Update: Conflicting reports on Blake’s worlds status

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Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake will not defend his 100-meter title at the world championships in August, according to the Jamaica Observer.

UPDATE: Blake’s manager said he’s not out yet, according to Reuters and the Jamaica Gleaner.

“There is absolutely no discussions or plans for any surgery and I don’t know where that information is coming from,” manager Cubie Seegobin told Reuters. “No decision has been made about Yohan missing the world championships.

“The coach has not yet decided on pulling him from the world championships.”

Blake, nicknamed “The Beast,” missed time this spring after suffering a hamstring injury in April.

“He is definitely out of the world championship … he will not be part of Jamaica’s squad,” a senior Jamaica athletics official told the the Observer. “Yohan will have to do surgery soon, so there is no way that he can make the team. The injury is so sensitive that even if he is a real ‘Beast’ he cannot recover from it in time for the world champs.”

Blake’s absence would open the door wider for Usain Bolt to reclaim his 100-meter world title. Bolt infamously false started out of the 2011 world championships final, won by Blake in 9.92 seconds. Blake subsequently took silver to Bolt in the 100 and 200 at the 2012 Olympics.

There’s no doubt now that Bolt’s primary competition at worlds will be Americans Tyson Gay, who has the two fastest 100 times in the world this year, and Justin Gatlin, who has the third, fourth and fifth fastest times and a win over Bolt. Jamaican Warren Weir should factor in with Gay to chase Bolt in the 200.

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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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