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Tags: Olympics

Ahead of Sochi Olympics, Putin Warns Gay-Rights ‘Propagandizers’



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Maybe Russia’s newest resident, Edward Snowden, can report on this while he’s visiting?

AP:

Russia will enforce a new law cracking down on gay rights activism when it hosts international athletes and fans during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the country’s sports minister said Thursday, appearing to contradict assurances to the contrary from the International Olympic Committee.

Russia’s contentious law was signed by President Vladimir Putin in late June, imposing fines on individuals accused of spreading “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors, and even proposing penalties for those who express these views online or in the news media. Gay pride rallies also are banned.

“An athlete of nontraditional sexual orientation isn’t banned from coming to Sochi,” Vitaly Mutko said in an interview with R-Sport, the sports newswire of state news agency RIA Novosti. “But if he goes out into the streets and starts to propagandize, then of course he will be held accountable.”

Mutko emphasized that the law wasn’t designed to punish anyone for being gay or lesbian. But like the Russian lawmakers who authored the bill, Mutko said athletes would be punished only for propaganda, a word that remains ambiguous under the new law.

“The corresponding law doesn’t forbid non-traditional orientation, but other things: propaganda, involvement of minors and the youth.”

The law specifies punishment for foreign citizens, to include fines of up to 100,000 rubles ($3,000), time in prison for up to 15 days, deportation and denial of reentry into Russia.

The rest here.

Tags: Olympics

Pistorius Gets Bail



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Reuters:

A South African court granted bail on Friday to Oscar Pistorius, charged with the murder of his girlfriend, after his lawyers argued the “Blade Runner” was too famous to pose a flight risk.

The decision by Magistrate Desmond Nair drew cheers from the athlete’s family and supporters, although he appeared unmoved. Pistorius had broken down in tears earlier in the week-long hearing.

The court set bail at 1 million rand and postponed the case until June 4. Pistorius was ordered to hand over firearms and passports, avoid his home and all witnesses in the case, report to a police station twice a week and not to drink alcohol.

The decision followed a week of dramatic testimony about how the athlete shot dead Reeva Steenkamp at his luxury home near Pretoria in the early hours of February 14, Valentine’s Day.

Prosecutors said Pistorius, 26, committed premeditated murder when he fired four shots into a locked bathroom door, hitting his girlfriend cowering on the other side. Steenkamp, 29, suffered gunshot wounds to her head, hip and arm.

Pistorius’ defence team argued the killing was a tragic mistake, saying the athlete had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder. They said he was too famous to pose a flight risk and deserved bail to prepare for a case that has drawn worldwide attention.

The rest here.

Tags: Olympics

UPDATE: Oscar Pistorius Charged With Premeditated Murder



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From ABC News:

A South Africa magistrate has charged Olympian Oscar Pistorius with a Schedule 6 offense, meaning that the alleged murder of his girlfriend was preplanned or premeditated.

Pistorius, a double-amputee who gained worldwide fame for running on carbon-fiber blades, allegedly shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, four times at his gated home in Pretoria, South Africa, Feb. 14. South African prosecutors laid out part of their case against the 26-year-old athlete at today’s bail hearing.

“[Pistorius] shot and killed an innocent woman,” Gerrie Nel, the senior state prosecutor, said in court, adding that there is “no possible explanation to support” the notion that Pistorius thought Steenkamp was an intruder.

Look for the “‘Roid Rage” defense:

Steroid abuse may have been linked to everything from liver failure to impotence and back acne to baldness — but it’s far-fetched to suggest ‘roid rage led “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius to kill his model girlfriend last week.

South Africa police who searched the Olympian’s home after Reeva Steenkamp’s death reportedly found a stash of steroids, and investigators have theorized the drugs may have made Pistorius more aggressive before Steenkamp was slain at his home on Thursday. Investigators have reportedly even asked for Pistorius’ blood to be tested for the muscle-building drugs.

Steroids experts, however, say that theory doesn’t have much muscle.

“No question, anabolic steroids at certain dosages can increase aggressiveness in a miniscule number of people,” said Norman Fost, the director of the bioethics program at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. “But there is no evidence that steroids make you use a gun on someone.”Read more:

Tags: Olympics

Double-Amputee Olympian Charged with Murdering his Girlfriend



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Remember Oscar Pistorius?

He’s now been charged with murder::

 

Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee athlete who became famous as the ‘Blade Runner’ when he competed in the 2012 Olympic Games, has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend after model Reeva Steenkamp was shot inside his South African home.

Steenkamp, a model who spoke out on Twitter against rape and abuse of women, was shot four times in the predawn hours in the home, in a gated community in the capital, Pretoria, police said.

Hours later, after undergoing police questioning, Pistorius left a police station accompanied by officers. He looked down as photographers snapped pictures, the hood on his gray workout jacket pulled up, covering most of his face. His court hearing was originally scheduled for Thursday afternoon but has been postponed until Friday to give forensic investigators time to carry out their work, said Medupe Simasiku, a spokesman for the prosecution.

Police said that there had “previously been incidents at the home of Mr. Oscar Pistorius.” Police in South Africa do not name suspects in crimes until they have appeared in court, but police spokesperson Brigadier Denise Beukes said that Pistorius was at his home at the time of the death of Steenkamp and “there is no other suspect involved.”

The rest here.

Tags: Olympics

Oscar Pistorius Charged with Murder



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Developing:

Oscar Pistorius has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend after model Reeva Steenkamp was shot inside the Olympic athlete’s home in South Africa.

Police said a 26-year-old male would appear in court later on Thursday. Police in South Africa do not name suspects in crimes until they have appeared in court but police spokesperson Brigadier Denise Beukes said that Pistorius was at his home after the death of Steenkamp and “there is no other suspect involved.”

Tags: Olympics

The IOC Cuts Wrestling



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You can always count on the International Olympic Committee to do the wrong thing.

IOC leaders dropped wrestling from the Olympic program on Tuesday, a surprise decision that removes one of the oldest Olympic sports from the 2020 Games.

The IOC executive board decided to retain modern pentathlon — the event considered most at risk — and remove wrestling instead from its list of 25 “core sports.”

The IOC board acted after reviewing the 26 sports on the current Olympic program. Eliminating one sport allows the International Olympic Committee to add a new sport to the program later this year.

Wrestling, which combines freestyle and Greco-Roman events, goes back to the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.

“This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It’s not a case of what’s wrong with wrestling, it is what’s right with the 25 core sports.”

Really? Wrestling? It’s not only one of the original sports of the modern Olympics. It’s was featured in the ancient games in Greece. The rules are fairly straightforward, and the Olympics are considered the pinnacle event for the sport. Donald Rumsfeld summed up the arguments in favor of wrestling quite well in his recent letter to the IOC. If you’re wondering how wrestling was cut while unwatched sports such as the modern pentathlon survived, the answer is the usual chicanery that accompanies any decision by the IOC: “Modern pentathlon also benefited from the work of Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., the son of the former IOC president who is a UIPM vice president and member of the IOC board.”

Wrestling will now compete with seven other sports (baseball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding, and wushu) that are competing for the same spot at the 2020 Olympics. This will complicate the path for squash, my earlier pick for inclusion at the 2020 Olympics. However, this vote was not final; the full International Olympic Committee can overturn this decision in September. In a best-case scenario, wrestling would be granted a reprieve in September, and one of the truly unnecessary sports (e.g., canoeing) would get the boot, making room for both squash and wrestling in the 2020 Olympics.

Tags: Olympics

The IOC Will Cut One Sport from the 2020 Games



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From the Associated Press:

At a two-day IOC executive board meeting opening Tuesday, the IOC will also review preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi — less than a year away — and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, as well as select a short list of finalists for the 2018 Youth Olympics.

Modern pentathlon, a tradition-steeped contest invented by the founder of the modern Olympics, is expected to face close scrutiny when the board considers which of the current 26 summer Olympic sports to remove from the program of the 2020 Games. Taking out one sport will make way for a new sport to be added to the program later this year.

The executive board will review a report from the IOC program commission assessing each of the sports contested at last summer’s London Olympics.

The report analyzes more than three dozen criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member executive board will likely be influenced by political, emotional and sentimental factors.

I vote that they save modern pentathlon and cut trampoline. Bouncing on a springy platform is not a sport until it’s two people battling in midair with the loser getting knocked off. Whichever sport is eliminated will have the opportunity to campaign to save its spot if it beats out seven other sports (baseball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding, and wushu) that are trying to feature at the 2020 Olympics. Once again, Jacques Rogge, if you’re reading this, pick squash.

Baseball already has the World Series and doesn’t need the Olympics. Squash is a global sport and would actually be fun to watch. The other sports on that list are either too new (wushu) or would be incredibly boring (sport climbing or wakeboarding). Dislike my picks for the Olympics or want to share your own thoughts? Let me know.

Tags: Olympics

Lindsey Vonn Suffers Horrific Knee Injury in Austria



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Details here.

Tags: Olympics

A Gold Medal Escort



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Caption Contest: Obama Meets the Olympians!



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Here is President Obama with taekwondo athlete Diana Lopez. Check out Biden over the president’s left shoulder — I wonder what’s so funny?

Tags: Olympics

The Great Olympics Reality Index



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Can an Olympic performance tell us something about what is really going on inside a country? Could the London Games have provided us with a perfect chance to see this, free from noise, hype, and the distortions of statistics? Can we even be so bold as to use it to make a few predictions?

Let us look at a few of the clearest trends.

Since 1996, China has more than doubled its gold haul, from 16 to 38. In the past three Olympiads it has been neck and neck with the United States, outperforming it in Beijing in 2008.

America, far from having collapsed, appears if anything to have grown stronger. In 1988 and 1992  it scored 36 and 37 golds. This year, 46.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the EU seems to be in a deepening depression that began in 1996. France, Benelux, and the PIIGS took 47 golds that year, compared with 30 in 2012.

Germany, which today does well economically, seems to have lost as many medals as has the rest of the EU. Germany’s finest year since its reunification in 1990 was 1992, when it won 33 golds and 84 total medals. This year its numbers are eleven and 44. Since 1992 it has shown only straight declines.

One of the conclusions may be that Europe should perhaps reconsider its euro strategy and ask itself whether its social model is really working. Some skepticism may also be warranted about the durability of Germany’s current economic upturn.

Other trends are even more surprising.

Eastern Europe, Cuba, and Russia all appear to be in as much consternation as is Western Europe.

Exclude Hungary, which has done well. Consider Ukraine, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. Together they won 31 golds and 106 total medals in Sydney in 2000, the second Olympiad since the fall of the USSR. In 2012 , their numbers were only 17 and 68.

Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland are among the biggest decliners since their independence. Even Olympic stalwarts Ukraine and Belarus are showing signs of stress. They won 13 percent and 19 percent fewer medals this year compared with their long-term averages.

Russia has also been affected. It recovered late in London but, taking fourth place, with 24 golds and 82 total medals, is still well below its high, at Sydney in 2000, of 32 and 89.

Cuba’s story is even more dramatic. Winning 14 golds in Barcelona in 1992 and 11 in 2000, they took only five in London.

The conclusion may be that, in spite of what we are told about Russia’s emerging economy, the collapse of the USSR seems to have left many of its former constituents, including Russia itself, in a state of disarray.

As Eastern Europe has been wounded by political upheaval, and Western Europe by its foray into the euro, a different trend can also be observed. Several prosperous countries seem to have been impaired by their own economic success.

Australia is a major beneficiary of the commodities boom that began in 1995. It is one of the world’s most expensive countries, with a strong currency, a big government, and an inseparable ideological commitment to economic redistribution. It has also just turned in its worst Olympic performance in 24 years. It won seven golds in London, compared with 17 in Athens in 2004.

Canada’s economy is similar to Australia’s but a little more dynamic. It too is bringing home its lowest gold and silver haul since Sydney in 2000.

Indonesia, another hotly touted commodities producer, has just had its worst Olympics since 1988.

And Brazil, at the apex of the commodities bonanza, has had a relatively mediocre Olympiad, winning three golds compared with the five it took at Athens. Brazil’s government, by the way, spends $1.6 billion a year specifically on improving people’s access to sport.

Arguably Brazil should be judged only on soccer, its national sport, but here too the signs are not encouraging. The Brazilian soccer team lost 2 to 1 to Mexico last weekend, and before that FIFA had downgraded it to 13th  place worldwide. In the past twelve months it has lost to Germany, Argentina, and even Paraguay.

Against these dark portents, there is one positive fact that is even more surprising.

The standout stars of the 2012 Olympic Games, who with smiles and good humor have just delivered a performance that the whole world has taken note of, are a socioeconomic group that many in financial services had written off as almost dead: the working and middle classes of the United Kingdom.

It is almost as if all the academic analysis and the capital flows had an exactly contradictory effect. Many fund managers in London and abroad have reallocated their portfolios to the BRICS and to commodities exploitation. They invested in offshore petroleum in Brazil, in tar sands in Canada, in luxury retail in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and in iron ore in Australia.

The tacit assumption behind this viewpoint was that the weakening and impoverishment of the British middle and working classes through inflation, foreign competition, and a lack of productive jobs would continue. Incredibly, though, those conditions, which have endured, have had an improving effect on the competitive spirit of the British people.

Since 1996, Britain’s gold total has been rising — which was when the commodities boom began. Britain in 1996 won only one gold. In 2000, it won 11. In 2008, 19. And this year it has 29.

Could it be that the deluge of funding flowing into commodities producers and “nascent democracies” has in fact had a deleterious effect on the underlying reality in the recipient nations? Is it possible that the lack of inward investment and of enthusiasm among financial professionals for their own countries has helped create the right — difficult — conditions for people at home to get mentally and physically fitter?

These Olympic Games have provided an important new data point that few sporting or economic commentators quite expected. Is it a flash in the pan? Or the start of something more important? As all good sports commentators say: Stay tuned!

— Joseph Cherrez is an analyst of global economic and political issues.

Tags: Olympics

Usain Bolt Joins the Tea Party?



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Telegraph:

Triple London 2012 Olympic champion Usain Bolt has refused to compete in the UK again until the country changes its tax laws.

The sprinter, who won gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4×100m relay at the Games in London, objects to a law that sees him taxed on global sponsorship and endorsement earnings as well as any appearance fee — levied at the 50pc higher earning rate — when he competes in Britain.

And despite setting a new world record during the Olympics, the 25 year-old, who earns an estimated $20m (£12.7m) a year, says his UK-based fans won’t see him compete until the tax laws are loosened.

“As soon as the law changes I’ll be here all the time,” Bolt said. “I love being here, I have so many Jamaican fans here and it’s wonderful.”

Glyn Bunting, a partner at Deloitte, told Radio 4 that HMRC would not only want a slice of Bolt’s winnings in the UK but also his £12.5m sponsorship deal with Puma.

“Usain Bolt will be paid a considerable amount of money to wear a particular brand of clothing or a particular type of racing shoe and HMRC wants its share of that income,” Mr Bunting said.

Get that man a tricorn hat!

Tags: Olympics

Sprinter Breaks Leg During Race but Makes Sure USA Qualifies for 4x400 Relay



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I couldn’t make a 45-second split without a broken leg. On a bike. With an engine.

Move over, Kerri Strug. America has a new Olympian performing heroically on a broken leg.

Runner Manteo Mitchell said he “felt” and “heard” his fibula breaking midway through his lead-off leg of the 4×400-meter relay Thursday morning in qualifying heats. He kept running, going another 200 meters and handing off the baton to Josh Mance. The U.S. went on to finish second in the heat, advancing to the final Friday night.

America would not have kept its medal hopes alive in the event without the effort of Mitchell. His injury was diagnosed after the race by team doctor Bob Adams: broken left fibula.

“I knew if I finished strong we could still get it [the baton] around,” Mitchell said. “I saw Josh Mance motioning me in for me to hand it off to him, which lifted me. I didn’t want to let those three guys down, or the team down, so I just ran on it. It hurt so bad. I’m pretty amazed that I still split 45 seconds on a broken leg.”

Tags: Olympics

Lolo Jones Outclasses Her Critics



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American hurdler Lolo Jones occupies that usually enviable spot where marketing appeal and athletic achievement intersect. Unfortunately for Jones, when the former outstrips the latter, the backlash from media backbiters indulging their petty cynicism can be ruthless.

Jones’s hardscrabble upbringing and her tragic failure four years ago in Beijing, where she tripped over the penultimate hurdle while in position to win gold in the 100m hurdles, had made her a figure of sympathy and rooting interest for the American public heading into these games. Her Christianity, her high-profile self-identification as a virgin, and her striking good looks made Tim Tebow comparisons inevitable, and just as inevitably, there was a media counterattack.

Prior to Jones’s fourth-place finish in the 100m hurdles in London, the New York Times unleashed a scathing piece that derided her as a marketing creation who was exploiting her looks and her backstory of poverty in a “sad and cynical” campaign of self-promotion. “Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be — vixen, virgin, victim — to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses,” snarked the piece’s author, Jere Longman, who went on to compare Jones to tennis player Anna Kournikova, the media’s whipping girl in the category of style over substance.

Naturally, Jones was stung by the coverage, making an emotional appearance on the Today Show the morning after her loss and offering a passionate self-defense. “I have the American record. I am the American record holder indoors, I have two world indoor titles,” she said. “Just because I don’t boast about these things, I don’t think I should be ripped apart by media. I laid it out there. I fought hard for my country and I think it’s just a shame that I have to deal with so much backlash when I’m already so brokenhearted as it is.”

As is so often the case with cynical media overreach, the Times’s stunt has backfired. Dispassionate observers, even those who might be otherwise inclined to join the Times in deriding Jones’s religion and patriotism, are coming to her defense. Isaac Rauch of the sneering sports website Deadspin offered this observation: “Maybe the media descends upon you if you aggressively push a given narrative, but ultimately every outlet controls what it covers and what it doesn’t. Lolo Jones isn’t an assignment editor.”

No, like Kournikova, Jones is merely a world-class athlete who has failed to check the right boxes to satisfy the Times’s sensibilities.

As this episode has made clear: They might not be champions, but both Jones and Kournikova are far better at their craft than Longman is at his.

— Rob Doster is senior editor for Athlon Sports.

Tags: Olympics

Germany May Demand Democracy Pledges from Olympians



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The Germans are awfully touchy about the whole “Nazi” thing aren’t they?

Germany may force sports stars to make a commitment to democracy, a ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, days after a national rower quit the Olympic village following reports that her boyfriend was a neo-Nazi.

The case of Nadja Drygalla, whose partner has been a member of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), has ignited a debate in Germany about extremism in sport, although the rower denies holding far-right views herself.

Last year’s discovery that a neo-Nazi cell was responsible for the seemingly unrelated murders of nine Turkish and Greek immigrants has triggered soul-searching in Germany about institutionalised tolerance of right-wing* extremism.

As part of a regular review of guidelines on sport funding, the Interior Ministry is considering insisting that top clubs and associations make a formal commitment to democratic values.

* Someone apparently hasn’t read the requisite text on this.

Tags: Olympics

Cameroon Olympians Missing in London



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I wonder how many Olympians would have “gone missing” if the Games were held in America? Reuters:

Seven Cameroon athletes have disappeared while in Britain for the London Olympics, the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education said on Monday evening.

The seven – five boxers, a swimmer and a soccer player – are suspected of having left to stay in Europe for economic reasons.

“What began as rumor has finally turned out to be true. Seven Cameroonian athletes who participated at the 2012 London Olympic Games have disappeared from the Olympic Village,” David Ojong, the mission head said in a message sent to the ministry.

Ojong said a reserve goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team, Drusille Ngako, was the first to disappear. She was not one of the 18 finally retained after pre-Olympic training in Scotland.

While her team-mates left for Coventry for their last preparatory encounter against New Zealand, she vanished. A few days later, swimmer Paul Ekane Edingue and his personal belongings were also not found in his room.

Ojong added that five boxers eliminated from the games, Thomas Essomba, Christian Donfack Adjoufack, Abdon Mewoli, Blaise Yepmou Mendouo and Serge Ambomo, disappeared on Sunday from the Olympic village.

The rest here.

Tags: Olympics

Mitt Was Right About London, Cont.



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Now the roof of the Velodrome is leaking.

Tags: Olympics

Greatest Olympian Ever?



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A debate is raging on Twitter and elsewhere over a timely topic: Is Michael Phelps a slam-dunk choice as the greatest Olympian of all time? Swimming commentator Rowdy Gaines says it’s not even a debate, while others have the made the case for everyone from Jim Thorpe to Usain Bolt. It’s true that Phelps has plenty of company in the Olympic pantheon, but is he the greatest?

Below, I identify a few candidates, present them in no particular order and make my selection. This is far from an exhaustive list, so I invite you to nominate other candidates on Twitter via @AthlonDoster.

Michael Phelps, USA, Swimming
One school of thought: He who has the most medals is the best. By that metric, it’s no contest. Phelps has 21 (17 of them gold) as of this writing, more than any other individual athlete.

I can anticipate the primary objection: He also has had far more opportunities to medal than athletes in other sports. Well, here’s my counter-argument to that: So does every other swimmer, and Phelps has left them all floundering in his considerable wake. Mark Spitz, the man to whom Phelps has so often been compared, finished with 11 medals; Phelps could finish with twice that many. The fact that he also set or helped set 16 World, Olympic and U.S. records is another formidable resume enhancer.

Jesse Owens, USA, Track
Owens achieved what many thought was out of reach for a single athlete: gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4×100m relay and long jump, a quartet of golds that wouldn’t be equaled for 48 years. His performance under Hitler’s gaze in a wordless but eloquent repudiation of the Nazi regime made him synonymous with American Olympic excellence.

Carl Lewis, USA, Track
Lewis replicated the feats of his idol Owens and did him a little better, achieving gold over four separate Olympiads in an extended sequence of track-and-field excellence that will never be eclipsed. Lewis dominated the 1984 Los Angeles games, earning gold in the 100m, 200m, 4×100m relay and long jump to match Owens’ 1936 performance in Berlin. Lewis added golds in 1988 in the 100m (after Ben Johnson’s doping disqualification) and long jump; in 1992 in the 4×100m relay and long jump; and in 1996 in the long jump at the grand old age of 35. Lewis remains the only man to defend an Olympic 100 meter or long jump title successfully.

Michael Johnson, USA, Track
Entering the 1996 Atlanta Games under a crushing burden of hype, Johnson dazzled the world in his gold cleats, winning an unprecedented 200m-400m double. For the only time in history, the title of World’s Fastest Man went by proclamation to the 200m champion after Johnson’s world record time of 19.32 seconds.

Al Oerter, USA, Discus
Oerter competed in a niche event, but his longevity and sustained level of world-class performance — gold medals in the discus in 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968 — made him a legend. He carried the Olympic flame into the stadium at the 1996 Atlanta games in a fitting coda to his unparalleled career.

Wilma Rudolph, USA, Track
Rudolph ran with an astounding level of grace and ease, dazzling the world at the 1960 Games in Rome with three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4×100m relay. Overcoming poverty and childhood bouts with polio and other serious illnesses and starring at the dawn of the television age made her perhaps the most inspirational figure in Olympics history.

Usain Bolt, Jamaica, Track
There’s a certain glamour attached to the winner of the Olympic 100m gold medal — he carries the title of World’s Fastest Man and is the de facto king of the games. Throw in the fastest time in human history at the time, accomplished while pulling up at the finish line, and you’ve got a true legend. Bolt astounded at the 2008 Beijing Games running a record 9.69 and starting his celebration about 10 meters from the finish line (he later lowered the record to 9.58). If he defends his title in equally stunning fashion, he might just add the title of greatest Olympian.

Nadia Comaneci, Romania, Gymnastics
She taught us all that perfection was possible. Comaneci earned seven perfect-10 scores during the 1976 Montreal Olympics –‹ the scoreboard displayed them all as 1.0, since the need had never arisen for the extra digit — and won three gold medals, one of them the All Around gold. She added two more golds at the 1980 Moscow Games before fleeing dictatorship and settling in America, an ambassador for her sport.

Paavo Nurmi, Finland, Track
The Flying Finn won nine gold medals and three silvers as the world’s greatest middle- and long-distance runner in the 1920s and was denied the opportunity to win more in 1932 after losing his amateur status due to his acceptance of travel reimbursement. His 12 track and field medals remain an Olympic record.

Edwin Moses, USA, Track
He competed in a single event — the 400m hurdles — but he did it in such dominant fashion over such an extended period that he belongs on any list of greatest Olympians. Moses won gold in 1976 and 1984 and would certainly have won gold in 1980 had the U.S. not boycotted the Moscow Olympics. Moses won 122 consecutive races — 107 of them finals — and set four world records in his event between 1977 and 1987.

My Pick?
Sometimes, social impact combines with athletic achievement to create true transcendence. It happened with Jackie Robinson, and it certainly happened with history’s greatest Olympian, Jesse Owens.

— Rob Doster is senior editor for Athlon Sports.

Tags: Olympics

Phelps’s Golden Finish



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The much-decorated American swimmer swam his final individual Olympic race on Friday, and, not surprisingly, he took the gold.  Phelps swam the 100-meter butterfly in 51.21 in a come-from-behind win.

Via USA Today:

Arguably the greatest Olympian in history, he won his 21st overall medal by taking the 100-meter butterfly in 51.21 Friday night in the London Games. Chad le Close of South Africa and Evgeny Korotyshkin of Russis tied for silver.

He won the race on the second leg, falling behind at the start and standing seventh at the halfway point.

Phelps became the first man in Olympic history to win an individual swimming event at three successive Games in Thursday’s 200 individual medley — and Friday’s 100 butterfly allowed him to do that on successive nights. Phelps won the 100 fly in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.

Phelps came into the event with a career total of 20 Olympic medals, 16 of them gold, both records. He can add one last medal Saturday in the Olympic swim meet’s final event, the men’s 4×100 medley relay. Phelps, 27, said he will retire after the Games.

Tags: Olympics

Mitt Was Right About London, Cont.



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It seems the Brits still can’t get a handle on their empty-seat problem. BBC:

The empty seats scandal at these Olympics refuses to go away. The problem is not simply that each vacant place is a kick in the teeth to the millions of sports fans who have tried desperately to get hold of tickets.

The blocks of empty seating are also a reminder of the privileges available for the rich and powerful at these Games. It looks dreadful because each unused spot emphasises the special treatment afforded to officials and their business partners who then don’t turn up.

A quarter of all places are reserved for VIPs as well as the media and athletes, but even at sought-after finals, many of the reserved spots have remained unused.

The head of the British Olympic Association, Lord Moynihan, has said again this week that the empty places are “unfair” to Team GB.

“Every empty seat disappoints me because we need every seat filled to radiate the support from the British public who are passionately interested in sport,” he told reporters.

The rest here.

Tags: Olympics

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