Button’s father dies at 70
John Button, father of 2009 world champion Jenson Button and a popular presence in the Formula One paddock, has died of a suspected heart attack aged 70. The McLaren driver’s agent said in a statement that the elder Button’s body was found at his home in France by a friend on Sunday. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh mourned a “unique and … irreplaceable part of the McLaren family,” while drivers and bosses paid fond tributes to the Briton. “In my long Formula One career, I’ve encountered many drivers’ fathers, but I think it’s safe to say that John was perhaps more devoted to his son than any of them,” Whitmarsh said. “Ever since Jenson was a boy, racing go-karts, his dad has been at his side, helping him, supporting him, finding the money for the next race.” Button senior enjoyed a successful career in rallycross before devoting himself to his son’s career.
He attended almost all of Button’s 249 F1 races and could usually be found in the team hospitality with a glass of wine and a steady stream of entertaining racing tales.
Silva frets over deadlines
The Brazilian army general appointed three months ago to coordinate planning for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics compared his new job to “changing a tire on a car that’s moving.” Major General Fernando Azevedo e Silva, named by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to head the Olympic Public Authority, acknowledged in an interview published on Monday in Folha de S. Paulo that deadlines are “very short” to prepare South America’s first Games. Silva’s word will catch the attention of new International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, who is to meet Rousseff, Rio organizers and local government officials in Brazil next week. With less than three years to go, preparations for the Rio Games remain dogged by construction delays, financial uncertainties, environmental worries and possible protests. “We have one thing we can’t change, the date of the opening of the Olympics: Aug. 5, 2016,” Silva said. Some fear the Rio Olympics will face even more organizational problems than this year’s FIFA World Cup, also to be held in Brazil, which FIFA president Sepp Blatter last week said was the “farthest behind” in his four decades of experience. Silva said the two should not be compared, but conceded that the Olympics were more complex. “In the Olympics alone — not counting the Paralympics — there are 41 world championships held at the same time. The World Cup is one sport, soccer.”
Balentien arrested in Miami
A former MLB player who broke Japan’s single-season home run record last year has been arrested in Florida on domestic violence charges, police said on Monday. Court records show that Wladimir Balentien, 29, is facing felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor battery charges after a weekend confrontation in his wife’s house in Miami. An attorney for Balentien’s wife, Karla, said that the couple are going through a divorce. Curacao-born Balentien is an outfielder with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and hit 60 homers last year, breaking Sadaharu Oh’s longstanding record of 55. Balentien also played in the US for the Cincinnati Reds and the Seattle Mariners. According to a police affidavit, Karla Balentien refused to answer the door or her phone when Wladimir arrived at the house on Sunday, so he pulled out several window screens and climbed into the house through a window. Balentien allegedly grabbed his wife’s arm as she was running upstairs and followed her into a bedroom and locked the door, police said.