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Russia centering a “cycling revival” in Sochi

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After next February’s Sochi Winter Games, Russia is apparently planning to grow the country’s cycling program by turning one of the resort town’s skating venues into a “top-class” velodrome.

“We need it desperately, as none of the existing racing tracks in Russia fit the strict demands for the Olympic cycling track,” Russian cycling head Igor Makarov told AFP. “Besides, we’re going to create a great cycling center in the city using the classy highways which are currently being constructed there for the Games.”

National cycling officials are also planning to stage major road cycling events, fully backed by the government, including a “Tour of Russia” that would end in Moscow’s Red Square.

“After the fall of Soviet Union, the cycling infrastructure in the country fell into decay,” Marakov said, while deflecting rumors that he’ll run for UCI president. “It’s a miracle that Russian cyclists managed to win medals at the Olympic Games… We need to work out a plan of cycling revival in Russia, and put it into practice day-by-day.”

President Obama to female Olympians: ‘Y’all crushed it’ (video)

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President Barack Obama hosted the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams at the White House on Thursday.

Obama opened his speech by saying that he had planned on doing a floor routine with Simone Biles, before ultimately deciding that the room was too crowded. First Lady Michelle Obama interjected to remind the crowd that her husband “can’t touch his toes.”

The President then singled out the athletic accomplishments of Olympians including Biles, Michelle Carter, Simone Manuel, Claressa Shields, Kristin Armstrong, Kim Rhode, Allyson Felix, Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, Kristi Castlin, Katie Ledecky, Michael Phelps and the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

He also recognized: Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab, Sam Kendricks, the U.S. Army reservist who put down his pole and stood at attention when the national anthem started playing, Will Claye, who proposed to U.S. hurdler Queen Harrison after winning an Olympic silver medal, and Abbey D’Agostino, who helped an opponent to her feet after a crash.

“That is exactly what the Olympic spirit and the American spirit should be all about,” Obama said about the sportsmanship of D’Agostino.

The President was particularly enthusiastic about the performance of the female athletes.

“2016 belonged to America’s women Olympians,” Obama said. “Y’all crushed it.”

Watch Obama’s full speech here.

After Obama’s speech, Biles presented him with a surfboard autographed by the Olympians in attendance.

“I’m going to have a lot of time to surf next year,” Obama said.

MORE: Photos of Team USA at the White House

Photos: Team USA at the White House

Twitter: @TeamUSA
Twitter: @TeamUSA
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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams at the White House on Thursday.

Below are some of the best photos of Team USA from inside the White House: