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Dragon Con thrills and chills

Photo: Tour de France cyclist shares shocking photo of veiny legs

People across the world marvel at athletes’ physiques and rightfully so. They train months, even years, to get in great shape. 

>> Read more trending news 

However, what people don’t always see is the grueling effect it has on the body. Polish cyclist Pawel Poljanski changed that this week when he shared a picture of his veiny, muscular legs on Instagram

Poljanski, who is competing in the Tour de France, captioned his photo: “After sixteen stages I think my legs look (a) little tired.”

In just 21 hours, the photo garnered more than 22,000 likes on Instagram and hundreds of comments. 

The image was also shared on Twitter, where users expressed awe and disgust.

Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro receives Pat Tillman Award at 2017 ESPYs

During the 2017 ESPY Awards Wednesday night, comedian and television host Jon Stewart presented U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro with the Pat Tillman Award for service. 

>> Read more trending news 

Del Toro was severely injured while on tour in Afghanistan in 2005 when his military truck drove over a bomb. Del Toro lost most of his fingers and more than 80 percent of his body was severely burned. He went into a coma for three months and was given a 15 percent chance of survival. When he awoke from the coma, he was told he likely wouldn’t be able to breathe or walk again on his own. 

Del Toro not only did both, he also used sports as rehabilitation, later competing in the Invictus Games, a sports competition for wounded service members. In 2014, he won a silver medal in powerlifting, and in 2016, he won gold in the shot put.

He was awarded Wednesday for his perseverance, military service and athletic pursuits, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“He found a way not just to survive against the odds, but to thrive. He is a study in strength, tenacity, bravery and service,” Stewart said, calling Del Toro “a soldier who has gone through pain and struggling you would not believe just to survive and be here tonight.”

Del Toro said he was honored and humbled to receive the award. 

“Receiving this award is still strange for me. I don’t see myself as someone special,” he said at the awards show. “Thank you for letting this guy who just had a bad day at work feel like someone special tonight.”

Del Toro talked about what it felt like to be tapped for the award last month.  

“I’m humbled for even being considered for this prestigious award named after Pat Tillman, a man I admire, but to actually receive this honor is unbelievable,” Del Toro said in a statement. “When I heard that Pat Tillman gave up a career in the NFL to serve his country after the 911 attacks, it gave me so much pride to call him a brother in arms. He truly is a shining example of Service Before Self. To Mrs. Tillman and the Pat Tillman Foundation, I give you my pledge that I’ll always try to live up to the true meaning of the Pat Tillman Award for Service in everything I do, and to represent his spirit to the best of my ability.”

Del Toro still serves in the military as an Air Force technician.

Pat Tillman, a former NFL player, left the league in 2002 to enlist in the Army after the Sept. 11 attacks. He was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.

U.S. Quidditch Cup, based on Harry Potter books, headed to Texas in 2018

Harry Potter fans, rejoice! The U.S. Quidditch Cup is headed to the Sports Capital of Texas next year.

»RELATED: J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter turns 20 | See how to celebrate

The organization announced the news earlier this week, revealing that the event will be held April 14-15 at the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex.

>> Read more trending news

“We are honored to host the players, families and fans in Round Rock for the U.S. Quidditch Cup in April 2018,” Round Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Nancy Yawn said in a release. “How exciting that the year of the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter, the Sports Capital of Texas gets to announce that the magical, competitive Quidditch national championships will be held here!”

U.S. Quidditch announced finalists for the location of the cup in May, which included Lubbock, Round Rock and Wichita Falls. The finalists were selected based on bids, which were evaluated on location of the bid, the quality of facilities, the amount of financial support and the level of community support, according to the release. Round Rock beat out the others mainly because of the ample room of its facility, it says. 

Though Round Rock has yet to start its own official team, the Austin area is home to two national championship winning teams: Texas Quidditch and Texas Cavalry. In the 2016-17 season, Texas had more teams registered with USQ than any other single state in the league, according to U.S. Quidditch. 

The Quidditch tournament, which first came to life in 2005, is a real-world adaptation of the game Harry Potter and his friends played in the popular book series. The magical sport involves two teams who “fly on brooms,” competing to score the most goals. It can be described as a cross between rugby, basketball and dodge ball.

Want to learn more about the competition? Find out about tickets and teams here

Photos: AJC Peachtree Road Race 2017

Cinco de Mayo: Five things you didn’t know

Cinco de Mayo is upon us. Many will be celebrating the holiday with margaritas and Mexican food.

>> Read more trending news  

Here are five facts about the Mexican holiday that you can use to impress your friends:

1) Despite a common misconception, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. The holiday celebrates the  Battle of Puebla , where, against all odds, the Mexicans made a stand against an invading French army in 1862.

2) Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more in the United States than it is in Mexico, with the exception of the city of Puebla. Mexico holds more of a celebration on its  Independence Day, September 16, than it does on Cinco de Mayo.

3) The holiday means big business for the avocado industry. The  California Avocado Commission says that Americans consume around 81 million avocados during Cinco de Mayo.

4) Chandler, Arizona, has a unique way of celebrating Cinco de Mayo. It hosts a Chihuahua race every year.

>>  Quiz: How much do you know about Cinco de Mayo?

5) The 2010 U.S. Census estimates that about 31.8 million U.S. residents are of Mexican origin. The largest concentration of Mexican-Americans is in Los Angeles, the city that holds the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the U.S.

Solar eclipse stamp changes from eclipsed sun to full moon

To commemorate the total solar eclipse over the US in August, the U.S. Postal Service is releasing a landmark stamp that does something no other stamp can.

The Total Solar Eclipse Forever stamp, which will be issued June 20, changes when you touch it from an image of the eclipsed sun to one of the full moon.

>> Read more trending news

On August 21, the moon will slip between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow that will create the first full solar eclipse over the U.S. in 38 years.

In a swath of the country from South Carolina to Oregon, darkness will reign in the middle of the day for a full two minutes and 40 seconds, beginning at 1:25 p.m. in the Eastern time zone.

>> Related: Time running out to get reservations for the total solar eclipse in US

The solar eclipse stamp image is a photograph taken by astrophysicist Fred Espenak, aka Mr. Eclipse, of Portal, AZ, that shows a total solar eclipse seen from Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006.

Thermochromic ink makes the stamp work. Using the heat of your finger, the image will reveal an underlying image of the moon, which Espenak also took. The image reverts back to the eclipse once it cools.

>> Related: Rare total solar eclipse visible from America in August 

Thermochromic inks are vulnerable to UV light and should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible to preserve this special effect. To help ensure longevity, the Postal Service will be offering a special envelope to hold and protect the stamp pane for a nominal fee.

The back of the stamp will have a map of the eclipse path.

Read more here. 

ESPN anchor draws ire over network’s soft WWE coverage, drops pro wrestling SportsCenter segment

Pro wrestling fans and writers had questioned World Wrestling Entertainment for several weeks after the disappearance of one of its lead announcers from television, Mauro Ranallo, who was suffering from depression.

Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer said Ranallo may have been the victim of WWE’s bullying culture, particularly John Layfield, his color commentator who made disparaging remarks about Ranallo following his absence on TV and during an out-of-character segment on the company’s streaming network.

The allegations became more rampant after the release of “Best Seat in The House,” a book by former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts. Roberts alleged Layfield bullied him and others regularly, particularly announcers. This behavior and culture was not only tolerated but encouraged by WWE owner Vince McMahon.

ESPN started covering WWE regularly last year, launching its own pro wrestling section on its website, and with a weekly SportsCenter segment by ESPN anchor Jonathan Coachman, a former WWE announcer himself.

ESPN has been questioned for its involvement with WWE, especially its reluctance to cover negative news about the company, almost to the point of sticking to storyline-esque interviews on its programming. The questioning began heating up over the weekend when the story bullying story began to go viral. When asked in a tweet if ESPN would cover the controversy, wrestling journalist Meltzer replied expressing doubt in strong language. 

Coachman wasn’t involved in the discussion, but entered the fray anyway with a shot at Meltzer.

In the middle of his argument, Coachman announced he was dropping the weekly WWE segment from SportsCenter. He deleted the Tweet later, then said he had been planning on dropping it for several weeks because of other projects, but his timing seemed suspect. He pointed fans toward ESPN’s vertical for pro wrestling and WWE coverage.

ESPN has drawn ire for its news coverage, often for its abundance of debate shows during the morning hours and conflict of interest of having TV deals with the companies it covers. The network dropped a planned fictional show based on a pro football team after criticism from the NFL, then later dropped support of a PBS Frontline documentary on accusations the NFL had covered up concussion issues. 

John Cena meets 12-year-old fan with cerebral palsy

WrestleMania 33 is Sunday night, and fans will pack the Amway Arena in Orlando or watch the matches live on the WWE Network. John Cena will be one of the headliners in pro wrestling’s biggest showcase.

>> Read more trending news 

Fans all have their favorites, and John Cena certainly ranks high among WWE fans. Recently, Cena made a 12-year-old fan’s dream come true.

At a WWE card in Johnson City, Tennessee, Cena spotted Payton Marion, who has cerebral palsy, and tossed him a T-shirt and wristband, WVLT reported. After the matches, Cena met with Payton and his father, Justin Marion.

“Payton is super excited about all that, all his friends have been aggravating him, calling him a superstar,” Justin Marion told WVLT. “The fact that my son was able to meet one of his heroes, my heart melts, and it was just crazy.”

Justin Marion explained on Reddit that WWE wrestler AJ Styles set up the meeting between Cena and his son.

“He saw us standing around, and asked if we wanted a picture,” Jason Marion said. “Of course we said ‘yes.’ Then he asked if we got to see everyone.”

When Justin Marion said Payton saw everyone but Cena — his favorite wrestler — Styles invited father and son backstage to the locker room.

Cena arrived and chatted with Payton, capping an exciting night for the boy.

Payton Marion said he uses Cena as motivation during his physical therapy.

Cena is one of pro wrestling’s biggest ambassadors, granting more than 500 requests in the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

At SXSW, Joe Biden pushes to end divisions that hamper fight against cancer

In an emotional talk at South by Southwest on Sunday afternoon, former Vice President Joe Biden described his frustration with government silos preventing cancer research from moving forward and described the work he and his wife, Jill Biden, are doing with the Biden Foundation cancer initiative.

The so-called Cancer Moonshot work, which Joe and Jill Biden say they plan to devote the rest of their lives to, was the topic of a much-anticipated presentation at the conference, where government talk has taken center stage amid a divisive political climate.

Joe Biden stopped short of devoting significant time criticizing President Donald Trump’s administration, but did draw applause at one point for referencing Trump by suggesting that not caring about clean air or water is correlated to the fight against cancer.

>> Beau Biden's widow in romantic relationship with his brother, report says

“It frustrates me,” Biden said, without calling Trump by name.

Instead, after being introduced by his wife, Biden spent the bulk of his hour-long Austin Convention Center talk describing what work has been done on the cancer initiative and the work that needs to be done going forward.

In particular, Biden said, 50 years of walls erected between different disciplines need to be broken down.

“If we did nothing more than break down the silos of preventing greater collaboration because of how the system has been arranged, not intentionally ...  we could extend the life of a lot of people with cancer,” Biden said.

As an example, Biden cited a case in which under the administration of former President Barack Obama, $30 million was awarded to improve electronic recordkeeping. “It got divided up five ways, into six different silos. You can’t share information, by design even,” he said.

As to why he chose South by Southwest to deliver this message, Biden said that he needs the collective help of the kinds of people who attend the conference.

“South by Southwest has brought together some of the most creative minds in the world,” Biden said. Even those who work in technology as entertainment can innovate in ways to fight cancer in unexpected ways, he said. 

>> For complete SXSW coverage, head to Statesman.comMyStatesman.com512tech.com and Austin360.com

“That’s why we need your help. You’re the future. We can solve these problems. These are technological problems. These are not cancer problems. Some of the most innovative minds in the world are sitting in front of me,” Biden said.

The cancer moonshot initiative, Biden said, began when he had decided not to run for president in the 2016 election and was ready to announce it in the White House Rose Garden. 

"I would have loved to have been the president who presided over the end of cancer as we know it,” he remembered telling Obama, which put into motion the work, spurred by the death from cancer of his son, Beau Biden.

Biden spoke of the end of his son’s life toward the end of the talk, speaking more quietly and emotionally as he described a clinical trial his son participated in and how he felt when Congress, led by political rival Mitch McConnell, named a chunk of cancer funding for Beau.

“The one thing I know maybe better than anybody living is the Congress,” Joe Biden said. “And guess what? Guess what? The only bipartisan thing left in America is the fight against cancer.”

By the end of the talk, Biden was eliciting tears from the crowd. Referencing John F. Kennedy, he ended the SXSW presentation by describing the desperation of those dying of cancer who want just one more month, or even a day. He concluded: “That’s the urgency of now. This moment. This instant.”

>> Read more trending news

In addition to breaking down walls among disciplines, Biden said making better use of money taxpayers are already putting toward cancer research, better access to clinical trials and more widespread sharing of critical data are keys to the cancer battle.

“Your government that many of you don't like is the vehicle for how this gets funded,” he said.

Biden described a bright spot that has already began to spur change: cancer-sequencing data at the Genomic Data Commons has been accessed online more than 80 million times. Partnerships between research groups, nonprofits and tech companies, he said, will keep data flowing more freely. “It’s a big deal,” he said.

South by Southwest continues through Saturday, March 19.

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