Dockers star Pavlich to play on in 2016

Fremantle superstar Matthew Pavlich has announced he’ll play on for a 17th season in 2016.

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The Dockers skipper, who is the club’s record appearance holder with 335 games, took time away from the game to consider his future following the AFL preliminary final defeat by Hawthorn last month.

But the club revealed late on Wednesday that the 33-year-old will go around again after signing a contract extension until the end of next year.

“While I can still play, I will choose to play,” Pavlich said.

“It’s a decision I took very seriously. Retiring and playing on were toing and froing in my mind.

“It didn’t necessarily come to me straight away. I had thorough discussions with (coach) Ross Lyon and (general manager) Chris Bond and they were so supportive and gave me the time and space I needed.

“I needed to ensure the decision being made was the right one and it suited the football club, myself and my family.

“I had some really good conversations with my wife, Lauren and, more recently, with my dad.”

Pavlich said the time away was crucial in coming to his decision.

“To get the time away, get away from football, get away from Perth and really understand what I value and what I want to achieve in this last season was critical,” he said.

Lloyd said Pavlich’s decision was exciting for the club and its supporters.

“Matthew is a tremendous player and an outstanding leader,” he said.

“He has been a champion player for this club. The club was happy to afford Matthew the time to consider his decision and he is 100 per cent committed to playing on and were really excited about that.”

Night swimming with manta rays

A three-metre-wide creature swooping within inches of your face in the middle of a dark ocean probably isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

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But night snorkelling with giant manta rays off the Kona coast in Hawaii is undoubtedly a major drawcard for tourists.

I had the chance to get in the water with these creatures during a seven-night trip with Un-Cruise Adventures, which touts the activity as “thrilling” and an “unbelievable experience”.

Lonely Planet says it is one of the top 10 activities on Hawaii’s Big Island, and the Travel Channel apparently voted it “one of the top 10 things to do in your life”.

I was yet to be convinced.

A Kona Dive Company guide came on board to give us a quick lesson on manta rays and what we could expect from our hour in the water.

He made a few points that got me over the line and into the water:

One: manta rays are not stingrays and therefore do not have the eponymous weapon.

Two: manta rays do not have teeth.

Three: we were not supposed to kick around too much because it could scare them off. I assume it was not the guide’s intention, but I liked that I now had a way to fight off these stingless, toothless monsters.

I shrugged into my wetsuit, and jumped into a skiff to be taken to the snorkelling site about 200 metre from the ship.

To attract the plankton and, in turn, the manta rays, divers put spotlights on the sea floor and snorkellers grip surfboards with torches pointing downwards.

Just that scene itself was amazing. About 100 people in full rubber suits and masks bobbing in the dark ocean with sharp lights coming up through the water was like something out of a science fiction movie.

We split into groups, six to a board, and lay still as the plankton gathered, wondering if the guide’s “we see manta on 90 per cent of our outings” was going to apply to us.

It was quite clear when the first one appeared because fingers jutted out from all directions, everyone eager to point it out.

We got cooler as more arrived though, eventually just enjoying the experience and not feeling the need to alert each other to the new arrivals.

After 40 minutes of watching the rays cruise through the water, the winter Hawaiian waters had taken me to my limit and I climbed out shivering.

I agree, it was a thrilling, unbelievable experience – and I was also pretty stoked to have not been eaten.

MANTA RAY GREEN LIST:

– Industry standards for interaction with manta rays off Kona were created in 2013.

– They aim to protect manta rays, the aquatic environment and the people viewing the sea life.

– A list of activity providers that follow the guidelines can be found at Manta Ray Advocates Green List (杭州桑拿网,杭州桑拿,mantaraygreenlist杭州桑拿会所,).

The writer was a guest of Un-Cruise Adventures.

FFA hopeful on flare restrictions in NSW

Football Federation Australia (FFA) is hopeful the NSW Government will adopt legislation to make it harder to buy flares and light them at A-League matches, following a string of violent displays in last weekend’s Sydney derby.

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FFA chief executive David Gallop said he’s had promising discussions with government representatives about implementing restrictions like those on spray paint, where the buyer’s name is entered into a system and a serial number matched to the flare so they can be tracked.

The restrictions would also make it illegal for minors to purchase them or for adults to supply them to under-18s.

Gallop said the concept would be another step towards putting a stop to incidents that are becoming a regular occurrence in the high-intensity fixtures between Sydney FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers.

“We have written to the governments in NSW and Victoria and requested that there be more regulation around the purchase of flares,” he said.

“Graffiti spray can paint is under a legislative system now where you need to register to buy it, and we would certainly like to see that kind of thing brought in with marine flares.

“At the moment it’s too easy to buy a marine flare and use it for the wrong purposes.

“Those that I’ve spoken to in the government like the idea, so I’m hopeful. It’s obviously not an easy process to get legislation enacted, but I’m hopeful that will be one measure that they do adopt.”

A number of flares were smuggled in and lit on Saturday night at Allianz Stadium, where a brawl involving more than 60 people was among a string of violent incidents.

Police used capsicum spray to break up the fight between Sky Blues and Wanderers fan, while three people were charged during the night that saw smoke bombs set off and bottles thrown.

The Wanderers have long denounced any sort of violence along with the use of flares amid the Red and Black Bloc (RBB) supporters group.

“It’s difficult to hold clubs necessarily liable for flares,” Gallop said.

“There are security measures in place to try to stop flares coming into ground.”

Teenage geek overcomes disability

Video editing has helped Christopher Hills communicate with the world.

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Before he discovered how to cut and produce clips, the only people who could understand the teenager were his immediate family.

Christopher has cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic – the conditions mean his muscle function and speech are severely limited, involuntarily producing spasms and slurring his words.

But the 19-year-old’s mind is sharp as a tack.

And thanks to technology he’s become a certified professional video editor with Apple, is the owner of Switched-On Video Editing and a paid consultant.

It’s hard to follow him editing video on the screen because he does it with lightning fast speed.

Using accessibility software controlled with a button at the back of his wheelchair headrest, Christopher toggles through screens, surfs the web and cuts video with precision.

The self-described geek says it was a different scenario three years ago, when he struggled to be understood.

Today he uses video and YouTube to communicate.

“I have been able to connect with lots of amazing people all around the world using social media and email,” Christopher told AAP on Wednesday, speaking through his father Gary.

“Just for example, I’m part of a Facebook group of professional video editors who uses (software program) Final Cut Pro and I communicate with them without any barriers of speech.”

Christopher says his greatest achievement is the I Am More Powerful series of short videos which shows him working beside more able-bodied editors, showing he can do almost anything they can.

On Thursday, he’ll give a speech about his journey to the Disability in the 21st Century conference in Brisbane, which promotes technological innovation for the disability sector.

For now he’s looking forward to developments in technology and editing a feature film one day.

“Anytime there is some new technology that comes out, it opens up my world a little bit more and that’s very exciting.”

Women’s pill ‘hope for prostate cancer’

A gene-targeting pill for women may provide a highly effective treatment for up to a third of men with advanced prostate cancer, trial results have shown.

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Olaparib, the first marketed drug to tackle inherited cancer mutations, was licensed last year for women with ovarian cancer who have faulty BRCA genes.

The new trial, described as a “milestone” by the UK’s Institute of Cancer Research, found it could also halt tumour growth in many men with treatment-resistant prostate cancer.

Of the 49 men taking part, a third responded to the drug. Cancers stopped growing, numbers of circulating tumour cells in the blood fell and clinically positive results were obtained from scans.

Levels of PSA – the blood marker used to track the progress of prostate cancer – also plunged by up to 96 per cent.

Chief investigator Professor Johann de Bono, from the Institute of Cancer Research, said: “We can detect prostate cancers with specific targetable mutations using genomic sequencing to deliver more precise cancer care by matching treatment to those men most likely to benefit.”

Sixteen patients had detectable faults in genes that play a role in repairing damaged DNA, including BRCA 1 and 2. Of these, 14 responded very well to olaparib.

A second stage of the trial is now planned that will only recruit men with prostate cancer who have similar detectable gene defects.

If this study also yields positive results, olaparib could become a new treatment option for men with genetically driven advanced prostate cancer, say the researchers.

Women with breast cancer and defective BRCA genes are also known to respond to olaparib.

The new findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In 84 per cent of prostate cancer cases, patients live 10 or more years, but once the disease has spread and stopped responding to hormone treatments, the chances of survival are much slimmer.

Dr Aine McCarthy, from Cancer Research UK, said: “This trial is exciting because it could offer a new way to treat prostate cancer by targeting genetic mistakes in cancers that have spread.”

Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “These results demonstrate just how much we can benefit from the success of treatments for other disease.”

The research received support from the Movember Foundation, which raises funds and cancer awareness by promoting the growth of moustaches.