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Peyton Manning drops by University of Tennessee online class to surprise students

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iStock(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) — Football legend Peyton Manning surprised University of Tennessee students in an online class Thursday.

Students in a communication studies senior Capstone class were shocked to see Manning suddenly appear on their Zoom chat after their professor, John Haas, said, “Mr. Thompson, I think you’re late for class.”

The former professional football player, a two-time Super Bowl champion, then responded, “I’m sorry Dr. Haas. It’s been a while. It’s been at least since 1996 or 7 since I’ve been in a class.”

Manning graduated from UT in 1997 and often shows off his pride for the Vols.

Manning then shared a message of hope and positivity for the students, who are completing their courses from home for the duration of the semester due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m just wanting to drop in and say hello to all the fellow communication students there, [I] realize this is a unique time and probably not the ideal way you guys expected to spend your senior year,” Manning told the students.

“But I just encourage you to keep a positive attitude, keep working like you’re doing and try to take advantage of the little bit of the extra time you have to accomplish something else or help out somebody in need — a lot of people are hurting out there during this time,” he continued.

He also encouraged students to “be thankful” for their blessings and reminded them that, “the University of Tennessee is proud of you and going to support you every way they can, and Dr. Haas and his department are going to do the same thing.”

Ireland Rowe, a senior at UT, said she felt “like a 10 year old on Christmas morning.”

“When you think of UT, one of the first things you think of is Peyton Manning,” she said in a statement to Good Morning America. “He has remained connected to the university over the years which is inspiring to see. Him joining our Zoom class session was the boost of confidence we needed to finish the rest of our semester.”

She added, “It’s incredible to be able to witness moments of encouragement during a time like this, especially from a hero of every Volunteer.”

Another student in Haas’ class, Rachel Katzara, also expressed her thanks for Manning’s surprise and her professor’s part in it.

“All of us have adjusted to the online format and are trying to stay focused on the semester, and finishing strong,” she shared. “That being said, I know a lot of us are sad. We are missing our friends and professors, and navigating through the crisis like all Americans, the best we can. Our faculty at the University of Tennessee has been outstanding in this time, and the fact that they are taking time out to think of ways to keep us all smiling has been just amazing!”

Manning and his former professor have a bond that goes way back.

In 2018, the former pro donated $1 million to his alma mater to create the John Haas Student Experiential Learning Endowment in honor of Haas.

“Exceptional teachers transform your way of learning by challenging and motivating you while teaching more than just a subject,” Manning said in a statement at the time. “For me and so many others, that teacher was Dr. John Haas.”

The respect is definitely mutual. Haas told GMA that Manning “truly represents what it means to be a Volunteer in every sense of the word.”

“He’s always the first to step up and come to the aid of those who need assistance,” Haas said in a statement. “As an alum, he has stayed connected to the University of Tennessee for more than 20 years now. He has such a positive impact on our students and campus community.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Katelyn Ohashi teams up with gym to help gymnasts work out at home

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — While many fitness centers have closed their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, one gym in the New York City borough of Brooklyn is taking to social media to keep many of their members active at home.

When Gotham Gymnastics, a facility for aspiring young gymnasts, was forced to temporarily close due to government mandates, its CEO and co-founder Daniel Miranda as well as team director and co-founder Ana Nunes came up with the idea to take their workout sessions to Instagram.

“We did this for our girls first,” Miranda told ABC News in an interview on Good Morning America.

“We realized with all the posts out there,” he continued, “all the girls sharing comments of ideas about what to do, we came across the idea of getting other girls from other gyms to join too. And this thing just grew in two days, it was an incredible response.”

Last week, the two coaches launched #Quaranteams, which they’re calling the largest gymnastics web camp in the world to keep athletes motivated.

It was also their way of responding to the many events and meets that were cancelled amid the pandemic which gymnasts had worked hard preparing for.

“When we saw the championships being cancelled, we thought, oh my gosh, these girls worked really hard to be able to go to the championships, and some of them have senior years, some of them are preparing for the Olympics,” Miranda said.

For six days each week, Gotham Gymnastics has scheduled workouts on Instagram live with coaches and professionals who help bring lessons to gymnasts at home. Not only has it sparked interest among gymnasts in Brooklyn, but elsewhere around the world too.

One of the professional gymnasts they asked to join this week’s workouts is star gymnast, Katelyn Ohashi, who last year scored perfect 10s for her energetic, viral floor routine while competing for the University of California, Los Angeles.

“To know that these coaches at Gotham are extremely invested in their gymnasts and support them throughout this pandemic is incredible and super cool to see,” Ohashi told GMA. “The creativity behind it and to know that they’re working on so many different ways to stay involved and to encourage everyone — and it’s not just about their gymnasts, it’s also about the world, so that’s even cooler.”

“There’s just kind of a lot of stuff happening within our world, so we are just trying to be as positive as possible through these times and teach them [gymnasts] as much insight as we can on what to do during our days locked inside the house in quarantine,” she added.

Ohashi’s workout session, which took place Thursday on Instagram, included a variety of lower body workouts and stretches.

On Sunday, Ohashi, Miranda and UCLA head coach and fellow Gotham Advisory Board Member Valorie “Miss Val” Kondos Field took part in a Q&A that was live streamed on Instagram, where they offered tips for gymnasts on how to stay motivated while self-isolating at home.

“Right now, while it’s a stressful time — I feel it myself — we can look at the positive,” Miss Val told GMA, regarding working out at home. “You [young athletes] have a time right now to really work on your strengths, but also your weaknesses.”

Ohashi also shared that even though it is important to stay active, she also advised that this is a time that many should use to rest. During her Q&A on Sunday, she spoke about the importance of the Sabbath and taking the time to reflect.

“Sabbath rest is extremely important just because, it is OK to let down during this time and have a little bit of relaxation and self-reflection and do things that you don’t always get to prioritize,” she said. “Really focusing on what you enjoy outside of the sport right now and the things that you can do at home and getting creative and doing certain things — I just think can help set them up for the future even more so.”

While Gotham Gymnastics is one of many gyms across the country who have been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic of the novel coronavirus, Miranda has made it a point to focus on the positive during this time and he hopes athletes will do the same.

“It’s a big hit for not just athletes, but you know for the economy and everything else,” Miranda said. “But the message is, you’re not alone. We’re together — we’re together in this … instead of the internet being a vehicle of posting hate, we should be using it to bring people together in this moment.”

“This is going to pass,” he added.

You can check out Gotham Gymnastics’ #Quaranteams schedule for the week on their website here.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

NBA star Russell Westbrook details how he's helping LA families hit hard by coronavirus

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ABC News(LOS ANGELES) — As the NBA season remains at a standstill, one of its star players has found a way to lend a helping hand to those most in need amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Los Angeles native Russell Westbrook joined Good Morning America via Skype from his home to discuss how he and his wife Nina have joined forces with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office through their Why Not? Foundation to launch the Angeleno Campaign.

“I’m excited about it. It’s a campaign that’s something that will be from my foundation finding ways to give cash and give access to families and people that’s in need, especially in a time like this,” he explained. “Obviously in times like this, you have to find ways to immediately impact as many people as possible, and I think this is the best way to do it thus far.”

He added that being able to use his platform to give back to his hometown is “a blessing.”

For people who want to help, Westbrook said “text LA Love to 21000. You can donate there, text it there, and it’s very easy and very simple to do.”

“My biggest thing now is to impact and inspire as many people as possible,” he reiterated. “I’m trying to find more ways to give people hope, confidence, a sense of swagger to themselves that they can do and put their mind to do anything they want to do.”

With the NBA season on an indefinite hiatus, Westbrook said he has enjoyed the time to be home with his wife and children.

“It’s been great. My kids, I’m pretty sure they enjoy it so much. It’s something that I really enjoy getting a chance to wake up with them every morning,” the Houston Rockets point guard said.

He added that he’s been able to help his wife, who is a former UCLA basketball star, “with the daily duties that she’s always been doing.”

“[She’s been] doing an amazing job of raising our children while I’m away, and so I’m excited, I’m blessed to be home with the family, and I’m enjoying myself,” he said.

Westbrook has also found fun and inventive ways to train at home with his family as they stay home amid the pandemic.

He took on the viral pushup challenge on Instagram and leveled up with some added weight, courtesy of his 3-year-old son Noah.

“[I’m] finding ways to be able to bring all of us together, and if that’s the push-up challenge with your kid on your back, I think we should all try it and kind of see what happens,” he said with a laugh. “My son’s pretty big and pretty heavy, but we managed it.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

How Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte reacted to Tokyo news and what he's doing to train

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — After four Olympics, 12 medals and another four years of training, Ryan Lochte will have to wait a bit longer to jump back into the swimming pool after the International Olympic Committee announced the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the six-time gold medalist said this is bigger than any of the athletes and they will adjust their training and be ready to compete when the time comes.

“Training will never be perfect, and there’s always going to be something like a bump in the road, and that’s how us athletes train, and this is just another bump in the road,” Lochte told ABC News’ Good Morning America via Skype from his home in Florida on Wednesday.

“The Olympics are not canceled. They’re just postponed. So now you have to adjust your training for another year, and just — trust the process,” he continued. “Everything happens for a reason.”

The games, which were originally set to kick off in Tokyo on July 24, “will be held by the summer of 2021,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Tuesday.

“As soon as I saw it I was disappointed. I mean, I have trained four years for this moment, and this is probably one of my biggest Olympics — that I have ever had in my career,” Lochte said. “But this is bigger than me, this is bigger than the Olympians. This is affecting the entire world. And right now our main thing is staying safe and staying healthy.”

Until the COVID-19 crisis is resolved, Lochte, 36, said he is spending lots of time “deep cleaning the house,” adding more dry land training to his routine and enjoying time with his family during this stay-at-home period.

“We’re going on family walks, and since all the pools are closed, I can’t be swimming right now, but I’m doing a lot of ab workouts and stuff like that,” he said.

The IOC said the historic first-time move to postpone the games was made to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Uncertainty shrouds Tokyo 2020 Olympics amid coronavirus pandemic

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Carl Court/Getty Images(LONDON) — As the novel coronovirus pandemic solidifies its grip around the globe, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged on Monday that delaying the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo was “unavoidable.”

“If it is difficult to hold [the Games] in a complete way, a decision of postponement would be unavoidable,” Abe told lawmakers during a parliamentary session in Tokyo.

Abe pushed hard for Tokyo’s selection as the host city during an International Olympic Committee meeting in 2013. Until now, the Japanese prime minister and Olympic organizers have held firm that the Games will kick off as planned on July 24.

Japan appears to have successfully slowed the spread of the respiratory virus on home soil so far, with just 1,101 diagnosed cases as of Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering. But as the health crisis deepens in other parts of the world, including Europe and North America, a growing number of Olympic teams and athletes are calling on organizers to postpone or cancel the upcoming Games.

The International Olympic Committee’s executive board on Sunday said it would assess the worldwide situation over the next four weeks and make a decision that could include the scenario of postponing the Games. The board, however, emphasized that it has no current plans to outright cancel the 2020 Summer Olympics as such a scenario “would not solve any of the problems or help anybody.”

Just hours after the International Olympic Committee said it would consider delaying — but not canceling — the Tokyo Games, Canada became the first country to announce it won’t be sending athletes to this year’s Olympics due to risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee called on organizers to delay the Games for one year.

“While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community,” the committees said in a joint statement Sunday. “This is not solely about athlete health — it is about public health.”

Australia followed suit Monday. After deciding unanimously not to send a team, the Australian Olympic Committee said in a statement that “our athletes now need to prioritize their own health and of those around them, and to be able to return to the families.”

Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll said athletes should prepare for the Tokyo Games in 2021.

“The athletes desperately want to go to the games,” Carroll told reporters in Sydney on Monday, “but they also take onboard their own personal health.”

“We need to give our athletes that certainty,” he added, “and that’s what we’ve done.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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