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Eaton, Felix honored as top American track athletes

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As if a gold medal and world record weren’t enough, American decathlete Ashton Eaton added another prestigious trophy to his mantle Monday, taking home the Jesse Owens award given to the best U.S. men’s track athlete each year by the USATF.

But even after all the honors and accolades, Eaton still thinks his best is yet to come.

“I can improve in all of my events,” Eaton told the Associated Press. “And I don’t know by how much… the discus is something I haven’t figured out yet. The javelin is something I haven’t figured out yet. The pole vault — there still is a steep learning curve. Maybe the hurdles, as well.”

Eaton, who’d also love to join the 4x400m team, broke Roman Sebrle’s long-standing world decathlon record at the U.S. Trials in June, and then became the twelfth American to win Olympic gold in the event.

On the women’s side, three-time London gold medalist Allyson Felix won the USATF athlete of the year honors after finally winning the women’s 200m race following back-to-back silvers in Athens and Beijing. It was Felix’s record fourth Jesse Owens award, but first following an Olympics.

Now that she’s reached the summit of her best event, Felix is contemplating a serious run at the 400m gold come Rio, but knows there’s plenty of time to make that decision. For now she’ll continue volunteering with Right to Play, an organization intent on getting kids around the world involved in sports.

Ceremony marks 4 years to go before Tokyo hosts Olympics

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TOKYO (AP) — Organizers held a ceremony on Sunday to mark four years to go before Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics.

A group of Japanese school children helped put the finishing touches on a giant globe made out of 2,020 origami paper cranes in the ceremony held at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

Yoshinobu Miyake, who won a gold medal in weightlifting the last time Tokyo hosted the Summer Games in 1964, attended the ceremony.

Takashi Yamamoto, the vice governor of Tokyo, also attended. Former governor Yoichi Masuzoe resigned last month for allegedly using political funds for personal purposes.

The 2020 Olympics will take place between July 24 and Aug. 9.

Tokyo defeated Istanbul 60-36 in the final round of the IOC voting for hosting rights. Madrid was eliminated on the first ballot.

Ready or Not: Rio Olympics open doors at Athletes Village

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 15:  A view of buildings at the Olympic Village on June 15, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Felipe Dana-Pool/Getty Images)
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Ready or not, the Rio Olympics are opening their doors.

The Games begin in just over two weeks, but the Athletes Village opens officially on Sunday, meaning 10,500 athletes and another 7,000 staff members will start trickling into the luxurious layout, with the pace picking up daily until the Aug. 5 opening ceremony at the Maracana Stadium.

The 31-building compound should pamper the world’s best. It’s set among tennis courts, soccer fields, seven swimming pools – with mountains and the sea as a backdrop – and topped off by a massive dining-kitchen compound that’s as large as three football fields.

“I want to help all the athletes have a wonderful welcome to Brazil,” said Priscilla Antonello, a residence center deputy manager whose job is to help athletes find their accommodations.

Will she be star-struck by so many Olympians?

“I couldn’t be in this job if I behaved like that,” she replied Saturday, standing on the 13th floor of one of buildings, gazing out over cycling paths, bubbling fountains and lots of green.

She already knows which countries will be where, but she’s not allowed to say.

Some delegations had already arrived on Saturday, easy to spot with banners or flags hanging off the sides of buildings.

Slovenia had the best banner. In green and white it says: “I Feel sLOVEenia.” The LOVE portion was set off in white type, making sure the message got across.

Another read: “All for Denmark.”

Banners or flags from Canada, Britain, Portugal, Finland and Sweden were among those spotted. A tiny red and yellow Chinese flag was pinned near the top of one of the compounds.

Everything about the village is massive, though fairly standard for recent Summer Olympics.

Organizers say the compound has:

– 10,160 rooms; 18,000 beds; seven laundries; an enormous, hospital-like clinic; a massive gym.

In addition, organizers are providing 450,000 condoms, three times more than London did four years ago. Among them will be 100,000 female condoms.

Organizers said this is to encourage safe sex. Many had considered that increased supply to be due to Brazil’s outbreak of the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects.

Asked about it on Saturday, deputy chief medical officer Marcelo Patricio replied: “No, it’s not.”

Then there’s the dining-kitchen area, a sprawling tent where officials expect to serve about 60,000 meals daily to Olympians and staff – and perhaps another 10,000 daily to the hired help.

“The hardest part is knowing how much to prepare,” said Flavia Albuquerque, who oversees Rio’s food and beverage service. “We want them to eat anything they want to.”

That will be easy. The choices are nearly infinite. Diners will choose from different buffets – Brazilian, Asian, International, and Pasta and Pizza. Then there’s a casual dining area that will feature barbeque.

“The casual area might be the most popular,” Albuquerque said.

There will be lots of dirty plates, but none to wash. The plates will be biodegradable, made of corn and sugar cane.

Brazilians figure their food will be a hit: rice, black beans, farofa (flour from toasted cassava often sprinkled on top of food) and meat. And Brazil’s exotic juice will be popular: caju, acai, carambola, caqui, goiaba and maracuja, often squeezed into juices – sucos in Portuguese.

Billionaire real estate developer Carlos Carvalho might have the only problem.

He aims to sell the 3,604 apartments after the Olympics – some in the range of 2.3 million ($700,000). Carvalho’s company Carvalho Hosken has declined to say how many have been sold, but reports say only between 6-10 percent.

The project is a victim of Brazil’s deep recession, the worst since the 1930s.

Carvalho Hosken earlier said the project’s total cost was about $1.5 billion, including construction, land acquisition and other development costs.

MORE: Rio unveils largest athletes village in Olympic history