Yohan Blake

Yohan Blake interviewed by GQ about his watches, Usain Bolt, more

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Yohan Blake likes to read “The Notebook” while listening to soft Michael Jackson music, quotes what he thinks is Muhammad Ali before races and is called the “Socks Man” back home.

These tidbits and more were revealed by the Olympic silver medalist in the 100 and 200 meters in an interview with GQ.

Let’s start with the “Socks Man” nickname. GQ asked Blake, 23, to name the last stylish item he purchased.

“Pretty socks,” he said. “They call me ‘Socks Man’ back home because my feet are always pretty in my colored socks. I love to get them from different stores all over the world. The last pair I bought was in Canada. They were a mix of pink, orange, blue, gray. I like to have a mix as I always wear different socks at the same time.”

Blake is known worldwide for another nickname — “The Beast.” He said in the interview most people think he’s “a living and walking beast,” but they shouldn’t be afraid to approach him.

Blake also said he listens to reggae while training, but at home he enjoys Jackson and reading his “love novel” — “The Notebook.”

Of course, there was also a question about Usain Bolt.

“Some might say Bolt has made a career out of peacocking on the track when he wins … ”

To which Blake answered: “That’s different — he’s very nervous. He does all of that to get that nervousness away. Trust me. It’s a release.”

Blake on his pre-race routine:

“Sometimes I say, ‘fly like a bird, sting like a bee,’ to get myself like Muhammad Ali to get a hold of myself.”

Of course, that’s not quite Ali’s famous line.

The GQ story also talked about Blake’s famous $500,000 watch publicized last year. Blake has upgraded to a new watch with a beast claw covering its face.

Blake, the reigning world champion in the 100 meters, pulled out of August’s world championships earlier this month due to a hamstring injury that’s plagued him since the spring. He has since been ruled out for the rest of the season by his manager.

Bolt’s autobiography title contradicts title of earlier Bolt book

Michael Phelps eyes at least three events at Olympic Trials

Michael Phelps
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Michael Phelps expects to swim the 100m and 200m butterfly and the 200m individual medley at the U.S. Olympic Trials in four weeks, but he will be entered in more events, his coach, Bob Bowman, confirmed Tuesday.

Phelps plans to swim just those three events at the June 26-July 3 trials in Omaha, according to Sports Illustrated.

However, Phelps could also swim the 100m and 200m freestyles at the Olympic Trials to post a time fast enough not necessarily to make the Olympic team (top two at trials) but to earn a place on the 4x100m and 4x200m free relays for a fourth straight Games.

“I think he needs to put up a time, sometime, to let us know that he’s on that level [in the 100m and 200m freestyles],” Bowman, the head coach of the U.S. Olympic men’s team and thus an important relay selector, said two weeks ago.

Bowman said Tuesday that Phelps will be entered in more than the 100m and 200m fly and 200m IM at trials. But Phelps could scratch out of any event before finals or before preliminary heats.

Bowman said Phelps could theoretically try to make the Olympic team in more than three individual events.

As for those main three, it’s no surprise. Those are the three events Phelps focused on at his biggest meet of 2015, the U.S. Championships in August. Each time, he clocked the fastest time in the world for the year, making him the Olympic favorite in all three.

If Phelps intends to swim three individual events at the Rio Games, he’s looking at his thinnest Olympic slate since his debut at the Sydney 2000 Games at age 15 (one event, 200m butterfly, fifth place).

Phelps swam five individual events each in 2004 and 2008 and four in 2012, dropping the 200m freestyle for the London Games and the 400m individual medley altogether after finishing fourth in that event in London.

Phelps will race this weekend at what is expected to be his final pre-trials tune-up meet in Austin, Texas. He is entered in the 100m and 200m free, the 100m butterfly and the 200m IM.

MORE: U.S. swim stars spread across three Olympic Trials tune-up meets

World champion wrestler from Russia cedes Olympic spot after brawl

Viktor Lebedev
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MOSCOW (AP) — A two-time wrestling World champion said Tuesday he is giving up his place at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after a brawl marred a Russian qualifying tournament.

Viktor Lebedev was competing against Ismail Musukayev in a semifinal bout at the Russian nationals on Friday when Musukayev was angered by refereeing calls against him and shoved Lebedev.

Musukayev’s supporters and coaches charged into the ring, prompting a scuffle that was broken up by riot police (video here). Wrestlers from Musukayev’s home region of Dagestan then boycotted the tournament in protest at the standard of refereeing, causing a nationwide scandal.

Lebedev told local news outlet News.Ykt on Tuesday that he is withdrawing from the Olympic team as “a matter of honor” because he feels officials gave him favorable calls in front of his home crowd in the Siberian city of Yakutsk.

“Let’s say I win Olympic gold. I don’t doubt that I could win it,” he said. “Even if I were to climb onto that podium with the gold, I wouldn’t have those emotions. I wouldn’t be especially happy that my dream had come true.”

Lebedev said Musukayev had been wronged but insisted his opponent had been wrong to start the brawl. “You can’t behave that way regardless of how the judging goes for you,” he said.

Lebedev can be replaced on the team by another Russian in the 57kg class, though he was the favorite to go to the Rio Olympics after winning World Championships bronze and European Games gold last year.

Wrestling is traditionally a source of great pride for many of Russia’s ethnic minority groups, including in Lebedev’s Arctic home region of Yakutia and in Dagestan, a province in Russia’s volatile North Caucasus otherwise known for its Islamist insurgency.

Competition for a place on the Russian national team, one of the world’s best, is fierce and in recent years various domestic competitions have been marred by brawls between fans from different regions and ethnic groups.

Earlier this month, a wrestler from Chechnya hit his opponent after the end of the bout and some of his team, including a man with a pistol, rushed into the ring in support.

MORE: Eight Russians positive in 2012 Olympic retests