Young U.S. gymnasts highlight Saturday’s American Cup

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Those who’ve had a hankering for gymnastics ever since watching the Fierce Five take gold in London are in luck: the 2013 season kicks off at the American Cup in Worcester, Mass. this weekend.

And while Fierce Fiver Kyla Ross and London alternate Ebee Price were forced out of the event with injuries, the U.S. will be well represented by up-n-comers Katelyn Ohashi and Simone Biles, both competing in their first senior competition.

“I was ready for it,” Ohashi, who trains under 1988 Olympic champ Valeri Liukin, said. “I feel prepared for this meet and I’m excited to be a senior.”

They’ll flip in the footsteps of gold medalists Aly Raisman, Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Shannon Miller, and Mary Lou Retton, who all competed at the same international invitational early in their careers.

The two young Americans will face off against London Olympians Vanessa Ferrari of Italy, Asuka Teramoto of Japan, and Victoria Moors of Canada during Saturday’s World Cup event.

U.S. gymnasts Danell Leyva and Jake Dalton headline the men’s competition, along with London all-around silver medalist Marcel Nguyen of Germany, and Kristian Thomas of Great Britain.

Catch the American Cup live on NBC Saturday starting at 1pm est.

Syria-born Olympian takes advocacy role at U.N. refugee agency

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GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency has chosen as a goodwill ambassador a Syrian teenage girl who helped save a boat carrying fellow refugees and later became an Olympic swimmer.

Yusra Mardini was appointed as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador on Thursday, joining other notables like actress Cate Blanchett and author Khaled Hosseini in the unpaid advocacy role.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said Mardini “represents the hopes, the fears and the incredible potential of the more than 10 million young refugees around the globe.”

Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped overboard and swam for hours alongside their overloaded boat to reach Greece from Turkey in 2015.

She swam on the first Refugee Olympic team in Rio last year and has discussed refugees’ challenges with leaders like Pope Francis and President Barack Obama.

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Rafael Nadal recreates famous 1992 Olympic cauldron lighting

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Rafael Nadal, owner of two Olympic gold medals, recently parroted arguably the most famous moment in Spanish Olympic history.

Nadal and Marc Lopez, the 2016 Olympic doubles champions, took up bows and arrows and joined archer Antonio Rebollo on Monday at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Stadium. It brought back memories of Rebollo’s unforgettable cauldron lighting from the only Olympics held in Spain.

Nadal is in Barcelona for an ATP Tour event as he prepares to vie for a 10th French Open title next month.

Rebollo, now 61 years old, was one of 200 hundred archers considered to light the cauldron in 1992. He learned that he was chosen for the role over four other finalists two hours ahead of time, according to an NBC Olympics profile in 1996.

The cauldron would be 195 feet away. Fearing Rebollo would miss the target, organizers instructed him to fire his arrow beyond the stadium walls. As the arrow soared, a technician lit the natural gas flame with a remote control.

The illusion worked. The true story wasn’t revealed for another 20 years.

“There were no fears,” Rebollo, a Barcelona native who contracted polio at age 8, told NBC two decades ago. “I was practically a robot. I focused on my positioning and reaching the target. That was all. … My feelings were taken from the people who described to me how they saw it. What they felt, their emotions, their cries. This is what made me realize what the moment actually meant.”

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