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Sports briefs for June 18, 2013

By BDN Staff and Wire Reports, Special to the BDN

Ex-Maine hockey assistant named Alaska-Anchorage coach

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Former University of Maine assistant coach Matt Thomas, who spent two seasons in Orono (2000-2002), has been named the new head hockey coach at the University of Alaska-Anchorage.

He had spent the past nine seasons as a head coach and a general manager in the ECHL which is the hockey equivalent of Double-A baseball.

He led the Stockton Thunder to a 37-26-5 record and a berth in the Kelly Cup finals this past season. He has a career record of 342-225-80. He was also the coach/GM with the Fresno Falcons and the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies.

Thomas played four seasons at the Rochester Institute of Technology and was a captain.

He spent one season as an assistant at RIT before coming to Maine.

The Mississauga, Ontario, native replaces Dave Shyiak, who was fired. Thomas was one of six finalists for the job.

Venus Williams withdraws from Wimbledon

Five-time Wimbledon champ Venus Williams won’t play at the grass court Grand Slam for the first time since her 1997 debut, as the 33-year-old pulled out of the tournament Tuesday with a lower-back injury.

Williams has played at Wimbledon for 16 straight years, but lost in the first round last year. She won the singles trophy in 2000-01, 2005 and 2007-08.

Williams has struggled with a back issues for a while, and had played in just three matches in the last two-plus months. She was hobbled a during a three-set, three-hour loss to 40th-ranked Urszula Radwanska of Poland in the first round of last month’s French Open. She also cited her back when she and younger sister Serena withdrew from the doubles competition.

Once ranked No. 1, the older Williams has slipped to No. 34. She’s also still coping with performing as a professional athlete with an energy-affecting autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s syndrome. Venus has two first-round losses in her previous four Grand Slam tournaments.

ALS victim accepts apology from radio hosts

Former NFL player Steve Gleason accepted the apologies of three Atlanta radio personalities who made fun of his Lou Gehrig’s disease in a bit Monday.

“I think everyone can learn from this event,” Gleason posted on his organization’s Facebook page. “It’s clear to me that, on a national & global scale, ALS is not understood, which is part of why it’s underfunded and largely ignored. In the past 36 hours lots of people have been talking. Let’s talk about this… There are zero treatments for ALS. If you take any action as a result of this event, I prefer it to be action to end ALS.

Gleason, 36, further asked the public to visit his website to see what Team Gleason is doing to fight the disease.

A former safety who played for the New Orleans Saints from 2000-06, Gleason was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2011. He thanked “the public for their support.”

790 The Zone hosts Nick Cellini, Steak Shapiro and Chris Dimino were fired Monday after their morning segment that mocked Gleason. All three apologized on Twitter.

Louganis diving into marriage

Former Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis will take another plunge this fall.

The 53-year-old is planning to marry paralegal Johnny Chaillot, according to People magazine.

Louganis, a four-time gold medalist, is the only man to win consecutive Olympic titles in springboard and platform diving, taking the medals in 1984 at Los Angeles and 1988 at Seoul.

He announced he was gay in 1994, after his diving career ended. A year later, he announced he was HIV-positive.

He currently serves as an athlete mentor for USA Diving, and has been seen as a coach on ABC’s reality diving competition, “Splash.”

Olympic failure led to Russian athlete’s suicide

Russian judo artist Elena Ivashchenko committed suicide last weekend over her failure to win a medal at the 2012 London Olympics, an official from the sport told the Russian state news agency, RIA Novosti.

The four-time European judo champion died Saturday at age 28 after jumping off the balcony of a 15th-floor apartment in the Siberian city of Tyumen.

Vyacheslav Yurlov, the director of a Tyumen judo center, told RIA Novosti that Ivashchenko had been depressed since b being eliminated in the quarterfinals at the London Games.

Beckham received NFL interest

David Beckham received an invitation from an NFL team to tryout as a placekicker, the London Mirror reported.

The UK newspaper said the 38-year-old recent retiree was approached about a potential tryout before he left the LA Galaxy MLS franchise.

“The offer came in and he politely said it wasn’t right for him,” a source told the Mirror. “Perhaps in the next few months he could change his mind.”

The NFL might welcome the international appeal of Beckham, whose marketing reach fits the league’s plan to increase overseas exposure with multiple game in London and speculation that a franchise could someday relocate.

Several NFL kickers are former soccer players, including Stephen Gostkowski of the New England Patriots and Nick Folk of the Jets, who once trained with Manchester United’s club team and has a younger brother on the U.S. National team.

Adidas expects record soccer sales in Cup year 2014

HERZOGENAURACH, Germany, June 18 (Reuters) — German sportswear group Adidas expects record sales from its soccer division of 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in 2014 when the World Cup is played in Brazil, the company said on Tuesday.

That figure is an increase on sales of more than 1.7 billion euros from the division in 2012, company officials said. Adidas is a sponsor of the World Cup and will supply match balls, kit for referees and volunteers in Brazil.

“The FIFA World Cup is the perfect stage to showcase our company, our brands and our products,” Addias CEO Herbert Hainer told reporters at the company’s headquarters in southern Germany.

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