One of the lasting images of the Vancouver Games happened February 14th, when Alexandre Bilodeau won the men’s moguls to become the first Canadian to earn gold home soil, ending a disappointing distinction from the 1976 Montreal and the 1988 Calgary Games. His win ignited a gold medal spree for the hosts – 14 in total – the most by any host nation in Olympic Winter Games history.
Yet despite his place in Canadian sporting lore and praise from his countrymen, including a phone call from the Prime Minister that night, Bilodeau shrugs at the suggestion of his legacy. “It was definitely really special to be seen as a Canadian hero,” the Montreal native explains. “But I don’t really feel that way.” What was truly memorable to Bilodeau was being able to share the experience with his brother, Frederic, who was watching that night from the bottom of the hill.
Frederic, six years older than Alexandre, has cerebral palsy and has long been a source of inspiration for his brother. The two have been close throughout their lives and Alexandre has made it a priority to share his experiences with Frederic. “He lives the dream through me and my sister,” Alexandre says. “So we try to make him a part of it as much as we can… It’s priceless to see his reaction.”
Alexandre has helped raise money for cerebral palsy research in Canada through the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres, and, a few days after his gold medal-winning run, Bilodeau personally donated $25,000 and called on his sponsors to do the same. Bilodeau estimates that through donations and fundraising events, they’ve raised around $500,000, halfway to his goal of $1 million.
After a year away from skiing to heal some nagging injuries, Bilodeau is back on the bumps this season, displaying the form that earned him gold in Vancouver. He’s ranked second in the World Cup standings and won the dual moguls last weekend at Deer Valley. But Bilodeau says his priority this season is to prepare for Sochi, where he hopes to defend his gold and have another experience he can share with his brother.
There have been zero Zika virus cases stemming from the Rio Olympics, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
“From the reports WHO received from national health authorities, there have so far been no laboratory confirmed cases of Zika virus in anyone associated with the Olympics,” the organization said in an online update Thursday.
Earlier this summer, several athletes cited Zika concerns in skipping the Olympics.
The World Health Organization said before the Rio Games that the Olympics posed “a very low risk” of accelerating the Zika virus spread around the world.
Thousands of athletes will come to Rio for the Paralympics that run from Sept. 7-18, which is still during Brazil’s winter, lessening the Zika risk.
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University of Oregon hurdler and wide receiver Devon Allen said he “thinks” he’s turning pro in track, but also said he hasn’t really decided if his NCAA track career is finished Thursday.
“There’s not really much more I can do in college track other than break the collegiate record,” Allen said.
Allen, a University of Oregon junior, finished fifth in the Rio Olympic 110m hurdles on Aug. 16 after winning the Olympic Trials on July 9.
Allen can turn pro in track and field and still play football for the Ducks, so long as he keeps his track and field profits to prize money and not endorsement deals.
He’s definitely planning on playing for Oregon’s football team this season, perhaps even in the season opener Sept. 3.
As for track season next winter and spring, that’s looking unlikely. Allen noted that he has won NCAA individual and team titles.
The only missing piece is the NCAA record of 13.00 set by former world-record holder Renaldo Nehemiah. Allen’s personal best is 13.03.
It’s clear that Allen would like to be a professional in both track and football.
“The NFL is something I’ve been dreaming about doing, just like I dreamed about running in the Olympics,” said Allen, who caught nine passes for 94 yards last season, coming back from tearing knee ligaments in the Rose Bowl. “I kind of accomplished that Olympic dream, obviously, in four years, I want to win a gold medal, so that’s one more step to that dream. Now my next dream is to play in the NFL.”
VIDEO: Top track and field moments from Rio Olympics