Year in Review: Jordan Jovtchev proves age ain’t nothing

Leave a comment

OlympicTalk’s writers recount some of their favorite moments from the 2012 London Games. 

The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team was the overall youngest team competing in London this year and by almost all accounts, the most exciting. However, there were a few athletes on the floor who proved age is in fact, just a number.

Perhaps the most memorable of them was Jordan Jovtchev. At first glance of Jovtchev and his full head of grey hair he could easily be mistaken as the coach for team Bulgaria. Wrong. He’s a hardcore, superhuman, badass athlete who puts to shame believers of the mindset that most gymnasts careers can only last one Olympic cycle.

London marked Jovtchev’s record breaking sixth Olympics (again, sixth). The 39-year-old owns four Olympic medals and, in addition to being Bulgaria’s star gymnast, is also the president of the country’s gymnastics federation, conducting his business while on his cell phone… while training on the rings (file under: overachiever).

Yet the forecast for London was merely to be a farewell tour, with expectations incredibly low.

So low in fact that during the opening ceremonies a night almost all gymnasts choose to sit out because they have to compete the next day, Jovtchev chose to walk in the march of nations, with good reason, he was selected to carry the flag for Bulgaria.

The next day, during qualifications, Jovtchev stunned everyone when he qualified for the event finals on his signature apparatus: the still rings. What was supposed to be the last ever performance turned into an encore that had fans and media going wild. But Jovetchev can’t be bothered with such fuss. His response was more understated.

“I’m tired now. I didn’t even hope I would make the final, I just told Kras ‘I’m finished’ and now I’ve got to go again.” Awesome.

Jovtchev competed his set in the ring finals, and while a fifth Olympic medal was out of reach for the veteran, his final salute to the judges was met with one of the loudest ovations from the crowd. Oh wait, did I mention that he competed throughout the Games with a partially torn bicep and a fractured wrist?

Take notes, youngsters.

WATCH LIVE: London Marathon

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Watch the world’s best distance runners chase world records at the London Marathon, live on NBCSN and commercial free on the NBC Sports Gold “Track and Field Pass” for subscribers on Sunday at 3:30 a.m. ET.

NBCSN coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

WATCH LIVE: London Marathon
NBCSN coverage — STREAM LINK
NBC Sports Gold commercial free — STREAM LINK

Sunday’s race start times (ET)
3:55 – Elite Wheelchair Races
4:00 – World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup ambulant races
4:15 – Elite Women’s Race
5:00 – Elite Men’s Race, Mass Race

The men’s field features arguably the two greatest distance runners of all time — Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele.

Kipchoge, the Rio Olympic marathon champ, ran the fastest marathon ever recorded — 2:00:25 in Nike’s sub-two-hour attempt last May in non-record-eligible conditions.

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history under legal conditions, having run six seconds shy of Kenyan Dennis Kimetto‘s world record of 2:02:57 from 2014.

In the women’s race, Kenyan Mary Keitany, already the world-record holder in a women’s-only race, looks to take down Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s world record with male pacers set in London 15 years ago. That time is 2:15:25.

Keitany is challenged by Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, the third-fastest female marathoner in history behind Keitany and Radcliffe.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Shalane Flanagan looks to future after last Boston Marathon

Teddy Riner, dominant judoka, to skip 2018, 2019 Worlds

Getty Images
Leave a comment

French judoka Teddy Riner, arguably the world’s most dominant athlete, will reportedly skip the next two world championships before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

French coach Franck Chambily said Riner will compete a light international schedule the next two years ahead of what would be his fourth Olympics, according to Agence France-Presse.

Riner, a 29-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, is undefeated since 2010 with a reported 144-match winning streak. That includes Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and world titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Before the streak, Riner also earned world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010, plus an Olympic bronze at age 19 in 2008.

He could compete through the 2024 Paris Games.

“When I am invincible, I will stop,” Riner said in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government