Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua rematch: Can British boxer recover from being dominated in first fight?


It’s been billed as the “Rage on the Red Sea,” but both fighters outwardly seem relatively calm about the prospect of stepping into the ring against one another once again.

Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua will face off for the second time in just under a year on Saturday night as they fight in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Usyk outclassed Joshua in September last year in their first bout, beating the British boxer via a unanimous decision and claiming Joshua’s WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles.

Joshua’s camp soon after activated the contracted rematch clause, meaning the pair will once again take center stage in heavyweight boxing’s latest showpiece event.

Despite being arguably the biggest name in boxing, Joshua’s career has been interspersed with shocks results.

Saturday’s rematch fight will be the 32-year-old’s 12th consecutive world heavyweight title fight. He’s beaten numerous top-level boxers along the way – Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin to name a few.

Usyk and Joshua hold a press conference ahead of their fight.

But, amongst those big-name – often breathtaking – victories are some surprise defeats. Firstly, he was stunned by Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York in 2019 after being knocked down multiple times before the referee waved the fight off, ending his spell as unified heavyweight champion – he did beat Ruiz months later in Saudi Arabia to reclaim that title.

And in his first fight with Usyk in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist was thoroughly outboxed by the Ukrainian from start to finish, as Usyk left the English capital the unified heavyweight champion and with his reputation as one of the best boxers around cemented.

Such was the manner of the defeat, it has led to suggestions from fellow British boxers Carl Froch and Kell Brook that another defeat to Usyk could spell the end of Joshua’s boxing career.

However, Joshua said ahead of Saturday’s rematch that even if he does lose, it won’t be the end of his time in the ring.

“It’s up to me at the end of the day, it’s not up to anyone else what I do with my career,” said Joshua. “I don’t have to do this. Why do I do it? It’s because it’s all I know.

Joshua takes part in a public workout in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

“This is also my 12th consecutive world title fight. I’ve been in world title fights back-to-back 12 times. It happens – if you’re fighting people at world level, you’re meeting people of world-level quality. I’m not fighting people who are below par.”

And Joshua says he’s learned a great deal from the two’s previous encounter. “I feel like one of my main strengths is that I’m a quick learner, I’m a sponge,” he said at the final press conference.

“But ultimately, apart from all of the learning stuff, it’s a fight. That’s it. Whoever throws the most punches and lands the most punches wins.”

When Usyk steps into the ring on Saturday, he will have more than just title belts and money as inspiration.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the 35-year-old traveled back to his homeland, taking up arms and joining a territorial defense battalion in Kyiv, spending weeks helping out in the war efforts.

In March though, Usyk was granted permission to return to training to prepare for the Joshua fight, although he expressed his reluctance.

“I really didn’t want to leave our country, I didn’t want to leave our city,” Usyk said. “I went to the hospital where soldiers were wounded and getting rehabilitation from the war.

“They were asking me to go, to fight, to fight for the country, fight for your pride and if you’re going to go there, you’re even going to help more for our country.

“I know a lot of my close people, friends, close friends, are right now in the front line and fighting. What I’m doing right now, I’m just supporting them, and with this fight, I wanted to bring them some kind of joy in between what they do.”

And now, months on, a bulked up Usyk looks in excellent shape and in excellent spirits – breaking out into a Ukrainian song of independence after a pre-fight press conference dressed in tradition Cossack clothing.

On the eve of the fight, Usyk said competing at the highest level is what drives him, as well as providing hope and inspiration back home.

“We were born to compete; for life, for belts, for anything,” Usyk said through translator and chairman of K2 Promotions, Alexander Krassyuk, at Wednesday’s press conference. “The one who does not compete, does not live. All our lives are competitions; for anything, for something, for somebody. That’s why we’re competing.”

Usyk takes part in a public workout in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Saturday’s fight card has been praised as it will host Saudi Arabia’s first-ever professional women’s boxing match when Crystal Garcia Nova takes on Ramla Ali.

In a country where women’s rights are severely restricted, it has been seen as a landmark moment for women’s sport there.

However, it is in stark contrast to incidents of poor treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, including the recent imprisonment of Leeds University PhD student Salma al-Shehab, who was recently sentenced to 34 years behind bars for writing critical posts of the regime on social media. Amnesty International has called for al-Shehab’s sentence to be quashed.

As a whole, the event has been criticized for being a part of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing process of sportswashing – a term used to describe corrupt or authoritarian regimes using sport and sports events to whitewash their image internationally.

Saudi Arabia has been accused of using sportswashing in recent years to divert attention from the country’s dismal human rights record.

Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, was named in a US intelligence report as being responsible for approving the operation that led to the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, though he has denied involvement. Human rights groups have also criticized the country for conducting mass executions and for its treatment of gay people.

When asked whether the rematch against Usyk in Saudi Arabia was the latest in the country’s attempts at sportswashing, Joshua said: “I don’t know what that is.”

He added: “The world’s in a bad place, I can’t just point one place out. If you want to point Saudi out, let’s point everyone out. We’ve all got to do better, and that’s where my heart is. The whole world has got to do better if it wants to change.”

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Jessica Korda shoots three eagles to tie all-time lowest Ladies European Tour round

The American drained three eagles en route to carding an 11-under 61, a new course record for La Reserva Club.

Three birdies either side of the turn helped consolidate a landmark day for the 29-year-old, who carries a five-stroke lead into the second round of the individual event.

“It was an awesome round,” Korda told reporters. “We had a great vibe in the group and so obviously, I was really relaxed.

“I have never made three eagles in a round, so I’m definitely going to remember this one!”

Korda, pictured at the AIG Women's Open earlier in August, enjoyed a historic round at La Reserva Club.

A bogey at the eighth hole marked the sole blemish on the world No. 14’s scorecard, denting her chances of shooting the first ever sub-60 score on the Tour.

“I still made a bogey and hit it into the hazard, so I wouldn’t say every aspect was working,” Korda said.

“For the last month and change, I think I haven’t really been converting any putts and the floodgates opened today and hopefully they can continue tomorrow and that’s the beauty of golf.”

Belgium’s Manon De Roey and Slovenia’s Pia Babnik lead the chasing pack after carding six-under 66’s.

De Roey, pictured at the Women's Open in Muirfield, trails Korda by five strokes.

Korda’s sister Nelly sits a further stroke behind after shooting 67, with a double bogey at the par-five sixth hole cancelling out an eagle at the second. The world No. 3 shares fourth with France’s Pauline Roussin.

“I played pretty good,” Korda said. “It’s my first time in Spain and it’s blown me away, it’s super nice.”

The 54-hole individual event runs alongside a 36-team event, whereby a team of four — including one amateur — compete, with the best two score per hole counting. Each event offers a prize pot of $500,000.

In October 2021, Jessica Korda captained her group to victory in the team event at Glen Oaks Club, New York in the first Ladies European Tour event to be held in the US.

Now 10 months on in Sotogrande, she is well-placed to repeat the feat after her team — comprised of Finland’s Noora Komulainen, Czech’s Tereza Melecka, and amateur Malcolm Borwick — finished 19-under to lead by a stroke at the halfway stage.

“We had a good vibe in the team, we kept it really loose out there,” Korda said.

Fan picks up Nelly Korda's ball while it's still in play at women's golf major

“I know the girls were a little bit nervous at the beginning, but I told them there was nothing to be nervous about and to go out there and have fun and play some golf.

“We’re in Spain and there is beautiful weather, we’re lucky to be here.”

Roussin and De Roey’s teams trail by a shot ahead of Friday’s deciding round.

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Rory McIlroy hails Tiger Woods’ involvement in PGA Tour discussions on LIV Golf

Woods flew to Wilmington, Delaware, to attend the meeting of top PGA Tour players held before the BMW Championship, despite not qualifying for this week’s second FedEx Cup playoff event.

“It’s impactful,” McIlroy, a four-time major winner, said. “I think it shows how much he cares about the Tour. I think it shows how much he cares about the players that are coming through and are going to be the next generation.”

Woods returned to action at the Masters in April after a 17-month absence following a car crash in February 2021 in which he sustained serious leg injuries.

Although McIlroy acknowledged the PGA Tour was “moving into a different era” as Woods’ career wanes, he said that the legendary American is still one of the most influential figures in golf.

McIlroy spoke to the media prior to the BMW Championship at the Wilmington Country Club.

“He is the hero that we’ve all looked up to and his voice carries further than anyone else’s in the game of golf. His role is navigating us to a place where we all think we should be.”

Woods has long been critical of the breakaway LIV Golf series which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) — a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia — and he turned down an offer worth approximately $700 to $800 million to join it, according to the tour’s CEO Greg Norman.

Many high-profile players have left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf — including major winners Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka — enticed by the $250million in total prize money and an attempt to reform the PGA Tour.

They have faced criticism from fellow players for abandoning golf’s traditions and accepting money from a country which has been condemned by human rights groups.

“I disagree with it [the players’ decision to join LIV Golf],” Woods said in July before the 150th Open Championship held in St. Andrews. “I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.”

LIV golfer Patrick Reed files defamation lawsuit against Golf Channel and commentator Brandel Chamblee

In response to the existential threat of LIV Golf, the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour — formerly the European Tour — have suspended anyone who has joined the breakaway series, though so far the majors have allowed all golfers who qualify to continue playing in these events.

Earlier this month, a US federal judge ruled in favor of the PGA Tour, denying three LIV Golf players — Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones — a temporary restraining order allowing them to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

‘A productive meeting’

Former world No. 1 Justin Thomas also paid tribute to Woods’ role in the “productive” meeting, which reportedly lasted for three-and-a-half hours.

“It’s huge. If someone like [Woods] is passionate about it, no offense to all of us, that’s really all that matters,” Thomas said in his press conference before the BMW Championship.

“If he’s not behind something then it’s probably not a good idea in terms of the betterment of the game, but it’s just not going to work.”

Justin Thomas has accumulated 15 PGA Tour victories in his career.

Both Thomas and McIlroy were reluctant to disclose the details of the players’ meeting but suggested that an understanding had been reached.

“All the top players are in agreement, in alignment about where we should go going forward,” McIlroy said. “And that was awesome.

“We need to get the top guys together more often than we do … I’m talking about all in the same tournaments, all in the same weeks.”

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Jim Ratcliffe: British billionaire is interested in buying Manchester United


British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe expressed interest in buying Manchester United on Tuesday – if the club is for sale.

In an email to CNN Sport, a spokesman for Ratcliffe confirmed his interest in the renowned Premier League club, saying: “We are simply confirming interest in the club if it is for sale.”

According to Forbes, Manchester United is worth $4.6 billion. Controlled by the Glazer family, which also owns the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Manchester United is one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world, but it hasn’t won the English Premier League since 2013.

Ratcliffe’s interest comes after a Bloomberg report, citing unidentified sources, that the Glazer family is open to selling a minority stake in the Premier League club to a US investment firm.

Rumors that the club was for sale emerged on Tuesday after Elon Musk tweeted he was buying the club before later clarifying that his statement was part of a long-running joke and he wasn’t buying any sports team.

CNN has reached out the Glazer family and Manchester United and has not received confirmation that the club is for sale.

READ: Manchester United’s game plan went ‘in the bin’ during 4-0 defeat, according to manager Erik ten Hag

Ratcliffe is a majority shareholder of chemical group INEOS which owns French side Nice, Swiss club Lausanne-Sport, the Ineos Grenadiers cycling team and has a partnership with the Mercedes F1 team.

In May, Ratcliffe made a last-minute bid to buy Chelsea FC before losing out to the Todd Boehly consortium.

The Manchester United Supporters Trust has released a statement addressing the rumors about a potential change of ownership saying, “Speculation is mounting about a potential change of ownership or new investors at the Manchester United.

“While supporters have called for a change, of course this has to be right change. Any prospective owner or investor has to be committed to the culture, ethos and the best traditions of the club.

“They have to be willing to invest to restore United to former glories, and that investment must be real new money spent on the playing side and the stadium.”

Manchester United have struggled for form since the departure of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 and currently sits at the bottom of the Premier League having lost both of its matches in the current season.

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Deshaun Watson: NFL, NFLPA reach settlement to suspend Cleveland Browns QB for 11 games, $5 million fine

Watson will undergo “a professional evaluation by behavioral experts and will follow their treatment program,” according to the agreement.

“I’m moving on with my career and my life, and I’m going to continue to stand on my innocence,” Watson told the media Thursday. “Just because settlements and things like that happen, doesn’t mean that person is guilty for anything.”

He added, “I feel like the person has the opportunity to stand on his innocence, and prove that, and we proved that on the legal side, and we’ve just got to continue to push forward as an individual and as a person.”

Twenty-four civil lawsuits were filed against Watson; 23 have been settled confidentially. Two grand juries in Texas declined to charge Watson criminally.

Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy in private meetings with massage therapists while he was with the Houston Texans. League commissioner Roger Goodell called Watson’s behavior “egregious” and “predatory.”

‘Deshaun Watson deserves a second chance’

Susan “Dee” Haslam, co-owner of the Browns, on Thursday vowed to invest $1 million “towards educating youth for awareness of sexual misconduct.”

“We as an organization and as individuals, we have tremendous empathy for the women involved and we have an opportunity to make a difference in this community,” she told reporters.

Her husband and team co-owner, Jimmy Haslam, said, “People deserve second chances.”

NFL, wanting a harsher penalty, says it will appeal Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson's 6-game suspension

“Is he never supposed to play again? Is he never supposed to be part of society? Does he get no chance to rehabilitate himself? And that’s what we’re going to do,” he said, referring to Watson.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t have empathy for people affected and we will continue to do so,” he added. “We believe that Deshaun Watson deserves a second chance.”

The NFL had previously announced that it would appeal a decision by former federal judge Sue L. Robinson to sit Watson without pay for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy when he was with the Houston Texans.

The league had been pushing for at least a full-season suspension instead.

Goodell stated Thursday: “Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL.

“This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a significant fine, and a more substantial suspension.”

In her written ruling, Robinson cited Watson’s “lack of expressed remorse” as a factor in the discipline that she chose.

The Browns QB released a statement on Thursday saying in part: “I’m grateful that the disciplinary process has ended and extremely appreciative of the tremendous support I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization.

“I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made.”

Deshaun Watson says he's 'truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted'

Prior to the settlement, Watson was awaiting the ruling from former New Jersey Attorney General and federal prosecutor Peter Harvey, who was named as Goodell’s designee to hear the appeal.

Watson did not play last season while a member of the Texans. Watson did play in the Browns first preseason game last week.

According to the NFL, Watson would be eligible to return to play in week 13, against his former team the Texans.

“I want to say that I’m truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation,” Watson said in an interview before Friday’s preseason game in Florida against the Jacksonville Jaguars. “My decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position I would definitely like to have back, but I want to continue to move forward and grow and learn and show that I am a true person of character and I am going to keep pushing forward.”

Before the short interview, Watson repeatedly denied allegations of misconduct, including sexual assault and harassment involving more than two dozen women. He did not elaborate in the interview on what he meant when he said “this situation.”

A three-time Pro Bowler, Watson did not play last season with the Texans because of a trade demand as well as the investigations into these allegations.

Earlier this year, the Browns traded three first-round picks for Watson and then signed him to a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract, the most guaranteed money in NFL history.

CNN’s Matt Foster and Homero De La Fuente contributed to this report.

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LeBron James becomes highest paid NBA player ever after signing new deal with LA Lakers, per reports


NBA superstar LeBron James has agreed to a two-year extension to his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, in a deal worth $97.1 million, according to various reports, including ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The new contract takes the 37-year-old to $532 million in guaranteed career earnings, making him the highest paid player in terms of salary in the league’s history, surpassing Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant.

The deal includes a player option for the 2024/25 season, which means that James will be able to opt out of the final year of the contract if he no longer wants to stay with the team.

CNN has reached out to the Lakers to confirm the new contract.

The new deal puts to rest any notion of James, who is already an official billionaire, becoming a free agent next year with the four-time NBA champion and MVP instead focusing on making more history with the Lakers.

The new season gets underway on October 18 and, if he steers clear of injury, James should be on track to overtake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

James averaged 30.3 points per game in 56 appearances last season despite the Lakers missing the playoffs in a difficult season.

But the franchise now has the salary-cap flexibility to add another max contract player to the team, potentially bolstering the star-studded roster which already boasts the likes of James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis.

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Corey Norman: Australian rugby league player banned for placing ‘a hand between the buttocks’ of an opponent


Australian rugby league player Corey Norman has been given an eight-game suspension and fined £500 (about $605) for “internationally plac(ing) a hand between the buttocks of an opposing player,” the Rugby Football League announced on Wednesday.

The incident occurred between Toulouse’s Norman and Warrington Wolves’ Oliver Holmes during the two teams’ match last Thursday.

The 31-year-old Norman, who spent 11 years playing in Australia’s National Rugby League before joining Toulouse in April, pled not guilty to the offense.

But tribunal chair Justice Sarah Wright and the two side members, both former players, were “entirely satisfied” the act was intentional.

Holmes complained about the incident during the match and also provided a statement to the tribunal.

“The footage of the incident shows a deliberate movement of Corey Norman’s left arm and hand over the top of Oliver Holmes and on to his buttocks,” the ruling said.

“At no point does the footage show a grabbing of the shorts to push Oliver Holmes down as described by Corey Norman.”

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Norman initially announced his retirement from rugby league at the end of last year before returning to the sport with Toulouse on a contract running until the end of the current season.

The French side is currently bottom of the Super League with four games left to play this season.

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Little League World Series player critically hurt in bunk bed fall receives supportive video from MLB star Mookie Betts

Easton Oliverson of Utah’s Snow Canyon Little League suffered a fractured skull after falling from a bunk bed at the players’ dormitory in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, early Monday morning, his team told CNN. He is being treated at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville, Pennsylvania, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Support for Easton came flooding in after news of his injury made headlines. The Brigham Young University football team and Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts submitted supportive videos through Instagram for Easton.
“Hey Easton, it’s Mookie Betts. I just want you to know that we are praying for you, thinking of you and I hope to see you soon, my man,” Betts, known to be Easton’s favorite player, said on video Wednesday.

An additional post Wednesday on Easton’s Instagram also provided updates on the Little Leaguer.

“This morning’s updates have us all in tears of joy,” the post read, accompanied by a picture of Easton and a video of him eating from a spoon with eyes closed in his hospital bed.

The post also said Easton asked for water Wednesday morning, which his doctors said was good since it usually takes about a week or two before patients who have had a breathing tube removed want to eat or drink.

“While Easton is making TREMENDOUS progress, he still has a very long road ahead,” the post read.

The injury happened early Monday morning, according to a statement from Little League International. St. George News reports Easton fell out of his bed in his sleep in the middle of the night, citing a source within the team.

Easton was airlifted to the local children’s hospital, where he underwent surgery to stop the bleeding and stabilize him, according to his Instagram account. He was then put into a medically induced coma, his team said.

Easton’s father, Jace, who is an assistant coach on his son’s team, said in a statement, “There was a lot of blood in his brain and a lot of pressure being caused. He had what was called an epidural hematoma. He fractured his skull and in the meantime punctured an artery outside the brain which caused the bleeding.”

The Little League World Series released a statement to CNN Wednesday saying the bunk beds at the players’ dorms did not have safety rails and have since been removed from the dorms.

“Since 1992, Little League has used institutional-style bunk beds to offer the most space for the players to enjoy their time in the dorms. While these beds do not have guard rails, Little League is unaware of any serious injuries ever occurring during that period of time,” the league’s statement read. “Out of an abundance of caution, Little League has made the decision to remove all bunks from within the dorms and have each bed frame individually on the floor.”

The league said it would use all available resources to “support the player, his family, and his coaches and teammates, as we navigate this unfortunate situation.”

Easton’s Snow Canyon Little League team is scheduled to play its first game of the Little League World Series Friday afternoon. Snow Canyon is the first team from Utah to make it to the series in the 75-year history of the tournament.

CNN’s Jennifer Henderson contributed to this report.

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Elon Musk is not buying Manchester United

New Delhi
CNN Business

The richest man on earth has once again created chaos and commotion on the internet with his tweets.

Tesla’s billionaire CEO Elon Musk tweeted late on Tuesday that he was buying Manchester United soccer club.

“Also, I’m buying Manchester United ur welcome,” Musk told his 103 million followers on Twitter, without offering any details.

Hours later — and after several news articles were published about his bold claim — Musk clarified that it was all a joke.

“No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I’m not buying any sports teams,” he said after a user asked him if he was serious about the purchase.

Asked about Musk’s tweet, a Manchester United

spokesperson told CNN Business that “we do not comment on rumors and speculation.”

Shares of Manchester United, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, initially soared after hours Tuesday following the tweet but pulled back from their gains. The stock was still up about 3% in early trading Wednesday though.

According to Forbes, Manchester United is worth $4.6 billion. Controlled by the Glazer family, which also own NFL franchise Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Manchester United is one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world but it hasn’t won the English Premier League title since 2013.

In his 13 years on Twitter, the platform has become an important part of Musk’s personal brand. It’s a place where he communicates about his business ventures, lashes out at people he views as detractors, makes market-moving commentary about cryptocurrencies and shares the occasional meme.

He even quipped in a 2019 tweet: “Some people use their hair to express themselves, I use Twitter.”

However, Musk’s tweets about Tesla have landed him in hot water, multiple times, with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. His feud with the SEC dates back to his now-infamous 2018 tweet stating, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”

The nine-word tweet sent Tesla stock surging at the time, but the SEC then accused him of misleading investors. Musk and regulators eventually reached a deal that included, among other provisions, a requirement that Musk gain pre-approval from other Tesla executives prior to tweeting about the company.

The billionaire’s tweets regarding Manchester United come at a time when he is trying to terminate his $44 billion acquisition of the social platform. Twitter has taken him to court over his attempt to exit the deal.

-— Robert Mclean contributed to this story.

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Sam Schmidt: How some remarkable engineering allowed a quadriplegic former IndyCar driver to race again

He navigates the tight corners with ease, gliding around even as the heavens open to make the tarmac slick and slippery. Step into the car, however, and it is immediately obvious just how remarkable this track session is.

Schmidt is quadriplegic and completely paralyzed below the neck, making the use of a steering wheel and peddles impossible.

Instead, McLaren teamed up with American electronics company Arrow to produce the Semi-Autonomous Mobility (SAM) Car, which allows the former IndyCar driver to accelerate and brake by blowing and sucking on a tube — called the “sip and puff” function — and to steer by turning his head.

After his life-changing injury in 2000, the thrill of racing was something Schmidt never thought he would experience again.

“For 22 years, I really had to rely on other people to do most of my daily tasks,” Schmidt tells CNN Sport at Goodwood, UK. “So when I first drove the car, it’s like: ‘I’m actually controlling 100% of these functions.’

“I have the gas and the brake and the head movements and so there’s nothing more in my life that makes me feel that normal — and that’s pretty spectacular.”

Sam Schmidt blows into a tube to accelerate and sucks to brake.

‘Roller coaster of emotions’

Schmidt says he is “fortunate” to not remember much of the crash that turned his world upside down.

During a testing session in Florida ahead of the 2000 Indy Racing League season, he lost control of the car during what should have been a routine practice lap and smashed into a concrete barrier at around 180 miles per hour.

Schmidt and his team had gone into that season with high hopes — so high, in fact, that he had real aspirations of winning the title — but the following year would become very different to the one he had envisioned earlier that afternoon.

Schmidt spent six months undergoing a grueling rehabilitation program in hospital, often for more than five hours a day, before being discharged to begin his new life at home.

“A lot of people say: ‘How did you overcome it?’ But the reality is, it affects the family members sometimes more than me because of their lives and their expectations,” Schmidt says. “I mean, it wasn’t my family’s goal in life to beat the Indy 500. That was my dream and, because of my dream, I sort of messed up their plans.

“It’s such a roller coaster of emotions. All this positiveness and thinking we’re looking forward to the 2000 season, I’ve got a six-month-old, a two-and-a-half-year-old and it’s really just a photo of perfection here.

“We’ve got everything going, my beautiful wife and I’d just won my first race in IndyCar. Just all kinds of positive stuff going on and then to have it all turned upside down.”

Schmidt's daughter visits him in hospital following his crash.

The doctor’s initial prognosis was bleak; in the beginning, they said Schmidt only had a matter of weeks to live. Then, they said he would likely be on a ventilator for the rest of his life.

At the time, the idea of Schmidt one day driving a racing car again would have certainly seemed impossible.

In the early stages of his recovery, Schmidt used his father’s own recovery from paralysis as inspiration to continue defying the odds, as well as picturing his children growing up.

“He had intensive rehabilitation for two years to get back the ability to walk and talk,” Schmidt says of his father, who was paralyzed when Schmidt was 11. “So that’s always been one of my motivating factors: he did it, so I why can’t I do it?

“But I also had two kids that were six months and two-and-a-half when I was hurt, so I wanted to be around to see them grow up and become adults, and that’s all happened in unbelievable, unbelievable fashion.”

Once Schmidt and his family had adapted to their new way of life, their thoughts turned to what he could dedicate himself to next.

Alongside his wife, Sheila, Schmidt founded the racing team Sam Schmidt Motorsports which competed in Indy Lights, the series below IndyCar. As a team owner, Schmidt enjoyed great success, winning 75 races and seven championships, before moving into IndyCar in 2011.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports can boast pole positions, race wins and a second-place finish at the Indy 500 — but a win at the prestigious Indy 500 still eludes them, something Schmidt is adamant to change as he looks forward to his team’s new partnership with McLaren.

Schmidt raced his McLaren at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

“At some point it’s like: ‘What do you do with the rest of your life?’ Prior to that, I’d been on the road 152 days a year. My wife’s like, ‘You need to find something to do cause you’re driving me nuts,'” Schmidt laughs.

“So a year after the accident, we decided to start a race team — completely naively, we didn’t know [that we’d] get that involved — but it was just a matter of, it takes two hours to get up in the morning, so what do I have a passion for to make that all worthwhile?”

‘What’s your dream?’

Even while he was lying in hospital and struggling to come to terms with his condition, there was still something that made Schmidt realize how lucky he was.

“Being in a spinal cord injury hospital … most of the patients there didn’t have good insurance, didn’t have a supportive family, didn’t have all these people rallying behind them like I did,” Schmidt recalls. “So that’s why our group decided to start this foundation.”

While Schmidt says his Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, which was set up in the months after his accident, aims to find a cure for paralysis, its main goal is to help the millions of people like him around the world to find their sense of “purpose in life.”

“How can we make their lives better? How can we show them that through just perseverance, I’ve been able to continue on following my life’s dream?” Schmidt says. “So we challenged them: ‘What’s your dream and how can you make?’

“How can we make it so you can achieve it? What is your passion? Let’s see if we can figure out how to get you there — and that’s really what the foundation does day in and day out.”

Schmidt quickly realized his dream was to one day be back in the driving seat of a racing car, a seemingly impossible ambition that was made a reality by a team of engineers at Arrow; in 2014, Schmidt drove a specially modified Corvette Stingray, the first version of the SAM Car, at 100 miles per hour at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Arrow built an exoskeleton that allowed Schmidt to stand upright.

Over the years, a number of Corvettes were modified with various versions of the technology until Schmidt became so accustomed to the system that he began racing competitively again, even taking on the Pikes Peak challenge in Colorado, a daunting 12.42-mile climb with 156 turns and 14,110 feet of elevation.

Schmidt finished the course in 15 minutes, just six minutes behind the winner who drove with conventional driving controls. It was a remarkable feat of engineering and one that took a relatively short period of time to accomplish.

“From the time we got the [first] car, we had the whole thing developed in three to five months, from no modifications to driving at speed with all of our systems running,” Arrow mechanical engineer Grace Doepker tells CNN Sport.

“When developing for Sam, it was probably a little bit different than another disabled person or one of our engineers, what we thought would be optimal. Sam is a racing driver, comes from a little bit of a different perspective and he wants a different level of performance.

“So it really pushed our engineering capabilities to sort of match what he was able to do as a racing driver and then, because of his disabilities, we had to make sure he was comfortable and he had the best driving experience possible.

“It was definitely a labor of love — a lot of long nights in the lab and at the garage putting everything together and sometimes we forget why we’re doing this. Then once we get Sam in the car, it’s really nice to see: ‘Okay, this is what it’s all about — this is what it’s for.'”

But Arrow’s work with Schmidt was not limited to the track. Last year, he was able to walk his daughter down the aisle and dance with her at her wedding thanks to an exoskeleton suit, a moment that still makes Schmidt emotional when he talks about it.

Schmidt still sounds somewhat incredulous when speaking about the technology that has helped him achieve things he wouldn’t have thought were possible just a few years ago.

“It’s phenomenal,” he says. “It’s really hard to describe because for 15 years I never thought I’d drive again and then now to get to drive not only on the street, but on a racetrack [like Goodwood] that is so iconic, it’s a bucket list item. It’s a dream come true.”

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