaws when playing together.But if our hypothetical Warriors-killer does manage to survive the lottery, make the right picks in the draft, get those prospects on the court together and then max out their potential, the model predicts the upper bound for its eventual peak Elo would be 1762. That’s roughly where the Warriors will be starting from next season (after reverting their final 2016-17 rating to the mean), and it’s also roughly the same Elo carried at season’s end by the 2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers — not coincidentally, the last team to unseat the Warriors in the playoffs.A lot has to go right to get to that point, and most teams who travel down that path will fall short. But the Warriors will also feel the tug of parity soon — however gently — and at the same time, some team will eventually clear all the hurdles and build the challenger to Golden State’s throne. There’s a decent chance that journey starts in Brooklyn tonight, at the draft. * Value Over Replacement Player. Based on draftees’ first five NBA seasons, versus the average expected VORP for the slot where each player was picked. Players who were traded at the draft are assigned to the team that acquired them.Source: Basketball-Reference.com LAL1993-9610Eddie Jones14.027.8 In the age of superteams and super-duper teams,1Whether today’s stars want to admit such things exist or not. the Golden State Warriors built the ultimate doomsday machine when they added Kevin Durant in free agency last summer. Winning a championship this year seemed — and ultimately was — inevitable. But before KD put pen to paper, Golden State had captured one title and set the all-time wins record. And it was done with a roster largely built through the draft. The Warriors were the poster children for how to build a team through savvy scouting and player development, not reckless spending.Likewise, we can make a pretty good guess that the team that one day unseats Golden State will not be a creaky monument to Russian oligarchy, but rather more organic. So on draft day, let’s imagine how a team might build through the draft, stockpiling young talent and maxing out their collective potential. Could such a team rise to the Warriors’ level? Maybe. But everything would have to go right for our team, from lucking out in the lottery to nailing its picks and then developing them into stars. In other words, to beat the Warriors, you have to do what the Warriors did.First things first: It isn’t easy to jam-pack a roster with a bunch of promising young players. Even an aggressive tanking effort like Sam Hinkie’s “Process” in Philadelphia can’t guarantee that the lottery balls will fall the way they’re expected to. Indeed, the Sixers under Hinkie suffered below-average lottery luck. Meanwhile, other teams can always swoop in and snag the top pick (think the Cavaliers). Although Philly still managed to draft some high picks over the years — including, finally, a No. 1 choice in Ben Simmons last year — it didn’t get as much out of the draft as its fans might have expected when the Process began.And because the value of a pick diminishes so rapidly from No. 1 down, any unfavorable bounce in the lottery could derail our imaginary rebuild before it begins. Here’s the expected value for each pick slot — as measured by players’ Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) over the course of their first five NBA seasons — since the lottery era began in 1985: BEST PICK TOR1997-009Tracy McGrady13.526.1 And this methodology probably underrates the drafting job done by former Warriors general manager Larry Riley — and his replacement, Bob Myers, who made the team’s best pick when he drafted Draymond Green 35th overall in 2012 — since it looks at only the first five seasons of a player’s career. Curry, for instance, didn’t reach his full game-breaking potential until his sixth season in the league.But just as studies have found in other sports (most notably the NFL), there isn’t much consistent skill to making better-than-average picks in the NBA draft. The correlation between a team’s per-pick return on investment2As measured by VORP over expectation for each draft slot. in one three-year period and the next is only 0.014 — a practically nonexistent relationship.3I used three years because that’s about half the reasonable lifespan of an NBA GM gig. Even the Warriors picked big-man bust Ekpe Udoh sixth overall in between the first rounds in which they snapped up Curry and Thompson.With all these factors stacked against teams built around touted draft picks, it’s no wonder they have a spotty record of converting potential to results. Using the same method of evaluating talent bases as my colleague Kyle Wagner and I created for this story about the Minnesota Timberwolves, I measured how many highly drafted young players each team4Going back to the start of the NBA’s modern expansion wave in 1988-89. had on its roster at the same time. I then built a model using that data to predict how a team might fare over the next five seasons based on its young talent. For most teams in recent history, it’s tough to see much of a relationship between young talent and how much the team’s Elo rating5Essentially, FiveThirtyEight’s way of measuring how well a team is playing. improved, above and beyond what we’d simply expect from ordinary reversion to the mean.To show this, let’s give our team a starting Elo of 1400, basically where the Warriors themselves were after the 2011-12 season. Here’s what that model would predict its peak Elo to be over the next five seasons, depending on how much young talent it currently has: CLE2002-051LeBron James27.429.5 TEAMDRAFTSPICKPLAYERVORP* OVER EXPECTEDTOTAL VORP OVER EXPECTED The best four-year draft runs, by Value Over Replacement Player, 1985-2016 SEA1986-8917Shawn Kemp11.825.9 GS2009-1235Draymond Green15.824.8
Entering its game against Minnesota, the Ohio State women’s soccer team had high hopes for its season-opening run. Those high hopes were shattered on one serious play during the seventh minute, when redshirt senior goalkeeper Jillian McVicker tried to make a save.McVicker collided with a Minnesota player, and sustained fractured ribs, a punctured lung and a lacerated kidney. She was quickly removed from the field and taken to a Minnesota hospital,where she remained in intensive care for two days before being downgraded to standard care.“Ohio State senior goalkeeper Jillian McVicker is being held at a Minneapolis hospital through the end of the week for further treatment and testing after suffering an injury Sunday at Minnesota,” the athletic department said in a statement from an OSU spokesperson on Friday.McVicker has appeared in over 50 matches for the Buckeyes since joining the team in 2012. McVicker is a former assistant sports director for Lantern TV and also reported for The Lantern during the 2016 Spring Semester.After being released from the hospital on Saturday afternoon, she and her family drove back to Columbus, stopping in Chicago along the way before arriving back at OSU on Monday.Although not the first time the Metuchen, New Jersey, native has sustained an injury, this time, was different from the rest.OSU senior goaltender Jillian McVicker flexes as she recovers in her hospital bed in Minnesota. Credit: Courtesy of Jillian McVicker“I knew that it definitely wasn’t my muscle or anything. I just came out, I knew there was going to be a collision but I just had to get the ball,” McVicker said. “When I came out, I thought I had the wind knocked out of me at first, and then I couldn’t breathe for like a minute.”According to McVicker, her doctor said this type of injury is most common after being involved in a car crash, not with a sport like soccer.The injury has effectively ended the OSU career of McVicker, with a little over a month left in the regular season. Although her time as a Buckeye athlete has been cut short, she has still maintained a positive attitude and high spirits. “All the adversity I have faced, whether it be from injury or typical adversity that every athlete goes through, you just have to keep your head up and keep your mind on the process,” McVicker said. “Take it day-by-day and step-by-step. Which is actually very ironic because that’s exactly what I’m doing in my rehab right now.”As part of the healing process, McVicker can only lift things under 10 pounds, while limiting the amount of overall movement she has throughout the day.On social media, McVicker has received an outpouring of support from family, friends, teammates, players from other teams and, most notably, former United States Women’s National Team midfielder Julie Foudy. McVicker, a four-time OSU scholar-athlete and three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, has appeared in over 60 matches during her career with the Buckeyes. She is a double major in strategic communications and journalism, and will be graduating this December.After graduation and her injuries have fully healed, McVicker has intentions to continue her playing career outside of OSU.“I definitely want to graduate and want to look at playing overseas in Germany professionally or in America,” McVicker said. “I’m going to probably try to get an agent and figure that out once I graduate. It’s definitely not the last time I’m going to put on my keeper gloves and my jersey again.”Although she will no longer be lacing up her cleats for the Scarlet and Gray, McVicker said she will be embracing her new role of cheering her team on. Without the redshirt senior in the net, the Buckeyes will now be looking to the sideline when when she returns. From here on out, the focus of McVicker is to rally the troops to continue the team’s success. “Although this injury happened to me, my main thing for this season is for my team to be successful,” McVicker said. “Yes, this is horrible and I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone. But at the same time, all of my energy and everything when I get back is to prepare my the team the best I can in my new role.”
Men’s volleyball coach Pete Hanson has more than 600 wins and one national title in his 30 years with the Buckeyes.Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsAs his players shook hands following a sweep of IPFW on Friday, Ohio State men’s volleyball coach Pete Hanson had claimed the 603rd win of his career.Hanson, who has coached the Buckeyes for 30 years, holds a career record of 603-324. Hanson and the No. 11 Buckeyes have passed several milestones this season, including the program’s 1,000th overall win and its 500th victory at St. John Arena. Hanson’s OSU career spans 18 20-plus win seasons, 10 national semifinal appearances, a runner-up finish and one national championship.Before beginning his illustrious coaching career, Hanson played volleyball at the collegiate level at Kellogg Community College in Michigan then spent his last two years at Ball State University, up until 1979. Upon graduation, Hanson took his first position as an assistant coach for Ball State men’s volleyball team.He then spent time as a women’s assistant and head coach with Wyoming before joining the Buckeyes’ men’s program in 1985.“I just felt like it would be a great way to give back and to help continue to grow men’s volleyball, and so it kind of led me here and I have been here for 30 years,” Hanson said.Hanson said he thinks the most passionate aspect of his job is watching young players succeed.“The thing that keeps me coming in every day and keeps me looking forward to next year is to bring in a young man and to convince him that Ohio State would be a great place for him to go to school, to get his education, to play volleyball, and then to help him through that journey,” Hanson said. “At the end of the day when they walk out of here with a degree in hand, and maybe they’ve already got a job lined up, that’s the really cool part. To think that myself, my two coaches and Ohio State had a part in that is a really, really neat feeling.”While the Buckeyes finished last season with a losing record for the first time since 1992, Hanson’s squad has started fresh in 2015 with an 11-3 overall record and a 5-1 mark in conference play.The ultimate goal he sets for his team is the same on the yearly basis: winning the national championship.“I think the long-term goal is to try to do the necessary things that are going to allow our team to compete for an elite championship and hopefully a national championship,” Hanson said. “Even though we’ve got this goal and 99.9 percent of the time we’re not going to reach it, it certainly is a goal worth having.”Hanson learned what it takes to make a championship run before he even joined the Division I volleyball ranks.“My senior year (at Ball State) we won the MIVA championship and qualified to go to the NCAA national championships,” Hanson said. “Just having successes along the way which is what we’re trying to do here with our guys, I was able to experience that and those are memories that I’ll have for a lifetime.”As he hunts for a second title as a coach, Hanson said he is grateful for his wife and two sons, ages 20 and 18, who have been supportive of his career.“There are times when you miss some of the kids’ activities and you’re not there at all the right times that you’d like to be,” Hanson said. “I think the big thing was that my wife and the two boys understood and they dealt with it as positively as they could.”Off of the court, Hanson enjoys playing golf in addition to spending time on the water.“Here in the past five to seven years, I’ve become really enamored with fly fishing,” Hanson said. “For the last six or seven summers, my wife and I go to Wyoming to visit one of her brothers, and he got me turned onto fly fishing in the backcountry. It is just the most relaxing and just a time that I can’t put a price on.”Hanson will have to put his next fishing trip on hold as the Buckeyes get set to take on Grand Canyon on Saturday and Sunday in Phoenix.
“Just to reiterate the irony of this situation – their student union upon being criticised for being anti-free speech have silenced those complaining about a lack of free speech,” they added.A spokesman for Lincoln University said the Students’ Union had its own set of policies on free speech, adding that it respected its right to govern independently.Lincoln Students’ Union said that it was unable to comment on “live disciplinary matters”, but said it was “proud to protect the rights of all individuals to express their opinions, ideas and concerns”. “As well as the irony of banning a society for expressing their concern about free speech, the Students’ Union ‘snowflakes’ are so self-obsessed they forget Lincoln is the home to one of the original Magna Cartas, the foundation stone of freedom the world over.“This lack of self-awareness and willingness to stifle inconvenient truths is an unbecoming trait in anyone, but is particularly pernicious when demonstrated by a Students’ Union based at one of the traditional centres of our national democracy.“I am sure the authorities of the University itself will be embarrassed by this as it does not help the University’s reputation for tolerance, debate and learning. They should send a public message to say they disassociate themselves from their Students’ Union’s actions.” Drop this pathetic small-mindedness @lincolnSU pic.twitter.com/u3UPQOkxl6— Charlie Peters (@CDP1882) March 6, 2017 A student union has banned a university Conservative society from using its social media accounts – because they challenged its position on free speech.Lincoln University’s Conservative Society has been censored by its student union after it posted an image online showing that the university had been ranked “very intolerant” on free speech in a recent survey.In response, the Students’ Union swiftly suspended the society’s social media accounts, on the grounds that highlighting the university’s ranking had brought it into disrepute.However, the decision has been met with widespread derision from social media users and Lincoln MP Karl McCartney, who said that union officials should be “ashamed”.”This intolerant, illiberal and totalitarian response is akin to something out of the Soviet Union or North Korea rather than a place for learning and debate,” he said. James Cleverly, MP for Braintree, said the union’s actions had been “beyond parody”.Hull University Conservative Association also claimed that Lincoln Students’ Union had defended the decision on the grounds that, by highlighting that the university was deemed to “very intolerant” of free speech, the society had brought its reputation “into disrepute”. 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. Mr McCartney added that he had spoken with the union’s chairman after the incident was made known to him by a neighbouring Conservative Society. Lincoln University Conservatives complained that their student union was weak on free speech. It responded by suspending their social media. https://t.co/e7WSrsVPB8— Daniel Hannan (@DanielJHannan) March 6, 2017
It can leave animals in excruciating pain because they are no longer able to retract or extend their claws, the experts warnedCredit: Motofish Images The centre, based in London, issued their plea to pet owners after a five-year-old tabby called Christina was brought into with red claw covers.Staff were unsure how long the cat had endured the nails, which were firmly fixed to each individual claw. Vets were forced to place her under general anaesthetic whilst they carried out the operation.Lindsey Quinlan, Head of Catteries at Battersea, said it was the first time they had a cat brought in with claw covers but said they were “concerned” the craze is becoming “increasingly popular with pet owners”.”It’s extremely cruel to inflict this sort of thing on your cat as it stops them from displaying their natural behaviour,” she said. “It’s worrying that claw covers for both cats and dogs can be so easily sought from the internet.”Pets are not fashion items. We want to spread the message that claw covers are unnatural for both cats and dogs.” But staff at the centre insisted they should instead use a scratching post. “Scratching is a natural behaviour for a cat as it helps maintain their claws so they can effectively groom themselves by using their nails as a comb,” Ms Quinlan said. “There are alternative ways to keep your cat from scratching your household furniture, for example, providing a suitable scratching post which should be tall enough to allow your cat to fully stretch.”After her claw covers were successfully removed, Christina eventually went on to find a home with her new family. Pet owners should stop giving their cats and dogs “cruel” manicures, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has pleaded after the trend gained popularity on social media. The craze, which can involve gluing fake nail-style “claw covers” to pets, can leave animals in excruciating pain because the animals are no longer able to retract or extend their claws, experts warned. Most cats have five claws on each of their front paws and four or five claws on their rear paws. They are used for scratching, hunting, self-defence, climbing, and grooming. One suggestion is that pet owners are using the covers to prevent their pet scratching their furniture. It’s extremely cruel to inflict this sort of thing on your catLindsey Quinlan, Head of Catteries at Battersea 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 was lovely to show them how much we value our audience getting involved with the show through letters, Fan Club comments on the website and the fantastic artwork they send to us every week.”His Royal Highness was particularly impressed with a drawing of his grandmother wearing a tiara that one of the children had sent in.”Viewers can see William and Kate being presented with their badges in Thursday’s live Blue Peter Christmas special at 5.30pm on CBBC. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have followed in the footsteps of the Queen by being awarded a Gold Blue Peter badge.They received their badges at the Blue Peter studios in Salford for their campaign work around mental health and mental health issues affecting children.The Queen was awarded a Gold badge – the programme’s highest award – during her Golden Jubilee year in 2002.Sir David Attenborough, JK Rowling, Steven Spielberg, Mary Berry and David Beckham are among the small number of people to have been presented with the accolade, for role models who show great expertise in their field and inspire children across generations.Receiving his badge, William said: “That’s very touching. Thank you very, very much.”Wow, that’s amazing … We have won a badge!” He said of the couple’s work on mental health: “We’ve still got a long way to go yet but we are getting there. A shift is happening and we will hopefully crack a problem that should have been cracked a long time ago.”Joking about his grandmother also having a badge, he added: “We’ll compare!”Kate told the BBC show’s presenters: “It’s hugely special. Mental health has been a learning process for us too … We want to get everyone talking about it so it hasn’t got that stigma it’s had.” Blue Peter editor Ewan Vinnicombe said: “It was a real honour to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the Blue Peter studios in our 60th year. The couple received their badges at the Blue Peter studios in Salford for their campaign work around mental health and mental health issues affecting childrenCredit: BBC/Dan Vernon 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.
He and Prince Harry praised the “impressive” and “inspiring” police officers, staff and volunteers who won awards for their work.William and Harry also met Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood who won an outstanding contribution award for his efforts in rushing to help Pc Keith Palmer during the Westminster terror attack.Mr Ellwood, a former soldier, told William about how “instinct kicked in” as the attack unfolded last March. DC Stewart arranged for a specialist neurologist to act as an intermediary between her and the victim.She arranged for a private company to install specialist technology that would let the victim give evidence by blinking.On the day of the verdict, the victim died, not knowing that the defendant had been convicted.William congratulated her on her award and described her work as “very impressive”.The royals also met police officer of the year, Pc Philip Stone, who co-ordinates the work of the Met’s Disaster Victim Identification Cadre, which organises the national and international recovery and identification of human remains for the coroner to repatriate them to their families.Pc Stone discussed Grenfell Tower with William and afterwards the officer described his team’s work there as “very, very difficult”.He said he had already met the Duke at Grenfell in the aftermath of the tragedy. Prince William and Prince Harry, met Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick at the receptionCredit:AFP / Adrian Dennis As they left, William described the group as “really inspiring”, while Harry said: “Well done guys.”Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said the force is “really grateful” to William and Harry for finding time for them.”It’s wonderful for our guys and girls to be here and to enjoy such a treat.”They’re really excited and have had a lovely time.”They all spoke very openly and clearly and frankly about what they do, and what they do is … you know they take it for granted, but it is extraordinary for many of them,” she said.The Commissioner said William and Harry are “very knowledgeable”, adding: “We’re very grateful because they’ve been supporting us in a variety of different ways over the last several years.”She said they are “interested in policing” and in how the force keeps the public safe.The Commissioner said the pair have taken a great interest in crime that affects young people, such as knife crime.The seventh annual awards ceremony, held on Friday, celebrated the work of police officers in London.Pc Palmer was posthumously honoured at the ceremony for his heroic response during the Westminster attack.The officer, who was stabbed to death when he confronted attacker Khalid Masood outside the Houses of Parliament, was named the winner of the outstanding bravery of the year prize. Prince Harry jokes with Metropolitan Police officers Credit:ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP Prince George could be interested in joining the police, his father has suggested.Speaking as he met winners of the Metropolitan Police Excellence Awards at a reception in Kensington Palace, the Duke of Cambridge revealed that his four-year-old son has shown an interest in the police force.The Duke met cadet of the year Nabil Laasid, who has completed almost 1,000 hours of volunteering in the last year, and was one of the first cadets to volunteer after the Grenfell Tower fire. He was nominated by Jayne Richardson who joked with William that his children could join the cadets.After the event, she said: “We’re only based just down the road in Kensington and I said to him ‘Perhaps Prince George and Princess Charlotte could join the police cadets’.”And he said ‘Well he does like the police at the moment’.” 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. The Duke said: “Everyone did all they could I’m sure.”William met Investigation of the Year award winner DC Hannah Stewart, who led a time sensitive and logistically challenging investigation into a child sexual abuse offence.The victim had motor neurone disease, with a life expectancy of less than six months, and was no longer able to speak.
Shale gas fracking will go ahead in Britain for the first time since 2011 after a judge dismissed safety concerns.Cuadrilla, the fracking firm, defeated activists in an eleventh hour High Court battle and said it may begin fracking at its Lancashire site as soon as Saturday.It cleared the final hurdle facing its shale gas plans since earthquake fears brought the burgeoning industry to a halt seven years ago.The temporary injunction against Cuadrilla’s fracking plans will fall away after the High Court rejected a bid by an anti-fracking campaigner to block the work, saying there is “no evidence” that the fracking poses more than a “medium risk”.Within hours of the verdict anti-fracking groups took to social media to call for shale opponents to gather at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site.Frack Free Lancashire warned its members to arrive at the site as soon as Friday evening or early on Saturday morning to “show them why we are opposed to this here or anywhere”.The UK is thought to hold vast untapped reserves shale gas within layers of underground rock formations. However, political support for the contentious plans to exploit this natural resource has ebbed and flowed with each successive government, against a backdrop of fierce local opposition and sliding public opinion. Critics of fracking fear that onshore oil and gas extraction could trigger earthquakes, or contaminate drinking water by polluting underground water aquifers. Others object to developing fresh sources of gas as the UK shifts towards low-carbon energy.Francis Egan, boss of Cuadrilla, said that if the fracking campaign unlocks commercially recoverable gas reserves these will be able to “displace costly imported gas, with lower emissions, significant economic benefit and better security of energy supply for the UK.”The hydraulic fracturing process, known as ‘fracking’, involves blasting huge volumes of water and sand into layers of shale beneath the earth’s surface.The high pressure forces tiny naturally occuring fissures in the rock formation to open and release natural gas which is trapped.Cuadrilla’s first attempts to frack in Lancashire were brought to an immediate halt in April 2011 after triggering a minor earthquake in the area and raising fears over the safety of the extraction method.In recent years the Conservative Government has warmed to the sector, and could relax fracking rules around earthquakes to encourage more drilling.Mr Egan said the process is expected to take around three months to complete before it can test the flow of natural gas from wells and deliver its results in the New Year. 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.