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Ryan Lochte thinks Phelps is coming back soon

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Despite all the rumors that swimming legend Michael Phelps will return to the pool for one more go at the Rio Games, he seems to be pretty content spending his first year of retirement golfing with the likes of his idol, Michael Jordan.

But Phelps’s friend and top-rival Ryan Lochte said he thinks it’s just a matter of time before Phelps gets the itch to dive back into competition.

“Michael Phelps is the hardest racer I ever went up against,” Lochte, an eleven-time Olympic medalist, told the Indo-Asian News Service Wednesday in Vancouver. “What he’s done for this sport of swimming is tremendous. I hope he comes back in. I think he will. I know he will. It’s just a matter of time and when. I know he will.”

Lochte wouldn’t actually say whether or not he’s talked to Phelps about a possible comeback, but instead Lochte just claimed he had a sixth sense about it: “I can’t say. I just have a feeling. I’ll just leave it at that. I have a feeling he’ll come back…” adding that the sport is better with Phelps around.

“The friendship that we’ve developed throughout the years of racing each other and the rivalry it’s one of the biggest in the sport and we had a lot of fun doing it. So I definitely hope he comes back because in a way he pushed me and I pushed him… it was definitely great for the sport.”

Three-time Olympic gold medalist and NBC swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines is also pretty confident Phelps will be back soon, even after he became the most decorated Olympian in history. But Gaines thinks Phelps wants to make the announcement on his own terms, if at all.

“I know he has 80,000 gold medals already,” Gaines told MyDesert.com. “But still, you don’t want to have that eating at you. ‘What if I would have come back? What if I would have made one last run?’ Especially if he still has the desire to compete.”

Russian Olympic medalists gifts include racehorse

Abdulrashid Sadulaev
AP
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MOSCOW (AP) — Luxury cars, apartments, even a racehorse — being an Olympic medalist in Russia can come with great material rewards but also controversy.

Under President Vladimir Putin, it’s become a tradition for Russia’s Olympic heroes to be showered with large cash sums and sometimes unwanted gifts.

On Friday, less than 24 hours after dozens of medalists were presented with BMW cars at the Kremlin by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, an advertisement appeared online offering one of them for sale, with photographs showing the car still covered in stickers celebrating Russia’s medal haul in Rio.

The advertisement offering the BMW X6 for 4.67 million rubles ($72,000) was anonymous and quickly withdrawn. It couldn’t be independently verified by The Associated Press, though Russian agency R-Sport claimed the seller was a Russian medalist who thought the car was too big and unwieldy.

Figure skater Maxim Trankov, who received a Mercedes-Benz SUV for his gold medal in 2014, said few Olympians could afford to own such cars.

“Has no one thought that these gift cars are not only liable for the tax on luxury items, but also aren’t cheap to run and earnings can’t cover it?” he wrote on Twitter. “I’d sell mine too if it came to it … Or does everyone think all sports pay as well as soccer, hockey or tennis?”

Gymnast Seda Tutkhalyan said she wouldn’t be able to drive her new BMW because at 17 years of age she was too young to have a license.

While online commenters mostly supported an athlete’s right to sell expensive Olympic gifts, many were critical of the government for a display of conspicuous consumption at the Kremlin at a time when Russia’s pension and healthcare systems are under financial strain.

It’s not fully clear how much the prizes have cost the Russian government.

State TV channel Rossiya 24 reported that the fleet of BMWs was provided by the Olympians’ Support Fund, which is backed by a group of Russia’s richest men, but that the accompanying cash prizes of tens of thousands of dollars per medalist came in part from the federal budget.

More awards are on offer from regional governments, many of which made public displays of generosity despite financial troubles of their own.

The Caucasus region of North Ossetia last month promised a free apartment for any medalists from the area, though it isn’t clear if this has happened yet.

In another grand gesture, the head of the restive Dagestan region gave Olympic wrestling champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev 6 million rubles ($93,000) in cash and a racehorse at a lavish welcoming ceremony featured on local TV.

Still, all may not be well for Sadulaev, who’s nicknamed the “Russian Tank” for his habit of crushing opponents on the wrestling mat. He’s already facing an allegation from a Moscow radio presenter of reckless driving in his eye-catching BMW.

MORE: Putin slams Russia’s Paralympic ban

Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic venue progress video

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The next Olympics, the Pyeongchang Winter Games, are in 530 days.

Organizers of the first Winter Olympics in South Korea published a time-lapse video of venue construction on Thursday.

The video shows updates for the main coastal Olympic Park, including short- and long-track speed skating, figure skating and hockey arenas, the sliding center in the mountains and the Olympic Plaza, which will house the Olympic Stadium for Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

As NBC News reported, one concern is a potential lack of natural snow, which 2010 and 2014 Winter Games organizers had to deal with as well. Man-made snow is always a safety-net option.

MORE: Pyeongchang 2018 mascots unveiled