'I hope this serves as a model for other sports' - World surfing moves to gender pay parity

World surfing is riding the gender equality wave to pay parity with the backing of two of the sport's greatest male and female champions.

The World Surf League announced it would award equal prize money for men and women across elite tour events in 2019 and beyond as the season schedule was revealed.

Ahead of taking to the water at California's Surf Ranch Pro on Friday, Australian great Steph Gilmore said the decision was a vote of confidence for the women's format.

"The prize money is fantastic, but the message means even more," the six-time world champion and world No.1 said.

"I hope this serves as a model for other sports, global organisations and society as a whole.

"My fellow women athletes and I are honoured by the confidence in us, and inspired to reward this decision with ever higher levels of surfing."

Eleven-time men's champion Kelly Slater said the move to becoming the first US- based global sports league with equal prize money would set a powerful precedent and challenge the norm.

"The women on the tour deserve this change," the surfing legend said.

"The female WSL athletes are equally committed to their craft as the male athletes and should be paid the same."

Pay parity will be covered across next season's championship, longboard, junior and big wave tours.

The WSL plans to extend equal prize money to other second-tier events as soon as possible.

"We will be working with our partners at competitions where we don't control prize money, such as certain Qualifying Series events, to achieve equality," WSL commissioner Kieren Perrow said.

The world's best surfers will return to Margaret River next season after this year's Western Australian leg was cancelled in mid-April due to aggressive shark activity.

Organisers have rescheduled the event to late May and early June to optimise the tour calendar.

"We've moved the dates of the Margaret River event later in the year to improve the pacing of the season as well as ensure the best chance for world-class conditions at all breaks," Perrow said.

HUNTINGTON BEACH WI - AUGUDT 01: Stephanie Gilmore surfing during the Vans US Open of Surfing on August 01, 2017 in Huntington Beach, CA. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Stephanie Gilmore surfing during the Vans US Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach in California. Source: Getty


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Watch: MLB pitcher makes insane behind-the-back catch on ball drilled back at him

A Major League Baseball pitcher has shown his teammates how it's done in the field after using some impressive reflexes to turn an unlikely double play.

New York Mets left-hander Steven Matz stunned commentators and players alike after he managed to catch a ball hit straight back at him behind his back before recovering and throwing to first for an innings-ending double play.

Matz allowed Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Rhys Hoskins on base with a walk in the fifth innings of today's game before Roman Quinn stepped up to the plate with one out.

Quinn laced a pitch back up the middle of the diamond for what looked like a safe hit until Matz managed to get his glove behind and fall to the ground to not only stop the ball, but make a catch.

Hoskins, who jumped on contact was left frozen and flat-footed by the play as Matz recovered and threw to first base from his knees to complete the third out and earn applause from the Philadelphia crowd.

Unfortunately for Matz, the effort was in vain as the Mets went down to the Phillies 5-2 thanks to a five-run innings later in the game when he was relieved from the mound.

Mets hurler Steven Matz helped himself out of a sticky situation with this bit of magic. Source: SKY


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'It's a pretty normal thing' - humble Kiwi cyclist George Bennett on viral water bottle gift moment

Kiwi cyclist George Bennett says his kind gesture for a young adoring fan, where he handed the cheering supporter his water bottle, is nothing new.

Bennett became a viral sensation despite finishing outside the top 10 at the Vuelta a Espana, when he took the time on the final stage to make one young fan's day.

After receiving applause from a young supporter, Bennett decided to give him an unexpected reward for his enthusiastic cheers during one of the event's climbs – his water bottle.

"This kid was still screaming full gas like I could win the race but I was 15 minutes behind at that stage," Bennett told Stuff.

"I've thrown a thousand bottles to kids in my career and I'll probably throw a thousand more."

The moment was caught on video and shared by the boy's family online.

The gesture has now been viewed hundreds of thousands of times with many heaping praise on Bennett for the gesture.

"This one just got caught on video and there's just something about how enthusiastic the kid was," he said.

"But it's a pretty normal thing at the end of a bike race; there's thousands of kids screaming for your bottle when you're riding to the finish.

"It's quite a cool thing because the fans are so connected to the riders, they're so close and for us it's a bottle, we go through 15-20 a day, but for them it's something pretty cool and hopefully it gets them into cycling."

Bennett may have had a disappointing finish in the Tour of Spain but he made sure he made someone else’s day. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch: The adorable moment Kiwi cyclist George Bennett gained a young fan for life

Kiwi cyclist George Bennett may have had a disappointing finish on the Tour of Spain but a video has emerged that is sure to win him plenty of fans despite the result.

Bennett finished outside the top 10 at the Vuelta a Espana but took time on the final stage to make one young fan's day.

After receiving applause from the young supporter, Bennett decided to give him an unexpected reward for his enthusiastic cheers during one of the event's climbs – his water bottle.

The moment was caught on video and shared by the boy's family on social media.

The gesture has now been viewed hundreds of thousands of times with many heaping praise on Bennett for the gesture.

Bennett may have had a disappointing finish in the Tour of Spain but he made sure he made someone else’s day. Source: 1 NEWS


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Black Sox welcome back veterans in 25-man squad as attention turns from Europe tour to 2019 World Champs

The Black Sox have welcomed back a wealth of experience as well as another young pitching talent to their squad as they turn their attention from their Europe tour to next year's World Championships.

Coach Mark Sorenson has named a 25-man squad to attend a training camp in Palmerston North later this month.

All 17 players who were part of the successful Intercontinental Cup campaign in Prague last month have been included with veteran stars Nathan Nukunuku, Wayne Laulu, Tyrone Bartorillo, Josh Harbrow and Josh Pettett rejoining the squad as well.

The Black Sox used the trip to Europe as an opportunity to introduce six new caps while also getting a better understanding of the playing environment in Prague, where next year's World Championships are also being held.

"The 17 players who toured this year laid down a marker for what is required next year, but we are also excited about welcoming back some of our veteran players, and the competition for places that this will generate," Sorenson said.

"There are still a number of spots up for grabs in the World Cup squad and this camp represents the first step in making this team."

Sorenson has also included Wellington's Zac Boyd after his impressive showing at the Black Sox trials in February while Auckland catcher Harrison Valk has also been included following his strong performance with the Junior Black Sox at the U19 World Championships.

However a new face in the squad is Cantabrian pitcher Ben Watts.

Watts impressed at the National Open Clubs tournament earlier this year, guiding Papanui to the final before they were taken down by Nukunuku's Mount Albert Ramblers.

It's hoped Watts' selection will "bring plenty of heat to the pitching roster" and "further their depth".

The squad will assemble in Palmerston North from October 26-28.

Black Sox: Pita Rona (North Harbour), Benjamin Enoka, Campbell Enoka, Campbell Gibson, Cole Evans, Daniel Chapman, Eruera Drage, Harrison Valk, Kallan Compain, Nathan Nukunuku, Rhys Evans, Thomas Enoka, Zane Van Lieshout (Auckland), Joel Evans, Joseph Ferriso, Nikki Hayes (Hutt Valley), Jerome Raemaki, Josh Petitt, Wayne Laulu, Zac Boyd (Wellington), Ben Watts, Jackson Watt, Joshua Harbrow, Reilly Makea, Tyron Bartarillo (Canterbury).

Junior Black Sox Reilly Makea bats against Czech Republic.
Junior Black Sox Reilly Makea bats against Czech Republic. Source: Softball NZ