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Blue Jays convince Oliver to put off retirement plans

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TORONTO -- Frustrated with how last season ended and ready to become a full-time dad, Toronto Blue Jays reliever Darren Oliver was ready to retire after 19 seasons in the major leagues.

A big trade and a visit from Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos changed that.

The Blue Jays are bringing back the 42-year-old veteran for a 20th season. They previously exercised Oliver's US$3-million option for the 2013 season, and announced Wednesday that they have convinced the reliever to return to Toronto.

Oliver, the Blue Jays set-up man for most of 2012, posted a 2.06 earned-run average with the Blue Jays last season, his first in Toronto. It was the lowest ERA of the southpaw's career and the third-lowest mark in the American League among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched.

Despite his success, he was considering retirement and wasn't prepared to return to Toronto without his wife and two children.

"I've always told you guys, I'll play until they tear my jersey off," Oliver said. "But I've got three other people I've got to take care of and they're the first and foremost."

That's when Anthopoulos and director of scouting Perry Minasian made a trip to Dallas to convince Oliver's family to come back.

Scott, Canada place second

YONGCHUAN, China -- Canada's new-look women's soccer team played Norway to a scoreless draw Wednesday to finish second at the Four Nations tournament.

Norway won the round-robin event -- finishing three points ahead of the Canadians -- who debuted seven new players and were missing star striker Christine Sinclair. Winnipeg's Desiree Scott played in the event and saw action for 75 minutes in the final match.

Sinclair is serving a four-game suspension for an incident following Canada's overtime loss to the United States in the Olympic semifinals.

The Canadians opened the tournament with a 1-0 victory over the host side before dropping a 3-1 decision to South Korea in their second game.

The Canadians will next be in action at the March 4-13 Cyprus Cup.

Heymans retires an Olys hero

MONTREAL -- With four Olympic medals under her belt and countless titles and accolades collected over two decades, Emilie Heymans has decided now is the right time to end her professional diving career.

The 31-year-old made her retirement official on Wednesday at Centre Claude Robillard, the Montreal training facility where it all started for her in 1993.

The veteran athlete leaves the pool after winning medals in four consecutive Games -- becoming the first female diver and first Canadian summer Olympian to do so.

"I still took a few months to make my decision because it is not a very easy decision to make for an athlete," a teary-eyed Heymans told a news conference. "Diving is what I have done all my life and I love it."

Hazing ruling upheld

HALIFAX -- The president of Dalhousie University in Halifax has upheld a decision to suspend most of the school's women's hockey team after a hazing incident.

Senior players met Monday with Tom Traves and asked him to reverse the suspensions, which has forced the team to forfeit its season.

But the university said Wednesday that Traves was unswayed by the team's plea.

"Following discussion at the meeting, Dr. Traves agreed to further consider their comments," said the statement. "Dr. Traves has now confirmed that the decision to suspend the players, other than the first year players, stands."

All but the team's rookie players were suspended Jan. 3 after the university investigated allegations of hazing at a private house party last September.

Dalhousie University has said the party involved excessive drinking, intimidation and humiliation, but won't elaborate because of privacy issues.

Players have accused the university of overreacting, saying no players were harmed during the evening or forced to take part in any activities.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 17, 2013 D5

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