Sochi 2014

Sochi 2014 names first Olympic torch relay bearers

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The first woman in space, a 12-time Olympic medalist and a popular blogger are among the first 6,000 people to be announced as Sochi Olympic relay torch members.

Former cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who first went into orbit 50 years ago, and legendary Olympic champion gymnast Alexei Nemov were among those chosen from more than 140,000 candidates.

There are still to be more than 8,000 torch bearers picked by the end of September. The relay will run from Oct. 7 to Feb. 7, the day of the opening ceremony.

Dubbed the longest relay in Winter Olympic history, it will span more than 40,000 miles across 83 Russian regions.

The fortunate 6,000 were selected on the following criteria: commitment to a healthy lifestyle and sports and the main Olympic values of friendship, respect and commitment to excellence.

Joining Tereshkova and Nemov among the 6,000 are three-time Olympic synchronized swimming champion Maria Kiseleva, Paralympic rowing bronze medalist Aleksey Chuvashev, Russian gymnastics coach Nadezhda Nabokova, cardiovascular surgeon Maksim Strakhov and Sergey Dolya, a “popular blogger,” according to the Sochi 2014 press release.

Notice none of those athletes are Winter Olympians. Sochi must be saving those stars for the final legs of the relay.

Some torchbearer stats:

* The youngest is 14. The oldest is 93.

* The most common last names are Ivanov, Petrov and Kuznetsov. The most common first names are Aleksandr, Sergey and Aleksey.

* Of the 6,000, 136 are from other countries, including the United States.

Sochi CEO: Winter Games will be ‘more creative and more dramatic’ than London

Tommie Smith, John Carlos set to join Team USA at White House

FILe - In this Oct. 16, 1968, file photo, U.S. athletes Tommie Smith, center, and John Carlos stare downward while extending gloved hands skyward during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner after Smith received the gold and Carlos the bronze for the 200 meter run at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City. Australian silver medalist Peter Norman is at left. Smith and Carlos, the American sprinters whose raised-fist salutes at the 1968 Olympics are an ageless sign of race-inspired protest, will join the U.S. Olympic team at the White House next week for its meeting with President Barack Obama. Smith and Carlos were sent home from the Olympics after raising their black-gloved fists in a symbolic protest during the U.S. national anthem. They called it a ``human rights salute.''
The USOC asked them to serve as ambassadors as it tries to make its own leadership more diverse. (AP Photo/File)
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the American sprinters whose raised-fist salutes at the 1968 Olympics are an ageless sign of race-inspired protest, will join the U.S. Olympic team at the White House next week for its meeting with President Barack Obama.

Smith and Carlos were sent home from the Olympics after raising their black-gloved fists in a symbolic protest during the U.S. national anthem. They called it a “human rights salute.”

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun asked them to serve as ambassadors as the federation tries to bring more diversity to its own ranks. They will join the team at the White House next Wednesday, then later that evening at an awards celebration in Washington.

The sprinters have been referenced frequently in the recent protests, spurred by Colin Kaepernick, during national anthems at NFL games. One player, Marcus Peters of the Chiefs, raised his own black-gloved fist before Kansas City’s season opener.

“I think Tommie and John have played an important and positive role in the evolution of our attitudes about diversity and inclusion, not only in the United States but around the world,” Blackmun said Friday night at a dinner to celebrate the U.S. performance in Brazil this summer.

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Wilson Kipsang: I am very focused on the marathon world record

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The men’s marathon world record has been broken five of the last nine years at the Berlin Marathon.

Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang, who broke the world record at the 2013 Berlin Marathon, believes that he can do it again on Sunday, when the race will stream live on the NBC Sports app beginning at 2:30 a.m. ET.

“I’ve trained well and, three years down the line from my world record here, I feel good and believe I have the potential to attempt the world record once more,” he said at today’s press conference, according to the IAAF. “Running at the top level, there is a lot of wear and tear on the body, especially when you are running for a time, but I am very focused on the world record.”

Kipsang clocked 2 hours, 3 minutes, 23 seconds when he broke the world record in 2013. A year later, fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto lowered it to 2:02:57 on the same course. Kimetto will not race in Berlin this year.

Kipsang will be challenged by Kenyan compatriot Emmanuel Mutai, who has the fastest time (2:03:13) in the field, and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.

Bekele is a three-time Olympic track champion and the 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder, but acknowledged that his marathon personal best of 2:05:04 places him a distant fourth in the field.

“I consider my personal best of 2:05 to be slow compared to the best runners,” he said. “I want to run as fast as I can on Sunday and beat my best.”

MORE: Berlin Marathon to live stream on NBC Sports app