Orlando Ortega

Reports: Hurdler Orlando Ortega deserts Cuban team, whereabouts unknown

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Cuban sprint hurdler Orlando Ortega disappeared after missing the 110-meter hurdles final at the World Track and Field Championships last week, according to Cuban and Russian reports.

Ortega, who placed sixth at the 2012 Olympics, has already been ruled out becoming a naturalized Russian, the president of the Russian athletics federation said.

“The Russian Athletics Federation is not interested in Ortega’s services as an athlete,” Valentin Balakhnichev told R-Sport. “I have no information about the location of Ortega, as we haven’t received any requests from him. It was his decision to leave his team, and he didn’t return to his homeland and it will weigh upon his conscience.”

Ortega, 22, was suspended by the Cuban track and field federation earlier this summer for “indiscipline,” but that six-month ban was lifted before the World Championships. He owns the third-fastest time in the world this year behind world champion David Oliver and Olympic bronze medalist Hansle Parchment.

Cuba’s most famous track and field athlete, Dayron Robles, the 2008 Olympic champion in the 110-meter hurdles, was similarly banned earlier this year and did not compete at worlds.

Robles had said in January he would no longer compete for Cuba, and his coach said the same month that Robles would retire due to lack of attention from Cuban officials, though Robles went on to enter competitions in July.

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Damian Lillard added as U.S. Olympic basketball team finalist

Damian Lillard
AP
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Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard was added to the list of 30 finalists to make the 12-man U.S. roster for the Olympics, USA Basketball announced Wednesday.

Lillard, 25 and a two-time All-Star, did not attend an August camp deemed mandatory for Olympic consideration, but called USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and expressed desire for the Rio Games.

“Both [coach] Mike [Krzyzewski] and I feel like Damian is playing at a very high level and that he should be added to our list of Olympic finalists,” Colangelo said in a press release. “Damian has been a member of the USA National Team since 2014, and he participated in National Team training camps in 2013 and 2014, so he does have equity in USA Basketball, which is always important to me.”

USA Basketball has not said when the final 12-man Olympic team will be named. In 2012, it named its Olympic roster three weeks before the London Games.

The 2012 Olympic roster included three point guards — Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams. Paul and Westbrook are finalists for the 2016 team, but Williams is not.

Other potential first-time Olympic point guards competing with Lillard include NBA MVP Stephen Curry, All-Star John Wall and past All-Star Kyrie Irving.

MORE: Tony Parker updates Olympic qualifying, Rio status

Bob Costas to host Rio Olympic primetime coverage

Bob Costas
AP
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Bob Costas will be the Olympic primetime host for a record 11th time in Rio de Janeiro in August.

Costas, the primetime host at every Olympics on NBC since Barcelona 1992, also served as NBC’s late-night host at Seoul 1988.

“The Olympics are a unique television event,” Costas said in an NBC press release. “They involve classic sports coverage, of course, but also many elements of storytelling and travelogue aspects that are not as much a part of the typical sports broadcast. In a way, the Olympics are a three-week mini-series which, if done well, should bring viewers not only memorable athletic performances, but a sense of the host city and country, and an appreciation of what is a truly global gathering.”

NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell said “there is no one better than” Costas for the role.

“For a quarter-century, Bob has been NBC’s pilot of primetime at the Olympics, and over that span, the scope of our coverage has constantly evolved, with Rio set to become the most live event in U.S. television history,” Bell said in a press release. “Given his vast experience and uncanny expertise, simply put there is no one better than Bob to tell the stories of the athletes, take our viewers inside the world’s biggest sports event, and introduce them to one of the most spectacular cities on the planet.”

Jim McKay hosted Olympic primetime coverage eight times for ABC.

WATCH: NBC Olympics promo video