Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s illness puts potential South Africa Olympic bid on backburner

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A South African member of the International Olympic Committee said the nation will bid on an Olympics, but right now the focus is on Nelson Mandela, according to Around the Rings.

Mandela, 94, the former South African president, has been hospitalized for a month with a recurring lung infection. The latest report from The Associated Press on Tuesday was that he was in critical but stable condition and breathing with a respirator.

“We definitely will be bidding, but we don’t know which one,” IOC member Sam Ramsamy told Around the Rings. “We have to work that out. But with the situation with Mandela everything is put on the backburner. Without government support we can’t do it.

“My personal view is 2028,” Ramsamy said of when South Africa could bid for the first Olympics in Africa. “I think most of the cities are already lining up (for 2024) with Paris, a city from the USA looking at it and Qatar definitely.”

The United States Olympic Committee sent letters to more than 30 U.S. cities in February to gauge interest in a potential bid for 2024. It’s believed around 10 have either signed on or are considering it. The USOC hopes to narrow that list in December and decide on if to bid for 2024 next year.

Qatar is the controversial host of the 2022 World Cup, which could be moved from the U.S. summer to the winter to keep temperatures down. If so, it could run into or near the dates of the 2022 Winter Games.

South Africa became the first African country to host the World Cup in 2010. The nation was barred from the Olympics from 1964 to 1988 because of apartheid. It returned in 1992 and had its most successful Games since in London with six medals, including three gold.

“We could be a very good challenger to (the 2024 suitors), but we won’t decide until after September,” Ramsamy said.

On Sept. 7, the IOC will vote on the host of the 2020 Olympics. The finalists are Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo.

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Usain Bolt lands in Rio for his final Olympics

Usain Bolt
Rio 2016/Gabriel Nascimento
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Usain Bolt has arrived in Brazil for what he says will be his final Olympics.

Rio 2016 posted a photo and video of Bolt landing in Rio on Wednesday night.

Bolt was asked by a reporter if he dreamed about gold medals on his flight and responded, “I didn’t sleep at all,” according to the Jamaica Gleaner.

The world’s fastest man is scheduled to race the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, looking to sweep the events for a third straight Games. He is already the only man to sweep them at consecutive Olympics.

The Jamaican Olympic track and field team is in the middle of a pre-Games training camp in Brazil ahead of the Opening Ceremony Aug. 5.

His first race is scheduled to be his first round of the 100m on Aug. 13.

Bolt raced last Friday for the first time in nearly one month after pulling out during the Jamaican Olympic Trials with a hamstring injury.

He goes into the Olympics ranked Nos. 4 and 5 in the world this year in the 100m and 200m but swept them at the 2015 World Championships despite going in as an underdog to Justin Gatlin.

VIDEO: ‘I am Bolt’ documentary on Usain Bolt trailer

‘The Last Gold’ to air on NBCSN on Monday

The Last Gold
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Inspired by the recent rush of acclaimed sports documentaries, USA Swimming officials batted around ideas to join the movement a year and a half ago.

Executive director Chuck Wielgus, assistant executive director Mike Unger and chief marketing official Matt Farrell had put their heads together.

“We pretty quickly settled on this particular story,” Wielgus said in a phone interview. “It has such immense impact, especially with the old-timers in the swimming community. It hung over everybody like a cloud. It seemed like the right opportunity to do it.”

The result, “The Last Gold,” airs on NBCSN on Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET, four nights before the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony.

“The Last Gold” spotlights the 1976 U.S. Olympic women’s swimming team and the East German doping scandal.

At the Montreal Games, the U.S. men’s swimmers absolutely dominated, taking 12 of 13 gold medals with world records in 11 of those events.

But the U.S. women ran into a dubious and overpowering opponent.

The East Germans had yet to earn an Olympic women’s swimming gold medal in two previous Games. But the team had become a juggernaut by Montreal, the product of a state-sponsored doping program that wouldn’t be more fully exposed until after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Following defeat after defeat in individual races, four U.S. women rallied for one last showdown with East Germany in the 4x100m free relay.

“The Last Gold” focuses on that American quartet — Shirley BabashoffWendy BoglioliKim Peyton (passed away in 1986) and Jill Sterkel.

“The 40th anniversary coming up, the fact that only three of the athletes were still alive, and getting older, we wanted to tell the story when they could still help to tell it,” Wielgus said. “It’s almost serendipitous with what’s going on with the whole Russian situation right now. [In 2015] We saw this educational opportunity to share with current and future generations of athletes and pull back the layers and expose some of the evils of doping.”

East Germany has not been stripped of its 1976 Olympic swimming medals.

In 1998, USA Swimming and the U.S. Olympic Committee appealed to the International Olympic Committee.

“To ask for recognition of those athletes who we could prove had been cheated out of medals,” Wielgus said. “There were trials going on in Germany, and people were being found guilty. We made this appeal with the USOC, to the IOC, and the appeal was shot down. It was shot down unequivocally. Our position today is that we are not bringing that up again. We made that effort, and we might not like it, but we accept the response we got from the IOC. There’s been no indication they would change their position on it.”

Casey Barrett, a 1996 Canadian Olympic swimmer, served as a writer for “The Last Gold.” Brian T. Brown, a 15-time Emmy Award winner, directed. Emmy-winning actress Julianna Margulies narrated.

“The Last Gold” was screened for the current U.S. swim team at both the Olympic Trials and at a pre-Olympic camp in Atlanta this week.

It premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 6 as one of 12 documentaries chosen from over 4,000 submissions.

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