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Women rule the London Games

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For as much as 2012 was a year to celebrate London and English culture, it was just as much a year to celebrate women at the Games.

For the first time in history the U.S. women outnumbered the men. Women also out-medaled men and provided some of the greatest moments of the Games, but to leave it at simple statistics and trivia would be hollow. Women dominated in ways you can’t place on a pie chart.

This was the first time we were able to see women box in competition after years of resistance. Claressa Shields, a 17-year-old from Flint, Mich. became our first gold medalist of the event. Queen Underwood and Marlen Esparza, who won bronze, boxed their way into history as well.

While the U.S. men faltered in water polo, volleyball, on the track, and on their bikes, the women succeeded almost universally, winning 59 medals, including 29 golds.

This was also a Games for Allyson Felix, who finally earned her coveted gold in the 200 meters. This one was for Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, who finished their historic three-peat, and for the women’s basketball and soccer teams who continue to dominate and provide incredible role models for coming Olympians.

And these Games were for 17-year-old swimmer Missy Franklin, who won five medals and who we expect to be the face of the Rio Games four years from now.

This one was also for those outside the States as well. Women from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Brunei, six total, became the first to compete at the Olympics under their nation’s flag, taking part in track, judo, table tennis, and swimming. None will go home with medals, but the Olympic Creed reads that, “the most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle,” and it’s rarely been more true.

It’s been forty years since Title IX began the journey toward ending discrimination in sports for women. We’re definitely not there yet, but the Olympics is an event that celebrates equality in athletics and culture. This was the Games that moved that needle forward in a dramatic way for women. And this Games was just the start.

Follow Olympic Talk for all the latest from the London Games.

Russian Olympic champion positive in Beijing retest, coach reportedly says

Anna Chicherova
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London Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova is one of many Russians among 31 athletes overall who tested positive in recent retests of Beijing Olympic samples, according to Russian news agency TASS.

“Three days ago, Anna received a notice that her doping sample from the Beijing Olympic tested positive after a re-check, and she called me,” Chicherova’s coach said, according to the report Tuesday. “So far, this is at the development stage and this has not yet been finally confirmed. But all are aware of this and are dealing with the issue.”

Last week, the International Olympic Committee said 31 unnamed athletes from 12 nations across six sports failed drug tests in retesting of 454 samples from 2008 using the latest drug-testing methods.

On Tuesday, TASS reported that 14 Russian athletes, mostly in track and field, were suspected of doping during the Beijing Games after the retests, citing an unnamed Russian Olympic Committee source.

Chicherova, 33, took high jump gold at the London Games and bronze in Beijing. She is one of two track and field athletes to earn an individual-event medal at the last five World Championships and last two Olympics. The other is Usain Bolt.

Chicherova, who has had no previously widespread reported doping history, would be one of Russia’s top Olympic track and field medal hopes in Rio, should the ban on Russian track and field athletes competing be lifted before the Games.

Russia is expected to learn if it will be allowed to send a track and field team to Rio on June 17.

MORE: Russia track and field boss: ’50-60 percent’ chance of Olympics

Hiroshi Hoketsu mulls breaking Olympian age record at Tokyo 2020

Hiroshi Hoketsu
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Japan dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu, who abandoned his bid to become the oldest Olympian ever in Rio, could see his career come full circle in four years.

Hoketsu, whose Olympic debut came at the Tokyo 1964 Games, is not ruling out attempting to make the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at age 79.

“If I can do it and be in Tokyo, that would be marvelous,” Hoketsu said, according to Reuters. “I have to see if it will still be physically possible.”

The oldest Olympian is Swede Oscar Swahn, who earned 1920 Olympic shooting silver at age 72.

Hoketsu, 75 and the oldest Olympian at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, sought to make his fourth Olympic team this year. It was derailed due to his horse’s illness.

After debuting at Tokyo 1964, Hoketsu went 44 years between Games appearances. He finished 41st out of 50 competitors in individual dressage at London 2012, according to sports-reference.com.

MORE: Oldest surviving Olympic champion dies