Mardy Fish cannot put himself in a time machine and go back to 2012 when he was gearing up for his fourth-round U.S. Open match against then-world No. 1 Roger Federer. He cannot go back and stop his anxiety from overtaking him.

Fish is at peace with that. Without that experience, he probably would not have won his first round-match Monday.

Mardy Fish

Three years ago, Fish was in his prime. He was 30, and he had advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open in each of the three previous years. He had reached his highest world ranking at No. 7 in 2011.

Then his match against Federer never happened. Fish withdrew due to "health reasons." Behind closed doors, he was suffering from anxiety disorder.

"All of a sudden, it wasn't quite good enough to make the fourth round of a Grand Slam," he says.

Mardy Fish Fist Pump

The first sign that something was wrong came after a match in early 2012. Fish was rushed to the hospital with severe cardiac arrhythmia. He underwent a procedure to correct faulty electrical connections in his heart. By the U.S. Open, Fish was dealing with panic attacks every 15-30 minutes. To advance the match against Federer, Fish grinded past Gilles Simon in four sets, late into the Flushing night.

"I was feeling terrible at that time and not really aware of what was necessarily going on," Fish says. "I hadn't sought help at that point. I knew something was weird and off.

"Next thing I know, I was off the court and in the doctor's office with an EKG unit stuck to me."

Fish had trouble getting on planes and going through other actions of daily life. Fish didn't leave his house for three months. His tennis game dropped off the map. He did not play again in 2012, and in 2013, Fish played in just six tournaments (no Grand Slams) and none in 2014.

Fish had an ideal life. He was a professional athlete married to model and lawyer Stacey Gardner (Deal or No Deal) with famous friends such as James Blake and Andy Roddick. But his anxiety prompted him to consider.

"I started playing a different sport (golf)," he says. "There is a reason I didn't retire, because I figured deep down, I wanted to go out on my own terms. A huge part of it is just coming back here, enjoying the tournament one last time and sort of conquering what happened."

Mardy Fish And Andy Roddick

On Monday, Fish returned to the U.S. Open, his first Grand Slam since that walkover loss to Federer. A protected ranking allows Fish to participate in a limited number of ATP World Tour events. In three summer stops, Fish arrived in Queens 1-3 on the season. He announced he will officially retire after the U.S. Open.

The American had some U.S. Open magic left in him at the Grandstand. Fish, No. 581 in the world, beat No. 106 Marco Cecchinato of Italy, 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.

"It felt great just apart from if it would have been straight sets instead of four sets," Fish says with a chuckle.

Fish says he is still not 100 percent in his day-to-day activities. Although he made it back to the court, his anxiety is still present.

"I spent a lot of time on the court today telling myself that I'm going to be OK," Fish says. "Everything's going to be OK. You're going to be fine. It's a lot of of internal talk. That comes from you just learning from every experience and episode that I have had."

Mardy Fish US Open

Fish broke Cecchinato on his opponent's first service game, but Cecchinato fought back to force and win a tiebreaker. This is not exactly an ideal scenario for an athlete with anxiety. Fish was also dealing with the New York heat, which increased his stress.

"I figure if I lost this set, I was going to be in for a really long day that maybe I can't push myself through," Fish says of being broken at 5-5 in the first set. "And I got through it. I knew that I was playing fine. It was just a matter of getting going. Was my body going to hold up? Was I going to hold up?"

Fish had not played a three-hour match or four-set match since Simon. "I haven't hit tennis balls for three hours in practice at all. Naturally, you look at the clock and you're a bit worried," he says. Monday's match lasted two hours and 52 minutes.

"Three years ago, that would have been tough. I have come a long way and worked really hard with it. I don't take it for granted."

Three years ago, Fish was a legitimate contender on the ATP Tour. Now he is more of a mentor than a threat to his fellow players. Fish says he wants to be the role model he could not find when dealing with his anxiety.

Mardy Fish Ear

"He's been out of competitive tennis, it seems, like much longer than it actually has been," says John Isner, the current highest-ranked American player at No. 13. "He's dealt with a lot of health issues, a lot of scary health issues, which he's been very open about, which I think has helped him. I think he showed in Cincinnati he's got a lot of game left (Fish won his other match of the season, 6-2, 6-2 over current world No. 22 Viktor Troicki). If he wanted to play after this U.S. Open, he definitely could."

Fish used to practice with a heart rate monitor to track how fast he could get his heart rate down. No longer having the pressure of being a top-ranked player allows Fish to enjoy the ride in this final U.S. Open -- and spread his story.

"Anxiety disorder is where your mind takes over and usually goes into the future and sort of predicts what you think is going to happen, and usually, it's bad stuff," Fish says. "If it helps me to talk about it, maybe it helps other people to talk about it."

Venus Williams has dealt with her own off-court health issues, such as Sjögren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease. In 2011, Williams made a sudden withdrawal in the second round at the U.S. Open.

"The important thing is not to complain about it," Williams says of Fish's disorder. "He's taking it like a man. It's really bad luck what's happened to him, but he's held his head high. He's made something of his opportunities here."

Mardy Fish Laugh

Critics may say it is impossible to treat a mental disease such as anxiety "like a man." These are just extra demons for Fish to beat.

"There are tens of millions of Americans that deal with it on a daily basis," Fish says. "There's a ton of guys in the locker room I'm sure that have trouble with it from whatever level it is. I have spoken to some male and female players about it, privately. Maybe they are just not comfortable right here with cameras on them talking about it."

With all of the fame and fortunate that come with every victory in sports, it is rare to see an athlete focus on personal goals unrelated to winning and losing. He could have rolled over in 2013 or 2014 and called it quits. He had an accomplished career by age 30 and no shame. Instead, he pushed through for one last summer hurrah.

"I want to sort of take in everything and enjoy all aspects of this tournament because it is so great, but sometimes, it's hard," he says.

On Monday, he was on top of his sport, not on paper, but on his conscience.

At the end of the day, how Mardy Fish feels is all Mardy Fish will care about.

Fish will meet No. 18 seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain in the second round.








Earlier this year, Ryan McGuire lost one of his kindergarten classmates, Danny Nickerson, to pediatric cancer.

McGuire wanted to do something. The golf fanatic came up with an idea: play 100 holes in a single day as a fundraiser for cancer research.

As Golf.com reports, he started out with a goal of $2,500. But his campaign was popular, so he increased the target amount to $5,000.

And in the end, McGuire blew away even his lofty expectations -- he raised $40,000 through his campaign.

In a video published by the PGA Tour, McGuire discusses the experience.

"I was just thinking about that [Danny's] really proud of me," says McGuire in the video.

McGuire, who was taking part of the Golf Fights Cancer campaign, wound up the top overall earner. The money will be donated to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where his friend was treated.

The rest of us can feel a little worse about our own life achievements, but we can take solace that people like Ryan McGuire are out there.

Tags:
Golf, PGA Tour

In Iran, women are strongly discouraged from attending soccer matches in public. So those female soccer fans aren't sitting on the sidelines anymore -- they're playing the game themselves.

Iran Soccer

Even in Iran's oppressive culture, revolution is happening. A generation of females is playing soccer as never before. That's no exaggeration: As recently as 2005, there were no Iranian women playing organized soccer in the country.

According to a new feature by Bill Spindle in The Wall Street Journal, that number is now up to 4,000 and growing.

At the heart of this change is an Iranian-American woman. Katyoun Khosrowyar, 27, is captain of the Iranian women's national soccer team. She has lived in Iran for 10 years and is constantly working to make soccer more accessible to the country's females.

Khosrowyar is also coach of the country's under-14 women's team, but she plays a large political role in the revolution. Recently, she helped argue against the wearing of headscarves when playing on the field.

The Iranian women's national team has not found much success on the international level, but it is helping spur rapid participation in the sport -- one that has many eager young players but a lack of coaches with their own experience.

"The biggest challenge we have is the lack of leader coaches," said Iran's head of women's soccer programs to the WSJ. "[Khosrowyar] is just one, but she’s got a great future."

Thanks to the impending nuclear deal with Iran, new opportunities may bring in sponsorship deals and other agreements between Iran's soccer programs and organizations in Europe and America, which could continue to foster women's soccer in the country.

For years, Iran's women were only able to compete in riflery -- a sport that they could do while fully covered, and individually.

But small soccer leagues and soccer-loving groups began to form, and the prospect of international competition began to attract more females to the sport.

Now, soccer is one of the biggest games among females in Iran -- and a possible key to further social progress in the country.

Benjamin Watson wasn't sure if he should share his thoughts on racial tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, last year, but the Saints tight end braved the uncertainty and posted a message to Facebook. Posted shortly after a grand jury declined to indict officer Darren Wilson for firing the shots that killed Michael Brown, Watson's essay instantly went viral, earning engagement from celebrities and hitting Watson with a wave of positive feedback. Months later, Watson continues to be rewarded for his decision to speak honestly about a tough subject.

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Jen Welter Sled

Almost three weeks into her new job, inside linebackers coaching assistant Jen Welter is still generating buzz among Arizona Cardinals fans at the team's training camp. They squint to find her 5-foot-1 frame on the field occupied by players as big as 6-8.

"Where’s this girl at?" fans in the eager crowd utter.

They're interested to see the first female on an NFL coaching staff in action, and it is no surprise that she is already well received.

Jen Welter

“I know football, and she’s doing a good job,” said Edward Manes, a Cardinals superfan of about 30 years. "I wouldn’t be surprised if they put her in the lineup.”

Welter has become a quick favorite among the players during training camp, who lovingly nicknamed her “Dr. J.” Her respect has been earned and the news of her hiring has drawn the positivity it deserves, because no matter her gender, she is qualified.

Welter found her way into the NFL with a recipe of confidence, toughness and a habit of shattering of glass ceilings. She comes with 15 years of football knowledge, including playing experience and a Masters in sport psychology.

At Sebastian River High School in Sebastian, Florida, she was a decent tennis player, although her lack of height worked against her. But her coach, Tom Fish, father of professional tennis player Mardy Fish, remembers her for other reasons.

“She stood out to me as far as determination, she had a lot of self-belief and she was a fighter," Fish says. "You could tell she was tough. She kind of felt like anything was possible."

It was that attitude that carried Welter to become the first woman to play a non-kicking position in a men’s professional football league.

Welter Homecoming

During Welter's time as a running back and special teams player for the Texas Revolution, recent Hall of Fame inductee and former Revolution GM, Tim Brown, quickly became aware of her mental toughness. But it was her size again that made Brown skeptical when Welter told him she wanted to play.

“She got knocked around and kept getting up,” Brown said recently on ESPN’s Mike & Mike radio show. "She's very passionate about the game and I think she’s going to do the Cardinals very well. Hopefully she’ll be a groundbreaker here and be able to open the door for more women who want to get involved.”

Thankfully for women, particularly those who love football, Welter has already broken ground in the NFL. She is a breath of fresh air to any woman who is tired of hearing, "You know a lot about football -- for a girl."

Jen Welter Field

She has spent her life running, literally, head first at full speed toward her passions, and the world of football is welcoming her with open arms, after enduring some tackles, of course.

To Welter, her accomplishments that shock the rest of the world are only a part of who she is and what she works for. Becky Hammon was able to win the NBA Summer League title coaching the San Antonio Spurs, and Nancy Lieberman is the newest member of the Sacramento Kings staff, because they believed in themselves when others may not have.

"Young women can now see there’s a place for them to be in this game too,” said Cardinals fan Marian Johnson of Tempe, Ariz. "It’s time we’re finally recognized for being able to do everything."

Someone had to do it, and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians picked the right woman for the job.

Tracy Morgan made a public appearance in his birthplace on Tuesday night. The comedian showed up in the front row at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, New York.

Morgan has been a rare sight in public since a June 2014 car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike left him in critical condition. The 46-year-old survived the crash with a broken leg, a broke femur, a broken nose, broken ribs and other injuries.

Morgan's long-time collaborator, James McNair, was killed in the accident.



Two weeks ago, pictures surfaced of Morgan walking without a cane for the first time. This week, his recovery progressed enough to walk into the front row at Yankee Stadium to watch the home team take on the Red Sox.

Morgan, a fixture at Yankee games before his accident, appeared to be in good spirits at the game. The Yankees put him on the 'smile cam' and Morgan blew a kiss back.







I'm Brian Fellow, and I'm okay.


People are monsters. You paint lines to mark individual parking lanes, and you inevitably come across the pickup truck that decides it needs to take two for itself.

Other times, you build a bicycling lane to make alternative modes of transportation safer and more practical, and some jerk decides to park his compact car in the lane. Granted, this scenario doesn't come up all that often. But when it does happen, cyclists are inevitably enraged.

And, if you happen to be a human fortress of muscle commuting on your undersized two-wheeler, you aren't forced to sit by and allow yourself to be abused thus. You could choose to get off your bike, lift up the car, and forcibly remove it from your biking lane.

That's what this guy did.

This video, which was taken Brazil and appears likely to be from Rio, is complemented by the cheers of onlookers who are both thrilled at the physical display of strength and possibly very satisfied that justice is being served.

Rio has been investing into bike lanes for more than 20 years, primarily to solve an endless traffic problem that doesn't seem anywhere close to being solved, despite numerous efforts to improve the city's transportation grid.

The best part of the video comes at the end, when the man quietly -- he never acknowledges the crowd -- gets back on his bike and slowly, slowly pedals on, like a hero into the sunset.

But let this also serves as a PSA to people who think bike lanes are just some extra space to put stuff: Please don't.

In rural India, a group of teenage boys are doing some incredible things to enjoy a game they love.

They are making their own golf clubs -- carving them out of trees they cut down.

An incredible short documentary uploaded to YouTube, titled "Tiger Woods of Bengal," showcases the process the boys undertake to create their own clubs -- and the end products, made only with rough tools, are remarkable in their quality and similarities to actual clubs.

As the film explains, golf is a relatively new past-time in India, but it's catching on quickly. The boys in the film have big aspirations that include representing their country as its top golfers one day.

"We cut wood from the forest and bring it here," says one of the boys, pointing beyond the local golf course to trees in the distance. "Then we peel it and make clubs out of it."

The documentary crew then follows the boys into the forest, which frequently features elephants and leopards.

More dangerous, though, are the forest guards on patrol, who are government-appointed to keep people from cutting down the forest.

Without access to the wood, though, the boys can't play golf -- there is no other way for them to get their hands on the gear they need. So a hooked hatchet is used to cut down the trees, and then the wood is carried off slung over a shoulder.

The full documentary is 16 minutes long, but well worth your time:

Tags:
Golf, India

Frederick Winter has a strict training regimen.

"I try to do aerobics every morning at 6 a.m.," Winter told the Holland Sentinel in Michigan. "If I don’t get it done at 6 a.m., it doesn't get done. I do about 30 minutes worth."

Those daily workouts, which include 100 pushups, paid off. Winter, a World War II veteran, became the first 100-year-old to race the 100-meter dash at the annual National Senior Games, according to Runner's World.

Winter, who turned 100 on June 1, had a time of 42.38 seconds.


Here's video, shot by St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Richard Chin, of Winter's start in the 100 meters:


Winter also won the javelin in the over-100 division with a throw more than 8 meters. The oldest competitor in this year's National Senior Games, 102-year-old John Zilverberg of South Dakota, took second place in the javelin. The Pioneer Press reported that Winter "sat in a wheelchair as he waited for the javelin event to start. He said his grandkids wanted him to use it to save his legs for the competition."

Winter spent 25 years in the Navy, which included nearly drowning in the Battle of Okinawa. He was 70 when he began competing in track and field for the first time since high school.

"I wanted to compare myself, physically, mentally, morally, with people my own age," Winter told West Michigan Sports Commission, "and the one way to do that is to go into track and field."

The Pioneer Press also reported that nearly 10,000 athletes competed in the National Senior Games this year. The event was held at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Charles Barkley may be the worst golfer on TNT's popular "Inside the NBA" show, but Shaquille O'Neal is giving him a run for his money.

The Big Aristotle hit the links Wednesday at the Greenbrier Classic Pro-Am. He characterized his game as "awful," but still better than Barkley's.


For reference, here's a compilation video of Barkley's awful, broken swings:

It's hard to see how anyone could be worse than that, but at least Barkley manages to make contact with the ball. Shaq, on the other hand, struggled with that minor detail. The 7-foot-1 future Hall of Famer missed his first two shots from the tee before finally connecting on the third:

And, of course, making contact calls for a celebration:


Shaq's foursome for the day included Greenbrier owner and tournament chair Jim Justice, Justice's son, Jay, and PGA pro Keegan Bradley.


“He’s a great friend, and his heart is as big as his body,” Jim Justice said last week when O’Neal’s participation was announced. “He genuinely cares about people and loves to give back. We’re going to have a ball.”

If he didn't exactly perform well on the course, Shaq at least did his best to entertain and make the event a memorable one for the fans.


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