Sport New York Rangers player Wayne Gretzky in his final career game

Wayne Gretzky, ice hockey’s greatest player,  was born in 1961 in Ontario, Canada, where the sport is more a religion than a hobby. He first skated at the age of two on a rink that his dad Walter had made in the garden of their family home. At six, Gretzky was playing in an under-10s team. His jersey was too big for him, so he started to tuck in the right side of it, a superstition that stuck with him throughout his career.

Stratford sunset: the stadium and the Orbit observation tower

How the internet will solve an Olympian puzzle

Millions of spectators and tourists are expected to flock to London this summer, placing a huge strain on essential services. Rhodri Marsden looks at IT's role in keeping things running

Toronto, Canada's largest city; former US vice-president Dick Cheney

O Canada, you're too dangerous for Dick Cheney

Peter Ustinov once called Toronto "New York run by the Swiss", meaning that Canada's largest city has everything the Big Apple does, but is just a bit cleaner, friendlier, more efficient and – well, Swiss. It might be an overstatement but, as a big metropolis, it does feel safe. But not safe enough for former US vice-president Dick Cheney, who yesterday pulled out of a talk in the city due to fears about his safety. Is he right to be scared? What are Toronto's potential dangers?

Some guys get all the puck: Seann William Scott plays the title role in Goon as a childlike gentle giant

Goon, Michael Dowse, 90 mins (15)
Mother And Child, Rodrigo Garcia, 122 mins (15)

Thank goodness, a comedy lead who's the very opposite of a smart alec. But this tale of a brawling ice-hockey star doesn't pack much of a punch

Ben Hawes:

Ben Hawes: 'Bionic Ben' is ready to turn mettle into gold

Hockey player tells Sue Mott how he's overcome awful injuries – and the insertion of metal plates – to push for London 2012 glory

Anne Panter: Not so jolly hockey sticks

She has returned the GB women's team after a career-threatening series of injuries, including an horrific car smash

Stand-in twin denied prize after miracle hockey shot

A boy who hit an ice hockey puck into a tiny hole from the rink's centre line 27 metres away has been denied $50,000 prize money, because his identical 11-year-old twin brother bought the ticket that allowed him to take the shot.

Hockey: Tindall secures England bronze

James Tindall struck a golden-goal winner to give England a 2-1 victory over Belgium and the bronze medal at the EuroHockey Nations Championships. Reading defender Richard Mantell had fired England ahead from a penalty corner in the sixth minute, but Alexandre De Paeuw pulled Belgium level after 42 minutes.

Hockey: Middleton double relieves England

Two goals from captain Barry Middleton helped England get their European title defence off to a winning start with a 4-2 victory over Ireland in Monchengladbach. Middleton's first put England ahead for the first time in the match while his second late in the game relieved the pressure that had been building following John Jermyn's penalty corner goal ten minutes from time.

Top nations take note as Team GB's women's hockey side run into form at the right time

Team GB, led by England captain Kate Walsh, are up to fourth in the world and tipped to capture medals

Palin's film panned by the critics

If Sarah Palin was hoping to sweep to power on the back of a documentary celebrating her rise from "hockey mom" to national power broker, then nobody told the critics.

Hockey: England end Australia's eight-year record

England's women registered their first tournament win over Australia for eight years with a 3-2 victory at the Champions Trophy in Amsterdam yesterday.

Hockey: Walsh beats the drum as England prepare to put down 2012 marker

England captain Kate Walsh believes the build-up to the London Olympics begins today – more than 12 months before they open – at the Champions Trophy in Holland.

Winners, losers and in-betweens learn their fate in Olympic ticket lottery

When hundreds of thousands of sports fans had money debited from their accounts last month, they knew they had secured a ticket for next year's Olympic Games. But no one who had applied for more than one event could be certain which one they were going to attend.

Second ticket rush for London 2012

A further 2.3 million tickets for London 2012 are to go on sale next Friday.

Hilary Duff 'excited' for kids

Hilary Duff is "excited" at the prospect of starting a family.

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
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Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
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Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
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Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
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Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
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X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'