Golfer Rory McIlroy and his Northern Ireland countryman Graeme McDowell have been between a rock and a 400-year old conflict ever since a reporter asked which country the world No. 1 was planning to represent – Great Britain or Ireland – when golf returns to the Olympics in 2016.
It’s a choice the IOC affords the two golfers given their heritage, but it’s not one they necessarily relish.
“We’re kind of in a unique scenario in Northern Ireland,” McDowell told reporters in Shanghai of the opportunity to play under either flag. “We have one foot on each team. I think it’s going to be a lot easier if someone makes the decision for us.”
McIlroy earlier admitted that he’s “always felt more British than Irish” before backlash forced him to retreat from his comments and post on Twitter that he hasn’t decided which team he’ll play for seeing as how the Olympics are still four years away.
Irish Olympic committee president Pat Hickey then said the 23-year-old medal favorite would be in “the pole position” for the honor of flag bearer if he committed to competing for Ireland, but so far McIlroy has kept his mouth shut and his eyes on the upcoming three years of golf ahead.
McDowell, who won the 2010 U.S. Open, said the choice is particularly tough for him since he comes from a mixed-religion family: his Catholic mother would probably prefer he play for Ireland while his Protestant father would likely hope he dons the Union Jack.
“But then I always kind of sit on the fence because that’s exactly the only place I can sit,” McDowell concluded. “Let’s say that I’d play for whatever team we have come 2016.”
We already knew Katie Ledecky can beat the boys in practice, even an Olympic champion.
One of the many takeaways from this week’s Sports Illustrated profile of Ledecky is that she has beaten 11-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte in practice.
Ledecky and Lochte may rep different swim clubs — Ledecky in Washington, D.C., and Lochte in Charlotte — but they both take trips to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., for altitude training.
“She swims like a guy,” Lochte said after training with Ledecky in Colorado Springs in March, according to SI. “I’ve never seen a female swimmer like that. … Her times are becoming good for a guy. She’s beating me now, and I’m like, What’s going on?”
When Ledecky broke the women’s 1500m freestyle world record for the third time at the August 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, her time of 15:28.36 was .01 faster than Lochte’s 1500m free time at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials (one of the rare instances Lochte swam a 1500m free).
Ledecky has since re-broken the women’s 1500m free world record twice more, bringing it down to 15:25.48.
“I trained with her in Colorado once, and she made me look like I was stopping,” Lochte reportedly told media on his 31st birthday, Aug. 3 at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia. “She flew by me.”
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Athens Olympic softball champion Jennie Finch will manage the Bridgeport Bluefish, an independent minor-league baseball team on Sunday and, reportedly, become the first woman to manage a men’s pro baseball team.
Finch, a pitcher, retired from softball in 2010, two years after her sport’s Olympic farewell in Beijing, where she and the U.S. took silver behind Japan.
Finch has been an advocate for softball’s return to the Olympics, which could happen in Tokyo 2020.
The International Olympic Committee is expected to decide in August if baseball and softball, among four other sports, will be added for the Tokyo Games.
Finch, who is married to former MLB pitcher Casey Daigle, is also known for having struck out Albert Pujols.
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