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Squash aiming for the 2020 Games

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We’re not yet sure where the Olympics will be held in 2020 (though we’re guessing Istanbul gets the nod), but it’s already time to start looking at which sports will make the cut when the Summer Games return, then leave, then return again eight years from now.

Seven events will be vying for a spot on the 2020 schedule, including baseball and softball in a co-bid, but Squash has been making a lot of noise in its aim for inclusion. World Squash Federation President Rami Ramachandrans told Inside the Games that they might have figured out the formula.

“One of the big things is the introduction of glass courts, which has made squash much more spectator friendly,” Ramachandrans said. “It is one of the things that has helped improved the presentation of the game along with other measures like using under floor lighting, music, referee video review…”

His idea seems to be that making the Squash cooler will ultimately get his sport in to the Games, which was far-fetched before the IOC began awarding medals in snowboarding and BMX. Now cool spectator sports are ideal for Olympics fans growing up in an X-Games world.

“Courts can be placed in amazing iconic locations – in front of pyramids, harbour side, in museums or anywhere else to really bring a host city to life,” Ramachandrans added. “It would also create a real squash sporting legacy for that host city.”

And so the WSF launched its “Back the Bid” campaign, a movement that saw flashmobs, Twitter campaigns, and more than 40,000 enthusiasts celebrating World Squash Day around the globe. Not nearly the same as the millions upon millions that most sports boast, but it’s a definitely start.

An added bonus is how much the Olympics love racket and country club sports, and Squash, which has been called “jet-propelled chess” (though only by people who play Squash), is both. All that said, visions of men and women hitting balls around glass cages might be something we should get used to.

The seven sports will present their cases to the IOC Executive Board early next year. Game on.

Usain Bolt lands in Rio for his final Olympics

Usain Bolt
Rio 2016/Gabriel Nascimento
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Usain Bolt has arrived in Brazil for what he says will be his final Olympics.

Rio 2016 posted a photo and video of Bolt landing in Rio on Wednesday night.

Bolt was asked by a reporter if he dreamed about gold medals on his flight and responded, “I didn’t sleep at all,” according to the Jamaica Gleaner.

The world’s fastest man is scheduled to race the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, looking to sweep the events for a third straight Games. He is already the only man to sweep them at consecutive Olympics.

The Jamaican Olympic track and field team is in the middle of a pre-Games training camp in Brazil ahead of the Opening Ceremony Aug. 5.

His first race is scheduled to be his first round of the 100m on Aug. 13.

Bolt raced last Friday for the first time in nearly one month after pulling out during the Jamaican Olympic Trials with a hamstring injury.

He goes into the Olympics ranked Nos. 4 and 5 in the world this year in the 100m and 200m but swept them at the 2015 World Championships despite going in as an underdog to Justin Gatlin.

VIDEO: ‘I am Bolt’ documentary on Usain Bolt trailer

‘The Last Gold’ to air on NBCSN on Monday

The Last Gold
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Inspired by the recent rush of acclaimed sports documentaries, USA Swimming officials batted around ideas to join the movement a year and a half ago.

Executive director Chuck Wielgus, assistant executive director Mike Unger and chief marketing official Matt Farrell had put their heads together.

“We pretty quickly settled on this particular story,” Wielgus said in a phone interview. “It has such immense impact, especially with the old-timers in the swimming community. It hung over everybody like a cloud. It seemed like the right opportunity to do it.”

The result, “The Last Gold,” airs on NBCSN on Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET, four nights before the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony.

“The Last Gold” spotlights the 1976 U.S. Olympic women’s swimming team and the East German doping scandal.

At the Montreal Games, the U.S. men’s swimmers absolutely dominated, taking 12 of 13 gold medals with world records in 11 of those events.

But the U.S. women ran into a dubious and overpowering opponent.

The East Germans had yet to earn an Olympic women’s swimming gold medal in two previous Games. But the team had become a juggernaut by Montreal, the product of a state-sponsored doping program that wouldn’t be more fully exposed until after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Following defeat after defeat in individual races, four U.S. women rallied for one last showdown with East Germany in the 4x100m free relay.

“The Last Gold” focuses on that American quartet — Shirley BabashoffWendy BoglioliKim Peyton (passed away in 1986) and Jill Sterkel.

“The 40th anniversary coming up, the fact that only three of the athletes were still alive, and getting older, we wanted to tell the story when they could still help to tell it,” Wielgus said. “It’s almost serendipitous with what’s going on with the whole Russian situation right now. [In 2015] We saw this educational opportunity to share with current and future generations of athletes and pull back the layers and expose some of the evils of doping.”

East Germany has not been stripped of its 1976 Olympic swimming medals.

In 1998, USA Swimming and the U.S. Olympic Committee appealed to the International Olympic Committee.

“To ask for recognition of those athletes who we could prove had been cheated out of medals,” Wielgus said. “There were trials going on in Germany, and people were being found guilty. We made this appeal with the USOC, to the IOC, and the appeal was shot down. It was shot down unequivocally. Our position today is that we are not bringing that up again. We made that effort, and we might not like it, but we accept the response we got from the IOC. There’s been no indication they would change their position on it.”

Casey Barrett, a 1996 Canadian Olympic swimmer, served as a writer for “The Last Gold.” Brian T. Brown, a 15-time Emmy Award winner, directed. Emmy-winning actress Julianna Margulies narrated.

“The Last Gold” was screened for the current U.S. swim team at both the Olympic Trials and at a pre-Olympic camp in Atlanta this week.

It premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 6 as one of 12 documentaries chosen from over 4,000 submissions.

MORE: Rio Olympic day-by-day schedule highlights